The Entrepreneurial Journey of Head Coach Tees
How a simple idea between three friends has expanded into their dream jobs.
By Carter Boone
College students across the nation love to plan the way they’ll succeed after college. Many students fantasize about creating an empire of some kind for them to easily transition into after they receive their degree. The men behind Head Coach tees may have just done so.
Ian Stone, Matt Lewis and Drake Grisham are the masterminds behind the popular, yet simple business. They began by taking coaches’ faces and putting them on T-shirts. This simple idea has propelled them to where they are today.
“When we started, we were doing it just for fun and we thought it was cool,” Lewis said. “When we realized how popular it was becoming, our dads talked to us about how we need to become a legal business and obtain an LLC for the company.”
Stone, Grisham and Lewis started about a year ago. They got the idea when they visited a T-shirt shop and saw a similar design and decided to kind of mock it. Since then, however, their designs have evolved.
The Head Coach Tees team never got in trouble for their shirts because when they realized the potential of their idea, they deleted their social media, previous shirt designs and put all of their focus on becoming a legal company, which they did last fall.
“Once we deleted everything, we basically Googled ‘How to start a business,’ and focused on getting the right permits and seeing how we could get coaches involved with our business,” Grisham said.
When thinking of business plans, companies always want to stand out. Stone wanted Head Coach Tees to be different and also highlight the type of people they were.
“My biggest influence is Blake Mycoskie, the CEO of Toms Shoes. He’s been a huge influence on how I want to run a company, and it made me think that Head Coach Tees should highlight the way we are as people. With that in mind, we decided that the best way to do so is to donate 10 percent of our commission to the Coaches Foundation,” Stone said.
Once they obtained their LLC and had an official business plan, Head Coach Tees began to look where they should start. They wanted to get a coach who would be an embodiment of the company, someone who loves the fans and loves their program.
“Our first legal and official business partner was Coach Clark from the University of Alabama Birmingham. He was a great fit seeing as how he won the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award and has really revamped the UAB football program since 2014,” Lewis said.
With their first legal business partner locked in and even some NFL players getting involved in the past year, Head Coach Tees looks like it has a promising future, especially with the work they’ve done with Nick Mullens, quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers.
Mullens and Grisham went to high school together. Mullens reached out to Grisham about getting NFL players involved in the Head Coach Tees business. “It’s easier to get in contact with athletes according to Nick so we started doing business together, and soon two of his teammates joined as well,” Grisham said. Grisham, Stone and Lewis found out how important it is for professional athletes to be involved with foundations and this gave a lot of guys a helping hand in their personal foundations, especially rookies.
“We started out as a lemonade stand on steroids, we were advertising at sororities, fraternities, even in class,” Stone said. “In the future, our big goals are to land Coach Saban, and from there we want to expand to the SEC and hopefully even further down the line the NFL, NBA, MLB, you name it. We want to be the face of athletic fandom.”