Kanga: An Exclusive Interview with Co-Founder & CEO Logan LaMance
BST: [00:00:00] From BlogSharkTank.com, this is another exclusive interview.
What's going on everyone and welcome to another exclusive interview at BlogSharkTank.com. My name is Brandon Silverstein. Today, I was fortunate enough to have on with me the co-founder and CEO of Kanga, Logan LaMance. While studying business at Clemson University, Logan noticed a problem that was pretty widespread across campus - people were drinking warm beer for no reason. After noticing that traditional options to keep your beer cold were expensive, inconvenient, and ineffective, Logan sought out to create a solution that would appeal to the masses. This led to the creation of Kangas Flagship product, the Kase Mate.
A first-of-its-kind. The Kase Mate is an iceless cooler designed to fit around the case of your favorite beverage. I got to sit down with Logan to talk about the early days of Kanga and how they went from idea to product to scoring a deal with Mark Cuban, which they were able to do on season 10 episode 18 of Shark Tank.
He's got a great story to share and I was so fortunate enough to speak with him. So, please enjoy this phone call that I got to have with Logan LaMance.
So, Logan, to get started, as I mentioned you came up with the idea for the Kase Mate while you were a student at Clemson University traveling to tailgates?
Logan: [00:01:34] Yes. Yeah, we actually noticed, you know, we're tailgating on game day and we all have $300 coolers that keep our beer cold for three weeks.
But in the moment, we weren't using them to keep them cold for three hours and he realized, we looked around too that, a lot of people were just carrying just open, naked cases of beer that may start out cold, but they're going to be hot in about an hour or two. That's really not going to last you at all into your tailgate.
And so we realized, "wait a minute, there's a problem here," because I know good and well that all my friends had those coolers and everybody else typically has a cooler option, but the problem was it's holding it, hauling it around dealing with the inconvenience of ice and the hassle. I mean, you have to really choose between cold or convenience and oftentimes, we chose convenience and we're drinking warm beer and so with the Kase Mate. and the product, we created we sought to kind of eliminate that decision so you can have cold and convenience,
BST: [00:02:26] Right, so you experienced the problem firsthand, when did you originally have the idea? When did it hit that you can create a solution that would become the Kase Mate?
Logan: [00:02:34] I kind of mentioned, you know we would use just the case itself instead of our coolers on game day. Well there I am sitting at a tailgate, drinking warm beer realizing there's a big problem here. We're not using our coolers and we're drinking warm beer. There's got to be something we can do to really bring that cold and convenience together. But what really hit me was when I saw somebody take a cold beer out of a cooler and ice and put it into a koozie and conceptually what I really saw was somebody take a cold beer out of what made it cold, the cooler and ice, and put it in the something to keep it cold the Koozie for the whole time that they're actually going to enjoy that beer.
That's from the concept kind of hit me and smacked me in the face, "why don't we have the exact same thing for the entire case of beer?" Right? You take it from the fridge or even at the store, it's already cold, you don't have to make it cold. Why not just put it into something to keep it cold for the whole time you're actually going to enjoy it?
And so that's kind of when the first idea and the concept hit me. Why don't we just have a koozie for a whole case?
BST:: [00:03:31] Right, so what do you do then after that to see if people would actually be interested in this product? You know, if they had the same problem that you are facing, and then also how did you go about making the first physical prototype?
Logan:: [00:03:43] So I was actually in a class project at the time, entrepreneurship class project, and I presented the idea to the class for the class project and everybody loved it and I got a couple people on board.
And so, the next step was to really develop a prototype and in typical entrepreneurial fashion, I just looked up, "okay, so I'm making a koozie for a case, and what are Koozie’s made of?" Googled koozie material, found Scuba foam, ordered a role of it, 40 feet long.
And then I figured "okay, well, I've got the material now, I've got to find somebody to make this into a koozie for a whole case. And so, I just cold called local cut and sew shops and ended up as a seamstress in Clemson. named, Mary from Mary's alterations, then took it by there and said, "hey Mary, can you stitch this up? They've got a sewing machine there and we've got some material."
She said, "on one condition, you got to buy me the case of beer and I get to keep it afterwards."
I said, "yes, ma'am. You've got a deal, you got a deal" and so while Mary was having some beers and getting that done, we got a prototype and then we had to figure out- okay, well Mary obviously can't produce this. We got some good feedback. We started social media. Really got a presence about us when we started with the Prototype people could see it and then we had to find another manufacturer, but that can be kind of a long tangent don't want to kind of take it off too far from there. But that's kind of where we started with the product.
BST: [00:05:08] So after getting some of the manufacturing down, having Mary on board, and then getting the Prototype, what did you do about seeing if people were interested? Like identifying a market and then seeing if the people around you were first at all interested in the product that you had?
Logan: [00:05:22] Without a doubt, so fortunately, as a college student, as someone that just turned 21 at the time, I was in my target market.
Everybody I looked at every single day was one of my target market. So, it was really cool to get that feedback from idea standpoint and just initially the confidence we got from in the class was all about it and went crazy over it and then we got the prototype in, we actually started getting a lot of attention around campus.
And so, there was a lot of confidence going into it just based on that peer-to-peer feedback that okay. This could really be, this could be something. Now, I was a little obsessed with it. And so people probably looked at it and said, oh there's a case, there's that Kase Koozie and then there's that Kase Koozie guy that never lets it leave his side.
BST: [00:06:04] Right, so after, you know, identifying the market, testing the product, getting some feedback, how did you first go about selling the Kase Mates? How did you get them into the hand of the people that were around you?
Logan: [00:06:14] For sure, so the first biggest step we made to really come from class project to company was to find real business partners because as you can imagine, your class project partners that you don't even choose, aren't necessarily going to be your best business partners had a bit of a rollercoaster ride there in that process, but the first step was really put together a good team that could really fill the weaknesses that I have.
You know, bring something to the table in the social media area, bring something to the table in the financial operations area, bring something to the table in content creation, and digital marketing, and really put a big team together as the next step and then we had to figure out, "okay, now, how do we get some feedback?"
We wanted to do a test market and sell it at Clemson, which is really beneficial to be at a college for this type of stuff because it's really easy to test with local networks and then get stuff rolling with that, but we did a test market, we found a manufacturer in Greenville, South Carolina, just about 45 minutes away.
They manufacture bandanas and kind of the same thing as Mary, we came up to them and said, "hey, we've got this idea, but we want to do a test market and we don't really have an option for making it," and so they kind of helped us get our first production runs under our belt - there was only a hundred Kase Mates. it was very minimal.
But, we learned how to develop the product. I learned a lot about manufacturing and the printing techniques and stitching and all that stuff. And so, we did actually pretty well, I mean we sold out of all of our products within a month from when they got in that August. And so, we thought,
"Okay, this is going to be really good." We got some feedback from some people, some of the biggest things were the foam wasn't thick enough because I had learned a hard lesson about the printing techniques, thinned it out a little bit too much, didn't work as well as we'd hoped and then they needed a handle too because they didn't have a handle on it because we were going for a true koozie for a case.
And then I we kind of learned from that feedback that okay people want to handle on there because they're tired of the cardboard handles breaking on them. So those are two really big points, kind of took and then learned from there. So, I really highly recommend doing some type of test market to get that feedback or else we would have had a product that didn't fit as well when we took it to market.
BST: [00:08:27] Right, so you talked about the manufacturing, a little bit about the product development, so how did you initially go about getting the product off the ground? Obviously, making any product, running any business takes a little bit of money. So, did you have any investment was it self-funded? How did you initially get the prototypes and get a lot of those and how did you fund the actual project to get it off the ground?
Logan: [00:08:48] For sure, that actually kind of pairs up with the timeline of the story so far, pretty well. We're college kids, we only put in, each of us, to this day, $833. So, we absolutely bootstrapped it from the beginning.
We still consider it bootstrapping right now with how we approach things, but we went to a pitch Smackdown competition at Clemson, which is essentially a mini version of Shark Tank, where they have the entrepreneurship departments sit as the Sharks and as the judges and the first-place prize gets $8,000 prize money.
We entered late we were a wreck, we didn't know if we would have a good pitch or anything like that, but fortunately we were able to do well enough to win first place the one that $8,000 and that helped cover the test market which, the test market we're actually making a profit from too, so once we had enough to really get a couple hundred done, we could turn those for some profit and we actually have more money than we started which is a really good way to start and we also used that prize money to help fund the patents and intellectual property.
And then from there we, in that crowd, we met our first, I guess quote-unquote investor, but was more like a mentor to us and we got a smallish loan to really start for early the next year to really ramp it up and launch a Kickstarter campaign.
BST: [00:10:11] So how long from after the creation, did you guys make the Kickstarter campaign? How long was that process in making it and then seeking out investment from there?
Logan: [00:10:19] It's pretty much a year. I mean everything for us kind of goes in one year cycles and it's kind of crazy. But yeah pretty much a year, we started in March of 2017 and we launched a Kickstarter campaign in March of 2018
BST: [00:10:33] And how did that go, you know, what was the goal of it? And what did you guys end off with in the campaign?
Logan: [00:10:38] It was a learning experience for sure, we made it out of the other side. I don't think we really knew exactly what we were doing with Kickstarter and how to play that channel. We know now a little bit more than we did but we made it out the other side, we had a $35,000 Campaign which is nothing to, you know, be upset about, but we really shooting for a lot higher than that.
So, we had to kind of get back to the drawing board to get on how we're actually to make money as a company and that kind of changed our perspective a little bit as far as, the big revenue sources and we started looking more into custom product. That's kind of driven the ship from there.
BST: [00:11:13] Right, so you got the Kickstarter campaign down, you guys were starting to make a profit. What lead you to seeking other investment and what lead you to choosing Shark Tank as an option.
Logan: [00:11:21] Yeah, yeah, honestly, it's something that we wanted to do since day one, but we just felt like the timing was off. Obviously, we didn't have a product, most of the entire story and we just, it was a dream.
Everybody knows growing up in America, you watch Shark Tank on Sunday night and you kind of see all these different projects and have an entrepreneurial Tendencies or wanting to be an entrepreneur. It makes you want to even watch it more and you kind of get a good little business lesson each time too, but it was always one of those kinds of milestones we wanted to hit and so we, actually,
if it weren't for meeting a woman named Kim Nelson, who's from season 2 with Daisy Cakes, she was a guest speaker at Clemson and I wasn't even that class but I got in touch with the professor and I found a way to step in for it and I got to meet her afterwards and I told her about Kanga, I told her about our idea.
Now, this is right as we're launching our Kickstarter campaign. So we didn't have product in hand. We didn't have much of anything. We were just kind of seeing where it could go and I talked with her about it and she told me, "you guys would be crazy not to audition. Like you're young, your college students, you've got a very relatable product, you got a fun brand. You would be perfect for Shark Tank. You should go apply - there's an audition in two weeks in Atlanta. You should go down to it." And that's kind of what made us jump on that because we felt like we were way way too soon, you know, not even having finished the Kickstarter campaign yet and then having to go down to Atlanta to audition for an open call.
BST:: [00:12:58] Yeah for sure, so it was kind of like an idea you guys had, kind of like a goal, "maybe one day, hopefully we'll be successful enough to go on there," and then having the reinforcement of the founder of Daisy Cakes, a Shark Tank Company, come and give you that extra push is what led you to going on the show?
Logan: [00:13:13] Absolutely, Kim Nelson gave us that gave us a push we needed because we were right on the edge too, we actually, I had walked around six months prior till auditioning with the filled-out Shark Tank application in my backpack. It was already filled out. It was ready. I was just, holding onto it, waiting for the right time and it was kind
BST: [00:13:32] What gave you that extra push
Logan: [00:13:34] Absolutely, it was cool to kind of see that come to fruition.
BST: [00:13:37] So what did you guys end up doing to prepare for that open call in Atlanta?
Logan: [00:13:43] We actually didn't prepare all that much and then we went out for a night of drinks on. You know the 2 nights before, and then the day before, we took it easy, recovered and realized that, "we probably should actually, you know rehearse this and be serious about it."
And so, we put something together real quick and it was just a nice, 60 seconds long pitch and we just wanted to be fun, light-hearted because they're not looking just for a great business idea. They're looking for someone good for TV as well. So, we wanted to really, really bring that young vibrant energy. And I think we did that and that was probably, kind of, why we made it to the next round.
BST: [00:14:23] Yea, so I noticed that during the casting process you guys made kind of a vlog of you guys going down to casting, the audition, and there's a part in there about you guys and I guess bothering, the head of casting.
Logan: [00:14:34] Oh, yeah.
BST: [00:14:35] Can you talk about that and I guess getting in touch with the head of casting what you did there?
Logan: [00:14:39] Absolutely. So, we always have a thing, we always do whatever we possibly can to stand out. Anything that's done a normal way, we're going to do it in a different way.
And so, we, through Kim, I actually got a connection with the head of casting and got her Instagram. So that we kind of were able to like follow with everything. But so, we had an idea, we had a decent social media presence at the time, we wanted to get her attention. How do you get her attention beforehand? Well, we decided to post on our platform, where everybody was rooting for us. All of our followers were excited or a lot of a lot of our friends.
We just said, "hey everybody go like and comment on her last post and let them know that Kanga is in town" and she probably got 250-300 comments. I mean her phone was probably absolutely blowing up, just in the span of a couple hours.
And so as soon as we got there, she knew exactly who we were as soon as she saw us she said, "YOU guys need to stop blowing up my phone," and it was hilarious because she gave a speech too and she was kind of telling everybody what not to do. And she called us out again in front of everybody that was auditioning saying, "and just because you blow me up on social does not increase your chances of airing, KANGA guys."
So, we were laughing about that, but it actually, I mean just think about all the eyeballs we got. I mean we were kind of one of the focal points of the audition just because of what we had done. It was a little bit different, yeah. She was, you know, I didn't know if she hated us or loved us, but it turns out she loves us, now we have a good relationship.
But, just something to stand out and be different and that really helped us out.
BST: [00:16:19] For sure, and you guys definitely did stand out there. What are some other strategies that you could potentially give in terms of advice for companies that are going to go on shark tank and audition, that they could use to set themselves apart from the hundreds of other companies that are also auditioning?
Logan: [00:16:35] Absolutely, I don't think any one thing you can do will really set yourself apart. Meaning, the whole blowing the casting director up on social media, I would not do that because it's already kind of been done and she'll get very annoyed. But I just really think it's focusing on being good for TV. You know, what would America want to watch? What do they want to see?
Bring energy, bring fun, bring something vibrant.
I saw a lot of great ideas there that made tons of business sense, but it's either, they're incredibly hard to understand for the average American viewer or it wasn't very fun. There was a very lack of personality.
I'd say focus, you know lock-in the business details because that'll come in handy when you're actually filming if you make that part of the process, but early on just be fun, be good for TV, because the producers are the ones that are, you know, interviewing for the earlier on, they want to see somebody fun and good for TV. So that's probably what I would really recommend you focus on.
BST: [00:17:33] So in going to the audition and maybe even going to the actual episode, did you guys have any resources? Like, did you go online at all to see, you know, any articles on how to handle the Sharks Q&A? Did you like have any online resources there? Advice from family members? What did you guys do to prepare for all of that?
Logan: [00:17:51] Absolutely. We are very very close to Clemson University, obviously they you know, we kind of grew up there as a company and so we have a good relationship with a lot of the board members and a lot of the professors. And so, what we did is, we actually put together a mock Shark Tank day, like it was on a Saturday, I think it was probably three weeks before we flew out to film.
We had five of the most intimidating and scary people we could find a Clemson and the most business savvy and all these guys were very very well-off and were either building currently ran or built and sold their own businesses. And so, they were very, very good people to use and so we actually went up there and instead of a quick 20 minutes, 30 minutes, we were up there for about an hour and a half to an hour 45, just getting absolutely grilled.
It wasn't pretty because they pretty much, so they pretty much knew all of our weaknesses. They knew everything about us and they knew they had to play every possible scenario and we had to play every possible scenario and a lot of those scenarios didnt end too well for us. So it was kind of like we threw ourselves into the real sharks.
Is that that feeling kind of beforehand so that and we try to make it worse beforehand so that when that actual day came it wouldn't feel as bad or as stressful or as nerve-wracking as the first time.
BST:: [00:19:09] Right, because then you kind of already went through the hard part of it in terms of preparation for that so that when you guys are actually in front of the Sharks you already kind of knew what to say and what to expect.
Logan:: [00:19:19] It was kind of like muscle memory like we've been there, we had done that, we knew what to say, what not to say, how to act, how to, you know, bring the energy - that type of thing. And what to really because one of the big things too is you don't want to let the conversation go away from where you want it to go and we kind of learned that by having the example with the earlier guys of it's letting it go away and letting it kind of get ugly pretty fast. And so it was it was very good preparation.
We also did a lot more, we watched every single episode between all of us as a team. Everybody had like a weekly assignment to watch five episodes of shark tank that started in months before we went out there. So we were taking notes, we were watching. I, actually, got a little burned out on it to be honest with you, but we weren't watching for pleasure, we were watching, taking notes to learn to see the tendencies of each shark because that's important know what matters to Mr. Wonderful may not matter to Mark Cuban and vice versa. And so we really wanted to learn, In depth, what all the questions they were asking, what were a lot of the builder questions what you know, what did people do when the when it went wrong. Why did it go wrong?
And so we were very prepared on that front and then also going through the muscle memory of the exercise and rehearsing and I think that really helped us have the confidence not only to go up there, but also just to be out there and stand up and you know, do what we did
BST:: [00:20:40] Yeah, so when you guys were going through that casting process and you finally heard back that you had gotten accepted to appear in front of the sharks, do you remember at all what you felt about getting that notice from the producers?
Logan:: [00:20:52] No way. That was our entire, as a team, we were just gonna say, "no way...No way!" and so we actually made a, I'm not sure you saw it, we made a video kind of recapping our trip out there and that entire experience and background we titled it 'No Way,' because that's exactly how we felt. It was the entire thing like no way this is really happening and we were we were just so shocked and excited.
BST:: [00:21:16] So going into the tank, having watched it kind of religiously over time and then preparing for going in front of the Sharks, was there anything that you learned from watching it over time that you kept in mind while being in front of there and pitching your actual business?
Logan:: [00:21:29] We, kind of like I mentioned before, you learn a little bit about business through Shark Tank. One of the biggest things that we learned from there is, you want to be a company, not a product and with our product we could have easily been like kind of dipped into that space where we're, you know, just a product, we're not a company, we're not a business.
So one of our biggest goals was to be able to build a brand, to be able to build a sustainable business and this is just our first idea and I think that's kind of one of the biggest distinctions we made that kind of set up our business model. Where we're able to do fully custom products to breweries and different retailers and brands also have you know, an online distribution Channel.
I think that we don't have to change anything last minute because we kind of had watched Shark Tank enough to know what they were looking for and that really helped shape us at an early stage.
BST:: [00:22:18] Right, so before you guys go into the tank there's that little time period where you guys are in the waiting area, you're about to walk through that infamous hallway to get in front of the Sharks. Did you guys kind of have any like pregame, hype-up speech? Like what did you guys say to each other before entering that room?
Logan:: [00:22:35] I'm glad you asked that. Unfortunately, they didn't show it. We actually kind of gathered together and had a prayer right there.
I got the team prayer kind of, arms around each other, heads together and just kind of - it's a big moment, I mean, it's the most important one of our lives at the time and so we felt like we wanted to come together and then have that special moment. And that kind of gave us pretty good peace as we walked out there. So contrary to the. what you might imagine as far as some college guys with a beer product. We didn't have a huge crazy pregame speech or shotgun beers or anything. We came together and prayed about it and I think that made a big difference when we went out there.
BST:: [00:23:10] So what do you think is like an underlying quality that any entrepreneur that's walking into the tank should have when they're about to be in front of the Sharks, pitching their business?
Logan:: [00:23:20] Be yourself, but also be confident. Smile a lot. I think we were fortunate I mean we were well-received out there probably because we opened it up with some cheesy jokes, and then we went straight into beers and we were smiling the entire time.
We weren't trying to stare down, we're not trying to go, you know, You toe-to-toe, like, "I'm more tough than you guys," like no, we're just smiling, we're just glad to be there and I think that energy resonated with them and then we answered all our questions very confidently and we knew our stuff. I think it's all about momentum in the room. And if you can keep that momentum in a positive way, then you should be pretty good.
BST:: [00:23:53] So leading up to the pitch or maybe even during the pitch, were you guys at all nervous about maybe not getting a deal? Did you think about any negatives in terms of like maybe you forget a number or something like that? Did you have anything negative in your mind or were you guys just kind of laser focused on the overall goal like, "yeah, no, I'm definitely going to walk out here and get a deal today."
Logan:: [00:24:13] We were laser focused, but we didn't have any thoughts about my no's. We were so prepared. I mean we knew all the numbers. I felt like if I forgot a number then I would have something mentally wrong with me that caused me to forget 'cuz I had it down. I mean that kind of when you're that prepared and you know it that well, that kind of removes the stress and the what-ifs and that you want to keep your mind focused on the positive. You want to visualize everything happening in a great way.
So you don't kind of let that snowball take off of like, "what if this what if that?" We really kept a good focus on the positivity, you know that we're going to do well that there's no way that could go poorly because we were prepared and we were confident in who we are, what we brought to the table and honestly the biggest feeling that we got when we left was, "we didn't even get to say everything!"
Like, we probably prepared for 80 percent more than what we said on the show probably only got the twenty percent of the stuff that we had ready to go and there were certain key points I was like, "wait, that was it? We had so much more ready to go."
BST:: [00:25:18] Yeah, and I feel like that definitely happens more often than you think. I mean you guys get a certain amount out and you may have so much more prepared, but maybe the Sharks have heard all that they needed to hear but for you guys, I mean it ended up working out in your favor.
Logan:: [00:25:32] Absolutely. I don't look at it as us being over-prepared, I look at it as us being completely, perfectly prepared because that 20% could have been any area that we had planned but by being ready for any possible scenario, we pretty much ensured there any scenario that actually happened, we would have something for them.
BST:: [00:25:50] For sure, so I don't know if you may have heard of this or not. But there is something out there called, The Shark Tank Effect, which is essentially, regardless of if you get a deal or not and the episode airs, It's kind of huge spike for the company in terms of popularity, traffic to the website, and sales. So, how did that affect you guys? and as a CEO, how did you handle that big spike?
Logan:: [00:26:09] The shark tank effect is real. I mean, we're living it every single day now. I mean, it's incredible to have this opportunity and that this show even exists for entrepreneurs and companies that are looking to get off the ground, it absolutely just blows my mine. But the biggest goal is to really keep, we don't want it to be a wave, and that's kind of what we were very fearful of from the beginning is that this is a wave and then it dies out.
Our goal is to say, "okay, this is not a wave, this is a new standard. This is a new level of expectation for our company. We're going to sustain it and we're going to use that to help grow even farther." And so that's really our big focus is not really, "wow this is all that shark tank did for us." It's, "what can we do now with what shark tank did for us and the place that has brought us to?"
BST:: [00:26:54] yeah, for sure. I definitely like that ideology that you use that, "this is kind of the new standard." You know, I feel like a lot of people kind of have the goal of creating a business, going on Shark Tank and then just kind of waiting for that initial reception to come out and then using that as, "no we'll go on Shark Tank, it'll air and then we'll see where it goes and kind of ride the wave from there."
I like how you kind of used that to propel your business to new heights and just kind of noted that, "this is just the way that it is, now we got to take from here and not let it get to our heads"
Logan:: [00:27:20] Absolutely, because if you rest on your achievements and accomplishments, then you're dead in the water, I mean, it stinks that you kind of want to sit back and enjoy it, we enjoyed it for a little bit after filming in LA, we had a good time.
But really as soon as the episode aired, like we had a viewing party and as soon as it came on, it wasn't party mode it was, "where's all the computers?" You know, "what can we do?" You know, "who's handling this email? Who's handling that email? Who's handling, how are our inventory numbers? How is that looking?" Like really just all in, ready to go because opportunity like this comes less than once in a lifetime.
And so it's all about what you do and do you want to be a company that made it on Shark Tank and failed? Or do you want to get one of those season updates and "wow, these guys are crushing it because of what shark tank gave them the platform to do." So, that's definitely been the big focus and the big calling card for us, is not, "what have we done?" It's, "What can we do with it?"
BST:: [00:28:11] Right, so moving on a little bit to you as an individual. When you were younger and I guess going into college, did you ever have the idea come into your head that you would ever be an entrepreneur or a business owner?
Logan:: [00:28:23] Not really. I mean I was always very, very Hands-On. I was always building things and I thought I thought I was going to be an engineer.
I thought I was engineering-geared but actually, my freshman year of college, I got exposed to an internship that taught students how to become entrepreneurs in their own right by teaching them how to build and run house-painting businesses. And it's not sexy work, but you really learn, recruiting employees, managing, selling, production, handling stress that you've never experienced before.
And through those programs, it kind of made me realize, "wait a minute, maybe I'm not engineering-focused, maybe I'm an entrepreneur. Maybe I like visualizing things in my head and then bringing them into reality through a lot of hard work and execution." I think that shaped my perspective.
So after my freshman year of college, there was no doubt in my mind, I was going to be entrepreneur, I just needed an idea. That's why when I had the idea with the class project, I went all in. A lot of people kind of sit on it and say, "oh, I don't know if I'll actually do this as a real business," or, "yea, it's a good idea, but maybe I won't take that risk."
I was ready to go as an entrepreneur, I just needed that idea and so as soon as I had it, no questions asked, we're gone. I think that's the mentality you have to have. It you're actually going to build something, you just no questions asked. If it fails, it fails, we're just going to do it and find out.
BST:: [00:29:45] Right, so as we talked about, you were a business student at Clemson when you were creating the product. So as you were initially going about it, did you have any resistance from those close to you? Like when you checked in with your family like, "oh, hey, how's college going? How's business class?" Like, "oh, yeah good, I'm starting a business." Did you meet any initial resistance in going from student to an entrepreneur?
Logan:: [00:30:05] My parents. Yeah, once you get to taste entrepreneurship a little bit, all of a sudden school doesn't taste so sweet. That GPA doesn't mean as much as, you know, that dollar sign in your business.
So the GPA was not impressive, it was all I could do just to stay focused enough on school to make it through but I always had that the my entire college career. It was always kind of a tug and pull of like, okay academic knowledge versus entrepreneurship, building businesses, and applied knowledge.
It's that tug of war, kind of yeah, it was a big relief when I graduated it was kind of like a weight off my chest like, "okay, now I can finally do what I want to do and focus on the stuff I want to focus on.
BST:: [00:30:47] Yeah, now that that whole college thing is over. Now, I can finally focus on what I actually want to do.
Logan:: [00:30:52] Exactly. But, I mean, it was actually really cool to go through business school while building the company, because while I'm figuring out, you know, International supply chain and taking International Supply Chain class and can ask my professor,
"hey, I'm sending this email to China tonight. You know, how should I go about this situation?" and she actually gave me a real answer. That's pretty cool kind of going through there and learning on the fly in your classes by actually doing it was pretty good.
BST:: [00:31:17] Yeah, I mean that's definitely a different experience being a college student and starting a business and exactly what you mentioned in terms of, you know, having supply chain, having those issues and going through that in your business and then going through that in a class as well. It's definitely different from say, if you're like 30 years old and you're going through that, you obviously don't have the same resources as a college student.
Logan:: [00:31:35] And that's the biggest thing too that I want a lot of people understand too. While, it may be more difficult on the surface to start a business in college, there's, in my opinion, no better time.
You don't have responsibilities. You don't have a family, typically. You don't have obligations, you have free time. You have flexibility. You can choose to do your homework, you know at 8 a.m or 8 p.m. You can move things around, you can mix and match that. You have a community, a huge network at your school and you got mentors and resources to your professors that you won't have again.
And so it's really, I saw him really no risk with creating Kanga in college because let's say, I say, I graduate and the company, you know completely fails, I would be made so much better by this experience for either my next venture or if I'm going the employment route, which I never would, but going the employment route, it's going to separate me from everybody else in that field. I mean there really is no risk in my opinion. It's all upside and just depends on how you use them.
BST:: [00:32:36] Yeah, for sure and then in building a company, regardless of if it's not like a multimillion-dollar company, you still have that additional experience under your belt that a regular student that just went to class doesn't necessarily have either.
Logan:: [00:32:49] Exactly.
BST:: [00:32:50] So what has been some of the hard parts that you remember distinctively about the adjustment in going from just a regular student that we talked about, to owning a business.
Logan:: [00:32:59] It's the tug-and-pull of what I have to do versus what I want to do because I kind of had that side of my brain that says, "okay you need to do this and do that and that needs to get done and you should get the school work out of the way so you can focus on this" and then all of a sudden, living with, I was living with fraternity brothers at the time. And I'm in the living room, doing some work and all of a sudden, they come in and they're having some beers are going out that night, they're heading to the pool and so you're in that environment and everybody is kind of, It's like they leave and you feel a tug, you want to go hang out, spend time and be a college kid, but just discipline just keeping your head focused on the goal because, I knew and I guess it's the biggest thing that that I had an advantage on over my classmates,
I think was just perspective that I know these four years are going to end. And when they end, where will I be? Will I be, you know, setting myself up for success in the future so that the next 40 years of my life can be lived better or am I going to try to milk all the fun in my entire life out of these four years and then the next 40 years, I'm gonna work some boring career doing something I hate kind of just counting the days to retirement.
I kind of saw that from earlier age and I realized that you know, college doesnt have to be the best four years of your life. I mean why not use that to get ahead and drastically shape and change the course of the rest of your life? So while everybody was going out and having fun and stuff like that, it really, you know was kind of hard, but it really wasn't that hard because I kind of knew that, "cool like you've made that trade off, you're going to accept these four years are maybe the best you've got, I'm gonna make sure the next you know, 40 for me are the best that I've got and I'll make that sacrifice up front."
BST:: [00:34:39] Yeah. Honestly, I gotta tell you man, I really love that mentality and that's something that I've also kept in mind as a recent college graduate. A lot of people think that this is something that you know, we get told this a lot from our parents too in, "go to college, it's the best four years of your life and all that" and I really liked what you said about, "listen, It doesn't have to be only four years and you don't have to milk all the fun out of it. You can just set yourself up for success in the future so that the rest of your life, Is the best years of your life." instead of condensing that and trying to condense it in the four years.
Logan:: [00:35:10] Exactly, man. You're fresh out of college too so you know exactly what I'm talking about. You saw it, you were around it, you experienced it and that's just kind of how it goes in the separate yourself from that which it sounds like thats a perspective you had. I mean that's one of the most important things you can do in college.
BST:: [00:35:26] So what's something that you know now, having you know, gone through college, dealing with everything that we talked about and going on Shark Tank, you know, what's something that you know now, that you wish you may have known when you were first entering college and maybe when you were starting out your business?
Logan:: [00:35:39] I guess the biggest thing is kind of shaping your perspective, or my perspective, on how little I'll actually get accomplished in one year, but how much I'll get accomplished in three to five.
It's kind of like a, you know, an exponential effect. I mean up front, you're barely moving, you're barely truckin,' you're barely getting anywhere. You're not making sales. Maybe it takes six months for us to even get the first test market done to develop the product. That type of stuff. It's a slow roll and it's pushing, you know, you're not making any money.
It's just up front work. But then after that snowball starts to roll a little bit, after that exponential effects are the kickoff. I mean stuff just happens so fast, especially after shark tank for us. I mean, everything absolutely happened so quick, we feel like we're kind of on an exponential growth curve as far as progress and just a vision for the company.
So I'd tell myself that, "be patient on that first, on that first year. It's not all going to happen then but just wait until you see what happens in three or in four or in five."
BST:: [00:36:46] Yeah, and that's a great point too, you know, I think that we're definitely living in a time where we're seeing all of these success stories. You see someone like Zuckerberg, one of the youngest billionaires of all time. You have all these examples of startups turned into acquisitions that turn into IPOs. You have all these success stories. But what a lot of people don't know is, exactly what you mentioned too, it's a very slow-moving thing. Like the first yea,r the first couple months, you're not going to see as much success and that's when a lot of people, in terms of Entrepreneurship, actually drop it because they're not seeing that instant success. So, patience, as you mentioned, is definitely one of the key factors for people to keep in mind.
Logan:: [00:37:21] Couldnt have said it better myself,
BST:: [00:37:23] Right, so beyond having patience. What is some advice that you have for anyone that's an aspiring entrepreneur that's seeking to take that next step in their business in terms of growth. You know, should they turn to shark tank, should they do a Kickstarter? Should they do traditional investment? What's some of the advice that you would have for those entrepreneurs that are trying to take the next step with their business?
Logan:: [00:37:42] Absolutely, there are multiple levels to building the business. I would say, just from our trajectory. We started off with, you know, ,bootstrapping it got the concept figured out, you know, "is this going to be a sustainable business? Are we able to check that box? Yes. Okay. Great. Now we need a little Capital." We did the pitch competition looking for free money that we can, we had access to, and that we could win if we worked hard enough on it and then getting a loan and our first small, small investor to get us off the ground to take us to a Kickstarter campaign, which then pretty much launched our company, then shark tank, to kind of get the exposure, blow it up.
So, there's different steps in the process. I would say, obviously I'm blinded by what we did and what worked for us, but just starting off with the idea of making sure that the idea is viable, test markets. Then putting enough money behind it to launch initially, which was our Kickstarter campaign. You can do other things to launch there, but I think Kickstarter is an effective platform for it. Although it can be really difficult and stressful. And then once you've launched, how do you scale? And I think that's where Shark Tank comes into play in how you scale that business. There are other avenues too and stuff, but that was really the spark we needed at that time.
And now we're figuring it out from here. I mean, I don't know how to turn Kanga into you know, a 10,20,30 million dollar company yet, but that's the vision, that's the goal and so that's what we got to figure out now
BST:: [00:39:15] Right, all about that patience that we mentioned. That, taking it day by day as we mentioned before. So obviously. Kanga has gone through a lot throughout the past couple of years. Starting off with just the idea, to working with Mary, getting her on board, getting the original products going on, and then you guys got a deal with Mark Cuban. So with all of that, you know, obviously a lot of changes, maybe adding a couple more employees. Where's Kanga at right now in terms of growth? In terms of like how have you guys grown your percentages? How many employees do you have? And what is your role? What do you guys focus on today with Kanga?
Logan:: [00:39:45] For sure, the biggest thing that changed for us is, we went from, I was the only person that was pretty much working full-time on Kanga and everybody else was kind of working part-time, alongside their jobs, and that type of stuff.
And so, the biggest thing that changed was, you know, we got an office. I was my parents basement when Shark Tank aired. So we got an office. We've got a warehouse, we've got full-time employees now. I mean all the core Kanga team, we're slowly, one by one, they're quitting jobs, they're coming on full-time. We're paying salary and we're actually treating this thing as a real business and as a result of them putting more time into it, we're getting a lot more stuff done.
Kind of like we talked about, the exponential curve a little bit. We're getting so much more stuff done, so many more opportunities on the table. We're growing so much more quickly as a result but the biggest step right now is just try to keep up with growing on the back-end so that we can also keep up with growing on the front-end and on the opportunities that we have on the table and,
One really exciting thing that, it's absolutely crazy that we get to announce, today's actually the day it was approved but we're sponsoring a NASCAR truck in the Graner outdoor truck series in three weeks and so, we're going to have a full Kanga NASCAR truck in three weeks. And so if that's not a dream, that's not a vision for what can really happen If you put your mind to something, I don't know what it is because it's just too cool.
BST:: [00:41:11] And yeah, that's a huge step for you guys too in going from you know, just some college kids to being a part of the entire, you know, NASCAR experience I mean that's huge, so congrats on that
Logan:: [00:41:20] I appreciate it.
BST:: [00:41:22] Yeah. So what does the CEO of Kanga do on a day-to-day basis? What do you focus on when you walk into the office, your new Warehouse putting in the halfpipe, what are some things that you handle every day?
Logan:: [00:41:31] I am the chief everything officer. So I'm checking in with, you know, digital marketing. I'm making sure the content guys have a marketing calendar, everything and the plans are being executed well, and if not, the changes that are being made, what's changing, that type of stuff.
Check in with the sales guy, who's running B2B sales, make sure that we're closing the deals we need to be. What leads are on the table, just kind of guide those processes because I'm not the best in the world at those things. So we've got people on the team that take that off of the sales guy as you might have imagined from watching the show, he's smooth as butter.
And then we've got a bunch of, I guess I pretty much directly lead product development. And so that stuff kind of gets taken care of on a day-to-day basis. We got a calendar we're following, we got new ideas and brainstorm, that type of stuff. I also do finance and operations, so I'm pretty much doing the non-sexy, except product development that's kind of sexy, but the non-sexy back end. Leading, planning, strategizing, that type of stuff each day and pretty much have a hand in every single part of the business no matter of which side it's on.
BST:: [00:42:44] So what are some things that you keep in mind, and what everyone else can keep in mind, not only for entrepreneurs, but for managers, you know people that lead people. What's something that you keep in mind when you're running your business every day? What's something that other people need to know if they lead people?
Logan:: [00:42:59] Yeah, I kind of adopted like a servant leadership type mentality and type of model. I'm always going to show, rather than tell. I'm always gonna do everything I possibly can to set my people up to have success. Not just throwing them out there and say, "go get it done" It's, "what can I do to help to get you started?"
But then it's also, hold accountability, that's a big thing too. And we're making some big transitions right now. And so there's some turmoil and then there's some, not everything is completely perfect and fluent so really working on trying to adopt more of a structured company as opposed to us kind of flying in the wind, being remote - some people part-time, some people full. And so, it's a big transition for us right now that I think kind of putting their needs first, get inside their head and looking at we're going to things from their perspective as to why this problem is happening or that problems happening and then just kind of really holding tight to accountability and trying to bring us on to a structural system as opposed to just kind of flying free in the wind.
BST:: [00:44:03] So you mentioned before that you don't really know where Kanga's going t, iso go, specifically, in the future. But if you could, I guess, give some type of idea on what do you think the future is going to look like, I guess for you as an entrepreneur, and then where you think Kanga is going to go in the coming years?
Logan:: [00:44:18] Yeah our mission at Kanga is to bring fun and convenience to beverage cooling solutions. So the Kase Mate is our first product that accomplishes that, but I'm excited to say we've got some things in the pipeline to help take us from point A to point B from just the 'Koozie-for-the-case' company to something else. The Kanga brand has gained some value and so we're just going to diversify our product offerings and going to scale up, we're going to make things, you know, make things better and offer customers better things than they've ever had before and so it's just gonna revolve around the fun and convenience. I think that's really what's going to take us from where we're at today to try and, you know, be on that path for those. We also from a distribution side, we're not even really focused on retail right now. I think that's going to be a big way that we scale and a way we kind of pop as a company is to really get into these retail channels. Once we have the capacity on our end on the you know, the people that we should be to manage that and to capitalize on these opportunities. So, we're just we're taking it one day at a time. The long-term vision is there, I mean we know Kanga's brand has a lot of power from the show.
We want to kind of be the team that takes things serious, but don't take ourselves seriously and I think it looks like that in our products and with the face we put on for the world
BST:: [00:45:38] For sure, So before we wrap up, are there any plugs that you want to throw in real quick like, website, social media, how can everyone stay engaged with you and the rest of the Kanga guys?
Logan:: [00:45:49] For sure, yeah. So the website is www.buykanga.com and our social media channels are atKangaKaseMate, that's, K-A-N-G-A K-A-S-E M-A-T-E, and I can assure you that if you like to have fun and like to watch a bunch of goofballs try to run a company, following our social media will be a very wise move, we have a lot of fun there and we'll keep you entertained.
BST:: [00:46:14] Awesome. Logan, thank you so much for coming on and I just really wanted to quick thank you for your time and just acknowledge everything that you've done in going from an entrepreneur, to creating a product, to successfully going on Shark Tank with Kanga. Just really wanted to quick acknowledge everything that you and the rest of Kanga have accomplished thus far and before I let you go, do you have any parting words of wisdom for our listeners and where can we see Kanga go from here?
Logan:: [00:46:34] Absolutely, I appreciate that. I mean, yeah, thanks for having us for having on here. But the hardest work is still to be done. So we are still charging forward and we don't rest on anything we've done but what we're going to do with it.
BST:: [00:46:47] Awesome, for sure. Logan, again, thank you so much for coming on. I really appreciate it and best of luck with everything. Hope you have a good one.
Logan:: [00:46:54] Right on, thanks Brandon. Hope you have a good one brother.
BST:: [00:46:56] So there you have it guys, that was my exclusive interview with co-founder and CEO of Kanga, Logan LaMance. Just a quick update for you guys, if you were looking into following them on Instagram, they have changed their Instagram handle since the interview took place. It is now @KangaCoolers. So if you were looking into giving them a follow on Instagram, feel free to do that. They post great content and it is @KangaCoolers.
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