Danny Lehr is the Co-founder and CEO of Caffeine and Kilos, a Sacramento based eCommerce brand in the fitness company. His life’s mission is to spread the message of a healthy, active lifestyle.
What is your entrepreneurial story? How did you come about building your business?
Caffeine and Kilos started off as an event. We wanted to bring the best Olympic style weightlifters together and have them lift in an expo and pay a cash prize. We named the competition the caffeine and kilos invitational because everyone we know in fitness loves to drink coffee (caffeine) and lift weights (kilos). That’s the lifestyle we all love. The message really resonated with people, and it took off. The event turned into an e-commerce brand that took over the fitness scene. What sets us apart is a few things. The apparel we sell isn’t your corny gym wear. It’s nice, classic-looking apparel that you can wear to the gym, and then also to your family party or out to dinner. It looks good so you feel cool. You can look great, and represent what you’re all about — a healthy, active lifestyle. The other thing that sets us apart is our coffee. It’s really good! And selling our own coffee is what makes Caffeine and Kilos a true lifestyle brand — not just an apparel company.
What is your business model — how were you able to grow so fast?
We are a part of our market. My co-founder and I have competed in weightlifting and in Crossfit. As a part of that scene, we have a lot of friends that are social media ‘influencers.’ So, they are happy to support us, and we support them. Also, being in the market, we make stuff that we know resonates with our target demographic.
Can you give me an overview of who you are, what is your educational or overall background? What are some of your achievements?
I have a master’s degree in education, and I taught high school PE for 8 years while coaching wrestling. Once business took off, I quit teaching because I was working 14 hour days, which is not sustainable with small children at home. I spent about 5 years competing in Olympic style weightlifting for the best team in the country, California Strength. I placed top 5, and in the top 10 Nationally a handful of times. I also am co-owner of a gym that has been in business for 11 years and has helped community members lose thousands of pounds.
What have you learned through your experiences as an entrepreneur that can be used by aspiring business individuals?
It’s important to tie your success to the success of your customers. What is best for them — what really benefits them. Chase those goals and your business will be fine. Also, read fiction along with all the business and self-development books. I often have breakthrough ideas while reading fiction. I think it’s the way it stimulates your brain.
What makes your business so unique and successful?
We truly are a lifestyle brand. We give people an opportunity to be a part of something. To join the movement, and be proud to represent their lifestyle. When they put on our shirt, they feel cool. They feel good. They are representing something they belong to and believe in. When they make our coffee, they are reminded that they are a part of the movement.
What have you learned through your journey as an entrepreneur?
It is not a straight shot. There are ups and downs. Highs and lows. It’s all about finding solutions and moving forward.
What skills and attributes make you as successful as you are?
I am a very positive person. I always try to stay in a positive mindset and keep moving forward. If something goes wrong, I focus on solutions. Also, I take action. It’s ok to not know what you’re doing, everyone learns and figures things out as they go. I also attribute a lot to my supportive wife. Every time I come up with ideas, she just lets me go for them… don’t tell me why they won’t work. She has never discouraged me from trying something new. Along with that — my parents and grandparents had their own businesses. So, the idea of starting/running my own business has never been scary or seemed like a big thing. It’s normal to own your own business, I’ve seen people do it my whole life. I think that has been a huge advantage.
Why is online business, marketing, etc important?
An online business allows you to reach a much larger audience. You can have a massive impact. The better your marketing, the more people you can have an impact on.