It often takes years to become an overnight success. By October 2013, Robby Cuthbert, a soft-spoken psychology and art double major, knew he didn’t have a lot of time left before he would have to start looking for a “real job.” He had spent the last two years creating artistic furniture. The first year he lived with his parents in Pittsfield, working out of their garage and selling small sculptures on Etsy to pay for his materials. Now, living with his girlfriend in Palo Alto, the money from a previous Kickstarter campaign was running low, and he figured he had a few months to see if he could turn his project into a sustainable business or move on.
In January 2012, Imran Khoja ’12 and Katy Gathright ’12 won the first ever Williams College Business Plan Competition. Following graduation, they took the prize money and started Designed Good – an online marketplace for products that are produced in a socially responsible way. After eight months living in Williamstown at an apartment with no heat and many more months struggling to build the company, Khoja is still at the helm of Designed Good.
Having deferred the start of Stanford Business School until the fall of 2015, Khoja is hard at work designing products, managing the website, and learning about what it takes to run a business.
I recently caught up with Khoja in his Boston-based apartment and learned about the ups and downs of his life as a young entrepreneur.
It’s every guy’s dream. Start a beer company after college with your best friend. After years of discussions in the bullpen where the two former pitchers spent much of their college years, that’s exactly what Tommy and Wilson did. United by their love of beer and desire to run their own company, the two bucked conventional wisdom and launched Snake Bite USA – a mixture of lager and hard cider.
With little more than a passion for the idea and a willingness to learn, the two have built Snake Bite into a recognizable brand in the Bay Area.
I joined Tommy and Wilson for lunch and a six-hour tour of Northern, visiting with their distributors and delivering pitches to prospective stores. Along the way, I learned about the ups and downs of Snake Bite’s early years and gained an appreciation for the way passion can lead to success.