Thursday, December 18, 2014 at 2pm

What’s an MBA Doing Selling Socks Dressed as a Panda? MBA News

USC Marshall MBA graduate runs an e-commerce panda enterprise

Instead of joining a big-name multinational after becoming an MBA graduate, one alumnus of USC Marshall’s class of 2014 has been selling socks online and frequently donning a full panda suit at public events. The question is…why?

David Peck pursued an MBA at USC Marshall primarily to help him run his own business. So far, so normal – the latest research indicates that approximately a third of MBA applicants cite this as a reason for wanting to take on the qualification’s training.

What sets the USC Marshall MBA graduate slightly further apart from his peers is the choice of business – something that might best be referred to as an e-commerce panda enterprise.

Sock Panda: an e-commerce subscription service

Sock Panda, which was originally launched in 2011, sells socks by subscription online. However, it also donates socks to worthy causes for each subscription received, and this is where Peck’s public panda persona comes in. 

Right now, the creative force behind Sock Panda’s mission to liven up the sock market is nearing the end of a cross-country sock drive to drum up 5,000 pairs of sock in donations, and to meet some of his subscribers.

Considering the circumstances, it is perhaps a little surprising that Peck didn’t opt for USC Marshall’s international MBA program, which is known as IBEAR (International Business Education and Research MBA).

However, he found the full-time MBA program at USC Marshall useful in gaining the entrepreneurial confidence he needed to take Sock Panda forward.

MBA graduate gained entrepreneurial confidence at USC Marshall

“I always wanted to start a business, but I was always waiting for the perfect partner that never came. But at Marshall I felt like I had 250 amazing business partners. All my classmates had great advice. They made me feel like it was impossible to fail,” the MBA graduate said in a story for USC news.

In particular, Peck took advantage of the MBA’s compulsory international experience segment (known as PRIME at USC Marshall) to travel to Peru’s capital city of Lima. There, he stayed on until he had found a manufacturer willing to collaborate with his panda enterprise. The family-run Indutexa S.A., which also serves big name brands such as Fila and Reebok, subsequently became a partner.

Having already donated around 10,000 socks as part of the terms of its subscriptions, Sock Panda has no intention of slowing down anytime soon. The MBA graduate wants to make that figure 100,000 and has also started a sideline in producing custom socks for corporate giants such as Facebook and Twitter, with plans in the pipeline to expand a little further still - into the worlds of sport and music.

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Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).