1. Share to me and the people some insight about your background and how you ended up choosing this career.
Before starting DankStop, I was living in Brooklyn, New York working as an independent social media marketer.
I had built numerous social channels doing freelance work, but always following the instructions of those that
employed me. Through my endeavors I became fascinated with the world of digital marketing, but simultaneously wanted to start my own venture.
2. What made you take the leap into entrepreneurship?
After some experience in marketing, I eventually realized my passion lied in utilizing my acquired skills to build a brand
that I truly felt encapsulated my vision. I reached out to my lifelong friend, Feliks Khaykin, who also had an interest in
starting a business and building something meaningful from the ground up. He had a business education and experience in video
production, and we had a mutual interest in the smoking industry. We decided to venture into an emerging market and be pioneers
of the online headshop sector. Within 3 months, DankStop.com was registered, the company was founded, and an incredible
expedition was set in motion that continues to amaze and inspire me to this day.
3. What were your biggest obstacles to building your business and how did you get thru them?
How much time do you have? But in all seriousness, running a business, no matter in its infancy or its pinnacle, comes with a myriad of hurdles and challenges. This is one of the main factors behind my admiration for entrepreneurs that culminated when I was a teenager
and manifested itself through to my 20s. In a way, failure fuels success in any industry. How we adapt and respond to adversity and find a way to thrive in the new situations that you’re thrust into. That’s what matters. You’re facing completely foreign predicaments at a rapid pace, and consequently my actual occupation became learning. Everything became a resource. Family. The internet. Books. Acquaintances. Articles. And the largest of all my resources was my business partner. Having somebody else that brings a new perspective with unique ideas. Somebody sharing the same experience while you both act as a sounding board for productive solutions by sharing your respective viewpoints. That was a huge factor for me personally in overcoming some of the predicaments along the way.
4. What are 3 tips that can help someone who wants to accomplish what you have in your industry?
Above all else, you need to firmly believe in whatever the product is that you are selling. If you don’t believe in it, how can you possibly expect anybody else to?
I would also say that having a solid and well-thought out business plan is imperative for success. But it’s not just about having the foresight for the future of your company. The resiliency to persevere through the unexpected also is a crucial attribute for a successful entrepreneur.
I know it’s cliche and people say it all the time, but I’ve learned over the past few years that you’re really only as good as the people you surround yourself with. I’ve been fortunate to have my business partner Feliks with me from the onset, in addition to a proficient and dedicated team working alongside us.
5. What does success mean to you?
Funny enough, over the last 4 years my perception of success has changed drastically. I used to have a larger focus on materialism because that’s the portrait our society paints when it comes to professional achievements. But I’ve learned it’s really about people. The people you collaborate with. The relationships you create and maintain. To me, success is having love in your life. That could be loving what you do. Or loving who you do it with. Or in a best case scenario, being fortunate enough to have both.
6. How do you differentiate yourself from others in your field?
Our goal at DankStop.com has always been to identify the industry standards and then find a way to transcend them. Not to oversimplify the topic, but it really comes down to diligence. If you want to be at the top of any industry, you need to work twice as hard as the competition. Find ways to improve upon their practices while innovating your own procedures and operations.
7. What was the biggest business lesson you had to learn the hard way?
Learning to never be comfortable. And by that I mean you can be lulled into a false sense of mastery over your craft. I don’t mean stagnation, but more so leaving your ego at the door. Nobody has it all figured out, especially in such a fluid and evolving industry like e-commerce. The best practices of 2017 aren’t necessarily applicable to 2018. Growth is inevitable for personal and professional accomplishments, and how much you comprehend that fact will be reflected in your progress.
8. How were your family and friends feeling about you and your entrepreneurial pursuits?
My family and friends were fully supportive but hesitant originally because I was taking on an inherent risk by leaving my previous employment and tackling a new project. I think my age played a factor in the eventual acceptance by those who care about me. I was 23 at the time, and I had minimum financial responsibilities beyond caring for myself. I firmly believe somebody at any age can successfully start their own business, but I do think that the time to take a drastic life altering risk is in your youth.
9. What would you say to someone who came to you for advice about taking the ‘leap of faith’ into entrepreneurship?
As long as you fully believe in yourself, your capabilities, and the mission behind your entrepreneurial undertaking, then absolutely go for it. Part of being an entrepreneur is sometimes focusing more on what you don’t know rather than what you do. Whether the solution comes from you, other leadership members of the company, or through delegation to trusted internal or external parties, figuring out how to solve unfamiliar problems is vital in the world of entrepreneurship.
10. We are entering an era where everyone is interested in multiple income streams. How does one decide on a business to pursue?
I think that’s entirely dependent on the individual, their skillset, and the amount of devotion they have to achieving their goals. Once you’ve decided what path to pursue, look at your competition and find reasons for your target audience to choose you over them.
11. Out of all relevant factors, what was the key asset to your business’ success?
The key asset to the success of DankStop.com was the compatible personality traits and characteristics of myself and Feliks Khaykin. We are two different people with some contrasting character traits, but I think our individual strengths mesh well together and this concocted a successful recipe that propelled DankStop to where it is today.
12. Name 3 people in the business world who inspire you the most?
Jeff Bazos, Ray Dalio, and Steve Jobs are three people who I have been inspired by throughout my experiences in entrepreneurship.
13. Who is your idol and why?
If I had to choose one person, I would say Elon Musk. He truly cares about the advancement of mankind. In a world where business, tech, and startups are in the forefront of society, he focuses on pushing the limits of humanity and leaving a lasting and meaningful footprint. When I listen to him speak, I can sense that he is a sincere person who genuinely believes in a utopian future.
14. What 3 books would you recommend every entrepreneur read?
Principles by Ray Dalio, The 4-Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and Rework by David Heinemeier Hansson and Jason Fried are 3 books I would highly recommend to anybody, especially somebody interested in business or entrepreneurship.
15. How do regain energy when you are feeling drained from work?
Taking small mental breaks definitely helps me feel rejuvenated. Staying active and going to the gym, spending time with friends and family, and reading books that I can identify with are all activities I do when I’m feeling drained. When I have the time and feel the necessity for a larger break, I enjoy taking a trip to go snowboarding, to the beach, or to nearby New York City.
16. If you could pick a charity to donate to, who would it be and why?
American Cancer Society because of how many lives cancer tragically takes and the devastation left behind for the loved ones of those who pass. We need to contribute more and more resources to this epidemic if we want to find a cure.
17. How do you think technology will alter the way we conduct business a decade from now?
I think VR, AI, AR, and blockchain will all be technologies that disrupt the current business landscape in the coming years. To illustrate a few examples, I think digital marketing will change significantly for startups and businesses with augmented reality campaigns for real life personalized advertisements. Blockchain also has many intriguing business-related use cases such as smart contracts for payment processing or logistics and supply chain management.
18. What’s a saying you can say you live by? What’s your mantra?
“Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
– Steve Jobs
Lead a life fueled by passion and cemented in logic. -Louis Coniglio (Came up with this one myself)
Name of your business?
Co-Founder & Chief Marketing Officer
Social Media handle?
Give us 5 categories-ex:(Finance, business, industrial, etc.
(business, e-commerce, entrepreneur, shopping, online headshop) Please feel free to add tags if I missed any relevant ones.
Anything else we may have missed…
DankStop was started with $4,400 dollars split between my business partner and I. Feliks and I didn’t pay ourselves for the first year and re-invested all of our money back into the company. It was doing this that I believe enabled us to expand the business bigger than we ever would have otherwise.DankStop.com is now one of the largest online headshops in the world selling a variety of bongs, vaporizers, glass pipes, bubblers, and smoking supplies.