Ryan Dougherty is a true entrepreneur in every sense of the word. A Mountain Lakes High School graduate from the class of 2002, Ryan has taken his experiences in town and used them to shape his vision for what a career should be. At age 26, he launched TIME Slippers, a company specializing in “the world’s most functional slippers.” Following his dream, passions, and instincts, Ryan left the traditional corporate environment for an unknown and uncertain path.
Recently, we caught up with Ryan to learn about some of his biggest challenges, rewards, and next steps in his entrepreneurial journey.
MLAA: When did you come to town?
RD: My family came to Mountain Lakes in 1986.
MLAA: When did you graduate from Mountain Lakes High School?
RD: I was class of 2002.
MLAA: What exactly is your company, TIME Slippers?
RD: TIME Slippers are the world’s most functional slippers. They slip on and off with ease and have many features, such as our yoga mat insoles and stretch laces, both of which make the slippers easy to use and comfortable anywhere. They work when you travel, go through the airport, or simply relax. People love the yoga mat insoles and wear them to and from yoga and just in general.
MLAA: How has the town changed since you grew up here?
RD: It probably hasn’t really changed much, to be honest. Aside from the school adding some serious construction to it, it is mostly the same.
MLAA: What sports, clubs, and activities were you involved with in during high school?
RD: I was on the soccer team and also played baseball. I was in the jazz band where I played the trumpet.
MLAA: What led you to become an entrepreneur?
RD: I fell into it in a lot of ways. I wasn’t really a strong student in high school, but once I was out on my own in college I figured out how to do better academically. Mostly, I just had a tough time working in a 9 to 5 environment. It was not enjoyable and a little bit boring for me. So, I left there and had to strike out on my own in order to find something worth doing. That’s when I realized I didn’t want to do the 9 to 5 anymore. I was 26 when I decided to quit my job, and I slowly started figuring out how to run a business. It was the death of that part of my life.
MLAA: What were some of the struggles you had to overcome in building your own company?
RD: It’s difficult to start a company in every regard. Figuring out the unknowns is really tough. It’s like staring into the abyss. There are no clear cut answers. In high school and college, it’s always a plus b equals c. The answers are there. It’s not that way in entrepreneurship. You don’t know where the answers are or if they even exist. That’s where I knew I could succeed. Many people are overwhelmed by uncertainty or ambiguity, but I was comfortable in that environment for whatever reason. Maybe, it’s because I wasn’t good traditionally in school. I feel I can thrive in a messy system with a lot of unknowns and entropy. I think I can be creative in that regard. If you give me a math test, I can’t be as creative, and I’m more likely to fail.
MLAA: What has been the most rewarding part of your entrepreneurial journey?
RD: It’s built into the name of the company. It’s the time; the freedom of time. Getting away from the 9-to-5. It was something I had to do in my soul. It ended up being the crux upon which I based the brand of TIME Slippers. Having free time and being able to do things my own way is easily the best thing.
MLAA: Given your business expertise and the nature of what you do, what advice can you offer to the readers?
RD: I think the most important thing is to do it the way that you think is right. A lot of people take bad advice and advice that they can’t really follow. That can hurt them when they try to start something new and be creative. Some people try to imitate successful people. That’s a sure way to fail. It’s good to admire people and understand their tactics, but it’s dangerous to attempt to run a business in someone else’s style. For example, I saw a lot of people change their behavior once they saw the Steve Jobs movie. They started being rigid and rude with people because that’s how Jobs was. What they didn’t realize was that he is one of just a handful of people who could manage a company like that, and trying to adopt that style when it’s not your natural disposition is a recipe for disaster.
MLAA: Is there anything else should we know about you or your business?
RD: Yes! Lakers can use the discount code LAKERLAUNCH at checkout for 20% off an order of TIME Slippers. Also, we are currently in the process of fundraising growth capital. If anyone is interested (or knows someone who would be interested) in an e-commerce business, feel free to reach out!
MLAA: If you could go back in time for one day, to any point in your career, when would it be and why?
RD: It all depends on the logistics of the time travel universe. In my life, it all worked out the way it did because of the mistakes. The blood, sweat, and tears are why we’re having success today.
MLAA: What is next for you or what do you see yourself doing in the future?
RD: We have new products that we are going to be introducing and I see myself running this company for a long time.
MLAA: Favorite music? Movie?
RD: I really like bluegrass music. I had the opportunity to meet Doc Watson before he passed, and that was incredible. Movie is too tough to pick.
MLAA: If you could invite three people to dinner, alive or dead, real or fictional, who would they be, and why?
RD: I’m a big fan of comedy, so I’d probably invite Ricky Gervais, Jerry Seinfeld, and Bill Burr. They are masters of their craft.
On February 15th, TIME Slippers founder and Mountain Lakes alumnus Ryan Dougherty visited Mountain Lakes High School to work with Frank Sanchez and the MLHS Entrepreneur Class.
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