Student entrepreneur inspires others with early success


Ben Sampson, founder of the athletic social network, Soul id, enjoys one of his favorite extreme sports sports. Photo courtesy of Ben Sampson.

For many college students, making it to every class in one week is a major accomplishment. But for one Chico State student in particular, the bar has been set a bit higher.

Ben Sampson
As an athlete, designer and entrepreneur, Ben Sampson has found success in many areas at an early age. Photo courtesy of Ben Sampson.

Ben Sampson, senior project management major, has already amounted to a remarkable level of success at just 22.

Where did this drive for success come from? Well, growing up on a ranch in Mount Shasta, California and playing sports his entire life, Sampson has always had incredible work ethic and a competitive drive.

While a senior in high school, Sampson and a friend started the athletic apparel company, Aspect. They sold all-organic athletic apparel all across California and donated a portion of their earnings to the Save the Rain Foundation.

“What really inspired me to start that company was a book I read by Blake Mycoskie, who started Toms Shoes, called ‘Starting Something that Matters,’” Sampson said. “I thought, ‘That’s what I want to do. I want to do something that matters.’”

After his first year at Chico State, Sampson worked as a financial analyst in San Francisco. After that one summer, however, Sampson realized that was not for him.

“I got a taste for what it’s like to live the corporate lifestyle and I realized that’s not what I wanted to be doing,” he said.

Upon returning to Chico State, Sampson was able to focus on his passion and dove into creating Soul id. Along with Greg Bellinger, now a Chico State alumni, Soul id was born.

Ben Sampson
Ben Sampson, founder of the athletic social network, Soul id, enjoys one of his favorite extreme sports sports. Photo courtesy of Ben Sampson.

Soul id, which has hosted events in Chico such as the Wakefest, is a social network for athletes. It offers users the top content within their respective sport.

In the past two years, the company has grown and expanded. The company went from two people to a 14-person team, Sampson said.

Started in 2013, Soul id has already reached notoriety being named one of the fastest-growing brands in the action sports industry by Action News Now.

Sampson himself has gained recognition for the work he has put into his company. In 2014 he was named the Student Entrepreneur of the Year by Innovative North State, received the Rawlins Merit Award by Chico State and recognized by Peter Thiel’s Twenties Summit Program.

Without a supportive team, amazing work ethic and innovative drive, Sampson may not be where he is today.

“I was so passionate about what I wanted to do and I had so many people who helped me,” he said. “That made a huge difference on the success of the company and where I am today.”

Support came from not only friends, family and the Soul id team, but from Chico State.

Ben Sampson
Sampson received the Student Entrepreneur of the Year Award by Innovative North State and is a Rawlins Merit Award recipient. Photo courtesy of Ben Sampson.

“The college has been amazing. Chico State actually helped fund Soul id,” he said. “The entrepreneurship department has an accelerator fund so they helped Soul id get started. The faculty, as well, really helped us get to the next level.”

While Soul id is Sampson’s main focus, he started yet another company— Samsonite Designs.

Samsonite Designs is a creative firm that handles development and design work for companies such as logos, apps, photography, cinematography and custom resume building.

With design already being an interest of Sampson’s, he had the idea to start Samsonite Designs.

“I starting working with a lot of entrepreneurs and helped a lot of companies get started,” Sampson said. “A lot of them needed help in the creative area.”

Chico State should watch out for even greater success from Sampson in the future. With plans to grow Soul id even more, Sampson has the drive and dedication to accomplish anything.

“I wake up every morning thinking, ‘If I win the morning, then I win the day,’” he said.

And for any other student-entrepreneurs, Sampson is able to offer experienced advice.

“If you put your heart and your mind into something that you’re really passionate about and you want to commit yourself 100 percent to, it’s going to happen,” he said. “You’ll succeed, I promise. When people see passion they come and support you.”

Sabrina Grislis can be reached at [email protected] or @sabrinagrislis on Twitter.