The Net Exclusive Feature

Story by Elizabeth Thomason

Photos by eie Digital Studios

When you heard the words “former athlete” all sorts of preconceived notions immediately enter your head. Or they did for the TCI team when we learned we would be interviewing former first round draft pick, Baltimore Ravens/St. Louis Rams wide receiver and Oklahoma Sooner great Mark Clayton. But as soon as our convo began, we knew all stereotypes would need to be thrown out of the window STAT.

Mark has been on a very cool mission over the last few years. He wants to completely transform the way we, yes you and me, experience music and he hopes to do that with his company, LIVV Headphones. His unbelievable journey, however, happened by accident really.

The Foundation

Mark’s college career began in 2001, when he started 8 of Oklahoma’s 13 games, and made 46 catches for 524 yards and 3 touchdowns as the Sooners won the Cotton Bowl Classic. In 2002, he made only one start, but managed 26 receptions for 416 yards, including 5 touchdowns, which tied for the team lead among receivers. In that year, the Sooners won the Big 12 championship as well as the Rose Bowl, a first for any Big 12 team. Mark will forever be known as one of the greatest wide receivers in Oklahoma Football history.

He was drafted by the Baltimore Ravens in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft and also played for the St. Louis Rams.

In 2008, Clayton was running routine drills. During an out route he ran down the field, cut a sharp 90 degree angle to the sideline and out of nowhere heard a “SNAP”! Experiencing the inferiority of athletic headphones that quit before he did, the LIVV concept was created.

His mission is both ambitious and bold – to make the first premium wireless over-ear active headphone that gives you the freedom you deserve.

If that doesn’t give you the feels, we don’t know what will.

We got a chance to peek behind the curtain and learn a bit more about the man behind the innovation as well as what the future holds for LIVV.

Read on.

Mark Clayton, Founder, LIVV Headphones

Describe LIVV Headphones using only three words.

MC: Premium. Active. Headphones.

Why are LIVV Headphones so different from the other offerings currently in the marketplace?

MC: The design alone is way different from anything you’ve seen in headphones;  specifically “over-ear” headphones. The headband is patented and it is what makes all the difference in the world. The patented design makes LIVV the first over-ear headphone that you can actually wear to do really strenuous and forceful activities.

Tell Us More About The Inspiration Behind The Design.

MC: This actually started as a personal pet project for me because I wanted to create something that was over-ear that would maintain that big sound but would also stay in place while I ran my routes.

Are LIVV Headphones For Athletes Only?

MC: LIVV headphones are designed for anyone that is really active and likes big sound; that definitely includes athletes of all types but it doesn’t stop there. LIVV is for the people that love the idea of having their music stay with them while they train. You now have the power to do your workouts without worrying about interruptions.

Growing Up, Did You Envision Becoming An Entrepreneur?

MC: No, not at all. I thought in my junior high and early high school days that I would grow into this awesome NBA player. I played more basketball than anybody. If I wasn’t playing video games i was playing ball. I always played other sports, football included, but basketball was my love! It really wasn’t until about my 3rd year in the NFL when the thought of doing business outside of sports really hit me and it was then that I started to dabble in it.

Who Is Your Business Inspiration And Why?

MC: My mom! She is the scrappiest and most driven woman I know.

What Challenges Have You Faced As An Entrepreneur?

MC: Manufacturing has been the biggest nightmare so far; the communications and the “hurry up and wait” pace that goes with this has been really tough. Dealing with mistakes and the production phase were extremely difficult.

Your Thoughts On Doing Business Here In Dallas?

MC: I love Dallas. When I think about business I think relationships. And Dallas is such a great place for connecting. I’ve received some extremely valuable advice and help getting LIVV off the ground.. The beauty of it was the openness and willingness to help however they could without asking, “what am I going to get?”

For Aspiring Entrepreneurs And Business Leaders, Your Top Four Tips For Success?

  1. Know what you don’t know.
  2. Invite people into your close circle that are smarter than you and that you can enjoy having lunch with as well.
  3. Most of the time, things take a lot longer that anticipated, especially when you don’t have a massive budget. So anticipate that.
  4. Laugh at stuff!

 What Is The Future Of LIVV?

MC: LIVV is a lifestyle brand that is building a culture of people that identify with having the desire to move freely and have their music with them without distraction. We plan to expand our brand with a variety of products that reflect the heart of LIVV; innovative products that truly allow you to #LIVVFree.

In an effort to truly celebrate the culture and vibrancy that exists in cities, The City Influencer is on a mission to highlight the businesses that not only serve as a source of pride for our community, but also function as a robust financial engine for the local economy as well. Interested in a featured business spotlight? Contact us HERE.

Join TCI and Mark Clayton on 9/20 for the September meetup of The Net, a Dallas-based business social club for entrepreneurs, creatives and small business owners of color. Mark will share a few words on why LIVV needs to be on your radar this fall and he’s hooking all Net members up with a pretty cool deal.


*Interviews have been edited for length

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