Part 1: How GO Sleeves Got Moving
In this two-part blog, I’ll share the GO Sleeves story, some of the choices we’ve made along the way, and my advice for entrepreneurs.
Darren Lancaster, Co-founder, GO Sleeves
How GO Sleeves got started
My partner and GO Sleeves inventor Roy Carrillo and I have been playing basketball regularly for around 15 years. As all the guys who came to play with us got older, we saw more injuries. Personally, I was taking a lot of time taping up – just so I could play pain-free. Roy was trying every possible sleeve, tape and medication available to keep playing the game we love.
When it came time to come up with new ideas for a business to launch, all of our ideas came together around our shared real-world problems. We’d both tried compression sleeves and kinesiology tape, but both agreed that tape requires a lot of effort and knowledge of how to put it on. It’s also expensive and it doesn’t always stay attached.
So, the concept was this: What if we brought two ideas together by building kinesiology technology into a reusable compression sleeve?
Once we learned more about how kinesiology works, we realized it’s a really powerful recovery tool. For example, we added calf sleeves that target the Achilles tendon, calf muscles, and shin splints. You may or may not need them when you’re active, but if your body feels fatigued or achy, we learned how powerful kinesiology was as a mechanism to accelerate recovery to get you more ready in less time for your next workout, game, or session. There are performance benefits, injury-prevention benefits … nothing but benefits, really. Basically, it was something that started off as an incremental experiment, and through our own experience, we realized there were a lot of untapped opportunities here.
A basic arm or knee sleeve is going to provide support by compressing everything together. There’s a little bit of circulatory benefit, but that’s about the extent of it. On the other hand, it might have the challenge of being made from a slippery, smelly material like neoprene that fits too tight and doesn’t stay in place when you sweat.
If you do have pain, they take pressure off the pain receptors, and there’s a really good likelihood it’s going to be minimized if not unnoticeable when you have the sleeves on. If you have inflammation, lifting the skin and creating space allows more efficient and immediate blood flow to the area that most needs it, aiding the body’s natural ability to recover from injury.
How GO Sleeves is finding success online and offline
Our mission at GO Sleeves is to keep everybody in motion. And that means everybody. We’re proud to partner with Born to Adapt to bring exposure and opportunity to a more diverse set of bodies and athletes – than we could alone.
Right now, GO Sleeves is generally not available in retail and that’s by design. We know where we need to be to set the stage for retail and be successful and we don’t have any interest in going there too soon. I’ve seen what that looks like.
So, we’ve built our online store GOSleeves.com. And these days, selling online is no longer just a website. It’s all these 3rd-party places like walmart.com, amazon.com, and jet.com. You have to make it easy for people to find you and research your product.
GO Sleeves are not cheap to manufacture. They are a premium product and might cost twice what you'd find in a typical sporting goods store where someone might go in and buy the cheapest option. It takes a lot of research for a person to understand why a product like GO Sleeves is specifically different. If you go to a running specialty store instead of a general sporting goods store and you explain the problems you’re having — let’s say, shin splints — someone might be able to take the time to explain to you how GO Sleeves work, why top athletes are using them, and why they are worth a premium price.
We’ve been doing more events. A year ago we started doing trail running, triathlon, and ultra-marathon events to connect with the top athletes in really, really demanding sports. We’ve partnered with professional athletes who are able to tell us how the products work when put to the test, and they’ve become part of our product development. We’ve been able to build a real-world community to pair with what we’re doing online. We’ve found success building the brand through a network of world-class athletes and influencers so that it’s worthy of the investment it takes to go into retail. Ideally you'll find this advice helpful for your own entrepreneur aspirations.
Darren Lancaster is a serial entrepreneur with the ability to quickly and cost-effectively validate a product and offer concepts in the global digital marketplace, followed by scaling up winners faster than competitors.
Darren has previously:
- Co-founded and built a direct-to-consumer brand, ThinOptics, from the ground up to the top-selling reading glasses product in the domestic US market in under 5 years.
- Co-founded a wireless internet technology and services company, Rooftop Communications, which was acquired by Nokia for $57M USD.
- Co-invented an innovative Interactive Email solution offered by GroupVine which is being used to dramatically improve email marketing results for B2C and B2B brands.