Link To Guest Website: https://www.detrapel.com
Title: “Chemical Coatings To Protect Fabrics From Liquid Damage & Much More!”
Guest: David Zamarin – Detrapel
Interviewer: Jonathan Freedman – MAGE LLC
Click here to read the transcript
Welcome back to Radio Entrepreneurs. I’m Jonathan Friedman and our next guest up in the studio is David Zamarian CEO and founder of Detrapel. Welcome to Radio Entrepreneurs. Thanks for adding me. So I think it’s fair to say. We can call you a kitty entrepreneur. You, your, your current company, your current product you founded when you were, how old? Approximately
15. So yeah, I guess you can call it, you know, in hindsight, we can call you a kitty really impressive. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about your company and about your product. And then we can talk a little bit about your journey as an entrepreneur.
Sure. So the company, Detra pal is a protective coatings company. We make all types of different chemistries and chemical coatings that can be applied to a variety of surfaces and primarily fabrics that could then repel liquids and thereby stain. So it saves you time and money from having to replace or clean your items or your favorite belongings. And that was kind of the Genesis behind the business. It started with me wanting to clean or keep my shoes clean. Rather it ultimately this isn’t,
Jonathan (1m 2s):
This isn’t a risky business sort of scenario. The folks are out of town. You’re 15 years old. Somebody dumps something on your cell phone. Like I got to find a better way to clean this.
David (1m 10s):
No, no, it was more like I, I got into a very competitive high school and middle school, public school, but magnet school, they get the test to get into in Philadelphia, one of the top in the country. And as a gift, my grandparents gave me a couple of hundred bucks and I paired that with a couple of hundred bucks in my own and bought Jordans, bought some sneakers that I thought were ridiculously expensive and super worthless in the grand scheme of things. But to me at the time they were worth everything. I hated getting them dirty. So that’s kind of how the initial idea came about.
Jonathan (1m 45s):
Wow. So, so the mother of invention, how do I preserve my very expensive sneakers and keep them showroom quality for one day, being able to sell them on eBay, right? Exactly. You’re, you’re an entrepreneur through and through. So tell us how you went from having this desire need to developing a company because I’m sure a lot of pain and learning you experienced along the way. What was that like?
David (2m 12s):
Yeah, well, so I w I kind of the background to the story is I, I got into this high school and I looked around and I looked at my peers and I realized that, you know, we’re all the same on paper. Like every, every student was exceptional academically. We had joined like multiple clubs. We were all in like robotics or some kind of athletics and so on and so forth. So I really started to think about when I’m going to be applying to college, how am I really gonna stand out? And so I have, and I, I always had an entrepreneurial mindset. I was very entrepreneurial from a, from a young age. So one of the, one of the classes I was taking, I think it was like a Spanish class.
David (2m 54s):
We were sitting in the classroom and we got this poster kind of passed around that, that mentioned a youth entrepreneurship program, like an incubator. And I ended up applying. I was the only non-senior to get in out of the 20 kids that got in out of the several hundred, or I think it was a couple thousand that applied. And I still to this day, don’t know why I was accepted. You know, I, I wasn’t anything special. I was just very adamant about entrepreneurship. I really fell in love with the concept, cause that was the first time I ever really heard the word until then. I really knew that everyone was in business was an entrepreneur, but now there’s a clear distinction. And so I, I realized that I wanted to start this business, the shoe cleaning company, because some mentors of mine recommended that I pivot my initial idea, which was, I wanted to come up with a film to keep my shoes dirty.
David (3m 44s):
I wanted to spray something that could be peeled off whenever it got dirty. And that way I had this outer layer, but I knew nothing about chemistry. So they said, well, why don’t you start a shoe cleaning business? And at this time I was 14 years old. And I said, yeah, I mean, why not initially, I didn’t want to, cause I had some pride about cleaning other people’s shoes, but I ultimately pivoted the idea to clean and repair and condition sports shoes, sports teams, shoes at local universities in Philadelphia. And so that business actually was very successful for me as a 14 year old. And then ultimately, eventually I, sorry, I, I started when I was 14, it turned 15 pretty quick. So I was 15 years old running that business. And then I got an opportunity to sell the company within like four months, which was crazy.
David (4m 27s):
And again, it was an absorbent amount of money for a 15 year old who really comes from nothing. So for me, I was fortunate. I had strict parents and I wasn’t allowed to just spend the money frivolously. And so actually I just, I, you know, I sold the business and in the summer I was thinking, well, what am I gonna do next? So I started thinking about my next venture. And that’s when I started looking into competitors of what Detrick Paul does now. And I found out about nanotechnology.
Jonathan (4m 54s):
So fast forward to finding out about nanotechnology and taking that and coming up with the concept or the idea of Detra Pell and taking that concept or idea and bringing it to fruition where there’s an actual product. And now the only challenge is building a market and gaining distribution. So what, what is the trajectory? What is the pathway of that been, you know, is, is having the idea and the concept. It sounds like your first business that accelerated very quickly and sold. You didn’t have to go through a lot of the pains and challenges of an entrepreneur, building a market and getting distribution. I would imagine in your current company there, there’s been a little more of that.
Jonathan (5m 38s):
You just have to find customers in the first case. And now you’ve got to find customers and find a market for your, for your product.
David (5m 45s):
Well, it’s definitely more complicated now because we’re not just selling shoe spray or spray that’s for consumers. We do the majority of our businesses industrial. So we work with manufacturers, whether the upholstery or furniture manufacturers or carpet and rug manufacturers, whatever, it may be, even automotive manufacturers that spray our products. We have a variety of different chemicals. Now we don’t just have one protector for fabrics. We have stuff for food packaging. We have things for antiviral technology. I mean, we have a lot of different, very unique IP. So that’s why we call ourselves an advanced materials company. That’s specifically focused in protective coatings. And that’s what we do. We make all types of coatings that ultimately save you time and money, whether that’s the other business owner that’s involved or it’s a consumer, because we do have a consumer side of our business.
David (6m 35s):
But yeah, I mean, I definitely had challenges with my first, I call it real business, which was like your soul, but definitely not the same. And I think I was, I had a lot more, I guess I was a lot more naive at the time where I thought I could easily do anyone in everyone’s shoes. So I loaded on as much inventory as I could to do. And that’s how I ended up being relatively successful. But when, when with Detra and it’s been eight years now, since I’ve been, since I started the company and we’ve transitioned quite a lot into these other markets. And so that’s where the real challenge has come in, because as you mentioned, we do have to figure out how to find the right customers, how to find the right pitch.
David (7m 20s):
And more importantly, how to knock out any legacy players in the industry that frankly suck.
Jonathan (7m 26s):
And I would imagine a lot of the legacy players or a large conglomerates, probably chemical companies that everyone’s heard of, what names,
David (7m 34s):
DuPont, scotch guard, all those guys as. Yeah,
Jonathan (7m 37s):
Yeah, yeah. And so, you know, you’re up, it’s the a David versus Goliath story to some degree getting an opportunity to get a foot in the door, but it sounds like one of your proof of concept and proof points is, is in the efficacy of your product versus what those companies may be doing. They’ve got a lot of marketing dollars behind them, but whether their product actually does what it’s supposed to do or not. So very interesting. So you transitioned from dealing with teams to probably production managers or people making decisions, because if I understand correctly, most of your product is, is an OEM is built into the baked into the OEM product. And so with the exception of your consumer division, and so you’re selling to, to corporations that are utilizing your product within their product line, what w what have been some of the lessons, and you mentioned that your company obviously has accelerated growth.
Jonathan (8m 29s):
You’re, you’re on your way to raising some external capital. How, what is the growth trajectory been like? How do you manage the expectations of prospective investors or other investors in terms of where you are today, versus what your projections were, I’m imagining, you know, just pure speculation that pandemic may have been good for a company like yours. People spent more time at home, they bought more furniture and things of the, so that may have been a little bit of a boon, but yeah. Production challenges like anybody else, you know, getting your staff together, making your product during the pandemic was, it was challenging. So tell us a little bit about that journey and how you navigated your way.
David (9m 11s):
Yeah, I mean, on the onset, we, we, we thought that there might be some serious problems with the business because we didn’t know how we were gonna sustain ourselves, but fortunately, you know, being an in-house manufacturer of chemicals and all types of different products, we were able to pivot quite quickly, quite quickly and make hand sanitizer cleaner and disinfect then, and those did well. But also, as you mentioned, our regular business also picked up just because people were at home and wanting to protect their things on the consumer side for a short period of time, industrial businesses were shut down and no one really cared about, you know, our products. So that was a little bit difficult, but last year was the best year we’ve had so far and probably will be, I mean, hopefully not, but likely is looking like it’ll be better than it was then it’s going to be this year.
David (10m 3s):
And there are a variety of factors for that. But, you know, for us, the growth challenges are always there. Like, you know, there’s always going to be an issue when you’re doing everything in house. We don’t outsource a single thing of our operation. Like the only thing that we outsource is the printing of our labels and the courier boxes, which has done domestically in Massachusetts anyway. So we’re very keen on doing as much as possible as we can in our own facility, whether that’s R and D manufacturing, production, packaging, you name it shipping, we do it here. And, and there’s a couple of reasons for that. But the primary reason is because we can control it. So last year, for example, when demand went skyrocketing, we were able to control our own production channels and increase our productivity by going from one shift, you know, maybe five times a week or four times a week to running three shifts, seven days a week and so on and so forth.
David (10m 55s):
And so having that ability and having automated equipment and a really state-of-the-art facility at the stage that we’re in as a startup, even though it’s been a year years, I mean, I don’t really count the first four or five, but you know, now we’ve been, we’ve been really pushing the envelope here with, with getting the type of equipment that we need, getting the automation that we need and trying to manage our, our challenges forward, meaning that, you know, right now we have our constraints and we know what, what those are, but we also know how we can quickly pivot. And we have the pant, the plan if needed, if something did kind of switch overnight.
Jonathan (11m 36s):
Yeah. It’s something that age has taught you, is the wisdom of planning, stepping back and, and, and looking forward to try and mitigate risk as much as possible David’s DeMar. And it’s, it’s been a real pleasure getting to know you and learning a little bit about your company and you and your products. If people wanted to reach out and speak to you more, you know, various applications learn about your products, what’s the best way for them to reach out to you?
David (11m 58s):
Yeah, that’s the best place is going to be either LinkedIn or Instagram. I’m not on anything else much often, but I have the notifications for those two specifically and nothing else. So those are the best ways to get to me.
Jonathan (12m 11s):
Excellent. I guess there’s been David Zamarian CEO and founder of Detrapel. It’s been a pleasure having you on Radio Entrepreneurs, and I wish you the best of success in your, the rest of your journey. Thank you. And likewise, man, maybe I have to check back when you’re 25. I’m just kidding. Good, good stuff. It’s really been a pleasure and an inspirational that you’re for somebody that had the vision and the bug so early on, so continued success and we’ll be right back with another segment on Radio Entrepreneurs.
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