Social Change Entrepreneur Shares His Secrets to Success

Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes, told Walden Ph.D. students how he turned a philanthropic mission into a thriving business.


Blake Mycoskie

MycoskieAttendees of Walden University’s Academic Residency plenary session in Minneapolis on July 22, 2010, had the opportunity to learn how Blake Mycoskie transformed his idea for social change into a thriving business.

After learning during a vacation in Argentina that some children there did not have shoes - which prohibited them from attending school - Mycoskie, an established entrepreneur, began TOMS Shoes as a side project. His model was to donate one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair the company sold. As of April 2010, TOMS had donated approximately 600,000 pairs of shoes to children in 22 countries since its 2006 launch. 
"When I started TOMS, it was a spontaneous response to help these kids," Mycoskie said.
Mycoskie began with an initial goal of selling 750 shoes, but after the company—and its founder—received national media attention, including a spotlight in Vogue, TOMS sold 10,000 shoes in its first three months.
"Blake found a simple but profound way to change the lives of children around the world," said Walden University President Jonathan Kaplan.
During his address, Mycoskie encouraged Walden students to pursue their passion for social change and to make giving back a part of their business philosophies.
"Giving not only feels good, it's an incredible business strategy," Mycoskie said. "When you incorporate giving into your model, your customers become your greatest marketers."