How Allbirds' Tim Brown Went From World Cup to "World's Most Comfortable Shoe"

Allbirds’ Co-Founder tells us how he went from professional soccer to building a billion-dollar company.

By
listen
How Allbirds' Tim Brown Went From World Cup to "World's Most Comfortable Shoe"
Business of HYPE
7,530 Hypes 6 Comments

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. For today’s episode, we welcome Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Allbirds, Tim Brown.

As the company states itself, “no flashy logos, no senseless details,” just a simple wool sneaker made from sustainable materials. Tim Brown started his sneaker business alongside Joey Zwillinger in 2016 and has since amassed a billion-dollar business with unwavering loyalty from its customers. 

The New Zealand native was a former professional soccer player, having even played in the 2010 World Cup. During this time, Tim became curious about the footwear space and soon began his quest for a simple, yet comfortable shoe. With no business strategy in mind, Tim immediately jumped into the game and during his offseason, began designing sneakers and visiting factories in Indonesia to create his perfect prototype. 

After retiring, Tim entered a masters program for his idea where he was met with disapproval and crippling self-doubt about the purpose of his business. With no funding and running through savings from his soccer days, Tim began a Kickstarter campaign, where he eventually raised $120,000 USD and found his future business partner, Joey.

“I’m empowered by the idea that someone can tell you you can’t do something. There’s a challenge of making something and trying to solve it. It’s a love-hate. There’s a lot of days where you’re doubting yourself, but if you can channel that, it forces you.”

A new business approach, raised capital and a relocation to San Francisco later, Allbirds has sold over a million pairs within its first two years. The company has a heavy focus on making its products from recycled materials in order to leave a neutral carbon footprint. While sustainability wasn’t Tim’s initial mission, it became one out of necessity. 

“The way out of the situation isn’t to make sustainable product, it’s to make a great product sustainably.”

As always, thank you for tuning into HYPEBEAST Radio and Business of HYPE. Don’t forget to leave a comment and write a review. Feel free to ask Jeff any questions on Twitter @jeffstaple or via email at questions@businessofhype.com

This episode features references to the following:

5:42 – Professional soccer
6:06 – 2010 FIFA World Cup
6:50 – Sponsored by Nike
10:35 – Retiring from soccer
12:30 – Starting his business
23:17 – Using wool
28:28 – Kickstarter
31:07 – Facing challenges
35:40 – Funding
26:45 – Meeting Co-CEO, Joey Zwillinger
36:45 – Relocating to San Francisco
48:08 – Importance of feedback
51:00 – Production run
55:20 – Importance of brick-and-mortar
61:40 – Sustainability
66:10 – Challenges & advice

Read Full Article

What to Listen to Next

atmos' Hommyo Hidefumi Wants You to Embrace Your Inner "Crazy"
Business of HYPE

atmos' Hommyo Hidefumi Wants You to Embrace Your Inner "Crazy"

atmos’s founder details the importance of a strong human connection behind a profitable retail experience.

Olivier Rousteing Believes Today’s Revolution Will Bring a Brighter Future
Business of HYPE

Olivier Rousteing Believes Today’s Revolution Will Bring a Brighter Future

The French designer reflects on nearly a decade at Balmain and how his perspective has changed during these pressing times.

FaZe Nikan and Daryl Butler Believe Everyone Is a Gamer, Even If People Don’t Know It Yet
Business of HYPE

FaZe Nikan and Daryl Butler Believe Everyone Is a Gamer, Even If People Don’t Know It Yet

Nikan Nadim of FaZe Clan and HP’s Head of Marketing, Daryl Butler discuss gaming’s cultural impact and even playing field at OMEN’s live panel discussion.


Veja's Sébastien Kopp Calls for Transparency and Ecological Balance in Fashion
Business of HYPE

Veja's Sébastien Kopp Calls for Transparency and Ecological Balance in Fashion

The co-founder of the popular sneaker brand details his “small solution” to normalizing sustainability.

CJ Hendry Is Changing the Art World One Colored Pencil at a Time

CJ Hendry Is Changing the Art World One Colored Pencil at a Time

Breaking down her career, the artist explains why she wants to do more than just “put artworks on the wall.”

Listen
6,572 Hypes 4 Comments

Daniel Arsham Wants Us to Float In Time

Daniel Arsham Wants Us to Float In Time

The artist discusses his career trajectory and why it’s important to make art for everyone.

Listen
9,135 Hypes 10 Comments

Stay @ Home With Sean Wotherspoon

Stay @ Home With Sean Wotherspoon

Th Round Two co-founder on moving his shop to online, his collab with adidas and why he feels inspired by positivity during this time.

Listen
20,306 Hypes 21 Comments


Stay @ Home With Errolson Hugh

Stay @ Home With Errolson Hugh

The Acronym founder discusses whether or not the landscape has been changed for his futuristic clothing brand.

Listen
9,026 Hypes 6 Comments

Stay @ Home With James Jean

Stay @ Home With James Jean

The artists tells us why time’s “been flying by” while social distancing.

Listen
3,782 Hypes 1 Comments

Stay @ Home With James Whitner

Stay @ Home With James Whitner

The entrepreneur talks about how his past has prepared him for the current crisis and how he’s felt a surge of inspiration.

Listen
2,971 Hypes 1 Comments

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Adblock Detected.

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. If you enjoy our content, please add us to your adblocker's whitelist. We'd really appreciated it.

Episode Transcript

How Allbirds’ Tim Brown Went From World Cup to “World’s Most Comfortable Shoe”

Allbirds’ Co-Founder tells us how he went from professional soccer to building a billion-dollar company.