I’ve been given the opportunity to speak with Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares Lampo. Both Benedict and Santiago are co-founders of Supportiback, a company that assists in better posture while sitting down to relieve back pain with their range of products from back pillows to back braces. Their company isn’t just any company; as part of Benitago Group, their company is expected to exceed eight-figures in revenue this year alone! It should also be noted that Benedict and Santiago also happen to only be twenty-one years old.
What really intrigued me about their story is how they were able to achieve such great success at a relatively young age. I was also interested in how they run their company and how they’ve been able to grow their company.
In our interview together, you’re going to learn everything from why your company’s vision matters to creating a company where employees can reach their maximum potential!
Where’d You Get the Idea for Your Company?
Both Santiago and I (Ben) met during Computer Science classes at Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. We were staying up late and coding in the library until 3-4am, and it was taking a toll on our backs. Plus, we both have a long history of back pain in our families.
We tried every product out there, but nothing was a full solution for us. Thus, we decided to embark on creating our own product. This is where we go the idea for Supportiback and the first back brace was born. Our friends and family kept asking for our product…”I’m traveling to New York this week, could I borrow that brace of yours? I’ll promise to give it back right after!” We saw there was a clear demand and started to professionalize our product and contacted manufacturers both domestic and in the far east.
While the products were being manufactured, we discovered online retail as the perfect distribution channel. The combination was perfect, and as soon as the products were in stock, sales took off.
Everything started growing faster than we ever imagined. We had created a community of raving fans who wanted more from us – and, of course, less back pain! We expanded our product line to help our buyers solve their problems in as many ways as possible (while sleeping, commuting, or at work). This is how our first brand grew to its 10M annualized revenue mark in just under 2 years.
We’ve since realized we’re specialists at creating high-value consumer goods that deliver real value to people’s everyday lives. Without realizing it, we became experts at online distribution, including channels such as Amazon. We understood we could create brands that sell directly to consumers the products that they actually want and develop communities of raving fans around them, regardless of the industry. Hence, Benitago Group was formed.
In Any Company, Their Success Hinges on Their Vision?
Why Was Creating a Vision for Your Company Important?
Early on, we learned that big consumer brand conglomerates like Procter and Gamble have it all wrong! You see, their strategy lies in leverage – they control the main distributors and use them as leverage to get into retailers. Retailers depend on legacy brand names to keep their shelves full and the consumer gets left out of the equation. We believed we could do better.
What we decided to do was involve our customers from the very first day and create products they actually want. We listened to their feedback and improved our products every single production cycle. With the internet and platforms like Amazon, we can circumvent the retailers and distributors that the conglomerates control. Our customers, in turn, get products they actually want and become active promoters, dropping their hold household brands. This is how we plan to take on the P&Gs, Unilevers, and J&Js of the world.
It sounds a little crazy, doesn’t it? Search for RXBars, Dollar Shave Club, Honest Company, and Seventh Generation, to mention just a few. What do all these brands have in common, besides their multi-billion dollar valuations? They start with their customers, make products that they actually want, and sell them directly to them. This is what has the conglomerates down on their knees, paying billions of dollars for these brands to stay in the market. This is exactly what we have refined here at Benitago Group and are ready to scale.
We are building a powerhouse of online-first brands. We want to take each brand from acquisition or conception to 100M+ following a predictable and repeatable launch path. We’ve already been to the 10M level with our first brands and we continue to replicate the model with newer brands. All we are missing is a great team to help scale our operations and lead these brands. Only together will we become the first online CPG conglomerate.
The executives at these CPG conglomerates will come to know Benitago Group as the guys who disrupted their industries. Our customers will come to know our brands as the brands that truly provided the products they wanted for their bodies, homes, children, and the environment.
Your Company Uses a Unique Compensation Approach
Do You Mind Sharing That With Me?
We made the emphasis on meritocracy that also leads to our approach to compensation (for the higher level positions), which is inspired by the private equity firm 3G Capital.
The higher level positions are compensated by both a base salary as well as a bonus. We decided to have the base salary set at or below the market rate. What we did to make our compensation plan enticing is we decided to not cap the bonuses we hand out. We’re very generous when it comes to sharing in the annual pie. The bonus given out will be based both on the individual’s performance as well as partly due to the entire group performance.
At Benitago we want people who are willing to place a bet on themselves and their potential, i.e. who are willing to sacrifice a part of their base salary with the opportunity that if they perform, they have pretty much unlimited upwards remuneration and growth potential.
This also means we have unlimited vacation time; however, if this is important to the candidate, we’ve learned that this is most likely not the appropriate candidate.
You Describe Your Company As Highly Results Driven
Do You Mind Elaborating?
At Benitago, we’re highly result driven; we’re very flexible and give as much freedom as you want as long as the results are coming in. So, if you believe in yourself and perform, you generate a lot of time for your free use and opportunities to take on other business, go into other portfolio companies, lead expansions into new markets etc. As mentioned earlier, we’re meritocratic, and if you perform you will get rewarded.
If you perform and believe in yourself to perform, you’re able to generate significant personal wealth. We want people who are focused on the results rather than making the most money because the money will come if you produce the results.
How Does Your Approach Allow Your Company to Work Faster?
Unlike in a corporate setting where ideas have to be approved across many different hierarchy levels and where it takes months to even approve a simple idea, at Benitago we move fast and make rapid decisions. We also made the decision to own all the equity and thus have no one to seek approval by for any decision.
Additionally, we eliminate situations in which your idea is rejected because your boss’s boss is emotionally attached to the status quo, or where somebody else higher in the hierarchy takes credit for your work or ideas. We do our best to eliminate emotional biases from decision making.
To the people working on our team, this means any idea they have, substantiated with a logical and economic rationale to grow or improve, is approved within minutes.
How Do New Employees Within Your Company Learn the Processes Quickly?
Given the entrepreneurial nature of working in any position at Benitago, the learning curve is incredibly steep and the slope hardly declines given the high-speed and fast-changing nature of our industry and company.
Pretty much every day, everyone at Benitago faces new, unexpected problems to which one might not know the solution yet. This means new problems to solve and thus new learnings almost every single day. Plus, while everyone is able to tap into our network of advisors and specialists, you own your problems and are responsible for finding a solution yourself, i.e. you’re forced to learn and adapt. Combined with the high speed we move at, this yields the incredibly steep learning curve.
Overall, What Do You Think Has Contributed to Your Company’s Success?
Some of the main contributing factors to our success have been are our data-focused approach. With both of our heavy mathematical and statistical backgrounds, we strongly believe in using data to make accurate and precise decisions.
We also use a rational approach in which we believe that in a corporate environment many great ideas are mistakenly rejected, mostly because your boss (or your boss’ boss) has some emotional ties to an alternative. What we try to do is counteract that and have an intention to focus on shining rational light through each idea and then adopting the one that has the strongest argument.
Lastly, I would have to go back to the meritocratic approach. We believe in meritocracy and creating an environment where everyone is rewarded based on their performance and achievements. We’ve seen the success of the meritocratic approach proven over and over again.
Thank You for Your Time, Benedict and Santiago!
I Wish You All the Best in Your Future Endeavors.
I highly recommend that you check out Benedicts and Santiago’s company! If you follow the advice given by Benedict and Santiago, it’s only a matter of time until you have a million-dollar company and beyond!
Opinions expressed here by Contributors are their own.