Dan Watkins is the founder and CEO of GloFX, a Tallahassee, FL-based manufacturer and retailer of wildly-unique glasses and glow products. The company innovates and designs dimensional eyewear (diffraction, kaleidoscope, 3D glasses, etc.), as well as LED and glow products commonly used for flow arts and dancing. The company was started with $400 in capital inside Dan’s garage and now produces millions in annual revenue around the globe. GloFX ranked #1650 on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list of fastest-growing private companies in America.
How did the concept for GloFX come about?
GloFX was originally a side project in my garage. I quickly became enamored with the products, developing systems and marketing. I officially launched GloFX in 2012 with an aggressive business plan after a couple years of practice in the garage. We launched GloFX Wholesale in 2013.
How was the first year in business?
Fun. It was a fast-paced game of chase. We went after every opportunity we saw, and had fun doing it.
What was your marketing strategy?
In the early years, it was focused on guerilla and event marketing. By 2013, we leaned heavily into SEO and social media marketing. Now, our 10-person sales and marketing team focuses on modern digital marketing strategies, as well as a variety of unique marketing and sales strategies including our promoter, influencer, and affiliate programs.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Quickly. Our staff size doubled every year from 2012 to 2016. It took 80-hour work weeks for years to establish the full foundation and to remain profitable during the rapid growth. We have never taken on any outside funding, which made it a challenge to grow quickly in the early days. We’ve grown over 2,500% in the past five years.
How do you define success?
Success in business is like a gas engine. Without certain parts, missing gears, etc. – it does not run. Yet, a well-oiled machine runs itself. All you must do with a successful business is pour in gas, crank it up, and it speeds off on its own. Having a business that can do that profitably, while still growing, is success to me.
What is the key to success?
It would be nice if there was a single key to success, but I have not found it. Success is created through a collaboration of hard work, good strategies, a great staff, and even trial and error. You must find the right mix to reach success.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Your staff drives your success. Treat them right!
What are some of your favorite books?
To be honest, I’m not a big book reader, but Predictable Success by Les McKeown was a good one.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
I’ve had many. Like most entrepreneurs, you must fail first before you can succeed. I can recall a very tough week, a few years ago, when we lost three staff members. Having three team members, on a small team, quit in the same week is a big blow. It hits your motivation, your colleagues, and the entire team feels it. I didn’t even want to drive to work and face the remaining staff, but you get past those humps.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
A drive for success. My peers, competitors, and family are all motivators to keep pushing. I like a good challenge; it makes us stronger.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
People, Products, and Systems. You need a balance of all three from the start to build the proper foundation for any successful business.
This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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