After growing tired of running a staffing agency for several years, Trevor Darby realized he could pivot in a completely new direction with his work — and use entrepreneurship to make that happen. He is now pursuing this dream with help from the Master of Business Creation (MBC) program at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.
In 2008, Darby started an online knife retail company called BladeOps. What began as a small business he ran out of an extra closet at his staffing agency is now a top-ranked destination for knife consumers and collectors nationwide. The company currently operates out of a storefront location along with its website.
“We have a lot of fun educating our customers about different knives and how they function,” Darby said. “We have a wide variety of customers in our base, from people who use these knives in their everyday life to people who use them for their outdoor activities.”
Entrepreneurship was appealing to Darby because of his ability to market a dependable product, which was something he didn’t feel like he could do at the staffing agency.
“It happened to be retail,” he said. “Most people go the other direction trying to flee from retail. But I thought, ‘I think I can make this work.’ It’s been a fun journey; I’ve learned a lot about things that work well and things that don’t. I’ve probably made every mistake in the book.”
By 2010, BladeOps had grown to the point where Darby decided to quit the staffing agency altogether and go full time with his business. It’s been growing ever since, but Darby has kept an open mind to lessons about entrepreneurship along the way. This led him to the Master of Business Creation program — a professional-degree program where entrepreneurs who are serious about growing their startups can learn from experienced mentors. This program is run through the Eccles School at the University of Utah, in partnership with the Lassonde Entrepreneurship Institute.
“Last year I became aware of the MBC Program, a program that can teach me with professionals that have been there and done it all,” Darby said. “I wanted to take advantage of it. One of the things the MBC Program is teaching me is to ask myself, ‘What if? Where could I be?’ It gets me to think about how far I can take all my ideas and it’s something I’ve really needed.”
The MBC Program is available to entrepreneurs in all stages of their startup growth, and Darby’s journey with BladeOps is an inspiration for anyone who still feels like they still have something to learn about their business.
Learn more about Blade Ops at bladeops.com.