Nathan Nazareth was a first-year student at UVic’s Gustavson School of Business when he had an idea. Instead of just studying business, why not start one — a business that would require no office, warehouse or employees?
Despite a lack of funds and skeptical family and friends, the 21-year-old founder of OutrightEcom has built a small business empire now worth $2 million to $3 million, all while completing his business degree.
Where did your business idea come from?
I’ve always been passionate about entrepreneurship. However, it wasn’t until my first year at UVic that I came up with the idea to provide services to local clients who lacked web and social media presence. These clients were mostly small, local businesses, and I saw the opportunity to help them improve their online presence.
You were a student at the time; how did you juggle work and study?
Yes, and I am currently still enrolled in my fourth year of the business program. However, I managed to negotiate a special arrangement that allows me to work on my businesses and also receive academic credit. Balancing work and study was a challenge. I’d typically work in the evenings and study by day. Eventually, I had to prioritize my business and come up with a more flexible arrangement with my school.
Tell me a bit about your businesses. Do you have a physical space?
My businesses include an agency that helps influencers with both digital and physical products, helps build their “sales funnel” and offers support for the back end of their businesses. We also have multiple e-commerce brands, an education company, a new clothing brand and software that helps influencers streamline the process of creating content. None of these businesses has a physical space; we operate entirely remotely.
What did your friends and family say when you said you were starting a business?
Initially, they were hesitant and discouraged me from starting a business due to the risks and challenges. They wanted me to pursue a more traditional path, to succeed academically, with the goal of working for a large firm and climbing the corporate ladder. However, as I continued to pursue my passion for entrepreneurship and saw successes, they came to understand that this was my calling.
Did you have a mentor or other influence?
I’ve been fortunate to have several mentors who have provided guidance and support. I’ve had one mentor, Jad Kantari, based out of Los Angeles, who has done somewhere between $30 million and $50 million in e-commerce sales. He’s always been somebody that I’ve looked up to. He’s taken me under his wing and showed me the tricks of the trade.
The Dragons’ Den question: What’s to prevent someone from copying your model?
People can copy any model. I encourage them to do that with any business that I run. I believe competition leads to innovation. And it’s great to have other competitors in the space. We can work together. You can see what they’re doing. You can share strategies, and helpful advice, and the e-commerce space, in general, is massive. So I’m not concerned about anybody taking market share. We’re all growing the market together, and we’re all pushing it forward. So I have no issues with competition.
How Nazareth Grew His Empire
From a startup that helped local clients build their online presence, Nathan Nazareth’s business, OutrightEcom, grew quickly after he began working with a client who sold physical products.
“This sparked my interest in drop-shipping: moving goods directly from the manufacturer to the retailer without going through conventional distribution channels,” he says. It took a fair amount of research and a few ups and downs before he got it exactly right, but once he did, he soon found success.
Once he’d added that component to his business, he began building teams, many of them comprising his fellow students, and putting systems into place.
His array of startups range from software to clothing, with a focus on content automation aimed at media influencers large and small.
Looking ahead, he’s focused on growing those businesses rather than adding new ones. “This includes building upon our existing systems and processes, adding new products and services and exploring new opportunities,” he says. An influencer himself, Nazareth also wants to work with all different kinds of influencers.
“I’m also committed to learning and improving, both personally and professionally, and to stay up-to-date on industry trends and developments,” he says. “My goal is to continue building successful businesses that make a positive impact on the world.”