Kaeya Majmundar is a self starting CEO and the founder of BZbox and ZipTanks. She has appeared on Shark Tank, WGN, and NBC for her companies. To find out more (visit: http://kaeyosinc.com/ )
We first met at the entrepreneurship program Leangap. She the mentor, and I the student. However, we didn't connect until afterwards when I realized how truly amazing her story actually was. I mean what young adult can say that they have ditched the low income just out of college job market hunting to work for themselves? Very few (successfully at least). She continues to slay the market with innovative and socially trending products that keep her on top of the curve. And I wanted to interview her to get to know a little bit more about how she took and idea and made herself a career...
Where did you grow up? Chicago, IL
Has that influenced your city style and Zip Tank collections?
Absolutely, the first pieces I did were Bulls themed for two reasons. First, obviously I wanted to represent my city and see how it sold here since I could be hands on and on site. And second, Bulls team merchandise is the highest selling NBA merchandise.
Where did you go to college? Emory University in Atlanta, GA
Major? Economics with a minor in Sociology
Did you always know that you wanted to be an entrepreneur? No
Brief description of how you took your idea and made it a company… (calling manufacturers, meeting someone to collaborate with?) ex. How did you meet Derrick Rose? I have a step-by-step formula now that I use for anything new I venture into. With ZipTanks in particular, the process of creating the product was nothing new, but the marketing of the brand has been totally different than any other thing I’d been doing before. I started by doing collaborations
with big names like music artists etc. because I had a feeling that would take the product to the next level and I was fortunate enough to be in a situation where I had access to these people.
When did you figure out that you could work for yourself, and earn a living? After I started getting so many orders and realizing that I was making more money than any entry level job could offer, I realized it could be a full time effort.
What character traits do you look for in someone to work/collaborate with? First, I look for someone whose eyes light up when I show them my product. Then, I look at their potential value added. Lastly, I look at previous collaborations they have done to see how engaged they were in those engagements. If I feel like I can check off those three boxes, it’s a go for me!
How do you know that a person is someone that you want to partner with?
Entering a business partnership is like entering a marriage, or at least what I would think getting married would be like. You need to casually date to see if you vibe together. You need to get engaged to get deeply acquainted and make sure your visions and work ethic align. And THEN, you can get married once you’ve established that you’ll have each other’s back for the lifetime of the company. It’s also really important to understand that getting a “divorce” from your partner is mentally and financially draining and is also very time consuming. So, to answer the question, I’d say you can determine whether or not you can enter a business partnership with someone the same way you would know if you could enter a marriage with someone.
Your company has a lot of fun and unique designs in your collections. Where do you draw inspiration from for your designs? I draw my inspiration from what’s hot in the social media sphere. I look at social trends, study hashtags on instagrams, and take a look at what were the videos and images that went viral. I try to capitalize on that as soon as I possibly can.
What has been your biggest obstacle and how has it influenced how you are today? Sustaining the momentum I get from major injections of hype I get from things like my appearance on Shark Tank and Steve Harvey show, or celebrities wearing my merchandise has been the biggest challenge. I am working to maintain consistency in sales rather than the fluctuations I experience right now.
What motivates you in life? (happiness/security/adventure/helping others) My biggest motivator is knowing that my paycheck is entirely a result of how hard I work. I don’t get paid if I don’t perform whereas if I had a job, I’d have a steady paycheck regardless of my performance one day. That drives me to continuously push forward, and establish new relationships that will lead to higher sales.
*If you could do/accomplish anything without any setbacks what would it be? My ultimate dream with no setbacks would be having a TV show of my own like Marcus Lemonis’s “The Profit” and do exactly what he does but rather than fixing broken businesses, I would want to mentor brand new ones and share that mentorship with the world. I currently do a lot of mentoring for young entrepreneurs because I really feel that starting a business is so empowering and mobilizing. More people being able to see the process in works means that more people can start businesses of their own with less hesitation.
Who is your female role model? (historical, friend, family?) Beyoncé. I think she embodies everything that I want to be as a female entrepreneur. She is a trendsetter, a fierce competitor, but also a role model for so many people and a loving person.
Thanks again for such a wonderful interview Kaeya, and to check out more of her work and products check out the links below!