$250K/Month – Reinventing Men’s Suits – Max Perez of XSuit
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 58:48)
Sponsors & Partners
Maximilian Perez, Founder of XSuit, shares how he is reinventing Men’s suit for the 21st century by using innovative fabrics and updated designs to make the Suit more fashionable and comfortable for the modern man. Max also shares his experiences living and doing business in China as well as lessons learned launching and growing XSuit.
Maximilian Perez, the founder of XSuit, discusses how he came up with the idea for his innovative suit. He saw a lack of change in the suiting industry compared to other fashion garments and personally experienced the discomfort of wearing suits in a corporate environment. Perez, with a background in fashion design, recognized an opportunity to create a suit that was both fashionable and comfortable. Through extensive research and fabric testing, he developed a stretchy suit that launched in 2016. He also emphasizes the importance of market research and customer feedback, as well as the advantages of offering custom-made suits and optimizing the supply chain. Perez talks about his entrepreneurial journey, including the importance of gaining experience before starting one’s own business. He also discusses the significance of language and cultural knowledge when doing business in China and the importance of advertising and content creation in marketing the brand. Perez reflects on his leadership style, the mistake he made in overlooking the financials, and the need to prioritize profitability and cash flow. He mentions Rise Foods as a successful startup in the industry and advises entrepreneurs to enjoy life while working and not take things too seriously.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Max Perez, the founder of XSuit, discusses how he came up with the idea for his innovative suit. He explains that he felt the suiting industry had not seen much change compared to other garments in the fashion industry, and he personally experienced the discomfort of wearing suits in a corporate environment. As someone with a background in fashion design, Max saw an opportunity to solve this problem by creating a suit that was not only fashionable but also comfortable. He conducted extensive research and tested numerous fabrics before finally launching the stretchy suit in 2016.
- 00:05:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their process of researching and developing the fabric for their suit. They were focused on finding a fabric that had the comfort of sportswear but still looked formal. They also looked into nanotechnology to make the suit waterproof, stain-proof, and wrinkle-resistant. The speaker emphasizes the importance of market research and explains that their target demographic was not younger people, as many would assume, but actually men between the ages of 35 and 55 who regularly wear suits. They conducted extensive market research, including demographic analysis and competition analysis, to ensure that their product stood out in terms of comfort and surpassed what other brands were offering. They also validated their product by sending out sample sets to people worldwide for feedback.
- 00:10:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of conducting focus groups and tests when introducing a new product, especially one that targets a new segment. They emphasize the need to gather feedback from unbiased individuals who can provide honest opinions. They also mention that their brand is targeting higher-end customers who can afford expensive suits and have bought name-brand suits in the past. Customers have commented that their suits are well-made and comfortable, making it difficult to go back to traditional suits. The speaker believes that the industry will shift towards using similar fabrics and that their brand is hoping to become known for creating this innovative product. They predict that more suit brands will switch to stretchy fabrics as it aligns with customer preferences for comfort and flexibility.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Maximilian Perez discusses the advantages of getting a custom-made suit from his brand. He explains that the fabric used in the suits is stretchy, allowing for a better fit and comfort. The brand has also optimized the fit based on customer feedback and expanded their sizing range. While it is not true bespoke tailoring, Perez claims that they are close to offering a made-to-measure experience with a wide variety of size options. He also mentions that they have developed an AI sizing module on their website, which helps customers determine their size accurately based on just a few questions. Overall, customer feedback has been positive, with many stating that the fit is amazing for an online and off-the-rack suit.
- 00:20:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of offering different sizes and fits for suits, as it is crucial for customers to have a well-fitting garment. They explain that they continuously work on optimizing and improving their sizing options. The speaker also explains their direct-to-consumer business model, where they control the price of their suits by manufacturing them in China. They mention that their suits have innovative construction methods and are taped together instead of stitched, which helps to control sizing. Furthermore, they discuss their manufacturing process, where they order raw materials in advance and update their supplier on a monthly basis, allowing for better inventory control. Overall, they emphasize their commitment to optimizing their supply chain and ensuring a high-quality product.
- 00:25:00 In this section, Maximilian Perez explains that their garments are made much slower compared to brands like Hugo Boss or Suit Supply, as their suits require more handwork and attention to detail. He also mentions that they have optimized their supply chain to ensure efficient shipping, with a focus on shipping to fewer countries to get better rates. He also explains the challenges of shipping directly from China, highlighting the importance of order value and delivery timeline. As for his entrepreneurial journey, Perez attributes his mindset to his family background, where entrepreneurship was highly valued and encouraged from a young age.
- 00:30:00 In this section, the speaker talks about his journey in starting his own business. He mentions that he initially worked for his brother’s successful fashion trading company and then moved on to work in marketing for a PR company. He highlights the importance of gaining experience by working for others before starting one’s own business. The speaker also talks about his passion for clothing and how it influenced his decision to study fashion. He emphasizes the significance of leadership and financials in running a business. When asked about working in China, the speaker admits that his experience may not be helpful to others as his father had been in China for 40 years and had established contacts and factories. Nonetheless, he discusses the future prospects of China and advises others to consider it as a potential market.
- 00:35:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of language and cultural knowledge when doing business in China. He explains that his ability to speak fluent Chinese was a key factor in his success in the country, as it allowed him to develop relationships and network effectively. He advises others to come to China in person and build relationships with suppliers, emphasizing the importance of having a good relationship with the people you work with. He also mentions that finding a trading company can be an alternative for those who don’t have the language skills or ability to be physically present in China. Additionally, he highlights the significance of understanding the manufacturing process and having a good supply chain for creating a successful product and business. The speaker further emphasizes the benefits of having a strong relationship with suppliers, as it can lead to better support, quality control, and additional benefits like warranties.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the importance of content and advertising in marketing their brand. They emphasize that advertising and content creation are key factors in driving brand growth, especially when selling online. The speaker mentions the significance of visual aesthetics, such as photography and video content, and highlights the importance of customer reviews. They consider other marketing strategies like PR, email marketing, and affiliate marketing as add-ons but believe that the heavy lifting comes from ad and video content production. Additionally, the speaker reveals their ambitious goal of becoming the “Apple of the fashion industry” and explains their plan to expand the brand horizontally and vertically, introducing new products with technological applications. When it comes to retail presence, the speaker prefers selling directly to customers but mentions the possibility of opening showrooms for people to experience the product firsthand before ordering online.
- 00:45:00 In this section, Maximilian Perez discusses his leadership style and how he motivates his team. He emphasizes that he doesn’t see himself as a boss but rather as a partner alongside his team. Trust is crucial to him, and he treats his leadership team like a close-knit family. He believes in bridging the gap between personal and work relationships and creating a more casual and fun work environment. Maximilian also values feedback and continuously seeks ways to improve as a leader. He shares that he spends a lot of time reading and learning from other CEOs, participating in Mastermind chats and surrounding himself with other entrepreneurs to optimize and better his own company.
- 00:50:00 In this section, Maximilian Perez reflects on the mistake he made in not having a strong grip on the financials and cash flow of his business during a period of explosive growth. He acknowledges that he was naive to assume that the growth would continue indefinitely and admits that he should have spent more time overseeing the financial department. Perez emphasizes that CEOs should be involved in monitoring cash flow and profitability, as they are more important than growth. Based on his personal failures, he recommends that entrepreneurs prioritize spending time on financials to improve profitability and cut costs. He also mentions the importance of cash flow, a common issue faced by many entrepreneurs.
- 00:55:00 In this section, the speaker mentions Rise Foods as a startup that is doing great things. Rise Foods is known for their mushroom coffee, which provides the same energy as regular coffee without the negative effects of caffeine. The speaker commends the founder for reinventing the way we look at coffee and growing the company to over $100 million in revenue. Additionally, the speaker mentions two mentors who have been a great source of knowledge and support. They advise entrepreneurs not to take things personally in business and to separate themselves from work to achieve a work-life balance. The speaker emphasizes the importance of enjoying life while working and not taking things too seriously.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building by Matt Mochary / Strategize by Roman Pichler
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Maximillien Perez of Xsuit
|[00:00:08] Introduction to Trek Talks with Sushant Misra|
|[00:00:24] Max Perez, Founder of XSuit, Introduction|
|[00:00:46] Thanking Max for Joining Tripp Talks|
|[00:00:51] Max Perez’s Response and Discussion|
|[00:01:00] The Innovation Behind XSuit|
|[00:02:00] The Suit Market and Comfort Revolution|
|[00:03:00] The Journey to Creating XSuit Begins|
|[00:04:00] Research and Development of XSuit|
|[00:05:00] The Role of Fabric Technologies|
|[00:06:00] Market Research and Target Audience|
|[00:07:00] Market Validation and Demographic Insights|
|[00:08:00] Final Thoughts on XSuit’s Market Fit|
|[00:12:50] Customer Feedback on Comfort|
|[00:13:00] The Direction of the Suit Industry|
|[00:13:37] Challenges for Established Suit Brands|
|[00:14:00] Fabric Trends in the Fashion Industry|
|[00:14:58] The Fit and Customization Process|
|[00:15:59] Sizing, AI Sizing Module, and Customer Satisfaction|
|[00:16:00] Business Model and Inventory Management|
|[00:24:43] Optimizing the Supply Chain|
|[00:25:04] Handmade vs. Machine-Made Garments|
|[00:25:45] Shipping Logistics and Geographic Focus|
|[00:28:46] Entrepreneurial Background and Learning on the Go|
|[00:29:12] The Importance of Gaining Experience|
|[00:29:37] Influences and Mentality of Running a Business|
|[00:32:00] Learning Leadership and Financials|
|[00:33:19] Working in China and Finding Manufacturers|
|[00:35:00] Importance of Visiting China and Understanding the Culture|
|[00:36:10] Importance of Building Relationships with Suppliers|
|[00:38:00] The Role of Content and Advertising in Marketing|
|[00:39:00] Long-Term Goals for the Business|
|[00:40:00] Expanding Product Line with Technological Features|
|[00:42:20] Consideration of Retail Presence|
|[00:44:00] Leadership Style and Team Dynamics|
|[00:45:25] Motivating and Building Trust Within the Team|
|[00:47:27] Importance of Gathering Feedback from the Team|
|[00:50:00] Top Mistake: Neglecting Financials and Cash Flow|
|[00:52:00] Recommended Book: “The Great CEO Within”|
|[00:53:00] Tools for Productivity: “Things” and “Notion”|
|[00:54:00] Startup Doing Great Things: Rise Foods (Mushroom Coffee)|
|[00:55:00] Inspirational Figures: Mentor and Brother|
|[00:56:00] Best Business Advice: Don’t Take Things Personally|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: The Great CEO Within: The Tactical Guide to Company Building by Matt Mochary / Strategize by Roman Pichler)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Artificial Intelligence)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Notion, Slacks)
- Another startup or business that is currently doing great things. (Response: RYZE Super Foods)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Eran Elfassy Founder and co-creative director at Mackage and His Brother Reuben)
- One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships
- Best business advice you ever received.
(Response: Don’t take things personally. It’s just business)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there, entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of those strategies and tactics that they have used to start to grow their businesses.
And today I’m really excited to welcome Leonid Khodor to the show. Leonid is an engineer and inventor of UpCart. UpCart is a three-wheeled foldable cart, which makes it possible for a cart to walk up the stair. UpCart came to market in 2015 at the National Hardware Show in Las Vegas to instant success.
The [00:01:00] UpCart has won multiple awards, including the most innovative concept award from the National Invent Association of America, as well as Retailers Choice Award, four times by North American Hardware and Association. And today I’m going ask Leonard a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey and some of the ways he has started and grow his business.
So Leonid thank you so much for joining me today at Trep Talks. Really, really appreciate your time. Thank you. So I know we were just chatting a little bit about your background and you said that you consider yourself, uh, an engineer first and foremost. Yes. So can you share a little bit about, you know, you know, even before you created this product called UpCart you know, you were already an engineer.
You, you had a. You know, full background. You, you had already patented quite a different products. Can you share a little bit about what you were doing [00:02:00] before creating, uh, creating UpCart and how did you get the idea for creating this, uh,
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: this product? Uh, before, and we came to us when I was, I believe, 42 years old.
And, uh, at that time I already had, uh, more than 20 inventions patented in ussr. And, uh, I worked with the worst, where the worst field of, uh, of machinery from, uh, good preparation machinery for, for, uh, for commercial enterprises to. Vening machines, uh, packaging machinery for, for, uh, food, uh, food basis, store stores of food, [00:03:00] uh, and some, uh, some packaging machinery for, for medicine and, and, uh, uh, uh, semiconductors and so on and so on.
So, uh, in, uh, in the US when we came, I initially, uh, found work in, uh, special, uh, machinery, which is, uh, basically production machinery for certain things. Uh, like, uh, uh, writing bulbs in, in g uh, and later I become patent legend. I help, uh, with, with, uh, this execution of patents to, to inventors. And, uh, beside that, I work on, uh, [00:04:00] something that, uh, I got patented.
Patented as well. Not, not everything, cause not everything makes economic sense to, to go to patent, especially with special machinery. But, uh, some things and, um, now it’s about 35 or more patents. I don’t know. Uh, uh, that’s kind background. My wife is electrical engineer, so we, we kind a team and she much better than me in.
And, uh, the, the up cart, uh, came, uh, kind of unexpectedly from, from, uh, from my granddaughter at that time, from five years old for, uh, for trust in me, for belief [00:05:00] in me that I can do anything. And, uh, some previous knowledge that, uh, what, what devices could be used to, to go over, uh, a rough ground, uh, including steps or carbs or whatever.
And, uh, uh, that that was done. My, my part is it, uh, in it was to, uh, to devise the way to make it disappear. Because if it’s not folded, it takes too much space for, for average citizen to, to have this device. It takes too much space in apartment or, or even small house. So, uh, and people, uh, mistakenly think that, uh, my invention in that is three wheel cab.
No way. It was, no, probably before I came to [00:06:00] this world. But, uh, nobody thought about how to, how to fold those wheels. They would flat. Hmm. And it’s not, it’s not actually, uh, that difficult, it’s an engineering, uh, problem, problem that, uh, when you think about it, it is kind of, uh, asking for to be solved a very simple way.
So, uh, that, that’s entire invention. Just to put axel of rotation of the. Uh, wheels arm, the way that arms would fold, uh, 90 degrees or about 90 degrees visually. Cause in reality, they, they move, uh, about hundred 20 degrees, but we see 90 degrees. Okay? So that, that’s, that’s an [00:07:00] all in range after that just work and, uh, um, and, uh, kind of with customers help to find better way to, to do this.
Okay? A second generation, or it’s a third generation of, of, uh, the device with different concept of, uh, folding, but, but, uh, different folding mechanism, but the same, uh, the same idea how to fold. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: When you started, or when you created this, uh, this product or the, you know, the folding invention of it, right, the folding innovation of it.
Did you think at that time that this, did you have a commercial aspect of it in mind? Like did you think that this, this would become a product that could be [00:08:00] sold, uh, in a mass market commercially? Or was it really just about that you were trying to solve a problem for yourself and you thought maybe this will help some other
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: people also?
No, I, I clearly understood commercial value or whatever of, of the product because, uh, basically everyone at some point, uh, in life would need it. Uh, people who, uh, uh, who, who. Uh, in, well, in some way physically or, or, uh, age wise or, or, uh, or health wise. And they need, uh, they need this to be, uh, independent, to be able to do things that, that they, uh, would not be able do.
Another way, it’s difficult for, for [00:09:00] people to, to move, uh, three or four boxes at once or, uh, on the stairs or even, uh, or if you don’t have the, uh, ramp to go, you need to go over the steps. And, and, uh, that’s a problem for, for, for people. They, they need to, uh, use more force than, than, uh, that, uh, weight, uh, of the, uh, load the daycare.
So I clearly, uh, knew that it would be, uh, thing that, that people need and that what kinda the basis for, for doing it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, are there products in the market available, similar products that have the three-wheeled [00:10:00] mechanism to solve the problem of, you know, bringing this cart up the stairs or, you know, something like that, but they don’t have the, the specific invention that your product has. And what is the, uh, you know, do you know from like a business sense, um, from a pricing perspective, is there, you know, how, how does this product compete with kind of like the generic model where there is no sort of a folding mechanism?
Do you have any insight on that?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: Uh, there are, there are aware and are the cars, um, that, that, uh, are not fold, but those are mostly in the, um, industrial shops and, uh, uh, they’re heavy. So they, uh, have different devices to let them [00:11:00] go, uh, over the stairs. And they’re, uh, not really, uh, for that because when, when you go up or down the stairs, you carry along with the load, the cart itself, which is, uh, totally different story from low on the even level floor was on the level floor.
You only with, uh, Resistance of the friction and, uh, inertia with, uh, going over the stairs. You deal with, uh, with weight of the load and iner, especially when you go down, inertia of going down. And in addition to friction, friction is very small, uh, part of it. So, uh, what you see around in folding cards [00:12:00] that was explosion o of the market in 2012, and after that, when, uh, a lot of people in China and later everywhere realize, uh, a potential of, uh, a tri wheel hub or of volume, it, uh, creates, uh, value for, for, uh, for everyday people.
They, they could, I could make disappear this. Uh, big device. Uh, so we, we got a lot of, uh, people who tried to, to copy one way or another. But, uh, I don’t say, I wouldn’t say that we have real competition cause nobody but us can, uh, fold it flat. Ok. Now
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you mentioned that, you know, of course, uh, one [00:13:00] part of your life or early part of your life you spent as an engineer in US S r Yes.
And then, and then you came to the us. Um, I’m very, very curious to know what was it like being an engineer in, uh, in U ssr and how was, how is it different now in the us Did you, like from an engineer’s perspective, did you. Um, did you feel anything different in terms of, you know, working in the US versus U ssr?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: I would not say that I know, um, kind of engineering community. I think that there are some brilliant engineers who can deal with, uh, uh, different, uh, spheres with, with of engineering and so on. In ussr, some of us [00:14:00] had much wider knowledge and much broader applications. And, uh, in, in design of the machinery, I was actually, uh, more free with, uh, solution and, uh, how to deal with, with it, uh, comparing to.
Uh, to us where, uh, people who don’t understand engineering, uh, give, give the, uh, kinda, uh, the, the, the problem. And engineers don’t, uh, don’t argue with them. They tried to, to do what they told, and that, uh, consumer everywhere always arrived. It’s not, it’s not proper, uh, kind of slogan. The proper would be you have to, uh, [00:15:00] uh, listen very carefully so the needs and, uh, uh, kind of wants of the customer, evaluate it, explain to the customer why, why it is wrong, and make the best that customers need.
So sorry. It was, uh, simpler. Cause uh, uh, we, God, that we need the machine. We, that machine needs to do that. And, and this, and please tell us, is it possible, and if it’s possible, how it would sound, what, what would be, uh, kind of, uh, cost, what would be the solution and, and, uh, uh, kinda production capacity and that’s all.
So, uh, nobody, uh, but, uh, designer engineer was the [00:16:00] problem to be solved. That, uh, that, uh, technical, uh, technical, uh, position, technical, uh, problem was presented to consumer. As the solution consumer could, could reject it and say, no, I need something else. It’s a, it’s a different story. But, but, uh, that was like, uh, okay, if you need something else, you, you need to find different, different engineer to do.
So in this, uh, in it was, uh, easier in SSR and, uh, and engineers, uh, had more freedom to operate in us. Uh, uh, much, much narrow [00:17:00] function of engineers. And it probably, uh, limits the engineering, not j just capacities, but their thinking. They don’t think outside of their, uh, uh, kind narrow profession. I, I, I, I got, uh, um,
mechanical engineering, uh, education, formal education. It doesn’t mean that I dunno, electricity or, or, uh, uh, has a dynamics or, or something else. Uh, my, uh, area of, uh, knowledge, which I can, uh, invest in, in, uh, prob problem to be solved much wider than formal education because education of engineer continues entire life.
Every, [00:18:00] every next job, education something. Yeah. So,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you know, going from being an engineer to bringing a product to market, of course, you know, you, you need. Um, you know, you need, you need the business side of things and there’s a, you know, there’s a very common saying here, um, in North America now, I think in the, in the product community, right?
Uh, the saying is, if you build it, they won’t come. Right? So it’s, it’s not just sufficient to have a really good product. Even if you have a really good product, you still need to find, you know, a way to distribute it in the market. You need, you need the right marketing, you need the right channels. Um, you need the right education to the consumer so that they can, you know, understand the product and, and then create demand for it, right?[00:19:00]
It doesn’t matter like how good the product, if the product could be like the, the most wonderful thing, but if the consumer doesn’t understand it, or, you know, they don’t, you don’t have the right distribution and marketing and channels, you know, they would never figure it out. So in your instance with up Cartt, you know, so you, you had this product, you created this innovation.
What were some of the next steps in terms of, for you, you know, you realized that there is going to be, there is a commercial, you know, viability of this item. What did you do next in order to bring this product to the
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: market? In this, we were very lucky because the product sells itself. Uh, it’s, uh, I, I believe in that, uh, at the very beginning.
And when I do something like that, I put myself in the shoes of the, uh, user. So I, I designed from, from the, from the [00:20:00] viewpoint of the user, uh, but decide that when we, uh, came to the, uh, first, uh, national Hardware show in 2015, We had just a few samples of the program and, uh, uh, we, we created, we, we stopped the show.
That PE people, uh, I, I heard that, uh, said to, to one another. Didn’t you see this stuff in that room? No, you should. Everyone there. So that’s, that’s nice to hear. But, uh, and in that, at the show in 2015, uh, the, the product was picked up by, uh, Q vvc. Okay. That, that’s what actually, uh, give us the, the push, [00:21:00] 15,000 cars ordered by QVC right away.
And Wow. Right away it meant that I, I need to, uh, to get the production right away. So I ended, uh, my wife and I ended, uh, kind of running around, uh, Las Vegas knowing that, uh, Las Vegas, uh, manager of their, uh, Chinese shop where, uh, a Carpo should be produced. And we, we were looking for them everywhere, finally found, and I said, you know what?
We need to ramp up, uh, this production. We, because we, we’ve got the order, we need 10 containers of the product contain in, in three months, less than three months actually. So that, that’s, uh, how it started. [00:22:00] And it continued practically the same way. So the product speaks for itself. Okay? The marketing needs that, uh, for, for.
To, to, to save people. Do you know that that thing is, is exist? Okay. Or, uh, say, you know what? Accuracy sold, uh, 15,000 cards in, in, uh, with the velocity. Uh, $1,500 a minute and more. Okay. Yeah. So that’s, that’s all the market unit needs. You don’t have to, uh, say, you know what your underwear, uh, you our, uh, competition sales, right?
Underwear, we can offer you different colors, different pictures. We don’t need that cause we don’t have real [00:23:00] competition, which is kinda fortunately for me. Yeah,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: yeah, for sure. Um, so, so that, did that kind solve. Solve the problem for you for not making your own huge investment. So if, when, when QVC gave you the order, did that pay upfront, so that kinda covered the cost of like, manufacturing.
Did that help you or that that’s not how it went?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: I put my, uh, own $50,000 at the beginning. Okay. To make those, those samples. And, uh, additional few thousand to get to the show. And that was it. I had no more money because of, uh, that order from qvc we were able to, to borrow money or for initial production and after that it kinda [00:24:00] all, okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, so QC did not pay you upfront, like you had to borrow money against the order?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: The receive has, uh, kind of terrible, uh, terrible conditions. They, they, they pay, uh, uh, if I remember correctly, they pay, uh, certain amount, uh, after three months, and they pay full amount in 80 days. So it’s, it’s kinda, you, you have to leave those three or six months somehow. Mm-hmm. But, uh, a start, and we, we sold tales as well.
Uh, ok, not, not that much. May maybe, uh, three containers in, in, because the, the, uh, the show was in [00:25:00] May, 2015 and, uh, the card went, uh, on sale of the end of the August. See, and, uh, we’ve had, we, we’ve had problem with, with, uh, uh, with supply. Cause we, we didn’t know, uh, what would be, uh, distribution of these.
And we went, uh, we ordered, uh, three containers and we had two containers before, uh, before the Christmas. And we said that we are okay, but we, we went completely empty, uh, before Christmas. So it was a problem. Lost sales.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Okay. Yeah. Yeah. That, that, that’s definitely, uh, a complicated problem, right? It’s like when you kind of underestimate [00:26:00] the sales and, you know, and there’s a bigger
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: demand.
You always have a problem when you start something the second time is, uh, is somewhat easier, uh, but first always, always difficult, always mistakes, nothing without mistakes.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So in terms of channels right now, of course, you know, when, if you launch 2015 now, I think it would be like eight here or something for this.
Um, how has your channels expanded? I know you have a website, uh, I believe you sell on Amazon, you sell on with retailers, hardware stores and so forth. Can you share a little bit about, you know, what the distribution is in terms of which channel does the best versus, you know,
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: we kinda, we, we grew very quickly.
We had, uh, about about 3 [00:27:00] million in 2016. Almost 5 million, uh, in, uh, 2017. And, uh, uh, seven and a half million 2018. Uh,
19, uh, kind of went, uh, lower because, uh, there was internal problem in the company. And after that, uh, was covid and everything went down. Hmm. Uh, Vietnam was closed. Uh, at that time. I moved from China to Vietnam in, at the end of 2016 for, for, uh, uh, at the times. The reason was that, uh, the hand track from China, uh, uh, have, uh, uh, uh, custom duty, [00:28:00] uh, anti dumping.
So the, the custom duty were, were, were, were terrible in some, in some cases, uh, uh, three times, uh, of the cost of their product. So I knew about this and I would, I research about this and, uh, because I, uh, we started with the cart and the next my product was, uh, he Hera the difference between cart and Hera.
That cart has platform, uh, over the ground and support, keep platform over the ground. Cause it’s used, used outside. So you have to keep load, uh, over, over the ground. The hand track is, has platform on the ground and you can push it under the product and it’s used mostly inside of the warehouses and, uh, wherever you [00:29:00] need.
Uh, and if you don’t afraid to, to, to get something dirty, you can use, uh, hand truck. Uh, so, uh, but hand trucks, uh, involved, uh, anti dumping duty and cart not So, when, when I, uh, designed a hand truck, I knew I need to, to move somewhere, and I moved to Vietnam. I could argue that my product do does not involve anti dampen duty, but it would cost me probably at least a year, a time of the time and about a hundred thousand dollars in 2016, let’s say it would be $200 now.
So, uh, we moved to Vietnam and, uh, Vietnam was closed from 2021 to May of this year. Which created huge [00:30:00] problem for us. Uh, it went down. We, we, we lost a manufacturer, initial manufacturer in Vietnam. On top of that, I, uh, I redesigned and started new line of the product. We had trouble, uh, looking for another manufacture and, uh, basically we, during the covid, we, we lost everything based.
Mm-hmm. Without the product, you cannot do anything. So now we kind of, uh, starting over and, and, uh,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: okay. Can you talk a little bit, I mean, I know you mentioned that you are a patent, um, patent engineer or patent patent. Okay. Yes. So you probably know [00:31:00] a lot about the process of patenting and so forth. I’m really curious to know your thoughts on when should an entrepreneur that is coming up with a new in kind of innovation or, you know, new idea should consider patenting versus not consider patenting?
Because some entrepreneurs maybe it’s quicker for them to go to market rather than, you know, get involved in the whole process of getting a patent and so forth. And of course, the protection that a patent offers sometimes, you know, copycat and so forth can, can work around it. Right. So the investment that goes into creating a patent, um, what are your thoughts on, you know, when should an entrepreneur consider a patent and happens?
Is there, what is the. What is the expiration date of a patent, like even your product? Is it that after [00:32:00] 20 years, the patent is gonna run out and then at that time, you know, anybody can utilize your innovation and, and so your product will be just one of many,
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: uh, theoretically, yes. Uh, practically it looks like that, uh, you think that you invent sumption.
It’s, it’s not a reason to, to, to go for a patent. Patent is very expensive and, and, uh, European patent was as expensive as, uh, American patent. Uh, so if you consider, uh, the product would have wide distribution around the world, uh, you, you have to have a lot of money. To, to deal with it. Uh, I’m lucky in this, uh, kinda situation [00:33:00] because I’m patent agent, so I, first of all, I can do it myself.
Second, I don’t, uh, spend any money in the United States. Uh, just the fee, uh, to, to fill the application and, and, uh, after that fee to, to, uh, to issue the patent, which is altogether about $3,000. And, uh, after that, uh, in 300 half, five and a half, and seven and a half, no, three and a half, seven and a half, and 11 and a half years, you have to pay, uh, uh, fee, uh, for continuing the patent.
So, uh, but if you pay lawyers to do it, We are talking about 10 to $50,000 patent in years. [00:34:00] Um, 35 to $50,000 patent in Europe. Considering, uh, all the countries you need to, to have grants after you get the patent. And you have to pay annual fees during the application prosecuting. So if you don’t expect to get that kind of money, uh, from distribution of your product, don’t go for present.
does it make sense to, to paint to only if your invention, uh, Basic enough and broad enough to cover the field. I would not go for something that, uh, have [00:35:00] multiple solutions because after I show that I can solve this problem, somebody else will find another solution. Cause penetrates, it’s in, uh, science and engineering everywhere.
Everybody know that this problem could not be solved. And after that you find one, one person show that it’s solvable and then turn, uh, it turns mind when people realize that it’s solvable, they found a bunch of ways to, to, to do it. Mm. It’s a normal thing. So if, uh, if you invent something that is broad enough to cover, All the possible, uh, ways to, to solve it that would be strong.
Uh, my initial patent went through, uh, sort [00:36:00] opposition in Europe recently, and, uh, uh, withstood that, uh, challenge and now it’s up as a strong patent. But the same practical pattern in China was, uh, trying a little bit because China’s different world and, and difficult to argue with, uh, uh, examiner who doesn’t know what’s supposed to know.
So it, it’s easier to argue with, uh, knowledgeable people because it’s the same land that she use. Doesn’t mean Chinese English, it means engineering language. And we, with people with limited knowledge, very difficult to argue, especially if they have, uh, certain powers. So that, that’s, that’s another problem.
But that’s, well, [00:37:00] that’s a life. So that’s why you have so many capital from China.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, yeah, for sure. Um, I’m sure you know, in China there’s, there’s more going on there, you know, um, you know, I’m sure there’s probably people are, you know, bought and sold, uh, under the table.
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: But even, even in China, they don’t risk to copy, uh, up cart.
Ok. What they do, they, they, uh, they create something looking like it. Okay. Not, not functioning like that. Just, and use it and use the brand and organ to describe it from up cart. So again, that’s life.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So up Cartt is [00:38:00] available in a lot of retail stores, I’m assuming. Can you share a little bit about how, what the supply chain and distribution process looks like for you?
So this item comes from, you said, from, uh, from Vietnam Now, and do you, do you warehouse it or do you, like, is it shipped directly to retailers? How does that process work?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: It’s, it’s all kinds of things. Okay. Uh, the, the company, company is not, is a brand. Okay. Which, uh, again, I, I get a trademark up card, uh, uh, for, for the product, a company right now, vector Up product.
So, so the company is designing the product, [00:39:00] company works with manufacturer in China or Vietnam to make it, to develop it and make it, because, uh, I, I don’t make samples like you, you, you, you see, uh, uh, uh, industrial samples or something like that. And it means you don’t, you think that that would be the product?
No. Most of the companies make those samples, looks like product, and after that they go to manufacture. And it’s completely changed. Cause real life is not, is not what could be printed on the printer. So I, I don’t make samples. I make, uh, uh, product using, uh, 3D software. So I, uh, models, uh, I communicate models to manufacture and work with manufacturer to develop the [00:40:00] product from, from samples to production, which, uh, kind of less costly and, uh, more, uh, more effective, uh, effective.
Uh, not everybody can do this. I can do it because of, have extensive experience in, uh, not just in designing, but in all kinds of manufacturing. So that, that, that’s, that’s a plus. After that, uh, we, we’ve got the product to, to our house for retail, uh, distribution through Amazon or through our website, through some other, uh, venues.
And at the same time we work with, uh, different retailers as a wholesaler. So, and those are [00:41:00] conditions, uh, very greatly in, uh, in Japan, uh, South Korea, Europe, uh, it was like, uh, we ordered the product and it goes into con uh, uh, uh, uh, our customer based for, uh, container to, to be delivered and, uh, based for, for the product.
So we, we just kind of intermediate. Uh, a link in this chain. Not, not intermediately, because it’s our product. We, we design it, we build it even with, uh, changes or Vietnamese hands. Uh, they could not make it well without us. Uh, but, but that, uh, those, uh, last steps from the manufacturer to the distribution.
[00:42:00] Um, our international partners get product, uh, with in containers, quantities. And, uh, again, there are certain conditions, uh, uh, how many could be defective, what would be arrangement if we have some defective product and so on in, uh, In, uh, United States, it’s a little bit different to, to, to some customers.
We need to, to deliver a contains or less than full container load, so close to our warehouse and, uh, we full form the load and, and send to customers. So that’s all, all kinds. You, you can, uh, list all kinds of, uh, uh, ways for, from product to get from manufacturer [00:43:00] to retail and, uh, I’m sure that we use all of them.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, so in every entrepreneur’s journey there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, you know, during the business building process, um, what have been some of your big lessons? You know, as, as an inventor, as a someone bringing their idea to, to the market. And what can other entrepreneurs learn from your, your mistakes or lessons?
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: know what they can learn. And the question is, uh, how big of the list of the, uh, kinda, uh, mistakes and problem they had starting with, uh, the, the production, let’s say initially I didn’t have the experience [00:44:00] to work with, uh, Chinese manufacturer, Vietnamese manufacturer. So when, when they said that, know we, we cannot do this, right?
I tried to accommodate the, their, uh, wants and, and change the product and so on and so on. And after, after this certain, uh, time and, and dealing with them, And it was painful. It was half a year to, to get the contract with them. And after the after contract was signed, they started to try to change the product again.
Mm. So, uh, we, we started to produce it and, and, uh, in a half a year I came back and said, okay guys, I’ve got enough of of that e e e even either you do what I say or I kind of take my toys and go somewhere. Yeah, that worked. [00:45:00] Uh, but those are technical things, not, not, uh, business as well, but, but, uh, it’s not, it’s not that, uh, every entrepreneur would, would deal with that or deal with that, uh, himself or up.
They, they would have, uh, experts in the field to, to deal with that.
All, all, all kinds of, the problem that, that, uh, uh, every business has, or, or, let me put this way, because we have, uh, full line from the concept to retail. We encounter all the pro, all the problems from, uh, concept to retail. Mm. And, uh, you can ask, uh, uh, salesman, [00:46:00] uh, who, who works from wholesale to retail or, uh, a retail businessman who, who get the product in, in warehouse and sees that it’s not what he wants.
And, and all, all these kinds of problems. To, to choose one of them makes No, no, no. Real sense. Another problem that manufacturer with the time lower the quality initially you, you demand certain things and the time they, uh, they think that they, uh, can make it simpler or better. Mm. Cause they don’t know all the function and all the conditions.
They make simpler. They make simpler for themselves. Mm. Difficult for, for everybody, uh, behind them. So that, that’s another problem to deal with. But [00:47:00] that’s not for, for retail businessmen. Not, not, not even for wholesale. It’s a problem for, uh, for getting the product
for. Also probably the easiest part of that, because you deal with, uh, uh, with experts on one side and another side, you don’t deal with, with all the steps that, that involved in, uh, in getting the load from, uh, min city to, to Cleveland. Mm. And when, when you deal with it yourself, you have, you have, uh, at least three companies that involve in transferring this load.
You don’t work with, with single broker or you think you, you deal with single, single broker, but on the [00:48:00] way in you, you encounter three people and, and they three organizations. And they say, oh, they don’t know about that. Oh, we, we, we will, uh, ask those guys who, uh, should transfer product to us, and we we’ll tell, they’ll tell you.
And it’s, uh, it’s frustrating because, uh, it goes, uh, like, uh, uh, best way scenario goes in two weeks from Washington City to California or, or, uh, Washington or, or Canada. And after that, on rail, it goes, uh, to Chicago, from Chicago to, to, and, uh, ev every Lincoln this way kind of, uh, goes with certain delays.
Those delays could be, you can get containers in a month or in 50 days. [00:49:00] That’s, that is also problem. So, no.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Do you, um, Do you, I mean, talking about Chinese manufacturer, is it, I mean, to me it sounds like, and I’ve heard so many stories, to me, it sounds like it’s almost unnecessary evil, you know, businesses go to China because, you know, they think they can save cost, but then they run into so many issues.
You know, there’s the language issue, there’s the culture issue, there’s the, you know, uh, regulation issue. There is the quality issue. And then it’s like you’re, you’re trying to, you know, you want, you give them a certain specification and they, you know, they try to cut corners or they, you know, it’s not the quality that you want.
Um, is it, like, is that the cost that you pay in order to really cut down the cost of your
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: product? [00:50:00] Unfortunately, it, it’s a necessary issue because, uh, If I, if I, uh, make this product in the United States, I would not be able to sell it. Mm-hmm. I sell it for, for the cost of production in the United States.
And that’s, that’s problem and challenge for me. I don’t know how to deal with it. It, it would be much higher quality, would be much better product, but it would cost four times as much as, uh, built it in, uh, Vietnam. Mm. I, I would correctly build it somewhere closer in Mexico or, or, uh, I tried, uh, some countries in Europe, it’s not, it’s not possible.
Chinese, uh, China has, uh, certain, [00:51:00] uh, historical and, uh, Contemporary inclination to build things. And, uh, now we are talking about, uh, 30 or 40 years of, uh, work in United States where with trainings, so certain knowledge, certain skills were developed and because of the China becomes expensive as well.
Mm-hmm. So the next steps, Vietnam and mm-hmm. Work with Vietnam. You need to educate them on, on certain things because they, they don’t know, basically. They don’t know why they do the things. They don’t have, uh, formal education to, to understand what they’re doing. Sometimes you look at like, uh, uh, I don’t know, monthly where, uh, new, newest electronic [00:52:00] stuff.
Mm. Not, not, uh, not disparaging Vietnamese worker. I’m trying to invade the distance. Mm.
So to work with them, you, you need to explain them, uh, why they are doing this, to be sure that they would not do it, but they would do it anyway. Hmm. Yeah. So that’s, that’s a challenge that, uh, everybody who will tell you the same thing. Yeah. Yeah. For sure.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, last question. Um, what is, what is next for you?
How involved are you personally in the business and running of the business? What do you focus on on this business? And are you still, are you working on [00:53:00] any new products? Are you still. Owning your engineering craft? Are you coming up with anything
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: new? I’m working on new products, uh, right now. Uh, right now we have this new line of products.
I’m certainly now involved much more with business and at the beginning, cause at the beginning I was new B completely and I, I, I look for, for people to, to learn from, which was, uh, kind of full of mistakes and expensive. Uh, but now I kind of understand enough to, to be involved strategically. I was involved from the beginning because again, as well as, uh, work with manufacturing to explain them what to do, I need to work with marketers and, uh, [00:54:00] Uh, uh, and sales staff and everybody else to explain them that we have unique product.
We don’t need to compete on price. We don’t need to offer, uh, bonuses or, or, or discounts or any emails because we are the entire market and people want cheap, staff free to go and try it, and they would come to us after them. It, it’s difficult, not, not everybody accepted and understand it, especially with salespeople.
They used to work with discounts and, and, uh, all this kind of, uh, uh, lubricating materials to, to get through. Yeah. So, uh, that’s another challenge. Now, now I’m more involved with, with, uh, marketing [00:55:00] and, and, uh, somewhat sales after quality. Cause we, we had to get, get, uh, people off. We couldn’t pay them. Uh, and, and we, let’s hope that I would, uh, let people have peace of my load, um, later.
Um, uh, that’s all. But, but, uh, I work on new product, uh, most of the time, I would say. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Final, final question. I mean, I know I, I’ve had final questions before, but this is the final question. Any last advice, any best advice that you received as an entrepreneur or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
What is your best advice?[00:56:00]
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: My best advice, if you don’t believe in the product, if you don’t do it, that, uh, product is needed, uh, don’t try to to sell it because, uh, you end up with, uh, selling a chip and would not get, uh, profit or, or satisfaction from it. So the, the, the best, the best salesman, best entrepreneurs, uh, that the person who believe in their product and the good product is a base of, of marketing.
If, if you don’t have, uh, somewhat outstanding or unique product, you have to compete on price. Go down, down, down. For example, when first, uh, folding [00:57:00] cards, uh, become available, and it was in, uh, end of the nineties, I believe, uh, that, uh, company in China or that I use, they, they, prior to that and after that they, they make this magna cart.
The cart where was spoken wheel, single meals. Uh, they, uh, started, uh, where let’s say normal pricing, but because it’s not unique now, the same way they started, they were new, but next year there was bunch of Chinese cards imitators, and they have nothing to. To contradict those imitators. They, they don’t have patents, they don’t have, uh, trade secrets, nothing.
So [00:58:00] they started to compete with their imitators by going down. Mm. You can down, you can go down in price to, to certain ways. They got to the point that then will, will sell, uh, the, the card for $20. Hmm. For, for one year. One year. And after that they stopped. They, they went little bit up because they, they lose money on that.
But again, you, you don’t see, uh, you don’t see those, uh, magna cars around because they, uh, sold their business. So the bigger, uh, car manufacturer, cause they, they could not compete on price. So that’s, that’s probably the, the, the lesson you, you cannot get into the business selling the same stuff that everybody else said.
You have to send Yes. Have something that only you can [00:59:00] offer.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. That’s, I think that’s the great advice. And I think the, recently I was talking to someone and, you know, they kind of shared the difference between an entrepreneur versus a business person. And I think that’s kind of the, the difference. An entrepreneur basically looks at a problem and, and comes up with a unique solution that’s not available in the market.
And, uh, whereas a business person is kind of creating some sort of a business, which is, you know, which is, which is more of a commodity, which is kinda competing with other businesses and so forth. And, and I think it’s to be said that, you know, When you’re creating a new idea or you know, something, there has to be some sort of a protection, which I think, you know, uh, Warren Buffet calls it a moat.
You know, there has to be some sort of a competitive advantage that others cannot quickly copy. There has to [01:00:00] be some protection, like a patent or something, which gives you a little bit of a protection because once you come up with an idea, it’s like, it’s very, I I think it’s prone to getting copied or, you know, people coming up with similar ideas and so forth.
Leonid Khodor of UpCart: So yeah, you, you, you see it everywhere that, uh, when they say something, uh, something unique, it doesn’t mean that you have to invent things like, okay, the Burger King is unique and they, uh, brand itself unique, but bunch of other burger uh, shops, imitated not completely but good enough to, to be competitors.
The same as, uh, as McDonald’s, the same with, uh, uh, every, every restaurant. They, they try to, you, you can go, uh, you can jump ahead for [01:01:00] half a year, for two months. And if you create a brand in that time that you can, uh, have, have somehow sell, like, uh, McDonald’s, their, uh, their slogan is unique. Uh, the same goes for, for everywhere.
You, you need to, to some kind of torn to, to, to sell your product That different from others. Some, some step that would, uh, kind of allure, uh, consumer to you.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. Yeah. A differentiating factor, for sure. Yeah. Well, well, Leonid, uh, those were all the questions I had. I know we went, uh, a little bit over, uh, today, but, uh, I want to thank you so much again for joining me, uh, on the PO podcast for [01:02:00] sharing your story.
Um, definitely a different perspective. You know, um, I think you’re the first, first entrepreneur who is a pure engineer inventor, uh, that I’ve, uh, had the opportunity to talk to. So definitely a different perspective and, and a pleasure to speak with you. Uh, thank you so much again for joining me today, and I wish you all the very best in your future invention journey and also business journey.
So thank you again for joining me today at Trep Talks.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trek Talks. This is a show where I interview successful e commerce 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 to grow their businesses.
And today I’m really excited to welcome Max Perez to the show. Max is the founder of XSuit. XSuit is the world’s most comfortable suit made with premium stretch fabric and many technical features that address all the problems with suits. And today I’m going to ask Max a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start to grow his business.
So Max, thank you so much for joining me today at Tripp Talks. I really, really appreciate you sharing your time
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: with me today. Likewise, Sushant. It’s a pleasure meeting you and I’m looking forward to chatting.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah. So very [00:01:00] interesting idea. Very interesting product. And it seems like you’re kind of, uh, uh, I don’t know, would you call it disrupting the food market?
Or is this kind of like, uh, Um, a new, um, a new trend, a new idea on it, very traditional product. How do you describe this product? And, and then I definitely want to know how you came up with the idea and how you got
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: started. Sure. Um, yeah, so the product itself, I guess, was, um, compilation of many things, including personal experience and, uh, you know, kind of what I was doing before, but yeah, to say disrupting, um, I would, I would say that is disrupting the suit market.
You know, I, I came from a corporate environment. I worked in an office for a very long time. Um, and you know, everybody’s wearing suits in an office. Uh, however, I feel that the suiting industry has probably has had the least amount of change comparative to other. [00:02:00] Uh, garments in the fashion industry. So I feel like, especially after COVID, but even before that, I feel a lot of people, a lot of offices were wearing more and more casual, however, not every single industry has the opportunity to go fully casual, however, COVID did help to kind of propel that a little bit more since people were working from home.
But, you know, like I said, the suiting industry didn’t have a big revolution. Like for example, you know, sportswear did brands like blue lemon and so on. Um, and you know, given that I had to wear suits. Um, all the time and I felt the pain points, I’m sure that many people do when wearing a suit and the main reason why people are wearing suits less and less, uh, which has to do with just, you know, comfort.
So, uh, you know, suits are just, you know, they’re known to be not be most comfortable. Uh, garment you could wear comparative, of course, to, you know, your sweat pants, your sweat, even jeans, you know, added spandex and so on pretty much all the other garments out there have gone towards being stretchier, being more comfortable and so on, [00:03:00] um, at the exception of suits.
So you do have a lot of brands that, um, say their suits are stretch, they put, you know, three, 4% spandex in them. However, that’s very, such a small amount and, uh, you don’t really feel it. And yeah, like I said, I was working in an office, in a corporate company, uh, in marketing. And we had to wear suits every day and I pretty much hated every moment of it.
I think the first thing I was doing when I was coming home was removing my suit and, you know, switching it out for something more comfortable. Um, my background is in fashion design. I always kind of knew I wanted to start a fashion brand. I just didn’t know what exactly. Um, and I always felt based on what, you know, I was doing in my past job that if you are to create a brand product, you know, the main, most important thing to do is to fix a problem.
You should solve a problem, find a problem and fix it, and you know, um, that should be the core mantra of your brand. So, like I said, a compilation of everything, you know, coming from a fashion background, [00:04:00] um, wearing suits, knowing suits are uncomfortable, that was how the idea came to me. Um, you know, I’ve done extensive research on suits in general, um, and bought 15, 20 samples of suits that call themselves stretch suits.
Uh, and I didn’t find any of them had that comfort level. And that’s how the idea came to me. I was just like, Hey, why don’t I create that super stretchy suit? Um, so that’s how we started. This was in 2016. So at that point, I quit my last job and focus solely on building this product. It took about a year.
Um, you know, I was Testing a whole bunch of fabrics because, you know, something that’s a bit different from suits with normal garments is they do have to have a certain appearance. You don’t want to create something using like a Nike. Nylon fabric that’s kind of like flimsy. You still, it still needs to look like a suit, right?
You’re taking it to the office. You have, there’s a certain perception of how a suit [00:05:00] should look in a work environment. Um, so, so yeah, so it was just, you know, testing a bunch of fabrics in which one fits the best still looking formal, however, giving you all that comfort that you get from your sportswear.
Um, and at that point, uh, I started to get into some more fabric technologies. I was doing a lot of research on what other kind of, uh, technological advancements I could add to this suit. Uh, and that’s when I started to get acquainted with nanotechnology, um, which started to become more and more popular, uh, and I was thinking to have that added, uh, into our product to make it, you know, odor proof, stain proof, wrinkle resistant, just to complete the idea of what I was trying to build here, which was, you know, a no maintenance, comfortable suit.
So comfort in both the physicalness of it and also comfort in terms of, uh, You know, the garment being comfortable to maintain, uh, and not having to take care [00:06:00] of the garment where, you know, the garment owns you, but on the opposite where, you know, the garment alleviates stress from you. Um, so
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: it seems like, you know, the main innovation or the main, um, the, the, the new thing here is really the, um, or the, the, the fabric, right?
Um, In terms of, you know, when you bring a new fabric to the market for this, this industry, did you, um, do some sort of a, um, market validation or was it enough that, um, the suit looked like a traditional suit or function like a traditional suit that you were, um, you were confident that when you bring this product to the market, uh, people are going to buy it, or did you have, did you do some sort of a market research to Understand that this suit will likely be more targeted towards the younger audience [00:07:00] and, uh, you know, who’s who’s going more for the comfort rather than, uh, the traditional fabric and so forth.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Yeah, so, uh, 100%. Yes, we did do extensive market research and actually it was split up into three parts. The first one When it came to market research was actually what you touched on is demographic. So who are we selling this suit to? Ironically, a lot of people believe like you just mentioned that this was made for younger people But upon doing market research at the beginning before launching this product um, you know We are in the business of making money like any other company is, and we wanted to make sure that the product had a perfect fit with the market.
And ironically, after doing, um, you know, extensive market research, it is, it was not the young people that we were going after because we were looking for people who were. Buying suits regularly, wearing them regularly as well. And that’s not a young demographic. People wearing and buying suits everyday are usually going to be a bit [00:08:00] older.
Um, you know, working in certain industries that have been around for a long time. You know, financial, um, engineering, architects, and so on and so forth. And also, mind you, based on the price point of our product, as we did spend… Quite a lot of money creating this product. We had to price it at a certain kind of mid range price point.
And given all of that, we actually came to the conclusion that it was not for the young, uh, younger demographic, younger demographic, normally. Uh, are looking for cheap things, easily accessible, um, and they don’t feel the pain points because they haven’t really worn suits for 10 years, 15 years, and so on, right?
So they’re, they’re fresh off, off, you know, out of school, uh, they’re just trying to get their hands on the cheapest suit possible to, you know, either get an interview and a job or so on and so forth. So actually our demographic is ironically a little bit more the mid age men. Um, I would say starting at 35 and going all the way to 55 and those are really the people [00:09:00] that Uh, you know feel the pain point of a suit much more as they’ve already worn a suit for 5 to 20 years potentially So that market research actually came back around to Uh, giving us, you know, the confidence with moving forward with creating a suit for an older demographic in terms of the actual product.
Like I mentioned to you, the first part there was doing a competition analysis, um, seeing who’s out there, who the big players are. Um, are there anybody out there doing the same kind of product or similarly? Buying all their samples, analyzing it and comparing, you know, what we want to do to what is already being done out there and making sure that we surpass, um, every single brand out there when it comes to the comfort of the product.
Um, the last point which you’ve touched on is also something that, uh, we spent quite a lot of time doing, which is validating the product by, um, You know, creating 20, 30, 40 sample sets and sending them out to various people all over the world, um, friends, families, uh, even getting contacts from friends and [00:10:00] families of not necessarily people that I know personally, but people that wear suits and buy suits, you know, by three, maybe two, three suits a year and that are wearing suits maybe four or five times a week.
So those were the people who were the most interested by and I truly believe that that is. Something very important, you know, conducting a focus group, conducting a test group. Um, especially when your product is, uh, hitting a new segment. So, you know, if your brand is all about taking a product out there and simply making it cheaper, the product already has market fit.
It’s already has market validation. You might not need to go through that, uh, or you might choose to forego it because essentially you’re just copying something that’s out there and just trying to make it cheaper. For the mass market. However, when you are marketing a new product, like you said, with an innovative fabric, the first of its kind and so on, um, you know, products of the kind I always do the, um, having extensive testing done with real life people and especially people that are, uh, unbiased, um, you know, not [00:11:00] your, your wife or your best friend or your partner, but going a little bit as far out as you can.
People that don’t have necessarily relationships with you, uh, that can give you kind of a, you know, a straight up, very honest opinion. Definitely. I mean,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I’m on your website and I’m looking at the suit and, uh, you know, even before I looked at it and it seemed like, you know, kind of a no brainer for me to.
To purchase it because it seemed like, you know, it’s kind of, you know, you don’t have to be so careful with like a, you know, similar to a traditional suit. You can wear it. You can, you know, uh, you can treat it as kind of a low maintenance kind of a thing, whereas still, uh, it seems like it will maintain its shape.
And, you know, it will. Look professional and, uh, presentable, um, what is, what is the catch here? So why, you know, why do you think that the traditional suit is kind of [00:12:00] obsolete now with this kind of, you know, with this kind of fabric coming into the market? Uh, is this superior to the traditional suit? Um, or is this, uh, you know, this is meant for certain circumstances where it’s, you know, a person would still own a traditional suit and they would use it more for like a very formal occasion while, you know, this one is more for like a daily, daily usage kind of a thing.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: So listen, we have around 50, 000 customers to date. Uh, I’ve interviewed about, you know, three, 400 of them personally. And, uh, I mean, interacting with them consistently, uh, through, you know, customer service and so on. Um, you know, our demographic are definitely a little bit more of a higher end one, um, you know, people who can afford buying expensive suits and have bought expensive suits and, you know.
A comment that I keep seeing coming back to us from customers who are buying namesake brands like Armani and D& G and so on. Um, you know, often say, I [00:13:00] cannot wear another suit after wearing yours. And it’s not because your suit is the most premium, the most luxurious and so on and so forth. It’s just because it’s well made and it’s the most comfortable I’ve ever worn.
And after getting used to wearing… Your suit, you know exude. Um, it just becomes extremely hard to going back to a classic suit So to answer your question, yes, I definitely think that this is where the industry will be heading Um, you know, it’s very hard for our competitions when you look at like the big companies out there like hugo boss or suit supply you know, which are You know, doing from Suitsupply, maybe a half a billion dollars in revenue to Hugo Boss and the billions of dollars.
It’s very hard for them to suddenly shift their entire product strategy overnight. As, you know, they have such a stable, uh, customer base. And, you know, they’re essentially running the Titanic. So to turn the Titanic takes a lot, a lot of effort. It’s not an overnight decision. Um, so I do believe that this is where the industry is going to head.
Towards I [00:14:00] believe that over the next 5 to 10 years, you’re going to see more and more of these products. We are on the precipice and at the at the head, we have the head start here. We’re hoping to gain enough market share that we become that mainstay brand that’s known for having created this product.
Um, but I do believe yes, over time. You’re going to see more and more brands switching over to similar fabrics and what we’re using in our suit as it just makes logical sense. I mean, if you have an option between buying, you know, think of it today, um, Levi’s and all these gene companies for the longest time, we’re using these rigid, you know, tough gene fabrics where today I don’t see anybody buying jeans that don’t have spandex stretch in it.
Right. So I think that over a certain amount of time, uh, it just makes sense that. You know, most brands out there are going to want to switch towards these kind of stretchy fabrics is that’s what the customer is going to want from these products as time goes by in terms
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: of fit. Um, you know, traditional suits have been.
Uh, always [00:15:00] associated, you know, the, the general, um, fashion advice, I guess, is, you know, you’re, get a custom made suit, right? You know, if you’re buying a, you know, already pre made suit, the fitting is not right and you have to get it custom made and things like that. And I, of course, uh, on your webpage, it seems like, you know, people can select the jacket size, they can select the pant waist and length, and it seems like a pretty straightforward process.
Is there a certain, um… Um, aspect of getting a custom made suit in this fabric also, or is it you’re really making the process simple for the consumer that, you know, the jacket side, the bad side, they’re selecting because this is kind of a stretchy material. This will kind of, um. Uh, spit to the contour of the body regardless of, you know, uh, different people’s, um, body shapes and
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: [00:16:00] so forth.
So a few points to touch on here. First of all, one that you just made is extremely relevant to the brand. The fact that the fabric is so stretchy, um, you can get away with a lot. Actually, you can get away with even wearing a slimmer suit, which most men would prefer to, but choose not to, because, you know, not everybody is built.
Super skinny and has like that model type body and also due to fabrics being that constraining in general That’s something that a lot of men will forego To be comfortable. So the fact that our suit is so stretchy It really helps to kind of not feel if ever you want to go a size down You want to look like the suit is more tailored.
We’re able to You know supersede that issue now when it comes to actually sizing the garment. We’ve continuously Optimize the fit based on our demographic feedback and so on. We get from customers, uh, we’ve expanded our sizing range, uh, over time where today we have around, I would say 24 sizes in the jacket and another 24 sizes in the pant, [00:17:00] we are doubling those sizes next year.
Uh, so that’ll become 48 sizes in the jacket, 48 sides of the pants and something that you need to understand about made to measure specifically when you’re looking at mid price. Made to measure suits. So not bespoke, but you know, brands you’re buying for three, four, five, 600 and made to measure suit. Um, it is not actually made to measure.
Um, the way that their model works is that they still have patterns like we do. So they’ll have 30, 40 patterns. And when you are customizing your size, they are essentially taking that pattern. And adjusting it directly on the pattern bespoke where, you know, suits start to get into 1, 000 plus range. And I would say even a thousand dollars hard to find probably 2, 000 plus is where that is really made to measure.
They are literally building the suit on your body. Now, I don’t know if you’ve had the experience of getting a bespoke suit made, but you’ll see the tailor is literally draping the fabric over your body. And that is true made to measure. Um, so. You know, the [00:18:00] fact that we’ve created that many patterns, that many size options, we are very close to a made to measure suit brand with the only advantage being that we can get the suit out to you within two days.
Whereas a made to measure, you need to deal with the headache of going on the website, answering a billion questions, potentially getting a suit that I would say would need a remake, having to wait two weeks for that suit, getting it in. Um, you know, and then noticing some minor issues, having to send it back, having it, you know, uh, further tailored and send back and forth.
So it’s just a much more cumbersome, um, you know, experience from start to finish. Um, additionally, we’ve created an AI sizing module on our website. Where instead of having to even measure yourself or try to figure out what your size is, you simply answer five questions You know something very basic like your height your weight based on your height and weight are Our ai module can kind of determine How your body Avatar would look like, [00:19:00] uh, either you are more top heavy, more bottom heavy.
You get shown, you know, three very basic images. Uh, you choose one of those, same thing goes for your bottom. You have a bigger, but smaller button and so on. And then based on those five questions, we can pretty much hit 90% accuracy on that. Currently our exchange rate. Is about 4% which is extremely low. So, um, you know, we’re pretty much able to nail sizes based on that AI module.
Um, and we think that we’ve kind of cracked the code at the suit sizing online. Um, you know, you can go through our thousands of reviews. Uh, actually I was, I just sent out a survey to our top 1000 customers the other day. And. You know, we’ve gotten 97% response rate saying that the fit is amazing and it actually surprised them that a suit ordered online and off the rack could fit that well.
So I think that we figured out the sizing based on our demographic. Uh, like I mentioned, we are expanding that [00:20:00] next year. We are doubling the amount of sizes and the reason being that we’re offering another type of fit as well in all the same sizes and sleeve lengths. Uh, and it’s something for me, um, that I give great importance to, as you’ve mentioned, I think that’s something that everybody buying a suit, Um, worries the most about right where a t shirt if it’s a couple centimeters off, it’s fine It’s a t shirt, but I think a suit is something a suit a shirt something tailored You want to make sure that it fits you, right?
Then it’s something that we are continuously spending time to optimize and improve upon and you know add sizes and so on awesome um
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: in terms of your business model, um I’m assuming this is purely direct to consumer e commerce business, and, um, can you share a little bit around, you know, um, do you have, do you, like, do you start out with creating, uh, an inventory of suits?
Uh, based on different sizes that you ship out. I’m assuming, you know, these suits are created in China. [00:21:00] Are these like, uh, machine made? Are these
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: man made? Um, and then
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: basically you stock them, uh, within different geographies and, and And, and put those orders and that’s how your
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: business works. Yeah, so it is direct to consumer and the reason being that we are trying to control the price that our customers are paying.
So the suit does cost a lot to make. Um, you know, you mentioned something earlier about the fabric being the only innovation we do on the suit. However, the construction of the suit is also, um, has been innovated as well. So we do not stitch the garment together. Taped together, um, which is a new fabrication process that’s only been around, um, for, you know, five to 10 years.
And we are the only, the first and only suit brand that tapes their suit together. And the reason being that it helps us to control, uh, sizing. So we have less discrepancy, uh, than you would on a regular. Uh, cut and sewed suit. [00:22:00] Um, you know, all our panels are laser cut, so they’re cut to the millimeter close as opposed to other suit brands, cutting them with a, um, you know, electric knife piling, 10, 30, 40, 50.
Uh, levels of fabric and cutting it. And then you’ll get that kind of discrepancy. So that’s where from one garment to another, you’ll have that discrepancy. We laser cut every single panel and glue it together. Um, when it comes to manufacturing, yes, of course, the garment is made in China. They actually have some of the best manufacturing in the world today.
Uh, you know, things like even your iPhone are made here and, uh, we don’t think that this garment could be made anywhere else, but here, um, when it started with production, you know, our first batch we did release on Kickstarter. We sold some 2, 500 suits. On Kickstarter and we had the advantage of being able to ask our customers before even shipping them a suit what their sizes were and based on that, that is how we, uh, ordered our initial sizing set based on information that ratio [00:23:00] and you know how we continuously optimize it is.
through feedback from our clients to this date. So, you know, we do have a very special manufacturing process similar to Apple. Um, it’s kind of called ready in time. So we order all our raw materials. Um, you know, they’re all at the factory, they’re ready, uh, six months ahead of time. So we, we, we hold about six months worth of raw materials in the supplier, uh, in our factory.
And we negotiate terms with our supplier. Where instead of following a traditional model of ordering, which is essentially following the seasonality of the product, um, you know, normally fashion brands will order twice a year. They hit that spring, summer, and that fall winter. Um, and that’s where they’ll order, you know, a large amount of pieces that will last them six months.
Now we run the model a little bit differently. We actually follow, uh, some other big brands like suit supply, which is first of all, we ship directly from China to our end user. So we do not need to boat the goods over, um, to America, wasting another 40 days on the boat. [00:24:00] Um, we just ship directly from our factory straight to our end user.
And what that allows us to do. Is that we can essentially, um, split our order process on a monthly basis. So as opposed to ordering twice a year, we order on a monthly basis. We link our inventory system with our factory and every month we update the supplier in terms of what he needs to produce for the next month.
So it’s hyper, um, optimizable. So if we see this month, for whatever reason, these sizes and these colors sold more, we know what we’re going to order next month. That way we can control inventory, um, very well. And we don’t need to overstock anything and then be left with, you know, an overstock at the end of the year.
So this is another area, um, you know, operationally where we, we continuously optimize the supply chain. Um, You know, to make sure again, because our product costs so much to make and, you know, due to like I described the fusing manufacturing [00:25:00] process, it renders our garment, you know, to be made much slower.
So essentially one of our suits, you could make three suits. If you go boss or suit supply, um, you know, to answer another question of yours, all garments are handmade or very little garments today that are machine made except maybe some 3d tubular sweaters, but in general, pretty much all garments have to be handmade, especially suits.
Um, there are a lot of difficult areas of a suit that can only be made by hand, you know, putting on the sleeve and things of the kind. So due to all these intricacies, um, you know, making sure the supply chain is well set up, uh, is very important and it is something else that we spend a lot of time optimizing.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: are you shipping all over the globe or is this mostly North America? I mean, one thing I believe you mentioned was you can ship. Or you can fulfill the order within two days. Um, if, if an item is shipping from China, [00:26:00] are
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: you,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, does that involve like a high shipping cost or how, how does that work?
Because I, I’m, I’m sure many other companies would want to fulfill directly from China, right? Wouldn’t that, uh, cost?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: So. So one thing that we’ve done over time is we’ve cut the amount of countries we ship to so at the beginning when we started The brand we’re shipping to 50 countries and what we realize is by shipping to more and more countries your rates are not great Right.
So the best, you know, like everything in the world. It’s all about bulk So the more you can do one thing the cheaper it becomes so over time we went from shipping to 50 countries So I believe today we ship to seven countries eight countries. We’ve cut that down We believe focus is very important here and you know I would say about 80% of our business is between the United States and Canada.
So we were able to negotiate quite some good rates with our shipping partners. Now, of course, that also has to do with the quantities we ship per month. Continuously growing the quantity gives us better rates year over year. Um, another, another thing to mention in regards to [00:27:00] other brands wanting to ship things directly from China.
So the only issue here, it really has to do with two things. First of all, um, the average order value, um, you know, so if you’re, if you’re selling something that costs 20 bucks, 30 bucks. It’ll be impossible to do this from here, except if you are willing to sacrifice number two, the time to deliver the item.
So there are companies like DHL e commerce, which can offer you incredibly low shipping rates. However, um, the caveat is the timeline, right? So they might need up to 14 days to deliver the goods. So this is how most of the items on Aliexpress are being shipped. Uh, especially when you’re talking about, uh, cheaper items.
However, if you want to be able to offer that kind of, um, premium service where somebody orders and they get their goods within two to four days, you know, maximum five days if there’s a delay, um, you’ll want to use DHL, UPS or FedEx and then it starts to become costly. They do have a minimum shipping charge.
I believe it’s around, you know, 25 bucks no matter what you’re [00:28:00] shipping, even if it’s a half a kilo and then it grows, you know, based on the kilos. Um, so yeah, so this is only advantageous in my opinion. Thank If you are selling more expensive products, so we’re looking at products that are costs that are being sold at, you know, 200 plus, then it would make sense if you’re selling cheap stuff, you know, either using DHL e commerce, uh, and having the customer wait two weeks or shipping it by boat and dispatching it locally in the U S is probably what makes the most sense.
I believe you said
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you had your background is fashion, right? Your education background is fashion. But of course, now you are in business, running your own business. You’re an entrepreneur. And I mean, to me, it seems like a very sharp entrepreneur. Um.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: What, how did you,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: would you consider yourself to be an entrepreneurial person?
Like, how did you, um, or was it that, you know, you had this idea and passion and then [00:29:00] you learned everything on the go and, and, you know, that, just the, the, the, the idea that you had to bring this product to market, you know, drove you to figure things out, uh, as you
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: went. Um, so it’s, it’s a combination of many things.
Um, you know, it starts off with the education I got at home. So my father was an entrepreneur and he, actually my, my whole father’s family are all entrepreneurs. They all, uh, ran businesses from clothing businesses to all kinds of different businesses. And it was kind of a mentality. Um, that was instilled upon us from a very young age.
So my father believed that, you know, you should run whatever it is you do in life. And it doesn’t matter what industry you should aim to always, you know, start something of your own and not be working for somebody else. So that was something that was just, you know, pushed by my father. That ideology from a very young age.
So he again, he highlighted, it doesn’t matter what you do, [00:30:00] you know, you can be a plumber, you can be an artist, you can be a, uh, whatever, a financial advisor. It really doesn’t matter. But at a certain point in your life, you should aim to have your own business, to do it on your own, to run it by your own.
So that’s where it started originally when I, um, first joined, I joined my, uh, actually, when I started working, the first job I had was working for my brother. So my brother had a, uh, quite a successful company, uh, working in fashion trading. So he was manufacturing for a lot of luxury fashion brands. And that’s where I got my first experience.
Um, and then the following job. Um, you know, which I was working in was marketing, um, in between, by the way, those two jobs, that’s when I was studying, uh, fashion design. I started at fashion school before joining the other company I worked for, which was a marketing slash PR company. I was very close with the owner of that company.
He built it to quite a large, I mean, when I started, it was just a startup. I think it was, they were a few years in business. [00:31:00] And in the end, we grew exponentially fast. We’re working with companies like Bacardi Group and Diageo and so on. A lot of alcohol brands. And we went from being like a 10 person team to a 250 person company within six years.
I was very close with the boss and I was. Not a partner in the company, but kind of viewed as a partner. So I had a lot of deciding power in the company as I was part of the reason why we grew that aggressively. Me and the other three, four people that started the company. So I was always around kind of an influence by, by, um, company owners and you know, in both businesses, as much as I was not the actual owner, uh, I kind of was given the responsibility of an owner, if you will.
You know, decision making and so on. And, um, you know, the last aspect here, given that I always had, you know, a huge interest in clothing, I loved clothing from a very young age, buying, wearing clothing, following trends and so on. That is the reason why I went to study fashion. Uh, I just always knew that that.
Was what I would end up doing, um, you know, to add in another caveat to what my [00:32:00] father said regarding, um, working for yourself, he did, however, also say that you should be working for others before you start something of your own to gain some kind of experience, right? So you should go and learn on someone else’s dollar.
Um, you know, obviously something that is related to in the end what you would like to do, not that that can’t change over time, but ideally something that is related to what you’d like to do later on, which is exactly what I did. So I worked with my brother. He works in fashion manufacturing. I got to learn a lot about the supply chain side of things.
And then I worked in that other marketing PR agency where I, um, was doing a lot of sales. A lot of marketing strategy and a lot of creative direction. That was my main role in the company. Um, and then upon starting my own business, I think the most important thing that I still to this day, by the way, spend the most time, uh, learning on is leadership and financials.
So I think that as a business owner, these are kind of the two, um, I wouldn’t say the most important, [00:33:00] uh, you know, everything is important in running a business, but I think two very important things for business owners are leadership, uh, as well as, um, financials, you know, cash flow, cash flow is super important in a business to sustain them.
So yeah, so it was a combination of many different things, um, that got me where I’m here today. Can you
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: talk a little bit about work, you know? Working in China, um, or, or working in the Chinese environment, having this manufacturing in China, working with Chinese, uh, team members. Um, how did you find the factory?
Was it, you know, did you already knew? Did you have contacts?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: And
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: what is it like working there? I mean, did you learn Chinese language or, you know, how easy or difficult is it to work there now? And would you have any advice for any, um, any new e commerce business who wants to work in China? What is the best way to find the right manufacturer for partners to work with and [00:34:00] to make to make it a successful
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: business?
So I’m a very bad example. Um, and I don’t think, um, you know, what I’m about to say will help many people, but, you know, my father’s been in China for 40 years, he’s been manufacturing in China for over 40 years and he’s opened some factories here. When I was getting into university and I wanted to study fashion, my father was not very happy with that.
You know, I was originally supposed to go into medicine. That’s what my, my parents kind of grew me towards. And, you know, when university came around, I. Told them honestly that that was not what I wanted to do. So they were slightly disappointed. And my father at that point was spending a lot of time in China.
He had his company here. And he pushed me to come here to, um, see China. You know, he said China’s the future. Um, and he wanted me to come and see it for myself. So he kind of, not forced me, but advised me to come here and learn the language. So before I actually started, [00:35:00] uh, My studies in fashion design. I came and did a bachelor and undergrad in Chinese language.
So I learned Chinese. I read, write and speak Chinese fluently. And why I’m saying my experience won’t, uh, help a lot of people is because a lot of what I do today, a lot of the factories I met, a lot of what I was able to achieve in China was mainly due to the fact that I speak the language. And I was, you know, inside the culture on a level that I think most foreigners wouldn’t be able to.
So I think that that is the main reason why I was able to come here, develop a network that I did and the relationships I did with my suppliers. Um, if I was to give advice to somebody who would like to come to China, the first thing that I would give, what I would tell them is for you to actually come here.
I would never do business with another country without actually coming in the country, meeting people, seeing the people culturally, how they are, uh, understanding how they think, right. Especially as, [00:36:00] you know, If you are building a product, um, you know, I think that that’s one of the most important thing in the business is making sure that your product is a top quality.
Um, and that, you know, you have the support of your supplier so that as you scale, the supplier can help you to scale and to do that properly. I think that it is best for you to be here in person, uh, to a certain extent. I don’t mean here moving here, but I mean, coming as often as you can, building that relationship with your supplier, you know, and in the end, you have to remember that.
Building a company is kind of building an external family, whether it’s your employees, whether it’s your suppliers, you want to have that kind of. Good relationship with everybody you’re working with so that it becomes more pleasant and people are willing to help you when you have You know issues down the line.
So yeah, number one would be definitely coming here I’m getting to know the people that you want to partner with for the long term There is a alternative to that and it is finding a trading company. So somebody like my brother who’s an intermediate [00:37:00] Who they can help you with that relationship building and essentially you’re working through them.
So they have the experience finding suppliers here. That is another option. Um, you know, it’s not easy manufacturing products. I think that if you’re creating something, you know, you’re not just buying some drop shipping items that have been made for the last 10 years. But if you’re really trying to create something from zero, I think it is quite hard.
And oftentimes, uh, one of the reasons that cashflow, why a lot of companies fail is that they don’t, you know, they think too much about the sample, the branding, the creatives, and not enough about the supply chain. So, um, you know, understanding the manufacturing process, um, and having your pulse on your suppliers, I think it’s something quite important if you want to create a successful product and a successful business in general.
And yeah, so just to go back on that, just making sure that you do have good [00:38:00] relationships with your partner, your suppliers, whoever they may be. I think that that’s one of the most important things out there. Now, again, like I said, I’m very biased. I speak the language. I’ve been here. I’m best friends with all my factories.
They helped me beyond belief. They helped me carry over. Payments, if ever I need to, they, they help me cut lines and get my product out quicker, even though they have other people’s products on their line. If I ever need that, they would help as well. They help me control the quality as much as I have my own internal quality control team, because I’m friends with them.
You know, they’ll pay extra attention to my products. They’ll give me terms that, you know, I think a lot of suppliers wouldn’t give their customers without these kinds of relationships. Like I have a, a warranty on my products with my factory. So, you know, if within a year, anything falls apart in the customer’s hand, they will take back and refund me that product.
So these kinds of things are very hard to do if you don’t have a basic relationship with your supplier. That’s,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that’s awesome. I mean, it was almost, it seems almost like, you [00:39:00] know, um, Your entire, you know, beginning of your life, you were preparing for, for, you know, uh, getting, getting the business started.
Can you talk a little bit about, um, marketing? Uh, so, you know, you got your first customers through crowd, crowd front funding. Um, What has worked since then in terms of educating the market, because, um, you know, this is a new, new concept. So, of course, I’m assuming there’s some sort of an education that that has to occur.
Uh, and in terms of, uh, you know, generating awareness and interest in this product. Um. Yeah. Can you, can you share what, what, what has worked since the beginning and what’s working now in terms of customer acquisition in terms of, um, uh, bringing in new
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: customers? Um, yeah, so I think the fact that we have a very different product, [00:40:00] um, not much competition, a value proposition that is easy to understand.
All these things just made it, you know, a product that sells itself. Which is essentially what you should be looking for when starting a brand. So in the end, I think the most important aspect when it comes to marketing for our brand specifically has to do with content and advertising. I think that still today, if you speak to many brands doing anywhere from 5 to, you know, 50 million or 100 million a year in revenue, they’ll all agree that, you know, advertising and content.
are going to be the heavy lifting for any brand. Now, of course, you know, you want to make sure your product has a market fit. Like we spoke earlier about, you want to make sure the quality of the product is top notch again, like we covered earlier. And the remainder should be really focused on given that you’re selling online.
The visual aesthetic of the brand, whether it be [00:41:00] photography on the website, whether it be, uh, the video content that you are running through your ads. Um, you know, this is where we probably spend the most amount of time is producing content. Uh, we have like a full content production team pumping out whatever it is, 30, 40, 50 pieces of content a month.
And then just making sure that you have a good ad buyer who can diffuse this content as efficiently as possible. And the rest, you know, it’s just, um, the little final connecting blocks, like things like having customer reviews. So when people come on your website, they can, you know, read what other people’s opinions are on the product.
Um, and everything else I think is just little add ons. Um, you know, whether it be pr, email marketing, affiliate marketing, all these kind of things are just nice little extra things to do. But I still believe the heavy lifting, especially as you’re scaling towards 20, $25 million in revenue, which I [00:42:00] think a lot of people are very far from, um, it’s really gonna be your ad content, your video content.
Uh, you’re advertising specifically on Facebook Meta.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What, what is your goal with this business? Um, or, or how big do you think that, you know, the potential of the business is?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Um, and are you, is your goal
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: for this business really to continue to add additional products, uh, with similar kind of fabric to continue, uh, growing it or you really want to focus it more on, on the
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: suit itself?
So my goal, um, I have a big vision. I always have a big dream. So I see myself as becoming the apple of the fashion industry down the line. Um, I have some super ambitious goal, but to be honest with you, they are kind of confidential. So I prefer not to release them on this kind of video. However. When it comes to garments, yes, I do plan to apply this kind of technology to everything that’s out [00:43:00] there.
We’ve already done briefcases. We launched a briefcase on Kickstarter about a month ago. Uh, we’ve had some good success on that. We do shirts, we do belts, we do ties. All these things have technological applications to them. The belt is a self clipping belt. Um, so you don’t have to worry about little holes and dinky things of the kind.
The tie is completely wrinkle water resistant, obviously, like the suit. Same thing with the shirt. I’m planning to expand towards shoes as well. Um, that bag collection will expand over time, uh, suitcases and things of the kind. So, yes, we are planning to. Grow the brand both horizontally and vertically the suit, you know, we will be launching different versions of the suit, a summer version, uh, more colors, obviously sizes that I mentioned earlier.
So yeah, we are planning to grow the brand. If you look at any company like, um, in the billions of dollars, like Hugo Boss, uh, at a certain point, I guess we will be having. Pretty much everything that they have. It just makes logical sense. However, I spent a little bit more time focusing on the technological, uh, you know, features that we add to those products.
So we are a little bit slower to develop and launch [00:44:00] products. But ultimately, yes, we would like to offer everything that there is to offer for menswear. Always following the same idea of making things easier to maintain better quality, um, at a better pricing. Um, and yeah, that’s that. That’s the long term vision for the company.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you ever think about, um, retail presence or distributing into retail stores, uh, big, big
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: box doors? So we’ve been approached by many stores out there, some big, big names and so on. Personally, I would like to stay away from those kinds of distributors. Um, I am able to better control. The pricing that we offer to our clients by selling it directly to them.
However, what I would like to get into potentially in the next couple of years is opening some showrooms for a brand, um, where people can come in and experience the product first handedly, and then continue to order online and get it delivered to them within, you know, a few days. I [00:45:00] mean, that definitely
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: sounds like the, the Apple model for sure.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Um, yes, 100%. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I know you mentioned that, you know, you, you want to focus a lot on leadership. Can you talk a little bit about your team? And, and, um, what, how do you, um, how do you see your leadership style? And how do you, uh. Motivate your team to do the
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: best. Um, well, the first thing is I never call myself a boss.
I don’t think I’m a boss in the company. Um, I think that, you know, the company relies on everybody to be what it is. Um, and we are all partners, you know, whether it’s, it’s not on paper as shareholders, we are technically all partners and, you know, if I win, everybody wins, I think that that’s very important.
Um, I think I’ve chosen the other leaders in the company very well and I trust them blindly. Um, I think that trust is something super important. I treat everybody to be honest with you. I’m a little bit different in terms of my leadership as [00:46:00] I’m very close with specifically my, my leadership team. So the other managers in the company, um, the way we speak to each other, um, we’re kind of like a little family, you know, whenever I have any kind of personal events, you know, whether it be my daughter’s birthday or whatnot, I will invite all these managers over.
They’ve come to my house, you know, A bunch of times we’re all very close, you know, I think something important is to to bridge the gap between personal and work because in the end, you know, you work with people and you spend as much time with them as you do with your family. So, I think it’s very important to have that kind of balance between a personal and work relationship with people that you’re, you’re seeing and that’s just me personally.
So, um, you know, I start my day. Going around the office and speaking to every manager and just speaking personal. We don’t speak business the first 5 10 minutes of the day. We’re always like, Hey, how was your evening yesterday? How was your weekend? How are the kids? How’s your husband on a first name basis?
Um, so I think that’s very important, um, to make the work environment more [00:47:00] casual, um, and make it more fun. I mean, in the end, why, why are we doing all of this? You know, of course, making money is one of the motivations, but I think that, you know, being happy with what you’re doing should be another right.
You shouldn’t be dreading going to work every day and I make sure, you know, to continuously, uh, like another example is at the end of every meeting, whatever the meeting may be, I like to rate the meeting. So, you know, how is today’s meeting on a scale from 1 to 10? And if it wasn’t a 10, Thank you. What we have done differently to make an attempt.
So you really try to get as much feedback as you can from everybody on the team. Um, my company is structured very simply. We essentially have four people and myself on the leadership team. Um, so I have my financial, my financial girl, who’s quite important. I have my marketing guy, who’s the head of marketing.
I have my supply chain girl, who’s managing everything from development, production, inventory. I have my operations girl. So she’s doing all the shipping, the customer service, everything of that kind. And then I [00:48:00] have, uh, is that everyone? One, two, three. Oh yes. That’s it. That’s the four. That’s the four people.
I spent a lot of a lot of time also reading and improving my skillset. So I’m continuously buying. Uh, into all kinds of mastermind chats, into all kinds of books, uh, courses and so on. I think that that is one of the main roles of a CEO and a leader is that, you know, you need to be the one like setting whatever amount of time you have a week, but you need to set it in your calendar, whether it’s 2, 3, 4 hours a week, learning and improving your skill sets as a leader.
Right now, by the way, just to give a little tips to the viewers over there, I am reading a book called The Great CEO Within. It’s by Matt will carry. I believe his name is. Um, so again, this was a book that I was recommended, um, by another CEO. Uh, and like I said, I, I take part in a lot of mastermind chats.
So like, um, e comm fuel, um, I forget Foxwell, um, [00:49:00] you know, geek hub, there’s a bunch of these kind of mastermind group chats that you can shoot the shit with other CEOs. And of course I make sure to surround myself with other Entrepreneurs to, you know, and very different industries, but just to kind of, um, go back and forth on, you know, how we manage things and always trying to pick people’s brain to.
Optimize and better whatever it is you do, because I think that that’s the most important, you know, as a company grows, you yourself as an individual should grow as well, as well as your team. Um, so, you know, it’s all like a symbiotic relationship between it all.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, definitely. Uh, a lot of, uh, entrepreneurs also have like, uh, specific mentors that they, they speak with, but I guess, uh, talking with other, uh, entrepreneurs is probably equally helpful and probably get new ideas from that also.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures. Can you share maybe, you know, some of the mistakes, you know, the [00:50:00] top mistake that comes to your mind that you may have made or failure or, you know, a setback that you encountered in building this business? What did you learn from it?
Uh, what can other entrepreneurs learn from your your mistakes? Yeah,
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: so you’re saying that and I guess the first thing that comes to mind When you ask that question would have to be financials and that’s why I highlighted that I think a couple times in this meeting Yeah, um, I didn’t have as much of a grip on our financials And specifically our cash flow At a certain point during the business because we had an explosive growth at the beginning that plateaued And then you know rose again, so it was kind of like a scale like this Right, uh, and because of that, you know, I was kind of naive and thought thinking that you know The growth would just be continual In an upward trend so [00:51:00] I didn’t spend as much time involved in the financials as I do today And you know, we did have some financial issues This was years ago, but during the COVID years, right before leading to the COVID years to 2019, 2020.
Um, because I was, I didn’t have my pulse as much on the financials. And this is why I keep highlighting, you know, I think that that’s one of the most important thing that a CEO should be involved in is the financial department. Um, specifically cash flow and profitability, which is more important than growth.
So if I had just one recommendation based on my personal failures, I would say, you know, spend as much time as you can, um, overseeing your financials, your bank account, your profitability, cutting costs, or, you know, improving profitability as a whole. I think that that would be, you know, the area. I would focus on the most based on my personal failures.
Yeah, [00:52:00] that’s
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you know, the the cash flow issue It’s it’s like so many entrepreneurs that i’ve spoken with it comes keeps on coming up again and again So it’s definitely one of the most important things. Uh now i’m going to move on to our rapid fire segment in this segment I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a word or a sentence or so Um, the first one I was going to ask you is one book recommendation.
I know you already mentioned one. Uh, the great ceo
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: The grace you’re within
Another one would be strategize, great book to coming up with a relevant product. Awesome. An innovative
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: product idea or trend in the current e commerce, retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Um, wow. There are, there are so many, to be honest with you, [00:53:00] um, to be honest, if I’m going to go with e commerce, uh, does it have to be e commerce specifically or can it be anything online?
It could be anything. Retail, tech. I’m, I’m into Apple. I’m, I’m a big fan of Apple and what they do. Uh, and I continue to be very excited with, with all the products they create and more importantly, the marketing behind those products. Okay, so you study the marketing, their marketing? I study everything of Apple.
I break them down and I try to apply as much as I can from them. Okay, nice.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Not, uh, are you, are you a fan of
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Elon Musk also or no? Uh, as an individual, yes. Uh, in terms of the product, I think he has some good ideas. I don’t think his product is the best out there. It is definitely not number one. I’m in China.
I see all the electric vehicles that are being made here Uh, and I do not believe that he makes the best electric vehicle But I think that he’s a visionary and that he adds a lot of [00:54:00] value to the world So I do appreciate him as a person Um, but I think there’s room for important. I think it’s overinflated by the way his stocks and and all that even though he is He has become you know model y I believe last year during one of the quarters was most sold car I just don’t think it is the best product out there
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Um, yes 100 in terms of tools.
I use things Things is my to do list. I plan all my to do lists on Friday to start my next week right and fresh. And then I use Notion as well, which is our note taking app, as well as kind of our wiki, company wiki, SOPs, whatever you want to call it. These are two very important tools. And then Slack.
Slack doesn’t really matter. I think you can use any kind of communication Slack’s the best. It’s just the one that we happen to use. But I think that Things and Notion are two great tools that we use every day. Okay. Um,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: another startup or business, it could be an e commerce, [00:55:00] retail, or tech, um, that you think is currently doing great things.
So besides Apple, any other startup or business that you think is doing great things?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: I think Rise is a friend of ours, uh, someone I know. Uh, so Rise Foods, so they’re doing mushroom coffee. Uh, I like what he’s doing. You know, I’m also trying to always stay away from as many, you know, things like caffeine and nicotine and so on.
And he’s basically, you know, reinventing the way we look at coffee. Um by drinking coffee made of mushrooms and giving you the same energy So I think that’s pretty interesting business model. I think he’s grown into over 100 million dollars in revenue So i’m I think that he’s doing a great job there.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Wow, really interesting. I’ll check that out Uh a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: So I have my mentor who you spoke of earlier. So iran. He’s uh, the ceo or sorry this the creative director the cdo of mackaj Uh, so he’s been a great source of knowledge and support [00:56:00] in the beginning.
And then I would say also my brother, Reuben, uh, who runs that trading company. So he’s also been a mentor of mine and a great supporter, of course, he’s a partner in my company. Um, so those are the two that come to mind.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Don’t take things personally. Don’t take things personally. It’s just business. Um, you know, I have one thing that I apply in my life, uh, which is when I come home, I try as much as I can to forget everything that’s happened during my day at work. Uh, and I try to separate myself from the business. And I’m very good at doing that, you know, I can really like, for me, it’s like a light switch, the on and off button from the CEO hat and the father hat, uh, I’m quite good, take a break, don’t overwork yourself, you know, I make a point of Saturday, one day is a completely turned off day, except some lights flacking, [00:57:00] if I have some staffs writing me a little message, and it’s just like a text message style of communication, that’s fine, but I really try to separate myself from work once a week.
Thank you. And realize that in the end, it’s just all a big game, right? Um, all of this is life is, and you gotta have fun and you can’t take things too seriously. I mean, of course, you know, you do have responsibilities, but you shouldn’t go overboard, uh, and have that kind of work, um, personal balance.
Definitely. I mean,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: life, life is very short and you definitely have to enjoy it while working and, you know, doing things and making a living. So definitely a great message.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: 75 years. Remember, remember 75 years, 75 winters, 75 springs, 75 summers, 75 autumns. When you look at it that way, you know, it’s not that long.
Yeah. I mean, uh,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: some people now are beginning to say, you know, with this whole AI revolution and, uh, the whole, uh, revolution in drug and, and [00:58:00] genetics and everything that, you know, human lifespan will very soon going to start increasing and people will live longer and so forth. So, yeah, let’s, let’s, let’s hope it happens.
Um, I mean, I wouldn’t want to live forever, but yeah, uh, if, if we can get more times and that’s definitely a good thing. Um, Well, that’s those, those were all the questions that I had. I really, really appreciate your time. Thank you for, uh, sharing your story, uh, sharing your inspirational story, sharing your business, um, advice, uh, your successes and failures.
Um, yeah, really, really appreciate your time. And thank you so much for joining me today at Trep Talks. I really appreciate it.
Maximillien Perez of Xsuit: Likewise, Sushant. It was a pleasure meeting you and we’ll definitely keep in touch. Definitely.
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