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Meet Karthik Shanadi of Greek House in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Karthik Shanadi.

Karthik Shanadi and Luke McGurrin met at the University of Florida and were on the exec committee for a fundraiser on campus. To raise money, they were looking to make custom shirts in their local college town Gainesville.

Little did they know, all of the local distributors and manufacturers were too slow, or overcharged to

So they set out to start Greek House back in 2013. Through college, the two grew the business from $500 to a few hundred thousand in yearly sales. As graduation approached in 2014, the two realized they wanted to move across the country to California. The challenge was that the business couldn’t afford to pay to keep reinvesting in the business and paying the two a fair salary.

Karthik ended up getting a job at Amazon and moved to San Francisco, and Luke worked on a few startups alongside Greek House to pay rent after moving to Los Angeles a few months after Karthik.

From 2014 to 2016, both Luke and Karthik worked on Greek House on the side when they could: evenings, weekends, and nights to keep the business growing. During this time, the business kept doubling year over year.

In 2015, Karthik transitioned from Amazon to work at Salesforce as he wanted to get more experience in Sales and be in a customer facing role. This experience came to be invaluable between the connections made to understanding how to build a technology that would support the growth of their business. So that year, we set out to build the first merchandising platform for student organizations and colleges across the country.

In 2016, both Luke and Karthik decided that it would be a good time to take the leap from working on Greek House as a side project to their main focus as they kept receiving feedback. They had their platform built, customers were raving about how awesome Greek House’s products and services were, and most of all, the sales kept coming in.

Fast forward to 2019, in the short three and half years of going full time, the two have grown the team from just the two of them to 40 full-time employees across the United States, Philippines, India, and Portugal.

In 2019, Greek House received a few awards for this quick growth including 820th fastest-growing private companies in America (Inc 5000) and 3rd Fastest Growing Company from companies to come out of University of Florida. Greek House has beat out companies like Uber and Orange Theory Fitness to give you more insight into the fast growth.

Though we started the business in 2013, we feel that we’re just getting started. Our mission is to Design a better tomorrow today.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
The road to where we are today has been nothing short of amazing, but we’ve struggled plenty along the way.

To start, Greek House is completely self-funded and bootstrapped. We didn’t raise large amounts of cash or money. So we’ve had to nickel and dime, and scratch our way to where we are today. Not having this luxury made things tough in the beginning: we didn’t have large sales teams or marketing budgets, we had to leverage technology to grow our sales quickly.

Not having money meant that we couldn’t afford the best talent so we hired our friends.

Guess what? Huge mistake. It made things tough at work and certainly added friction in our personal relationships.

After going through a year of working with friends, we decided to go outside of our friend group to hire.

At this point in 2018, this is where things started to change: our growth picked up rapidly, we delegated more work out properly and started building out full departments.

Beyond this, 2020 has been a rough year for Greek House as it has been for most individuals. COVID19 forced colleges to close down where 90% of our orders come from.

In order to combat COVID19, we are launching Threadly, a merchandising platform for a more board market, not just college organizations on campus. Launching this brand has allowed us to help local businesses and organizations sell merchandise to raise money for their employees, local causes and foundations. We feel that Threadly is going to be a big part of our future as we feel that we’re truly making an impact on our community and the world.

Please tell us about Greek House.
Greek House is a leading supplier of apparel for colleges and universities across the United States.

Through our merchandising platform and technology, customers get a completely custom design within 24 hours, set up a store to sell online, and manage their order every step of the way.

We do all the heavy lifting from design, production, fulfillment, customer service, and shipping. You focus on marketing and getting sales for the products we create together.

Our speed on getting designs created and products delivered to your doorstep is what separates us from competitors. We’re also told by our customers that we have the best communication and easiest process to keep things organized and efficient.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
Luck has a played a large role in our business and life.

For one, Karthik is an immigrant who moved here with his family when he was seven. His parent’s sole purpose of moving to America was to provide a better future for the children. Both parents worked blue collar jobs without formal understanding of how the US Education System, Cultural Values, or norms worked.

Karthik was able to figure out how to get himself into a top public university at the University of Florida and pay for college on his own without his parents’ help.

There are many individuals who have had a similar experience in migrating to a country who are just happy to be here in America with the opportunity to earn more and don’t end up getting into a college or being able to afford to go to college. Somehow I was lucky enough to get accepted, earn scholarships, and jobs along the way to help pay for it.

In our business, luck has saved us plenty of times. One specific situation that comes to mind is at the end of 2016, we had very little money in the bank going into November. November and December tend to be slower for the business because

We had to come up with $30,000 to keep the business afloat. Sure enough, one of our friends from college referred to a personal contact of his who was managing the College Football Playoffs, and their 800 volunteers needed 800 hats, polos, and jackets. The order ended up being $75,000 which made up about 10% of revenue for the year off one order and saving the day.

We would have been bankrupt without this order coming through. I would say this is pretty big luck, and I heard someone recently tell me that in business, you get ‘Miracle Money’ when you least expect it. I would 1000% say this was miracle money.

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