Episode 65 | How a Painful Customer Experience Inspired a Winning Business Idea

with The Black Tux CEO Andrew Blackmon

David Hassell interview David Hassell interview
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Andrew Blackmon knows that pain can be the genesis for amazing things in business.

That’s because The Black Tux – the high end suit and tux service he co-founded with longtime friend Patrick Coyne – was borne out of Andrew’s own frustrating experience renting his wedding tux back in 2011.

While stressful at the time, this pain point helped highlight a market rife for disruption, and he and Coyne haven’t looked back since. Together they launched The Black Tux in 2013, and today the company has more than 100 employees and rents approximately 15k suits per month.

As you’ll hear in this interview, The Black Tux is a little different than most high-growth startups. They have to deliver amazing experiences on the biggest day of their customers’ lives (no pressure there), a feat that poses unique operational challenges. Even more interesting, it turns out these challenges have pushed the company to develop not just one, but two very distinct (albeit linked) company cultures.

We covered a ton of great topics with Andrew, and we think you’ll get a lot out of his stories and advice – we certainly did.

Key Takeaways

  • Andrew describes the genesis of The Black Tux, and how a negative experience at his own wedding changed his life forever. 3:01
  • Andrew tells us how most aspiring entrepreneurs go wrong when preparing to start a business, and shares his tips for the right way to incubate your idea. 6:50
  • Andrew describes the moment of validation for him and his team after their launch. 8:45
  • Andrew explains why pain in the market can tell you when you might be onto something with your company, and why bad feedback can be as valuable as positive validation early on. 10:01
  • Andrew walks us through his upbringing, and tells us why the surfing and skating lifestyle led him to think like an entrepreneur. 11:28
  • Andrew tells us the main thing he learned from his father growing up. 12:26
  • Andrew explains the pros and cons of investing in a first time entrepreneur (sage advice considering that he is one). 14:22
  • Andrew breaks down the number one challenge he and his business faces today. 17:48
  • Andrew talks about the challenges of scaling a business like his, with two distinct (albeit strongly linked) company cultures. 21:11
  • Andrew shares his secret to hiring for the right culture, and the one interview question that he makes sure to ask in every interview. 23:55
  • Andrew describes the greatest lessons he’s learned since launching the company. 25:35
  • Andrew breaks down how he finds the right balance between empathy and drive that it takes to coach people effectively. 30:21

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