Categorized | Shoestring Startup

Kenmark Sports: Fitness at your Fingertips

Kenmark Sports: Fitness at your Fingertips 1. Name of your company and URL?

My company is Kenmark Sports, LLC, and you can find us online at

2. Date started?

We were incorporated on December 23, 2010.

3. What is your product or service?

Kenmark Sports offers two products at this time: the Armband Water Bottle and the lightweight aluminum Water Bottle, which comes in a variety of colors.

4. Why did you start your company?

As an avid runner, I grew frustrated searching for a portable water bottle that was comfortable, practical and an all-in-one fit for my essential items. Through personal experience and research, the Armband Water Bottle design was born. I knew my product idea would fill an unmet need in the sporting goods industry, while creating employment opportunities for unemployed family members and friends affected by the recession.

5. How was it financed?

I used my personal savings to create the company.

6. Date officially launched?

We officially launched Kenmark on Oct. 17, 2011.

7. What free online or offline tools do you use?

I’ve used a number of free online and offline tools to research entrepreneurial ventures, develop strategies for my business and implement support systems for Kenmark to run as smoothly as possible. I’ve reviewed and drawn inspiration from many programs through YouTube, including the “Big Idea with Donny Deutsch,” ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and “Dragons’ Den” from BBC, to learn from successes and failures of past product launches. is another great resource that I’ve utilized to pull strategies for building a successful business and for learning tips and tricks from the most successful entrepreneurs out there. Lastly, I use Small Business Administration to help me navigate through issues, set up my QuickBooks Accounting application and develop my business plan.

7. Do you use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn?

We use Facebook to engage with consumers and hope to grow our presence over the next year. We’re also in the process of setting up a YouTube channel which will launch at the beginning of 2012 and will house videos showing our products and also encourage consumers to post their videos using Kenmark’s products. You can visit us on Facebook at

8. How many people are currently working, including employees (freelancers or independent contractors for specific projects)? We currently have four employees working for Kenmark Sports.

9. What is the best advice you never got?

The best advice I never got was to develop a Board of Directors, which consists of professionals from various backgrounds who I know and admire. These individuals are leaders or subject-matter experts in their industries, including oil & gas, high tech and medical. They have the best interests of Kenmark in mind and are always willing to provide honest feedback, ideas and/or people within their personal networks who will help me reach my goals.

10. What almost killed your business in the start?

The idea of losing my entire savings on the dream of developing my product was a really difficult thing to overcome in the start. Once I took the plunge and decided to move forward, building from that point has been much easier.

11. What is the one thing that you did right?

One of the most important things I did right in starting my company was to attend fitness and sporting goods trade shows. Though my attendance at trade shows, I met with key decision makers and learned different techniques from entrepreneurs on how to pitch my product to store buyers. Calling companies was a significant step in the right direction because it allowed me to obtain contacts for retail store buyers to introduce them to Kenmark’s products.

12. What was the biggest transition you had to make (i.e. new skill set, habits, abilities, focus)?

Cutting 70% of my monthly expenses was the biggest transition I had to make. For nearly a year, I slept on an air mattress at a friend’s place, reduced my food expenditures by eating canned goods and removed all other unnecessary expenses, all while staying focused on my dream of starting my own company. Through this amazing transition, I’ve gained a tremendous amount of knowledge in marketing, manufacturing and accounting to run a fruitful business.

Kenmark Sports: Fitness at your Fingertips 13. Are you currently in the black or red?

As a newly launched business, we are in the red, but our plan for returning to black will consist of a few steps. First, we aim to embrace and drive change to deliver innovative products to our customers by collecting customer feedback on existing fitness products in the market and enhancing them with new ideas. For example, I designed and patented the first Armband Water Bottle because the existing water bottle products on the market (such as backpacks, handhelds or fanny packs) were uncomfortable and not an all-in-one fit for essential items like cash, credit cards or an iPod. Secondly, Kenmark will look to create an ongoing win-win relationship with customers and suppliers by providing our manufacturers with high-volume production runs to decrease our cost per unit for each Armband Water Bottle. This will give us an opportunity to pass on the cost savings of manufacturing to our customers.

14. What type of marketing or advertising do you do?

Currently, I’m working with a freelance PR consultant who is assisting in raising awareness through public relations outreach in both traditional and nontraditional media, including blogs, social media, lifestyle magazines and daily newspapers. We also plan to further increase awareness in the social media space through our YouTube product commercials and engaging Facebook fans through online marketing. Furthermore, I’m working to secure several speaking engagements at entrepreneurial conferences on the topic of product development, and I’m also looking to speak about starting my own business with students at various universities.

15. What would make your business more “Successful”?

We have a great product and brand, but I believe that extensive media coverage would increase consumer awareness of our brand and enable us to increase market share. In addition, getting product into retail stores will be key to our future success. We are currently in discussions with retail stores who are interested in selling our product.

16. Would you want to be acquired by a bigger company, run it yourself or sell in a couple of years?

At this time, our goal for the next few years is to continue to grow the business and offer a variety of fitness products to enhance workouts, runs, bike rides and other activities.

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