The CEO of You Kick Ass, Keri Andrews, worked for Microsoft and its Bing search engine, learning a great deal about how search algorithms work and how to drive traffic to a website for marketing purposes.“When I tell people that I quit a job at Microsoft to make action figures for a living, I feel like it sounds made up,” said co-founder Andrews – who calls herself Transformagirl. “When I was at Microsoft, I never actually sold a physical product. I only sold digital products. At You Kick Ass, we had to go through hiring a manufacturer and dealing with logistics and inventory – all of those things were new to me.
Even 3D printing – a big piece of the business – was foreign to her. But she is doing a lot more than manufacturing action figures. Andrews is aiming to redefine what it means to be a hero – and who exactly fits the bill. “I think that people so often focus on what they can’t do,” said Andrews. “We’re trying to show people that there’s a hero in everybody. It’s a neat way to be able to tell your story.” And as one of its stepping stones, You Kick Ass endeavoured to transform some famous entrepreneurs into action heroes. With the plethora of superhero movies that have been unleashed this year, this could be a valuable push in showcasing entrepreneurs as people to look up to for younger generations.
They’re practically modern day heroes anyway. This fact was highlighted in a 2013 speech by prime minister David Cameron, who acknowledged the work entrepreneurs do for the economy. “To all those people who strike out on their own, who sit there night after night, checking and double checking whether the numbers stack up, I say I have so much respect for you – you are national heroes,” he said. The idea initially came when Andrews was out to brunch with co-founder Alesia Glidewell, who had recently received an action figure of “herself”, and thought it to be pretty empowering. “The more I was working on this business plan, the more I realised the numbers lined up well,” said Andrews. “There’s a viable business here.”
You could be wondering why Glidewell received an action hero figure from game company Valve Corporation. Let’s just say that Glidewell is pretty kick ass herself. She used to be a voice-over artist and motion capture model, and has learned a great deal about 3D modelling from this experience. Glidewell was the face and body model for Chell, the hero in both of the Portal games. Seeing herself as an action figure gave Glidewell the idea that seeing someone as a hero would have a lot of impact on how they were normally viewed – not to mention that many would probably want to see themselves as heroes too. In its arsenal so far, You Kick Ass has produced a figure of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, as well as Warren Buffett.
Let’s also not forget SpaceX and Tesla co-founder Elon Musk, and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. By Shané Schutte
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