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“I was utterly clueless about the intensity of scaling a business from a single formulation to a full-fledged manufactured product.”
Getting Penguin CBD off the ground was much more difficult than Deep Patel envisioned.
Delays. Lost products. Inconsistent formulas. You name it, it happened. If it could go wrong, it did.
“Dealing with the chaos of manufacturing and supply chains was a relentless learning curve,” Patel said. “Each setback was a massive lesson.”
These lessons hit much harder than expected, especially considering Patel’s limited formal education. The entrepreneur dropped out of college because Penguin was already experiencing success. Still, the struggles were sizable, and Penguin CBD made Patel run the gauntlet.
By the time he sold Penguin CBD for an all-cash offer, it was a graduation of sorts.
“Through Penguin’s challenges, I eventually mastered the art of crafting realistic timelines and implementing redundancies to cushion manufacturing hiccups. These strategies were lifesavers more times than I can count.”
The hard-earned lessons Patel received with Penguin CBD were immediately put into practice when he started Blu Atlas. Instead of being reactive to problems, he preempted them by being proactive.
“One transformative shift I made was building a robust infrastructure that paved the way for a supply chain that didn’t just run; it hummed,” he said.
“Products not only arrived on time but in impeccable condition, setting the standard for operational smoothness that led to Blu Atlas’ rapid rise.”
“Starting Blu Atlas was a roller coaster. Prior to launching, I wondered if this brand would ever get off the ground. I refused to launch something I didn’t fully believe in, and it certainly took a while to get it there.”
After the sale of Penguin CBD, Patel went to work on building Blu Atlas, a direct-to-consumer men’s skincare line that he would sell less than two years later.
But in those 18 months from start to sold? He faced challenges far different from Penguin.
The idea for Blu Atlas originated from Patel’s own desires as a consumer: he wanted a quality men’s skincare line that was both effective and aligned with his health-conscious lifestyle. Women had extensive options for clean skincare products; the men’s market, however, was limited and still contained undesirable chemicals.
“I was sensitive to the chemicals commonly found in deodorants and body washes,” he said. “Many cosmetic chemists told me that my vision was a pipe dream. There’s a reason many natural products on the market perform so poorly: It’s incredibly hard to make efficacious formulations with plant-based ingredients.”
With no prior experience in grooming, he jumped headfirst into the idea with the goal of creating the type of product line his sensitive skin needed. He spoke with countless industry experts and dermatologists. From extensive research and customer engagement to sourcing ingredients and developing packaging, Patel was hands-on with every aspect of the product launch, including the formulation science.
“I practically lived with our formulators, pushing them to defy what was considered possible in natural skincare.”
Sourcing ingredients and formulating these products on a large scale was another challenge in itself. They refused to include the harsh chemicals found in competitor brands, instead using only naturally-derived ingredients that were exceptionally effective. Patel’s entrepreneurial vision and personal needs dictated the high standards, and it just so happened that the absence of such a philosophy was enough to disrupt the market.
“To say there was a single “secret sauce” to this success would be oversimplifying things,” Patel said. “From the outside looking in, our success might seem like an anomaly, but in reality, it was the culmination of multiple factors, underpinned by meticulous execution.”
A customer-focused approach and an adaptable business model created a sense of community within the brand; despite the high cost of imported ingredients, Patel believes that a nonnegotiable commitment to quality yielded the inarguable value that Blu Atlas had over the competition.
“Our aim was never just to sell a product. We were crafting a culture of wellness and an ethos that spoke to mindful living. Every decision, every product, every message was infused with this philosophy and people recognized that. They weren’t just customers; they were advocates, part of a community that believed in what we stood for.”
Within 18 months, Blu Atlas reached a point in its growth where acquirers approached Patel. His broad vision for Blu Atlas has hardly even approached its horizon. He planned to add new sales channels and expand market presence beyond online direct-to-consumer avenues and into the physical retail settings.
A Dallas-based company called Foundry expressed interest, offering capital, industry expertise, and connections that Blu Atlas needed to reach its fullest potential. There was an alignment of visions between the two companies and a synergy between Patel’s own ambitions and Foundry’s capabilities. Foundry, if given the opportunity to call Blu Atlas their own, could make Patel’s brand a leading name in the men’s grooming industry.
“This was no easy decision. Timing was everything.”
For Deep Patel, selling Blu Atlas was bittersweet.
“I’m so proud of what we achieved and the way we did it. Stepping away from the daily grind and challenges of the past year and a half is a strange feeling, though.”
Though Blu Atlas now resides in greener pastures, Patel is far from finished writing his legacy. As the son to a small business owner and entrepreneur, Patel believes he was born to build, innovate, and solve problems in the world.
“I want to leave a mark on this world, making it a better place than I found it, creating products that aren’t just disruptive but that solve real-world problems. I have no clue how this vision will unfold, but I’m excited for the journey.”
Deep Patel is hard at work pioneering new paths to make a meaningful difference in the world. His newest company, "Deep", is another venture that resonates with his personal philosophy.
“Deep is a high-end cashmere brand that melds luxury with sustainability and aligns with my commitment to sustainability and responsible fashion. Cashmere, like beauty and grooming, is a deeply personal medium of expression, and I see immense potential for innovation in this field.”
As he weaves his next tale of success, Patel plans to support other entrepreneurs and businesses that are value-driven and seek to positively impact the market, planet, and society. And as a man who is self-made down to his DNA, there’s little doubt that Patel’s next project will make the world a better place, be it for your mind, body, or soul.
The race to a buyout can be blinding, leading many entrepreneurs to miss the forest for the trees. They fixate on the exit strategy, the numbers, the pitch to investors, but they neglect the heartbeat of their business—the brand connection. What does the brand mean to people? How does it fit into their lives?
If your brand can forge that kind of connection, you've got something more than a company—you've got a legacy. And that's inherently valuable, not just to you, but to anyone looking to buy into what you've built.
Embarking on a business in the competitive skincare and fragrance industry requires a thoughtful approach and extreme tenacity. First, an in-depth understanding of the market is essential. This includes not only identifying your target audience but also recognizing and filling market gaps. Keeping tabs on evolving trends and consumer behaviors is crucial in this industry.
Quality and authenticity should be the core of your business. In an industry where trust is most important, the quality of your products is nonnegotiable. Combine this with a strong, authentic brand story that resonates with your audience, embodying not just your products but a lifestyle and set of values.
Adaptability and resilience are key attributes in this fast-paced industry. The ability to pivot in response to changing trends and challenges is crucial. Also, execution is key, from financial management to marketing and customer engagement.
Starting a business is freaking hard. The odds of being an outlier are rare. But it is possible and it is repeatable, and I believe there are character traits that will predispose a certain type of person for success. Fortunately, I believe these traits can be nurtured and developed.
At the top of the list is rapid adaptability. We live in a world where change is the only constant. Agility in decision-making is critical; as the famous VC David Sacks put it, “The velocity of decision making matters more than the accuracy of the decisions made.” I’ve witnessed too many of my close friends fall into the trap of overthinking, letting the fear of a misstep freeze them in place while opportunity floats by. It's sad to see.
Next, you have to be unapologetically true to your core values. This authenticity resonates deeply with customers, employees and partners. They're not just buying a product or service; they're investing in a vision they believe in.
Finally, though it may sound obvious, the product has to be good. Really, really good. You have to love it. If you would not use your own products every day, it’s going to be impossible to convince a customer to use them. No cheap gimmicky marketing campaign will solve retention. And the best way to get a repeat customer, which is the main way of growing sales, is to offer them something so remarkable that they can't help but come back for more.
SWAGGER Magazine is North America's Men's Luxury Magazine. We focus our content on everything men love. Gear, Tech, Fashion, Rides, Sports, Health & Fitness, Food, and Feature Men and Women who possess SWAG.
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