At 23 years old, a local high school graduate is operating his third business, which is on track to reach $2 million in revenue this year.
Dylan Jacob, who graduated from Whiteland Community High School in 2013, dropped out of Purdue University in his second semester to run a phone repair and reselling business he created as a high school sophomore.
He created and sold a second business before founding BruMate, a company that sells insulated containers and glasses for wine and beer.
His work has gotten him recognized by Forbes. This week the magazine named him to its 30 under 30 list for entrepreneurs changing the retail and eCommerce fields. Others nominated include Alex Lin, who founded Hush, a shopping app for makeup and skincare, and Julia Zhu, who founded Few Moda, a woman’s apparel company. The 30 Under 30 list began in 2012, with more than 4,000 people selected since. The magazine selects 30 people under the age of 30 in 20 separate categories, ranging from retail and eCommerce to education, health care and music, with the goal of highlighting people leading and changing their industries, a news release said.
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Jacob began his first company, JV Supply Co., as a high school sophomore. He would purchase and repair broken phones and sell them online.
He originally enrolled at Purdue University to study engineering, with the goal of working in product development and design, but decided after less than two semesters that the traditional path of getting a college degree wasn’t the right choice for him.
Education has always been important for Jacob’s family, most of whom have jobs as lawyers, doctors or engineers, so to take the step of dropping out of college only a couple of weeks into his second semester was a drastic break from family tradition, Jacob said.
“When you are 19, the thought of leaving college and becoming an entrepreneur seems crazy,” he said. “It was terrifying. My parents were extremely supportive. The rest of my family was a little nervous for me.”
He sold JV Supply Co. and started Vicci Design, which sells glass and mosaic tiles for use in kitchens and bathrooms.
His third venture was his most ambitious. With his first two businesses, Jacob was working with existing products. For his third, he wanted to create and design something new that would fill a gap in the market.
During Christmas two years back, a friend had gotten an insulated, stainless steel beer container, which Jacob found interesting, but was unable to find anything similar for the 16-ounce drinks he preferred.
With the insulated drinkware industry mostly targeting beverages such as water and coffee, Jacob decided that a demand could exist for insulated containers specific for alcoholic drinks. He had 500 copies of a prototype created, which sold well, leading him to work on designing a variety of insulated containers and glasses for beer and wine.
After spending a year creating and testing different products, he opened his website for sales in November 2016, and did $250,000 in sales through the end of the year, Jacob said.
The rapid success showed that he had a range of products that could be successful and Jacob began working to scale the business up to meet the demand. Picture insulated wine glasses that you can carry camping or on the beach or a wine bottle that will keep your wine at the right temperature for 24 hours.
BruMate has had about $1.2 million in revenue so far in 2017, but with the upcoming shopping season approaching, Jacob expects the final tally for this year to be between $1.6 million and $2 million.
The vast majority of BruMate’s sales — about 95 percent — are online, though Jacob is working to expand the amount of stores that carry items. He has an agreement in place with Cabela’s for BruMate items to be sold in all stores starting next spring. Olympia Sports has about 40 stores already carrying BruMate merchandise, but that number will expand to more than 200 in 2018, Jacob said.
He’s negotiating with other retailers to get his products in their stores, but still believes that the online market will remain key to his success, as more and more people choose to order products online rather than shop in stores.
For now, Jacob is the sole owner and only full-time employee of the company. He’s used freelance workers and contractors to market products and process sales, though he is working to open up his own 15,000-square-foot warehouse and distribution center in Indianapolis and hire up to 10 full-time employees in 2018. He wants to double the company’s revenue in 2018, with a goal of $4 million in sales.
All of the products are made in China, a decision that was necessary because no U.S. manufactures were capable of making them, Jacob said.
Jacob said the recognition he has received from Forbes will be extremely helpful in networking with other up-and-coming businesses, as well as potential retailers and investors.
Owner: Johnson County native Dylan Jacob, 23
Founded: December 2015
2017 Revenue: $1.2 million (through October)
Products: Insulated containers and cups for beer and wine