Adam Lowry clicked to a PowerPoint slide that showed a picture of him holding a checkbook in a grocery store parking lot.
That photo was taken by a customer at a San Francisco area store on Feb. 28, 2001- the day Lowry and business partner Eric Ryan made their first sale for their start-up company, Method.
Lowry spoke on that experience and the development of Method, now a $100 million company, in front of a crowd of around 100 Elon University students in a business-oriented talk Tuesday, March 3 in McCrary Theatre.
“We didn’t know how to start a business,” Lowry said. “We started the only way we knew how. We’d make the product in the bathroom in our apartment. We’d walk into grocery stores in the San Francisco and Bay Area that we thought were appropriate, and ask for a manager at 6 or 7 in the morning. That’s a really good way to get kicked out of a grocery store.”
Lowry, the author of “The Method Method: Seven Obsessions that Helped Our Scrappy Start Up Turn an Industry Upside Down,” is a big proponent for enacting social change into his business strategies. It’s something that’s incorporated through Method’s business rules, which he went into great detail about.
“Any business that you start, you have to start with the idea that you can revolutionize something about the industry,” Lowry said.
Method has been ranked seventh on the Inc. 500 and16th on Fast Company’s list of the 50 Most Innovative Companies in the World. Lowry said he was told by a buyer in Target once that his product didn’t have a “snowball’s chance in hell.”
That being said, Lowry is proud of what Method has done, including its LEED Platinum-certified factory in Chicago, the only one of its kind in the consumer product industry.
But it wouldn’t have gotten this far without being a little weird, according to Lowry.
Part of succeeding in business, Lowry said, is using a trial and error method to test things out while trying to elevate work to a higher purpose. That’s why every person that gets hired at Method is assigned some homework. The third question is “How would you keep Method weird?”
“It’s about getting people who are diverse in mindset,” Lowry said, “but have a common mindset and contribute to making this place more collaborative.
“I don’t really care if our competitors take us seriously. I care if our customers take us seriously. It’s about practice.”
The speech was sponsored by the Liberal Arts Forum, and member Emily Hayes introduced Lowry.
Elon sophomore Trey Rand enjoyed the portion of Lowry’s talk about weirdness, and said he was impressed by his career path.
“I thought it was a very interesting and personable experience to see,” Rand said. “It was also very inspiring to me that he started from very humble origins, and, with his desire and goal, was able to make such a high-profile business.”