Daily Cardinal: "Wisconsin business grad becomes small business owner"

The story:

Former UW-Madison student Matt McManus found inspiration for one-piece rubber sandals from his co-founder and brother, who returned from a trip to Beijing with a pair of unique sandals that sparked envy among family and friends.

McManus said the coveted sandals eventually became the basis for Bokos, a shoe company based in Plymouth, Minnesota, after a research process largely centered on trial and error.

"The hardest part is you never know what to expect, so you have to make mistakes on your own," McManus said. "As long as those mistakes are learning experiences, I think mistakes are just fine."

McManus, who graduated with a double major in marketing and management, co-founded Bokos while preparing to graduate from the Wisconsin School of Business in 2013.

The recent graduate said he juggled schoolwork and planning the Bokos launch for months, with help from the professors in the business school along the way.

"The business school professors were really, really phenomenal. They obviously have their own experience outside of just being professors, and they were really great resources to ask questions," McManus said.

Working with his brother is rewarding because they have complementing skill sets and generally agree with each other, McManus said. However, he added that working with family can be a challenge.

"You have to try to not always talk about business," McManus said. "It's easy to make that always the topic, but you definitely have to draw that line when you're not on the clock."

McManus said the most important thing for aspiring small business owners to remember is to ask questions and take advantage of their resources, encouraging anyone interested in business to reach out and ask him for advice.

He also said being patient is a very important part of the process to become a small business owner.

"I remember, when I was first launching, that I was hoping that this thing would be big overnight," McManus said. "That's not how it works. The biggest thing is to stay diligent and wait for the doors to open."

To see the story online: Bokos in Madison's Daily Cardinal