An early en­tre­pre­neur

Dan Dem­sky on crowd­fund­ing $375,000 for his start-up

North York Post - - Life - By Jes­sica Padykula

Be­ing an en­tre­pre­neur isn’t for ev­ery­one. The po­ten­tial pit­falls are many and the odds for suc­cess min­i­mal, but for Dan Dem­sky the en­tre­pre­neur­ial spirit struck early.

Dur­ing high school at New­ton­brook Sec­ondary, Dem­sky and his friends (even­tu­ally turned busi­ness part­ners), An­drew Cari­boni and Dima Ze­lik­man, funded their love of at­tend­ing con­certs by mak­ing art prints de­pict­ing their favourite bands (Phish, Grate­ful Dead, etc.) and sell­ing them on the road to make enough money to get from one con­cert to another.

“In high school we were trav­el­ling all around, and we were self-funded. That primed us for at least the thought process that we would forge our own path,” Dem­sky says.

In the class­room, Dem­sky says his Grade 12 English class with Mr. MacDon­ald changed his life.

“He was a bril­liant and pas­sion­ate teacher who made me ex­cited to learn,” says Dem­sky.

Now, many years af­ter their days of sell­ing art prints, the trio have co-founded Un­bound Merino, a travel ap­parel com­pany with a fo­cus on help­ing trav­ellers pack less.

They are cur­rently see­ing sig­nif­i­cant suc­cess fol­low­ing a crowd­fund­ing cam­paign on IndieGoGo.

Dem­sky is no stranger to star­tups (he pre­vi­ously co-founded video pro­duc­tion com­pany BizMe­dia and founded artis­tic sock re­tailer Hitsu), but with Un­bound Merino, he re­ally felt he was onto some­thing spe­cial.

The founders be­gan with a goal of rais­ing $30,000, which they sur­passed by a wide mar­gin.

“We thought if we were lucky we would make $10,000 but we got to $375,000.”

Dem­sky came up with the idea for Un­bound Merino while on his hon­ey­moon, lament­ing the need to check lug­gage and schlep over­stuffed bags ev­ery­where he went.

The de­sire to find a means of pack­ing lighter led him to merino wool, a ma­te­rial known for its abil­ity to wick mois­ture, reg­u­late body tem­per­a­ture and re­sist both wrin­kles and odour.

But all he was find­ing made from the ma­te­rial was high­per­for­mance ac­tivewear rather than com­fort­able ba­sics you’d want to wear day-to-day.

Un­bound Merino fo­cuses on well-made ba­sics that can be worn again and again without need­ing to be washed.

Hav­ing started with a small line of un­der­wear, T-shirts and socks, Un­bound Merino is con­tin­u­ing to add new colours and prod­ucts and they are cur­rently work­ing on a women’s line.

Run­ning any busi­ness, no mat­ter the size or level of suc­cess, can lead to stress. But Dem­sky has a plan in place to han­dle what­ever comes his way.

“In re­ally tough times, I don’t let it get to me but just stay fo­cused on what I can do in the mo­ment to move for­ward,” he ex­plains.

“If we were lucky we would make $10,000, but we got to $375,000.”

Dem­sky came up with the idea for Un­bound Merino on his hon­ey­moon

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