How This Young Entrepreneur Dominated an Industry Run by People Twice His Age
Content originally appeared on Entrepreneur.com
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Esteban Kadamani was just like many college kids, staying out late on Friday nights. But while his peers were downing beers, Kadamani spent evenings meeting with his team of window installers to plan the next day’s installations. The hard work paid off, and now his company, Infinite Windows, provides window installations for some of the highest-end properties in Miami. Kadamani, co-founder and CEO, shares how he went from making six-inch subs at Subway to running one of southern Florida’s premier window installation provider — all by the age of 22.
You were in college when you started Infinite Windows. What was your biggest challenge starting the company at such a young age?
We were twenty years old, and most of our clients were age fifty-plus. The majority of the contracts were $100,000 and up, especially if you want to do high-end homes. Windows are very expensive. We were college kids, and people didn’t want to trust us with such large contracts.
How did you gain that trust and reputation to take on the more expensive jobs?
In the beginning, we wanted to show we were a large company. That’s one of the reasons the company is called Infinite. We actually opened up two businesses, Infinite Group Inc. and then Infinite Windows as a division. While this helped with legal and tax reasons, the main reason for me was that it gave the vibe of a bigger company. When someone sees Infinite Windows under Infinite Group, they will think “That’s a huge company!” We also opened up a telephone system. People would call and hear an operator say, “Press one for sales, press two for accounting,” and so on — but every single number they would press would reach my cell phone. It’s so funny now, but back then we were worried that if someone called for accounting and I picked up the phone, it would be strange.
Wouldn’t people suspect you were a smaller startup if the owners were only twenty years old?
We never said we were the owners. Clients thought we were salespeople. This is the problem with young entrepreneurs — when they open a business, they think: Now I’ll have business cards that say CEO or president; my LinkedIn is going to show CEO and founder. They’re trying to show they’ve come further than they’ve gone before. Our strategy was the opposite. We didn’t mention who the owners were. Our business cards only said our names. We weren’t trying to lie about it, but we weren’t trying to show off either. Obviously, clients could look us up and see we were the owners.
How did you deal with the parts of the business you didn’t know?
One of the things we did was spend money on a really good attorney and a really good accountant. We didn’t have the budget for it, but we worked out a price we were comfortable with. They liked us, so they lowered the prices a little. But we didn’t want to lower our expectations. The person we hired had to be the best. We learned a lot from them. We also read a lot of books. We Googled. Everything that the attorney or accountant would tell us, we didn’t just pass it on to our client. I read all the letters and made sure I understood them so that next time, I’d know.
What’s one piece of advice you have to offer to college kids looking to start a company?
When people reach out, you need to answer. You need to reply back and let people know you are there. Make them feel as if they are the only client. Even if you don’t have the answer, reply that you are working on it. Say, “Give me till Tuesday,” then write it down and set a reminder to get back to them. With so many emails and text messages, it’s so easy to get overwhelmed, but you need to spend the time to respond. You’ll make a difference.