Brennan Agranoff has always had an entrepreneurial streak. He started selling things on eBay when he was just seven years old. When he was 13, he founded his first company out of his parent’s garage, a custom athletic sock company called
HoopSwagg that has more than $1 million in annual sales. Brennan even acquired an established brand and competitor, TheSockGame.com, which helped to expand HoopSwagg’s footprint and better meet growing demand.Since he was in high school and busy with other extracurricular activities, Brennan worked with his parents to hire freelancers on Upwork to help with critical projects—from business strategy and graphic design, to copy editing and photo editing.Having access to freelancers has also allowed Brennan to learn from the experts he works with.Thought you needed to be older to bring your business idea to life? In a recent interview with Upwork, Brennan talked about his inspiration and the path that’s taken him to such early success.
Q: Tell me about HoopSwagg…
HoopSwagg is primarily a sock customization business but it’s also expanded into other types of apparel such as shoelaces and sleeves. With more than 600 original designs, we have one of the largest and most diverse offerings in the world of customized socks. All of our socks are customized in the U.S., in our facility in Oregon.
Q: What prompted you to start your first big business while you were still in high school?
I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, ever since age seven when I started flipping stuff from garage sales on eBay. That led me to more and more projects, all of which helped teach me the in and outs of business.
By the time I was 12, all of my friends were wearing super expensive Nike socks but they were just plain colors. I had seen some super colorful ones on Instagram and decided I needed to have them for myself. So I saved all of my money one summer and bought a pair. When I wore them, all of my friends and the kids at school wanted to know how they could get their hands on a pair, too.
Nine months later, after extensive research, I started to make samples and proved the model would work by selling them on eBay. In 2013, I got the funds to purchase the equipment necessary to make the socks and launched my own website.
Q: What do you like most about having your own business?
The most exciting thing about running my own business is that every day is a learning experience. For example, I never thought that a sock company could help me learn legal language, how to code, or how to manage a team of freelancers who work all over the world.
With constant learning, you also get a better feel for who you are as a person and what you are truly passionate about—which, for me, turns out to actually be learning new things.
The other awesome part about having your own company is you get the opportunity to work with people who are just as passionate about their work as you are, whether it be freelancers, artists, or other business owners. It is so exciting to see other people who have the same type of passion that I have!
Q: What challenges have you experienced as a young entrepreneur?
I’ve found the hardest challenges to get over are the legal complications due to my age. Whether it is not being able to set up my own business or to sign a simple contract, these have been a hassle to maneuver around.
It has also been a balancing act to try to enjoy being 18 years old while pursuing my business goals. While running a seven-figure company, I finished high school, play competitive soccer, and regularly hang out with friends.
Q: What is your advice for other young entrepreneurs—or anyone—who thinks they’re too young to start a business?
My biggest piece of advice is very simple: Just start. Young people are afraid it may not go perfectly or that they don’t know what to do. There is no better time in your life to go out and try new things.
You will probably fail at some point, but the important part is you are improving and learning every step of the way. You might even come up with a new idea and head down a completely different path. Even if you don’t know what you are doing, break it down and take small steps and keep progressing. Lots of people have ideas but most never execute on them.
Q: What is your personal definition of success?
I define success as progress. For me, it is knowing I am moving forward whether it be for work or in my personal life. That does not mean it is always a win. At times, that means failure. I learn from failures and move on—all of which is making progress and growing as a person and a business leader.
Q: What are your long-term goals?
I am still figuring out what my long-term goals. Right now, I plan to focus on HoopSwagg full-time rather than going to college right away.
It’s hard to say where I will be or what I will be interested in in 20 years, but I know that I will continue to further myself every day from here forward and take advantage of any opportunity I can because you never know where those new experiences may lead.