Building a Limited Edition Sneakers E-commerce Business – Kola Tytler of Dropout

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 47:45)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Kola Tytler of Dropout shares how his passion and expertise around sneakers helped him to build a limited edition sneakers e-commerce business in Italy.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

  • Trello

Book: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Kola Tytler of Dropout

00:00Introduction
00:55Startup Story
03:57Product Value Proposition
05:38Idea Validation
06:19Getting the first sale
07:19Initial Investment
08:08Manufacturing
09:04Getting a Shark Tank deal
14:23Working with Mark Cuban
15:57Protecting against copy cats
16:18Product Development
17:47Marketing & Urban Outfitters
20:35Selling on Amazon
22:53Warehousing and Shipping Strategy
23:35Selling internationally
24:57Team
26:36Lessons Learned
30:14Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Kola Tytler of Dropout

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: Shoe Dog by Phil Knight)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (AI)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: Trello)
  4. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Virgil Abloh)
  5. Best business advice you ever received (Response: You look after yourself)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Sasha and welcome to Dropbox. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, business executives and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome cola title to the show. Cola is the founder of a company called dropout, which sells limited edition sneakers and streetwear. And today, I’m going to ask well, a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey, and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business. So really excited to have you on the show today, cola. And thank you very much for joining me today.

Kola Tytler  

Hi, there, and thank you for the invite. Thank you for having me.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And just to mention, you know, the commitment to entrepreneur life you’re joining from France, and it’s midnight there right now,

Kola Tytler  

it is this time, yes, midnight. But you know, to me, the clock is quite subjective, isn’t it, so probably going to be up for a few more hours, sleep a few hours, come back into the grind tomorrow, no hard commitments in the morning, thankfully, but, you know, just just needs to get done whatever needs to get done.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, I want to know, before I go get into your business, which is also very interesting, I want to know a little bit about you, I know, you are a medical doctor. So can you share a little bit about how you decided to start this business while you know being a doctor and while having so many different commitments related to the job also.

Kola Tytler  

So Well, I grew up in near Rome, so in in Italy, always been to the very good in school, and you know, it, there was this conception or you’re good in school, okay, you know, you’re going to be a doctor or an engineer, lawyer. Like those kind, those were the three really roots. And to me, the doctor route was the most obvious one really. So since I was a teenager, pretty much started working hard and getting work experience and lining up things so that we’ll be able to apply for medical school. And I did that eventually ended up in going to medical school in the in the UK, through my teenage here. So I’ve just sort of separately cultivated a number of interests, including basketball, including sports in general, actually. And through basketball, in particular, I go in contact with a number of people within the room basketball community, which had the word quiet, or a time influenced by the American streetwear culture, which was nowhere as big or prevalent or spread in Rome as he was abroad. But I you know, they sort of transmitted me the interest, I would say, and when I moved to the UK, to study to medical school, I just, you know, kept that interest, learning more and more and more and more with studying. I know that the you know, the Maya was a really interesting space for the market space. Because despite Yeah, street rain itself, you know, as a fashion and fashionable clothes, and so on. So the sneaker element of it was quite, you know, becoming more and more expanded more and more common brands were putting our collaborations in major artists and athletes. So, you know, I sort of started following you with a lot of interest. And I went to New York and 15 just just for a short holiday break when my when my sister, and I remember walking past the big leader store. And I remember it was probably the most important flagship of the New York City at the time. And he had the whole shop window. That was pretty much the blacked out, there was only one shoe on display. And it was because Kanye West Yeezy 750 So the first collaboration with adidas was coming out and also impressed as to how a multibillion dollar sort of company is just like using the sole most important flagship probably one of the most important in the world to promote so one single shoe, one shoe release, which is also limited edition, so it’s probably going to be sold in like you know, Low to low volume. So from that I started researching more and more and upcoming meeting the guy online from France, we ended up sort of collaborating together we started a blog blog went really well it’s called Easy mafia, still very popular got millions of followers now and from that, you know, sort of, you know, kind of snowball effect, you know, medium one person and another person and so on, and so on till I got to the moment where Uh, you know, we were I was already profiting from the market, but I decided, you know, structure sort of structure my idea and create something that could be, you know, could that deeper implication just the whole, just the only, you know, sneaker selling. And so that’s pretty much how the story came along. So I set up a team in Milan, I was still studying medicine at the time. And the team in Milan, you know, of course, people are trusted and people of our capable, so pretty much took the most capable people I could find in the country. And, you know, Gordon, you know, we did this together, then the store, the store went pretty well, the opening weekend was pretty crazy, we had over 1000 people coming in. Before, we’ve always been very savvy with our marketing. And before we open the store, we really have no pictures of the store. So we cannot just say we opening the store is going to be very cool. Just rock up that day, that time. And like, people showed up, I’ll be doing a show with a drone. And like this, this complete roadblocks in the road. You know, people come to see a store that they never seen, like, there was no pictures. The people didn’t know how big he was going to be. We just said are we doing this and you know, you just you just come along, like, you know, you don’t want to miss that. And it worked. The first show the first day, we didn’t even sell shoes that we sort of, because we wanted to promote the brand. You know, so dropout as a as a brand as a branding exercise as well. So firstly, we only sold dropper the branded product, didn’t sell shoes, on purpose. We didn’t, we didn’t launch the website, we put a big coming soon on the website. And so the people if you actually knew what your pod was about to come to the store, you know, some people are coming from so far away. After a few months, we have an online store was pretty well profit profitable since the start, while since the first year anyway, then post pandemic, of course, because we’re now hitting really hard in Milan, where Japan is based, you know, we had to sort of rethink our strategy. And we’ve been sort of know where we’re going long term, you know, like, what was this heading? Or what can this do? So we saw that even during the pandemic, we were still profitable, despite the reduced volume. So we thought, okay, you know, this, this, this opportunity to grow this opportunity to do something even bigger. So we decided to pursue the route of the funding round. Even though you know, we none of us had experience in it. So, you know, we got down to the books, learn how to do things, learn to pitch decks, and, you know, read about financial statements and whatnot. And we managed to get it done, we did the first round via the crowdfunding, and then evaluation costs money 2.3 million euros. So, you know, officially making Japan a multi million euros business. And now, you know, now, of course, we are looking to expand on on, on this, you know, several domains. And this time, yeah, you know, I’ve kept my, my job as a doctor, I enjoy it. I mean, I’m able to do both things. At the same time, the team in Milan is very capable. I take I sort of, for the most part, the overview decisions, and I look at things such as the analytics and finances. But on the day to day operations, I’m not as involved on that side. So you know, the team does a great job on that now, as well, actually to improve the efficiency as to you know, how we run things. I’m doing an MBA. So I’m

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

doing an MBA, okay. Yeah.

Kola Tytler  

Why is probably a part time course, following, but, again, anyone that I’m finding very useful, and it’s for me, I’m able to learn as it applies to the way but you know, fit things into context, you know, within, within an actual organization and, you know, a company that makes, you know, real decision with real implications. So, it’s not just a theoretical exercise, you know, there’s this deeper implication than that. So you works. Okay for me, man. Yeah, that’s, that’s, you know, where I’m at.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I mean, there’s so many different directions I can go from, there was a really good overview of you know, where, how you started, and you know where you are. I guess what I will ask is, it seems like you have a team, and you have co founders. So basically, you have other co founders who are managing the business and you even though you’re doing some things in the business, you’re not really worried about the overall operations that the year.

Kola Tytler  

Yeah, that’s pretty Yeah, that’s correct. I mean, we actually on paper, literally where we are, we were seven co founders with different degrees of shares and responsibility. Prior to the funding round, we sort of bought out the shares of free of them, which were not actively involved. I mean, they did a factory making good investment because they got, you know, more than what they put in. And then now this this four co founders plausible because you know that the investment investors? But no, no, no, we all have an active role. So, you know, we can all sort of know really who’s doing what we’re doing is very important. And we try to, there’s a lot, there’s a lot of element of automation in Japan. So we’re very small team for we do actually, you know, for the traffic that we have, for the, you know, for the revenue bracket for the tax brackets, that we have very small business, and it’s a very small team. But, you know, we ensure that if something can be done by machine, or is sort of, we can reduce risk by using machine by using AI, we do that. So, for example, you know, we know that, you know, our pricing system is completely automated buying and selling everything price wise is automated. Discount, you know, we have we have software’s and algorithms for that. Shop display, we have algorithms for that, Ads campaigns, we have algorithms for that. So it’s very, you know, we, you know, we are a team, but we also know that, you know, the resources are effectively limited, and we know, we try and allocate as best we can. And then I mean, we do have, you know, we do have employees, and we do have people, you know, external collaborators as well. But really, you know, we try in particular, I try not do much micromanagement, especially not, you know, maybe before more, but now, I kind of, you know, I don’t know, they, you know, if there’s no element of trust, and there’s no element of you know, where you are, you know, you appreciate that you need to rely to an extent for the people that you don’t think you’re going for. So, you know, so that’s, that’s where we are from that perspective.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay. So the product itself, so do we, your product, our sneakers, right, and these are? Can you describe your product a little bit? And,

Kola Tytler  

yeah, so Well, I’d say, you know, sort of historically, if we possibly, you know, give me the word Japan is born in the legacy will probably always be, you know, the sneaker store. But it’s actually more than that, in the sense that, you know, we are especially now looking to expand more on there, Japan as a brand new itself. You know, this could be, you know, a lot of also deeper discussion on that side, but basically, we are, you know, we’ve sort of asked ourselves, what are the what are the needs of the streetwear consumers, you know, what are the needs of the, the sneaker head So, we look at the target those needs in a more, you know, from a wider angle, you know, with with a more comprehensive approach. So, it’s not just saying it’s going to be a little more than that, but for the most part, you know, the core business that starts your path is sneakers limited edition, which is pretty much sneakers that are kind of sold out at traditional retailers. So say your regular destroyer of common name footlocker there is slightly no we are unlikely to sell the same shoes, you know, the same product because we focus on product is limited is sold out and more very importantly is at an increased price. So, you know, say you know, we use our you buy a commodity from footlocker you know the Jordan one or whatever their max whatever something we buy and we sell what you know we see as assets actually. So, you know, which are appreciating assets for the most part you know, our original stock to give an example you know, it feels both the day of opening a pair of Air Max 97 wallets from from Japan. Now, you will have bought from a recognized store, you will spend about 600 euros for a pair of us nine, MX 97 Shan Shan was put in collaboration with Nike. And if you were to look for that same item now, the really cheap as you would find in the same size, brand new would be 1000 1200 euros, so, double the price. And if you are looking to buy from a you know, from a public institution or from like a street, you know, reseller you’re probably looking at even more than that. So, really plenty of examples like that. So, really, you know, just just to prove and you know, characterize how if you know, the products that we sell, and we you know, we seek we kind of handpick, you know, well now the machine you know, the system picks they tend to increase in value, which is kind of a you know, strong part of our focus because we also need you know, we need several analysis on to you know, Western investors fail when we’re retail stores fail. And you know, a big part of it, of course, you can have a profitable store, but you can you can still combust because you know, your inventory is too large, you can’t manage your inventory, you can shift your inventory and whatnot. You know, depreciation depreciation is too high. For us, you know, we can only kind of reduce the problem because our inventory does not really depreciate it and appreciate for the most part, it tends to be in high demand. And if it’s not in demand, we tend not to get it you know, so we focus on the items in objective demand. And, you know, that’s that’s sort of, you know, the product we that we sell for the most part alongside the shoes, you know, the streetwear so this come and brands, like some collaborations by a white Palace supreme mean, and then Japan, our line of products said, it has been quite popular in the past, we sold, you know, I bought in the 1000s of units of dropout branded products that really requested in Milan, you know, they’re cheap people can relate to them. And you know, I think awesome particular founding team will, you know, Will Young we approachable, we are easily found online. So I think, you know, gives people that sort of sense of trust to an extent. And also, you know, kind of promotes people want to relate with us, which then brings them to buy to buy our Jhapa branded products. And then finally, we have accessories such as you know, your usual sneaker cleaning products, you know, which we partner with crap product.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, to me, it seems like your business is really geared around, you have a certain or you and your your co founders have a certain expertise around, knowing which sneakers will have demand in the market. And you basically you’re able to find those sneakers, and then you sell them? I guess my question would be how, how do you know it? And where do you buy the sneaker from, you know, before the sell out? And are you keeping them in inventory for some time where you know, their demand increases? And then you’re selling it? Or how exactly does that work?

Kola Tytler  

So well, in terms of how we do it, we have developed several algorithms in house, which are rather, of course not give the specifics, but we have noted that there are certain trends that can be, you know, because really, the good thing about us, you know, as well, I guess me in particular to speak for myself, for the most part is actually we’ve, you know, we’ve we’ve been industry in the sneaker and streetwear world for quite some time. And we know that just use it for firsthand, you know, first I would know that something’s like tend to recur, right. As we, as we must things probably in business anyway. What we did was actually decide and set criterias to score different sneakers, and evaluate trends. And by evaluating trends, we, you know, we know that again, there are certain signs that we can do that are predicting of, you know, sneakers, appreciating high demand, and so on. So really, and then the game becomes then the game becomes a little bit different, because the game becomes okay, you know, what is generally, you know, because then, you know, of course, then you know, Milan demand is different from Paris demand. So different from Toronto demand from New York and so sorry, so then then the game becomes how do you ensure that your stock is not too much so that you’re not going to be left, you know, we leftover when the item is out of fashion? And how do you ensure that you have enough, you know, so that people are not going to turn to the competition. So that’s the tricky part. That’s the really, that’s the most tricky part of the of the business. But again, what we do, from our side, we have a pretty much automated system as well for inventory management, which is integrated with our, with our point of sale system. And what we do is we decide, first of all we have a spending budget, you know, we look at the ratios, you know, just common financial ratios that most company managers will be familiar with. And we, we determine sort of how much we want to spend, and then we are looking at the budget based on what the relative demand is products that we expect. Then what we do is we tend to buy generally we still buy within secondary market generally actually, which means that I did say okay, the item that you bought when dripper opener, 600 Now you can only buy for 1200 Plus, the item up from Nike would have cost 180 But we would have acquired it not 480 likely for 400 or 350 or whatever, but you know, we’re still operating within the secondary market. So it’s you know, a lot of people now I’ve heard about the reason space but actually, you know, the reality is that and you know, I’ve seen this I know this firsthand and pretty comfortable I’m gonna say it but the reality is most resellers sort of street resellers are selling to other resellers, actually. So the bulk of the resale market is individuals who are just selling to other individuals who still sell you know, so really before the item gets to the final consumer there’s slightly more than one step. And Japan is like another one of those entities one of those few entities that literally legitimize the process legitimize the product and gets it to the end of the funnel consumers. So you are unlikely to buy from Japan and when resell again, because of course we had the high end of the price, you know within the industry. But you are likely if you have a product brand new or whatever to try and sell to to Japan or China. Sell by other power. So that’s kind of what we are more from the perspective of more of a middleman. Then of course, you know, we there are there is the occasion where, you know, for whatever reason, the brand or the store or the or the merchant, you know, wants to get rid of stock, and then you know, when the first door, you know, because we’re like, okay, look, you guys are more specialized in knots to sell sneakers. And we are, you know, we want to clear inventory or whatever, you know, we need to cash flow, cash flow issues, or whatever we are there to for that. So that’s, that’s the site works. So,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

as an individual person, let’s say that, and I’m, um, I don’t really know much about sneakers, to be honest. So if I, you know, if I see that a limited edition sneaker is coming out, you know, today, for example, you know, and I go and purchase that, and I keep that limited edition, with me, let’s say for six months, can I go and sell that limited edition on eBay? And expect that that limited edition is going to sell at a higher price that the idea

Kola Tytler  

that is dies? Yeah, WordPress question. And the answer generally, as you as you’ve said, that answer is yes, potentially, of course, is not, you know, first of all, is not an exact science. So, you know, we all can be wrong, sometimes, you know, despite our best effort, our best algorithms, but generally speaking, that is correct, you could sell on eBay. Now, eBay, in fact, actually assess your credit President facilitate the sale of like, of sneakers, as you’ve said, so you know, it’s eBay as itself, you know, the, the managers that eBay have recognized again, you have the space within the market, so that they’re doing that as you as you said, Now, if you bought the item from the primary source, or from the retailer, from Nike, or from the brand itself, then if it is, if he’s a good pick, and you know, there is demand, then you you’re pretty guaranteed to make money because certain silhouettes nowadays, for example, they just standardly, sell, sell out, like, you know, Nike dunks Not, not the moment, you know, like a standard Nike down to low in a non extravagant colorway will sell out, and we’ll have some result. Like it’s just guaranteed at the moment in this coin in the current market space. So if you were to go to your local JD sports or finish line, chances are, you know, one big north north american retailer, you managed to get one of those is, you know, odds are in your favor that you will make some money. Now, one more thing, okay. So like, why would I need your power? You know, I can just sell to private person or I can just sell on eBay or whatever, right? Yeah, you can, but actually, entities like drop, you know, such as dropout or flood club in the US or, you know, stadium goods as well in the again in the US or Farfetch. So this type of marketplaces, they actually increase your, you know, your revenue generally, because they want to pay more. So you kinda want to get, you know, the best deal you can get if you’re a business person anyway, I suppose. And we are the entities that provide that for you, and make the process very easy, because the thing is, yeah, with eBay, you’re saying the private person, you still have a risk. Unfortunately, that’s the person I tried to pull some tricks. And they, you know, something may go wrong with the process both with us, you know, you’re starting to establish Corporation, we’re going to buy your item, or if we’re going to take in consignment, we’re going to have your item, if the item goes missing from a stockroom is not you know, it’s not your problem is my problem, you know, I mean, so we insured we pay for that, and so on. So that’s, that’s, you know, that’s how we operate within within that space.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Now, a big part of this business, I guess, is authentication, is to make sure that the product is an actual brand item of what it claims to be. How do you what is the process of that? How do you make sure is it a third party that authenticates or how do you make sure that the product that you’re receiving is actually the real deal

Kola Tytler  

guys? Great question. So we are indicating house mean for the various employees I think that any major player gets third parties reasonably and that you will effectively be you know, sort of handing over your brands right on your trust and your reliability to torn apart you don’t want to do because as you said, you know this business is based on authenticity. If we could sell him things we close tomorrow like he’s you know, no ifs No buts. Same for you know, fly clubs docx and all those guys, you know, like if you if you mess up your outline, you know, there’s no there’s no coming back from that. Now recognize the face again, interestingly, for me from my background, you know, especially interesting because industry actually, that’s something that I learned very soon, you know, like something that you learn very soon how to organize fake And the first way of authenticating the shoe is knowing your fakes. So you it’s a long process of research and showing that you know, what the latest because there’s, you know, this quote this, this, there’s layers and, and classes to the fakes as well, you know, there’s good fakes, there’s bad fakes this awful fakes, there’s, you know, very close fakes. So it starts by knowing your fakes. So being very up to date with the latest batches, you know, being very, very close with what’s going where, because batches, follow specific routes out of, you know, factories, and, you know, people in the know how they will know what I’m talking about, and they know, you sort of want to know when the batch is coming out where it is going, and then you know, how it is spreading, and in what quantity and so on. And it does come, you know, to a big part as well to experience, you know, because you do end up, you know, to develop the experience and an understanding as to how silhouettes are stitched together and how they’re glued up together. And you know, what the machine is meant to do. And you know, if the stitching because you know, this, there’s some things that can be down to faulty quality control, you know, like a stitching that maybe is not like, fully there. But if this, you know, like, you know, maybe a thread that is hanging out, they can be due to quality controls, but stitching that is, you know, in a different shape, or in a different order, that tells you there is a difference probably be nobody for machine, rather than one that you would expect. So, you know, it’s about knowing your silhouettes, you know, knowing your fakes, you know, knowing the small signs, knowing the details, where you know, you will expect the details of that particular should be there, making sure that you always compare with legitimate sources. So, we always are, you know, comparing the brand images compared with the brand products. And then in Japan, you know, like many other similar institutions, if you have doubt, unfortunately, that’s a no so, you know, for us, because we do, you know, qualified, in fact, get shoes from the public and individuals, there is a risk that someone may try and act, you know, clever, let’s say, what we do is, if you have any doubt, you know, the show just does not get Solyndra, that’s that’s the end of it, you know, so, we always had what we’re confident with, if there’s anything doubtful, won’t be solved by us, you know, we’re not, we’re not going to say, look, it’s fair, whatever, not we’re just not gonna enter the conversation, just not not with us, you know, we don’t we don’t enter the space. And then And then yeah, you know, thankfully, then you develop a, you know, you develop in a way where, like dropout in Italy, you know, we kind of become almost to an extent the statement store, technically, which means that, you know, like, people are a lot more forthcoming to us. So, you know, when there’s news of new batches of fake coming to Italy, you know, we’re the first ones to know, whether we reached out to with a told or, you know, if this new, you know, there’s a new release coming up, and, you know, there’s differences, you know, we’re, we’re well in the know, you know, we’re well deep, you know, within the culture to be informed and to be to be aware.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So, a little bit about the market. So, I mean, it seems like a very good business. If, I guess, you know, there’s a certain specialization to this. Are there a lot of competitors like are you competing in the market or just because of the nature of the limited nature of you know, of these products? You’re almost guaranteed that you know, you’re you’re you know, you’re always selling out and you’re able to make like a good margin and so forth.

Kola Tytler  

I mean, it is I mean, it is a competitive space the reason being that there’s this huge players especially well bear in mind there Japan itself is you know, starts as a as a retail store in Milan. So locally competition is non existent as people have tried but you need to know what you’re doing you really need to know what you’re doing I wouldn’t say it’s but you need to do what taxes are very high and so on and so forth. You need to have you know, quite a significant structure and a little bit of knowledge as to you know, financial knowledge as well to make sure that you know, you on top of your cash flow and so on. But within the wider industry so you know, line and so on there’s plenty of players, B players as well unicorns in fact at least two unicorns operate in the space stock X and got probably Steven goods by now as well probably valuation number would be I guess, as well anyway. And then you know, we do operate against them online. But really the game or the competition is not just about you know, sort of making sure your prize is better than the other but it’s making sure you’ve got the supply as well. Making sure that you’re going to get the items that people are looking for because at the end of the day, as we all know you know the person visiting my website, I don’t have the item Okay, fine. Come again next time. Come again next time. I don’t have the item. Okay, fine. I’ll come again next time. You can if you don’t have the items Eventually they stop coming back. And then you know, they just get, you know, close to the competition, and you know, that will be that. So you know, you need to still be on top, make sure you’re offering, you know, accurate selection of what the people want. But you know, because our margins are, you know, good margins, but they’re not as high as in a traditional retail shop, that you buy and sell, you know, three times where you both are not like that, for us is more like a 20 30% margin. So, you know, you need to make sure that, you know, every, every purchase that you make is meaningful. Because if you can imagine, you know, that an item that you imagine you own a margin of 20% If the item is going to sit in your stockroom. Now, you know, that’s that’s five margins, you know, that’s, that’s 20% times five, you know, for a different item, you know, what I mean? That, you know, that you can’t get, because you got money tied up? Right. So, you know, there’s a lot of lost profits, you know, if you if you don’t buy correctly, and that’s where a lot of people get burned. That’s why the market is difficult. So yeah, you know, this, this, this competition, but you know, this kind of really to know what you’re doing and to say,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

okay, in terms of marketing, like, Do you have a look at the marketing budget to this? Or is it really mostly word of mouth, and you already have an existing customer base that always buy from you?

Kola Tytler  

Initially, it was loved networking, and then we had, because we, we’ve been the industry being in the country been well popular before actually, AWS personally, we did have, we need to have quite a bit of press to start with, so we had, you know, a good kickstart. Then, we, you know, it’s been a lot of word of mouth and social media stuff. And, of course, you know, we’ve made heavy use of ads advertisement, now, we have a marketing plan and marketing strategy, wherever, you know, we hire marketing agency for social media, we make heavy use of newsletter, we don’t really do discounts. But, you know, we make heavy use of this newsletter we have, you know, we kind of get strong and strong on SEO, as well. So you know, but we do still have maintain a healthy marketing budgets, to be honest, I think that, you know, at the end of the day, Drupal has a story. And, you know, is about communicating the story, even more so, in the next few months, where, you know, will will enlarge the focus on on Japan as a brand. And, you know, you gotta, you know, you got to expand your focus, and so expand your, you know, your, your message, make sure that people know, what you’re on about, you know, what you are about, and, you know, what, why they should relate with you. And, you know, I think you do need to get that message out somewhat somehow, you know, this, this organic ways to do it, and it’s paid ways to do it. And, you know, we use of course, you know, mix of both.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I mean, you seem really passionate about the business. So why continue as a doctor, why not go 100% become a business person, I mean, you’re doing an MBA,

Kola Tytler  

I mean, I am 100% business person, I think, at the end of the day, you know, like, I don’t think that me not working on me, I think, for me not work in a hospital with gender related in the sense that, you know, our circumstances do allow us to be very efficient. There’s always the Jabra could do more, yeah, probably called for, at the end of the day, I think, you know, whatever one life like, you know, I think that I you know, you can like pizza and you can like burger you don’t have to take right. So it’s kind of similar to me, you know, nothing stopping me from doing both but I know that you know, if a when you know, we’ll get tired of one of mazing for example, you know, then I’ll just drop it and that will be that you know, I don’t really have a problem with that I live my life knowing that there’s a day you know, it’s not about the money or about whatever is about being happy. And you know, as of now this is what makes me happy so you know, I keep going bald, so I think you know, there’s a good element of satisfaction I get to know both from being from a doctor’s job and also from seeing my business work and in the direct impact on my decisions within the business. So I will say that you know, I think as of now I’m kind of getting different sort of degrees of satisfaction from both and I’m just you know, I continue this way

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

can you share a little bit about your fulfillment strategy, your warehousing Do you have your own warehouse? Are you shipping Are you do you work with a third party logistics? If your main market Europe, or, you know, are you also shipping in North America?

Kola Tytler  

So when we, when we launched the main mic was the lock of me because you know, we’ve we’ve launched puppets before the line when we launched the store, the target was pretty much Europe plus the UK. We did have a few orders for North America actually. Which, you know, we fulfilled and stuff but actually then we decided, I would say in the last, probably in the last year or so, to shift the focus while to narrow our focus for the moment you know, just to go hard there and deep with you In the Italian market, so we will be changing main language in the website to Italian, we kind of did it backwards. So I mean, it wasn’t it was always always been English and I, stallion. So now if you go to websites in Italian and you have to change the language in English before it was at the world we we maintain, I’m gonna say 98% Roughly just you know optimize of of orders in Italy In Italy, very small amount abroad I mean this to present boys isn’t as minuscule percentage and I mean we do ship freely for free in the EU, North America, we kind of stopped shipping because really like you know, you’re unlikely to relate with Japan as a brand from North America. And the chances are that you have other options there locally anyway. So really, I mean, we cannot make the customer favorite because unless you are the certain islands that is very rare that only we have them, there is some of them. But a lot of the items, yes, the limited edition, but you can probably get them in the US or in you know, in Canada somewhere. So, so from one of our, you know, local competitors there. So there’s kind of no much of a point for us to try and invade that space is more of a headache than anything else. Because say if you need to handle it on North America, with you know, we don’t need like a couple of times absolute headache. So it was just no work for you just know it was not worth it. Because then, you know, they need to explain to customers why the items coming back. And then you know, they try to charge VAT on the item that you’ve paid the VAT because you sold it. So it’s you know, it’s a bit it was a bit much so we decided not for now. But when we will, because you know, we operate from a single center Milan at the moment, but as the as the economy is expanding, its expanding rapidly, you may probably need to open new warehouses probably in the southern South of Italy, just for easier, easy operations. And if we are to expand back again, consider you know, the EU and probably farther pushing North America, then we probably need warehouses there rather than the handling of Milan.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Makes sense. Know in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always failures, there’s mistakes made, there’s you know, lessons learned, can you share maybe, you know, one or two instances in your own entrepreneurial journey where you thought, Okay, this was a big failure, or this was a misstatement? What did you learn? And what can other entrepreneurs learn from it?

Kola Tytler  

Well, it’s, it’s tricky, you know, because I mean, I am very, to an extent philosophical, and actually, you know, to say that something was a huge failure. For me, it’s something I will never see. Because, you know, worst case scenario, we’ll learn from it, like so, you know, we take whatever setback that we have. And we thankfully, even even Ironically, when the pandemic, we were able to mitigate by sort of, you know, we do very little crying in Japan, I will say, which there’s a setback, we’ll look how to handle it, you know, what the best solution is? How we can go around it, or whatever, you know, how are we going to deal with it? And do we have, we have to deal with it, you know, Fifth Avenue that we know, we just need to drop. So we make this evaluation very early in the process, you know, in the in the in, you know, in our, you know, our operations. I would say probably one thing that didn’t go as planned, I will say, Maybe Black Friday of the first year, we just opened. And we did this Black Friday promotion, where basically, we will sell heavily discounted items, say an item that will usually sell for 5k for like a Jordan of white Chicago, that was selling for, like, I’m gonna say 3000 euros, you know, we discounted them to like, well, we don’t use the word discount, but we sold them for $1.50 euros, which was very, very, very attractive price. And we did that with a bunch of other issues. And we communicate that we were gonna do this, we were gonna do it by posting links on the story and so on. But people made the heavy use of boats. The website crashed, you know, people, people got, you know, grew frustrated, and like, you know, they were like, no, but did you really sell me like because of course, you know, we didn’t have like an inventory of like 10,000 pairs to sell it was like 50 or 50 pairs in total 50 pairs in total in and say like that when you have 100,000 people in your website and FICO in one cycle. So people were frustrated by that, and, you know, kind of got mixed reviews, I will say, so, you know, that’s that’s probably 111 thing that we learned that maybe, I guess, you know, when when you I will say when you when you when you plan something and you’re expecting a good financial return, I mean, there’s other things that you need to consider in the trade off. So you know, perception, how the public will accept these, you know, what’s going to be how am I going to defend it if it goes wrong? And so yeah, I think that’s, that’s, that’s probably one, one thing that we learned in that occasion.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So before I move on to the rapid fire round, I guess one more question about the people who buy this product? Can you share a little bit about the mindset of the customer? You know, for someone to be able to, like really, so excited about buying the limited edition sneakers? Are these really like the enthusiast of you know, sneakers, they may have like 20 pair pairs of sneakers in their house, like, can you share a little bit about the mindset of the customer itself. I love your product.

Kola Tytler  

I mean, part of it will be the enthusiasts that is looking for this nega it’s not going to find anywhere else that comes to us, that’s one of them. The other one, which is more common, in fact, nowadays is the past, so just wants to the exclusive thing. You know, they want the, you know, the one the item that like they’re made, doesn’t have even football as or, you know, spa fleets of, you know, famous athletes or actors, you know, they just want the item, the next athletes after football doesn’t have same, you know, same as us is, you know, is our latent need of, of appearing and, you know, kind of showing off, you know, he’s just installed in all of us. And what Japan does effectively is, you know, selling the expression of that need for sneakers. So all we’re doing effectively is giving people a tool to express their need to be exclusive or to feel exclusive, or, you know, to, you know, sometimes, you know, just to you know, just to have something that you’ve seen on the on the on a celebrity, or, you know, so you know, we are the means to do that to that goal. And then I mean, there’s, there’s a number of people, but bear in mind items quite expensive, you know, generally speaking, this is just an you know, there’s a small amount of people that just like the colors, you know, they come in and they like the color, I mean, a sneaker shop or the sneakers, or just buy them, you know, there’s that as well. Of course, you know, when when you know, if you don’t have to look at your bank balance before paying, then yeah, you might fall into that category.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay, so now I’m going to move on to the rapid fire round. And the idea of this round is I’m going to ask you a few questions, and you have to answer them maybe one or two words or a sentence or two, one book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs or business professionals in 2022. And why

Kola Tytler  

are these very easy? Feel knights biography, it’s called Shoe Dog. Can I think why? Because Nike is like one of the most incredible companies of our job of all times, in fact, actually. And the book really highlights the mindset of Phil Knight. And I think I really recommend to anyone who wants to embark into an entrepreneurial journey.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

That’s really interesting. I mean, that book has been recommended by more entrepreneurs, than any any other books that have an innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.

Kola Tytler  

I think AI is big. And I think that solutions that allow merchants to profile their customers better, will be more and more significant in the in the coming future I’ve seen, I’ve seen products that redesign your homepage based on what the user you know, user data is tracking data is having that that’s where we should be heading, you know, if like someone like someone visiting dropout, should see items that are more suitable for them, rather than the items that I pick, because I’m picking what would be more suitable from my eyes, rather than from your eyes. And I think that we have enough technology to be able to facilitate, you seen already why you will prefer even on the homepage. So but I mean, generally not just better profiling. So I think that’s that’s that’s the that’s the big game. Just giving people what they want

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend for a productivity to

Kola Tytler  

this valuable said Trello Trello is one is a good one. If anyone doesn’t know what it is, is basically a productivity tool where you you can basically communicate with your team regarding tasks and objectives and it allows in a very easy to visualize way. sort of show you know, to your teammates was being done was you know, what needs to be done, what has been done, and you know, it’s pretty and who’s doing what. So that’s that’s pretty straightforward. I mean, that’s pretty useful for anyone that works at

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

a startup or business in E commerce retail or tech that you think is currently doing great

Kola Tytler  

Question anything? Well, say I got a stiff, difficult, I’m gonna lie, I can’t complain too much. But I guess Trello you know, if anyone doesn’t doesn’t use it, I think is a great idea. So I’m not sponsored by them, but having a great idea. So yeah, I think that that probably is on the rebound, expand even more.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah, I mean, I definitely use Trello with every great software appear entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to, or someone who inspired you.

Kola Tytler  

Late Virgil Abloh was quite inspiring, let’s say, transmitting him a few times. You know, his creativity and the father ally, always it was very versatile. Because, you know, one thing I’ve always been asked the lawyer, Oh, can you be doctor and intrapreneur and this law, but then again, you know, I’m actually I’m not the only one, like, you know, I mean, which is not it doesn’t mean anything itself. But this, you know, this people that, like, you know, they’re interested in pursuing different different interests. And it really allows you to give, you know, give the broader view of things I’ve been actually my medical background allows me to carry on decision making in a way that is different from someone who doesn’t have my background, and I think is very helpful. And at the same time, within my medical job, my entrepreneurial perspective gives me a different approach, where more refined approach more managerial approach as well, which which is useful for a lot of things.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Best business advice that you ever received, or you would give to other people

Kola Tytler  

I would say the best best advice is, you know, sort of, make sure that you know, you look after yourself, you know, can be a difficult journey mentally physically, you know, long hours, no sleep, failures, you know, uncertainty. So, make sure you know, you take breaks, look after yourself, make sure that you continue your heartbeats, stay sane out of it. And at the end of the day, you know, things may fail, you know, just always remember that things may fail. And you know, if that’s the case, you can, you can always start again.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

That’s awesome. Thank you so much. Those were all the questions that I had. Really appreciate your time today, cola for joining us at Dropbox and sharing your story sharing your startup story and strategies and tactics that you use to start to grow your business. So really appreciate your time today. Thank you. Thank you so much. Let me

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