Sobotka Stories will introduce you to former winners of the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture grants who share their experiences and perspectives. The Yale Center for Business and the Environment aspires to build a robust entrepreneurial community around sustainability ideas and is proud of its alumni.
This week, we had the privilege to chat with Jonas Clark (SOM’15) and Amanda Rinderle (SOM’15), founders of Tuckerman & Co. and recipients of the 2014 Sobotka Seed Stage Grant. Jonas and Amanda started Tuckerman & Co. during their first year at the Yale School of Management, raised funding through a successful Kickstarter campaign and were finalists for the Sabin Prize.
As they explored the fashion industry, they saw that textile is one of the world’s “dirtiest” industries and embarked to change it. Tuckerman & Co. is a mission-driven clothing company making less environmentally harmful clothing that customers can wear to the office or out with friends. Tuckerman delivers its social mission in three ways: 1) creates a cleaner supply chain production by using organic cottons, 2) uses innovative techniques to reduce environmental impacts and 3) works with suppliers that believe in Tuckerman’s mission and implement fair labor practices.
The Sobotka grant enabled Tuckerman to begin production and to ship their first run to customers, a men’s dress shirt made from 100% organic cotton, woven in Italy and manufactured in Fall River Massachusetts.
Jonas and Amanda emphasize the importance of the Sobotka Seed Stage Venture Grant in connecting them to different mentors and customers. Additionally, the ecosystem at the Yale Center for Business and the Environment created a different marketing channel for Tuckerman and provided valuable resources, advice and feedback on how to scale the venture.
The founders of Tuckerman & Co. share some advice for bourgeoning entrepreneurs:
- Have vision and perseverance.
- Build a strong network.
- Think through what kind of venture to start and how it aligns with your passion and goals.
- Tenacity is crucial. People will give you many reasons why your venture may not work. “Knowing when to listen to advice and when to ignore it is a critical skill,” say Amanda and Jonas. As a famous entrepreneur told them when they started “the only way you lose in entrepreneurship is if you quit.”
- Lastly, the founders of Tuckerman advise, “it takes a village to build a successful venture. Involve everyone you know – friends, family, and strangers. The amount of help you'll receive will surprise you.”
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