March 13, 2013

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CEO of the Year

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Corner the Market

Brick-and-Mortar Retailers Moving into Digital Spaces

Spencer Sutherland

March 13, 2013

“Our initial thought, which was pretty naive, was that we could just sell these online,” says Matthew Brown, Goat Head co-founder. “At first, we were doing maybe five or six sales a month, just people stumbling onto the site.”

That’s when the company hit the Twittersphere. “During our first year, probably 85 percent of the business came from the contacts we’d made through Twitter,” Brown says. “It’s been a really natural way of connecting with people.”

What began by simply chiming in on Twitter hash tags like “snow running” and “fly fishing” has led to contact with influential bloggers, potential distributors and athletes willing to test the product. 

“But after a few months, we realized we needed to get into stores,” Brown says. “The product works better as an impulse purchase, where you’re buying boots and the cashier says, ‘You’re buying boots? You should try these spikes.’”

Leveraging contacts made on the internet, Goat Head Sole Spikes are now available in stores throughout the Intermountain West. Online conversation is also opening doors to international opportunities. After reading an online comment on a British fishing forum, a boot company recently contacted Brown about installing  Goat Head spikes directly into their boots.

“At this point, the product is on every continent but Antarctica,” Brown says. “We’ve been able to operate internationally right from the start. I don’t know how anybody could have done a business like this 15 years ago, or even 10 years ago, without the [digital] tools that we have now.”

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