Hamish Khayat, 28
Title: Chief executive and founder, Burst Oral Care
Company: Burst Oral Care in Venice sells affordable sonic toothbrushes directly to customers via subscription.
Financials: Burst Oral Care paid out more than $3 million in profit shares during 2018.
Number of employees: 25
What led you to start this business?
Being an oral care enthusiast, it only seemed natural that I would end up creating something within the industry. Lucky for me, the big brands continue to charge high prices, opening up room for other players to enter.
How did you fund it, and how are you funding it going forward?
I met a very nice and very smart chap in a bar in Venice. We talked late into the night about this hybrid direct-sales business model. A couple weeks later, we both agreed that we should test our theories out. He became our first investor and is still influential in decision-making for the company. [Khayat declined to name this person.] Since then, we have brought on more angel investors who shared our passion for oral care and more recently our first VC partner. [Khayat declined to name these partners.]
Are there advantages/disadvantages to starting a business in your 20s, and if so, what are they?
Being young, I don’t have the same responsibilities that come with growing up: having a family, a house, etc. It’s a lot easier when you are not risking others’ welfare, just your own. I hugely admire those later in life who are able to risk it all and start up their own gig.
Where do you go for advice regarding your business?
Everyone and anyone is worth listening to — the job of the founder is to distill it all and make the correct decision accordingly.
How much time/money do you spend on social media for your business?
If we see a channel that is generating positive returns on investment, we will double down fast. Social media channels have proved a profitable form of acquisition for us, so we will continue to invest time and money into it. But I will never let us get into a position where we are (solely) reliant on it for growth; it’s a platform that can be so unpredictable.
Do you feel that your business is particularly tailored to the Los Angeles market, or do you feel you could have launched it in another location?
I am very happy here in Los Angeles and have met amazing people to work with. On the other hand, we could have launched elsewhere because everyone needs a toothbrush, and we deliver nationwide.
Do you encounter skepticism from investors because of your age, and if so, how do you handle it?
I do see this (skepticism) quite a lot, but I think my saving grace is my accent. Americans do hold the British accent in high regard. I often think people are hearing and not listening to what I’m saying because they like the “Mary Poppins” tone that I dribble out. As I say a lot of nonsense this really helps my cause.
What do you do for fun?
Plaque never sleeps, so neither will I. Fun is for another lifetime.