Neil Patel

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In the fast-paced world of entrepreneurship, there are few stories as captivating as that of Andrew Blackmon, the co-founder and CEO of The Black Tux. From humble beginnings in LA to navigating the challenges of building a successful startup, Andrew’s journey is one of resilience, innovation, and unwavering determination.

In this exclusive interview, Andrew talks about his experiences with apps, knocking on VCs’ doors for funding and partnering with the bigger players in the industry. He also talks about the adrenaline rush of building, scaling, and financing his company, The Black Tux.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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A Literary Start

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Andrew’s early years were filled with a love for literature and philosophy. Despite studying English literature, a field seemingly unrelated to entrepreneurship, Andrew followed his passion and pursued his academic interests.

Instead of the typical courses in business, economics, computer science, and law, like many of his peers, Andrew chose to study English literature. Looking back, he recalls that he loved to read, and it made sense for him to follow his interests.

Little did he know that his background in the humanities would later prove invaluable in shaping his entrepreneurial endeavors.

Unexpected Turns

After college, Andrew found himself working in intellectual property law, a world away from his literary roots. While his initial foray into law was not what he had envisioned, it provided him with invaluable insights into the world of entrepreneurship.

Andrew remembers meeting a guy who had a connection to Pepperdine, who offered him a marketing and assistant job in his big Intellectual Property law firm in Santa Monica.

This became his first job, and he was exposed to inventors and entrepreneurs who approached the firm for legal protection for their IP.

Andrew worked on copyrights, trademarks, patents, etc., which he found very inspiring from an entrepreneurial perspective. He also sat for his LSAT exam to explore the prospect of going to law school. However, he ended up going to business school instead.

Parisian Reflections

Although Andrew was keenly interested in business, entrepreneurship, and venture capital, he did not have the background, knowledge, or understanding of the concepts. Since he had spent his whole life in LA and California, Paris seemed like a great next step to do his MBA.

This decision would be pivotal since the experience would broaden his horizons and shape his approach to business.

Immersed in an international environment with people from different countries worldwide, Andrew gained a deeper understanding of global markets. He forged connections that would later prove instrumental in the growth of his startup.

The courses were challenging, and the Parisian urban landscape was very different from California, where he was used to nature and hiking. However, he met many fascinating people, which contributed to his personal growth.

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The Birth of The Black Tux

During his time in Paris, Andrew teamed up with his co-founder, Patrick Coyne, to launch The Black Tux. Patrick was studying at NYU Business School, Stern, Andrew’s sister school. The duo threw around a bunch of ideas and realized they had complementary skill sets.

What began as a simple idea to revolutionize the tuxedo rental industry quickly gained traction, fueled by a meticulous business plan and unwavering determination.

Initial research showed that the leading player in the space was a multibillion-dollar company with a rental arm, which was really profitable.

This is a good model because you can repeatedly buy and rent the inventory. That’s how the company can generate a lot of cash from the inventory that it purchased initially.

Andrew and Patrick were convinced they could start a company that could overhaul the entire student tuxedo rental industry. They could grab a significant market share, and to achieve that goal, they began with a 50-page business plan. This plan included every little meticulous detail.

The Black Tux Business Model

As Andrew explains, the initial business model was to conduct operations online, but they now have stores in nearly 40 locations. The concept was to cater to customers wanting to rent or buy a suit or a tuxedo for an event. This could be a prom, wedding, party, New Year’s, or other event.

Customers can visit the online or physical store to look at the style they like and use the fit algorithm to select the correct size. The company sends them the suit or tuxedo ten days before the event so they have time to try it on.

Customers can ensure the suit fits and everything looks good and send it back a couple of days after the event. The company makes money from the rental charges or sales.

The Black Tux is essentially a supply chain business since they design and manufacture the suits. It’s also a heavy logistics business because they have dry-cleaning facilities on both the East and West Coasts. The company makes sure that the apparel looks and fits nicely for customers.

Navigating Challenges

Despite initial setbacks in fundraising, The Black Tux soon captured the attention of investors and customers alike, propelling it to rapid success. Andrew reveals that the company has raised $75M in equity and that it’s a capital-intensive business.

Storytelling is everything which is something that Andrew Blackmon was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

However, the journey was not without its challenges. From the early days of struggling to secure funding to weathering the storm of the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew and his team faced numerous obstacles along the way.

Andrew recalls how they started the business in 2013, but before the launch, they had been part of the MuckerLabs accelerator program.

Andrew and Patrick received a small amount of funding, which helped grow the business. Since the duo attracted a lot of interest, they decided to try raising money before the company launched.

They put together a pitch deck and reached out to VCs, mostly in Silicon Valley, LA, and New York. however, they didn’t get much traction, so they went ahead with funding from friends and family. Once the business launched, it got a lot of traction and coverage on GG and the Wall Street Journal.

Suddenly, The Black Tux had a long waitlist, and customers were impressed by the fit, which led to more demand than supply.

The duo went back to investors, and this time, they got funding from top-tier investors and seed-stage VCs, such as the First Round Capital Group, Menlo Ventures, Raine Ventures, and Crosscut.

The company continued to grow without marketing, and one of its insiders led a series A round and then a series B, which was funded by Stripes New York. Another group called TZP Group led the series C round.

Through perseverance and strategic decision-making, Andrew and Patrick emerged stronger than ever, poised for continued growth and success.

Innovating the Industry

Central to The Black Tux’s success has been its commitment to innovation and customer experience.

Combining high-quality products with a seamless online platform and personalized service, the company has redefined the tuxedo rental industry, earning praise from customers and industry experts.

Andrew recalls how they opened a showroom at their Santa Monica location to overcome customer skepticism about doing this online. The massive footfall spurred the idea of scaling the showrooms.

When The Black Tux launched, it only had an online store, and customers were encouraged to visit Nordstrom to get measured because the store did it for free. Since the idea caught in a big way, the store got a cease-and-desist order against The Black Tux, preventing them from using their logo onthe website.

Around 18 months down the line, the corporate development team at Nordstrom contacted them, and eventually, they partnered with the brand. The Black Tux now has more than 30 Nordstroms with their showrooms to provide customers with an offline experience.

Navigating the Pandemic

The pandemic triggered a situation where the company had to furlough many employees and temporarily close all its stores.

Andrew remembers struggling to preserve capital in that environment because of the drop in projected revenues. However, the company persevered, thanks to the team.

Once Andrew and Patrick got to the other side, in 2021, The Black Tux had way more demand than it could fulfill. The two to three years of the dip in the business trajectory had them fighting in the trenches.

Making it through was a very motivating and rewarding experience, and they are now in a position to continue growing the brand.

Looking to the Future

Andrew remains focused on the company’s long-term vision as The Black Tux continues to expand its online and offline presence. With plans to open more physical locations and expand into new markets, the future looks bright for this pioneering startup.

Andrew explains that the formalwear industry has been controlled by a couple of major retailer players for a very long time and has been very successful. However, it’s time to do a better job of meeting customer needs.

As Andrew opines, the rental business also feeds into a sales business. The company has started selling a lot of suits and tuxedos and has been successful.

Young customers who have never worn a suit or tuxedo are impressed by the high-quality garments offered at surprisingly reasonable prices.

They are open to purchasing the clothing they rent, and now The Black Tux has multiple locations where they offer both rent and buy. The company employs around 400 employees in keeping with Andrew’s strategy, which includes hiring a fantastic, highly experienced team.

Aspects like a vision, quarterly goals, culture, and proper management processes have been instrumental in the company’s success.

Andrew and Patrick believe in motivating people and building a culture that’s a reflection of their values. The company is more than just a business; it’s a family of close friends and very professional.


Andrew’s journey from literature to law to entrepreneurship is a testament to the power of passion, perseverance, and innovation. Through his leadership, The Black Tux has not only disrupted an industry but also inspired a new generation of entrepreneurs to dream big and defy expectations.

Andrew advises aspiring founders to trust their instincts and guts and follow through with their vision. He also stresses the importance of building an emotional connection with customers that resonates with them.

As the company continues to thrive, one thing remains clear: the future is bright for Andrew Blackmon and The Black Tux.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • Andrew Blackmon’s journey highlights the importance of trusting your gut and staying true to your vision, even in the face of uncertainty.
  • The Black Tux’s commitment to innovation and customer experience has been central to its rapid growth and industry disruption.
  • From navigating fundraising challenges to weathering the COVID-19 pandemic, Andrew emphasizes the importance of adaptability in overcoming obstacles.
  • Surround yourself with talented individuals who share your vision and can execute the goals of your business: Andrew’s view.
  • The emotional connection with customers is crucial; investing in branding and customer experience can set your business apart from the competition.
  • Setbacks are inevitable in entrepreneurship, but they can also serve as valuable learning experiences on the path to success.
  • Despite the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, maintaining a focus on the long-term vision is essential for sustained growth and success.



For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here). 

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The Ultimate Guide To Pitch Decks

Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.


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Neil Patel

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If you want help with your fundraising or acquisition, just book a call

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