What do you ask a man who swam with sharks? We had the pleasure of asking Tim Talley a few random questions about… well anything. The founder of U-Lace, a custom sneaker shoelace company based in New York was kind enough to chat with Deep Nerd Magazine. After all, what does a guy who swims with shark’s have to be afraid of; nerd’s don’t byte.
What kind of student were you in middle school or in high school?
I did very well in middle and high school. I had great grades in middle and was a 2-sport varsity athlete. I actually started my first entrepreneurial venture as a sophomore in high school.
Were you ever bullied as a youngster and if so how did this affect you in a positive manner?
I was not bullied in the traditional sense. But of course there were always people who wanted to try me to see if I would defend myself. In one of those instances I fought back with such a vengeance that I really tried to hurt the ‘bully’. I guess you have to fight back.
What was your very 1st job?
My first job was one I created for myself in high school running my own little business. I never had a fast food job or a paper route – that just wasn’t for me.
Did you ever have a job you hated and if so how long did you work that job?
Absolutely. As an independent thinker who likes to paint outside the lines – all ‘jobs’ eventually grate on me, and I hope to never have another one. If I don’t like a job – I won’t stick around very long.
When did you know you had an “eye” for things? (some may refer to this as trend spotting)
Given that I started my first business in high school, I soon realized that I had a knack for product and for spotting ‘things.’
Tell us about the advice one of your college professors offered to you, and why do you think he said what he said to you?
I was told that I was outclassed by my class mates who had much better academic pedigree than I did. I think he was trying to save me from failure and my parents lots of money. He just did not know who I was deep inside. I came to get an engineering degree and was not leaving without one. So I made the adjustments I needed to make, quitting the track team and other time consuming things, and got busy on becoming the best student I could be.
When did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
From the minute I sold my first product from my first company in high school. Even back then I knew the importance of branding and branded my company Tim-ting Buttons.
Explain when U-Lace was 1st born in your mind, where were you, what were you doing, and when did you know it was going to work?
Upon leaving my last job, I bought a ticket to Japan to go trend-spot for a new product idea. It was very intentional that I set out to find an idea. I figured from that instant that it was going to work. But like any business it’s still a work in progress.
U-Lace is a fun product, you are helping kids have fun and encouraging creativity, do you have an new ideas we should be on the look out for?
The original U-Lace product was designed for teenagers and adults. So we have recently launched U-Lace kiddos and in a few weeks will launch our U-Locks. Over the next year or so you’ll also see several new products that have nothing to do with laces or sneakers.
You were on Shark Tank, what was that experience like?
It was a great experience for me and the company. Most people won’t raise venture capital on a reality TV show but the investments are real and the investors are not pushovers.
What advice would you give to someone like you with a dream?
The longer you wait to go after your dream the less likely your dream is still there. Know this, you’re not the only one with that same idea floating around in your head.
How many times would you say you rehearsed your pitch?
A few hundred.
You seem like a very reserved person, tell us something about you that would surprise most readers who may have this same impression about you?
I only let loose and really come to life around people I know and really like. When that happens I am impossible to contain.
You ended up doing a deal with Mark Cuban, so are you a Mavs fan?
I certainly root for my business partners team, but honestly I don’t have much time to follow professional sports. I went to Duke for Business school so I am a huge Duke basketball fan.