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Former NFL linebacker Darryl Sharpton is now thriving with an online furniture business 

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Darryl Sharpton #51 of the Houston Texans against the Tennessee Titans at LP Field on October 23, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Grant Halverson | Getty Images

As the Houston Texans entered the 2020 National Football League season the same way they exited last season – with a loss – their former comrade Darryl Sharpton was busying winning in retirement.

The former NFL linebacker, who played five season as a professional before leaving due to injuries, told CNBC his e-commerce furniture businesses are thriving with revenue projections almost doubling due a boom in online shopping spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Along with his wife Jessica, Sharpton is the founder of furniture companies Edloe Finch and Albany Park. He said the companies, which have Amazon and Wayfair as wholesale buyers, was estimated to do $10 million in sales this year, up from $3.9 million in 2019. But the pandemic pushed this year’s projection to $20 million.

“With Covid-19, the online shopping trends have accelerated five years into the future,” Sharpton told CNBC in an interview. “We happen to be in a good space at a good time.”

Sharpton, 33, said he’s seeking investors as he wants to expand the Albany Park line. He is not looking to part with too much of the company’s stake due to a potential acquisition offer for the business. 

But whether he keeps the business or offloads it, Sharpton said the company is in a good position as 2020 nears its end. 

Walking away

A 2010 fourth-round draft pick by the Texans, Sharpton retired from the NFL after a plethora of injuries, including a hip injury after signing with the Arizona Cardinals in 2015. He also spent time with the Chicago Bears and Washington Football team following his Houston stint.

“I was miserable,” Sharpton said when describing his final moments in the NFL before being cut in August 2015. A series of ankle injuries also helped derail his career, which Sharpton admitted, “I couldn’t take it.”

He finished his career playing in 47 games, recording 176 tackles and one sack. But Sharpton had to turn down one final offer before officially calling it quits. The New York Giants offered him a workout, but Sharpton said he “couldn’t back-paddle” on his decision to walk away. 

Sharpton wanted to focus on e-commerce, a passion he’s had since his college days at the University of Miami. During his senior year, Sharpton said he stumbled across the opportunity to sell furniture after purchasing a sofa from Craigslist.

He recalled entering a woman’s home, which served as a showroom, purchased the sofa, and inquired about her distributor.

“What I realized was a sofa is a serious staple in your house,” Sharpton said. “To start decorating a house, you must have a sofa and a mattress.”

He purchased sofas and marked up the price roughly $50. After leaving the NFL, he took his career earnings – about $4 million – and started his current furniture sites.

“The economics of selling something to somebody intrigued me,” said Sharpton, who studied finance in college.

Asked if he regrets declining the Giants’ tryout, thinking he might’ve resurrected his career, Sharpton said: “I would be lying if I said I never had this moment where I wonder what it would’ve been like if I gave it another shot. But I was looking forward to life after football, though I knew it would be riskier going from a high-paid employee to running your own show.” 

Jessica and Darryl Sharpton on Albany Sofa in green velvet

Source: Melissa Fitzgerald West

Moving forward

Sharpton started Edloe Finch in 2017 and Albany Park in 2019 – both serving as business-to-business e-commerce platforms with Amazon and Wayfair serving as top retail partners. His model transitioned to business-to-consumer after the pandemic and is currently 90% of the business, he said.

The Albany Park line is a sofa in a box brand that “ships directly to a customer’s house in three business days,” Sharpton said. He and his wife design the furniture pieces and have the items manufactured in China and Malaysia.

Despite the current growth of his company, Sharpton recalled his fair share of racism as he traveled throughout the country to attend furniture fairs. Sharpton recalled being stereotyped – often mistaken for a worker at the events – or denied entry altogether.

Fearful the business would suffer due to him being Black, Sharpton, and Jessica, who is Asian and White, initially decided to only use her face on the sites, much to his family’s dismay.

“Today, I can’t imagine being in that place mentally but definitely at the time I was [unsure] if people would feel comfortable with buying furniture from me where they would maybe question everything – the quality, the validity,” Sharpton said.

After taking in only $1.7 million in 2018, Sharpton said the Covid-19-injected sales increased the company’s revenue forecast to $20 million this year, on pace for $60 million in 2021, and could reach $100 million in 2022.

Why sell? 

Sharpton plans to expand the Albany Park line with furniture featuring African prints scheduled to launch in November. With revenue increasing, Sharpton said, “the need for capital isn’t as urgent as it was before.” But he said he would entertain investors experienced in logistics and direct to consumer brand marketing.

Darryl Sharpton

Source: Julie Soefer

Sharpton said a larger mattress in box company discussed acquiring the company. He kept the name private as negotiations are still at the preliminary stages.

Asked why he would entertain offers with business doing well, Sharpton said: “It’s something Jessica and I talk about all the time,” adding his desire to spend more time with his children as another factor. 

He said he’s torn with the potential acquisition offer. “I’ll go back and forth,” Sharpton said of keeping ownership of Edloe Finch and Albany Park for his children’s future.

But while he decides, the NFL’s season will continue through a pandemic, with Sharpton serving as one of the many spectators. Sharpton admitted he’s “at peace” with his football career ending, but admits he misses the sport’s physical contact.

“I didn’t realize how therapeutic that was for me until now,” he said. “But the aspect of being an employee, having to show up at 6 a.m., going to all the meetings, training camps, that part I don’t miss.”

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SpaceX Transporter-1 rideshare launch carries 143 spacecraft

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The Falcon 9 rocket stands on the launchpad in Florida ahead of liftoff for the Transporter-1 mission.

SpaceX

SpaceX launched another rocket into the record books on Sunday with the first mission of its “rideshare” program carrying dozens of small satellites into space.

The Falcon 9 rocket, which took off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral, carried 143 spacecraft into orbit — a new global record for the most spacecraft launched at once, and surpassing the mark of 104 set by an Indian PSLV rocket in February 2017.

Called Transporter-1, the SpaceX mission was the first for the company’s SmallSat Rideshare program.

While SpaceX advertises a launch on a Falcon 9 dedicated to a single satellite for $62 million, the company’s SmallSat Rideshare launches give smaller satellites — as small as the size of a mailbox — an option to orbit for as little as $1 million for 200 kilograms.

Such rideshare missions have become increasingly common in the space industry, with international competitors like Arianespace’s Vega looking to claim a share of the growing marketplace of small satellites.

Rideshare missions offer a different option for low-cost satellites looking for a ride to orbit, with smaller rockets like Rocket Lab’s Electron offering a more tailored approach.

“SpaceX is providing a competitive rideshare option, in large part leveraging its Starlink launches,” Bryce Space and Technology senior analyst Phil Smith told CNBC.

The SpaceX service is not quite on demand, Smith said, but companies can pay a premium to launch according to their schedule, rather than the schedule of the primary customer.

“A fairly reliable ‘bus route’ is available,” Smith said of SpaceX, “whereas I suppose one might compare companies like Rocket Lab and Virgin Orbit as on-call taxies that get your satellite where you want it ASAP.”

Elon Musk’s company launched 133 satellites for a broad variety of government and private customers, as well as 10 of its own Starlink satellites.

SpaceX’s customers on board Transporter-1 include: Planet Labs, Exolaunch, D-Orbit, Kepler Communications, Spaceflight Inc, Nanoracks, NASA and Capella Space, as well as iQPS, Loft Orbital, Spire Global, ICEYE, HawkEye 360, Astrocast, and the University of South Florida Institute of Applied Engineering.

Notably, the 10 Starlink satellites aboard this mission will be the first in the constellation to deploy to a polar orbit, as the company continues to expand public access to its satellite internet network. Those 10 satellites were added after Momentus took its first Vigoride mission off the Transporter-1 launch earlier this month. Momentus cited additional time needed for regulatory approval as the cause of the change.

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Biden surgeon general pick says U.S. racing to adapt against new Covid strains

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Vivek Murthy, who has been nominated by President-elect Joe Biden to serve as the US Surgeon General, speaks as Biden announces his team tasked with dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic at The Queen in Wilmington, Delaware on December 8, 2020.

Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s surgeon general pick said Sunday that the United States is in a race to adapt against the mutating coronavirus which has produced a number of potentially more infectious variants of Covid-19.

“The virus is basically telling us that it’s going to continue to change and we’ve got to be ready for it,” Dr. Vivek Murthy said during an interview with ABC News’ “This Week.”

“We’ve got to number one, do much better genomic surveillance, so we can identify variants when they arise and that means we’ve got to double down on public health measures like masking and avoiding indoor gatherings,” Murthy, Biden’s nominee to be the nation’s next surgeon general, added.

He also called for an emphasis on treatment strategies as well as further investment in testing and contract tracing methods.

“So the bottom line is, we’re in a race against these variants, the virus is going to change and it’s up to us to adapt and to make sure that we’re staying ahead,” Murthy said.

On Friday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the new variant, known as B.1.1.7, was associated with a higher level of mortality. When asked, Murthy said the U.S. still needs more data on the U.K. variant before making the same determination.

Preliminary analysis of the mutated strain, which was first identified in the U.K., suggests it may be the culprit behind Britain’s spike in cases. Johnson has previously said that the new variant could also be as much as 70% more transmissible. The British government has also confirmed that another infectious variant of the coronavirus identified in South Africa has emerged in the United Kingdom.

Read more: 5 things to know about the new Covid strain spreading in the UK

Last month, Colorado announced the nation’s first case of the new and potentially more infectious strain of Covid-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned last week that the U.K. variant, which is already circulating in at least 10 states, could become the dominant variant in the U.S. by March.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top Covid-19 medical adviser, said last week that the Covid-19 vaccines currently on the market may not be as effective against new strains of the coronavirus.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a news conference in the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020.

Chris Kleponis | Bloomberg | Getty Images

“Bottom line: We’re paying very close attention to it,” Fauci said of the known variants identified in the U.K., South Africa and Brazil.

“There are alternative plans if we ever have to modify the vaccine. That’s not something that is a very onerous thing, we can do that given the platforms we have,” he told reporters during a White House press briefing.


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White House says states can’t purchase Covid vaccine directly

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Ron Klain, former White House Ebola response coordinator, speaks during a House Homeland Security Subcommittee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, March 10, 2020.

Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg | Getty Images

White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Sunday that it’s not possible for U.S. states to purchase Covid-19 vaccines directly from manufacturers, as some have sought to do, under the emergency use authorization issued by the Food and Drug Administration.

“As a matter of law, this vaccine is under an emergency use authorization,” Klain told NBC’s “Meet the Press,” when asked about the requests. “I don’t think that’s possible.”

The comments come after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo asked Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Monday to allow the state to purchase vaccines directly from the company, citing tightening supply.

Pfizer told Cuomo that it couldn’t do so under the terms of its December emergency use authorization.

The company said it was open to the idea, but “before we can sell directly to State governments, HHS would need to approve that proposal based on the EUA granted to Pfizer by the FDA.”

The Department of Health and Human Services — at that point still under Republican leadership — accused Cuomo, a Democrat, of attempting to “cut to the front of the line at the expense of fellow jurisdictions.”

Klain said that he believed governors were “understandably frustrated” by the slow pace of vaccinations to date.

The number of vaccines administered lags far behind projections that were made under President Donald Trump, though the pace has picked up in recent weeks. President Joe Biden has pledged that the U.S. will administer 100 million doses of vaccine in his first 100 days in office.

“We are going to ramp up production. We are going to ramp up distribution. We are going to work closely with governors. We are going to get this vaccine to the American people,” Klain said.

The Biden administration has pushed to increase the federal government’s role in the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines.

T.J. Ducklo, a White House spokesman, earlier rejected state efforts to purchase vaccines directly, saying that “we need to have a national approach to vaccinations, and must ensure states aren’t competing against each other like they did with PPE, ventilators, and tests.”

Ducklo didn’t immediately respond to an email on Sunday. The Department of Health and Human Services also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Before Biden took office, other states had asked Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services to allow them to purchase vaccines directly from the manufacturer.

The governors of Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin — all Democrats — sent a letter Jan. 15 accusing the Trump administration of botching the initial vaccine roll out.

“If you are unable or unwilling to give us that supply, we urge you to grant permission for us to directly purchase vaccines so we may distribute them,” the governors wrote.

At least one of those states appears to have backtracked on the plan since Biden was inaugurated on Wednesday.

Bobby Leddy, a spokesperson for Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, said in a statement provided to CBS that “we are confident that President Joe Biden will have a clear national strategy that is based in data and science to help our nation overcome this health crisis.”

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