In this episode of Art of the Kickstart, we interviewed Dan Demsky, co-founder of Unbound Merino, maker of high-quality and stylish wool clothing. Perfect for travel, Unbound Merino’s ultra-chic apparel is made from sustainable merino wool, a fast-drying, odor-resistant anti-wrinkle, breathable yet insulating fabric. Listen in and learn about the inspiration behind the brand, the process from idea to crowdfunding campaign launch and where Unbound Merino is today.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

    • What lead Dan Demsky to create Unbound Merino
    • The challenges that came with designing, sourcing and manufacturing the products
    • Why they launched a crowdfunding campaign and how they positioned themselves for Indiegogo success
    • The ways they continue to understand who their customers are, why they use the products and what features are important to them
    • How the COVID-19 pandemic is effecting Unbound Merino and what they plan to do about it

Links

Sponsors

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 20% off!

Transcript

View this episode's transcript
Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full-service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over a $100 million for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding. Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by Gadget Flow. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now, let’s get on with the show. Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart.
Roy Morejon:
Today, I am talking with Dan Demsky from Toronto, Co-Founder of Unbound Merino, which is a maker of quality merino wool clothing. Dan, thanks so much for joining us today on Art of the Kickstart.
Dan Demsky:
Hey, Roy. Good to be here.
Roy Morejon:
You created the ultimate travel hack, if you will, this simple clothing line with amazing, extraordinary performance. You’ve run a couple of campaigns now. Really interested to talk about, where did the inspiration come from? Where did the company start, what inspired you to create Unbound Merino?
Dan Demsky:
Well, I had another business at the time. We were a video production agency and we did well, but I was for years really just… I stopped liking what I was doing and I was trying to come up with a new business and all I knew was I wanted to create a product, and I wanted to sell it online. That’s as much as I knew, and I was thinking for years, literally years. I would get together with my two best buds and we’d have a whiteboard, and we’d just write things, ideas on the wall. It wasn’t until I found my own need for something where there was this aha moment, where I discovered merino wool, but it was made as this material for people who weren’t outdoors-type people, or as active wear for people that would do triathlons and running and base layers and things like that. And for my own need, I wanted to travel with this stuff, because I found the benefits of it.
Dan Demsky:
But it didn’t look good, it looked like… It looked wrong. So I’m like, “If no-one is making this the way I want it to be made, this is my opportunity.” So there was that aha moment like, “I’m going to make this for me.” That’s how it started.
Roy Morejon:
So, merino wool, how did that get on the drawing board as a product idea?
Dan Demsky:
Well, I never even made it to that drawing board. I was trying to find ways to pack less stuff so I could travel lighter, and I was digging around on Reddit and I found this post about how this guy travels overseas with nothing but a small carry-on. And he said he uses merino wool. I said, “Perfect, that’s exactly the solution I was looking for.” So I went digging around for merino wool and I found lots of stuff, the quality of the product was good. But again, the way it looked was just off, I’m like… I actually went on my honeymoon with a carry-on, and there’s a picture of me in a cocktail bar, and I’m wearing this shirt with a reflective logo on it and it looks like something I’d wear out for a jog. That’s just the perfect example of what we were trying to fix, is I don’t mind wearing a t-shirt.
Dan Demsky:
But I want something I could dress up a little bit, wear with a nice pair of pants, and simple. Just simple, basic, stylish fit, and that didn’t exist. So it was just this moment where I’m like, “That’s it,” I was certain it was the product, it wasn’t on the drawing board, and I was like, “I want to make this.” But the problem was, I had two other businesses at the time, didn’t have the capital to start this thing, didn’t know how to start it, didn’t even know how to make clothing. I just knew that this product needed to exist, so we went on this long adventure of trying to figure out how do we make clothing, and how do we bring a clothing product to the market.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Talk about some of those challenges that you encountered when trying to not only I guess source the product and find a factory, but also designing it, since you’ve never done that before.
Dan Demsky:
Well, I think when there’s a will there’s a way, and I know how to… We know very well how to design and manufacture clothing now, but the way we did it then, it still got done but we didn’t know what we were doing. What we did was, my two business partners and I, we’d go to all the different stores, like H&M, Zara, Gap and any of the big brands, and we’d try on all their t-shirts. And we’d just look at them and we’d see the way the neck would fit on a Gap shirt and we’d be like, “The neck looks really good on this one on all three of us. Okay, let’s buy a few of these shirts.” And then we’d go to H&M and say, “We like the sleeves here.” And what we did, we literally posted post-it notes to the shirts and stitched them on. And then, we liked the neck, like here, we liked the sleeves here, and we mailed them to a manufacturer we found on Alibaba.
Dan Demsky:
And we had them sort of Frankenstein together a shirt for us, and we tried it on, and then we send back notes and those… For a year a half it took, to fully develop everything. But in that process we had many different iterations of our prototype, just relying on our manufacturer to stitch it together for us. There’s a process to how we do that now, but we got there. We ended up making our initial prototypes which we loved, just by figuring it out, mailing stuff out to China, waiting for something to come back in, seeing how it’d fit, mailing notes back, getting a new prototype, mailing it back, and back and forth, and back and forth.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, I love that idea, not recreating the wheel but doing your market research with products that are out there, other shirts if you will, pulling the pieces that you like out of it, patching it together and getting someone to make it, manufacturing, go through the iteration process of building those prototypes out till the fit was what you guys wanted.
Dan Demsky:
Right, and we could have sat there and figured out, “How do you make a tech pack,” and that’s how you make clothing. It’s called a tech pack, and it’s all the measurements and everything that is required for the manufacturing process. We could have sat there and figured that out and did it the proper way, but I think there’s something to be said about being naïve and just thinking you could just get it done without knowing what you’re doing. You can, at the end of the day we needed to have a shirt that was our shirt, that fit the way we wanted it to. And we didn’t know how it was supposed to be done, so we just blazed ahead in a way that we thought made sense, and it worked. I wouldn’t have changed how we did that, it wasn’t the wrong way, we got to the right place doing it in a way that’s not the industry standard way, but it worked. So you don’t need to know what you’re doing.
Roy Morejon:
At what point in the process did the crowdfunding conversation come up, in terms of that being a viable or only option to launch this new product into the world?
Dan Demsky:
I think it was right at the beginning, I think it was pretty early when we started to talk to manufacturers and realized the minimum order quantities at the… The smallest were about 600 pieces per style, on average about a thousand pieces. We’re just thinking about, how much money would this cost us to do on our own? And we’d be doing this for something that we don’t even know if it would work, you know? We don’t know if people would… We knew we wanted this thing to exist, but we didn’t know if the market did. So we didn’t have the money to be able to throw $100,000 plus at this. We just had the ideas, and the desire to work at it. So we thought, “How good would crowdfunding be,” not just because it’s going to give us the capital we need through preorders to launch this business, but also it would be the validation of product market fit.
Dan Demsky:
It would make us create the entire brand and the entire value proposition for the brand, put it together in the best possible way, with as much polish as possible, present it to the world, with our actual prototypes, and say, “This is what we have,” and see if people wanted to buy it. And if they wanted to buy it and the crowdfunding campaign is successful, we get the money to start the business, and we’d have the validation to know that we’re pitching this right, that people want what we’re selling. The crowdfunding was clearly the solution we needed for everything to see if we had a business.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit about the prep work leading up to the crowdfunding campaign. How far out did that begin in terms of developing the product, or getting your website, your funnels set up, those sorts of things, and some of the other things that you did to put your company in such a good position to launch and successfully raise the capital you needed?
Dan Demsky:
So there are some things we didn’t do that I think a lot of… Maybe we should have, like we had a website but the website was just a landing page that drove to our crowdfunding campaign. We didn’t have anything that… We didn’t have any landing pages or funnels that collected emails in advance for our campaign. All we really had was the campaign, and we started that campaign with nobody on our list, or nothing. So that, some people said was a mistake, we could have done so much more, but… Sorry, what was the question again?
Roy Morejon:
Talking about the prep work leading up to the crowdfunding campaign, some of the things you did to put yourself in such a positive position to fund on day one, or throughout the campaign.
Dan Demsky:
Right. Well, there’s a couple of things, in that the number one thing that we did that was, I think, the most impactful, was, we went with Indiegogo. I’m not saying they’re better than Kickstarter or worse. We went with them because they cut a deal with us that if we were to get 30% of our campaign goal they’d put us in their newsletter, which has really good marketing. So that was all we needed to hear, we just knew we needed to get to 30% of our campaign goal. So we made our campaign goal $30,000, although what we really needed was closer to 75,000. And we did that because we thought it would be easier to get 30% of 30,000, which it obviously is. So all we focused on was making sure that we can get that 30% within the first few hours, and how… What can we do to assure that? And we banked on friends and family.
Dan Demsky:
So for a month leading up to the campaign I would message any friend, anyone in my family that I would be comfortable asking them to spend a little bit of money as a favor, just to help us out, just to get over that initial hump. And I knew that a lot of people, if I asked they’d say, “Yeah, yeah, whatever, in a month, I’ll help, sure.” And then when the actual time came, if I were to send one of those messages saying, “Hey, my campaign is live, can you help support us?” That’s a mass message, it’s very easy to ignore. You know what I mean? I’ve gotten messages like, “Hey, can you vote for me? I’m trying to win this prize in this contest,” or, “I launched this campaign, can you check it out and please support?” And you know that you’re a part of a mass message, so you could ignore it if you wanted to, or you could support it if you wanted to.
Dan Demsky:
I really needed these people to know I needed their help, so what we did was we created a video for each person. So I would go onto my webcam and say, “Roy, remember a month ago I spoke with you about this campaign we’re launching? Well, we finally are here, and we’re so excited, and we worked so hard.” It was a very personal message, and say, “If it’s a good time for you and you could support, please do, please help us. If it’s not a good time, we totally understand. But your support would mean the world to us, and blah blah blah.” We did these all day and night for a few days right when the campaign was launching, and I would export this video. So you’d get in your Facebook messenger inbox a little thumbnail, and it would say your name, Roy.mpeg, and you’d see my face, and you’d be curious. Okay, you’re going to hit play.
Dan Demsky:
And then you’d see me speaking directly to you. And it was very hard to ignore that, because it’s a message I really made to you. And people would… We also had fun of it, like we were just drinking whiskey the whole time, and the videos that got later in the night just became chaotic, and they were funny, and hilarious, and they made an impact. And I remember that crowdfunding campaign launching, you’d see Brian Demsky, that’s my brother, he was one of the first orders, and Sandy, my business partner’s cousin, and we recognized all these names, it’d just keep coming in, you know? Once we hit our funding… Well, our 30% goal, we started trending on Indiegogo, so you’d start to see Johannes out in Berlin, like, “Who’s that guy? I’ve never heard of him before,” and the thing sort of having a life of its own.
Dan Demsky:
But we didn’t rely on luck, we knew we needed to get this thing started ourselves. So we put all our energy into making sure that we had control over that initial start, and we did that really well. That kicked us forward, really, really in the way that we needed to. Then, because we were trending, and then we wanted to stay trending. So we engaged your company, which I think had a different name at the time, and that was our strategy there, was, “We’re going to drive ads, because if we drive ads to our campaign we’re going to have more traffic on the campaign, more sales, and we’re just… In addition to what we were already doing, that’s just keeping the algorithm saying this campaign is really working, and try to stay trending as long as possible.” You guys actually were a huge part of that strategy to keep it going, it was to keep the traffic there, to keep the algorithm saying this is a successful campaign.
Dan Demsky:
And it just did have a life of its own, and the newsletters came and the rest is history.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no, it’s always the fact that no-one wants to be the first foot on the dance floor, as I always say, and it’s always much more fun when there’s a party going on. So other people see other people backing the campaign, and funding coming up, and reward levels disappearing, and prices going up, and FOMO. You have all that working towards you, but I love that strategy, and obviously it’s a very difficult one to scale. But certainly for your friends and family, to be able to make a quick 30 second personalized video towards them really can obviously add a ton of significant value where you’re speaking directly to them, and obviously empathizing that everybody might not be in a situation to be able to buy something like that. But obviously, being able to reach out to them with just a note and pique their curiosity of learning more about it certainly helped with the overall engagement and traffic to the site, that kept it trending.
Roy Morejon:
And then obviously with our team at the time was Command Partners, and now Enventys Partners to drive more sales and awareness from our crowdfunding community that we’ve been growing over the past decade, certainly hopefully aided in the overall success of this company coming to life, and now you have a thriving e-commerce business that’s doing millions in revenue every year, it’s been great to see.
Dan Demsky:
Right, and you know, you’re right. What we did doesn’t scale, but I think what’s important is that we weren’t worried about the strategy that would scale at the beginning. We only cared about what starts this thing out, right? So because we started out with our friends and family, yeah, again, you guys have this list of crowdfunders that we were then able to tap in to bring it on. But we were bringing them to a crowdfunding campaign that already looked successful, and we were able to do that by, first of all, making our goal a little smaller, and making our friends and family blaze that goal like… Blaze ahead on that goal. So exactly what you said, it’s people don’t… They don’t want to hum and ha, “Is this a scam, is this a real product?” If there’s already a bunch of sales in the campaign, it looks like it’s placing ahead, people say, “Hey, other people must believe in this, it must be a great product.”
Dan Demsky:
So working with you guys, were then driving everyone to a campaign that already had its start, and that probably helped make the most use of what you were giving to us, which was people who were already crowdfunding backers, tons more traffic than we already had. So what you guys do is the scalability, what we did was that grind of just getting it off the ground. I think it’s very, very important to know how you’re just going to get it off the ground. A lot of people just hope for the best, we didn’t hope for the best, we worked for the best, and I think that’s what you really need to consider when you’re starting something.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely, yeah. It’s not a, “If we build it they will come.” Unfortunately with today’s attention spans and the attention economy out there, we’re trying to get everybody to just stop with their thumbs from scrolling, and click on something and engage it, and hopefully hits them at the right time in terms of the messaging and the marketing for the product itself. But given that you’ve launched two very successful crowdfunding campaigns, what did you learn from the first one that you implemented into the second one?
Dan Demsky:
You know what, the second one we felt like we were a lot more comfortable going in, and we [inaudible 00:17:50] grinding to figure out how we wanted to do our messaging and the [inaudible 00:17:57]. And we really focused on making all of our messaging about the benefit to the customer, we tried to think less about how great… I mean, we needed to talk about how great the material is, and it is, it’s like a miracle fabric. But we didn’t focus our energy there, we focused our energy on, what is the benefit to the customer? When I was growing up, I used to love infomercials. I remember I saw, I didn’t buy any of this stuff, I used to try to convince my parents to buy some and they never did, other than the George Foreman grill. But I remember, I saw a list of the hundred top infomercials of all time, and I think I saw like 85 of them.
Dan Demsky:
I used to love watching these things, and if you go and you watch these infomercials all they’re talking about is the benefit that it has in your life, how much slimmer you’ll be, or how much faster you’ll do this, and it’s all the benefit. They’re beating you over the head with the benefit of that product. And when we were making this crowdfunding campaign, I had this moment where I realized, “This is kind of like infomercials for millennials.” It’s like, the way that you are successful in a crowdfunding campaign is doing the same thing the infomercials did. It’s just beat people over the head with how this actually benefits them, because that’s all they care about. They don’t care about you, they don’t care about your product, they only care about themselves. And not in a selfish way, that’s just the human nature.
Dan Demsky:
So we really focused our energy there. The second time we did the campaign, to be completely blunt, we were a little lazier because we had the ability to be a little lazier. We already had a big customer base, not just from our first crowdfunding campaign, but also we’ve developed a lot more customers from our e-commerce site at the time. So we now had this mailing list. We also knew we were going to go back to you guys, because you had the list that you had in the first place of your crowdfunders, and given that we were doing this a year and a half plus later your list also grew, so we had that. So we didn’t go in there with the same level of intensity of getting this thing started, we already knew that we had customers. So all we tried to do was match the same framework of speaking of the benefit of our product, and beating the customer over the head with, “This is how it benefits you, don’t…
Dan Demsky:
“It’s not about us, it’s not about how great the material is itself,” although we talked about that. It’s just, that was our focus, is, “Let’s do that again.” And then we used our mailing list this time, so that… We didn’t stay up all day and night drinking whiskey, making videos this time, we just created an email campaign to our already growing customer list. We re-engaged with you guys, and that campaign was successful as well, but without the same level of grunt work upfront.
Roy Morejon:
So I’d be interested to know, in terms of the community that we began building six years, or four years ago now when the first campaign ran, how have you gone about communicating with that community since they’ve been with you from the beginning kind of thing, and gone about creating or building new product ideas around what the community’s asking for?
Dan Demsky:
Well, that’s a good question. Fortunately, I feel like my business partners and I, we kind of really relate to our customers in terms of being similar. We almost feel like we are our own core customer. So we spend a lot of time trying to make sure we actually know who our core customer are. So our best customers that we’ve had in the past few years, we exported the customers who bought off us the most, I’d send them an email and I’d ask them if I could get on the phone with them. And they love talking, first I thought it would be annoying, I was apologizing profusely and thanking them for their time. And then I realized, these people love to get a call from me because they love the product and they’re excited to hear from me and who’s the person behind it. So I have phone calls with customers, and I ask them about why they bought it in the first place, how it benefits their life, and I just sit there with them and I get to learn everything that they feel about our products and what they think we should make next.
Dan Demsky:
We also have surveys that go out and we ask customers what they like and didn’t like, and what they want to see next. So we’re constantly just trying to get an understanding of who our customers are, and one of the things we had to be careful of is saying that we are just like them, and we really are. So sometimes I feel like, “Ah, I don’t even need to talk to them because I relate to these people so much.” And I really do relate to them that much, but we’re always taking that seriously and I literally sit on the phone with them. So we have, fortunately for us, feeling as though we’re not just trying to figure out how to position for some kind of demographic that we don’t fully understand. The more we talk to them the more we feel we really have an innate understanding of what we could do, what’s coming next.
Dan Demsky:
And it’s very authentically us, what we’re creating. Sometimes we’re not even using the data ahead of… That’s in front of us, we’re just making the next thing that we want to see out in the market for ourselves, that’s how we started this business in the first place. And I think sometimes people get too wrapped up in trying to figure out like, “What’s the right thing that you need to… What’s that square peg that will fit in that square hole?” The square hole is that demographic you’re trying to target. Sometimes, now, we’re just saying, “We just want to make this.” We don’t even have any reason to think that this is going to be the right product to release next, other than, we think our customers are going to like this, we know we’re going to like this, so we’re just going to make it and see how it flies and we’ll get the feedback from that. And so that’s sort of how we’ve been operating.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. So given the current state of global affairs and the coronavirus spreading everywhere, have you guys… Has this affected your business, and what changes potentially are you guys making to new products that are potentially coming out now?
Dan Demsky:
So this is very, very fresh, and obviously it’s crazy for… If you’re not running Purell or a toilet paper company, you’re probably getting hurt right now. And we definitely are. So this positioning that we’ve had as a travel product has been so good for us up until coronavirus, is probably the worst positioning, because nobody’s traveling. We manufacture a little bit in Canada, and that’s good and unaffected, but we do a lot in China, and that is affected obviously, it has been. So one thing that’s been bad for us, we’ve been… People have been requesting us to make shorts for a long, long time, so that’s a product that’s coming out very soon. It was supposed to be coming out in May, but because of coronavirus the delays made it look more like it’s going to come out end of July, August, which is a very bad time.
Dan Demsky:
It could be worse, but it’s not a great, an ideal time for us to be launching shorts. We’re losing many months of the season in which people would actually care to buy shorts. So we’ll take a hit there, and we have delays in all of our products, and replenishing our inventory, so there’s a problem there. But again, people are just not buying travel products as much right now. The saving grace for us is we are fully an e-commerce business and we’re not shut down. It’s not like we’re a brick and mortar store that had an order from the government to shut down while they figure this thing out. So we are still able to sell, and people are at home, and people are bored, and shopping sometimes is what they’ll do. So we’re getting hit, but we’re… It’s not a devastating blow, we’re not going out of business, we’re able to survive.
Dan Demsky:
But, we are feeling it. What’s our solution? I have no idea, but when this… It’s 9:37 AM right here, where I am right now, I think at 10:30 I have a call from my partners, and I think it says on the calendar, “What am I going to do about this covid thing?” So we don’t know if it’s going to last two weeks, or two months, or half a year, but we’ll have to adapt. I’ll say one thing, is from a operational standpoint I’m sort of excited for this, because it’s forcing us to be a lot more analytical about everything in our business. Like, you really have to roll up your sleeves and make sure you’re not lazy with any of your spending, you have to make sure that all of the systems are in place, that you’re being really efficient. And coming out of this, we think we’re going to be a lot stronger of a business, because we’re being forced to.
Dan Demsky:
Like, we have already made some big cuts, like things that we’re spending on that were nice-to-haves. But it feels like wartime now. So this is an opportunity for businesses… A lot of them won’t survive, which is sad, but you have to be strong to survive, so we’re trying to figure out, “Well, what does it mean for us to be strong?” And there’s a lot of growing to do here, and we’re already feeling it. We’re being forced to feel it, so I’m excited for that, I’m excited to see where this takes us. The hard times, we have to go through them.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, no. Yeah, I think this is an interesting time for all business owners to simply reflect, and again, look at their books and see what they’re spending things on, and really go back to the grind of, “Let’s bare bones this thing, as business and global business evolves and changes every single day, until we have a little bit more stability underneath us.”
Dan Demsky:
Right. I saw this quote from Bill Gates, he says, “Success is a lousy teacher.” And you know, we started… We came up with this idea, we created the crowdfunding campaign. You were there right at the beginning because your company helped us to launch this thing. But we did $400,000, which was great for the first month of starting a company, it was amazing. And then we weren’t sure if we had an actual business, we thought maybe we just had the crowdfunding campaign, but we launched our e-commerce store, and the customers kept rolling in, and we kept growing. Every month it kept growing, and it kept growing, and it kept growing. And we make mistakes, we’d invest in something that would be a complete waste of money and we’d be like, “Oh, that was stupid.” But the thing is, when you have an e-commerce business and every single day there’s money being deposited from your bank account from yesterday’s sales, you’re adaptable to these mistakes, because you can just shake it off.
Dan Demsky:
Like if you spent a few thousand dollars poorly, say, “Well, let’s not do that again.” But then we wait a few days and we replenish… You’re replenishing cash all the time. So we had success pretty fast in this business. I’m not saying we’ve had this easy, I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 10 years and I’ve gone through many, many grinds, and many challenges. But this business has a different cashflow than I’ve ever been used to, where it’s been awesome. There’s always cash coming in. So you know what? That success is a lousy teacher quote makes a lot of sense, because there’s looking at how we’ve been spending money over the past couple years now, there’s a lot of things, “Yeah, we could have been a little more frugal here or there.” And it didn’t really matter until all of a sudden sales have this big hit from coronavirus, and now we’re like, “Okay, well, if it’s going to stay like this we have to really look at how we’re operating as a whole.” So the running into the wall is the real teacher, the success was definitely, definitely the lousy teacher.
Roy Morejon:
Yep. Keep falling down, keep getting back up, right?
Dan Demsky:
Yeah, keep growing.
Roy Morejon:
Well Dan, this has been awesome. This is going to get us into our launch round, where I’m going to rapid fire a handful of questions at you. Are you good to go?
Dan Demsky:
I’m good.
Roy Morejon:
So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?
Dan Demsky:
You know what, I had an internship at a radio station, which was I thought my career path, and I was freelancing as a video producer. I realized we started making more money and had way more of a future doing the freelance thing, I sort of just fell into it. I don’t think I know how to write a resume, to be honest.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, I wouldn’t worry about it. So if you could meet with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?
Dan Demsky:
Shaquille O’Neil.
Roy Morejon:
Shaq Daddy, I think that’s a first for the show. So what would you say to Shaq?
Dan Demsky:
I don’t know.
Roy Morejon:
What’s your first question to Shaq?
Dan Demsky:
I would just be in awe of him. He’s my favorite person on Earth, he looks like the most fun guy. He’s incredibly smart with… I’m very fascinated with athletes, because they make a lot of money very young, and then they’re out of a job in their mid-30s. And what do you do with all that money, especially when you’re surrounded by people who love to spend the way athletes do? I read Shaq’s autobiography, and he was really, really smart with his money, knowing that he’s going to make a lot of it and it’s going to cut off at one point. So he’s a mega entrepreneur, and he’s a hilarious guy. And so I just think everything about him seems like the most fun guy to be around in the world. The close second would be Bill Gates, because I think he’s one of the greatest people who’s ever lived.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, quite the mind on him. Where’s your favorite place that you’ve traveled?
Dan Demsky:
I would say Tokyo and Mexico City.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. What book would you recommend to the entrepreneurs and startup founders that are listening to the show today?
Dan Demsky:
I would say, if you have a company that’s already… You’re already starting and you’re already… You have some revenue coming in, the book Scaling Up has been the toolset that’s given us everything we need for all of our strategic planning. It’s basically our bible, and we love it. A close second would be Getting Things Done, which is just a method for being productive, which I really need to read again because I’ve fallen off the wagon a little bit.
Roy Morejon:
Fair enough. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Dan Demsky:
I hope doing what I’m doing now, but scaled up. We love what we’re doing, we love creating new products. I’ve been in four businesses, this is the most authentically me, I’m loving this. I hope to still be doing this, but just at a bigger scale.
Roy Morejon:
Nice. Last question in the launch round, what does the future of crowdfunding look like?
Dan Demsky:
That’s a question I would ask you. Can you answer it for me? Because you know what, where we debate whether we want to do another one, we love doing them and they’re so much benefit, but I’m genuinely curious as to your answer, because I think it would be a lot more insightful than mine.
Roy Morejon:
Well I’m not the one being interviewed here, Dan. But no, I mean, in terms of my insight, I mean, obviously the picture’s a little bit skewed right now with coronavirus out there. But I think innovation isn’t going to stop, and hopefully with everybody now occupied at home, working from home or with their kids at home, new product ideas are going to become very much a trend, I think, for stay-at-home, education, those sorts of things. So we’re starting to see those leads flow in every single day in terms of new product ideas on that category. So it’ll be interesting to see, but these platforms raised more money in 2019 than they had ever done before. So the trend is definitely going to continue.
Dan Demsky:
Can I answer the question now? Because I just thought of my answer.
Roy Morejon:
Absolutely.
Dan Demsky:
You know, as our company grows, we manufacture new products, for example I told you shorts, we’re making shorts, and our minimum [inaudible 00:34:10] are quite high. We have to invest a lot… And because we’re rolling out a low of new products, we have to invest a lot of money in new inventory, and that ties up a lot of cash. And I was talking with a business coach recently about, what are things that we can do to adjust the cash conversion cycle, to get cash in at earlier stages? And crowdfunding came up, and I’m just thinking in these hard times, I’m like, “Man, this is the time for us to do crowdfunding again.” So I think as a way of us being resilient, and to be a stronger business, I think we should consider more crowdfunding campaigns as a means of new product releases, just like we did with our second campaign, but to do more of that.
Dan Demsky:
I don’t know if that’ll be a thing that’ll be a landscape shift, but for us, I think… I’m just realizing this now, this is going to be something we should probably do, is with our future products we should consider more frequent crowdfunding campaigns as a means of having a healthier cash flow into our business. So maybe it’ll be a thing for lots of companies, because I think a lot of companies are thinking right now about how to be the healthiest they can be in all facets, of how they run the company operationally. And as I was talking to you I realized, that is a huge thing for… Opportunity for us, is we should be doing more of these crowdfunding campaigns. So maybe that’ll be a thing.
Roy Morejon:
Wow, we look forward to launching the next product with you. This is your opportunity now to talk to our audience, give them your pitch, tell them what you’re all about, where people should go and why they should check you out.
Dan Demsky:
Well, if you type Unbound Merino, M-E-R-I-N-O, into Google, you’ll find us, you can find our Instagram, find our website. We are a apparel company, we help travelers pack less so they can experience more. I don’t know if travelers exist anymore, but that’s what we’ve been saying for a long time. But we are making the highest quality Marino wool clothing that’s out there on the market, and we love what we’re doing, we love connecting with people and entrepreneurs. So if entrepreneurs are listening to this and they ever want to chat, just type Dan Demsky into Google and find me and I’m there. So that’s it, and thanks so much for having me on, it’s been really cool. It’s cool to connect with you again here, and really grateful. So thanks so much man.
Roy Morejon:
Yeah, my pleasure Dan. Audience, thanks again for tuning in, make sure to visit Artofthekickstart.com for the notes, the transcript, links to the previous campaigns and Unbound Merino as well, and everything else we’ve talked about. And of course, thanks to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, The Gadget Flow and ProductHype. Dan, thank you so much for being on the show today.
Dan Demsky:
My pleasure, thanks man.
Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning into another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit Artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, our Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at Artofthekickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs and startups find this show, and helps us get better guests to help you build a better business. If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on Enventyspartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.