ROB DYRDEK is a self-made American success in the truest sense of the term. During a career now spanning more than two decades, he has transcended his role as an innovative and influential professional skateboarder -- and become a dynamic serial entrepreneur, pop-culture personality, and groundbreaking media impresario. With more than a dozen companies and brands in his portfolio today, Rob is a case study in hard work, hustle, and uncanny street smarts. And he’s done it all on his own entertaining, and sometimes death-defying, terms -- getting attacked by sharks to promote his toy line, “kickflipping” a car 70 feet ramp-to-ramp for a Super Bowl commercial, and facing down a tiger because, well, it makes for compelling television.
Through a tireless work ethic and a natural ability to draw connections between brands and media, Rob has parlayed his unorthodox approach to business into a venerable empire, in which he holds a variety of roles: 20-year Brand Evangelist and Signature Line Creator for DC Shoes; Founder and Chairman of Street League Skateboarding, the nation’s fastest-growing professional sports league; Creator of the Wild Grinders toy line and cartoon series on Nicktoons; Founding Partner of Superjacket, the production company behind MTV hits Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory, Ridiculousness, and the newest addition, Snackoff; Investor, Brand Ambassador, and Mentor to a variety of lifestyle brands, including IVI, Stance, Habitat, and Alien Workshop; and Creator of the SLS Foundation, which builds skate plazas in underprivileged neighborhoods across the nation.
In addition to his own ventures, some of the biggest corporations in the world, including Viacom, Kraft, Chevrolet, and Monster, now turn to Rob for his irreverent perspective on launching and growing brands in a fast-evolving media world. He reaches some 101 million unique viewers on TV and more than 29 million through social media, including a strong connection with the highly coveted male 18-34 demographic, which has been his sweet spot for years. As a result of this ability to attract key demos, in July 2014, MTV announced a multi-year deal with Rob stretching his run on the network, both in front of and behind the camera, to over a decade and counting. This new partnership will be their largest project to date.
While millions around the globe have followed Rob’s one-of-a-kind entrepreneurial journey, through his wildly popular MTV shows, viral videos, and considerable social-media platform, very few know the true “reality” of his methodical approach to business behind the scenes. Up at 6 a.m. every single day, Rob operates with one philosophy in mind -- “Make Your Own Luck.” It’s a hard-work mantra that not only guides the Dyrdek Enterprises, his parent company based in Los Angeles, but also inspires and empowers legions of fans to reach their own success, however they may define it. “Everybody has the exact 24 hours, 365 days a year to accomplish anything they want,” he says. “It’s on you how much effort you put into making those things happen for yourself.”
SO EXACTLY, HOW DID HE GET HERE?
At the age of 11, Rob discovered his love for skateboarding, after attending a pro competition and being thrown a board from an influential skater named Neil Blender -- a turning-point moment that would guide his career and life ever since. (And he’s still got the board.) A natural at the sport, aided by meticulous practice and competition, he left high school and turned pro at 16. His first brush with the sport’s business side came when he sold one signature board in his first year, earning a check for the grand sum of $2. It was a humbling experience, but one that made him even hungrier to explore the skateboarding’s business potential. Early on, he charted an entrepreneurial path within a still-underground sport ripe for innovation. He launched his first company, Orion Trucks, at 19, and began a whirlwind entrepreneurial journey, learning from and leveraging the range of business personalities the sport would introduce him to.
Despite a successful competitive career, Rob knew he wanted to give back to the sport in even bigger, longer-lasting ways. For him, from an early age, the sport represented opportunity -- opportunity to create and innovate within the confines of the skateboarding world and beyond. His first major deal came with DC Shoes, where he helped grow the emerging brand and embraced his role as not just a team rider, but as a self-taught designer of 29 signature shoes and marketing advisor. In the years following, he went on to launch multiple companies, ranging from a hip-hop label to clothing lines. Like all great entrepreneurs, he had a few stumbles early on, but he began to recognize that skateboarding represented not just a sport, but a lifestyle, one which could translate well beyond just people grinding a ledge or flying down a set of stairs.
A well-known presence in the skateboarding world, Rob became a household name -- and began charting his future media career -- in 2006, with the premiere of Rob & Big on MTV. Based on a video sketch he put together a few years earlier for DC Shoes with his friend and bodyguard, Christopher “Big Black” Boykin, the reality buddy comedy would go on to become one of the most successful shows in MTV history and still airs in regular rotation to this day. Not only did Rob & Big introduce Rob’s antics and larger-than-life personality to a mainstream audience, through his careful storytelling as executive producer he also positioned it as a wildly successful marketing vehicle for his multitude of brands, including DC Shoes. In the year prior to Rob & Big’s airing, DC’s revenue stood at an estimated $120 million. Three years later, that number had climbed to $500 million.
With considerable success in both business and entertainment under his belt, Rob decided to combine the two in a big way in 2009, with the introduction of the Fantasy Factory -- a 25,000-square-foot super-office in downtown Los Angeles. Complete with a zip line, foam pit, and the world’s first indoor concrete skate plaza, the Factory serves as the backdrop for Rob Dyrdek’s Fantasy Factory and a symbol of his work hard/play hard approach to business and life. Fantasy Factory, about to enter its seventh season, making it one of MTV’s longest-running shows, depicts day-to-day life at the Dyrdek Enterprises, with plenty of hijinks, celebrity cameos, and the occasional zoo animal. During this time, Rob leveraged his status as one of MTV’s most familiar faces into another TV project, Ridiculousness, a fast-paced studio-audience show where he highlights the funniest and craziest amateur videos on the Web and has been signed to its sixth and seventh seasons. While the past two decades of relentless pursuit have helped make Rob the entrepreneur he is today, he remains squarely focused on the next two decades -- armed with a global media portfolio and a positive personal brand that speaks to millions. Today, and in years to come, the Dyrdek Enterprises will continue to serve as an engine that drives the growth of existing and emerging brands, by curating “amazing” and merging it with entertaining storytelling across a growing number of platforms.