Kool Corp Logo

The Complex Story Behind Kool Corp, In Brief

Here is our first blog post to explain what, how, and why we launched Kool Corp. Talking with some close and good friends, I realised it is sometimes not clear enough to them what is behind the legal entity (Kool Corp SAS) we launched. At times I find myself feeling amused, but at others? Skeptical. Hopefully this post will help to clarify what we are, what our vision is, and where we are heading as we move forward.

Important Things to Know About Kool Corp

The central components behind Kool Corp are our current structure, our main milestones (as of October 2017), and people currently involved.

Kool Corp Structure

Consider things as they follow: Kool Corp is both a legal entity and a brand.

  • A legal entity which purely exists to operate and launch projects we want to try. We only have one legal entity for the moment to simplify the administrative side of doing business and to allow us to concentrate on operations.
  • A brand to explain a concept, which is simple. Kool Corp is a project studio. We mostly launch online businesses for the moment, but we’ve in no way limited our scope to the online arena.

 

Disclaimer: Please notice that we do not call it a “start-up” studio, as no one really knows what start-up means (even banks and insurance agencies – rather conservative institutions – want to work as “start-ups” do). If a start-up is viewed as lean entity which is rapidly creating value and making money? Then we are one. If a start-up is having no business model, living beyond your means, wanting to become a billionaire and not caring about closing doors after a few years or months? Then we do will never belong.

Kool Corp logo 500x200

If you wonder why our name is Kool Corp, the answer is based on a duality “Kool” and “Corp”:

  • “Kool” reflects our willingness to make projects we like with what we can consider to be a well-designed and human approach – contrary to many existing bureaucratic, disgusting tastes.
  • “Corp” on the other side stands for “Corporation.” While doing “Kool” things, we have to deliver like any well-organised and structured company. Managing our projects with due care and attention shows commitment to sticking around for the long haul.

 

Regarding the logo, we based it only on 2 criterions, Colors and Font:

  • Colors: Black and White as it is intemporal. If you’re looking for a meaning => we are here to last.
  • Font: Belwe Bold as Patagonia’s logo. Patagonia’s founder, Yvon Chouinard, wrote a moving biography which I’ve always found to be very inspiring. It’s difficult to articulate in brief, but even though Patagonia is a worldwide outdoor clothing & gear company they’ve committed to a course of action. Whatever they do is thought of in terms of how they can minimise their impact on the environment while giving the best conditions of work to their employees and partners, regardless of where they are.

 

Based on this approach, we want Kool Corp to be a rentable and pragmatic business with a long-term, sustainable vision. Big words – but ever relevant.

Main Milestones (January 2015 – September 2017)

  • The idea behind Kool Corp started in January 2015.
  • Kool Stuff publicly launched in May 2015.
  • We launched what would be called #STARFACE during a Start-up weekend in Orleans, FR in October 2015.
  • Kool Corp SAS was registered in April 2016.
  • #STARFACE publicly launched in June 2016.
  • We’re going full-time on Kool Corp as of October 2017.

People Involved

 

The Chronological Approach

The Genesis – the Smartbag

We created Kool Corp two years after I had launched a product in my spare time: the Smartbag.

The idea was rather basic: A sport bag dedicated to team sport players. It would be solving two problems:

  • First, an individual problem: taking the essential miscellaneous items and separating the clean and dirty items at the end of the training, game, session, or match.
  • Second, a team issue: the lack of room in rough locker rooms in Paris (and, I suppose, most of the locker rooms all over the world – especially so in urbanized areas).

Back in early 2013, as a young graduate launching his quickly-growing career, I was looking for a method of continuing my project without having to take care of all the business aspects (which could have overwhelmed the project and ended it quite fast). I found a new platform called Novin (the French version of quirky).

I added my idea on Novin, and it was the first project selected to be developed! It took a full two years to get the bag out to market.

Smartbag first draft 2013
The draft I posted in February 2013 (I should be ashamed I know…)

 

Smartbag final product 2015
The final product you can find on karkoa website

If you want to have a look (or even better, buy one): check it out

From this project, I learned a great deal as I went:

  • First, if you want something the way you want it? There’s only one answer: to do it yourself.
  • Second, launching a product on your own is easier than ever (but it’s still FAR from being easy).

From this experience, I wanted to launch projects on my own and I wanted them to be cooler than what others considered to be cool.

The First Step In – Kool Stuff, the Blog

As a former law student with over a year of time studying at business school – I realised I was learning almost nothing about how online businesses operate and how broadly the Internet is growing – and changing economics as it does.

Instead of wasting my time in another school, I decided it was time to go for the “learning by doing” approach. I have no doubt – this is the best way to learn new skills and keep progressing in your personal & professional lives.

From this mind-set, I took the direct approach by considering what was the simplest way to launch an initial project on the Internet? A blog was the answer. No money required, only time. It was the best way to learn both:

  • How to write content for the Internet, and…
  • How to make your content reach (and relate to) your audience.

 

The What, How & Why of Kool Stuff

What: Kool Stuff was originally launched as a French men’s lifestyle media outlet – focused on the written word, but with an idea behind that focused on creating an ecommerce website with a great, wide selection of products & experiences.

How: Writing the best content we can based on our experiences and culmination of knowledge. Selecting the best products – ones we live to have.

Why: Well, three reasons:

  • First, the willingness to learn more about the technical and operational side (launching a website and learning how to best write with purpose and articulation).
  • Second, learning more about topics we care about (from how to pick-up a shirt, to writing a guide about whisky, or listing of the best movies to watch). Writing is clearly the best way to learn about something, by eloquently and aptly summarizing thoughts using the written word.
  • Third, giving concrete advice about topics we care about to help grow our audience. A lot of great blogs exist (Comme un camion, bonne gueule, Very Good Lord – all worthwhile & exemplary). But there remains, still, an abundance of sub-par blogs for men (gentleman moderne or trucsdemecs are clearly among them). They attempt to evangelize on topics with scant knowledge, background, or research to draw upon.

Launched in May 2015, the blog organically grew from 0 visitors to almost 30 000 in September 2017.

Kool Stuff Google Analytics

More than 2 years after launching Kool Stuff, we are just at the beginning of the road and more are to come on this continuing project.

The First E-Commerce Project – #STARFACE

After spending several months on Kool Stuff, we wanted to launch a new project during a start-up weekend with Ismael. For those who don’t know what a start-up weekend is, even though the name tends to be quite self-explanatory, here is an explanation : https://startupweekend.org/

54 hours to launch a project is both incredibly tough and intense. We had the chance to learn about one another with Ismael, to pick up a great teammate (one of the only “normal” dudes around), and to bring a simple project to launch.

Surrounded by a bunch of weirdos and wannabe entrepreneurs, we managed to:

  • win a trophy “Coup de coeur du Jury”.
  • get on the front page of the local newspaper (our mums were quite proud).
  • be the only project still alive two years later…and I guess the only ones who managed to earn money (the fundamental basis of all business).

While looking for some information about the event, I found a great summary (written in French, however) : Check it out

And here is the local newspaper, itself.

La république du centre - Startup Weekend Orleans
On the left side, the guy with a mask upon his head

 

The What, How and Why of #STARFACE ?

What: #STARFACE is an e-commerce website selling paper masks for partying.

How: We sell online masks we design and produce ourselves

Why: First, we have to remember that everyone loves to party – economic crisis or not. People always need that escape from stress, so we’re helping people to party, have fun, and surprise others affordably – all while creating memories.

Future Projects

We have a lot of business ideas and we learned a lot from our previous experiments. Need/want (a US-based company) is one of our inspirations – not one the projects they are launching, but on the way they are doing business (we actually discovered Need/want while looking for who was behind the emoji masks).

As a project studio, we launch, test and kill-or-scale our ideas. We are trying to launch one project/year while automatizing to the utmost with other projects.

We have a new project coming up in the next few weeks, and if you want to get some updates about it – I invite you to subscribe to our Newsletter. Yes, the signup form is just below.

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Alban Vantal

I’m one of the Kool Corp’s founders.