Today, I had the chance to catch up with a good friend, Connor Wilson. Connor is a second year InSITE Fellow and a co-founder at Thursday Boot Company. When I came to Columbia this year as a first-time New Yorker, he gave me great advice on how to get fully immersed in the New York startup eco-system. I shared with him my story of starting my own small-business, Makara Surf, and my desire to build a new business. He then shared with me his vision for Thursday Boot Company, on that very day he was going to shoot film for his Kickstarter campaign.
Despite his obligations as a founder and his extremely busy schedule at that time, he made time not just to meet with me but with other CBS entrepreneurs, many of which would later become part of the InSITE fellowship. He said applying to InSITE was a no-brainer and that I should definitely pursue the opportunity.
I took his word for it and all I can say is that he was right and the experience has been nothing short of rewarding. Since that time Connor and his partner Nolan Walsh, also a second year Fellow, have gone on to launch the company and break crowd-funding records along the way. Here is our conversation:
How did you meet Nolan?
Nolan and I met at Columbia Business School, but we got to know each other better through InSITE. The program itself has a lot of people interested in entrepreneurship and we first bonded as friends while discussing business ideas at InSITE events.
What made you decide to take that next step and decide to create a product?
It all came from solving a problem we had ourselves. We both had this situation where you can buy work boots which are tough, but not very cool. You probably wouldn’t want to wear them on a date. Or you can wear these fashion boots that were really expensive and can’t really take much abuse. We wanted something with style and toughness.
Why not resell an existing product for a new market. Why do it yourselves?
We started just learning how to make boots and take it from there. We found you can make cheap boots of horrible quality. It was at this time we decided we can bring a lot of quality to this by doing it ourselves and making something we can be proud of this. No other boot was providing this same combination of style and durability.
Tell me about what you are going to do now since the success of your Kickstarter campaign?
We want to make sure we take care of our initial supporters. We had a lot of friends supporting us in this launch, but the majority of our orders came from new customers who really believed in the product. We have had such a positive reaction from the internet forums and other media sources. Now we want to ensure we deliver on our promise. Our focus remains on getting our product to where it needs to go.
As you build your company what type of people are you looking for?
At Thursday we want people who know how to have fun but will run hard with an idea. And who embody the idea of a Thursday.
Talk about Thursday and why the name.
Thursday speaks a lot to what our boots are all about. They are cool and stylish like a fashion boot, but still durable and functional like a work boot, and Thursday also encapsulates that blend of work and play.
How has inSITE been helpful?
Nolan and I are huge fans of the program. The diversity of people is great and they are passionate about bringing about change. Our peers have lent their ideas, skills, and connections to our vision, making it a real team effort. Without a doubt the program and the fellows have been extremely helpful.
Connor had to run as he was now living the life of a busy co-founder while still juggling his obligations as Co-President of Columbia Business School’s Student Government. However it is clear that every chance he gets he will give back to the organizations who have helped him along the way. It will be interesting to see where Nolan and him take Thursday.
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Diego Cuenca is a 2016 MBA Candidate at Columbia Business School InSITE Fellow.