BYU students’ kickstarter raises $50 thousand

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Left to right: Jose Montoya, DJ Taylor and Bently Reynolds. Otishi was launched on Kickstarter earlier this year. (Bently Reynolds)

Three BYU students launched a shoe brand on Kickstarter, where they have raised $50 thousand so far.

Entrepreneurship major Jose Montoya, pre-business student Bently Reynolds, and experience design management student DJ Taylor began Otishi (pronounced oh-tee-shee) shoes in March of this year.

The trio wanted to develop shoes that were durable, washable and wearable. This was mainly fueled by Taylor’s interest in weightlifting and his own search for a good gym shoe.

The group also did extensive calculations before launching, Reynolds added. They knew if their email list converted at about 30%, they would hit their launch goal. So while the success has been impressive, it was not unexpected, Reynolds said.

All three co-founders said they proudly wear Otishi shoes almost every day, a testament to their investment in the brand and the quality of the product.

But it is not all a walk in the park. Montoya is taking 18 credits while helping run Otishi and another business. He described the whole experience as treading water, with just his face above the surface.

Similarly, Taylor is planning a wedding with his fiancée and Reynolds is helping build an AI chatbot.

One of the biggest things the group learned during this process was “most [of] the time things don’t go according to plan,” Reynolds said.

Taylor added that a lot of what it takes to successfully run a business is utilizing past failures and learning to address problems with honesty and transparency.

One example the group gave of this process was a designated “beef time.” This is a scheduled time at the end of the meetings when any “beef” between them can be brought up. Jose explained this is crucial to functioning as a team and friends, who do not always think the same and sometimes find themselves in conflict.

“We’ve all openly involved God in being able to stay afloat and keep ahead of everything,” Taylor said.

Each team member echoed the sentiment and expressed gratitude for BYU’s Creator’s Club, managed by the Rollins Center. This club offers support to students by offering grants and resources to help launch businesses successfully. Joining the club requires a short application process and payment of dues.

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