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Fashion Meets Function, A Founder’s Story with Ryan Lee

The Founder’s Story interview started as an audio interview and now has been listened to seven million times! We interview incredible entrepreneurs who are thought leaders within their industry. In today’s publication, we interviewed Ryan Lee


Ryan Lee is a social entrepreneur and martial arts student who fuses his passion for social causes with his problem-solving skills to innovate progressive solutions for the modern-day world. Ryan is the founder and managing partner of Defender Ring, LLC, which provides practical self-defense tools for women in the form of jewelry and rings. Today, Defender Ring, LLC has armed and empowered women and men in 29 countries across the world, and continues to expand into new categories of self-defense wearables, and collaborate with brands that align with their social mission. Ryan is also an active participant in various organizations with volunteering, organizational, and leadership roles.


Tell us about your childhood and where you grew up?
Ryan grew up in Brooklyn, New York where his family instilled a strong sense of compassion in him. As a child, Ryan was always inventing small gadgets from raw materials in his family’s house, building mechanical objects, and re-selling cards and collectibles to classmates. His entrepreneurial mindset and desire to help others in need led to him creating the first prototypes for Defender Ring, LLC.


How did you get started as an entrepreneur?
Ryan graduated with a degree in psychology and a minor in statistics, following college with jobs in finance, real estate development, and education. As with most entrepreneurs, his desire to create something that resonated with his purpose and values led to him starting his first business, an eco-friend cleaning service company. During his tenure running his cleaning company, Ryan realized that he wanted to create a business that could reach more people on a more personal level. In August 2016, Karina Vetrano and Vanessa Marcotte were murdered in broad daylight while out for an afternoon jog, which sparked the idea for the creation of a practical self-defense tool. Three years later in 2019, Defender Ring officially launched selling our first concealed self-defense ring that could be worn as everyday jewelry.


What is one business lesson you would tell a startup founder?
Fail quickly. Many aspiring entrepreneurs want to have everything perfect before they launch a business or sell a product. It’s important to realize that the feedback you receive from your early adopters is more valuable than any advanced development you could do, and your product or service will always be unfinished and improving.
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