Vladimir Gendelman was born and raised in the former Soviet Union, where he rarely had access to the basic amenities that many of us take for granted. High quality products and friendly service were few and far between, and above all, Vladimir found it intensely frustrating having so little access to different choices and options.
After immigrating to America, Vladimir made it his mission to help provide others with the things he never had access to growing up. After a client expressed a need for high quality presentation folders, Vladimir was inspired to create Company Folders, Inc. in 2003.
Vladimir was gracious enough to share his startup story with KillerStartups recently. Check out the full interview below to find out more about his take on entrepreneur life, the tech scene in Detroit, and just what makes Company Folders a killer startup.
Who are you and what do you do?
Vladimir Gendelman, Founder and CEO of Company Folders, Inc.
What inspired Company Folders?
I originally ran a small computer repair company. A few of my clients mentioned that they were in the market for custom presentation folders, but couldn’t find a retailer that stood out to them. I did a little research to see if I could help my clients get the amazing presentation folders they wanted, but wasn’t able to find anything more than a standard offering. That’s what gave me the idea of starting up an innovative presentation folder printing company with a comprehensive variety of high-quality products and options.
What makes Company Folders so killer?
We are the ultimate folder boutique with the largest selection of folder styles, paper stocks, imprint methods, foil colors, coatings and many other options. We have the best website in our niche, offering an easy and intuitive way for our clients to see everything we have to offer.
Most of our clients are seasoned graphic designers, and we take pride in helping them do their job better. We offer an informative design and printing blog, a folder design gallery showcasing inspirational artwork, and numerous freebies. We even offer absolutely free folder design templates, which graphic artists can customize for their clients or use as inspiration for a brand new design.
What has been the biggest startup surprise for you (good or bad)?
Early in my career, I was trying to do anything and everything my clients were asking for—printing marketing materials and promotional items, creating websites, repairing computers and setting up networks. My company had no focus, and as a result, we were doing a lot of inefficient busywork that wasn’t scalable and ended up losing us money. Once I made a decision to only focus on our core competencies – presentation folders and other related materials such as report covers, binders and folder accessories, my business skyrocketed.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
Stick to your core product and target audience, learn how to say ’NO’ to everything else, and enjoy the journey.
How has being an entrepreneur changed you for the better? How has it enriched your life?
Being an entrepreneur has taught me to rely on other people – my team – to get things done, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. I have learned to look for the best qualities in people and recognize when they are the best at what they do. Applying that same view to my family, friends and other people in my life has made it much easier for me to appreciate them.
What is the tech scene like where you live?
The tech industry in the Metro Detroit area is booming. A lot of great startups have opened up in the past five years or so. We even have numerous people who moved here from Silicon Valley and other more expensive areas to open lean, efficient startups.
Where can our readers find you?
- Company Folders Blog
- Personal Twitter
- Personal LinkedIn
- Personal Google+
How can the KillerStartups community help YOU?
The best help an entrepreneur can get is advice or personal anecdotes from someone who had already done whatever an entrepreneur is trying to achieve. With that in mind, KillerStartups is doing an amazing job at helping entrepreneurs around the world. Thank you, KillerStartups!
That’s always great to hear. Thank YOU for that. Finally, what question do you wish I had asked?
I was interviewed by someone about a year ago, and one of their questions was “Describe your life as an entrepreneur with one word.”
Because I have learned so much owning my company over the past ten years, I would say that my life as an entrepreneur is SCHOLARLY. It’s an educational experience that never ends; I’m constantly learning new things that help to improve the way I do business and interact with others.