2021 Most Disruptive MBA Startups: Sunga Life, UCLA (Anderson)

Sunga Life

UCLA, Anderson School of Management

Industry:  E-commerce athleisure and swimwear

Founding Student Name(s): Jeffrey Gum, Warren Lee

Brief Description of Solution: Patriotic & high quality apparel for those that love freedom, courage, and service. Also the first Brazilian sunga company in the US and high quality silkies training shorts and 4 way stretch board shorts that provide shorter length options.

Funding Dollars: Self-funded with my Iraq re-enlistment bonus ($55,000)

What led you to launch this venture? I went to Brasil with the Gracie family who created Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and the UFC and discovered sungas in Brasil. I wore them everywhere and everyone loved them. Made this my first product and then made other products that go with the brand then created my own camo patterns since I was a Navy SEAL.

What has been your biggest accomplishment so far with venture? Being on track for 1M+ revenue in 2021 while just using cash flow to grow as well as all the incredible veteran foundations I support with my company. The second is the incredible community I have built and all the celebrities, professional fighters, and veteran & fitness influencers who wear my brand just because they love what it represents.

How has your MBA program helped you further this startup venture? Since I was in military and did not have a business background, it provided me with a team to start building out and a roadmap to scale, along with teaming up with really smart MBA students who have more of a corporate background They helped me professionalize my company and help build professional pitch decks and business plans.

What founder or entrepreneur inspired you to start your own entrepreneurial journey? How did he or she prove motivational to you? My cousin Lou Lentine, founder of Echelon Fitness, (just did $150mm in year 3) and also founder of Viatek products was the first entrepreneur I knew. I saw everything he built and wanted that for my life, so I spent a lot of time with him while I was in college studying business. So I knew I wanted to build my own company after I went and did the SEAL Teams first.

Which MBA class has been most valuable in building your startup and what was the biggest lesson you gained from it? Business Plan Development – Just seeing all the things that can go wrong I loved all the stories from Scheinrock about how he would persevere and always find a way to succeed and find a solution. It’s very similar lessons I have from the SEAL Teams.

What professor made a significant contribution to your plans and why? Professor Scheinrock’s class help me build a much more professional and robust business plan and pitch deck and helped me lock in my strategy in a much better way. It provided an incredible team in BPD and after that my website revenue grew 8x in 2020 to $502,000.

What is your long-term goal with your startup?  Become a household name, change the swimwear industry forever by making shorter shorts and sungas more popular, help out and support the veteran community more, and build an incredible community about fitness and having a better life…and then sell for $100mm.


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