Lou Paris
Konkeros and Mamuto, Volusia County

What do your companies do?

Konkeros is a business ranking system that helps international students identify viable employers in the United States. It works with a proprietary algorithm that estimates the likelihood that a business will pursue a work visa, based on the student’s profile and the company’s past behavior with these kinds of immigration processes.

Mamuto is a micro-innovation company. We identify products that are already sold in the marketplace online with a high demand, which at the same time possess a relatively low customer rating. We evaluate the reason why the products receive poor scores, then we “micro-innovate” solutions or improvements to the product. We source the products with manufacturers abroad and sell them online. We have a precise and meticulous methodology to identify products with micro-innovation “makeover” potential. Despite known consumer issues, these products already have verifiable demand. Once corrected, demand is expected to be equal to or higher than that of comparable competitors.

Our principal sales channel is the Amazon website. Our current revenues are between $900,000 and $1 million per year and growing. We currently sell three products and have four more in the pipeline. Our best-selling product is a coconut coir door mat with a “Welcome” print.

What is your background and how did you get into business?

I’m a proud double hatter. I studied Management and then an MBA at Stetson University. I’ve lived and worked in six different countries. In fact, when I first came to the area, I did so as an international student (hence my interest in developing Konkeros). The “aha moment” for Konkeros came when I started working at Stetson University (yes, it keeps pulling me in). An international student came to my office crying because she had been mistreated at an interview with a local business. She said she wished to know in advance if a company would be willing to “sponsor” an international worker. That’s when I decided to do something about it.

What sets your companies apart from others?

We have a validated process that inherently makes us better than the competition. In fact, we based our market entry almost entirely on improving upon our competitors’ products. It is also important to note that we bring life to our products in ways that no one else does. For example, we say that our doormats are arguably the most important part of the house because, after all, that’s where you stand when you hug, kiss and greet your loved ones. Look at the document titled, “Supplementary material to show Hello doormat.” This document illustrates the extra steps that we take to satisfy our customers.

What is your biggest business challenge?

Our biggest challenge is cashflow. Owning inventory is expensive. This is particularly true when you are successful. In which case, every unit you sell has to be replaced with two or three more. This makes our business very capital intensive. We are solving this by reinvesting most of the revenue we make. At the same time, we are always looking for lenders.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Without a doubt I love the creative process to develop a new product. I love injecting life into unlikely products and getting people excited about them, like the doormats.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

I’ve failed miserably with many other business ideas. Each time I took inventory of the lessons learned and jumped back in the proverbial ring with a new idea. I never let failures stop me – not once.