You’re on a trip. A family trip. And if you’re not a kid anymore, pretend you are one for a few minutes while reading this.
You’re sitting next to your older sister and younger brother, complaining and bickering to your parents about how the car’s too hot or that you’re hungry. The “I’m not touching you… I’m not touching you…” game is played, and it’s an all-around delightful time in the 8’ x 5’ x 4’ box that is your car.
Then Mom turns around and asks a seemingly simple question: “If you could have any toy in the entire world to play with right now [to occupy you enough to make you stop talking], what would it be?”
And so it happened that the Johnson family, in unison and more joyfully than ever, stumbled upon their first aha moment.
The oldest sister wanted self-expression. The middle sister: fashion and something to show off to friends. The youngest, the only boy of the three, something “cool” that he could trade. (For nostalgic value and anyone who remembers, he wanted something cooler than Neopets and Pokémon cards.)
The natural solution to all three: a bracelet and token-like coins, of course.
An uncle in the family, who also doubled as a patent attorney, was pitched the idea and, after a little research, gave them two distinct things:
- the go-ahead (that nobody else was doing what they wanted to do), and
- their second aha moment.
“That was it,” said the middle sister, Lachlan Johnson, now a freshman at Saint Louis University in St. Louis, MO. “That was all we needed.”
And so they began: first, by ‘coining’ the name Flipoutz, and, before long, making appearances at every convention and trade show that would let under-18 year olds on the exhibition floor.
Their individually decorated coins that fit snuggly inside silicon bracelets could be traded and tracked all around the world, a feature that eventually landed them a Season 2 appearance on the ever-so-popular Shark Tank.
Shortly after Shark Tank, they sold the company, and the Johnson family children joined the ranks of minors who have experienced a feat few adults three and four times their age have.
Full-time college and high school students now, Lachlan and her little brother, Jake, have since started another company, Joxie, which was, of course, spawned from an aha moment of its own. This time it was with bow ties, though, in a brand they’re calling Beaux Up: “What if you could personalize your bow tie – however and whenever you wanted to?”
Though they don’t have a product line out yet, you should be expecting to see it in stores sometime within the next several months. In the meantime you can follow @Flipoutz and visit them online at their online store. And stay tuned for a follow up article detailing Beaux Up’s creative process.
Tyler Sondag is a startup connoisseur with a hand in anything and everything you could imagine. Hailing from the ever-developing Northwest Mississippi, an alum of Saint Louis University and currently a transplant to St. Louis, Missouri, one of his main missions in life is to get and keep young people engaged in the entrepreneurial ecosystem. Follow him on Twitter: @MrSondag.