Every day when Matthew Tesvich came home from baseball practice at South Forsyth High School, his mom would immediately stop him before he made his way to the couch or the dinner table.
“Me and my teammates always had stinky feet,” Tesvich said. “The rule of my house was you have to take off your socks before you can come join us.”
That smell has never quite gone away. Anytime he plays a sport, goes to the gym or takes a quick run, he always has to remember to quickly take off his socks and get his feet squeaky clean.
But it turns out the stench wasn’t all bad. Now a business student at the University of Georgia, Tesvich recently started a line of odorless socks, Ox Sox, inspired by his own stinky feet.
Tesvich said the socks are made with special fibers in the material that kill bacteria and odor, a product for which he himself had hoped. Not having to worry about odor has made him feel more confident taking off his shoes in someone else’s house and after a long day outdoors.
He first had the idea for an odorless sock a couple of years ago when his college roommate came home with a new towel made with a similar material that kills bacteria. Tesvich was amazed that he could use the towel and clean his hands even without soap.
“My first thought went to my feet,” Tesvich said. “If you can kill bacteria, then you can kill odor.”
That night, he stayed up late researching different fabrics and materials to see if it would be possible to use the same bacteria-fighting fibers with more comfortable materials in a sock.
Over the next weeks, he called 100 different sock manufacturers until he found one he felt confident could bring his idea to life. Together, he and the manufacturer went through dozens of product samples, testing them out and wearing them, and finally found a product that worked after 18 months.
Tesvich immediately wanted to turn this new product into a business.
He said he always aimed to be an entrepreneur one day, putting his can-do attitude to good use. Tesvich attributed his drive to keep growing and innovating to his experience playing baseball at South Forsyth.
“I wanted to play college and professional baseball before I ended up getting hurt,” Tesvich said. “But my mindset was always ‘How do I get 1% better every day? How do I outwork my competition?’ I wanted to transfer that into the business as well.”
Over the next few months, he worked nonstop to start his business and turn Ox Sox into a brand of which he could be proud. And UGA played a huge part in helping to get the business off the ground.
Through the university’s entrepreneurship program, Tesvich had access to lawyers and business leaders he could rely on to ask questions and get advice.
He also participated in the UGA Idea Accelerator, a competition similar to the TV show “Shark Tank” in which students present their business ideas to a panel of judges. After weeks of preparing and building up Ox Sox, Tesvich and his team earned the top prize of $2,500.
They are now using that money to help market the socks, which are being sold exclusively on the Ox Sox website, www.getoxsox.com. Tesvich explained he is mostly making videos to market the business and posting them to social media and especially TikTok where he has 167,000 followers.
Many of them are “fun street videos” in which they ask students on campus or people on the street trivia questions before bringing out two dirty socks, one regular and one odorless, to guess which one had been worn longer.
“The big thing is people don’t want to see ads,” Tesvich said. “They want to be entertained …. We get a lot of fun, crazy reactions, so that’s been exciting.”
And those social media posts have been paying off so far.
“The product is flying off the shelves,” Tesvich said. “People are loving it.”
Tesvich hopes to continue growing Ox Sox and see it eventually become a full everyday fitness brand, selling shirts, underwear and other clothing.
He always wants to encourage other young entrepreneurs to take the leap and bring their own ideas to life. His biggest piece of advice to others: “Just go for it.”
“It’s such an exciting ride,” Tesvich said. “You have one life to live, and I really think it’s one of the best things you can do. You learn so much, you meet so many exciting people. You’ve just got to take that plunge. It’s going to be scary at first, but once you take that plunge, you’re going to figure it out along the way.”