Start a company while studying — get rich. How’s that for a plan?
In 2011, Filip Tysander took $24,000 out of his own pocket to start a watch brand. Now he’s 31 and his 100% self-made company is making $180 million annually from selling watches, with a margin of more than 50%.
And it all started with a chance encounter.
Like all young Swedes who want to discover themselves and the world, Tysander followed the mainstream dream and travelled to Australia after high school. There, Tysander met a fashionable Englishman named Daniel Wellington, who was wearing a Rolex with the classic Nato watch band. Tysander was deeply impressed by the Englishman’s Ian Fleming air, and that’s how he got his million-dollar idea, and his million-dollar brand name: Daniel Wellington.
“I realized there was room on the market for preppy watches,” he says in an interview with Veckans Affärer.
The name just sounded right for an international watch brand.
But the success didn’t happen overnight. Back in Sweden, Tysander was fired from a couple of jobs and enrolled in business studies instead. He started two companies — selling neckties and plastic watches online. In the year of his graduation, he used $24,000 he had earned from his previous ventures to start the third and decisive company that was to change his life.
“I started a little webshop and designed the logotype myself in Photoshop. Then I sent designs back and forth to a factory in China manufacturing the Nato watch bands”, Tysander told Veckans Affärer.
The preppy watches became a huge success — not only because of their stylish design and value for money, but also because Tysander was able to exploit a void in the marketing strategies of his established competitors: social media.
His campaign was built around actively getting influencers with lots of followers to showcase his watches. We’re getting used to seeing this strategy applied by now, but a few years back it was cutting-edge. Now the brand Daniel Wellington has more than 2 million followers on Instagram, dwarfing competing watch brands.
In 2014, Daniel Wellington sold more than a million units and reached $70 million in sales. For 2015, revenue skyrocketed to $170 million. With lucrative margins above 50%, Tysander — the sole owner of the company — made a profit of about $66 million last year.
So he wasn’t exactly scraped bare when he bought Stockholm’s most expensive apartment last year.
This 418-square-meter penthouse atop Stockholm Central Station became Tysander’s for the reasonable price of $12.8 million.
“If you go back to 2013 I had no idea the company had the potential to grow to its current size, but today it’s part of my everyday life. I’m incredibly fortunate”, Tysander told Veckans Affärer.
Despite the random encounter with the real Daniel Wellington five years ago, forming the foundation of his hundred-million-dollar fortune, Tysander isn’t altogether excited about the thought of meeting his maker again.
“A part of me wishes to contact Daniel Wellington and explain what’s happened, but at the same time, I want to let the sleeping bear lie. If the source of my inspiration should turn up at the office one day I guess I’ll have to hide underneath my desk,” he says.
Tysander says that anyone can become a successful entrepreneur — it just takes time and a bit of luck. He likes to reference the author Malcolm Gladwell’s claim that it takes 10,000 hours of entrepreneurship to understand how everything is connected.
Source: business insider