From Stuffed Animals to Dating: Interview with Serial Entrepreneur Alex Furmansky : Under30CEO From Stuffed Animals to Dating: Interview with Serial Entrepreneur Alex Furmansky : Under30CEO
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From Stuffed Animals to Dating: Interview with Serial Entrepreneur Alex Furmansky

| June 25, 2014 | 7 Comments

BusinessDictionary.com defines a serial entrepreneur as “an entrepreneur who continuously comes up with new ideas and starts new businesses.” Alex Furmansky is a great example of someone who not only comes up with ideas, but turns those ideas into ventures of all shapes and sizes.

Young entrepreneur Alex Furmansky was an early teen when he turned his first idea into a business. Alex started Lucky Leaf Collectors, a service based company that raked yards in his city. He purchased rakes and supplies, recruited a friend to work with him, and set a price to rake lawns. After a lot of hard work, he landed their first client. That first client turned out to have a yard the size of a football field. He may not have planned out his first venture thouroughly, but although this first yard was the last yard the Lucky Leaf Collectors would rake, this would not be Alex’s last venture.

Alex Furmansky Image

Alex has come a long way since his early leaf collecting days, but he’s retained the passion and enthusiasm for venture creation that he displayed at a young age. “Don’t do it for the glory at the end, do it for the fun of the process.” Alex is still enjoying the process many businesses later. Alex’s ventures include a niche dating website, a car lovers website, a custom stuffed toy company, a community for finding contractors, and a conference call service.

Alex focuses most of his time and energy on Sparkology and Budsies. Both companies started with an idea that was too good to pass up for Alex, and are now both growing quickly.

Sparkology

Dating is not what it used to be. As many as one-third of all married Americans have met their spouse online. As the popularity of mass dating sites has risen, the ability to find relevant matches and sift through the madness of online dating has become difficult. Alex compares the mass market popular sites as the online equivalent to what you would find in clubs and bars, which is usually what you want to avoid when trying online dating. Alex realized this growing problem and spoke with his friends, both males and females who had tried online dating. His female friends were bombarded with inappropriate requests and a mass amount of messages from people who didn’t match what they were looking for, and men had a hard time finding women who were interested in lasting relationships and serious about finding a long-term partner. Alex decided to create Sparkology.

Sparkology is an invite only dating site designed for the “modern gentleman and modern lady.” Instead of a free for all messaging format, men pay to start conversations, which gets rid of spam that is rampant on other sites. They also offer concierges that will help write profiles and help in anyway a user needs. Feedback is taken seriously – leading to the expulsion of wayward members if needed.

Sparkology Invitations

Sparkology invitations

Alex started planning for Sparkology by writing a 60 page business plan, hiring a research analyst and raised a seed round of funding. “When I quit my past job, all of the ducks were in a row and the plan was there. Sticking to the plan was a different story.” If he could go back, Alex would’ve taken a lean startup approach, which he now uses when starting new ventures.

Since their October, 2011 launch, Sparkology has led to engagements and weddings. As of May 2014, Sparkology included over 15,000 members, even while having a selective invite-only approach to membership.

Budsies

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby, then comes Budsies. Alex got the idea for custom toy making company Budsies from his artistic younger sister. She put a lot of time and thought into her artwork, but after being posted on the fridge for a couple weeks, the artwork would be forgotten. Alex wanted to create a way to bring the artwork to life, “something she can hug and tuck into bed at night.” After creating a stuffed animal for his sister based on a drawing, the idea caught on and parents and friends of children were approaching Alex to bring their artwork to life.

 Alex Furmansky Budsies

Anything from a picture of a colorful flower to a mythical beast can be turned into a high-quality stuffed animal in 3-4 weeks. Although margins are tough for one-off products, Budsies has a lot of potential to offer additional accessories in the future, like framed pictures of the artwork, embroidered stuffed animals, and other add-ons to the stuffed toys.

Summary

In our interview, Alex stated, “don’t view entrepreneurship as a goal. Think of entrepreneurship as a lifestyle choice.” Alex has fully embraced the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, and while it may have it’s challenges, there’s nothing he would rather be doing.

Be a bud and get your entrepreneurial spark for the day. Listen to the full audio interview below!

Interview Highlights

  • The best out of context quote from the interview: “Here’s a picture of my privates.” Find out what Alex was talking about in the audio below.
  • Why Sparkology is “not here to please everyone.”
  • Why apps and websites like Tinder help Sparkology in the long-term.
  • Two mistakes made when starting Sparkology: Hiring a web development company that didn’t deliver and hiring a PR firm as a startup. Alex says looking back he could’ve started up with half of the funds it took to launch Sparkology, if not less.

Quick-Fire Questions

  • How many hours do you spend a week working on your ventures or other entrepreneurship related projects? “I’d say all except for maybe 8. Even if you’re not directly working on them, you’re always thinking about them.”
  • How much sleep do you get a night? Alex places a lot of importance on sleep and makes sure to get at least 7 hours of sleep at night.
  • What do you do in your free time to relax? On Saturdays you will often find Alex relaxing and sailing.
  • What is the worst business idea you’ve ever had? “I made Autopin – allowing you to quickly create a page for your car. It was one of those weekend things that looks really cool and works really well…but never went anywhere. That’s a lesson of if you build it, they won’t come.”

Listen to the full interview here:

Sources

NY Daily News

About the Author: Michael Luchies

Michael Luchies is an entrepreneur and passionate supporter of everything entrepreneurship. Michael is Co-Founder of PitchJam and is National Growth and Programs Manager for the Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO). He has been covering entrepreneurship over the past 5 years and has been published on Under30CEO, Yahoo!, Yahoo! News, ThinkEntrepreneurship, PitchingGreatness, and other websites and publications. On Twitter @MichaelLuchies.

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Category: Entrepreneur Interviews, Entrepreneurship

  • Devan

    I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing with Alex Furmansky several months ago. He has an amazing talent for creating and launching successful businesses and he is definitely someone I’ve learned from. He works hard and is constantly thinking outside of the box. Great article and great choice on selecting him!

  • Michael Luchies

    Thank you for the kind words! Great young entrepreneur and great interview as well.

  • Andrew

    Awesome article Michael!

  • Andrew

    I love the formatting of the article.

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  • http://www.callboxinc.com/ Julie Dawn Harris

    Everything we dreamed of does not come only in hardwork but for passion as well. We get ideas that could help our business if we have passion for our target market when we don’t have passion in it what we will get are headaches and many other psychological issues due to over thinking of a certain problem. Cheers mate! :)