Tommy Zizian has taken his side project to become his main focus, with a large benefit for many.
Through some hard work, entrepreneurial experimentation, perseverance, crazy slip of the tongue marketing, and growth in social-good culture, Sock Rocket has to date operated profitably and donated over 130,000 pairs of socks to those in need across North America.
Every day is split between Sock Rocket and active strategy and involvement in Tommy’s Whitehorse, Yukon restaurant partnership Smoke and Sow … without leaving Calgary, Alberta. He even fits in his web development agency, Syntax Era. Embracing his own lack of expertise, not trying to pretend he knows everything, or sometimes anything, Tommy works on his goals. Every experience, failure or success, and the willingness to make daily decisions and keep trying is his valuable secret.
Tommy suggests that, although entrepreneurship can be a struggle, it is also a ton of fun, very rewarding and no-where near as difficult as many tell you. Every year it does get easier, as long as there is a niche group of people globally willing to buy what you sell. He asks everyone to investigate the social enterprises in their area, look at the business models that make it possible to run both profitably and socially responsible, and then if it resonates, consider creating your own social enterprise where there is an underserved need. Create your own fun and success too!
Early in his career Tommy Zizian observed that the power of the internet afforded a significant opportunity to work remotely and earn an income. He did follow advice to “have several revenue streams” and attributes his success, having become involved in several businesses, to the fact he is goal-motivated, driven to achieve objectives and does not try to pretend to know everything. The career he describes as a work-in-progress currently invests a lot of his time focused in social enterprise.
Sock Rocket designs and markets funky socks around the world and then, for every pair sold, donates three pairs to agencies and initiatives across North America. Donations started with the Drop-in Centre and Children’s Cottage in Calgary, and now have reached over 130,000 pairs to worthy causes; doing good while operating a profitable business and having a lot of fun. The activity and reach suddenly escalated significantly late in 2019 due to a slip of the tongue in the USA that provided incredible unexpected marketing. The “rocket” came at a time when Sock Rocket was seeing the early impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on their supply chain in South East Asia. This allowed them to start the process of supporting, and being supported, locally which has allowed for continued growth through the lockdowns, although the market did shift.
Tommy’s entrepreneurial flair is activated in working as a team, and by himself. He also very successfully manages extensive involvement in both local and remote business. Smoke and Sow BBQ Restaurant, located in Whitehorse Yukon, combines success in a food truck, restaurant and in catering for events.
Through his own social enterprise activity Tommy has noted the growing trend for people wanting their dollars to deliver more value – to receive the goods or services purchased, plus. Younger generations are increasingly influencing the demand for business to support good causes. Social enterprise has a bright future as people learn that profitable business can provide social benefit as one of the inherent business costs. To this end he would welcome seeing more teaching and discussion in schools about the social enterprise alternative, to facilitate awareness and show how easy, fun and lucrative it is to help people meet their basic needs.
Tune in to hear about:
- The unusual, unexpected and high profile boost Sock Rocket’s activity received. It caused an instant growth from thousands to hundreds of thousands in annual sock volume.
- How Sock Rocket was able to navigate the pandemic lockdowns by implementing major structural changes and still maintain growth.
- A lesson in how to successfully physically work in a food preparation business, daily, across 2,450 kilometres.
- Justification for why social enterprise is growing in consumer popularity even as it becomes a lucrative entrepreneurial pursuit.
- And more.