Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Dan Demsky, whose latest venture, Unbound Merino, produces a line of shirts, socks and underwear that may just be the last you’ll ever need to own. We caught up with him to find out what inspires his work and what advice he would share with other young professionals…
What was the inspiration for your career route?
When we started our first business (BizMedia) in my mom’s basement, we didn’t have a big and clear vision of where we were going to take this thing. It was a side project that we became really excited about while in the process of developing it. We grew from three people in the basement to almost 20 people within two years and since then have had so many huge ups and downs. Every year our motivation is to just keep getting smarter, better, and more prepared for the journey ahead.
My inspiration today is to keep growing and to take the lessons of last year and apply them. It’s always a challenge and my limits are tested often. But I wouldn’t change it for the world and I’m grateful for the opportunity to set my own boundaries and vision.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
Having been in business for eight years and continuing to grow and develop every year is a huge challenge and every time you step in the right direction is a mini milestone in itself. To be honest, I am far more excited about our new project launch, Unbound Merino, than I am about any of our big wins in the past.
At the time of writing this, we’ve raised $100,000 USD from customers in almost 50 countries all on the back of a good idea, a product we worked our butts off to develop, and a thoughtfully planned campaign on Indiegogo. We weren’t sure if Unbound would resonate with people and seeing it take off feels quite amazing. Oh, and being featured on Notable too.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
5 years: Unbound Merino as a globally recognized brand that pushes the boundaries of technical/performance fabric clothing
10 years: Maybe working shorter hours and focusing on family a bit more. (I have an amazing wife, but no kids. Maybe we’ll have some kids by then.)
20 years: Making sure my kids work hard for their own money because they’re not getting a dime from their dad!
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Always remember that for every minute you spend not working hard, someone out there is using that minute to get ahead. It’s all about hard work and focus. If you need motivation, watch or read interviews with Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Doing so will always make you feel a bit like a bum, and you’ll want to work harder.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
We’ve volunteered our services for many charities, including being a five-year video sponsor for Movember, as well as volunteering/donating to Covenant House, Believe to Achieve Foundation, and Ride to Conquer Cancer, amongst many others. One of my favourite ways to support charities is to donate to causes that my friends are raising money for. Whenever a friend asks, I donate. This way I not only support a cause someone close to me cares deeply about, I also get to support a friend.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
I don’t even know where to begin. Every day is a challenge as an entrepreneur, and your job is to solve problems and keep moving ahead. The list is way too big to choose from. Over time, you just need to learn to be resilient in the worst of times and stay focused. Just staying focused is probably the biggest challenge to overcome and it’s a daily struggle.
What does the word notable mean to you?
It’s something or someone worth stopping and pondering about. It’s also a great website.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Home. I love eating out, but I do too much of it. When my wife and I have done some good grocery shopping and put together a serious meal with some good wine, it feels way better to me than any meal I can get in the city.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Gmail. My office is Gmail. As for the most played song? No particular song, though I listen to a lot of Phish and Frank Zappa.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Seth Godin. Subscribe to his blog (I get email updates). I can’t even keep up with all his posts. And 99 out of 100 are incredibly thought-provoking or interesting. I have no idea how he pumps out so much amazing content.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I think my favourite place that I’ve ever visited was Germany (Berlin, specifically). There is so much culture and history and they have more fun than anyone else on earth. And after what they’ve been through over the past 100 years, they deserve it! I am dying to go back someday soon. My next trip is to Japan. My brother lives there and is getting married. I’ve been before and it may be my other favourite place to visit. The runner up is the USA! I don’t care if it’s not an exciting answer. I love the U.S.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
Missing Just for Laughs festival in Montreal.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Being lazy. Sometimes it feels so good but I always feel bad.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
Eating out. I do it mostly because I’m not as prepared as I should be at home with groceries.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is feeling good about yourself and your work. If you feel you’ve done your best and the results make you proud, you’re successful.