By Jack McLaughlin
Arts & Features Editor
David Zamarin was welcomed into the McCarthy Center Forum Oct. 17 for a discussion about his journey as a young entrepreneur.
Patricia Thomas, dean of the College of Business, introduced Zamarin by offering an overview of his many accomplishments.
Zamarin is the founder and CEO of DetraPel, and serves as an advisor for FedEx and also appeared on the show “Shark Tank.”
He is also a member of the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, and the recipient of the 2022 US SBAS Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award.
Zamarin was invited on stage and went into further detail on what DetraPel is and its many accomplishments.
He explained how the largest part of DetraPel’s business is “impermeable materials,” which are coatings for paper and food packaging as well as textiles.
Zamarin told the audience that he started DetraPel at the age of 15, and explained his interest in starting DetralPel began in a high school entrepreneurship program. He also gave insight to his upbringing and how that affected his opportunities as a youth.
“My parents are both immigrants, and so I didn’t have a lot of opportunity, and I just really wanted to be self independent and have my own freedoms,” he said.
His first business venture was a shoe cleaning company for local university sports teams, he said, and added eventually, this company was being used by a number of major university sports teams and turned a large profit.
“I started the business with like literally $100. I just bought cleaning supplies and within the first four months or so, we hit $25,000 a month in revenue,” Zamarin said.
To learn the chemistry for creating the products that would eventually be used at DetraPel, Zamarin took classes part-time at the University of Pennsylvania while still in high school, he said.
After their initial product launch in 2014, one of the co-manufacturers who developed an important part of the product went bankrupt, Zamarin said, which caused Zamarin and his team to enter a hiatus.
“We ended up going on a four-year hiatus of just [research & development] constantly, which ultimately did not work until we hired chemical engineers to come work in-house,” Zamarin said.
The discussion was then opened up for questions by the audience. One attendee asked Zamarin what the process was for finding the name for his company. Zamarin responded to this by telling the audience how he searched online for words that meant “repel” in different languages until he came upon the Greek prefix Detra, and combined it with the end of the word repel.
“It doesn’t take rocket science. It was a really silly way, but it worked out really well,” he said.
Another attendee asked if DetraPel is entirely based in Framingham, to which Zamarin said “100%.
“That may change. We are looking to move right now but somewhere likely in the area.”
Another audience member asked Zamarin how he found his target market considering his products are relatively expensive.
Zamarin explained how this was a struggle for DetraPel, but once they found that market and were in a comfortable position financially, they modified their business model to focus less on the price and more on the quality of the product.
“We’ll tell them ‘Hey, we’re happy to give you a quote,’ but realistically we don’t know what to quote for because our technology is so unique depending on the application,” Zamarin said.
Zamarin closed the discussion by sharing his skills and knowledge with the attendees, whether they were interested in entrepreneurship or not.
“My world is open to you guys, even if you aren’t interested in being an entrepreneur,” he said.