Startups Anonymous: What selling drugs taught me about business
[This is a weekly series that brings you raw, first-hand experiences from founders and investors in the trenches. Their story submissions are anonymous, allowing them to share openly without fear of retribution. Every Wednesday, we’ll run one new story chosen by Dana Severson, who operates StartupsAnonymous, a place for startups to share, ask questions, and answer them in story-length posts, all anonymously. You can share your own story here.]
I moved out at 15. In order to work I could not attend school anymore. When dropping out I was told by my peers that my choices would lead to a career at Bojangles.
I vowed to prove my peers wrong. I always wanted to do well for myself. After 3 months of parties and the "good" life, reality hit me and I knew I needed to get a job.
This job would be at a kiosk in a mall. I worked for 20% commission and a roof over my head. Me and my brother stuck together, both taking jobs at the same employer.
My job was to snap a picture of a passerby and display it for sale in a mug, mouse pad, or frame by the time they walked by the kiosk. This job taught me a great deal about life, culture, and religion.
At 17, I was old enough to work at Hollister, a clothing company within the mall. My brother had other plans...
He decided weed was a better investment of his time.
I saw him make a great deal of money and though I was completely against it, I was impressed.
One day I was driving to pick up my check with my girlfriend at the time. Passing through an intersection, I noticed a squad of police cars at the light. I looked to my girlfriend and told her that it sucks for that person.
Coming back to my brother’s apartment, I was surprised to see what looked to be a crime scene. The neighborhood was closed off and multiple cops were lined through the neighborhood. They had raided my brother’s apartment.
After the ordeal, I began to assess my brother's career choice. I came to the conclusion that his demise was due to his lack of secrecy in regard to the matter.
I thought about how I could do this better.
After a few deals, I began to seriously think about the industry, its players, and revenue streams. I needed to figure out how to reduce my overhead and risk while increasing my profit.
When you want the best price you go to the manufacturer. This led me to look for a grower.
In order to facilitate the purchase of goods from a farmer, I had to ensure a certain volume. I came back to the drawing board and began to think about the players in the game and how much they paid. The higher the individual in the supply chain, the less risk that I would incur.
I began to contact these high-producing individuals, offering them a cheaper price than they currently paid. I undercut the market to control the market.
By doing so, I ensured sales and safety. By selling to the suppliers, I was able to reduce my exposure and increase my profit.
This was done at the age of 17. I am now 26 and currently run three successful ventures.
I am not proud of my past. However, I would not change a thing. I acquired skills I would have never acquired in a traditional setting and to this day apply them.
Now, I am not suggesting you go sell drugs. I want to leave the impression that though a person may have a past, that does not define them today. If anything, the good that you see today was developed through the bad from the past. Everything happens for a reason. I was blessed to make it out alive and untouched, however not all are as lucky.
I am so happy to have found Startups Anonymous because it is important for me to show others struggling that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Stop listening to society. There is no right way, there is your way; and your way becomes the way as you grow and learn from your experiences.
I want to show you that it is possible no matter where you come from. We all pay to go to school -- most of us in a University setting, others in life. Life produces a better ROI.