What Rapper Lil Yachty & the Founders of a Kardashian-Approved Sneaker Brand Have in Common

For young entrepreneurs looking to get ahead, the success story of Ryan and Adam Goldston is a must-know.

Working out of a 60-square-foot space, the identical twins founded Athletic Propulsion Labs (APL) in March 2009 when they were just 23 years old. With the launch of the Concept 1 basketball shoe in 2010, the duo became the creators of the first shoe proven to instantly make wearers jump higher as result of proprietary technology in the forefoot.

As the story goes, the Concept 1 became the first shoe banned in the NBA’s 64-year history for performance reasons for “providing an undue competitive advantage” and quickly made fans of celebrity influencers including The Kardashians.

Ryan and Adam, Forbes 2016 30 Under 30 honorees, were on hand at a panel and launch party for the new Galaxy Book hosted by Samsung and Forbes.

The Goldston’s joined Forbes 2017 30 Under 30 honoree Lil Yatchy and president of The Players’ Tribune Jaymee Messler in a panel discussion about how they became successful.

Lil Yachty Jaymee Messler Ryan Adam Goldston
Lil Yachty, Jaymee Messler and Ryan and Adam Goldston.
CREDIT: Courtesy

Lil Yachty, a 19-year-old Southern rapper who moved from hometown of Atlanta to New York City in 2015 to launch his career, has quickly risen to fame. Like the Goldston’s, Lil Yachty, credits an unrelenting drive to succeed as well as a desire “to not live a normal life” as critical to his ascent.

When he was just 17 years old the aspiring rapper crashed in the home of a friend in New York and networked aggressively with street fashion and music influencers to build grow his Instagram following.

The debut of his song “One Night” followed by his modeling appearance in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 fashion show at Madison Square Garden in February 2016 catapulted him into the spotlight. The rapper has since landed endorsement contracts with mega brands such as Sprite and Samsung.

I never expected my first song to go viral,” Lil Yachty, who dropped out of college to pursue his music career, told the small crowd of influencers at the Samsung x Forbes event. “Technology along with social media can bring your thoughts to life — it’s like you automatically get a push and think ‘Something can happen here.’”

Lil yachty performs
Lil Yachty performs at an event hosted by Samsung and Forbes.
CREDIT: Courtesy.

After the panel, Footwear News caught up with APL’s founders to get their best advice for others hoping to achieve success.

On getting ahead:

“Be willing to walk in the fire and be comfortable with the gray area. The one phrase we always use is ‘Ask for forgiveness not permission.’” — Ryan

“The main thing is you just got to take the risk. If it’s something you really want to do even if other people don’t believe in it as long as you do — it’s worth doing.” — Adam

On hardest part of launching APL:

“The hardest thing about building the business is when you’re building a consumer product — which is essentially what footwear and apparel is — you have to build inventory. So trying to predict sales when there is no sales history and trying to order against that — when you don’t have a ton of research is very difficult.” — Adam

“And it’s not like clothing — where [sizes range from] extra small to XXL. Shoes are like for women size 5-11 and men sizes 7-14 so there’s a lot of sizes for that.” — Ryan

Adam Ryan Goldston APL
Ryan and Adam Goldston talk success at a panel, hosted by Forbes and Samsung.
CREDIT: Courtesy.

On making their company an exciting place to work:

“We were having a conversation last night with our content director and we were talking about how important it is to have a fun, great environment because at this point, work is no longer a 9-5 for people — it’s a huge part of their lives. We have a really fun environment now — we’re out of the 60-square-foot office and into a really nice, large space. For us, it’s just important to have a lifestyle where business is at the core of it but it’s fun and people want to be there.” — Ryan

“We have ping pong, car racing, miniature basketball — we try to have as many fun activities as possible.” — Adam

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