Name: Robert Croak
Location: Toledo, OH & Las Vegas, Nevada
Business: SillyBrandz Global
Robert Croak has been a Toledo-area celebrity for some time. When I was high school aged, I knew him as “Mr. Eastside” because he basically ran the entertainment district on Toledo’s east side.
Fast forward a few years, I began working for Rob in 2004 as a digital designer while I was finishing my degree. Rob and I got along well. He was energetic, fun and smart. Some days after work we would hang out, play poker and toss ideas around.
One of those ideas really took off. Rob noticed the popularity of Lance Armstrong’s signature yellow “Livestrong” bracelets (see picture above). If you recall these things were everywhere and the demand outweighed the supply as they were sold out in Foot Locker locations nationwide. We mixed a market observation with a trend and decided to sell a Poker-themed silicone bracelet. Not long thereafter, Rob decided to offer silicone bracelets with a customizable message and color.
Rob first sourced the product abroad and after the profits began to roll in he purchased equipment to do the job in-house. It was wildly successful and grew Rob’s staff by at least 3x it’s original size.