Founder of Courtsmith
Website: courtsmith.com | Instagram: @courtsmith
“Courtsmith Basketball Industries is a squad of the best basketball apparel and shoe designers in the game. We have been all over the world sourcing the best quality material and partnering with the best factories to provide the most cutting edge technology products. Our products push the envelope of design and technology to ensure you have an edge on the court.”
Why did you decide to start Courtsmith?
I wanted to build an ecosystem within our culture that creates jobs and creates legacy for athletes, in addition to being able to give back to the community and help elevate consciousness.
Previously, I’d worked as a contract designer for lots of different brands. After Treyvon Martin was killed, I wanted to figure out what I could do to contribute. And that meant taking radical responsibility for my community and for myself. It meant doing my part to be of service in a way that advances our community.
What has been your most impactful interaction with ICA, and why?
ICA has been with me this whole time—resources, training, help, love, genuine support. It’s real. Every opportunity that was in front of ICA, they’ve shared it with me. They’ve been pivotal in helping me grow, and they believed in us enough to fund us while still letting me remain my authentic self.
How do you envision your business contributing to a more equitable small business ecosystem?
What I love about what I do is that it’s sports, athletics, basketball. The world is very cliquish when it comes to hypes and rhythms. We are close to Silicon Valley, and it’s all this tech and these apps, which is dope—I worked in tech for 10 years and had a great time. But I’m from the hood, so I couldn’t always get my neighborhood kids jobs in tech.
If we can create an athletic brand based in Oakland that catches fire and grows, it allows us to hire people that look like us. They don’t have to have tech degrees from MIT. They can be good salespeople and be good at basketball and that’s good enough. And a lot of people from where I’m from would qualify for that and get paid good money. It’s a $100 billion industry. We want to create an ecosystem that hires a lot of Black and brown folks that can get paid well and stay in the Bay and not get pushed out by gentrification.
What’s your best piece of advice for aspiring entrepreneurs?
Get comfortable with failure and rejection. You can’t get caught with the perfection bug. Perfection doesn’t exist. Go out there and go for it: ready, aim, fire. And yeah, make your adjustments as you’re firing. But you can’t wait for the perfect moment to jump out there.
My other piece of advice: We have to turn up our humility. It allows us to get a clear view of where we are in reality. It gives you the healthy relationship between getting better and not being good enough in the moment, and knowing that that’s OK—you’ve got room to grow.