Seizing entrepreneurial victory

By Melissa Nilan, Marketing and Communications
Photo by David Denofreo

Brad Spence is the very definition of a go-getter. While studying at Douglas he was working full-time and running a web design business. Brimming with new business ideas, he couldn’t wait the full four years to get his Bachelor of Business Administration, so he switched to the Business Management Diploma program in order to finish sooner. Over the next couple of years, he launched several small businesses – some successful and some less so – and eventually came up with an idea that would skyrocket him to entrepreneurial victory.

“I discovered rock climbing on a blind date. While I didn’t end up falling in love with the girl, I did fall in love with the sport,” said Brad.

As his love for the sport grew, so too did his frustration with the lack of appropriate (and frankly, fashionable) climbing wear. If the pant options available weren’t impractical, then they weren’t fit to be seen in public. What Brad – and every other climber – needed was a pair of pants that were flexible enough for the sometimes acrobatic moves climbing requires, durable enough to withstand the rough surfaces they were scaling and fashionable enough they could be worn to a restaurant afterwards. And so the idea for Boulder Denim was born.

Together with his best friend, Brad launched Boulder Denim, a company that creates flexible, durable and fashionable jeans that can be worn in the climbing gym, on the most rugged mountainside or for a night on the town. Funding for the company came from a couple sources – a successful Kickstarter campaign, exposure on Dragon’s Den and the bank… the last of which wouldn’t have been possible without the skills he learned at Douglas.

“One of the best things I learned in the diploma program was how to create a business plan,” said Brad. “I convinced the bank to give me $20,000 to start up one of my earlier businesses and I was able to do the same thing with Boulder Denim. If you have a good business plan, you don’t need collateral.”

And the success just keeps coming. After taking their business mobile with a converted airstream trailer acting as a mini store and demo stage, word about their product spread. Boulder Denim is being picked up by retailers and orders are pouring in so fast they can barely keep up. Despite this, Brad’s plans for the future don’t include Boulder Denim. He hopes to sell the company and move on to his next business idea.

Following the business career path means a lot of ups and downs, trials and errors.

“Business is for people who aren’t afraid to take risks and fail; it’s the only way you’ll be successful. It’s how you learn,” he said. How does he know the struggles are worth the effort? “Every time I see a smile on a customer’s face, I know I’m doing something right.”

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