Entrepreneur Daymond John is best known as the founder, president, and CEO of FUBU, and he currently appears as an investor on the hit ABC reality television series “Shark Tank.”
The mogul recalled his early days at Forefront, the first large-scale live event of the I Will Teach You to Be Rich community in New York City.
At the time, FUBU was little more than a basement operation, and John’s challenge was figuring out how to make $300,000 worth of clothes on no budget. He had neither the infrastructure nor the resources. So he hit up 27 banks for a loan, and of course all rejected the young black visionary.
John says that in hindsight, he doesn’t blame the banks for rejecting him, and said he probably wouldn’t have lent himself the money because his pitch to the banks was pretty terrible: “‘Hello, I am out here in these streets. And the struggle is real. LL [Cool J] is wearing my clothes and I just want to be rich!’”
Luckily his mother stepped in and took out an equity line on their home in Queens, securing John $100,000. With that money, he set up a mini-factory in the house. However, that money dwindled down quick, causing John to miss six months of mortgage payments. Mom was in danger of losing her home.
“My lack of financial intelligence and my lack of having like-minded people around me was about to be my downfall,” says John.
His mother told him that she needed $2,000 to fix his problem, so he went to work at Red Lobster until he hustled up enough money. His mother used it to take out an advertisement in the local paper, “One million in orders needs financing.” (John says his mother wasn’t afraid to stretch the truth.)
He got 33 calls from the advertisement. One was from Samsung’s textile division, which wanted to use FUBU to test the Urban market. The company agreed to fund John’s orders but he would have to make $5 million worth of sales in three years.
John made $30 million worth of sales in three months.