This week, Paul speaks to Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Allbirds, Joey Zwillinger. They delve into what it really means to build a shoe brand that's as successful as it is sustainable, from sourcing innovative materials to dealing with Amazon's copycat designs, and Joey shares his advice for aspiring entrepreneurs.
Growing up, Tim Brown discovered he was very good at two things: design and soccer. While playing professional soccer in New Zealand, he was turned off by the flashy logos on most athletic gear. He started making simple canvas shoes for his teammates, but soon discovered a better material: soft merino wool from his country's plentiful sheep. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, his future business partner Joey Zwillinger was frustrated that most companies lacked a genuine commitment to sustainability. In 2015, Tim and Joey teamed up to create Allbirds, a company with two ambitious goals: create the world's most comfortable shoes, and do it in a way that was completely carbon-neutral. Today, just three years after launch, Allbirds is worth $1.4 billion. PLUS, for our postscript "How You Built That," how Kirby Erdely saw a problem with flying beach umbrellas and developed a new kind of tent stake—with a twist.
In this episode of the TANK magazine podcast, Caroline Issa is joined in conversation by Joey Zwillinger, co-founder of the much buzzed about footwear startup Allbirds. After working in biotech with a focus on renewable materials, Zwillinger teamed up with designer Tim Brown to bring his expertise to a sneaker industry bloated by wasteful production and over-designed products. In the four years since then, the San-Francisco company has expanded to open stores in New York, San Francisco, Toronto and, most recently, London, with their product being dubbed the worlds most comfortable shoe by Time magazine.
Constructed from renewable materials such as Merino wool, eucalyptus fibre and sugarcane and subject to constant revision based on customer feedback, Allbirds’ shoes advance a vision of a mission-based business that embeds, quite literally, their goals into their products.