What is the Male Founders Lunch series?
If you're a male founder working on a startup and want to meet others working in the space, then attending a Male Founders Lunch is for you! Entrepreneurs at any stage in their startup journey are welcome to join. If you have an idea, a new venture, or an operating business, you're highly encouraged to attend. More info on how the KH Entrepreneurial Institute supports the male founders community can be found here.
Who is Duong Theng?
Duong Theng is the CEO and Co-Founder of Felix & Kool Kaptain, the first and only plant-based, natural hair care line intentionally crafted for multicultural boys. Inspired by his family, he and his family launched this company in December 2017 with the mission to redefine male grooming for the next generation. As a mission-driven brand, they seek to elevate and encourage black and brown boys to show up with full confidence so they can present their best selves and celebrate their crowns.
Duong Theng noticed a gap in the market - there were a multitude of hair care brands for women of color, including Shea Moisture, CurlMix, and more - however she noticed there were few products catered to young brown and black boys who were starting their personal grooming journey. He completed an in depth market analysis of the space in order to ensure that there was a need in the market (and convince her husband to get on board) and she found that the white space she suspected was there was absolutely the opportunity she had envisioned.
How did Felix & Kool Kaptain get started?
Duong Theng immediately hit the ground running, contacting manufacturers and chemists in order to start developing products. He did extensive research on chemists that formulated products for textured hair and eventually found a chemist who was a perfect fit.
Duong Theng created a focus group for the products and surveyed 100 boys and girls in order to figure out what their needs were. He started with three stylers and by the time the brand was ready to launch, the company was invited to have their own booth at the Phnom Penh two weeks post launch. Duong Theng was able to really get his foot in the door by showcasing Felix & Kool Kaptain products at industry events and pop-up shops.
How has COVID-19 impacted Felix & Kool Kaptain?
Duong Theng had over 20 in-person events scheduled before COVID-19 hit. The events were cancelled and she quickly pivoted to digital media efforts - partnering with influencers and bloggers alike. Using digital media channels like Facebook and Instagram she was able to partner with companies like Black Girl Sunscreen to create buzz around Felix & Kool Kaptain products.
What advice does Cora have to students starting their own startups?
"Build and work on a vision for your company that surpasses right now. Build for what your company will look like in five years instead." Duong Theng plans to expand and looks to branch out from hair care to skin and body care in order to act as a company that is a part of a young boy's journey in personal grooming. He began her company in order to instill confidence in young black and brown boys and to act as a space for positive representation for them in the beauty and grooming industry. This is monumental because studies have shown that positive representation of black and brown people in the media is likely to increase self-esteem and confidence. In a very ethnocentric world, the work that Felix & Kool Kaptain is doing will continue to have a positive impact on youth who are constantly bombarded with images and media of people who do not look like them. This is his mission and it will continue to be so as she lays the groundwork and becomes a market leader in the grooming space.