OTD: From bar mitzvah beginnings, CEO of Woodside Distributors headed to Amazon

Tuesday, March 13, 2018 - 8:07pm

On the surface, it would appear rapper Iggy Azalea and Danny Sheridan, University of Michigan Business senior, don’t have a lot in common. Azalea grew up on Azalea Street in Australia. Sheridan grew up on Woodside Lane in Ohio. However, both Azalea and Sheridan have shaped a brand around their hometown street name.

Sheridan founded Woodside Distributors as a high school freshman. Like any successful entrepreneur, Sheridan began his business in his childhood bedroom. He saw an opportunity within the video game market for Xbox Live, a gaming membership sold as a gift card which allows virtual gameplay between friends.  

Just like the popular Webkinz World membership of the early 2000s, XBox Live memberships became highly coveted. Sheridan capitalized on this demand and developed a pricing model that allowed him to resell the memberships for profit.

The early days of Woodside Distributors resemble the narrative of an archetype technology icon. Sheridan quit lacrosse and football to focus his efforts on expanding his business. He spent his free time modeling profits with Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and contacting suppliers. He even recruited “the smartest kid in AP Physics,” University alum Alex Glassman, to lend expertise in data analytics. Instead of venture capitalists, his investors were bar mitzvah guests.

“So I decided to use $6,000 of my bar mitzvah money, which was actually my funding source,” Sheridan told Click on Detroit. “I am glad that my parents didn’t say no because at the time I wasn’t in control of the funds. They actually transferred all of it over and said, 'It’s your life,’ which was nice to a freshman in high school. I really appreciated it.

By his senior year of high school, Woodside Distributors revenue reached the $2 million milestone. One can only wonder what his Common Application essay was about.

When Sheridan left Woodside Lane, he took Woodside Distributors with him. Sheridan and Glassman headed for Ann Arbor with big goals for the company. Over the course of their four years at the University, they have recruited classmates, spent a summer working in a rented Business School classroom with a team of 12 students, expanded to sell over 200 products and topped $3.5 million in revenue.

Perhaps most surprising is how the nimble architecture of Woodside Distributors has allowed for Sheridan and Glassman to not sacrifice the typical college experience.

We get to sit behind a computer, paying no full-time salaries, paying no rent,” Sheridan said. “Right now, it’s making money and I’m putting in about seven to 10 hours a week. The ideas are based off a four-hour workweek.

After graduating from the Business School in May, Sheridan will not be returning to Woodside Lane. Rather, he is headed to Seattle, where he has accepted a job offer from Amazon as a product manager.