The Serial Sneakerhead from the Dragons Den | Kamaj Silva
Taking his love for sneakers and subscription boxes and combining them together and selling them online as one single product is how Sneakertub the online store is based on. With just $700 he managed to build a platform for this business.
He worked as a marketing manager in Toronto before turning his passion and love for sneakers into a thriving online business Sneakertub “a service delivering a monthly package of awesome sneakers.” Kamaj became known as an efficacious entrepreneur after taking part in the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC) national show Dragons’ Den in 2017. He is also the founder of MILK Toronto. His latest venture in Hot Sauces has been launched in Sri Lanka via an e-commerce platform.
Inspiration for Sneakertub
According to Kamaj inspiration was not the first thing that came into his mind it was more of as to how to survive. This basically put him into over drive and pushed him to go after his dreams. He states he never actually analysed it but it was survival first and then inspiration that came to him later on throughout the process.
Kamaj always wanted to work with sneakers at some point. After he graduated completing his post graduate studies in film. He worked in the film and production. He decided that he wanted to go into Sneakertub fulltime. The reason was that he grew tired of convincing people that he was good enough to work for them. Being someone who didn’t respond well to authority he realized that investing fulltime in his business was best for him. Now he has the best of both worlds he gets to wear what he wants and he gets to work with all the brands which he says is “cool.”
The deal on Dragons’ Den ended when both parties deciding to walk away amicably. He initially took the deal with the four Dragons (investors) that with the four Dragons together there would be more resources to work with. But later felt that for Sneakertub it was not the correct move at the time. He is glad that they decided to walk their separate ways he has “no regrets.”
Kamaj states that money and a lot of sacrifices are needed to start any business. He also states “Do not give away too much right away the more you can keep for your self is the best way moving forward. Say, if the company is going public or going to merge with another company you will need some equity that you can pay with so if you are not the majority shareholder other people will walk all over you. So, you need to make sure that you keep majority of the stake in the company. “With the initial investment of $700. Most of the company’s’ profits are invested back into the company as much as possible. Kamaj treats himself and the company as two different entities which makes him an employee in his own company.
He uses two approaches, B2C to sell the product and sell the point across to the customers. The other is B2B as he works directly with all the brands keeping the subscription base active and delivering to the people. When it came to marketing Sneakertub he used influencer marketing. His approached sneaker channels who would promote his brand for free and gave them free stuff in exchange for promoting his products. This was where the customer base was and his target market, he opted for this rather than the traditional way of advertising and the ROI turned out to be much better.
Watch how Kamaj worked on his way initiating his business
Kamaj states that you need to be very resourceful as an entrepreneur when you start your own business and rather than looking to others for solutions its better if you can come up with your own solutions trying to do as much as possible, He suggests giving out equity around 5% maximum in exchange for developing an app maybe. These deals do happen. Kamaj points out to not be afraid to ask for help you have nothing to lose. His message to all the young entrepreneurs is “workout deals if you can.”
Influencer Marketing the Business Aspect
It’s about finding the right match or the right fit for your brand but you need to just go through the motions and cycles of it. Do your research, just looking into their profiles is the best way to do it. Just because an influencer has a huge number of followers if he or she are not socially, culturally responsible and doesn’t set the right example for young people. You may need to be aware of it. Also, this will depend on your product. It’s tough and there is no clear-cut way of doing things. You don’t need to work with the same influencer all the time. Marketing in this era is a good dose of influencer marketing with paid advertising.
Taping into the International Market
There are ways for Sri Lankans to tap into the International market. Sri lanka does have limitations as there is no Paypal, getting a bank account for a business is such a hassle. He suggests drop shipping is a great way to step into the market and subscription boxes. He states you can run subscription boxes from Sri lanka because all you need to do is find a fulfilment partner in North America or Europe and find a way to have an off shore bank account or an account that paypal accepts that is basically what is needed, from here onwards it’s how you market your product and how you target it. It really doesn’t matter where you live you can run things remotely. Finding creative ways of doing business is best. He highly recommends using Google and Youtube for information. He strongly feels as youngsters we have been spoon fed through our school and education system so everyone wants an answer from someone else so this needs to change. With the internet things have changed but Sri Lanka indeed has a long way to go.
Covid 19 Pandemic’s Impact & New venture
Rather than cutting the ad budgets he doubled it. He feels because we doubled it, as he mentions” we got a better bang for our buck.” His business has not been affected much as e-commerce has grown since the pandemic. Kamaj is a risk taker and in his words “lives with the repercussions. “His new venture “Dayya Sauce” was launched into the Sri Lankan market. Kamaj likes to do things that he is interested in so it was more of an experiment in launching his own hot sauce. He promotes it in a unique way through Youtube introducing the product gradually through a bunch of video series., as he likes to grow brands from ground up. He wants to let it grow “organically.”
Advice to Entrepreneurs
There is no perfect time, money and resources to start a business. You can ask family and friends to help out too there are a lot of thigs that you can do if you put enough thought into it. So, his advice is if you have a business idea don’t wait until someone else starts it just put it in the market place and as he says “let the magic happen.” If you put in the number of hours you think is needed for your business is basically what is going to yield the best results for you. Your business will grow sometimes it takes time. Patience is virtue! Things don’t happen overnight. Age is just a number and you can never be too late to be too old to be an entrepreneur. Lastly is in his words “happiness starts with yourself.” Thus, do what you love and not what others want you to do.