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Utah Business

Davis Smith had the unique opportunity to buy back his first business, Pooltables.com. Here's what he plans to do after re-acquiring.

Davis Smith and Kent Salisbury want to reinvent Pooltables.com

Fresh out of college in 2004, Smith founded his first company, PoolTables.com with Spencer Martson and grew it into a multi-million dollar business. Despite the quick success of Pooltables.com, Smith still felt unable to achieve his larger ambitions.“I started the company knowing I wanted to do good, just not understanding how,” Smith explains. So he decided to sell the company and later found Cotopaxi, which has since gained national recognition as a model for B Corporations.

While Smith didn’t initially plan on buying back Pooltables.com, he had the rare chance to do just that in August 2021, nearly ten years after selling. And he jumped on the opportunity, calling it a unique chance to revisit his origins and re-invent the business the way he always wanted to―with values built around sustainability and alleviating poverty in mind. “Before I die, I want to eradicate extreme poverty,” says Smith. 

But before he can do that, he knew he needed the right partner at Pooltables.com to help make it happen.  

“I’m not Elon Musk…I needed a strong leader to help me do it,” he says, and he immediately went to work finding the right CEO. Over 100 applicants applied for the position and in September, Smith hired Kent Salisbury, an e-commerce veteran with over 10 years of experience to help grow Pooltables.com into a successful omnichannel brand committed to giving back to communities across the globe. 

To achieve his goal to give back, Smith hopes to mirror the robust programs for fair labor practices, charitable giving, and sustainability that his team previously created at Cotopaxi. Additionally, Pooltables.com will begin publishing yearly impact reports that better show the organization how their money is being used, as was proven necessary for B-Corp success at Cotopaxi. They also plan to support nonprofits that align with their mission, such as Steve and Bette Gibson’s Academy for Creating Enterprise, which teaches entrepreneurship skills in the developing world.

Davis Smith had the unique opportunity to buy back his first business, Pooltables.com. Here's what he plans to do after re-acquiring.
Photo appears courtesy of Pooltables.com

While the billiards industry isn’t necessarily known for its commitment to sustainable business practices, Smith saw the chance to do things differently in an industry beholden to tradition. “Brigham Young bought a pool table that still is sold today—same brand, same look and feel, probably bought in the same type of store,” he says, and he wants to change that. To build a more sustainable brand, Smith and Salisbury plan to start from scratch and educate themselves about the manufacturing process. 

“Right now if you said, ‘Hey, where did the wood come from in the pool table that you’re selling?’ we would have no idea,” Smith says. Tracing materials—and developing more environmentally responsible ways to use those materials—will be an early priority. “We feel like we really have an opportunity to shape this industry and lead,” Smith says.

Both Smith and Salisbury hope their way of doing business inspires more than just the billiard industry—they also want to restore faith in the positive potential of capitalism. (No big deal.) Smith believes for-profit business owners like him can find success as B-Corps while staying committed to their grand-scale if they support nonprofit organizations that they believe in.

Smith says he has seen firsthand that nonprofits need to spend much of their time fundraising rather than fulfilling their mission and thinks that companies should sustainably raise profits and use those profits to support causes that matter. “[Our model allows nonprofits] to go specialize in what they’re really good at, which is changing the world and saving humanity,” Smith says. 

Though Smith and Salisbury fully expect their way of doing business will be a new model for the industry, they welcome it. For they think this is a sign that they’re doing something right, both as a business and as a force for good. “We know it’s going to happen … The sooner we can make this industry more responsible in the way that we treat the planet, the better off we’ll all be.”