Thinking Outside the Box(ers)Aug 24, 2017 11:00AM ● By James Vnuk
It is common to hear disappointment from those who failed to follow their childhood dreams. However, we also don’t see too many firefighting, pro-basketball-playing astronauts roaming around. Michael Stageman, Omaha-native lawyer and inventor-turned-entrepreneur, did not seem to get that memo. One part of Stageman's career that may not have been a childhood dream, however, is creating and owning Stageman Underwear.
“I saw a problem and decided to fix it,” he says. “Your underwear should not enter your mind at all during the day.” Offered at $25 per pair, they are boxer-briefs with an added “pouch” to carry a man’s accoutrements—though Stageman isn’t much for euphemisms, either in his marketing or in person. “I had a real problem with chafing when I was trying to exercise or do anything athletic. Other solutions just weren’t ideal. Like, you’d throw powder all over your groin, walk the dog, then come home with enough starch to make muffins.” The product has been a rousing success, repeatedly selling out on Amazon and his online storefront.
Stageman designed the undergarment himself and used Kickstarter to begin his enterprise—starting with $500. Crowdsourcing has become an essential function of his business model, which he describes as niche. “I wouldn’t make something where I wasn’t the No. 1 customer,” he explains.
“Underwear is not my ‘thing’ in that sense—and I’ll be the first to admit they’re not for everyone.” The sports-appropriate intimate item provides comfortable support, elasticity, and freedom, but may not be ideal for men without energetic lifestyles. “Some of the best reviews on Amazon are the negative ones,” he laughs.
And Stageman is certainly one to tout athleticism. “I also do jujitsu and muay thai kickboxing,” he says. “There’s something really humbling about jujitsu, too. It’s good for your ego when you have to constantly ‘tap out.’” He mentioned his jaunts as an MMA announcer and an improv comedian. “Comedy was actually my first business,” he jokes. “When I was, like, 14, some friends and I tried to make prank phone call tapes and sell them, a la The Jerky Boys. We even made business cards. I still have mine, too.”
Even with all these interests, Stageman still hasn’t quit his day job practicing law for Douglas County. “I actually wasn’t going to get into law at first—through high school I was a musician, and I thought that was going to be my thing. But I got interested in the idea of practicing music law, and then that morphed into criminal defense. I fell in love with being in the courtroom,” he says. “I like being there to help people who are scared and unsure what’s happening to them.”
It does not seem as though Stageman is the type to slow down. “I’m working on a better way to make sweet potato fries,” Stageman says of his next invention. “But I can’t say too much at this point.”
Visit stageman.com for more information.This article published in the Fall 2017 edition of B2B.