They gave corporate America the boot and launched an online, custom- design shoe business. Three years later, the entrepreneurs behind Santa Cruz-based cmax.com are ready to try success on for size
They have a bond tighter than any knot you’d find on a pair of swank sneakers, and enough traction to sprint on the business treadmill for years to come. Most of all, David Solk, Irmgard Kreuzer and Dave Ward have got sole—a lot of it ... enough to make tens of thousands of shoes and then some.
Hear that? It’s Imelda Marcos sighing with envy.
To fully grasp the story of how Santa Cruz became home to three entrepreneurs who kicked corporate America on its rear end only to launch the country’s—perhaps the world’s—hippest cus- tom design online shoe buying business, cmax.com (also known as customatix.com), it’s best to simply put yourself, well, in their shoes. There you are ... working at a behemoth called Adidas, and although you’ve been enjoy- ing your job as an über executive in the high- paced and often frenzied industry, you just crave more. Something’s missing. What, exact- ly, is it? You’ve got a sweet income in a job that allows you to travel around the world. You’re also savvy with marketing and know how to really mass-produce athletic footwear. When you find yourself chatting with colleagues—com- pany employees who are also on the management end of things, a few of them living over- seas—ideas are tossed around. Why not branch out ... form your own company, sell shoes. But take it to another level: do it online and do it in a way nobody else does. You want your e-tailing adventure to allow the customer to design his or her own shoes, really get involved in the process ... make it an inti-mate, personal experience. It would put conventional shoe buying on a tilt, but would it fly? Got $2 million?