On Take Your Success, I regularly interview top-performing college students to understand how they’re successful, so you can recreate the success in your life. Take what’s helpful, dismiss what’s not!
Michael Markesbery and his company are going to be a renowned name, if they aren’t already big right now. Michael and I go back from high school, so I thought I would reach out for an interview. Lucky for us, Markesbery agreed to share some of his time in his incredibly busy schedule.
All the context you need to know is that Markesbery, who is a senior now, and his cofounders created a company called Lukla during college. (How would you like to manage your classes and add running the operations of a startup company to your daily activities?) I’ll let the interview explain the rest.
Don’t forget to see my takeaways at the end of the interview.
Brian: What is Lukla? And what is Lukla’s mission?
Michael: Lukla is an outerwear apparel company that uses NASA spacesuit insulation technology to keep you warm without the bulk or layers.
Brian: Tell me what you experienced that drove you to found Lukla.
Michael: Max (one of Lukla’s founders & my long-time friend) and I were climbing one of the tallest mountains in the NE Swiss Alps when we realized something– with all the layers and top of the line gear we were wearing, we were still cold. Not to mention, the many layers made us feel bulky and immobile. We looked at each other & thought, “there has to be a better way.” That thought was the beginning of Lukla.
Brian: Assuming future success, what other products (besides jackets) do you and your cofounders want to make?
Michael: Awesome question! Currently, we’re working with several military entities to develop a combat-ready jacket. Also on the to-do list are gloves, sleeping blankets, boots, and pants.
Brian: I think it will be hard to balance net profit while trying to grow the product and brand. What are your thoughts about that issue?
Michael: Absolutely. Bottom line is you need a positive cash flow to have a business that stays afloat. With that said, our (the founders) goal is not to become suits sitting in the top floor of some skyscraper. While money is nice, we’re here to have fun. Adventure & Technology– that’s the Lukla team.
Brian: How did your plans for after graduation change during your time in school?
Michael: I was pre-med my first 3 and a half years of college. Deciding to go and try this whole entrepreneurial lifestyle is easily the hardest decision I’ve ever made.
Brian: Do you have any advice for college students who want to start a major endeavor?
Michael: Yeah– go for it.
BUT, make sure you validate your idea with your consumer base before you go “all in.” As in, go out and talk to potential consumers about your product/service. Hypothetically, your endeavor solves a need. How is that need currently fulfilled by your consumer? What do they like/dislike about the current solutions on the market? What does your product/service do better? How much would they pay for your product?
Brian: What’s your mindset in overcoming the fear of failure?
Michael: Don’t fear failure. The road to success is littered with failed attempts. The question after each failure should be, “What did I learn today?”
Two quick thoughts:
1) People are going to think your idea is stupid. When you’re just getting started and at best have an idea on a napkin, not many people will buy into what you’ve got– haters gonna’ hate. Just remember somewhere out there, a man made millions of dollars with the invention of the pool noodle. Anything is possible.
2) You’re going to fail. No matter what you do in life, expect to fail way before you ever succeed. With Lukla, we spent thousands of dollars trying different concoctions of this NASA technology before we got it right. Each attempt was a failure, but with each failure we learned a little more about what not to do.
Brian: Lastly, what do you do for fun to balance out your responsibilities?
Michael: I’m an adventure and travel junkie. I’m all about traveling to new places, experiencing new cultures, and eating new foods.
My two favorite moments from Michael were when he described his mindset toward starting a major project and overcoming the fear of failure. I completely agree with his thoughts on beginning a large endeavor. It’s a fine balance between completely going for it, and saving yourself time and money by getting market research from people as you ask if they need it, would use it, and would pay for it.
Also, it seems that Michael talks about failure as a positive, in a sense, which is highly effective to persevering in any activity. If we can change our thoughts about failing, we can be encouraged by it to learn and then push forward with a new and improved perspective.
Lastly, please visit the Lukla Kickstarter page to purchase an awesome jacket and see all the different features! There is only a couple of days left!