You don't have to invent something to start a company. We sell shoelaces, and that's insane.”Eric Delgado
As university freshmen, Eric Delgado and Victoria Weiss were making extra cash buying and selling collectible sneakers. But finding limited-edition kicks before other resellers was difficult, so the self-proclaimed "sneakerheads" shifted gears. "Sneaker accessories are very popular, and we realized that no one was doing just shoelaces," Eric recalls. The couple found a supplier to fulfill a small order of colored shoelaces. "To our surprise, we sold out of 600 pairs in two weeks," he says. In 2014, while still undergraduates, Eric and Victoria launched Rope Lace Supply. They ran their fledgling online business out of their dorm rooms and racked up $250,000 in sales their first year. After graduation, the pair turned their passion into full-time careers. Now they offer 150 different styles of shoelaces and sell to over 120 countries around the world.
Rope Lace Supply caters to a niche audience of sneaker aficionados looking to customize their shoes. To reach fellow sneakerheads in the U.S. and around the world, Eric and Victoria use AdWords, Google’s advertising program. “It helps us find just the right customer—people who want to buy shoelaces in different colors, styles, and materials,” says Eric. Google Analytics equips the entrepreneurs with the insights to grow their business. “With Analytics, we can better understand our customer base,” Eric explains, “which in turn helps us identify new opportunities and informs the kinds of shoelaces we design.” The duo also uses G Suite tools, such as Gmail, Docs, and Drive, to run an efficient and nimble operation.
With sales growing at a double-digit rate every year, Eric and Victoria have their eyes set on new horizons. “We want to expand into wholesale markets and start licensing products for sports teams, colleges, and universities,” Eric shares. “We’re always looking for new and cool ways for people to customize their gear.” To other entrepreneurs who hope to follow in their footsteps, Eric stresses the importance of taking action. “You don’t need a life-changing invention to start a successful business. With what’s out there on the Internet, if you have something that you’re passionate about—even shoelaces—you really can grow a business. You just have to start.”