Jake Thompson (MBA ’08) calls himself the President and Chief Encouragement Officer of Compete Every Day. He spoke on October 14, 2014 to Dr. Greg Bell’s Entrepreneurship class. The idea for the lifestyle apparel company Thompson started in 2010 came when he asked himself: “What would it look like to compete for every day of your life?” Finding inspiration in the question, he used money saved for a trip to New Zealand to buy t-shirts emblazoned with the new company name, selling them out of his trunk. Active in the CrossFit community, Thompson knew that this group of avid exercisers had not only a commitment to an active lifestyle, but also sufficient disposable income to be a viable target audience for his product. After success with this group, he has since expanded the reach of the company to include anyone that finds inspiration from competing every day to achieve his or her best life. “I wanted Compete Every Day to be about more than a catchy phrase on a t-shirt,” Thompson said. To that end, the company’s website contains inspirational videos, quotes, and stories about everyday people achieving great things.
Thompson turned to a grass-roots style of funding to grow his business, using his own savings and a line of credit from his hometown bank to finance operations. This has allowed Thompson to maintain 100% control of the company and its direction. He uses a grassroots approach to marketing as well by relying on social media to generate excitement and word-of-mouth about the Compete Every Day brand. “We post three to four days per week on our blog, two to three times per week on Facebook, and nearly every day on Twitter and Instagram,” said Thompson. The company also has an app which gives users updates on new products, access to exclusive offers and even inspirational quotes. “This kind of social media presence makes the community your microphone and megaphone,” he said. Thompson added that grass-roots marketing isn’t a quick fix. “This is a powerful way to grow a business, but it takes time.” Part of this approach includes establishing a physical presence at lifestyle events like marathons and CrossFit competitions in order to increase brand awareness among the company’s target groups.
Thompson relies on his own ideas and those of a few graphic designers to produce unique shirts available on the company’s website for only 72 hours, creating scarcity that drives customers back to the website in anticipation of new designs. Thompson’s marketing plan is working: after reaching six figures during the 2012 fiscal year, Compete Every Day’s sales have doubled two years in a row and are on track to increase another 1.5 times by the end of the company’s current fiscal year. But revenue isn’t the Thompson’s only goal. “The most important thing you can do is tell a powerful story about your company,” he said, “and Compete Every Day’s story is that you have a life worth competing for.”
Jake Thompson graduated in 2008 from the University of Dallas’ Satish and Yasmin Gupta College of Business with a Masters of Business Administration.