You’d think the owners of a startup basketball shoe company would be pretty bummed to hear that NBA pros were unable to wear their footwear. But Adam and Ryan Goldston, the twin founders of Athletic Propulsion Labs, were thrilled. That’s because, after the NBA announced in 2010 that, for the first time in its 64-year history, it was banning a shoe based on an “undue competitive advantage” rule, sales for APL’s Concept 1 shoe skyrocketed—and they haven’t stopped since. “It was the equivalent of $150 million in marketing, but it was absolutely free,” says Adam, now 28.
That first shoe was designed and prototyped in a USC dorm room by the Goldstons, then freshmen, who’d come to USC to play basketball as walk-ons (oh yeah, they made the football team, too). Lacking the competitive hops for hoops (they stand about 6′), the brothers were looking for an edge in the vertical department. “I was especially hyperfocused on jumping, because Ryan had a better shot than I did,” says Adam. “We did all the vertical-leap training, but nothing instantly makes you jump higher.” Five years later, the Concept 1 was ready for sale; and after clinical studies showed it to add one to three inches to a person’s leaping ability, the NBA ban provided an extra boost.
Last year, the Goldstons launched a line of running shoes; with them, APL’s compression-force technology helps people run faster by increasing gait speed. “The average guy is seeing a nine-second decrease in his mile time,” Ryan says.
But as busy as they are hustling for the company, there’s one thing the brothers won’t sacrifice: their own fitness. “We work out seven days a week, no matter what city, state, or country we’re in,” Adam says.