Since graduating from Ohio State in 2015 with a degree in actuarial science, Paul Hopler has become co-founder and self-described “numbers aficionado” of Keep It Simple Socks, a local Columbus brand dedicated to creating unique socks for both work and play.
What inspired you to start Keep It Simple Socks?
I've always wanted to be my own boss, so when my two friends Austen and Michael approached me with this, I was very excited. We all love socks, and having fun, creative socks is kind of a necessity in the group we hang out with, so starting a company like this was a no-brainer.
What is your role in the company as the "numbers aficionado?"
I was an actuarial science major, and also am an accountant, so all of the accounting, bookkeeping and numbers part of the business was a natural role for me. However, when it comes to something like this where your team is so small, all of our roles kind of blend together. For instance, as the President of Finance, I also handled all of the manufacturing communications, and even some of our graphic design work for social media and/or designs. Which just goes to show that when it comes down to it, even though we do have some delegation with who does what, all three of us just do whatever needs done.
Image courtesy of David Hopler Photography
What has been the most surprising thing you've learned about starting a business?
Although I wasn't surprised at the difficulties and complications that can arise when starting a business out of nothing with no prior experience, it's hard to truly comprehend how many of those can fly at you. From the inception of the business, to figuring out designing, to manufacturing, to even getting items shipped, imported, exported, there's always new issues to deal with that you couldn't have seen coming. Although it can be frustrating, my advice would just be to take them all one at time and keep momentum going. You need to continue to be open to learning new things and to roll with the punches.
How did an education in the College of Arts and Sciences equip you for this entrepreneurial role?
Although I didn't fully understand why at the time, I always remember my College of Arts and Sciences advisers saying they wanted us to be "well-rounded," which equated to me taking many GE courses. But looking back, that helped me to learn things I never would have, and to always be open to new experiences. I love being an entrepreneur — doing and learning new things daily and not being shoehorned into one specific task. I believe the College of Arts and Sciences helped prepare me for that.
Actuarial science alum @phopler3, will knock your socks off with his new business @KeepItSimpleSox #ASCDaily
What advice do you have for students who may be interested in starting a business?
If you have an idea that you really believe in and are excited about, commit to it and jump in. You have to be fully committed to going for it if you want it to work out, and you need to just take a chance. If you try and it doesn't pan out, then 10 years from now you'll never remember that lost time and/or money from investing in something you're excited about and you will know you gave it your best shot. However, if you DON'T go for it, you'll never know what could have been.
What is your fondest Ohio State memory?
My fondest Ohio State memory is an easy one — I was able to go to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl in January 2015 against Alabama, then drove to Dallas and camped out overnight outside the stadium for one of 20 extra tickets they had with my friends. We were able to see the Buckeyes win the National Championship to kick off the last semester of my senior year. Going to Ohio State and getting an education there did a lot to prepare me for a career and for life, but ... it's pretty hard to beat that!