Dan Demsky is currently the co-founder of Unbound Merino, the ultimate travel hacking clothing brand and one of my favorite companies on the planet.
But before we find out more about Unbound Merino and how they raised $360,000 in their crowd funding campaign, we get an entertaining inside scoop into Dan’s entrepreneurial business journey.
From burning CD’s, to making skate videos, to selling socks – Dan has been on one hell of a business ride. We discover more about the past businesses that Dan has owned and started. He shares what actually made him get into business in the first place and how he bounced back from his lowest business moment.
Dan is one of the most even-keeled guys I’ve ever met. Never too excited, never too stressed, and never too busy to start something. Take a listen!
Key Points From This Episode:
- From burning CD’s, to skate videos, to socks: How Dan got into entrepreneurship.
- Why so many businesses start in the basement.
- Dan’s first $10,000 check.
- How Unbound Merino started.
- The trip to Greece that inspired Dan’s new business venture; #thankswifey
- The pitfalls of current Merino wool fashion.
- The products available at Unbound Merino.
- Behind the scenes of Dan’s crowdfunding campaign.
- Dan’s lowest business moment.
- Keeping chill and focusing on your sphere of influence.
- Fear, ball cancer, and trying to be better every day.
- How Dan has been spending his Friday nights.
- Why you should just start anything, even if it’s making soap.
- More about the Unbound Merino women’s line coming soon.
- And much more!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Unbound Merino Website – https://unboundmerino.com/ (Promo Code – FAIL ON)
Unbound Merino on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/unboundmerino/
Dan on Twitter — https://twitter.com/dandemsky?lang=en
Dan on LinkedIn — https://ca.linkedin.com/in/dandemsky
Hitsu Socks – https://hitsusocks.com/
Mastermind Talks – http://www.mastermindtalks.com/
Hydra Greece – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hydra_(island)
BizMedia – http://www.thebizmedia.com
Merino Wool – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Merino
Indiegogo Crowdfunding – https://www.indiegogo.com/
The Art Of – https://www.theartof.com
The Sales Bible by Jeffrey Gitomer – https://www.amazon.com/Sales-Bible-Ultimate-Resource-Revised/dp/0471456292
Testicular Cancer – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/testicular-cancer/do-i-have-testicular-cancer.html
“DD: I remember thinking, “I have no idea how I’m going to ever get at this. I can’t conceive what getting out of this looks like at this point, because it’s just so bad.” But I thought, “Okay. Well, I’m in my early 20s,” I was probably mid 20s at that point. I’d say 25, 26, “Am I even going to be thinking about this when I’m 35? I’m sure I’m going to get out of this by then.”
[0:00:33.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Fail On Podcast where we explore the hardships and obstacles today’s industry leaders face on their journey to the top of their fields, through careful insight and thoughtful conversation. By embracing failure, we’ll show you how to build momentum without being consumed by the result.
Now please welcome your host, Rob Nunnery.
[0:00:59.6] RN: Hey there, and welcome to the show that believes embracing failure and sharing their honest struggle is the only way to achieve your dreams. In a world that only likes to share successes, we dissect the struggle by talking to honest and vulnerable entrepreneurs. This is a platform for their stories, and today’s story is of Dan Demsky. Dan is currently the cofounder of Unbound Merino, one of my favorite companies on the planet. They sell travel apparel. I also sponsor them on the podcast in exchange for t-shirts. Literally, no money needed. Dan just sends me shirts.
We’ll talk more about Unbound Merino and how they raised $360,000 in their crowd funding campaign, which is about 12-X their goal. We’ll also go into some of his past businesses that he’s owned and started and what actually made him get into business in the first place. Daniel is one of the most even keel dudes I’ve ever met, never too excited, never too stressed. You’re going to love it. Great conversation, fascinating guy.
First, if you’d like to stay up-to-date on all of Fail On Podcast interviews and key takeaways from each guest, simply go to failon.com and sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of the page. That’s failon.com.
[0:02:07.6] RN: Hey there, and welcome to the Fail On Podcast. I am fortunate enough to be sitting here in Toronto with Dan Demsky. Dan, welcome to the show.
[0:02:17.2] DD: Thank you for letting me be here.
[0:02:19.1] RN: It’s awesome man. We actually got connected really recently. Part of the similar community in terms of Mastermind talks, I know we have a lot of mutual friends and you are recommended as somebody to sit down and chat with. So I appreciate you taking the time on a Friday afternoon.
[0:02:34.0] DD: As I was saying before, it’s funny that I got recommended for the podcast about failing. I don’t know who did it or what the context was. It doesn’t hurt my ego that much, but it’s funny to know that I came to mind when we were talking about failure to someone.
[0:02:50.2] RN: “Oh, you have a podcast about failure. You got to talk to Dan. You got to talk to Dan.”
[0:02:53.0] DD: He is the king. He embodies it.
[0:02:56.5] RN: No. I love it though. Just so we have a little context about you and your background, just give us an idea of how you got into entrepreneurship and kind of the journey you traveled to get to what you’re doing today. I do want to get to what you’re doing today because, like I talked to you about before we got online, I think it’s like my dream business. It’s like my dream business and my dream product. Before we get there, I want to hear about your background a little bit.
[0:03:19.9] DD: You often hear this in a lot of entrepreneur stories that it kind of always is in their blood. I remember when CD burners first came out, my business partner and I were the first guys to get it because we can make CDs and try to sell them. That was failure number one. I think we sold one or two.
[0:03:38.7] RN: The whole idea was to have it as a business?
[0:03:40.7] DD: Yeah, and then we just started pirating Playstation games instead.
[0:03:43.7] RN: And playing with them yourselves?
[0:03:44.8] DD: Yeah, just sitting there, but the intent was there. It’s kind of always been a stream through my life . I didn’t have any clear vision that I’m going to have my own business one day, but I was freelancing doing video production because I just enjoyed making little skate videos with my business partner who I started my first business with and through the freelance projects, word of mouth got around that we’re great to work with, just doing shooting and editing and started getting project after project.
[0:04:16.4] RN: What kind of stuff were you shooting?
[0:04:17.1] DD: At the time? Anything. We were shooting many — Some students were doing a documentary about some historical figure and they needed a camera guy for a day and then they want help with the edit. We’re talking $200, $300 projects.
[0:04:31.4] RN: You’re shooting and editing. You’re not actually coming up with ideas?
[0:04:36.1] DD: At that moment in time we were just shooting and editing. We are freelance videographers, freelance editors. But we really enjoyed it because we wanted to make our own documentary films. Effectively we’re getting paid to learn, and we liked helping people do their projects for their film or for their business and just hanging out with the people and getting paid. I’m talking not a lot of money. We get paid 250 bucks, 300 bucks.
[0:05:02.8] RN: Was this the first time that somebody had actually given you money in exchange for a product or service that you gave them?
[0:05:08.8] DD: Yeah.
[0:05:10.9] RN: That’s a pretty cool feeling, right?
[0:05:11.8] DD: Yeah. It was mind blowing to get $250.
[0:05:16.8] RN: For just shooting video and editing? Stuff you probably would be doing if you weren’t getting paid anyways, right?
[0:05:21.4] DD: We were literally doing it. All of a sudden these people were hiring us and we would just completely over-deliver, because we like — We had to add a motion graphics thing in the edit here, so we got books on how to learn motion graphics and we would stay up all night. The amount of time we’d put in to a typical $200, $300 project, it’s like we might as well have just — It’s below minimum wage if you break it down, but it wasn’t about the money obviously.
[0:05:48.5] RN: But you loved it, right?
[0:05:49.2] DD: Yeah. That $300 would go to get a filter for the lens. Every single dollar, because we were doing it in my mom’s basement. This is where we’re doing it all. There’s no expenses. It’s negative expenses because not only do you not have any overhead, you also get three hot meals a day delivered to you. You’re good. It’s the best possible place to ever start a business. That’s why so many businesses start in the basement.
That’s where we were, and we got busy. We couldn’t handle the amount of work, and this is just from word of mouth overtime.
[0:06:19.7] RN: You guys weren’t trying to promote yourselves. It was just referrals, like “You have to use these guys. These guys are doing really work.”
[0:06:26.7] DD: We really cared. We were just so into it, right? To the point where we hired a friend into the basement and we hired another guy. So we had four guys in my mom’s basement and then we got our first corporate gig. We didn’t really incorporate it as a business. It was GE, and one of our clients —
[0:06:42.9] RN: That’s a big first corporate gig.
[0:06:45.7] DD: Here’s the story behind that. One of our clients that would hire us for 300 bucks or whatever, he said, “I’m going to get you a little gig with GE.” He was doing a project with them, “And you guys can give me 10%, but what you’ll get is way more than the type of stuff you’re billing anyways.” “Sure.” We went to this meeting with GE and we had no idea. We didn’t even know how to send an invoice. We’re used to getting cash in envelopes. My business partner, I remember, we had these torn jeans. We didn’t have any concept of how to look or be professional. They were laughing at us, literally. They were cool with it, but they were literally laughing at us.
[0:07:23.9] RN: Like, “Who are these dudes?”
[0:07:24.2] DD: Yeah, “Who are these guys?” But we got the job and it was about $4,000 for this job.
[0:07:32.2] RN: Way more than you’ve gotten for anything else?
[0:07:33.9] DD: More than 10 times. Here’s the thing, we finished this thing in like 2½ hours. It was the stupidest, easiest thing ever. At that point we’re like, “Wow! People spend a lot of money for this stuff.” That was when we said, “Okay, maybe we can make this a business.” We started — We had to incorporate the business and all of these. The business just formed and it became this wild ride of growth that — We’re talking about failure here, so I can get into that perhaps but it grew really rapidly. We ended up moving downtown. We’re hiring. It just happened.
[0:08:07.3] RN: Office space, everything?
[0:08:08.9] DD: Yeah. We got a wicked office right downtown. We’re hiring. The team was just growing. The projects were growing. It was just so fast. It was so crazy.
[0:08:17.9] RN: Just for some context, what years were this where this has happened?
[0:08:22.8] DD: We started probably about almost 10 years ago. I was 22 when we started. We incorporated a year out. I was 23 when we incorporated. That was, I guess when we started to take it a little more seriously. Man! Just a ton of things to learn in the process and I had no career before this. I was still in school. I left school. I was working at a — I was a server at a pizza restaurant. I had to learn everything just by figuring it out. No formal education in any of these. All of a sudden I was a business owner.
[0:09:02.2] RN: Once you started growing, were you still doing the shooting and editing? Or did you kind of morph out of that role into like more of a manager-operator type?
[0:09:10.5] DD: Yeah, very quickly. I remember the moment I stopped editing. When we were working on a project, at that time my business partner and I, we would both do everything including editing and shooting. I was going to start editing this project and he thought it was too — “No. I’m going to edit this one,” because he’s clearly a better — He was a way better editor than I was, “Why would you do this? You go and find more business, because this is a big one. I’m going to edit this one.” “Alright, you do it.”
At that point, I just stopped being an editor. I never went back, and I’d stop shooting around that time too. I remember the last time I shot, you were still putting that tape in the camera. It’s a long time ago. Then I was just the business development guy, and I happily took on sales and business development. I loved it. I was reading every book there was of sales. I was going to every conference. I just wanted to learn it because that was my responsibility.
[0:10:06.3] RN: New skill and you wanted to master it?
[0:10:09.2] DD: That was the start.
[0:10:11.8] RN: How did that transition? Obviously you’re not still doing that today. What was the progression in terms of what made you get out of that business and get in to your next venture and what was that next venture?
[0:10:23.3] DD: Many years ago now, for me I could only do this service industry for so long, because you have to be hunter, and I couldn’t imagine doing this for another decade. You get tired and you work so much to help these brands market their product. The brands, they’re huge and they all have the budgets in the service industry. Not always. If you loved the service, it’s great and it can be great.
For me, I felt like I’m dealing with these advertising agencies that we partnered with and these brands. I’m never selling my own thing, I’m just helping – A piece of me got jaded and no matter how hard I worked, the most you’d ever get out of it is equal to what you put in. If I can do six months trying to close this huge deal and the deal is huge, it’s great. It keeps the company busy, that will only keep — We’re only as good as that deal. We have to go on to the next one. It’s always on to the next one.
I remember one of our first, not GE, but we did another client after. The first time we ever got a check for more than $10,000. I remember we went for that meeting. We told them this thing would cost about this much money and they said, “Okay. Can we pay you upfront for it?” We’re like, “Yeah. Sure.” They wrote this check, and I remember going back to the car with my business partner. Literally, they did it right then and there. They wrote this check. I found out after, it’s because they were at the end of their budget season. They just needed to spend some dough. We were so stoked. We pretended like, “Oh, yeah. It’s cool. Just write this check for us. Yeah, whatever.” We’re so used to people just writing checks.
[0:12:06.2] RN: Without doing anything yet.
[0:12:08.0] DD: Yeah. Just like, “Go ahead.” We got to the car and we looked at each other like, “Holy shit! That was crazy.” Our excitement just poured out. I remember many, many years later, getting a check for $190,000 and just being miserable about it because it’s just like, “What’s this going to do — This is just like to pay more — The salaries and the overhead.” The failure of me not knowing what I’m doing is seeping into this story now, because we had no freaking idea what we were doing. We grew this company. We brought in a staff. It just became feeding the beast. We got a lot smarter over the years. We did a lot of things right, a lot of things wrong. In the back of my head I’m like, “I just want to have my own product.”
My business partner and I, we’re just tinkering with ideas and we went through so many and we ended up — That’s a whole another story how we got here, but we ended up about three years ago starting a sock brand, which is socks designed by street artists, and it’s a total fun project. We created our own brand. We did an awesome video content. We got great PR. We were supporting artists. We’d get royalties for every sock that we sell. We feel good about it. It was cool.
I was only able to take that so far. It did alright, but I wasn’t taking paychecks from there. I was sort of still taking a salary from the video production agency while my business partner ran it while I’m trying these new businesses.
[0:13:40.9] RN: Did your partner know that you’re —
[0:13:41.7] DD: Oh, he was all for it. He was a partner in it. That was the deal.
[0:13:44.8] RN: Got it.
[0:13:46.1] DD: He’s the best guy in the world, super supportive. That was the deal, because we both agreed that creating our own brand, that’s the thing. That’s the next step. We worked on that for almost three years now and that business is still going. I since pulled out of that because of the new thing. I’m going to keep going, should I just talk about where I’m at now?
[0:14:08.4] RN: This is the one I get excited about. Yeah. Unbound Merino, right?
[0:14:11.2] DD: Yeah. Unbound Merino started because I wanted it to exist. I was looking for this product —
[0:14:21.8] RN: You and every other guy in the world, by the way. Really.
[0:14:23.2] DD: That’s the thing. This is how I started. I was at a conference. We went to Athens, Greece and I brought my wife with and we went for a trip to this small town called Hydra. Look up Hydra, it’s the coolest place. It was just an awesome, awesome place. I don’t often hear about it when people go to Greece.
[0:14:47.3] RN: Yeah. I haven’t heard that recommendation.
[0:14:48.8] DD: It’s so cool. The thing about Hyrdra is there’re no roads and it’s all on a hill. If you want to go up to your hotel, you have to climb up — It’s not like that steep, but it’s a bit steep. The hotel is kind of way at the top of this hill and there’s two ways to get your luggage up there. You schlep it right up these stone steps or you pay a guy that has donkeys, and there’s a bunch of donkeys at the foot of the bay there and you can pay them. I don’t pay no donkeys. The thing is it’s because we were on this trip. We stopped in London, England to visit some friends. We went to Athens, then we had to stop in Hydra and then we went back to Athens for a couple of days and then back home. There’s dinners to be at, we’re going to a friend, going out. My wife packed so much because, “Oh, I need a dress for this. I need this blah-blah-blah.”
[0:15:42.1] RN: I can 100% relate to this.
[0:15:44.2] DD: Even then, I’m traveling light because I’m just pretty minimalist with that stuff. I don’t need a lot of stuff. I just need what I need. Obviously, I’m the guy to carry her huge ass suitcase up the thing. It’s me or the donkey. It’s not her.
[0:15:57.5] RN: Yeah, I’m getting it too. Yeah.
[0:15:59.6] DD: I get up to the hotel and I said — I think we were engaged. No. We were not engaged. I said, “The next trip, I don’t care where we go — Carry-ons. We both have a carry-on. I don’t care where we’re going. I don’t care how long. You have to figure it out.” She agreed. She was, “Okay. Yeah.” She agreed, because she felt bad. It’s so stupid. Not just for me having to haul — I’ll haul your thing up, but it’s also she doesn’t want to have all this stuff. It’s annoying. It’s just like she had — Unpacking it. I had to sit on the thing for her to zip her suitcase shut. Clearly, it sucks.
[0:16:35.8] RN: It’s an issue. Yeah.
[0:16:36.2] DD: Let’s not do this again. Our next trip ended up being our honeymoon and she remembered and we decided, “Okay. We got these little carry-on suitcases,” and I got her one as a gift to make her excited about this, this new carry-on life. I started trying to find ways to travel with just a carry-on. I was Googling and doing a research. I discovered Merino wool and I’m like, “This is brilliant. This is awesome.” I started looking for options of what I can get from Merino Wool because “I can wear these shirts and they won’t smell if I wear them many days in a row and I won’t have to do that laundry. I could bring less stuff.”
Where I live in Toronto is right next to probably the only three stores in the city, or in the country, because if you can get this type of clothing anywhere in the country, there would be these stores in other cities. I have a three-minute walk from all these stores, so I’m in the perfect place to get this stuff. Everything that I found looked so ridiculous to me. Some of it is active wear. It’s made for people — This stuff is very well-known in the world of active wear. People who go cycling and do the triathlon. Those type of guys. The type of guys who will go — You’ll see them in a coffee shop and they still look they just came from a triathlon. They’re always sporty looking. They always have a pedometer connected to everything, which is fine. I’m just not one of them. I’m just not — I don’t want to look like I just did a triathlon, like, “Why, just get something that looks nice and simple and classic looking.”
I remember going into another store and this shirt was 100 bucks. It was a nice quality Merino wool but it had a big timber wolf on it and it said, “Live free.”
[0:18:25.9] RN: Who’d pay 100 bucks for this thing? Who’s your market?
[0:18:29.4] DD: Right. I started looking online. I couldn’t find — I could find the material and companies that made great stuff for athletes, for the people who are the outdoors type, who go portaging. I was like, “Why don’t people just make nice black, v-neck or crew neck?” And I just couldn’t find it.
I wanted it for me, the product itself. But I started losing sleep over this thing because I’m like, “Why is no one creating this? Should I do this?” My challenge was I have this sock brand which was not that — You were a year in. I also still have this video production business. I don’t have time. A big mentor of mine and a very respected business coach in the city, who I was fortunate enough to work with in another context.
[0:19:24.3] RN: Who’s that?
[0:19:25.1] DD: His name is Lester Vinovich. Absolute brilliant guy. I called him up and I explained this whole thing and he just let me do my whole thing. Everything you just heard, plus more. He said, “Wow! I totally get it. I love that stuff.” He knows that stuff. He’s a big outdoors kind of guy. “I think it’s a brilliant idea.” I’m like, “Yeah!” He’s like, “But you can’t do it.” I said, “Why not?” He’s like, “You don’t have time. You’re spreading yourself so thin. You just want to fail at everything?” He’s like, “You shouldn’t do it.” I was like, “Alright. Yeah. You know what? I kind of expected that you’re right. I shouldn’t do it.”
I was kind of bummed out because I felt like, “This is like — Ah! It’s such a good idea, but how are you doing things? Maybe I should just go tell someone else to do it.” That was my original idea. I’m going to get a couple of friends and maybe I’ll just coach them and I’ll have a little piece, because they should go start it out.
I started talking to two of my best friends and we — I don’t even know — I don’t remember the conversation or how it evolved from me trying to get them to do it. To me, “Well, let’s just all do it.” I guess it’s my excitement. The idea was let’s do a crowd funding campaign. The thinking behind that was let’s meet up every Friday night. And to this day, I still do. Today is Friday, at 9 p.m. — We’ve been doing this for a year and a half. Unless I had to be out of town, Friday nights, that’s what I do. We’ll work till about 2 a.m. We’ll grab some beers. It’s our night, and that’s what we did. Because one of my partners he has a full-time job. Andrew who worked with us, worked for BizMedia. We had to find time in our schedules outside of the regular world to do this. Our thinking was, “Let’s do the crowd funding campaign because I don’t care if it fails. If it fails — Whatever. I didn’t dish out tons of money. People aren’t going to judge me.” It’s like at least, it’s the attempt.
In the back of my head, “This things can work. It’s good. We’re going to do it right and it’s going to be the thing that lets me stop doing everything else. It’s going to work.”
[0:21:38.6] RN: Yeah and you’ve really got to be happy with what you’re doing, right?
[0:21:40.4] DD: You know what? This brand is so authentically me. The marketing is not — We want to do a good job, but it’s not like we’re short of ideas, like “How do we appeal to this market?” I am the core consumer of this product.
[0:21:54.7] RN: You and me both. Yeah.
[0:21:55.7] DD: If it failed, I don’t care, because I have made all the samples for me. I’ll have them. Hopefully I have enough to last me for a few years. I’ll just not gain too much weight. Just stay the same size.
[0:22:06.7] RN: Just so the audience has some context. What exactly — What are the products? What are they?
[0:22:11.8] DD: Unbound Merino is — Right now, it’s just for men, but we have women’s coming out in the summer. It’s a line of Merino wool clothing. Yeah, t-shirts, socks and underwear. Merino wool is a super fine wool. It doesn’t feel anything like the kind of wool that a lot of people think off when they think of wool. Not scratchy. It’s not thick. It feels like — You could feel the shirt here.
[0:22:34.9] RN: Yeah, it’s super soft.
[0:22:36.6] DD: It’s soft. It’s thin. It’s like putting on — it’s like a cotton cashmere blend almost. It is the most brilliant natural fabric that you could find on the market. It’s odor resistant. It wicks moisture. It’s temperature regulating. If it’s cold out, it allows you to retain your body heat, but because it wicks it keeps you cool too, if it’s hot.
[0:23:03.6] RN: You’re not able to work out in this thing and sweat?
[0:23:05.0] DD: Yeah.
[0:23:05.7] RN: Yeah, I know you can, but you’re saying it won’t stink after a day?
[0:23:10.6] DD: No. It will not.
[0:23:12.8] RN: That’s crazy.
[0:23:13.3] DD: When we did our crowd funding campaign, what we’ve showed in video is real. I can’t put this product in the market and have it be a sustainable business if it doesn’t work. We tested this shit out of it. Could I say shit?
[0:23:26.3] RN: Of course. You just did.
[0:23:27.0] DD: Yeah, I did. I did 46 days in a row and I mean I went into the sauna. I would hang it up on a hanger and let it air-out. That’s important. You have to let it dry and air-out.
[0:23:42.3] RN: You can’t not take it off for 46 days.
[0:23:44.6] DD: Well, who’d want to do that?
[0:23:47.8] RN: Right. You never know.
[0:23:48.9] DD: Yeah. That’s how it works. Because it doesn’t — The moisture doesn’t bind to the wool and it wicks away and evaporates. That’s why it’s not smelly. It’s not like some kind of crazy science. It’s natural. The reason your shirt would smell is because if you work out in a cotton shirt, the moisture absorbs into the cotton and it breads bacteria. That’s it. It’s very simple. It’s just completely naturally occurring. That odor occurs because of bacteria.
If moisture doesn’t have the opportunity to absorb into the fabric, then bacteria doesn’t grow. It doesn’t smell. I would go to the extreme. I’d do a workout, a stair climb, or elliptical sweat and then sit in the sauna and —
[0:24:33.4] RN: It’s drenched.
[0:24:34.4] DD: Drenched. I’d walk into the sweltering heat to the point where you have to peel the shirt off because you’re so sweaty, like I’m just dripping. Let it air-out. Put it on the next day. It’s like nothing —
[0:24:47.3] RN: Not that it smells great — it’s just odorless.
[0:24:50.6] DD: No. It smells like you took a clean t-shirt out of your drawer. It smells like a shirt. It doesn’t smell like anything.
[0:24:57.3] RN: Like I said, every guy’s dream.
[0:24:59.9] DD: Absolutely. Some will go, “That’s gross.” No, it’s not. When is the last time you washed those jeans? What’s the difference? Do you know why? Because it’s the same thing. The denim has a similar affect. Of course, if you get dirty you should wash it. If you’re going to spill some gravy on your jeans, you’re going to wash them. Same thing for the shirt.
[0:25:19.4] RN: Like gravy of all things.
[0:25:21.4] DD: I was just trying to think of something that’s sort of — Yeah, spill anything but water, you’re going to wash your jeans for the most part. Maybe I just want some gravy? There’s a Popeye’s down the street.
It’s just the most amazing material. We created a line of clothing that has these properties. We positioned it towards travelers, because that was my original intention. The market is around solving that problem I had. It goes beyond that into your life, but when I go travel — I did three and a half weeks in the Southeast Asia. That’s what we talked about in the video. You could see my backpack over there. It’s a little backpack and that’s all I take with me. I just love it. I love the feeling of getting off the airplane and just walking right past the luggage carousal. I see people stacking their suitcase. It’s so unnecessary.
I live this. For me, this is why I needed to test this out and get it out there because I wanted it to exist, because it’s the world I want to live in. I want do this for my work because the people I sell to are like me. Some cool stuff is happening now. We sold in 90 countries now. One guy in Cologne, Germany — He emailed and asked a question. He ordered and — And I’m going. I’m going at the end of April. I said, “Can you let me know some places to check out while I’m there.” He says, “Let’s go for a beer.” I looked him on Facebook and it turns out I actually have a mutual friend with this guy here in Toronto and he’s totally plugged in to the entrepreneur community. I’m like, “I’d love to — This is perfect!”
I’m going for a beer with this guy in Cologne. That’s what this whole brand is to me, feeling like you’re not bound to your stuff and feeling like a true tourist when you’re traveling. I want to just feel like I fit right in and I’m meeting these cool guys, also an entrepreneur in Cologne. It’s just like everything is coming together that’s like, “This is me.”
We’ve been doing the socks for years, but the idea for a year before that. For years I’ve been trying to get to figure out what is the product and in the process I learned what the right one was. It’s pretty new but it’s going really well.
[0:27:36.6 ] RN: I know you mentioned the crowd funding campaign. What platform did you do it on and what were the results, and is it over or is it still going?
[0:27:44.7] DD: We did it on Indiegogo and that was on a friend’s recommendation. That they’re smaller than Kickstarters, so you can access the people that work there a little easier and they are very supportive. It was a good choice for us. I sometimes wonder if I were on Kickstarter, would I have done as well, maybe tripled in size? But it just doesn’t matter to me though because it went well and it really started.
[0:28:06.8] RN: What was your goal?
[0:28:08.3] DD: We said it was 30,00, but really we needed 70. The reason why we said 30 is because it was easier to get to 100% and once you’re at 100% people are then like, “Congrats!” They don’t know, really, I’m not there yet. It had an effect where — People trust, backing it a little bit more —
[0:28:27.9] RN: More traction right.
[0:28:29.4] DD: Yeah. Look, it’s easier to appear more “successful.”
[0:28:31.5] RN: You see one with 10% achieve, you’re like, “It’s probably not that good then.”
[0:28:34.8] DD: Yeah. I’ll wait maybe if it fires up. We were able to get a lot of friends and family to boost that. The first 10,000 was 95% friends and family that were supporting.
[0:28:49.9] RN: Then how much did you actually raise off that 30,000 goal?
[0:28:52.8] DD: We’re were at 360. We ended at 300,000, so a thousand percent.
[0:28:58.5] RN: Yeah, it’s awesome.
[0:28:58.7] DD: Even our real goal, which was just shy of 70. We still went way passed that. It was enough to get a good inventory to have — Then we had really budgeted well what we wanted to do. Make this thing work to get it started. Indiegogo allows you to continue to sell after the fact. I think it’s sitting at 360,000, a little over that, and now we have our store which launched in December.
[0:29:25.6] RN: So you’re live. You’re selling.
[0:29:26.8] DD: Yeah. This was the fear I had when we did the crowd funding. We did a good job, but this is not a business. That was just a crowd funding campaign. Is it a business? Can we get people to go to our site? Are people going to like the product enough that they’re going to tell their friends? We launched on — I think it was on December 14th of 2016. I remember after we launched we had some meetings set up so that we could plan out some of the page content.
I remember about five days after we launched we got together and we started working on some things for the website, and I went into the backend and I saw all these orders. We haven’t even announced the website. How did people find it? That was the coolest feeling. To me that’s like when you hear the story of a band and they hear their song on the radio for the first time —
[0:30:15.1] RN: That’s what it felt like.
[0:30:16.4] DD: Absolutely. I’m like, “Wow! People are talking —” I had no idea how they would have found the website, because it wasn’t — Nothing.
[0:30:25.9] RN: They couldn’t Google search it and find it, right? Maybe.
[0:30:28.1] DD: They could, but there are people out there searching.
[0:30:32.9] RN: You had to really find it.
[0:30:34.2] DD: Yeah, you had to really look for it. We didn’t link it to anywhere. Wow! We had our inventory. We filled in those orders and we just started organizing. I left everything. This is it. I’m not doing my other businesses anymore.
[0:30:50.4] RN: Now you’re totally free of all of that and you’re Unbound Merino only.
[0:30:54.2] DD: Yeah. What happened with BiMedia, the video — And it’s still going. My business partner is running it. He’s awesome. He’s doing an awesome job. I don’t know what happened. My email started bouncing and it was something I could have fixed. It probably would have taken 15 minutes to just call and have him fix it. I just never did. I never fixed it. I don’t know what emails I missed, but all of a sudden I just — I’m never going to fix it. That was it. People contacted me, “Hey, your email is bouncing.” “Yeah, I use this one now.”
So if people had to reach me, they had to figure it out. They can find me on Facebook. They’re like, “No. I’m good.”
[0:31:35.7] RN: I like it. That’s a beautiful story. Obviously, the podcast is based on failure. It’s called Fail On, with the idea of if you’re not failing you’re not growing. Along your journey what’s been the most painful part of the process of getting to where you’re today?
[0:31:53.1] DD: Okay, some entrepreneurs create these fast growth businesses and they’ll make mistakes, but for me it’s been definitely just — My life has just been full of those. You know there’s a good quote I heard once when I was talking about sales before. I remember the first — When I first started learning sales, I went to the Art of Sales in Toronto and these conferences are awesome. There’s like art of marketing, art of sales and art of leadership. The Art of Sales, I think it was their first one, and Jeffrey Gitomer wrote this book The Art of Sales — Or no, The Sales Bible and he was speaking at the Art of Sales. I remember him saying this line that, “There’s no such thing as failure, it’s only feedback.” That resonated with me huge, which made all the massive amounts of failures feel really feedbacky.
[0:32:42.4] RN: Like lessons.
[0:32:43.3] DD: Yeah, they’re just lessons. I don’t know if it’s my nature. I don’t know if it was from hearing things like that from people like Jeffrey Gitomer, but I’m pretty good at dealing with being in the heart of the story. I just don’t let them get to me very much. I just always try to focus on — This is where I’m at, what I should I be doing to move forward. I might be screwed for the next three months, two days, whatever it might be, but what can I do now that will help me get in the right direction? That’s the only thing I should worry about and concern myself with is just do it. Just do that stuff.
I can be pretty zen — And I’ve been in some serious — I don’t even remember the client to be honest, but I remember we had a big project about to close. Hundreds of thousands of dollars and we’re waiting just to get the deposit on it and we have a bunch of staff. We’re like tight, like almost at the brink of not being able to make payroll. Very little in the pipeline, but at least we have this project. Right at the point when we should have received — Actually, a week after we should have received the deposit, all of a sudden the whole project just got put on a hold to never happen. I’m sitting there and I’m thinking, “I need $100,000 right now just to get by.”
[0:34:15.0] RN: Just to cover expenses.
[0:34:16.0] DD: Just to get by. It was so bad. This is the worst it’s ever been. I don’t have much in the pipeline, like I feel so screwed. I remember thinking, “I have no idea how I’m going to ever get at this. I can’t conceive what getting out of this looks like at this point, because that’s — It’s just so bad.” But I thought, “Okay, I’m in my early 20s,” I was probably mid 20s at that point. I was like 25, 26, “Am I going to be thinking about this when I’m 35? I’m sure I’m going to get out of this by then.” It’s like, “I’m going to get out of this at some point.”
It’s right now, that it’s so, so bad. I thought, “Well, all I can do is try to push to close this deal, like make it happen.” But chances of that are slim to none, and just sleep a little bit less and push a little harder on the business development. Just do it. Just go nuts, but not emotionally. Just stay focused, because all I can do is close deals or I’m not paying people their salaries. I’m in a bad place.
[0:35:31.7] RN: How quickly did you need the money?
[0:35:34.0] DD: Probably — We could have gotten by for a month max. I don’t remember the specifics, but that sounds about right. We’re like — I was trying to get that deposit in because it was probably a little late. We need it. We need it.
I became a master of getting those funds in fast, but not looking like we need it.
[0:35:55.7] RN: Got it. Yeah. That’s a skill, right?
[0:35:58.2] DD: Yeah.
[0:35:59.1] RN: You’re desperate for money but find it cool.
[0:36:01.4] DD: Yeah. I’m good. It’s important that you —
[0:36:03.0] RN: Send it when you can.
[0:36:04.6] DD: Yeah. No, it’s just like little subtleties of why they need to pay it ahead no time. What I wasn’t telling them was, “Dude. Fuck. We need the money yesterday.”
I was really chill. I remember thinking after just like really stewing on how terrible of a situation it is. I’m like, “All I can do is find business.”
[0:36:29.0] RN: How were you able to stay kind of even keel and level headed? Is that how you’ve always been? Is that your personality or is that kind of something you’ve had to develop?
[0:36:36.8] DD: I was thinking about this recently. I don’t know if it’s just the product of — If you read the book — I’ve read all of the classic business books you’re supposed to read when I started. There’s the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is one, and they talk about your sphere of influence. If it’s not in your sphere of your influence, then you have nothing to concern yourself with. If you can make an impact on this thing then give it your attention and give it your heart. If you can’t, then don’t even. Think about it. It doesn’t matter. It’s irrelevant to you. There’s little lessons like that. All I can — In that situation, what was in my sphere of influence was trying to see if I can salvage that deposit, although I doubted it, and finding business.
[0:37:22.7] RN: What was the actual — What did you end up doing?
[0:37:25.5] DD: I beat on LinkedIn. I was banging doors. I just went after calling up people, just setting up coffees. I think it was about three days later where it’s just like I kicked the door open rapidly — I couldn’t have expected this, but I remember thinking I knew I’d get out of this, but I didn’t think it would be three days later.
It’s like I was able to recover in that moment. I might have gone weeks, but all I keep doing is — All I can do is stay in my sphere of influence, and what’s in my sphere of influence? It’s banging on doors. I don’t know why it’s in my nature to be chill in those situations, but I’ve learned that and I consciously remain chill.
[0:38:15.6] RN: It seems like by doing that, staying in your sphere of influence stuff. That’s a mouthful. It makes you stay uber focused it seems. You had no other option because you’re looking at — You had one goal; to get more business.
[0:38:30.9] DD: Yeah. It was about shooting out — Setting up meetings, talking to new people, talking to existing clients. Laser focused. I didn’t have to have conversations with the team. I didn’t have to have — I didn’t have to do anything but that.
[0:38:47.1] RN: I think business is super simple like that, right? Really break it down to a simplistic state like that and business booms like that. Like we were talking a little bit before about my previous business in the affiliate space, of scaling campaigns and it’s just like that. You find — Like we were talking about Facebook campaigns for you. You find a campaign that works, like one of those 10 silos that we’re talking about and you’ve got a X-dollar CPA. You just spend more. You scale that. You spend as much as you can until it doesn’t work. It’s so simple to me because that’s like the logical thing is you find one thing that works and you go so hard at it until it doesn’t, because eventually it will stop working.
[0:39:29.4] DD: Yeah. It’s just optimizing. I was optimizing my time. You’re optimizing your campaign. Just focus. I knew what I should be doing day-in and day-out and maybe I should have been doing that all the time, not just when shit hit the fan.
[0:39:44.0] RN: Yeah, but it puts you into a state where you knew exactly what you had to do and you had one goal.
[0:39:49.6] DD: I truly think there’s no better place to be in business when you narrow down the one thing. Just the one thing.
[0:39:57.5] RN: Totally agree. Put yourself — This is super extreme, but I think about it a lot, because it pushes me to focus and really push myself out of my comfort zone as well. In that same situation that you’re in where you had 30 days, if somebody put a gun to your head and said, “You have to get this done in 30 days.” You’re going to get done. Let’s be honest.
[0:40:18.6] DD: it’s funny that you say that, because that was the same thing we say all the time. We used to intentionally — We call it putting a gun to our head. It would be getting the — If we got a radio interview, put yourself in the situation where you have to go and be — Like, sometimes I don’t want to be on that radio interview. I’d rather stay home. I’m actually not a very outgoing guy at all. Getting out is always just — I do it if I — It’s hard for me to be compelled to. But we used to always say, “Put the gun to your head,” like put yourself in situations you can’t back out of; the big pitch, the interview. Whatever it might be, because then you’re like — You get anxious but you force yourself to prepare for it and you always come out the other end, like, “I’m so glad I did that.”
[0:41:06.3] RN: So cool you just mentioned that, because I was actually just talking to Giovanni Marsico, and he was like — He gets this feeling too, right? It’s like whether — It’s like that feeling in your stomach. It’s almost like anxiety, but he started reframing himself. He said to where whenever you’d feel this, instead of feeling like anxious about it, he would say, “Oh, I’m excited.” He’d come out of place of where he’s just reframing it to where, “I’ve got this feeling. I’m excited now.” Then that’s how he would approach it.
[0:41:34.5] DD: He does that to the max with his event. I even look at the — I didn’t go to this last one but I saw the video footage of this crazy stage production, and he goes out on stage in front of all of these people. My heart is beating for him. It’s intense. The lights don’t make it any calmer. That’s the true — He sets that up. He sells tickets. He has all these speakers come in and he’s going like — That’s going to the head. It’s like you have no choice, and he comes out like way bigger. That’s just bigger in life experience. Just people — Enlightening these people. That’s the perfect example.
[0:42:13.0] RN: It’s crazy, because I ask some — Because I 100% thought that would be a moment before going on a stage where you’d get that feeling. It’s like, “I don’t get that feeling.” I’m like, “What?” He’s like, “No.” He’s like, “I don’t know what it is. I’ve never even been remotely scared to go on stage like that,” which is shocking to me. Yeah, it was interesting.
What are you most afraid of? Obviously, you have a new business going. It’s exciting, but the growth trajectory is not always up. What are you most scared of?
[0:42:44.7] DD: I don’t want to sound like I’m — I’m not trying to be stumped by this, because I’m so mighty [inaudible 0:42:49.7].
[0:42:53.0] RN: It can be outside of business too by the way. Whether it’s relationships. Whether it’s — Bees.
[0:42:57.2] DD: Actually, I’m actually kind of afraid of bees.
[0:42:59.6] RN: I’m terrified at bees. If you’re not, you’re crazy.
[0:43:03.2] DD: Some people don’t let it land. That’s the thing. They land on their arm and they’re like, “Oh, it won’t do anything to you.”
[0:43:07.9] RN: I cannot do that.
[0:43:08.7] DD: Yeah. If a bee lands on me, I run away.
[0:43:11.3] RN: I’m freaking out. Yeah. I’m afraid of bees.
[0:43:16.0] DD: I’m not really afraid of anything that relates to business, because at the end of the day I’ve been through — I really have been through some serious failure. What I just told you about is clearly me failing to do a great job at keeping my business pipeline full. I was not running the business properly. I’m learning from that, but there’s more — It doesn’t even matter, but that’s just one of the many bad things that was happening that time. That was the lowest I’ve ever been in regards to business, but I wasn’t — If I can get through that and feel chill, and I did. I kept my cool. What else is — What can happen to me? That’s business rock bottom. I felt okay. I really hope that I stay healthy. I think it would be terrible if I had any serious health issue that ever came up.
I remember I was taking a shower three months ago and I thought I had my — Okay. You said I could say shit, so I’m just going to go do this.
[0:44:21.7] RN: You could say whatever you want. Yeah.
[0:44:22.8] DD: My balls hurt a little bit and I just felt like, “Oh, Jesus! I have ball —” Immediately, “I have ball cancer.”
[0:44:32.2] RN: First thought.
[0:44:32.6] DD: I was just like — I remember I went white as a ghost in the shower. It was also a really hot shower, so it’s just like maybe I was a bit dehydrated — I don’t know. I went white as a ghost and was so full of fear and I went to my bedroom after and I laid down. After 15 minutes my wife said, “Dan?” I’m like, “Oh, I’m just laying down.”
I remember I was freaking out. Googling “ball cancer.” I remember, “Okay, I think I’m fine. I’m going to do a physical just to get checked. I am fine.” That, just for some reason I thought I had it. I’m not a hypochondriac. I don’t often have that, but that would be the worst. I don’t think anything in business — If you’re in the worst possible place, you could possibly be in business. Nothing. You’re doomed and there’s no way out of it. If you have your health, you have a lot more than a lot of people.
[0:45:32.4] RN: 100%. Yeah.
[0:45:33.4] DD: Seriously, I don’t mean to be all like — I’m not some kind of zen guy. Also, if things are really good, I stay chill. I don’t get overly excited. At the flip end, which I think is good too.
[0:45:44.6] RN: You don’t go on that emotional roller coaster that a lot of entrepreneurs – You kind of keep it balanced and even keel?
[0:45:50.2] DD: I’ve been told — Again, I do try to — I’d probably have to go talk to some kind of psychologist to figure out the root of it, if I cared to do that. I don’t get — I don’t have emotional highs and lows. I’m like — Cool. I’m chill. When things are — I’d say things are going really good right now and I’m very excited. I’m very happy about it, but I’m like — I don’t feel —
[0:46:08.6] RN: Like cartwheels in the office.
[0:46:09.7] DD: Yeah, and I don’t feel like I’m better than I was before. I’m just in the process of learning. I’m doing something I love more. I’m not cocky about it. I know that I can be completely gone tomorrow. I feel chill.
[0:46:23.9] RN: I got to look real quick. You might not know it off hand, but I actually looked at it before we got on the line, your LinkedIn. It’s like your little bio. It says “I’m an entrepreneur.” It says something like, “I try to get better every day.” Everything you just said really encompasses that.
[0:46:43.5] DD: Yeah. I don’t remember writing that. I haven’t updated my LinkedIn, except for maybe adding Unbound to it. Yeah.
[0:46:51.1] RN: Yeah. I think that’s a perfect summation of everything you just said.
[0:46:55.2] DD: I try to be productive. I try to be effective. I try to go to bed at night thinking I did — Things happened today. Like, “Today has been great. I’m really grateful I’ve met you. I met some awesome people. I don’t usually have meetings days like this. I had meetings all day, but everyone has been great.” Then I have my Friday night work session, which I told you about which I’m always — I love it. I’m excited for it. I’ll go to bed tonight feeling like that was a good day. I try to have a good day every day. I’m not like the most optimal person all the time by any stretch. Yeah, if I could do that, I’m happy.
[0:47:32.0] RN: I like it. To get back, I’m glad you brought that up again. Your Friday night jam session, 9 to 2. That’s not the only time you guys are working on this business to be clear?
[0:47:41.4] DD: No. That’s just the guaranteed time. Dema, one of the partners, he is —
[0:47:47.7] RN: He has a full-time job.
[0:47:48.6] DD: Yeah. He’s a creative director, at an ad agency. He’s not going to be making that money anytime soon for Unbound. We’re not paying that kind of salary. He gets work done throughout the week and in the weekends, but here’s our mandatories. We have a Monday and Wednesday, 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Just two hours just to get a couple of little things done and to calibrate. Anything else is sort of we’ll do remotely. Dema will do stuff at night. He can do stuff if he has an afternoon off. Friday night is the big — We’ll just go off and we’d really like catch up. We’ll do weekend stuff. I’m seven days a week. Andrew’s 80% of his time on it now. We’re just working with what time we have.
Right now we’re saving to be able to one day, hopefully, we’re all full-time. Hopefully, sooner than later. That’s going to be amazing. I can’t wait for that moment, but we work with what we have. I think at that point we’ll stop doing Fridays. We won’t need them, but I’ll miss them. I’ll miss them. I really, really — Sometimes we’re not as productive, because it’s the end of the week.
[0:48:56.8] RN: Drinking beer.
[0:48:57.4] DD: Yeah. It’s a very lax work session, but it’s just — I think I could be drinking beer at a bar and not doing this, but I really love it. It’s the absolute best Friday night ever, and I’ll be so grateful we don’t need to do it anymore, because that means we’re all full-time. We’re all working all the time. For now it’s one of the highly — It’s consistently the highlight of my week.
[0:49:24.3] RN: You’ll be able to look once you guys are all full-time and look back, like, “Man!” That was what you treasure, right?
[0:49:31.8] DD: Yeah. Usually we’ll do it on my place, but sometimes we’d go over to Dena’s. It’s like tonight we have to — When we do that, I can’t drink as much. I’d drive over, it’s way on the east end. I’ll have one, maybe one drink, and I drive back. Let’s say it’s 1:30, let’s say it’s 2. I live right in the heart of the entertainment district, so I just see like these savages pouring out of these bars, just annihilated. It just reminds me what Friday night is to most other people. Hey, they could have their fun. Nothing wrong with it. It’s just like it’s — I’m so removed from that now. Friday night to me, there’s just these three guys getting Pilsener’s.
[0:50:07.8] RN: Focus.
[0:50:08.6] DD: We don’t drink the hard beer. That’s the lighter, 4.5%. I love it so much.
[0:50:15.6] RN: That’s awesome. If somebody were to come up to you today that maybe they’re in a 9 to 5 and they’re trying to — They have a burning desire to create something similar to what you’ve created and you could only give them really one directive or one action item that they could walk away with, what would you tell that person?
[0:50:34.8] DD: If they wanted to start a business?
[0:50:35.8] RN: Yeah. They don’t have any idea. They just knew that they wanted to do something. It hurts so bad.
[0:50:43.0] DD: Unbound came to us because — I told you the back story about how I wished this product — There’s that whole part, but understanding that this thing could work in a deeper way, more the mechanics of how this business makes sense. Why I think this could be a profitable, scalable, business that has a good — There’s the product market. All the pieces. I will not even be able to really think of those if it weren’t for the sock, which is now it’s actually starting to do pretty well. I’m not working on it at all. I have partners. They’re doing everything, and God bless them for it. They’re don’t need me. I think I’d even maybe be holding them back.
Just by doing that I learned that this thing Unbound could work, because there’s little facets of it that I understand. The timing of it. All these little things. If I could go back — If I had to go back in time and let’s say, two, three years before it started. Hitsu Socks, which is a sock brand. I would have just started anything. I don’t care what it is.
Don’t go and blow your savings account to start something if it’s a half-baked idea, but get rid of your Friday night if you want.
[0:51:58.8] RN: Don’t be a savage coming out of the bar.
[0:52:00.6] DD: Yeah. You could drink with your friends. Do a project, because you could sell anything. We can do funny mugs with funny saying no them. You may not make much money, but —
[0:52:12.2] RN: You’re testing. Start taking action.
[0:52:13.3] DD: Yeah, you’re starting to do things. If it’s not working, you’ll have a better understanding of why, not just because of the idea. Maybe your idea is half-baked. Maybe you can put it up on Reddit and see people cut it up and you can get some ideas, but just literally doing anything.
[0:52:32.2] RN: 100% agree. I think most people get so paralyzed by trying to come up with the perfect idea, or the perfect business. That’s not going to — They look for these crazy huge ideas, like a Facebook where they don’t realize that simply by starting — I liked how you phrased it, by starting a project, can change your life. Just by starting on the journey, because you’ll start to see paths and opportunities open up that you would never have seen just staying still.
[0:53:00.1] DD: Yeah. It could be anything. I remember my wife and I — I don’t remember how we came to it, but we were like, “Let’s just start making soap.” We started making — I think we did one batch. I know it’s not a very good soap. We thought, “Hey, that would be fun.” Because if we can figure out how to make soap, make really good soap. We’re not going to make much money. Maybe we’ll make a really good soap. Maybe we’ll get some customers. Maybe we can —
[0:53:24.9] RN: Use it for yourself. Yeah.
[0:53:26.8] DD: Whatever it is. It’s kind of a fun activity. You know what? We did really feel like doing it that much after the first batch. But it was fun. I learned how to make soap. We got the lye and the little mixer and we would put it on the — The real reason, probably the big deterrent was we lived in a condo and there’s not enough space to put the racks. We have two washers. In one of the washers, there’s a rack with some soap that needs to sit there or a couple of weeks. Even an extra room, we’d be making soaps though just for fun, but it’s just got in the way. I’m like, “we’re not doing this in the second bathroom.”
I don’t know. Is that a failure? No. It’s been an experiment.
[0:54:08.1] RN: Experiment, right?
[0:54:09.4] DD: Yeah, it was fun. My wife and I went and made some soap once.
[0:54:13.3] RN: I like it.
[0:54:14.5] DD: Truth be told. If we did have more room, that would be fun just in the art of branding, I think. How you make the really nice package. What’s the story? Creating that would be really cool. It didn’t work for us, but just do anything. I don’t care what you’re — It’s just fun to start a business. Hitsu socks, I hope it does really well. I started it. I still have shares in the business. Maybe one day it will sell and I’ll get a check in the mail. But I’ve connected with my favorite artist, street artist in the city. Made really — Am I wearing some? Yeah, I’m wearing some right now. It was just a fun experience and it’s probably better than going out and getting drunk and doing nothing.
[0:55:01.8] RN: 100% agree. Who’s had the most profound impact on your life if you had to pinpoint one person?
[0:55:07.6] DD: Like someone I know, or anyone? Probably my business partner for BizMedia, Justin. I remember the sky is the limit with him. If anyone made me believe in myself — I remember actually of one conversation. I’m like, everyone always wants to do something like create some huge business. I remember having this conversation with him. It’s like, “Why can’t you just —” It’s weird to say this, because it doesn’t seem like me that would have said this. I was kind of like. There’s nothing — And there is nothing wrong with it. There’s nothing wrong with just get a job — It’s fun. I don’t even remember the details of that conversation. I remember him being like like, “Dude, you do whatever the hell you want.”
He was the guy to me that was like, “Yeah!” It was dating back 14 years ago. “Yeah, you do whatever you want.” It psyched me. He has been the most — He’s the best dude. I’ve been best friends with him since junior kindergarten.”
[0:56:06.4] RN: Oh, so you’ve known him forever.
[0:56:07.3] DD: Yeah. These guys I work with now have been — We’re all best friends. I’ve been best buds with them since the 3rd and 4th grade. The same guys have been around in my life that I work with. I’d say he’s made one of the most dramatic impacts. I can never, ever lose sight of my gratitude for him. Just probably one of the greatest humans ever.
[0:56:30.5] RN: Love it.
[0:56:30.6] DD: Awesome.
[0:56:31.8] RN: What are you most excited about that’s on the horizon for you, whether it’s travel, personal, professional. What has you really stoked? As stoked as you can be.
[0:56:44.1] DD: I get stoked. Two things. Dema, one of my partners and I were writing a little book on how to travel the world with just a bag — With a backpack. It’s going to be — Like it’s way beyond. Of course, there’s a branded interest. It does talk about Merino wool and there’s that part of it, the marketing of it. But we’re going really deep comprehensively outside of just the Merino wool aspect. What’s the right bag for you? How to pack it? All these little travel hacks. Just like we have been — He’s maxing those vacation days, so we’re doing all those vacations days. Spending a little over a week, with two days where we’re going to go get a cottage and just like morning to night, just bang it out.
I’m just excited to do that because I’ve never — It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be free, but I’m excited to just put that together. That’s like it’s a project within the project. I keep talking about this conference I go every year. It’s for EO, Entrepreneurs Organization. I go once a year to their GLC, Global Leadership Conference because I serve on the board of the Toronto chapter for EO.
I go to Germany and I’m excited — I told you, I’m meeting a dude in Cologne. Frankfurt for the conference and then a couple of days in Cologne and a couple of days in Amsterdam. That’s when I have my downtime. I bring the wife. It’s our best time to connect and hang out. I’m able to go — I’ll probably still be checking in and involved, but I’ll be drinking beer all day.
[0:58:25.6] RN: I love it.
[0:58:25.7] DD: Again, this is what this business is about. It’s like we’ve created it to — It’s about this experience. I’m never going to lose sight of that fun. I’m excited to — I’m just excited for the whole thing. I’m excited to spend time and go away. I’m excited to write that book. I’m excited about most things to be honest.
[0:58:46.8] RN: I’m excited to see the brand and product continue to grow. When are you coming out with the women’s line? Do you think it will be as successful in the women’s line as it would be for the men’s line?
[0:58:58.7] DD: I think it can and it should be. There’s enormous interest. We get emails every day, “Why is there no women’s line?” There’s going to be a women’s line. On the website, if you click shop and you click men or women, the men’s has our products. The women’s is a landing page. It’s like sign up. Get your email in and we’ll let you know when it comes out. We’re going to do another crowd funding campaign and we’re getting tons of signup. We do our own PR. We’re reaching out to magazines, stuff like that, and most of them come back and say, “Oh, is there a women’s line?” We’ll say, “Oh, not yet.” “So when would you have the women’s line?”
There’s a lot of interest in publicity behind it, because most of the people are responding are women and they just want to wait for the women’s. We think it could be really big. I think PR-wise could be huge. We already have tons and tons of people who signed up.
[0:59:49.5] RN: Will it be active wear as well? What’s the actual product for the women?
[0:59:53.1] DD: Yeah. We’re doing a tank top, like a v-neck t-shirt and a long sleeve and socks. That’s the initial line. We started men and we did the two colors of t-shirts in both crew and V and we did underwear and socks. We decided just to do a few different shirt styles and socks for women based off tons of surveys that we did. Everything we make will always be simple basics. Stuff that —
[1:00:25.4] RN: Minimal right?
[1:00:26.3] DD: Yeah. It will never have our brand name on it. It’s never like flashy. It looks as good today as it did 10 years ago and as good as it will in 10 years. It’s just neutral, classic, simple, well-fitting nice stuff. That’s the same approach that we have for women’s, stuff that will feel — They know that they can wear in 10 years from now if they wanted to. That’s just the type of stuff we want to do. We’re not into being a fashion brand.
[1:00:55.1] RN: A trend.
[1:00:57.4] DD: When we do our research, it’s just very much around like — Is this cut a classic cut? This is so much more complicated with women. Men are simple as hell, man. I say like — When we get the research. Like, yeah, people want — “I like a black v-neck.” This is the one I buy. They tell me what they like and it’s simple. It’s just like a t-shirt. Women are complicated, man. I try to say, “If you had like your staple shirt, what would be your go-to.” Just to try to identify. “What would be the one that you could wear with the most versatility on a trip?” They’re like, “Well, I have a shirt, like a v-neck, white, it’s lose, it’s too tight here, it can go with a cute necklace.” There’s so much more to that shirt.
Now we have way more what we’re doing, like these Friday night sessions are not just about the women’s line. It’s less time to do something that’s more complicated that we have no right to have and opinion on outside of getting other people’s opinions and surveys. It’s coming together, but it’s so much tougher, but it’s really coming together. We’re stoked.
[1:02:06.8] RN: I’m excited to see where it goes man. I’m excited to get my own clothes.
[1:02:10.5] DD: Yeah. I’m going to try to get it to you before you get back to the good old San Diego.
[1:02:15.9] RN: That’d be amazing.
[1:02:15.4] DD: You’re where? In La Jolla?
[1:02:17.4] RN: Yeah. In La Jolla.
[1:02:17.8] DD: I didn’t make it there. My wife went and apparently it’s just like —
[1:02:22.2] RN: It’s paradise, right? No. It’s beautiful. It is. I’m the younger side of the demographic though.
[1:02:26.1] DD: It’s older. Yeah, it’s the retirement part of San Diego.
[1:02:29.4] RN: Everybody on my street is — I’m not kidding, probably 70 or older. No kidding. I’m early 30s. Little discrepancy, but —
[1:02:41.3] DD: You live the ethos of Unbound. You went to San Diego and — You told me before. You’re from Jordan, you just moved.
[1:02:51.7] RN: Yeah. Between then I’ve lived in four different countries for three months or longer. My wife and I are going to Scotland in June for a month and then probably Italy for a month. So Unbound really knows me. Seriously, man. I love it. Really happy to have you in here and I’m glad you can make the time to come in and chat. I really appreciate it. I know your time is valuable, but until next time, man.
[1:03:15.2] DD: Hey, thanks so much. It’s great to meet you.
[1:03:17.1] RN: You as well. Talk to you later.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[1:03:18.9] RN: Alright. You can find Dan Demsky on Twitter. That’s @dandemsky. Of course, all the links and resources Dan and I discussed including more information on his current venture, Unbound Merino, can be found at the page we created especially for this episode. That will be found at failon.com/024. Also, if you want that promo code for a big discount on all Unbound Merino apparel and merchandize, just put in failon, F-A-I-L O-N in the promo code on their side when you check out and you’ll get a discount.
Next week, we are sitting down with Cameron Herold. Cameron is the business growth guru strategist. The guy has done some amazing things in his career. He’s a bestselling author, award-winning speaker and, honestly, one of the most well-respected entrepreneurs that I know as the — Not CEO, but as the COO of 1-800-GOT-JUNK? He took them from four million in revenue up to over a hundred million. We have a great chat. You definitely don’t want to miss it.
Of course, if you’re finding value in this podcast and it has the wheels turning a little bit and just got the ideas going, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know what your biggest struggle is, whether you’re getting started, whether you’re running into failure, whether you’re scared of failure. I would love to hear it. As I continue to build up Fail On with the simple goal of helping people embrace failure, share their struggle and decide once and for all to create change in their lives, I’d be really grateful if you could help me out with just a couple of things. Subscribing to the podcast takes a single click. It helps the show get found by more people, and when people can find it it means it can help more people, which means, in return, you are helping people by simply subscribing. To subscribe and rate and review, very easy, just visit failon.com/itunes or failon.com/stitcher.
[1:05:10.3] ANNOUNCER: That’s all for this episode of The Fail On Podcast. For more resources, show notes and action items to help you find success in your failures, sign up for our mailing list at failon.com.
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