Meet King Holder, a former D1 athlete who went from homeless to “next Olympic hopeful,” to a million-dollar business builder.
King Holder of Oceanside, CA is a former San Diego State University D1 football athlete turned entrepreneur who is putting his tenacity, discipline, and problem-solving skills to the test as a rising star in the fitness and personal development space. King is the Founder of PROCUSSION (creators of the world’s first dual-head massage gun), and Director of the #1 StretchLab in the USA.
King, tell us about yourself – where are you from? What’s your background?
I’m from Oceanside California. It’s one of those places where everyone that’s from there has pride. It’s a tight-knit community – very diverse with people of all colors and ethnicities. Growing up, I lived with my 6-person family in a small 2-bedroom, 1 bath apartment. My parents are hardworking and loving, but they didn’t attend a 4-year college, which limited our opportunities back then. We didn’t have money to buy expensive things, which really sparked an entrepreneurial spirit in me. At a young age, I started selling and flipping things on Craigslist – everything from dirt bikes to cars to games – you name it. I was obsessed with finding deals online and creating opportunities to make enticing offers and trades.
Tell us about your businesses – how did you build each one?
I’ve launched a number of smaller-scale business ventures. When I was in college, I tried launching a student loan refinancing company with some friends, which flopped. Profit Precision was a software company of mine that never grew into anything. Velvet Gold was my social media growth and content creation company. For Velvet gold, we’d conceptualize and build social media campaigns for recording artists, influencers, and other small businesses. Rebels Culture, my eCommerce apparel brand which I also built from the ground up, is still alive today. I’m now the founder of PROCUSSION and the Program Director of the Top StretchLab in the USA. I feel strongly that all of the previous “failures” have put me into the position I’m currently in today. I wouldn’t be here without those experiences.
What did you learn from building multiple brands?
Doing all these things helped me learn so many different skills – building websites, graphic design, product sourcing/manufacturing, photography, customer service, branding, partnerships, communications…I could go on. I think the importance of learning brand-building and utilizing high-quality visuals is key to building early success in whatever venture you’re doing – you can have a great product but if your brand isn’t attractive to your target audience, it’s going to be hard to acquire customers and generate revenue.
You were a college athlete at SDSU – but what did you do after you graduated and left your football career?
Once I finished at SDSU I started working more heavily in nightlife and music. I put events together, booked artists and DJs for venues, coordinated VIP transportation – that sort of thing. It was a ton of fun, but it wasn’t conducive to the lifestyle that I ultimately wanted. I decided I needed a change. The party lifestyle wasn’t in line with my vision and if I didn’t start to challenge myself in new ways soon, I would have felt like I was losing myself. I then stopped doing all the promoter/nightlife work and buckled down to being training towards athletic opportunities with the United States Olympic Teams.
At some point, you were training in hopes to make the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for the National Rugby Team – can you tell us about that?
During a Rebel’s Culture photoshoot, my buddy Carlin Isles, an Olympic Rugby player, asked me if I had ever thought about training to play rugby. I’d never played it, but my dream of competing in the Olympics led me to join a local rugby team and I started training and learning the game. I ended up being chosen for The Next Olympic hopeful show, which aired on NBC Sports. We were flown out to the US Olympic headquarters and they had chosen 50 of the top males and 50 female prospects from around the country. We did competitions, strength training, agility tests, etc. to see who would be a good fit for Team USA. This led me to another opportunity at the other Olympic center in San Diego. Through the Team USA Eagle Pathway, I was able to really give it a go in a live competition setting. Although I had performed really well, it was clear that I needed another 1-2 years of learning before I was able to make the National team. That means I would have had to wait until Paris 2024 to compete in the Olympics – IF I even was chosen by that time. Although I was very grateful for my time training with Rugby, I knew then it was time to truly hang up the cleats and focus on furthering my career beyond sports, once and for all.
How were you able to learn how to not only run a business (StretchLab) but also start multiple of your own on Shopify?
The first thing I had to understand and accept was that my 9-5 would be the thing that would fund my various ventures. I had to have a steady day job so I could do what I needed to do for my own company. I work 12-16 hour days often. It’s hard, but I have to accept that dedication and hard work are non-negotiable. Finding gratitude also really helps me push through. I just hoped that one day all of the steps would accumulate together and help me achieve something on a large scale. The only way you can build something exceptional is to do things that others aren’t willing to do. I pushed myself to learn every single aspect about building businesses – for both online brands and brick-and-mortar stores. My faith was tested often, but I always believed it was possible if I was ultra-committed.
Tell us about PROCUSSION – What was the inspiration to start it? And what was the process like in building it?
Since I was already working in a health and wellness studio on a daily basis, I saw a gap in how people were able to fully take control of their health – specifically those who dealt with pain from injury, restricted mobility, or overexertion. I wasn’t satisfied with the massage guns on the market – I felt they missed many key elements. There was also a lack of education being provided by these “leading” brands. As far as building the product goes, I had had a small taste in the manufacturing process with Rebels Culture, but there was still so much I didn’t know. I was constantly on YouTube trying to figure out how to design, build, patent, and manufacture an original product like the SURGE massage gun. But once it was built, I was able to rely on the other business skills I’d learned to launch and grow it.
A lot of people struggle with going from a career in Athletics to “the real world” – what sort of strategies and skills did you have that helped you transition into an entrepreneur?
As an athlete, you can’t be afraid of failure – a loss, statistically, is bound to happen. But you have to move past it and work harder. This has been a tremendously helpful mindset when it comes to entrepreneurship. My varied experiences in self-discipline – from D1 to the Olympic training – also led me to be a diligent learner in every venture I pursued. For athletes, there’s a certain mental toughness involved. You can build success on your own, but you’ll go further if you build with teams. So I took that team leadership mentality from sports as well. Truly, the experience of every adversity that you’ve faced as an athlete is so transmissible to entrepreneurship. I think many young athletic leaders would be surprised how naturally entrepreneurship would come to them.
I want to make sure that I show my gratitude to anyone who has ever been on my side or helped me come up. Especially everybody out in Oceanside. I wouldn’t be here without the love, patience, and support shown by my friends, family, and community.
King Holder Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kingholder_
King Holder LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/king-holder-772141a4/