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BGBS 045: David Barnett | Popsockets | Surprisingly Useful

BGBS 045: David Barnett | Popsockets | Surprisingly Useful

 
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BGBS 045: David Barnett | Popsockets | Surprisingly Useful

From “after-school sports dork” to CEO of Popsockets, David Barnett left a ripple in the world with an invention that revolutionized how we hold phones. And to think it was originally made out of glued clothing buttons. By accomplishing his purpose of increasing people’s happiness, even if just a little everyday, David teaches us that no impact is too small. That “doodad” that he built in his living room has reached unimaginable heights, selling well over 200 million units and jump-starting a movement worldwide.

Above all, you’ll learn in this episode that David has an intuitive mind. You could say that his years enveloped in philosophy and questioning the nature of reality cultivated an inventor’s mind. Examining the abstract allowed David to imagine something that didn’t exist, and yet, his intention was only to solve an individual problem. Little did he know, there was much more to come, including sharing the wealth with important causes. We admire David’s ability to make something surprisingly useful out of a simple annoyance, inspiring us to ask, how can we turn our own frustrations into action?

In this episode, you’ll learn…

  • 8-15-year-old David was always an entrepreneur, thinking up ideas like a bike repair business and mixtape business
  • David saw his grandfather as the most successful person he knew and therefore wanted to do anything he did to achieve similar success. At the time it was business
  • An epiphany in college led David astray from business for a significant amount of years to delve into philosophy and physics
  • David became completely engrossed in philosophy and became a professor
  • Frustration led to the invention when David created a “Popsocket” out of buttons to prevent tangling his headphones
  • There was no “eureka” moment with the handmade button detangler for a long time until his friends and family made fun of him enough to make a real prototype that got people excited
  • The insurance package from David’s house burning down made great funding for Popsockets
  • David’s wife contributed the name, “Popsockets”
  • The original Popsockets was a case with two grips that expanded and collapsed
  • When sampling his product with his students, David realized that people were using Popsockets for a different reason than its initial purpose, which led to a standalone grip
  • Although David never wanted to give up, after receiving his third defective shipment of 30,000 grips and exhausting his finances, he felt for the first time that he might be forced to
  • Today, the Poptivism program is a way for you to purchase a grip and send 50% of the profits to a charity of your choice

Resources

Popsockets

Poptivism

Original Kickstarter campaign

Quotes

[29:23] I suppose it was just frustration with wasted time. So when I notice that my time is wasted more than once on the same problem, I tend to take action.

[34:08] My friends and family motivated me by making fun of me to start tinkering with mechanisms to get the buttons to expand and collapse so that it would look a little more respectable and also have more functionality.

[55:37] One of my original goals, when I decided to commercialize this invention, was to generate wealth for myself so that I could use that wealth for good causes.

[59:17] All of our products, we try our best to include the three ingredients which the original product has. One is the empowering quality, so it just makes using a phone so much better. The second is the fun or magical feature—that it’s surprisingly fun. And it’s surprisingly useful. 

Podcast Transcript

David Barnett 0:02
When we get right down to it, I was all excited. And they would just contradict themselves, you know, one contradiction after another. And when I pointed out, they’d laugh it off. And I think to myself, I can’t laugh that off this is it like this is the foundation of reality and you’re contradicting yourself. There’s nothing funny about that. We need a real theory here to understand what’s going on. And eventually, it just frustrated me so much.

So I walked out of a lab, a physics lab, halfway through the lab, I hadn’t done any work. And the first half, I was just sitting there looking around at the other students, and looking at my lab book thinking to myself, I can’t do this. The rest of my life there. It’s so detail-oriented and they don’t really want to address the fundamental questions. So halfway through, I walked past my professor waved to him, he didn’t know what I was doing, walk straight over to the philosophy department and got an application to apply to their master’s program at CU.

Marc Gutman 0:56
Podcasting from Boulder, Colorado. This is the Baby Got Backstory Podcast, where we dive into the story behind the story of today’s most inspiring storytellers, creators and entrepreneurs. I like big backstories and I cannot lie. I am your host, Marc Gutman, Marc Gutman, and on today’s episode of Baby Got Back story. How a philosophy professors frustration with his perpetually tangled headphone cords prompted him to invent what might be the most recognizable mobile phone accessory today. All right. All right now if you like and enjoy the show, please take a minute or two to rate and review us over at Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Apple and Spotify use these ratings as part of their algorithms that determine the ratings on their charts. Ratings help us to build an audience because we get discovered people find out about us, which then helps us to continue to produce this show.

If you haven’t gone ahead and given us a review and you think that we’re deserving please please go ahead and do that that would be greatly appreciated. This is Episode 45. And today’s episode is oh, so worthy of 45. I want you to think back to 2012. This is the time of the iPhone three Marvel’s The Avengers has just released in the theaters. The Space Shuttle Endeavour has had its final flight. And Barack Obama is elected for his second term. Homeland the TV show is the talk of the watercooler and Facebook goes public among concerns that they’d be able to make money. funny to think about now.

It is also the year that David Barnett, philosophy professor at the University of Colorado, launched his Kickstarter campaign for Popsockets. I want to take a moment here and call out his Kickstarter video. I have personally been involved in creating and advising and several Kickstarter videos. And I’m still not sure what his campaign was selling or promising. But what I can tell you is that it’s one of the best Kickstarter videos I’ve ever seen. We’ll make sure to link to it in the show notes. And I highly recommend you check it out. But let’s get back to popsockets. And I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that if you have a mobile phone, which I know you do, little side thought Do you know anyone without a mobile phone today? Anyways, I know you have a mobile phone. So I’m going out on a limb and going to say you have either personally used seen or know someone who has used or seen a popsocket.

You know, those little plastic buttons stuck to the back of a phone or case that open accordion style and have that satisfying little pop when extending and collapsing. And there’s something magical is David will explain about this piece of plastic and rubber hay and I’m sure it’s some sort of advanced material. And I’m using terms like plastic and rubber loosely just bear with me. And there’s a draw. That’s in explicable the invention started as a way to solve a very real problem. David’s headphone wires kept getting all tangled. And as you hear, anything that either frustrates David or cost him time moves him to action. But while the inspiration was tangled headphones, what he found was that most people were using Popsockets as a grip.

Today, Popsockets have shipped over 200 million Popsockets all over the globe, and the business has been structured to serve a greater purpose. David Barnett is the founder and operating CEO today and this is his story.

So David, you’re best known for inventing and running with the company Popsockets. I think at this point, if you don’t know what a Popsocket is, you’re probably living Under a rock. they’re just about ubiquitous I’m sure you were hoping they’re they’re more ubiquitous but as far as I’m concerned they’re they’re fairly ubiquitous. When when you were a young kid when you were young boy was like eight year old David like an inventor and into inventing things?

David Barnett 5:15
I yeah, he was he was a little hustler. I like to say, so little eight year old through I’d say 15 year old David was an inventor. And I say more generally a hustler because he was just constantly coming up with ways to start a business. So more of an entrepreneur, starting businesses, for instance, a bike repair business, even though I had no idea how to repair a bike, it didn’t stop me from opening a bike repair business in my neighborhood. I had a mixtape business in I think fourth grade. Because my sister’s boyfriend had a bitchin album collection. I thought I’d take advantage of that by making mixtapes for the other students and selling them. And then I had a string of other businesses.

Marc Gutman 6:03
Oh, the irony, if you still had that mixtape business right now, you would have about a billion hipster customers that would be all over I love the idea of a mixtape business. That’s like, that’s so great. So where’d you grow up? What was that? Like? Where’d you grow up? What would your parents do for a living?

David Barnett 6:20
Sure, I grew up southeast of Denver, Colorado, out in out on the outskirts of suburbia. So we were on the edges of suburbia. And then I watched it grow as I grew up, around us. And let’s see, my father was a manager of a retail store called medianav. Back in the day, it was eaten up by Macy’s, which I don’t think exists anymore today, but just a general retail store. And my mom occasionally worked as a secretary for CPA firm, but maybe 50% worked and 50% an at home mom.

Marc Gutman 7:00
And so was would you say by all accounts, your upbringing was fairly normal or standard, or was there anything a little bit different about it? And by the way, what do you call the outskirts of suburbia? What was that at that time?

David Barnett 7:14
It was unincorporated Arapahoe county at the time. So it wasn’t part of any city. We were in a county but not in any city near Cherry Creek Reservoir is as most for those familiar with Colorado. We’re right near that reservoir and houses were just popping up left and right. Douglas County, the fastest growing county in Colorado didn’t exist yet. I watched it come into existence. Sorry. One point is the fastest growing County. And now there’s just miles and miles and miles of development and neighborhood after years of development across fields that I used to play and

Marc Gutman 7:55
yeah, I’m imagining a little bit like the scene from a Spielberg movie or like et or like, you know, one of these communities, there’s communities sprouting up and there’s kids kind of running all over the place and and as people are discovering suburbia and the new sort of the new wave, and you know, when you were in middle school in high school outside of being a hustler, what other interest did you have? Wow, that’s a

David Barnett 8:19
good question. I was a snake hunter in grade school. So I was in a gang and our gang road, road road little dirt bikes and hunted for snakes. And then in middle school and in middle school and high school I became part of a gang called the after school sports dorks. We did not name ourselves that but that’s what one of the jocks on the football team named us in between probably beating me up. He called us the after school sports dorks because my friends and I would get together after school and make up games with basketballs, volleyballs, golf balls, whatever it was. So people would see us around the neighborhood, playing our made up sports games, after school sports dorks. That’s really what I was. With my friends after school, I wasn’t I wasn’t much into school. I have to say. I had a lot of fun.

Marc Gutman 9:12
Yeah. And so you mentioned like, you know, kind of you get this nickname the after school sport dorks and you kind of threw in there that maybe you’re getting beat up or chased around from time to time it was it was high school tough? Were you a little bit in that, that outcast crowd?

David Barnett 9:28
No, it wasn’t tough. I wasn’t in the, in the I went to large High School. So I had a lot of clicks. But my click was a mix of actually, actually athletes. So they were on some varsity teams just not not the football player, cheerleader crowd, right. So that’s who I’m thinking of as the guy who, who might give me a Negi or a Snuggie and put me in an occasional headlock. Maybe give me a nice charley horse. But I cannot I cannot by any means say that I was an outcast and had a tough I had a nice group of friends and and did all right socially.

Marc Gutman 10:09
Alright, well when you’re in the nice group the after-school sports dorks are hanging out like where do you think you were gonna go like after after high school? Where did you did you you know I have your your bio here and I see that you were a philosophy major at Emory which I find a little bit in contrast when you say you really weren’t into school because I don’t really think of philosophy majors of not being in the school, but we’ll talk about that. But I mean, did you Was that your plan? Did you think you were going to be a philosopher? like How’d you end up at Emory?

David Barnett 10:36
I thought I was going to be a business person in high school and grade school and middle school. I looked up to my grandfather, he was a successful businessman. And he was vice president of a company called Chris Kraft. And I just admired him that was what I thought of as success because he was the most successful person around me had thought and business happened to be what he was engaged in. So I figured I’d be a businessman and I had been a hustler, you know, in my life and an entrepreneur. And then I went to Emory, because I checked it, I checked the box off on the common application where you get to choose from a list of colleges to apply to and you didn’t have to fill out a separate application for each one. That seemed efficient to me. So I just checked off a bunch of boxes, checked Emory and it was the best school I got into. And that’s why I was at Emory.

That’s why most of my friends at Emory read, it’s that we’ve gotten rejected from the Ivy League schools in the better schools. And so that was our answer. When you asked why we were there. It’s a good school Emory, but it was often not people’s first choice. And then once I got to Emory, I, I took a big turn away from business, probably from eating hallucinogenic mushrooms, I’m guessing, sitting around with my friends thinking, Wow, I can’t be a businessman in my life. What a waste of a life. I’ve got to do something else I’ve got to do philosophy or physics or science. So some kind of epiphany in college about the meaning of life led me away from business and onto a pretty significant detour for for many years before I got back to my roots as a hustler.

Marc Gutman 12:12
And so your grandfather worked at Chris craft, the motorboat company is that the right company?

David Barnett 12:19
that’s what they that’s what that brand is known for. He he was a executive vice president. So he and somebody else ran that company. But really how they made their money was was in media. So they, they acquired they sold Warner to Time, but in the Time Warner deal. When Time became Time Warner. They sold United Television to Paramount for the UPN network. They own a bunch of TV stations, radio stations, they own Chris craft boats and sold it off and they owned was it paper, some some Aircraft Company? They had their hands in a lot of different businesses. And

Marc Gutman 12:59
It’s kind of the era of the multinational conglomerate, and doing all those kinds of different businesses where you’re like, why is Chris Kraft selling, you know, packaged foods?

David Barnett 13:12
Why are they getting in fights with Rupert Murdoch, I remember there are articles when I was a kid about how Chris Kraft was the white knight like saving. I don’t know, united television, or maybe was Warner Brothers, I think they save Warner from a hostile takeover from rupert murdoch. And that was all those were the exciting days where there were hostile takeovers, and like you said, multinational conglomerates.

Marc Gutman 13:35
And so what was interesting about that to you like when you saw your grandfather, and what was his name, by the way?

David Barnett 13:41
Lawrence Barnett

Marc Gutman 13:43
Very, very strong vice president name. It’s very good. If I was gonna cast at Lawrence Barnett. I think that would be it. But like, what, what do you remember about him? Like, why was that appealing when he had all these other influences around you?

David Barnett 13:58
He really was the just, he just seemed successful to me. His wife, by the way, was Broadway, a Broadway star she started in in, she was Sarah Brown, and in Oakley original Oklahoma on Broadway. She was in Guys and Dolls as one of the main characters. And the two of them when I visited them, they just seem successful to me. And it’s not that I admired so much what they did, I think just as a child, subconsciously. That was my only option in front of me. Not that not that the rest of my family members were failures or anything, they just seemed exceptionally successful. And they and by the way, they happen to do business. So have they been exceptionally successful, and they were both physicist, I would have been a physicist. I think it was just for me what success was and I was driven to be successful as a kid.

Marc Gutman 14:49
And then you got to Emory and you talk a little bit about it. That sounds like you went on a bit of self discovery yourself. I mean, it is a pretty big change I have to imagine from Denver at the time and And you’re you’re at Emory. And you’re your experiment and you’re you mentioned some psychedelics, you’re, you’re deciding what to do with yourself like, like, why philosophy?

David Barnett 15:11
Wow, I, I remember, I was taking some economics as an economics major. And one of my classes was full. I don’t think I’ve ever told anybody the story. But I remember standing in front of a wall with schedules and, and lit course listings. And I had to choose a different class because I couldn’t take the class that I had signed up for. And there was a beautiful girl standing next to me. And she chose some philosophy class. And I thought, Well, that seems like a good idea. So I ended up enrolling this in this philosophy class. Because she did. And I loved it. It just opened my mind it stimulated me I found is so much more interesting than the other classes I was taking. So I started taking more and more philosophy classes, because I found them just stimulating and intellectually rigorous and lively. So that got me into philosophy. And, and it was a totally different sort of philosophy from the philosophy I ended up doing and getting my PhD. But it’s still open my mind to

Unknown Speaker 16:15
anything happened with the girl.

David Barnett 16:16
I can’t really I highly doubt it. So I guess since I don’t remember any answers, no.

Marc Gutman 16:24
If you can’t remember, the answer is always No. So you’re, you’re at you’re at Emory. And you’ve, you’ve been turned on by philosophy and you decide to get into that and in put some rigor into philosophy and, and and then what happened? Where’d you go from Emory?

David Barnett 16:42
It’s an exaggeration to say put some rigor into it, it woke me up, I liked my classes. But I have to say, when I wasn’t in class, I was not studying unless it was an all nighter right before an exam. I was having a lot of fun in college, so and I don’t regret it, I would do it again, I had so much fun. But when I finished Emory, I thought to myself, okay, now I’m ready to learn and get serious. And I was ready to become a physicist. I wanted to understand the nature of reality, and the nature of the universe. And so I moved back to Colorado where tuition was lower, because I, my grandfather paid for my college, my undergrad, but he was not going to pay for any further school. So I was going to have to pay for my own school, which meant in state tuition, and living in the dorms and being serious.

So I went to University of Colorado, put myself in the dorms, I had a lot of friends in Boulder, I stayed away from my friends to be serious. And I took full load of math and physics and chemistry, all the courses i’d need to prepare for a Ph. D. program in physics. And I just immerse myself in it. So I was a serious student there for the year and a half a year and three quarters, preparing for a Ph. D. program in physics.

Marc Gutman 17:59
Did you understand your reality? Did you find the answer?

David Barnett 18:03
I didn’t. So I yeah, I found it stimulating. I enjoyed the classes. But I was sitting in a physics lab, I ended up debating with my physics professors quite a bit and being disappointed with their answers. I felt like we would get, we would start debating, we’d get to the crucial questions about the nature of reality, say the interpretation of quantum physics. And we get right down to it, I was all excited. And they would just contradict themselves, you know, one contradiction after another. And when I pointed out, they’d laugh it off. And I think to myself, can’t laugh that off.

This is it like this is the foundation of reality, and you’re contradicting yourself. There’s nothing funny about that. We need a real theory here to understand what’s going on. And eventually, it just frustrated me so much. So I walked out of a lab, a physics lab, halfway through the lab, I hadn’t done any work in the first half, I was just sitting there looking around at the other students and looking at my lab book thinking to myself, I can’t do this, the rest of my life there is so detail oriented, and they don’t really want to address the fundamental questions. So halfway through, I walked past my professor waved to him, he didn’t know what I was doing, walk straight over to the philosophy department and got an application to apply to their master’s program and CU.

Marc Gutman 19:18
And did you feel? I mean, it sounds like you felt full of conviction. And hey, like, I’m real confident in this decision, or was there at all a little bit of like, Oh, crap, what did I just do?

David Barnett 19:29
No, I was confident. I was happy with the decision, even though I didn’t really even know what philosophy was. I had taken an undergrad, gotten an undergrad degree in philosophy, but like I said, it was a totally different sort of philosophy. And so what I was about to immerse myself in here at CU, I really didn’t know. And it was totally foreign to me.

When I started taking these classes. I had no idea what was going on. What they were talking about why they were talking about these topics, why they mattered. It took me a good couple of years. To really appreciate what the method was, and then why I thought it ended up thinking why, why it was better suited to my interest than the methods of undergrad philosophy.

Marc Gutman 20:12
So how the rest of that period of your education go?

David Barnett 20:15
It was great. Some of the best years of my life spent my days thinking about really interesting topics, the nature of thoughts, the nature of consciousness, I also did a lot of philosophy of physics. So I ended up being able to address those questions that, that I felt that I wasn’t able to address with the physics professors. And so interpretations of quantum physics in general relativity, philosophy of math, even. So I fell in love with it, really, and then ended up pursuing a PhD. I went to Cornell gotten into their Ph. D. program, and then I transferred to NYU, and ended up getting a PhD in philosophy at NYU.

Marc Gutman 20:57
And then was that your plan? Did you think hey, like, I’m getting higher education in philosophy, and I’m going to teach it at a university. That’s my plan.

David Barnett 21:07
That is the plan, though, you’ll find people in PhD programs in philosophy, and probably probably a lot of topics would never use the word teach, because it’s so the emphasis is so much on research, rather than teaching. It’s more, I’m going to devote my life to researching the subject matter. And oh, by the way, I’ll teach and that’s how I make my money. And that’s how you keep your job, of course and get tenures is based on the research, not the teaching. So yeah, I was passionate about the subject matter and passionate about that a career in philosophy as a professor,

Marc Gutman 21:42
What was the subject matter that you were so passionate about that you were like, Hey, I’m going to devote my life to this?

David Barnett 21:48
So I ended up doing a lot of work in philosophy of language, the fountain, so that’s sort of the foundation of, of language, in philosophy of language, you don’t ask particular questions about, say, English or Japanese or French, you ask more fun, fundamental questions about the nature of language. So you would ask what, what must any language look like? What are the basic building blocks of a language? And what is meaning? So our sentences, sentences I’m uttering right now means something to you, I’m communicating thoughts to you right now. What are these things the the meanings of my sentences, or I just call them thoughts, they end up the things we’re communicating are actually our thoughts, right?

So I quickly moved from philosophy of language into philosophy of the mind. And you ask, what is the thought? What sort of thing is it? And it can’t be related to humans, either, because you could imagine an alien having a thought or coming down and communicating with us. So it’s not, you know, some neural pattern in our brain, it’s got to be something more abstract. And that can then lead to more questions about consciousness and what what the nature of conscious being is. So I did philosophy of language, some metaphysics that I hate to say that word on outside the context of philosophy, because it can mean lots of things to different people. But that’s generally just the nature of reality, what sorts of things exist and what categories and things exist? So philosophy of mind philosophy of language and metaphysics, were my, my main areas,

Marc Gutman 23:20
heavy stuff, I like it. I feel like we could spend hours just talking about that, but we’ll spare a little bit maybe some other time. We’ll get into that I’d love to. I’d love to dive deeper. But you’re, you know, you, you finish up your graduate program at NYU, I’m assuming and correct me if I’ve got this right or wrong. You come back to your your one of your alma mater, see you and you become a professor in philosophy. Is that is that?

David Barnett 23:44
Yes, it was. It was a little more of a circuitous route back to CU. I started as a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina. And then I transferred to University of Vermont, which I which I loved. I like Davidson too, but really loved University of Vermont being in Burlington, it was much like boulder and then I did have the opportunity to come back to Colorado, which I did so I took that opportunity I think in around 2006 and came back for a tenure track position here at CU Boulder.

Marc Gutman 24:21
Was that at that like at that moment? Are you thinking hey like I’m I’ve done it like I’m back in Colorado? I’m a professor in the the discipline that I’m that I’m want to be in like are you what’s going on for you content? Are you? Are you kind of like getting restless?

David Barnett 24:39
No I was very much content even though sad leaving Vermont. I really loved it there. I was happy there. But Colorado was a place. I wanted to end up long term and in academics, you don’t typically have the opportunity to choose your, your destination. So for me, I’m getting the opportunity to Come be a tenured professor at Boulder ultimately, be a tenured professor, that was a massive opportunity for me to be back here. And I was very much happy with it. So, and I was still passionate about philosophy to

Marc Gutman 25:15
Are you kind of doing what we today call a side hustle is the hustler and you showing up in different ways before kind of like we get to the the big idea, but like, Are you trying other things?

David Barnett 25:27
No, not at first, I was still squarely immersed in philosophy. So I spent, I spent my days when she’s when I compared to today, they were relatively empty. But in philosophy, you know, I only had one, if I got a great night of sleep, which meant nine and a half 10 hours of sleep, then I had about two hours of good concentration time in me the next day where I could really be productive and solve problems and think through some issues. And then the rest of the day was mountain biking, playing, preparing for a class maybe. So it was a great lifestyle. But it didn’t involve subject matter-wise, it didn’t involve anything but philosophy.

Marc Gutman 26:10
And so you’re filling your days with philosophy and you’re filling your mind with expansive thoughts. And let’s talk about what’s going on with your earbud chords. what’s what’s happening.

David Barnett 26:24
So let’s see 2006 I think is when I arrived at CU, I might be wrong, but roughly then. And then in 2010, I think by 2010, four years later, I had this right, I think I had secured tenure for myself. So I didn’t really have the pressure anymore to to publish, publish, publish. And I also had a lot of papers that I’d written that I just hadn’t submitted to journals yet. So pressure was off. In terms of research, I was also starting to burn out. So I just was frustrated spending my days trying to convince these other professors of of things that I thought, I just thought were totally obvious. And that I just asked myself, do I want to spend my life trying to convince these extremely stubborn people of some simple points? Or could I do something else.

So it was already in my mind that I that I was I was getting burnt out. And then one day, I got frustrated for the 30th time pulling my tangled headset cords out of my pocket. So I hopped in my car went to a local fabric store, Joanne fabrics, till the first solution ended up gluing a couple of big clothing buttons to the back of my iPhone three, with a couple of little spacer buttons underneath them. So I could wrap my cord around my headset and prevent the tangle. And that was the beginning of the popsockets journey.

Marc Gutman 27:54
Well, that’s interesting to me. I mean, a lot of times, you know, I say that businesses are started are one of three ways or all three ways frustration, inspiration or desperation. Certainly, that story illustrates some of those. But I’m also sensing in your own life. There’s this moment where David gets, you know, you take it, you take it, you take it and then it’s just you can’t take it anymore, and you’re gonna take action, you’re going to MIT take a solution, you’re not going to allow things to frustrate you. You’re going to make a change, right. And I think that’s really cool that like you’re proactive, you know, you’re like, Hey, I’m not just gonna, like let this insanity repeat itself. But like walking me through a little bit like, you know, I love the I love the image of you taking action and going to Joe and fabrics. But yeah, I think we also need to set the stage a little bit. I mean, you know, ear headphones, and earbud headphones, you know, we’re becoming quite ubiquitous.

They had the long wires. I mean, we’re getting to a point, you know, David were probably in like, five years ago to tell the story and kids are gonna be like, what are earbud wires? Like, what? What are those? And, you know, so like, I mean, what’s going on? I mean, are you just pulling it out a jumble in your pocket? And you’re just like, like, I mean, Are you frustrated? Are you like kind of cursing Apple under your breath thinking like, like, why? Like, why don’t they do this better? I mean, what’s going on for you before you really take action and get those buttons?

David Barnett 29:21
Sure. I suppose it was just a frustration with a waste wasted time. So when I noticed that my time is wasted more than once on the same problem I I tend to take action, whether it’s organizing my stuff better in drawers so that I can find it next time and not waste time looking for something. And this had just been too many times where I found myself standing, picking at this at this bundle of wires that were tangled and wasting whatever it was two or three minutes before I could even use the headset. And then something’s like you said something just snapped and I thought I can’t To deal with this anymore, it’s not like I lived right next to the fabric either I lived up in the mountains, so I hopped in my car and drove, you know, 20 minutes to the fabric store without a solution in mind just to kind of walk the aisles and look for a solution for myself.

Marc Gutman 30:17
This episode brought to you by Wildstory. Wait, isn’t that your company? It is. And without the generous support of Wildstory, this show would not be possible. A brand isn’t a logo or a tagline, or even your product. A brand is a person’s gut feeling about a product service or company. It’s what people say about you when you’re not in the room. Wildstory helps progressive founders and savvy marketers build purpose-driven brands that connect their business goals with the customers they want to serve. So that both the business and the customer needs are met. This results in crazy, happy, loyal customers that purchase again and again. And this is great for business. If that sounds like something you and your team might want to learn more about, reach out @ www.wildstory.com and we’d be happy to tell you more. Now back to our show.

Of all places, why Joann fabric? I mean I think like if I had this, you know and by no means am I a man-man so I’m not going to get guns or like Home Depot, but I’m probably going to like Rei or like I don’t know, like I’m thinking of like maybe a you know that that’s probably where I would go what what prompted you to go to join fabrics and think of buttons?

David Barnett 31:41
Sure, I can’t remember exactly. But I’d say putting myself and myself back in those shoes. It would either be macaque ns, which is the the hardware store that has everything under the sun. And it probably has this probably has a Joanne fabric somewhere in the store, or Joanne fabric. I don’t know why I started with Julian fabric. And I didn’t have buttons in mind. At first, I was just going to walk the aisles to look for something to build, I certainly didn’t have in mind that there would already be a pre existing solution.

So that’s why I didn’t go to Rei, or store, you know, mobile accessories store that might already have something, I was going to build my own solution. And fortunately, oh my god, this is some of the best fortune I’ve had in my life. I did not Google this problem. Had I looked for a solution for this online, I probably would have found a YouTube video showing somebody point sticking out their pointer finger and their pinky finger and holding their two middle fingers down with their thumb, and then wrapping their cord really quickly around the two horns of the bowl that you make when you stick your pointer finger in your your index finger and your pinky finger out. You quickly wrap your cord around the two. And that’s what I ended up doing later on after the after I use the invention mark as a grip. It’s a great solution to so I would have never been at Popsockets had I seen that video.

Marc Gutman 33:06
And so when you’re injured when fabrics and you get the button going, was it a bit of a eureka moment? Or was it like oh like okay, this will work. And I’m just gonna do this and move on with my life.

David Barnett 33:19
I say the latter. There’s just a, I’m happy with a solution for myself. Not really Eureka.

Marc Gutman 33:26
Cool. And so you’re using the solution you’re wrapping your wires and things seem to be going well. When do you start getting a sense that this might be something that other people want?

David Barnett 33:40
Not? Well, geez, I’m guessing here, but I’m guessing it was a couple of months. What happened was that my friends and family poked fun at me for having these enormous clothing buttons on the back of my little iPhone three. Remember, the iPhone three was tiny compared to current phone. So it was kind of like the Zoolander phone. And I had these huge inch and a half diameter buttons on the back of it that occupied the entire back side. So it looked absurd. And my friends and family motivated me by making fun of me to start tinkering with mechanisms to get the buttons to expand and collapse. So that it would it would look a little more respectable and also have more functionality.

And so it wasn’t until after I did that and prototyped the solution I landed on the accordion solution that it occurred to me that I could start selling these because when I prototype that I at one point ran into some kids in the Quad of CU boulder around this big grassy area. I ran into some kids maybe middle school age, and I showed them a prototype and their eyes just bulged out. their jaws dropped open. They went into this trance of I have to have that and that’s the moment that that I thought to myself. Oh God, I could sell a ton of these or at least At least a few thousand.

Marc Gutman 35:02
Well, I want to thank you for bringing up Zoolander. It’s one of my favorite all time movies, I’d say it’s a top five comedy of all time. So So thanks for that just a little bonus. But thinking about this, like, how do you go about you’re a cu professor, you’re not a prototyper? You’re not someone that designs, you know, molded plastic goods like how did you go about prototyping this and prototyping that according design?

David Barnett 35:28
Sure. So I went into Ali Baba. And I found, I just picked randomly, I don’t recommend that people do this. I randomly found a prototyping group and the guy’s name was Cade Wu. And this guy, Cade Wu, would accept my files. So I also taught myself 3d CAD software called SolidWorks. And I started making models of these accordions actually first tried hiring an engineering student, but that lasted a couple of weeks, maybe a few weeks, so frustrating having to tell somebody make this little change, make that little change, and then wait a few days for the changes. And so instead of just taught myself and started cranking on the software, and I would send these models off to Cade Wu in China, and I believe, two or three weeks later, in my mailbox, I’d get, I don’t know, 30 or 40 prototypes from different models, maybe I’d send him six months, six different models. And he’d send me two or three or four of each of these models. And they were they were terrible.

I can tell you, that was terribly disappointing. When I received them, they did not function at all, they didn’t expand or collapse. They were nothing close to the final product.

Marc Gutman 36:45
And so what do you think? Are you like, this is a wait, like, maybe I’m just wrong is this is this a waste of time, like this is just not?

David Barnett 36:51
It’s odd, because I have fond thoughts of Cade Wu I really like Cade Wu. And yet, Kate would cause me so much suffering and pain. So I have mixed feelings about Cade Woo. On the one hand, I have fond thoughts of him. On the other hand, he sent me off on the wrong path again, and again, I didn’t realize it for at least a year. But he was telling me that he was using certain materials, for instance, polyethylene, or polypropylene. And so I would get these prototypes. And I think, ah, my design is bad. I need to redesign it. And I totally redesigned that accordion, again, and again, and again, based on these prototypes, and after about a year, I figured out he was lying to me about the materials he was using. I’d say you Santa preen eight, nine or five, some material, I’d research he’d say, okay, Santa preen 8905. And he sent it to me. A year later, I realized he couldn’t possibly be using these materials. It just doesn’t work. You can’t use these materials with the process that he had a prototyping process. And so looking back I had, I had just assumed again and again that my design was off. But in fact, the material was wrong. I don’t know where I’d be today. If he had been honest with me what what the Popsocket grip would look like today? It might be totally different. The design.

Marc Gutman 38:11
How’d you find out he was lying. Like what? You know, what do you know about these materials?

David Barnett 38:17
I ended up hiring a design firm. When I had a Kickstarter campaign. In 2012, I hired a design firm called spec design in the Bay Area to help me design the case. So the body of the case, I had worked quite a bit on the accordion. So the main component, and I worked with them, and they started working with Kade Wu, and they were getting these prototypes. We were getting them, you know, every few weeks, and they didn’t notice he was lying either. But then at some point, once somebody that the design firm, an engineer made some comment to me. And it all just I had an epiphany, I thought to myself, holy cow, this guy has been lying to me for a year, and they didn’t even notice it. You can’t use these, you can only use the materials I was requesting injection molding. And that’s just not for prototyping, and it takes months and months to build the tooling. And then you inject the hot, you know, molten plastic into these tools. The materials just can’t be prototyped the way he claimed to be prototyping, I’m sorry, infer that he was using something called a cast urethane and that that’s what made up all the samples he’d been sending me.

Marc Gutman 39:26
Did you guys have it out or what happened there?

David Barnett 39:28
No, I still like Cade Wu for some reason.

I still like Cade Wu to this day. I guess I maybe that’s maybe that’s one of my faults is that I’m pretty charitable. I thought to myself, okay, what he was doing is he was just trying to find a cast urethane, that mimicked the material I was requesting most closely. So if I asked for a Santa cream at 8220, he would look up the specs of the material and think okay, I’ll use this urethane and it will most closely relate Assemble that. And that’s what he always did, I’m guessing.

Marc Gutman 40:03
So it sounds like you’re investing some significant money. I mean, you’re you’re hiring design students, you then go get a design firm in the Bay Area, which I am assuming just based on what I know about design firms in the Bay Area is not cheap. Like, how much money are you investing in this? And like, why are you investing in this? Like, what’s your thought?

David Barnett 40:26
Sure. I was burning through cash. By the time I had a Kickstarter campaign, I think I asked for maybe $12,000 in the campaign back then the campaigns were much smaller than they are today, most of them, and maybe I ended up raising 18,000 or something. I burned through that in a few weeks. So it’s not as if I hope that that would really fund the whole project. It was mostly a PR activity. But I had, let’s see, I had spent my savings and I was starting to go through some of my retirement.

And then fortunately, my house had burned down at the end of 2010, in the form of fire here up in Boulder, big fire that took about 240 homes, burned my hometown, and just a couple months before it burned my hometown, I had raised my limits on my insurance suspiciously. But I raised I raised my limits, and it triggered a massive increase in the limits for my contents. So after my house burned down, I was sitting on a really nice insurance package, I use that money for Popsockets instead of replacing the contents of the house. So I lived in an empty house. And then I got married and lived with with my new wife and in the rebuild house. And it was mostly empty for years, until I got some money from the Popsockets business. But I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, ultimately, on this business. When you ask why. And I don’t know. I guess I was obsessed. I wanted to see it through and had I lost everything I would have been fine. I would have just tried something else after that.

Marc Gutman 42:05
So I cannot be imagined imagine what your fiance’s thinking. I mean, she totally cool with this it like is like that going well? Or is there some dissent? like yeah, I’ll marry you in live in an empty house while you burn all those gas on a plastic thing for your phone?

David Barnett 42:26
It depends on whether she’s going to listen to this interview the answer to that question. I’m assuming she’s not In which case, the real answer is no, she was not nowhere close to being okay with this. And she said she married a philosophy professor. And then she felt tricked. She got, she got somebody who was obsessed with starting up a business, spending enormous amounts of time starting a business while being a professor. So she didn’t get the time that she thought she’d had with me. Since my summers were occupied. On the popsockets business, I spent all of our money on popsockets. And she thought it was a ridiculous product. As did all my friends. They nearly all of them just thought it was silly. So the answer is no, she was she was not with me on that one.

Marc Gutman 43:16
Got it. Like I wouldn’t think so. But businesses like this a lot of times not. And so when you’re doing the Kickstarter is Popsockets. The name at that time?

David Barnett 43:25
Wow, that is a good question. I’m pretty sure the answer is yes. It’s 95% confident that it was called Popsockets. By that point, it started off as iButtons. And fortunate I never really liked that name, I came up with that name. It was also a term of affection. Ibuttons. So you could say that to somebody, Ibuttons. It’s just a sweet thing to say. But then a big company threatened to sue me because they had a product called an iButton. And they did not like the fact that I got the Ibuttons.com URL. So I had them give me about $20,000, which I needed in order in exchange for giving up that name. And using a name that I liked a lot that it was popsockets.

Marc Gutman 44:09
Where’d that name come from?

David Barnett 44:11
That came straight from my wife, that is her big contribution to Popsockets. Maybe we had toyed around with sockets or pop one at one or the other was in the air and then she put it together.

Marc Gutman 44:21
See, she was behind you. She got it like you know, it’s like, she came up with the name.

David Barnett 44:26
She’s good for something for sure.

Marc Gutman 44:29
And so you fund your Kickstarter and to the tune of $18,000 and I’m assuming you’re just like, Easy Street, you’re just moving product and you have no problems. Is that how it goes down?

David Barnett 44:44
That’s right. Within a year I was a billionaire. I didn’t lift a finger.

So no, it was it was rough. It is much easier today for sure. I was running out of money. The 18,000 was nowhere close to really fun. I eventually found some investors around town just through through people that I’ve met. So these were strangers who had faith in the idea when I pitch it to them, I raised a few hundred more thousand dollars. As I was starting the business, I didn’t launch until 2014, two years after the Kickstarter campaign, I had massive manufacturing problems. That’s partly why I didn’t launch until 2014. And the factory just couldn’t get the case. Right. It was originally a case with two grips that expanded and collapsed.

Marc Gutman 45:33
And pretty much in the original form that will or the the common form that we know it as now which is like the the button with the accordion. Was it just that with the case?

David Barnett 45:43
Yeah, it was two of those since the kicks if you look at the Kickstarter campaign, it was that a case with two integrated Popsockets grips that expanded and collapsed. And the factory I chose just couldn’t make a case they had an over mold. So a soft material that was molded to a hard, hard plastic. And they they really just didn’t know how to do it. And month after month, after month passed by they had to throw away the tools because they had revised them so many times. And so and then version, the version of the iPhone change by the time we had got the case, right? That was an old version of the phone, I think were the iPhone five, by the time I actually launched the company out of my garage in 2014. And I had by that time develop the standalone grip that that has been the popular product.

Marc Gutman 46:29
Yeah. And what was the insight on that? Like, what was the big aha moment that less is more?

David Barnett 46:34
Sure. It, it likely, likely has its source in in feedback from my students. So when I was a professor, I handed out some cases, some prototypes of the original product to my students. And by the way, they would all when I would ask them, Would any of you use this product to keep your headset tangle free, and nearly all of their hands would go up in the air? So I finally got some samples, I handed them out. And then I watched them over the course of a few weeks to see who would who would stop using the product, how many of them would stop using the product, those who kept using it? What were they using it for?

And I noticed the ones who kept it on, we’re not using it for headset management, they were using it for the grip function and the stand function, but mostly the grip function. And yet the grip was not in an ideal location, there was one grip that was too high and one grip that was too low, because I had two of them on the back so that you could wrap your headset around them. And that made me think look, I should invent just a standalone product that can be placed ideally for the grip function. And when I launched the Kickstarter campaign, I ended up licensing the original invention with a case to case made out of Atlanta. And thought, well, they can run with this Well, I developed a standalone product that was not under license. So that’s what I did. They worked on the case for six months, and then they ended up Never launching a case. And in that time I developed the standalone product.

Marc Gutman 48:03
And at that point, did it just take off? I mean, I I have this recollection that, you know, at one point, it was like I didn’t know what Popsockets were. And then they were everywhere. Like they were just like, everywhere, like and people had them and they just became they just became part of you know, popular culture. I mean, it was that the way it felt for you? Or was the getting the standalone product to get traction was that was that a challenge?

David Barnett 48:29
It certainly took some effort that first year, I mean, we flip the switch and turn on the website. And I had no marketing dollars, I had no experience no connections to retailers. So I just turned on a Shopify website, I hired a couple of, of people who had been doing some landscaping. So they were in my garage, little big hands and war bear these two huge guys that were selling sitting in my garage ready to fulfill orders, I flipped the switch. And nothing happened. Of course, we got no orders, we got no orders the next day or the next day or the next day. And I thought to myself, hmm, somehow we got to get the word out that this exists. And I went to a promotional Trade Show in Las Vegas, just by chance I had a friend who offered to share a booth. And it was a huge hit there.

So that was my first break. These are people looking to put logos on products and give them away for free. And it was clear to the distributors at this trade show that the Popsocket grip was a perfect billboard for your for your logo and for getting impressions. So I had a big crowd around my booth. And over the course of the next four or five months, I ended up selling batches of 3000 5000 7000 to T Mobile Yahoo, you know these big brands through distributors that then got them into the hands of thousands of people. And then I started seeing the traffic come to the website because we had a I don’t know if it’s a critical mass but we had enough of them out there. Public, that word of mouth was spreading. And then two other things were happening at the same time that year celebrities somehow got ahold of them the first year in 2014.

To this day, I don’t know how but Gigi Hadid, Ryan Seacrest, and remember Woody Harrelson, his wife, somehow, I got word that she was calling it a life changer from somebody that heard that. So they were showing up in People Magazine and on social media using the grip, and we saw a hotspot in LA on our website, customers around Los Angeles. And then third, we were planting these grips in middle schools in Colorado. So we’re encouraging these schools to use them as fundraisers. And that started a third flame, you could say, the middle schoolers took to this product and started telling their friends about it. So those three elements came together. And by the end of 2014, we were seeing some really nice growth month over a month, it was starting to you’re starting to see that hockey stick growth. And then we saw about 10 times we were selling each month, we were selling about 10 times what we were that month, the prior year, for the next couple years. 1516. And we were named the fast second fastest growing company in the US in 2018, with a growth rate of 72,000% over three years. And it was mostly just a viral phenomenon over those few those first three to four years, I’d say. And then exploded into retail, in I think 2016 and 17. So over the course of a few years, what you described as correct.

Marc Gutman 51:31
Yeah, and prior to that, I mean, really before this, this validation moment where you go to the trade show, and and for promo products, and people are like, okay, like, and I have to imagine that, like when you got those first orders, you’re like, Alright, I’m on like, I’m not crazy. But so but you know, prior to that, I mean, are you thinking of giving up? Are you thinking of like, hey, like I have sunk enough money into this, I have put enough energy into this, this just may not happen?

David Barnett 52:01
No, I hadn’t considered giving up. There was one moment that I vividly recall, where, where I did for the first time, I feel that I might that I might be forced to give up. So it was when we had an office on on Pearl Street in Boulder. And we received a shipment of about 30,000 grips and packaging. It was maybe the third major shipment we received. We weren’t in any retail stores yet. So we’re selling on the website and promo. And they were all defective. This was the third time in a row.

So I had never gotten a pure, high quality product, I had always received shipment of defective product that gel was defective on the first 30,000 I received my friends and I had to pull off, it’s tough to get gel off these by hand, pull off 30,000 gel stickers and put new gel on the bottoms of them. But this third shipment, the packaging was all just blowing out and the plastic from the accordion was sticking through the gel so far that it wouldn’t—it hit the back of the phone before the gel did. So the grip would just fall right off the phone. My stomach just sank when I opened up the shipment and there was $1,000 in the bank account, I probably owed $30,000. And that was it.

I had no more cash. I didn’t have any investors lined up to give any more money. And we were sitting on defective products. So I remember taking a walk on the street thinking to myself, this is not good. And it could be the end of us.

Marc Gutman 53:35
But here you are today. And you’re the you’re the CEO still have Popsockets and give us a sense of what Popsockets looks like today, like how many employees and like approximately how many units are going out at this point?

David Barnett 53:48
Sure. Well, pre COVID, we were about 300 employees headquarters in Boulder. We have a design office in San Francisco with about 20 people. An office in Europe offices in Singapore, Seoul, Korea, Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, we now have an office in Colombia in Bogota. So we’re a global company now. We’ve sold well over 200 million units, I’m guessing probably closer to 300 million I haven’t checked in recently. But you know, we’re going through a high volume of grips each week and post COVID we have fewer people. So we unfortunately did have to lay off quite a few people. For a low quite a few to preserve our cash when COVID hit and the stores all shut down globally. We are coming back from that though we’re doing quite well and we’re hiring again.

So that should give you a sense of the size and we have ambitions to be far bigger mostly so that we can make a more positive impact. We have a poptivism program. It’s really important to me and the brand that gives back to Whatever charity our consumers chooses, choose, so you can come design your own group on our website and tag any charity and half of the sale of that grip will go to the charity. And the bigger we are, the more we can invest in programs like that.

Marc Gutman 55:14
Yeah, and I was planning on asking about there’s anything else that you’d like to talk about? I mean, why? Why poptivism? How do you say that again? Like it’s like a tongue twister,

David Barnett 55:23
poptivism kind of activism activism with a pop at the beginning.

Marc Gutman 55:27
Yeah, I just need to like practice it. Poptivism, poptivism. So, you know, like, why, like, Why use the thing you built for that?

David Barnett 55:36
Sure. So my, one of my original goals, when I decided to commercialize this invention, was to generate wealth for myself so that I could use that wealth for good causes. I personally care about animal welfare issues, hoping to end factory farming. And also climate change, particularly as it relates to these the former issues. So those are my personal causes that I would support. But I realized a couple years into business that all of the employees wanted to make a positive impact in the company is probably positioned better than myself to make that impact. And at that point, I created a department of do goods, I hired a director of due goods, her sole responsibility was to do good. she teamed up with some nonprofits that support people with mobility issues, Parkinson’s, ALS, arthritis, we raised money for these organizations that support people with these challenges. And then we got 10s of thousands of grips into their hands, because it makes it easier for them to hold their devices and the grip.

But we thought we can make a bigger impact if we open this up as a platform to everybody and all charities. And that’s positivism, positivism is a platform that encourages people to make a positive impact by designing their own grip. So you can come on you can do right now you just go to our website, you can design your own grip, you tag a charity, a 501, c three, and the grip will go live, maybe in a week, 50% of all the sales will will go to that charity, and you can start seeing the impact you make

Marc Gutman 57:16
right away. That’s incredible. And do you ever like just like, look around and you know, as I heard you talking about how many employees you are employing and and where you’re located globally and poptivism and like, do you ever just look around like, this is a I created this? I don’t mean, I don’t mean it like in a in a vain way or an arrogant way. But like, I created this out of an idea. And that idea was like these little plastic things that you stick on your phone, you know, like, like, it just must be an incredible feeling.

David Barnett 57:51
Yes, It’s surreal. It used to be more surreal, I spent a decent amount of time standing in this one office room have one of our offices that had a glass wall overlooking the warehouse, the production facility. And I look out there and think this is just insane. I mean, it’s a, it’s like a crazy dream. All of these people are working on this little doodad that I created in my living room with all this hard work. And then when I traveled to China, and I’d walk into these factories where there were hundreds of people, just lines and lines of people sitting working on this product, there were huge crates out in the parking lot, just giant stacks and stacks of boxes. With tractors and these trailers coming to pick them up. I thought this is just insane. It’s so crazy.

Eventually, I came to accept it. So this the surreal nature of it started to fade. But I still have that sensation, especially when we hire really talented people who have these amazing backgrounds, I think to myself, how did we get to this point where we could attract talent like this? All from just messing around on the computer in my living room? So many years ago?

Marc Gutman 59:03
What do you think it is about the the grip, the Popsocket that just is that just speaks to people that just says hey, like, I want that because I do think there’s something there’s something special about that inanimate object.

David Barnett 59:16
Sure. All of our products, we we try our best to include three, three ingredients which the original product has. One is the empower empowering, quality, so it just makes using a phone so much better. The second is the fun or magical feature, that it’s surprisingly fun, and surprisingly useful. I mean, look, you’ve got the most valuable company in the world or at least was at one point Apple creating this device that has a massive flaw. You can’t hold it and it’s just an awful experience. Once you’ve used a popsocket grip for a couple of weeks if you try to hold an Apple phone It’s almost comical. It’s just an awful, awful experience.

So I think it is sort of a magical experience when you start using this and you think, Oh my God, what a much better experience. This is even if you didn’t think you needed it. And then third, it’s the expressive feature people love to express themselves. With grips, it’s a much easier way than changing up their cases to put a different style on put a different statement on like a bumper sticker, or a different utility piece. So you could have lip balm on one day, or a little storage for, for something that you want to keep with you one day, and we have a bunch of other functional items coming out soon.

Marc Gutman 1:00:40
And we’ll make sure to link to all that in the show notes. And David, as we come to a close here, we’re coming up on our time, I have two final questions for you. The first is, what’s the future look like for you and Popsockets?

David Barnett 1:00:52
Sure, well, I’m staying with Popsockets for the future, I’ll be the CEO. I have been working hard recently to rebuild our teams post COVID. And post a big transition with leadership. And we intend to build a strong, global brand that makes little life changers. So all of our products, we think will will increase people’s happiness, even if it’s just a little bit every day. And positivism too, these programs we think of as little life changers. We’re not curing cancer, but everything we do, we hope makes people just a little bit happier. And you’ll see in two to three years, you really see that the brand we have here in the US will start spreading even though we’ve been international for a few years, our brand strength, I think will will start catching up to the US and will be a significant global brand, making a positive impact every day.

Marc Gutman 1:01:51
So David, if that high school version of you that high school, David, that was in the after school sport dork crew ran into you today, what do you think he’d say?

David Barnett 1:02:04
That’s really funny, I have a video of this that I can share with you. We had sorry, there was an award ceremony for some Entrepreneurship Award, I think that I won, and I couldn’t be there. So we made a video, an acceptance video. And we had a boy who looked kind of like me when I was a kid. And after school sports dork, and he accepted the award. And part of what he said was He’s like, I think and maybe someday I’ll invent something, something kind of useful. Maybe that helps you listen to your music better. So what would he say? He was probably cocky. He probably said, Yeah, I knew this.

I’m a little disappointed in you. But I thought this would happen.

Marc Gutman 1:02:46
Whoa, whoa. And that is David Barnett, the founder and CEO of Popsockets, I still can’t wrap my head around a little plastic extendable button, becoming such a part of our culture, employing 300 people, and continuing a movement all over the world. This is the power of entrepreneurship, literally thinking of an idea, imagining something that never exists, and then making it a reality, putting it out into the world and changing the world. David Barnett and I say this very seriously, is changing the world with popsockets in a way that will have an impact forever.

Whether it’s bringing joy to someone with mobility issues, assisting in a selfie that captures a special moment, are using poptivism directly to give back. He is making a difference. And I keep coming back to something that Jeff Hoffman, co founder of priceline.com and our very first guest on Baby Got Back story said entrepreneurship is not the purpose. It’s the tool. We’ll be linking to all things popsockets in the show notes, so please check them out. And thank you again to David Barnett and popsockets. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for you and your team. I know it’s going to be something big. Well, that’s the show. Until next time, make sure to visit our website www.wildstory.com where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS so you’ll never miss an episode. i like big stories and I cannot lie to you other storytellers can’t deny

 

up next:

BGBS 044: Mark O'Brien | Newfangled | I'll Do Anything

BGBS 045: David Barnett | Popsockets | Surprisingly Useful   Play/Pause Episode 00:00 / 01:04:28 Rewind 30 Seconds 1X Download Episode Download file | Play in new window | Duration: 01:04:28BGBS 044: Mark O’Brien | Newfangled | I’ll Do Anything Mark O’Brien may currently be the CEO of Newfangled, but you’ll soon learn that he

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