MBA Program: MIT, Sloan School of Management
Industry: DTC / Apparel / Outerwear / Fashion
Founding Student Names: Adam Klein, Jared Johnson
Brief Description of Solution: Season Three is creating outwear products that solve the urban warrior’s need for well-made items that they can wear in any environment. We are a company which recognizes that stylish products lacking functionality or comfort are not good enough for today’s nomadic human. Nor are utilitarian products that lack style. Our consumers need to get to their destinations without hesitation. There’s no time to waste changing shoes or patching up blisters after traversing the city between meetings. Our consumers demand comfortable and stylish garments that allow them to transition seamlessly between their various daily appointments without sacrificing their self-confidence. Season Three products encourage the exploration of one’s surroundings and oneself, whether that be in art, culture, business, the outdoors, music or anything in between.
Our first product is an all-weather boot that is equally stylish, comfortable, and functional. It fills the current void in the footwear industry for a product with all three attributes. Our boots are designed to fit all humans, allowing anyone to get where they want to go. Engineered at MIT, Season Three boots use the best in class materials in a way that sets us apart from our competitors. Our boot is temperature-controlled from the combination of weatherproof Italian leathers and a full merino wool lining. Our “Threedom” footbed was designed with best in class shock absorption, to enable people to stay on their feet all day long without losing steam. Further, the Threedom footbed enables greater absorption of moisture, along with being quick-drying and anti-bacterial. The combination of our footbed and merino wool lining creates a boot that is truly the most comfortable in the world.
What led you to launch this venture? A year ago, we were inspired to launch Season Three on a cold, rainy Boston day. Adam was at a loss for fashionable footwear that would shield him from the awful weather and had simply given up. He decided to go barefoot for the rest of the day, instead of wearing either ugly utilitarian boots or soggy sneakers. Jared found Adam in this state and, after commiserating over the lack of options with friends and classmates, we realized that this was a major consumer challenge that we sought to create a solution through the Season Three moniker.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with your venture? Our most satisfying achievement thus far has been designing and bringing to life an amazing brand identity and story, which we are now working towards boiling down in very specific ways to connect with our audience emotionally.
However, our biggest achievement thus far has been designing and building a stylish boot from scratch. Having no design experience, nor any background in fashion, we found and worked with amazing people to bring our vision to reality. The process of creating a global supply chain, despite having limited capital resources, was also pretty great. The creation of our first physical boot has been a tremendous start for Season Three and has ignited our urge to launch our boots as soon as possible.
How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? The MBA program at Sloan provided us the foundational ideas that formed the roots of Season Three. Sloan – and specifically the team at the Trust Center – provided essential resources, support, and constant feedback. One would think being a DTC fashion brand at a school most known for groundbreaking technology would be a detriment, but for us it was a boon. From the EIRs and faculty, they didn’t try to shoehorn us into a SAAS product or hardware framework. They acknowledged what they don’t know and worked to help get us in front of the right people.
Honestly, though, at MIT it is more than just the immense entrepreneurial environment. Most professors, as well, are so willing to help – not just guide ideas, but make a real difference. The number of professors who were willing, at a moment’s notice, to connect us to specific contacts that we needed was incredible. We wouldn’t have been able to source one of our key components, merino wool, without them. We tried unsuccessfully for three months to get in contact with suppliers, but since they are giant companies, they did not take us seriously. One email later connected us to someone in the government of New Zealand and got us in front of the right people in a week!
Finally, we leaned heavily on our MBA classmates, especially those with experience in digital marketing, supply chain, design thinking, and product design. MIT and Delta V have given us an invaluable environment to learn from our peers who are also in similar stages of growth, and who are undergoing parallel challenges.
What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? Steph Spiers, the founder of Solstice and an MIT Sloan graduate, was extremely impactful in both starting and steering our entrepreneurial journey. We greatly admire how Steph initially had no background in entrepreneurship but was driven by her beliefs and experiences to create a product that she saw a real need for. Her journey is so admirable to us. While she had some experience in sales and marketing at a solar company, she is neither a trained engineer nor a scientist. Nonetheless, she immersed herself into an affordable solar energy company. We respect her diving into her vision regardless of her experience and having unshakable trust in her ideas. Her path inspired us to create our vision for outerwear products, despite having no experience in the outerwear or fashion industries. We greatly value and relate to her vision of creating a product for all of humanity, and innovation for the purpose of social progress.
Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Two classes at Sloan, in particular, were invaluable in building Season Three. Scott Stern’s Entrepreneurial Strategy was extremely useful for us, largely because of the method in which he taught us to analyze startups. Scott encouraged us to apply unique strategies based on litmus testing to early-stage companies to make informed decisions. This strategy is traditionally used when focusing on large companies, but his interpretation of this approach was different and applicable to our startup. We greatly valued how Scott helped us navigate the various decisions that entrepreneurs face and provided a landscape of different pathways we could take in terms of entrepreneurial strategy that we could mold into our own.
Carly Chase’s GSD class on Building an Entrepreneurial Venture was also extremely valuable in launching Season Three. The course directly paralleled what we were currently facing in building Season Three through experiential learning. The class allowed us the distance needed to build our company in-step with guidance in a classroom setting. The community that the class provided was invaluable to lean on when building Season Three and created an environment to collaborate and learn from peers who were experiencing similar obstacles, along with the ability to also lean on the expertise of our instructors. The class allowed us to better understand the purpose of Season Three and helped orient what we want the company to become.
What is your long-term goal with your startup? Our long-term vision for Season Three is to produce multiple lines of fashionable, yet comfortable and functional outerwear (beyond boots) that cater to the nomadic lifestyles of today’s workforce. We want to continue to foster an urge for exploration in urban environments by pushing the bounds of fashion and discovery. We want to provide our consumers with the resources to make their goals become a reality. We will do this by making products suited to their specific needs. As a company, we hope to make a positive impact on society by engaging in our own interpretation of yin and yang. Our products and public voice will aim to show that conflicting elements and opinions can be joined to create a versatile and multifaceted result. We believe our boots are a product for all humans, and, in the same vein, hope to create future products that encompass a collective unity.