Never miss these critical startup lessons from the real world

startup lessons learned from inkkas

Every episode of Marcus Lemonis’ show “The Profit” (CNBC) will teach you a thing or two about entrepreneurship. These are real stories of how entrepreneurs make mistakes and struggle with their business and life. Often the lessons learned are far more effective than what you would learn through an MBA case study.

A recent episode about “Inkkas Global Footwear”, a failing fashion shoe maker from Brooklyn, New York shows how lack of discipline by the founder-CEO wrecks havoc in his company and how Marcus intervenes to save it from abyss.

Marcus focuses on the people, process and product while remaking the business. He is not doing it for charity but to save jobs and make money. He invests his own money in these businesses and takes full control over the most critical decisions.


In 2012, Daniel along with his brother and best friend created “Inkkas Global Footwear” in Brooklyn, NY. The idea is to use global textiles and inspirations to create bold and colorful footwear unlike anything in the market. Daniel got the inspiration from his travels in Peru. He took the idea and made it a real product that people can wear.

As the creative director and CEO of the company, some of his designs had been real hits but too many bombed leaving the company in a deep financial crisis. Cash running low, and failing products it was just a matter of time before the Inkkas went out of business.

Inkkas has a retail store in Brooklyn, NY but it generates merely 3% of revenue. A whopping 70% of the revenue comes from wholesale business and the rest from its online store.

Inkkas has around 100 SKUs online and they create 15 new SKUs each season. It costs $2000 to create a completely new SKU and anywhere between $15000 to $20000 to put these new products on the shelves.

According to Daniel, there was $1 million investment in the company and it had lost close to $600,000.


Marcus himself tried a few shoes from the retail store and quickly found that the store neither had enough inventory nor the vibe of a retail store.

Shoes were good looking but not comfortable to wear, often the soles of the shoes being too thin.

The shoe industry does over $48 billion annually. Everybody needs an affordable cool pair of shoes.
The unique designs of Inkkas were impressive but they had far too many models. The company was losing money with creating designs that were not sought after.

Unlike Converse, which made a hugely popular Chuck Taylor shoes, Inkkas was making too many shoes with no profit. This lack of focus was proving to be fatal.

All founders were in deep financial trouble but the team was strong and had great commitment to the business.

Marcus’ offer

Marcus liked the team but realized that the company needed a complete overhaul from product to process to personnel. He originally made an offer for $750,000 with 51% stake in company. Due to the resistance from the co-founders, he made a counter offer of $600,000 for 40% stake with a guaranteed return of 10% .

He also enforced 20% shares for each of the three co-founders. With the agreement in place, Marcus took charge and started remaking the company.

Everything has to change!

Marcus’s first priority was to fix the product. He also wanted to focus on wholesale and grow the online business. The retail store had to be shutdown since it was it was losing money. The company had to be relocated to the right place to attract wholesale buyers.

Marcus wanted to identify which models sell well. He visited DNA footwear, a popular retail chain in New York City, which carried Inkkas shoes. He advised Daniel and the team to listen to the feedback and ask right questions. They quickly found out that basic model sold well and none of the seasonal models were bringing any customers. The message was clear – stick to the basics! Sell the basic shoes, make money and don’t do anything else.

New product line

inkkas-shoes-modelArmed with the feedback from the retailer, team decided to focus on 5 basic models – high-top lace-up, low-top lace-up, slip-on, jogger and camper. Each of these models would come with 4 designs that represent four geographic regions – North America, South America, Europe and Africa. This would bring the total styles to 20, compared to the 100 which Inkkas had before.

Marcus hired a company called ModernVice to redo the development of shoes to have better comfort and durability.

The next step was finalizing the design of the textiles used in making shoes. Marcus took Daniel to a big textile store in NY. He also wanted to see how Daniel would go from product idea to execution.

Problem with Daniel

Here Marcus identified the core problem of the business. As a CEO, Daniel had no discipline and his creativity went wild leaving the company in doldrums. Marcus asked Daniel to select 1 fabric from each region but he came up with 40 selections. It took a few iterations for Marcus to get Daniel to listen and follow directions.

New Inkkas

Since Inkkas was going to focus on wholesale, the company would be better located close to the buyers. The primary wholesale buyers would go to the garment district rather than to Brooklyn. inkkas-customers

Marcus moved the company to the Garment district of New York.

The team did a great a job of decorating the new office. With constant baby sitting from Marcus, Daniel could focus and create 4 model shoes. The big day arrived when the buyer visited the new office. Marcus gave two directions to Daniel – first, to give a compelling presentation on the products. Second, to give an “inventory assurance” to the buyers.

Daniel did a great job with the presentation. The buyer ended up taking all 5 models with a few styles of each. There couldn’t have been a better start for the new company.

The episode ended with re-inforcing the new identity of Inkkas – “Great design, great comfort, great prices and great profit!”.

Key Lessons

You definitely need a disciplined guy who is good with numbers at the top to make the right financial decisions

Focus on your core product offerings. It is a mistake for entrepreneurs to go after every product idea instead all they have to do it is focus on the basic products and create revenue.

You need to be located at the center of the action.

Define your core business and don’t try to do it all. In this case, the Inkkas made a mistake of focusing on both wholesale and retail business.

Sometimes, you need an external master to come and change your ways. Even better, realize the mistakes early on so that you don’t need to make a call to Marcos Lemons and give away 40% of the company.

startup t shirts

Want great looking customized t-shirts for your startups? Check

10 steps to creating awesome t-shirt design

Want your custom T-shirts to be eye-catching? Well there are certain things you can do to make your T-shirt designs better.

1. Plan your T-shirt design

Think carefully about what you’re trying to represent with your design. Is it for a certain event? For commercial or personal use? Do you want it to be stylish but simple? Or do you need it to be fancy and bright? Make sure you have a clear idea about what you’re trying to achieve with the T-shirt you plan to create.

2. What’s your target audience?

Do you want to look unique and be a conversation starter? or are you trying to start a business with designs that are sure to sell? Are you targeting teenagers? Younger ones? or older? get a clear cut age group and this will make your presentation much easier.

3.Sketch your idea.sketching-at-home

Once you have a clear idea about your design, you need to visualise how it would look on a T-shirt viagra 100mg filmtabletten bestellen. For this, make a rough sketch on some paper before you finalise your design. Then you can make any changes or tweaks to make it more attractive before using the designing software.

4.Colour is King.colour_chart_19cc8ffe-8d4b-4ac6-8c39-38438cee6dc9_large

Like seriously. Colour is everything. Most commercial T-shirts have a contrasting colour scheme which makes it eye-catching. But you can do lots of things with varying colours. The way you pick your colours will add different meaning and add focal points to different parts of the torso. The colour palette will also be the difference between an ultra modern look, or a vintage inspired creation. With colour you can add depth and balance to your design. Most successful designs have a contrasting colour pattern, which means that the background (the actual colour of the T-shirt) should be possibly of a darker colour than the foreground (the design) or vice versa.


Don’t be afraid to try everything available in the software before finalising your design. It doesn’t have to be in your initial plan, but if you feel that an element you’ve come across will benefit your design, then go ahead! Dare to be different. You can check out hundreds of clip arts offered by the software which will surely suit your taste.

6.Orientation of your design.Screenshot (184)

Your design will not have the required effect if its not placed correctly on the T-shirt. Mostly, designs which are placed at the centre of the T-shirt get the most attention. Minimal text also located at eye level will get more attention. The t-shirt designer software helps with this issue by providing a square at the centre of the shirt in which you can place your design. There are also tools in the tool bar at the bottom of the page which will automatically help orient your picture or text as per your requirements, with just one click!

7.You’re going to need balance.

A well balanced composition means, having the right amount of elements in your design, and stream-lining the sizes of each of the elements. Suppose you have a logo and two phrases. If you make the phrases too tiny and the logo huge, there’s really no point because the information being conveyed is only through the logo and not the text. Maybe you can try making the logo more medium-sized and pick the more important phrase to be slightly of a larger font size than the other phrase. By doing this, you can be sure that people are attracted by the scientifically proven visual element first, and the larger sized phrase and by this time they’re drawn in so they will make the effort to read the second phrase as well.

8. Create Substance

A good design has a solid idea and purpose behind it. Especially if you’re designing for a large audience. You need to think up something which will make your targets WANT to buy it and not throw it away. Something that has wit, humour, or inspiration will go a long way.

9. Got some Spice?

Spice up your designs in the following ways :

  • Layer different clip art images to create a unique design.
  • Rotate your text to liven up the T-shirt (but make sure it’s still readable!).
  • Add visual interest to a large block of text by using a clip art back drop, or a faded image of your choice.

All these can be done using the seriously simple software. Check it out  t shirt designer

10. And Lastly…..

Show your design to someone else so you can get their feedback. They obviously don’t have to like it, but a new set of eyes adds another perspective into the mix. First impressions are a great way to know how your targeted base will react to the design. Certain technical issues like font style and design colour can be rectified due to this step as well.

Need more help?? Check out

Want to design a T-Shirt?

So if you’re reading this, you’re interested in designing your own custom T-shirt. And trust us, it’s quite simple! Here are some ways in which we can help you out :

Firstly, Why Design Custom T-Shirt? 

Because they’re awesome. But seriously. If you’re in college, it’s a bad ass way to show that you belong; A family camping-trip; Themed birthday parties can add custom T-shirts right in with the photo-booth prop craze; College reunions definitely call for memorable hoodies; And lastly, just wearing witty quotes on your clothes will be a great conversation starter.

Designing is hard?

Definitely not. With the right platform, you don’t have to be qualified to make something of your own. Some things which you might feel is an issue is being technically handicapped, designing being a time-consuming affair, or perhaps a budget constraint. All these are easily solved by’s user-friendly design tool which is extremely easy to operate, fast interface, and placing an order is as easy as pie! If you’re going through a creative block, there are many clip-arts which you can use in your design.  helps you focus on your creativity and takes care of the rest.

Let’s get to the good stuff

Let us guide you step-by-step on how to use our design tool.

Step 1: First, on the top left of the home page, click the ‘create’ button.

Step 2: Wait for a few seconds for the design tool to load. From the drop down list at the top left, select the type of product you want to design. In the second drop-down list, you can select between round-necks, hoodies, and more.

Screenshot (170)

Step 3: Next, you’ll want to pick a color. On the top right corner of the page, select one color out of the available color palette pertaining to the product you’ve selected in the previous step.

Step 4: Just below the color palette, you can alternate between which side ( front or back ) of the t-shirt you are designing.

Screenshot (178)

Step 5: If you want any images, on the left, the second tab labelled ‘images/upload’ has a range of clip-art designs which you can pick. There are two drop down lists which help filter your selection based on occasion, like holidays, and mascots. Or you can upload a pre-existing image of your choice from your computer by clicking the ‘upload image’ button below.

Screenshot (180)

As you add images, notice that a window labelled ‘layers panel’ appears on the right side of the page. Through this you can select which image you want to customize at a time, as well as remove images by pressing the tiny trash can button on the right of each image listed in the window.

Screenshot (181)

You will also notice that another window appears below the T-shirt you’re working on.

Screenshot (182)

In this window, you can edit the image’s color (In some images, the color cannot be changed), as well as invert the image using the first two buttons beside the color palette, and orient it towards the vertical centre of the shirt using the third button, towards the horizontal centre using the fourth button, and absolute centre of the shirt using the last button.

If you want to move the image slower, then use the four navigation keys on the right of the window. below that you can enter the degrees of the angle in which you want to rotate the image. This ensures precision. At the bottom of the window, you can toggle with the bar to increase or decrease the size of the image.

Step 6: After you are satisfied with your design, Enter you order information in the window on the bottom right of the page, This dynamically changes the price as you increase or decrease your order. After this, you can click the ‘add to cart’ button and continue designing further, or you can go ahead and place the order by clicking on the ‘checkout’ button.

Screenshot (183)

Experiment with our design tool, and we promise you’ll be up and running with it in no time.

Happy Designing!

Basic Elements of Design

Why do people create designs? <img class="alignright size-medium wp-image-270" title="ESsplat003clr" src="×300.png" alt="cool design" width="227" height="300" srcset="×300 viagra holland kaufen.png 227w, 454w” sizes=”(max-width: 227px) 100vw, 227px” />

May be it is a design of a beautiful home or a cool graphic design for a web site. It may be a new clothing line or footwear. They all have something in common. Through a design, the creator tries to communicate a message, which would have been difficult to express merely by words.

Creating great designs is not easy. However, anyone can be a better designer by understanding the basics.

Every design usually starts with an inspiration. May be it is a real life event or a stretch of one’s imagination. The designer has to do a lot of groundwork to convert the inspiration to something more tangible. This process requires deeper knowledge about the elements of design.

Elements of design

Every design has certain building blocks or basic elements. To a large extend, clever and appropriate usage of these basic elements determine the appeal of a design.


A line is basically a collection of dots. It may be straight or curved and may vary in thickness. While it may be simply used to underline text, create a border or a margin, it can also be used to make intricate artworks.


A shape is a two dimensional enclosure formed by a number of lines. It can further be filled with colors and textures, or simply serve as an enclosure for a text.


A form is a three dimensional object which is a result of combining similar or varied shapes together to give a depth to the design.


Space is another two dimensional element defined by length and width. It may be positive or negative, i.e. space might be left empty as “white space” or may be occupied with other elements of the design. While details are important in a design, so is the correct white-spacing.


Color is considered as one of the most expressive elements of a design and it can make or break the impact of the design on the viewer. Color can be used to effectively fill up a white space. More importantly, colors can evoke strong emotions which might be a very critical factor especially for web design.


Value refers to the relationship between dark and light. The value or contrast is often controlled in such a way that the design is neither too dull and monotonous nor too bright and ”in the face”.


Texture is the richness or detailing on the surface. It can simply be visual like a pattern or tactile which can actually be felt by touch. It gives an altogether different hue to the design


Finally, the type or the text is used to convey very specific information clearly. It may be colored or in an interesting font to break the monotony.

Common mistakes

Designers should pay attention to some of the common mistakes.

  • Too little white space
  • Unequal spacing
  • Very bright or unpleasant color scheme
  • Monotonous design resulting from excessive repetition or lack of texture

A skilled designer knows how to make use of the basic elements in his or her designs to make the desired impact on the targeted audience. Although artistic creativity does develop with practice and experience, it is necessary to have a strong theoretical know-how of the above mentioned basic elements to create a successful design.

On design – Sunil Patil

Sunil Patil’s designs are cool, funny and sometimes thought provocative. See his designs here. Sunil answers “5 questions” posed by

What is the most exciting thing about creating designs for T-Shirts?
T-shirts are a very unique medium for art. That is, art worn on one’s body! This is what thrills me the most.

What makes your designs unique?
I don’t stick to any one particular style of designing. I like bringing a great variety of styles into my designs. Every design I create is all by itself. This is the uniqueness of my designs, I feel.

Whats your favorite theme for designs?
The list is virtually endless! The most favorite theme is ‘Pop Culture’.

Where do you look for inspiration while creating designs?
I find inspiration for my designs from the whole diversity of life around me. Then I get into a sort of day-dreaming state (literally lying on the bed), that’s when the actual design idea emerges!

How can user community of a web site can help you to create exceptional designs?
The user community could indeed be a great source of ideas and inspirations. This community serves as a bridge between the end user and the designer. It is about bringing design ideas a lot closer to what the end user desires.

Shweta Pokharna answers 5 questions

Shweta Pokharna is one of the early adopters who embraced the idea of exprez.  As a highly talented designer, her designs come across as complex and intricate at the same time conveying a deep sense of abstraction.   We are proud to kick off the “Mind of a Designer” series, where we feature interviews with designers, with  Shweta’s take on our 5 questions.

Please see Shweta’s designs here.

Whats the most exciting thing about creating designs for T-Shirts?

It gives me a high to see people wearing my ideas and creativity .Own tshirt designs is a way to share your creativity with the world.

What makes your designs unique?

The passion and hard work I put in my designs make my designs unique.

Whats your favorite theme for designs?

I love creating designs for kids , sports,trendy designs like skulls and tattoo.

Where do you look for inspiration while creating designs?

I get ideas from nature, my surroundings and of course the sea of inspiration the internet search.

How can user community of a web site can help you to create exceptional designs?

I believe that too many cooks spoils the broth. So an artist should not react to every feedback he or she recieves from the user community. Art has no defined form or value. It is abstract. What is good to me may not be liked by other. So an artist should believe in his or her talent and try to learn something new with each passing day, never stop learning and who knows one day you can create exceptional design.

5 Questions for Designers

Ever wanted to know how designers think and seek inspiration? May be like reading the “mind of a designer”? Yes viagra versand deutschland.. We are introducing “Mind of a Designer” series that will feature an up-close interaction with our talented designers. We pose five questions to Designers and hopefully the answers will shed light on their creative minds. Wait for these interviews in the coming days…