We sat down with inspiring entrepreneur and adventurer Mick Spencer, CEO and founder of ONTHEGO Sports, one of Australia’s fastest growing custom branded sportswear companies. In addition to dressing sportspeople and corporates in style and comfort, the company has a philosophy to make Every Day Matter. The company aims to provide equal access for all to a fit and healthy lifestyle. Its ‘One4One‘ community initiative partners up with humanitarian organisations in Australia and the Pacific to provide underprivileged youth with access to sporting equipment to enrich and better their lives. ONTHEGO has a focus on social impact and works in partnership with their chosen charity Fair Game to provide financial and apparel support. Fair Game works in Australian communities through unique health education, fitness programs and recycled sports equipment.
From an early age he knew entrepreneurship was the path he wanted to take, and after dropping out of university to do a gap year at a Hawaiian kids camp, Mick realised his purpose of founding an online retail apparel company with a cause.
In 2011, at age 21 with a humble $150 ($142 of that paying for business registration) to his name, Mick launched ONTHEGO Sports from a home garage in Canberra. A few weeks later its first quick turnaround deal was secured and the company has grown leaps and bounds from there.
Fast-forward to 2016, Mick, now 26 has grown ONTHEGO Sports into a multimillion dollar company employing over a dozen people and securing partnerships with powerhouse retailers like David Jones, Rebel Sports and Drummond Golf. After bootstrapping the company for many years, Mick was recently featured on Channel 10’s Shark Tank program, securing the biggest deal on the show and using his impressive negotiation skills to convince three of the Sharks to combine forces in their investment.
Mick and the rest of the team pride themselves on offering their customer exceptional customer service and a great product delivered quicker than their competitors. They see themselves as disruptors in the industry, tapping in to the desire customers now have products custom designed to their own specifications.
What are ONTHEGO’s social impact programs and what do they do?
The ONTHEGO brand was built on a simple yet powerful mission: Every person, no matter their background, deserves the opportunity to live an active and healthy life. They work in partnership with Fair Game to provide financial and apparel support in order to grow their reach of social impact. Fair Game works with Australian communities through unique health education, fitness programs and recycled sports equipment.
For purchases made with ONTHEGO, they support children in need to have access to sport through Fair Game programs.
Their impact will help support getting more kids into sport. It will inspire fit and healthy communities including indigenous Australians, migrants and refugees, low socio-economic status Australians, mental health sufferers and chronic disease sufferers. Fair Game is currently working in Western Australia in the Mid-West, Kimberly, Pilbara, Goldfields, Perth and expanding into NSW, but more can be done!
Choosing to work with ONTHEGO Sports means you are activating a greater mission, a mission toward an inclusive approach to health, a mission to reach underprivileged communities, and a mission to change the world through sport.
What advice would you give to other small businesses?
- Execution – Mick explains that actually executing an idea a huge part of success and that being able to demonstrate this is key to securing investment.
- Strong Values – Mick has a strong ethos of living his life by four simple principles; purpose, people, planet, and profit and has built the rest of the team around these ideals.
- Building your profile – get your name out in the public eye through public speaking, writing blog posts, and collaborating with partners.
- Find trusted advisors – Mick now has a board of directors and several trusted advisors who he can turn to and advises other small businesses to find mentors to be able to discuss ideas with.
What role does technology play in the business?
Technology plays a big role in the business, in a number of ways. Firstly, a CRM is a key tool in providing valuable insights into customer behaviour and from there driving repeat business. As well as this, technology is a massive driver in the business in that it provides an online platform where people can customise and design their own sportswear, picking the styles, fabric, fit, colours and adding logos to make it completely their own. The technology is tightly integrated into the whole supply chain, cutting down any manual processes and making the process a lot quicker. Which, in turn means ONTHEGO Sports can deliver product to their customer faster.
ONTHEGO Sports is entering a fragmented industry that has a lot of moving parts, very people dependent and largely reliant on many middle men and a heavy supply chain. Building out the technology they are investing in, is long term building a backbone infrastructure that powers customer experience, aids and increases supply chain efficiencies, reduces wastage, and helps further the vision to become the leading custom made product supplier in the world.
What’s on the horizon for Mick Spencer and ONTHEGO Sports?
ONTHEGO Sports are in the process of launching their revolutionary Customiz Station Kiosks (ONTHEGO Customiz Station Launch) in retail stores and shopping centres around the country. These innovative kiosks will allow customers to design and order their sportswear on the spot, with access to physical samples to be able to touch and feel the fabrics.
The company is also planning further expansion on a global scale, in particular the US market and has an inspiring goal of using 50% recycled materials in production by 2022.
And in all of this, Mick’s enduring philosophy is to make #EveryDayMatter