Kanga shares 3 tips on small-business success

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Keeping it chill longer than before

Picture of a kanga cooler on a golf course

2020 FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winner, Kanga was born from a project in a college entrepreneurial class and the personal struggles of having to carry heavy, traditional coolers from tailgate to tailgate. Logan LaMance and Austin. Maxwell created a koozie that could keep an entire case of beverages cold for up to seven hours.  Since then, the humble and hard-working duo have appeared on Shark Tank, updated their original product design and even rebranded their company to create a better experience for their customers.

We chatted with Logan and Austin to get some insight into how they started and some tips they have for other small business owners.

How did participating in pitch competitions help prepare you as a small-business owner?

Logan: One of the biggest things that helped us was our willingness to grow and develop our public speaking skills. Being able to put ourselves out there and accomplish what we needed to do enabled us to go for the Pitch Smackdown opportunity we pursued during college ­– the first time competing ­– as well as the Shark Tank opportunity that we went for later.

Austin: Winning the Pitch Smackdown was a great achievement for us and for the company, one that set us on the trajectory that we’ve been on. That competition definitely prepared us for big things to come, but also, it was the first time we dedicated ourselves to learning how to speak better as a team.

 

Outside of the one-off pitch opportunities you participated in, what has your approach been for funding since you’ve started?

Austin: We’ve both bootstrapped as much as we could with Kanga. We self-funded as college students and kept our margins strong. Part of what we’ve focused on as well is finding any way to make our vision happen without having to take on a lot of debt or sell-off portions of the company. It’s really important to us that we own a majority of the company and we know that has helped us succeed.

Logan: We’ve obviously had to make exceptions along the way, but we weren’t afraid to slum it when we needed to. We’ve been at this for three years, but it also feels like three decades, just because of how much has happened. In the end, being patient about when things are going to come to fruition and bootstrapping and building a solid model to support organic growth are things we’ve really focused on.

 

What are the things that are most important to you on a day-to-day basis?

Logan: Having the right attitude and being a kind, humble person. Being flexible and be able to adapt to whatever is needed, whatever the circumstances are, is also important.

Austin: We try to surround ourselves with positivity and happiness. We’re building a culture that does not feel like work. Every day is another challenge, but it’s another growth opportunity too, and the people who are up for the challenge are the people we want to be on our team and want to surround ourselves with.

 

What are your top 3 tips for small-business success?

  1. Embrace mistakes. Not everything is going to be perfect ­– really, there is no perfect solution ever. With the right mindset and vision, we’re able to overcome hiccups, analyze the steps that were taken and learn from them.
  2. Seek expert advice. It’s important to know what you don’t know. We’ve tapped into our resources and sought guidance from people who were experts on the subjects we aren’t or weren’t familiar with to help guide us in the right direction.
  3. Always ask questions. Business owners have to collect as much information on the front-end as possible. This information will help you make educated decisions. Asking questions to help expand your knowledge and what you want to do.

 

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest winners like Logan and Austin are doing creative and exciting things in their businesses. See more inspirational winner stories and get insights for business success from past grant contest winners, plus other entrepreneurs and small-business experts.