by Len Lear
David Zamarin, a 19-year-old son of Russian immigrants, has never spent a lot of time sending zillions of text messages and playing video games. David sold his first business, “LickYourSole,” a product that keeps shoes and sneakers clean, during his freshman year at Masterman High School! (He now attends Babson College in Boston.)
Like most entrepreneurs of any age, David will never be content to come up with just one successful business idea. In fact, the entire country was introduced to David on Sunday night, Jan. 7, when David appeared on the huge hit ABC-TV show, “Shark Tank,” where budding entrepreneurs try to persuade billionaire investors to become their business partners.
David, who founded a company called DetraPel, was seeking $200,000 for a 20 percent equity stake in his business. DetraPel is a liquid repellant spray that keeps stains at bay. According to their website, “The superior hydrophobic liquid repellent spray … uses nanotechnology to repel almost anything off of almost any surface, from water to mud.” The spray is available for consumer, retail and industrial use and ranges in price from $12.99 to $32.99.
David demonstrated the spray, showing how it makes any food, even mustard, ketchup and red wine, roll right off a shirt. The sharks were astonished at the patented product and by Zamarin’s life story. According to the website theblindentrepreneur.com, “His parents got a divorce at an early age, and his grandparents had a huge role in raising David…
“Because his mom was constantly working upwards of 15 hours a day, he learned how to be independent. Since he didn’t have the finances behind him, David realized that if he wanted to do something in life, it required a ridiculous work ethic.”
According to the Huffington Post, David’s mom was laid off several times in the last few years but kept on persevering. “My mom didn’t know how to speak English that well, so she always had a hard time getting a job. But my stepfather sent her to Drexel, where she was able to eventually finish with a Civil Engineering degree.”
David’s advice to any budding entrepreneur is as straightforward and uncomplicated as a green light: “Failure can’t be an option in your mind. Failure will happen, but you can’t think twice about that. Don’t be scared; just get started … You have to understand what your customers want and constantly ask for feedback.”
During David’s Jan. 7 appearance on Shark Tank, four of the five “sharks” offered David the $200,000 at a slightly higher percentage than he was asking for. (Four offers is highly unusual.) One shark, Robert Herjavec, actually was concerned that the product might be too good to be true, but Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and many other businesses, and Lori Greiner, the “QVC Queen” who has over 100 patents, partnered in offering David $200,000 for 25 percent of his business, which he accepted.
The internet lit up afterwards with comments praising David and his spray. For example, these were typical of comments posted on the website www.business2community.com: Amy Naas: “As a cat owner I need @DetraPel for the rugs in my house!” Lori Raimonda: “Wow. I’ve been hoping a product like this would come along. I want some of this stuff ASAP!”
Zamarin started his first business during his freshman year at Masterman. Through a program called Startup Corps, he was able to gain access to a variety of mentors. He was able to learn from actual entrepreneurs and get feedback from seasoned veterans.
LickYourSole grew rapidly in just a few months after partnering with sports teams at Temple, Penn, Drexel and other universities in the Philadelphia area. David eventually decided to sell the company for $25,000 to one of his employees.
Zamarin then decided to do his own research and create his own stain repellent. He ended up discovering a type of leaf that had the stain repellent chemical properties he was hoping for. At just 16, he developed the product’s nanotechnology formula before having it manufactured at a lab in Florida.
With the money he earned from selling LickYourSole, Zamarin went ahead with DetraPel, which he launched in January, 2014, and then sold it online and in numerous retail stores.
“Shark Tank” first debuted in 2009. To date, the sharks have invested more than $100 million in companies after engaging in bidding wars and shark fights with each other.
For more information, visit Detrapel.com