Ever heard the saying, “Look like a million bucks, feel like a million bucks?” It’s no secret that we love to look good. From sleepwear to formalwear, there’s no shortage of garments and accessories to help us look our best throughout the day.
The folks behind Dr. Segal’s are shaking up their 20-year-old business by making sure you look great while enjoying the many health benefits of compression socks.
Who are you? Tell us about your business and what inspired you to create it.
My name is Brandon Segal and I am part of the development team at Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks.
We started Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks in 2012 after working in my father’s (Dr. Segal) vein clinic. Since my father opened his clinic 20 years ago, we consistently ran into the same problem. Dr. Segal would prescribe compression socks to his patients, but nobody wanted to wear them because they were UGLY, medical looking and made people feel like they were old and sick. The standard responses that we received from patients were “how long do I have to wear these for?” or “Isn’t there anything nicer?”
We knew there was a market for something better and people were asking for it. There isn’t much better market research than that.
What has been the most challenging part about running this business and how have you addressed it?
As any entrepreneur knows, there are so many challenges when getting started. I would say that our most consistent challenge has been managing growth. Since we launched Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks in May 2012, we have seen national expansion to nearly 1,000 retail stores with 30 sales reps servicing every province in Canada. Constantly driving sales, balancing inventory and new product launches and managing staff are an ongoing exercise in management.
In order to address this issue, we have hired staff who are passionate about our brand and the vision that we had for Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks. A great team is always extremely important when building a company.
How has Vancouver’s rising startup community played a role in the development of Dr. Segal’s Compressions Socks?
Vancouver has a great start-up community. I learned early on that people in Vancouver will make themselves accessible if you reach out. I make it a habit to call or email people who might have more experience than me on a given topic and ask to pick their brain. It’s amazing what you learn from a phone call or quick coffee meeting. People in Vancouver are always eager to help and I try to pay that forward whenever I can.
What core problem is your company specifically solving and/or what’s the main value you provide?
When we started Dr. Segal’s Compression socks, we knew that there was much larger market than was being serviced. The problem (as we saw it) was that traditionally compression Socks were UGLY, Medical looking and stigmatizing – so nobody wanted to wear them. The marketing was terrible and people only wore compression socks if they HAD to.
We knew that compression socks provide so many tremendous health benefits, such as reducing leg swelling, preventing varicose veins and blood clots and providing people’s legs with extra energy at the end of the day, but we needed to improve the product and change the marketing to make it more interesting for people.
Our development team at Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks broke down each of these inadequacies and conducted market research to see exactly what people were looking for.
When we brought Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks to market, we incorporated better fabrics, fashion forward colours and designs and certain functional improvements that people were asking for. We also improved the marketing to include information targeted at a younger demographic of health conscious consumers in addition to the traditional market that already existed. People started to understand that compression therapy is as much about therapy as it is about prevention from an earlier age.
At Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks, we have now opened up the market to include people of all age groups who suffer from tired, achy legs associated with standing or sitting for long periods, frequent travel, sports and one of my favorites – PREGNANCY.
Before we started Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks, it was nearly impossible to convince a pregnant women to wear UGLY compression socks – even if they would bring her relief from swelling and prevent future onset of varicose veins.
It has been an amazing experience taking a concept and bringing it to market.
How did you end up becoming an entrepreneur and what challenges did you personally overcome to succeed?
I’ve always been interested in building a business but needed to find a way to get the wheels in motion. When I graduated from UBC and my family and I decided that there was a great opportunity here for Dr. Segal’s Compression Socks, I was finally able to explore my true entrepreneurial side. I would say that my ongoing challenge is streamlining my ideas. Ensuring to stay focused on the core competencies of the business while continually innovating has been a challenge but also one of the best parts about being an entrepreneur.
What entrepreneur has inspired you the most for running your business and what makes them so special?
There are so many inspiring entrepreneurs out there, but my biggest inspiration comes from my father. Seeing his dedication and perseverance toward building his medical practice has set a high standard that I strive to match or exceed every day. He has also given me a great example of how to conduct myself both in the business world and in the community. Having a role model that is so well respected not only by his colleagues but also his patients/clients has been invaluable.
What Vancouver celebrity/influencer would you most be excited to have as a member of the team and why?
Vancouver has a great mix of celebrities/influencers, but if I was going to choose one person it would be Chip Wilson.
I have always admired what he did with West Beach and then lululemon – taking a concept and making it into a brand and really a culture. That is something that we are working on doing here at Dr. Segal’s.
If you could tell your younger self something what would it be?
Start a business. Start a business. Start a business. I always had business ideas growing up but they always became hung up on a ‘business plan’ or one of a million other things – nothing ever really got started. I wish I started something (even a small venture) in my early 20s. The only way to actually learn about a business is to be invested in the business you are involved in.
What are some accessible resources used and winning habits you have developed to learn and grow as an entrepreneur?
Read. I read everyday. I try to read as much as I can – mostly news feeds on Google news (or Vancity Buzz) and inspiring business stories (entrepreneur.com) of other entrepreneurs that have succeeded. It’s amazing how many ideas you can pick up from reading other people’s stories.
What’s your advice for current or future entrepreneurs?
Don’t lose focus of what you want. If you are already part of a start-up, you have likely experienced the highs and lows that go along with this process. If you haven’t begun the journey yet, buckle up and get ready. Just remember that if you want to do something, invest yourself in it 100% and go get it.
A quote that I often refer back to is:
Possessing the ability to stay relevant and reinvent yourself in business is a challenge every entrepreneur faces sooner or later. Brandon Segal and his team have successfully done exactly that, rejuvenating his father’s 20-year-old legacy by making their customers look great, and feeling even better.
The Dr. Segal’s team will be on Dragon’s Den on March 4. Be sure to support these two Canadian names by tuning in to see if they leave the den with a deal!
You can follow Dr. Segal’s on Facebook.
*Vancouver Entrepreneurs is a weekly feature on the city’s most notable entrepreneurs and startups that are making a local and even a global impact. If you think your venture deserves to be on the series, send an email to casey(at)vancitybuzz(dot)com to explain why you’re a fit.