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Niche E-Commerce to $5M: Dan Dillon, CEO of (Part 1)

Posted on Thursday, Feb 28th 2013

Dan Dillon is the founder and CEO of He was born and raised in the suburbs of Philadelphia. After completing his studies, he worked in his father’s janitorial supply business and helped grow it from 18 employees to 150 employees before the company was sold. Today his niche e-commerce site,, has revenues in excess of $5 million annually.

Sramana: Dan, let’s start with the beginning of your story. Where were you born, and where did you grow up?

Dan Dillon: I was born in the suburbs of Philadelphia in 1972. I grew up in a family business and graduated from high school in 1990. I did two years at a community college to fulfill my mother’s desires for me to attend college. I was offered a scholarship to go swimming at a four-year school, but I turned it down because I did not want to spend four years with my head underwater. I wanted to go work in the family business.

Sramana: What was your family business?

Dan Dillon: My father had started a family business later in life. The business was a commercial janitorial service. I had grown up in that business since I was 10 years old. I was always out working with him to help feed the family and pay the bills.

Sramana: When did you graduate from college?

Dan Dillon: I graduated from a local community college in 1993.

Sramana: What did you do after you graduated?

Dan Dillon: I worked in the family business and focused on growing the business. I grew the business from 18 employees to 150, and I sold the business in 2005.

Sramana: What kind of scale did that business reach?

Dan Dillon: It reached $1.2 million in terms of revenue.

Sramana: How much did you sell the business for?

Dan Dillon: We sold it for $1.6 million.

Sramana: How much of that money went to you and how much to the rest of your family? Did you have enough capital to seed your next business?

Dan Dillon: My father was able to dish out $300,000 of those proceeds to me. After taxes, I was left with around $260,000. I used $50,000 of that to start my next venture, which was

Sramana: What was the premise of

Dan Dillon: I had been fascinated with online businesses. While I was working in the family business, I launched a small dot-com in 1997. That business was fun for me, and it is really the platform of where we are today. When we sold the family company, I took that website with me to carry on the next phase of my entrepreneurial desires. Once I was freed from the first company and running on my own, I set up a small office in my garage.

The original site was, and it turns out that was a scary name. The word “chemical” was cool in the 1980s, but as the green movement progressed, chemical was not a friendly name. I re-branded the site to

This segment is part 1 in the series : Niche E-Commerce to $5M: Dan Dillon, CEO of
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