David Miller is the founder of geotees, located in Charleston, West Virginia. The brand concept of geotees was inspired by what Miller calls the “experience tee”. As Miller was traveling around California in 2018, he wanted a high-quality t-shirt without a loud message on the front; a t-shirt with a simple city name and design. He never found a simple destination t-shirt design without all the fancy logos and imagery. A few months later, Miller embarked on a journey to create a simple, destination t-shirt and geodes was born.
Miller was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast, hosted by Jim Matuga. Miller discusses how he got started in entrepreneurship, his worst business experience and his takeaway, as well as his advice for young entrepreneurs.
How did you get started in entrepreneurship?
“It was the classic story,” Miller said. “I was laid off my job.”
“They did me a favor. To be as honest as possible about it, they laid me off. I was living in Fort Lauderdale, Florida at the time working for a start-up for the MAC. They were doing pretty well at the time, but started laying off a large part of their staff.”
“At first you worry, but I was 24 years old and I had a lot of future ahead of me. I took a few months off. I moved back to West Virginia and I was going to leave again. I was going to go out west to California, continue on the journey looking for opportunity but I met my wife to be and I stayed in West Virginia and began my entrepreneurial endeavors.”
What has been your worst business experience so far?
“Early on when I first became an entrepreneur and took that unsafe boat out into the harbor, I would have to say this first starts out in 1993 with my first business. I was living in Charleston at the time and I used to travel every weekend to another city and set up a traveling store in a venue to sell from. One weekend it might be Dallas and the next it might be Miami. I had this van and I would travel all over the East coast and the Midwest.”
“Somewhere in the middle of Virginia, it was day two of a bodybuilding show I was attending, and I went out early to a convenience store to get a cup of coffee. I went into the convenience store and I thought, ‘why don’t I just leave the car running?’ and here I am at the coffee stand and a guy walks in and says ‘Who here owns a white van? It’s moving out of the parking lot and moving across the lanes.’”
“My van was backing out of the parking lot, it crossed the four-way and jumped the median. I swear, I peed my pants at that moment.”
What was your one take away from that experience?
“Never leave your car unoccupied and running,” Miller advised.
What is one piece of advice you would give a young entrepreneur?
“I have always started a business with my own financial contribution first,” Miller said. “Everybody has an idea and people constantly come to me with ideas.”
“I ask ‘what’s your skin in the game,’ “have you put a plan together,’ ‘what’s your long-term and short-term goals?’ ‘Do you have any money?’ and they answer ‘no.’”
“It’s just an idea, and I am not trying to kill that, but part of my success is that you have to have some skin in the game for someone to take you seriously,” Miller said. “I think it projects your passion to a potential investor. It makes you accountable and makes you work hard.”
“My advice is never to take an idea to market looking for money,” Miller said.
Miller was a guest on The Positively West Virginia Podcast. Listen to his full podcast here.
PWV QUICK BITS | GEOTEES
- RECOMMENDED BOOK: Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers and Challengers by Alexander Osterwalder
- RECOMMENDED RESOURCE: Skype
- PIECE OF ADVICE: “My advice is never to take an idea to market looking for money,” Miller said.