Ouragami (OURA) is a social enterprise that makes unique wellness products founded by the Veran brothers. Their products include self-sanitizing antimicrobial face masks, facial cleansing products, aprons, clothing and more. They provide laboratory-tested home goods and apparel that are safe and effective for consumers. OURA is encouraging individuals to live better and healthier lives.
Was it a lightbulb moment or gradual process of Ouragami?
Keane: There wasn’t really a lightbulb moment that led to Ouragami (OURA). It was more of a gradual process that was shaped by my own experience with cancer and the organizations that helped me through that time in my life.
OURA started with my cancer diagnosis in 2008 along with my wish to meet President Obama that was granted by Make-A-Wish in 2011. My wish was a life-changing experience, one that left me feeling reenergized and more determined than ever to overcome my cancer. After experiencing my wish, I felt so empowered, yet grateful with a desire to give back to Make-A-Wish, which led to both Shaun and I becoming volunteers.
I was a Make-A-Wish Ambassador and would speak at charity events on behalf of the organization while my brother became a wish granter. As we grew older, we wanted and knew we could do more. So, when I was officially declared a cancer survivor in 2017, we decided to launch OURA with our first product, “Identity,” with the intention to grant wishes for children fighting cancer so they could experience the power of a wish while providing a cleaner, safer alternative to the standard hats available.
Who is your target demographic?
Shaun: Our target demographic is 25- to 45-year-olds buying products in the health and wellness space.
In the past, we had a fairly even split between male and female customers, but now we are starting to see our demographics skew slightly more female.
How did you fund the idea initially?
Keane: We never received funding when we launched. We used all our savings, our credit cards whatever we could do to get enough cash to start. Shaun was working full-time at a biotech company so we used large portions of his paychecks. I was in my second year of college when we launched, meaning I didn’t have much of a consistent income. I started working various part-time jobs while in school to help contribute funds towards the company, but since we were self-funded, we had to bootstrap a lot of things in order to get to where we are now.
Did you run any companies prior?
Shaun: I worked at a few organizations, but they all were in the health and biotech industry.
Neither of us had any real business experience, let alone running one. We had to do a lot of learning and growing in order to successfully scale OURA.
What were your family and friends first thoughts on your company?
Shaun: Even though we lacked experience, our parents were supportive of our aspirations with OURA from the start. They believed our story and mission would be something worth attempting regardless of the outcome. We’d either fail with experience and knowledge most people my age lack, or we’d grow the company large enough to create a real impact for children fighting cancer.
Keane: I think our inner circles were more shocked that we wanted to launch a company since we didn’t have any experience, knowledge or expertise on starting one from scratch; however, we had the full support of our friends and family.
Do you have any advice for someone just starting out?
Shaun: We were a bit naive going into this and knew starting a company wouldn’t be easy but figured we would learn on the fly and roll with the punches. We did and continue to do so (to some extent), but we never realized how many times we would have to fail in order to find some level of success. You have to expect the failures that will ultimately come with running a business, understand why it failed and learn from it. Recognizing your business’s faults and understanding trial and error is part of the process and can be a difficult pill to swallow. When you do, it becomes slightly easier to problem solve.
How do you protect yourself from competition?
Shaun: Constant innovation led by a scientific approach. We really look to create products that redefine conventional “everyday” products.
We fuse advanced technology with rigorous testing to provide premier products that offer long lasting protection, comfort and style. We apply these standards to all our products which really differentiates us from competitors.
What are the top 3-5 apps your business could not run without? Why are they essential?
Shaun: Shopify is the backbone to our business. We are an e-commerce company so everything we do is linked through Shopify and other third party apps. Our inventory and product management, daily transactions and the website is run all run through the platform. We also heavily rely on Zendesk for all things customer service; and Shipstation to process, ship and fulfill our daily orders. Conveniently enough, all of these apps are interconnected and are able to relay information to each platform, which allows our business operation to run smoothly.
What are your favourite books?
Keane: Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill is one of my favorite books I read when I started OURA. It really helped me map and visualize the growth of OURA along with the direction Shaun and I wanted to take it. I believe every entrepreneur and business owner should be familiar with the book’s key concepts.
What are the next products you’re working on? Are there any releases you can tell us about?
Keane: We have some exciting new products in the works that will be introduced in these next few months. We can’t say too much about our releases right now, so you’ll have to stay tuned.
Where do you see the company in 5 years?
Keane: In five years, I would imagine we will have launched a variety of products in various industries along with multiple facilities operating internationally. We have already set up warehouses in Malaysia and Canada with plans to expand our operations to other countries. The most impactful change I hope to see in the next five years, is increasing the rate of our wish granting and donations to charities.
|Founder/s:||Keane Veran, Shaun Veran|