Mike Beckham, CEO of Simple Modern
From Nonprofit to Entrepreneurship: Mike Beckham's Journey to Building Purpose-Driven Simple Modern
by Dennis Spielman
Simple Modern, an Oklahoma-based company, is well-known for its stylish and high-quality drinkware products. Despite being in a highly competitive market, the company has managed to work with major brands such as Marvel, Disney, and Target, which Mike Beckham attributes to a combination of vision, execution, and a bit of luck.
“There's a long story about how we got our very first license,” said Mike Beckham, CEO of Simple Modern. “If you look at all the licenses we have, the very first one was I had to get what's called a local license with the University of Oklahoma. And I thought that would be a piece of cake, because I'd had some success in the business world, and I was an alumni of OU. And I was wrong. It was not a piece of cake. I had to really fight for it and work for it to convince OU that I was somebody that they wanted to license.”
Mike Beckham shared that his journey into entrepreneurship wasn't a typical one. With a background in finance and nonprofit work, he lacked initially confidence in pursuing business ventures until his younger brother brought up the idea of starting a company together in 2009. This experience transformed his perspective, helping him realize his skills were well-suited for building businesses. Although Simple Modern has grown significantly, Beckham still considers it a startup, showcasing his ongoing passion for entrepreneurship.
“I think it was the way that I first got vision and the confidence that entrepreneurship was something that I could do, and that my skills could actually really work in building a business, and so I caught the bug, I think,” said Beckham.
Beckham’s experience working for a cause-oriented organization allowed him to develop a strong sense of purpose and commitment to giving back, which became the foundation for Simple Modern's mission-driven culture. By integrating philanthropic values into the company's core strategy, Beckham has been able to create a business that not only focuses on generating profits but also actively contributes to the betterment of society.
"Our goal at Simple Modern is to create a business that is about more than just generating profits, but also about giving back and making the world a better place,” said Beckham.
Mike Beckham emphasizes the importance of defining success as learning and cultivating a growth mindset. He believes that skilled experimentation accelerates learning and leads to innovative solutions. Despite increasing automation, Beckham remains optimistic about the future of entrepreneurship as a career choice.
“One of the best pieces of advices that I can offer to somebody that's a young entrepreneur, is that if you develop a growth mindset and you become very good at experimentation, it almost inevitably will lead to value creation, because you start to learn really rapidly about customers and what they want, and their needs, and how to fix it, and what works and what doesn't, and how to pivot, and as you pivot, how to learn more,” said Beckham.
In the upcoming Oklahoma Venture Forum Awards Show, Beckham will be the keynote speaker. He plans to share more about Simple Modern's story and focus on the importance of mission-driven leadership in entrepreneurship. Additionally, Beckham aims to share some of the lessons he's learned throughout his 14-year journey in the world of startups.
“I love being a part of supporting this community, and I love what OVF is all about,” said Beckham.
Attend the OVF Awards