Paul Hedrick turned a college rejection into a hot startup that is disrupting one of America’s oldest industries.
After a stint in corporate America, with one of the most enviable consulting firms, Hedrick went out on his own and finally got to do something he really loved. Investors even gave him $34M to do it.
Paul and I recently recorded a new episode of the Dealmakers Show together. He shared his journey from Texas and back, how he positioned his business to become a winning brand and to attract VCs to space they normally wouldn’t venture.
Plus, how to bootstrap a startup as a solo entrepreneur, and how the Warby Parker of cowboy boots pioneered a low-risk retail strategy that really worked.
From Coloring To College & Consulting
Born and raised in Texas, building a big cowboy boot brand may now seem like an obvious choice for this entrepreneur. Yet, there were many adventures that have rounded out his experiences and taught him both what he isn’t and is best at.
After discovering dinosaurs, Paul found he was pretty good in the arts. He found a passion for illustration and design in middle school. Played concert level piano, and studied math at Harvard.
Today he sees being well rounded and cross-functionality a great asset and is encouraged in his company’s team. It can definitely be advantageous if you take the route of being a solo entrepreneur.
Temporarily shelving his childhood dreams of creating things, Hedrick followed his father’s footsteps into consulting. He landed a dream gig at McKinsey. A role that has produced many highly successful founders of fast-growing startups.
From there he jumped into private equity and got to work with companies that had been invested in.
These experiences threw him into learning Excel, creating presentations, seeing some of the patterns of successful businesses, analytics, the frameworks of business thinking, and the value of companies with strong values and sticking with those you’ve committed to helping.
While it may never feel great at the time, rejection has been a consistent theme in the background of some of the most successful brands. Just like Ferrari’s snub of Ferruccio Lamborghini. Then again with Lamborghini and Horacio Pagani.
For Paul Hedrick, this came in the form of being turned down when applying to go back to school in Boston and the Bay Area. Now he is incredibly grateful he didn’t even get an interview with either school.
Then someone suggested the option of Paul starting his own company. He always loved creating, yet it still seemed like a big leap from the comfort of a corporate career. He thought it through.
He arrived at the conclusion that not doing it would be illogical. The best thing he could do would be to bet on himself. At 26 years old he also realized there would probably never be another moment when he could take on this much of a risk and just go for it with something that had so much upside.
It was just a matter of what business to start.
Paul looks down, and being a good Texan was struck by the exotic ostrich skin cowboy boots he was wearing. Could that be a business worth pursuing?
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