Ryan Moor, CEO of Ryonet
MEET RYAN MOOR
Ryan is a Pacific Northwest Native through and through. Originally from Battle Ground, Washington, Ryan now lives a few miles south right outside of Portland, Oregon.
An entrepreneur from a young age, Ryan used to put on kazoo performances for his neighbors. After starting a punk band, and beginning to print band shirts for money to fund tours, he found a niche market in the T-Shirt printing business. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Learn what it takes to foster an idea into reality and manage a startup that experiences exponential growth.
GET TO KNOW RYONET
Ryonet was conceived in 2004 out of a punk band’s need for more tour money, birthed into the wild of the early eBay market space, and raised to its current status as a leader and innovator in the screen printing industry by an insatiable team of hard-working printers, led by the fearless and spikey-haired Ryan Moor.
Ryonet works to bridge the gap between learning and doing, believing that hard work and passion can take you anywhere if you have the right tools. They do it all – from showing you how to properly flood your screen, to the eco-conscious products for you to put on your shelves.
LDT: What path led you to Portland?
RM: I grew up here. I’ve lived here my whole life and I would never move.
I travel all over the place, mainly in the western hemisphere, but you come back and you’re flying over Mount Hood. You see all this green and these rivers. You get off the plane, there’s fresh air, and it’s awesome.
LDT: What made you decide to start your own company?
I think there are some people that are just born with the entrepreneurial spirit. They want to push the boundaries. They want to be different. They are not going to get in line and march with the crowd.
So I don’t know, I think that was always me.
I remember trying to play the kazoo – going to my neighbor’s house and trying to get them to pay me to play the kazoo. My parents sponsored that through the business they were in.
I would go to these events and hear people’s stories. I loved the story from start to struggle, to where they are now.
My favorite business books to read are about the story. You learn so much and there are things you can do differently and change. That turned into music, which led me to screen printing. I never thought of screen printing as a thing.
We went from playing Warped Tour and rock shows to… I went from DIY rock and roll to a boring stock monetized industry. I was like, I hate this. We went from me in my bedroom to… within 16 months we had built a business.
We started in April of 2004. At the end of 2005, we were a four million dollar a year company. By 2006, we were an eight million dollar company and that was without any business anything.
We got lucky.
We figured out how to market online with SEO [Search Engine Optimization] and PPC [pay per click] marketing. We created an industry that wasn’t there – selling screen print kits online.
Then we had to figure out how to run that eight to ten million dollar company. Then we had to figure out how to run a twenty million dollar company. Now we’re learning how to run a fifty million company.
We’re in a super hard spot right now. Four to five years ago, we were in a hard spot as a twenty million dollar company.
I was just asking my team – some of them were super discouraged. It was like yeah, but look at our lives… the company, our marketplace...
We’re in a much better position and we are in this position because we are hungry now. We’re going to figure this out. We’re going to fix it. Do it, and be better for it. It’s just the evolution of continuing driving.
A lot of people start a business and I respect them because they’re probably much better off than I am or most entrepreneurs are. They look at it from a mindset of scarcity. This is what I have. This is what I have to hold. Then they look at these people that are doing amazing things in the world, but they’re not willing to put the chips on the table.
You have to have a mindset of abundance to do that. If you put your chips on [the table] and lose them there are always more chips.
“The hungry, stay foolish” quote – the fiscally responsible businesses don’t get that quote. The entrepreneur that wants to create change gets it. There are some ppl that have literally been born with hunger from their position.
You have to be foolish and put your bets on the table. It’s the drive to make it happen.
LDT: What kind of work do you do? What is a typical day in your life?
RM: I don’t know. It’s awesome because I wake up.
One thing that I learned from Tony Robbins is you are your number one asset. If you don’t project you and get you right, everything else is going to suck. So start your day with a run, walk, or bike ride before you look at your phone or take a shower.
I wake up and put my shoes on and take my dog running. That’s how I start my day. I start to get jazzed up on coffee and nail out personal work and the fun meetings you get to have with people. And then there are the boring meetings. You should save those boring meetings for the afternoon.
Typically I do that or my own personal work, which could be writing or planning, selling… Then typically I spend about half the time in the office and half on the road, either doing development or interacting with clients.
When I’m in the office, it’s connecting with the team, strategizing, helping the team on the floor. I’m with the sales team and marketing team a lot. I’m in the product development team a lot. I’m not in operations often because that’s where the delivery happens.
We have a hard-working team. I can not show up. I can travel. I can work on forward-thinking stuff and they totally run things without me.
Sometimes things break and I’m in there a little bit more. I don’t like showing up at the office when everything is great because then problems aren’t real and people are just bitching about stuff they shouldn’t be bitching about. That’s when you have to stretch and orchestrate.
I heard this one quote about how there’s either orchestrated chaos or drama. Your job as the CEO is to direct the drama, otherwise, the drama will direct you. As humans, as individuals, we need drama to strive.
If you put a monkey in a stressful environment, they start fighting. You can either put people in situations where they are stressed and you are forced to make things better, or you can put them in a fat happy state and they start bitching because the coffee isn’t hot enough.
LDT: What is your rose? Thorn? I.e. what frustrates or challenges you in your work? And what is the most valuable, exciting part?
RM: The rose is creating something different and better, and changing the industry and the world through what you do. Changing people’s lives and their outcomes from what you do as a company and the work you do every day. That’s the awesome part.
The thorn is just the stuff the business needs to do to get there. Process, people, develop accountability… Running a business, especially a startup business, none of this is developed. There is no cookie cutter plan. You have to do it and invest in it. Especially as an entrepreneur, that’s not the fun-est part.
I think the holy grail is finding an integrator that can be the implementation to your creation. Most entrepreneurs have to become the integrators because they can’t afford or can’t find… they’re just so rare to find: an integrator. At some point, if they don’t put that piece in place, they’re never going to make it where they need to go.
If you’re an integrator and have an entrepreneurial spirit, how do you hook up with an entrepreneur or a creative? Some people have the entrepreneurial drive but they don’t have the entrepreneur risk profile.
Like our CFO, he’s one of our integrators. He wants to be an entrepreneur. He loves it, but there is no way in hell he’s risking his moneys or companies the way I would. But he’s awesome about fielding the shit I come up with and that’s what keeps him there. He’s an amazing partner to have. But he has to find that other person. He realizes that because he’s not that person. I need that person because if I don’t have that person, I’m done.
LDT: What do you feel most proud about in your current role?
RM: We’re screen printers. That’s all about making the print. When that happens we power the print – we bring this garment, shirt, or poster to life. Create a dream fund society. The T-Shirt is a billboard of our generation. That is awesome.
But our next venture is going behind the print to the actual garment. The medium that we’ve chosen to decorate, and bring alive, and making that means something that’s really exciting to me. That we’re now getting into doing T-Shirts.
I always wanted to do T-Shirts, but we’re doing T-Shirts in a way that is totally different than other people do that.
So what Starbucks did to the coffee industry in the last 20 years is they took an industry that was super commoditized. It was a huge billion dollar industry, but they treated their farmers like shit and it was shit.
Starbucks took it to a place where we can now come and have a creative and inspiring conversation, that lights us both on fire because we’re both talking about doing what our dreams are. And I’m getting jazzed on this really good coffee. And I’m happy to pay ten times as much as I would have paid for it 20 years ago because I’m not in a diner that’s gloomy and smoky, bitching about life. I’m in a bright area, drinking something that’s really good. My life is better.
I bet you 100% these are fair trade beans. The farmers have a much better quality of life. These people are more happy. The whole supply chain is making more money and I’m happily paying more for the product.
The T-Shirt that I’m wearing sells for less than this coffee does and it will be around for 10-20 years.
Apparel is the second most wasteful, polluting industry in the world behind oil and it’s one of the least paid. So we want to create a high-end quality product that is made ethically, sourced ethically, and people are proud and actually have a better experience paying for it.
I’m most excited about the customer companies and people that are buying into this idea. They’re saying, yes, we can do that differently. And they’re going to go out there and sharing that story with their customers. They’re going to help start this little tiny movement that eventually turns into the norm.
We hope that our competition copies what we do.
Starbucks is better because they have better coffee. And coffee is better because there is a Starbucks. They’re all better because of it. They both give each other a better experience and their customers are happier. Anybody who loves coffee anywhere – if you’re traveling, you’re still going to go to Starbucks.
LDT: How do you maintain work-life balance?
RM: So that’s a really good question. I think that’s something entrepreneurs really struggle with. Not just entrepreneurs, but people in your company.
If you’re not the best you, you can put everything else aside. You have to put things first that make you the best you.
So I exercise 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at night. In the morning, it puts me right for the day. At night, it’s to release the stress and bullshit from the day.
And then do developmental things. I like putting new ideas in my head, being around invigorating conversation that jazzes me up mentally. So I have to do those two things.
I love Steve Jobs quotes. He said, “I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
You have to change what you do. How you do it. Who you do it with.
Sometimes you have to stop. Have a beer or something and regroup for a second. If you have a family, I have three boys and a wife, then you have to balance that in the equation.
I think you have two buckets. Those buckets… you can have ten buckets but the other buckets can’t be full. You’re not putting much into them.
The two buckets I chose to have are family and work. I want to work with people and I want to grow people in the company that have those same two buckets.
We recently had to part ways with our VP because his second bucket was having fun and golfing, drinking beer with his buddies. I said, unless you make work one of those buckets it’s not going to happen. Then he replaced his family bucket with his work bucket.
Family has to be one of those buckets. You have to make sure you’re the best self you can be to carry those two buckets. Those other buckets have to integrate with your two buckets. I love sports, golfing, snowboarding, traveling… When I get to travel and work with my family, that’s awesome. I don’t go travel alone.
Each interview on Let’s Do This features a guest question from a previous collaborator. This question comes from Adam Reed, a freelance graphic designer who specializes in illustration.
Adam Reed: If you could put a billboard up anywhere, what would it say? And why?
RM: That’s a good question. “You’re number one.”
Just because you have to realize that. And I do believe if you’re not number one, you can’t be the best you. It’s so backwards. It was such a realization to me. I was like, wait a minute. I’m supposed to give everything to everyone else.
If you only give, you only have so much to give. If you give everything away, you run out of things to give.
You can give so much more if you stoke the fire and build the bank, otherwise, you run out of money or flame. But a strong fire can light the world on fire.
You can do it. You’re number one.
And that’s not in an egotistic way. It’s literally from a place where you realize you have to be number one because otherwise, you’re not making anyone else number one. You’re better because you can give more to other people.
LDT: What’s your question for next interview? What do you want to know?
RM: I’m going to be really grandiose with this… What are you doing with what you do, or in your life, to change the world?
Let’s Do This! Stop, Collaborate & Listen
If you’re interested in a future collaboration or learning more about Ryan Moor and Ryonet, you can connect and follow their journey using the links below.