Streetshares recently sponsored an article that discusses how the failures of four veterans-turned-entrepreneurs have ultimately made them more successful, and our story was featured! Read an excerpt below and read the full article here

Make sure when you do fail, it’s early enough to learn from your mistakes.

While Combat Flip Flops may be a familiar name to those in the veteran community, the company very nearly failed before it ever started. Army vet Matthew “Griff” Griffin, 37, always knew he wanted to have his own business, and while in the military, he frequently bounced ideas off his friends and future business partners. Eventually, he landed on Combat Flip Flops, but Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head and everything that could feasibly go wrong did.

“We failed so many times,” Griffin says.

Jed Conklin Photography

The first time he failed was when the company launched. “We pre-sold 4,000 flip flops based on demo models without ever having made a single piece of footwear,” he says. “It seemed too good to be true.” And it was. “When we went to place the material orders,” he says, “the factory could only do one run — they were being shut down.”

And it didn’t stop there. The first run of flip flops was, well, a flop, and they ended up giving them away for free to locals in Afghanistan before starting a new run in a second factory. But the second factory closed before the replacement order could be made, leaving Griffin and his partners in the lurch. But he didn’t give up.

“We made 4,000 pairs of flip flops in my garage to get the company going,” he explains. “It was lots of hard work, but ‘surrender’ is not a Ranger word.”

Griffin credits the Army with his ability to accept — and even appreciate — failure. “The military purposely puts you in complex situations to make you fail, and then they give you the skills you need to help make sure you don’t fail in the same way again,” he says.

Combat Flip Flops in Afghanistan

Now, Griffin knows to expect the unexpected. Instead, thanks to help from StreetShares investors, Combat Flip Flops was able to increase production. Griffin expects this year’s sales to triple their 2015 numbers. Because they donate up to 20% of their profits to charity, in 2015, they provided Aid Afghanistan for Education enough funding for 21 years’ worth of schooling for Afghan girls.


Mandy Stephenson