One entrepreneur bootstrapped $5k into a $1 billion company.

🧵 The remarkable story of Sara Blakely:
1/ After graduating from Florida State, Sara Blakely bounced around. She:

Didn’t do well on the LSAT
Worked at Disney World
Tried stand-up comedy

Finally, she started working for Danka, selling fax machines door-to-door.
2/ At Danka, Sara learned one of life’s most important skills - sales.

By 25, she was a national sales trainer, leading workshops across the country.

But Sara, an entrepreneur at heart, noticed a problem she wanted to solve:
3/ In the Florida heat, the traditional pantyhose she had to wear were terrible.

They were sticky, hot, and uncomfortable.

So, while keeping her 9 to 5 at Danka, Sara decided to fix the issue.
4/ For her first prototype, she simply cut the feet off her pantyhose.

Realizing even the janky new product was better, Sara took $5,000 from her savings to begin researching and iterating on the product.

But she had underestimated the difficulty of production and distribution.
5/ Rejection after rejection poured in from manufacturers.

They either didn’t have the right equipment or weren’t willing to take on such small orders.

Finally, after going to hundreds of hosiery mills, Sara found a willing factory in North Carolina.
6/ Sara wrote her own patent and created the entire brand from scratch.

Remember, she was working on a $5,000 budget.

Now, with a product, brand, and supplier in place, Sara moved to her next step - finding distribution.

Back in 1999, this was easier said than done.
7/ Sara, who always aimed for the top, went for the biggest players in retail.

She pitched Neiman Marcus. They were in.

Bloomingdales and Saks Fifth Avenue quickly followed suit.

Spanx was officially in business.
8/ You know the saying “Do things that don’t scale.”

Sara took it to another level.

On weekends, she flew from city to city to personally train stores’ employees how to sell Spanx.

Stores Sara visited sold 3x more Spanx than others.
9/ Then, in 2000, Sara took another big shot.

She sent product samples to Andre Walker, Oprah’s stylist.

The result?

Oprah named Spanx as her favorite product of the year.
10/ Before Oprah’s show aired, Sara quit her day job.

She used the time to create a website in preparation for the surge in demand.

It worked.

Spanx did $10 million in revenue in 2000. Then the brand really took off:
11/ By 2012, Spanx was highly profitable and doing $250 million in annual revenue.

Several investment banks valued the company at over $1 billion.

With a 100% equity stake, @Forbes officially named Sara Blakely the youngest female self-made billionaire at 41.
12/ Ultimately, Sara experienced a problem, identified a solution, and built a company around it.

The fact she did this without outside funding is nothing short of incredible.
13/ Sara’s story is an inspiring one for other builders.

@PestoTech is building a platform to enable builders to rapidly test, iterate, and scale, through access to incredible Indian development talent.

If you want to learn more about how Pesto can help you, DM me for details!
And if you enjoyed this story, please:

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I write about amazing business stories and building Pesto Tech.

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