David Gross started Dolbeau.ca with childhood friend and business partner David Caplan. He’s always had the entrepreneurial spirit, as far back as he can remember. When he and David Caplan were 16, they started web development for a rental construction company, building the database and working on high-end HTML, “doing really cutting edge stuff,” he recalls. Ever since then, the pair continued working together.
When David was 23, he moved to Norway for six months, on an exchange from Concordia, where he started getting heavier into fashion, subscribing to blogs, paying closer attention the industry, and honing his own personal style. An interest in web design and marketing fostered, as well as his realization of the importance and value of fashion. When he returned to Montreal, he started weighing the idea of online vs. physical stores, and how you had to hunt to find what you wanted in shops. In the States, online shopping was already booming, but Canada was still lacking.
David saw a niche where fashionable shoppers’ interests in hand-made styles was bolstering, and he wanted to involve himself in this realm. The idea for Dolbeau grew out of this: to capitalize on the trend, he had to do something unique, standing out from the herd. There was already of slew of custom order suits and shirts sites, but little to none that focused in on ties and bow ties. This is where he saw his “in.”
It started off as a part-time gig, with David (who was working at Deloitte at the time) and David Caplan (who was then studying pharmacology) working together to create the ties and the marketing strategy. The idea was to set up a site to have a blog post look and feel, so that bloggers could find the product easily and like it for resharing with their networks. It was all an experiment at first, with the duo not quite sure where the venture would take them, but it worked. When Dolbeau first launched, they went from a tie week to nearly 70 a day in no time. The demand was so high and kept snowballing that, in order to keep the quality level, David and David Caplan decided to halt operations so they could reassess and return the market prepared to fully capitalize and grow.
It’s rare that you’ll come across a success story like Dolbeau, but when you have a product or an idea that works, it just works. For now, David and David Caplan are working on redesigning and rebranding Dolbeau, changing up their business model, and have recently acquired space in an old converted factory in Montreal, creating a studio space and micro factory within a factory setup for their business. More accessories and products will be part of the Dolbeau line (we won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say we’re anxiously awaiting the relaunch.)
David Gross is a Notable, and to him, the road to success was paved with trust. He advises other YPs to trust their business partners, and hold them accountable to putting in as much work and dedication as you do – which can get tricky when in business with your friends. “Always criticize your own ideas and always try to improve. Have a benchmark, and then surpass it,” says David. “Don’t plan too much, just go out and try it [building a business]. Geek out with the art of the start.”
If there was one location that every person must see, what would it be? Why?
Seeing as I lived in Norway for a little while, I’m going to be totally biased and say Preikestolen. Preikestolen is this amazing cliff situated just outside of Stavanger. Once you get there, it’s roughly a two-hour hike to the top. It is so beautiful you can’t believe your eyes. It almost looks like a painting. There are no guardrails or any safety measures around the cliff, which is a major tourist attraction. If you are brave enough you can sit on the edge and dangle your feet of a cliff elevated 1,982 feet above the water. Incredible.
You have 3 weeks to vacation, cost is not a factor, where are you going and who are you taking?
I would go right back to Japan. Land at Narita Airport and head directly to Tokyo. When I was there for the first time I probably wasted a week in Akihabara, so I’m probably doing that again. Everything about that area is amazing. If you are the kind of guy that reads Engadget, you’d love it. It’s a nerd’s wet dream.
For my second week I would explore more of Shibuya, with some of the best clothing stores I have ever been to. Uber-hip.
The last week I am heading over to Kyoto on a bullet train, spending most of my time walking around gardens and getting in touch with my inner Zen.
On this amazing trip of people watching, exploring, shopping and chilling I am taking my lovely lady Carina.
What is your general life philosophy? / What advice would you want to share with others?
Balance in life and the things that you do is of great importance. For many years I probably lived out of balance. I stayed up late, worked hard, and drank too much coffee. Eventually you burn out. To avoid this, try not to keep your emotions and ideas to yourself. It is quite therapeutic to openly talk about your insecurities or great excitements with those closest to you. I have not fully achieved balance yet, but I am slowly working on it.
Why were the early stages of your career (which can be some of the toughest years of any successful business person’s life) worth what you are now able to enjoy?
I will start this answer with a classic cliché. All stages are a part of the journey, and you have to go through all the stages in order to get to where you want to go. Honestly, I enjoyed every experience and job I have ever had. Success is a relative term and compared to others maybe Dolbeau has not reached great success yet, however, to us we feel like we have achieved a significant support from the online community, which to us mean a lot. Hopefully we will talk again in a few years and I will answer this question very differently.
How do you enjoy life? What are some of your life indulgences?
My favourite thing to do is going up to my family’s cottage near Ste. Agathe. Just being near the water and spending time with my family and remembering all the good times is the best remedy for a week of hard work. But if I decide to stay in the city [Montreal] I am probably playing video games with my cousin, heading out to a concert, or getting tickets to a Habs game.
Do you cook? If yes, what is your best dish? If no, what is your favourite dish to be cooked for you?
The concept of cooking is a mystery to me. I can never seem to get the timing right. My grandmother on the other hand is a great cook and has been cooking epically large meals for years and everything she makes I eat and enjoy. My favourite dish, if I have to pick one, is my grandmother’s famous ribs – she makes her own sauce and grills them to perfection. Yummy.
What is one of your favourite lounges/restaurants? Why?
Every man needs a good breakfast and my ultimate breakfast just so happens to be dim sum. I used to go to this fabulous place called Lotte Furama, but that closed a few years ago due to tax evasion. Now I go to Kam Phung, they have a mean pork bun. I like to bring my business partners and a lot of our best ideas have been discussed over a steamed basket of shumai.