University of Southern California

Jump Higher Now
January 14, 2011 • by Ryan Goldston

Dear Friends of Marshall:

In my parent's kitchen, the wall has four rungs before you reach the ceiling. The third rung is filled with the fingerprints of my twin brother Adam. That's the highest point he could jump up and touch—until last year.

My story is about taking the entrepreneurial education I received at the USC Marshall School and putting it into practice in a big way. My twin brother Adam and I were members of the USC basketball team in 2005-2006. At 6'0 tall we relied on our resourcefulness, tenacity and skill to compete in a land of giants. Along with basketball, sneakers were our passion and we were transfixed on creating a basketball shoe that could instantly increase vertical leap. As we approached graduation, we asked ourselves, "What will we do after college?"

In the spring of 2009, the economy was bad and jobs were scarce. We knew that entrepreneurial thinking was a key to building out of a recession and creating opportunities. And we knew that if we found something we were passionate about we'd be infinitely more successful than if we worked on something we were just interested in. We loved sneakers, but recognized that the world wasn't waiting for another great looking shoe. If we wanted to enter that world, we had to do something different.

We thought about that third rung in our parent's kitchen and asked ourselves if we could come up with a technology to enable an athlete to jump higher instantly. We worked endlessly, going through paper and drawings, and finally we were ready to file our patent. We sent the drawings to the factory and got our samples back. They came to our parents' house and we couldn't wait to try them.

My brother went to the kitchen. Wearing his usual shoes, he jumped. As always, he touched the third rung. Then he put on our production sample. He jumped. Half of his finger touched the fourth rung. They worked! It's been proven scientifically since then, and in October our shoes were banned from the NBA. And our company, Athletic Propulsion Labs, has taken off. In the past few months we have been featured on CNN, CNBC, ESPN, in Slam Magazine, KICKS Magazine, and on the front page of Sports Illustrated.com.

Achieving this success took an extraordinary amount of hard work. Where did I get the necessary work ethic and entrepreneurial know-how? At the USC Marshall School of Business. Marshall taught me about entrepreneurship, marketing and finance--all of the areas crucial to starting a business.

I believe when you have a great leader like Dean Ellis at the top of an organization, the benefits flow throughout the school. Everyone at USC Marshall is part of a family that pulls together and supports each other. I hope you'll consider supporting the Marshall family today. It has helped me leap higher in my life than I ever thought possible. It's just like our company slogan suggests: "Stop Dreaming… Jump Higher."

Fight On!
Ryan Goldston, BS '09