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“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Founded Slice, Inc.,” With TJ Scimone

For any industry, you need a good team of people. You only burn out when you’re trying to do it all yourself and don’t have a team of people that work well together. If you have a properly functioning team, you don’t burn out. You actually get energized and excited about working together for a […]

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For any industry, you need a good team of people. You only burn out when you’re trying to do it all yourself and don’t have a team of people that work well together. If you have a properly functioning team, you don’t burn out. You actually get energized and excited about working together for a common goal.


I had the pleasure to interview TJ Scimone. TJ founded Slice, Inc. in 2008, with a high priority on design, innovation, and safety. TJ is an entrepreneur based in San Jose. Slice donates one percent of sales to autism research.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Mystandard answer of how I got into the safety business is “by accident” — like all things, it was mostly luck backed by a lot of hard work. I started off in computers and now I make knives — and in between I did everything from manufacturing mints to hawking Jelly Bellys — no rhyme or reason to that. 🙂

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

Finding your purpose, something that is fulfilling, is always a challenge. We all go through stages in life where we struggle to find what that purpose is. The hardest part for me was determining what to focus on — to get started on something, anything. And then making sure no matter what happened I never gave up on creating something I loved. I was a computer nerd — I didn’t even know what a Purchase Order was when I started my first business when I was 15, writing and selling computer software. Needless to say mistakes were made and mistakes will continue to be made.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

Having something bigger than yourself helps you get through hard times. When other people are depending on you, when you’ve tied your efforts to a mission or a cause, failure just isn’t an option. You always need something bigger than yourself to get through the hard times.

So, how are things going today? How did Grit lead to your eventual success?

Success is relative — you can’t tie it to a monetary scorecard. We need money to operate in the world, but it’s not my scorecard — personal fulfilment, creating and working with a team of like-minded people, providing a service that makes lives better and making a difference — that to me is a good description of success. I’ve been very fortunate to have these things as a result of previous efforts combined with a lot of luck. Of course there is no luck without that effort though.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

They say bad decisions make good stories, and I have lots of good stories. Years ago I was importing candy from a multi-billion dollar conglomerate in Japan. Oddly enough, I was their first direct customer in the United States when I ordered a 40’ container of their candy with custom packaging for the United States — about 250,000 pieces. Apparently I did such a good job at telling them how many I was going to sell in the US, they produced TWO 40’ containers of the candy with custom packaging without my knowledge. Sadly, the product never took off in the US, and somewhere in Japan there are still 250,000 pieces of this candy that no one can sell in Japan or the US. Needless to say, I don’t get any Christmas cards from that company in Japan. Lesson learned: don’t overpromise, especially when dealing with different cultures.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

We reduce injuries and lacerations. We reduce pain and suffering, while simultaneously saving corporations a lot of money. We get emails daily from our corporate customers thanking us for our products, and it’s very fulfilling.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

For any industry, you need a good team of people. You only burn out when you’re trying to do it all yourself and don’t have a team of people that work well together. If you have a properly functioning team, you don’t burn out. You actually get energized and excited about working together for a common goal.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Too many to count. I’ve always tried to surround myself with people I can learn from, and I’ve always enjoyed reading biographies about successful people. It’s inspirational to see other people’s success and hear their challenges. It makes you realize there is no difference between you and anyone else other than time and effort.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I like to think our products bring some goodness based on what they do. Aside from that, we have always donated to causes that are close to us, including our commitment to donate a percentage of sales to autism-related charities.

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