We Were Just A Little Different

A Couple Of 15 Year Olds

We Were Just A Little DifferentA Couple Of 15 Year Olds

A Couple Of 15 Year Olds

In a world filled with mediocrity, being different is everything. It is really easy to blend in to the masses. Though, I am here to say that standing out is also not impossible. While it requires you to do more, most of it comes down to just doing things differently.

When we built Charity Wear as Sophomores in high school,

How We Turned $250 into $25,000: The Story No One Tells You
This is the story of how Andrew Stachel and I, along with the help of many friends and mentors (S/O Nina Kravetz)…medium.com

we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had no business doing what we were doing. BUT — we were successful. We raised a ton of money and helped a lot of people.

I have always wanted to know why…

Yes, luck was involved and we worked really hard, but what was it that we were doing that pushed us over the edge.

The answer, in retrospect — our “secret sauce,” was our vision that was slightly different from what the rest of the world thought was the future. We bet that ours would hold out longer.

Let me take that back, we were not completely alone. At the same time as me and two other high school ‘kids’ made an assumption, Walker Williams planted the seed to the (much more successful) Y-Combinator company: Teespring. We both bet that the medium for raising money would be t-shirts. And, it turned out to be right.

Slightly Different

Our core belief was that the best way to raise money for charitable causes was to use a medium as the rallying point. To focus on t-shirts intertwined with community stories.

This was just slightly different from the conventional fundraising model. At the time, most organizations on campus raised money by acting friends and family for donations or doing a car wash. None of them had access to an economy of scale to provide a reasonably priced piece of apparel. We experienced, first hand, that there were no great ways to raise money.

But stop trying to reinvent the wheel.

In most startup spaces — the wheel works perfectly fine!!! It just needed a makeover. You do not have to call it innovation, fine, but what we did worked out really well.

Another great example of this are the new snapchat filters:

Does anyone remember photobooth?

It gave us the same function, like 10 years ago?!

Snapchat made a key realization that a lot of founders often try to avoid: humans are still human.

What I mean by that is people do not really change that much. We still possess the same core needs and get utility out of a lot of the same things. Yes these are changing, albeit quicker than ever, but we have not needed to re-invent the wheel for HUNDREDS OF YEARS…Is there a pressing need as to why now?

You just have to be different. If you are different enough you will either get 0 customers very quickly and cease to exist — OR, with enough “luck,” you will make something that people come to love.

And that feeling is special. Especially for a couple of 15 year olds 🙂


Thank you for reading my post ~ would love a share…

I am on twitter @itsjordangonen

and on the email jordangonen@wustl.edu

By jordangonen on May 4, 2016.

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Exported from Medium on February 17, 2018.