David Zamarin has always had a passion for shoes. His first venture was a shoe detailing service called LickYourSole, in which he cleaned and repaired college athletes’ footwear. Zamarin eventually sold it for $25,000, when he was just a teenager.
But the roots of Zamarin’s passion for footwear date back to far before high school. A son of immigrants from Moscow and Kiev, he said that after his parents divorced, his mother had to work a 17-hour shift in retail. When in 9th grade, he used the $200 he received from his grandparents to buy, among other things, a pair of all-white Air Jordan Cardinal 7.
But the problem with white shoes, the Philadelphia native quickly realized, is that they get dirty quickly after taking them out of the box. So the fact that Zamarin – currently enrolled in the Summer Venture Program at Babson – invented solutions to keep shoes and other materials clean does not really come as a surprise.
DetraPel, which spun out from LickYourSole, is an hydrophobic repellent spray that uses nanotechnology to repel almost anything off of almost any surface. After spraying the product on the surface you want to keep clean – for example, on your shoes – liquid and dirt cannot apparently contaminate it.
Here’s a video showing DetraPel in action:
Zamarin didn’t know much about chemistry and nanotechnology when he started developing the idea for DetraPel, so he turned to Google and YouTube for help. He founded the company when he was still in Philadelphia, but now moved to Boston to attend the entrepreneurship program at Babson and plans on growing his business here.
By the end of the summer, Zamarin said he wants to have new packaging and be able to mass produce the product. For B2B customers, he said he will focus on casinos, hotels and carpet cleaning companies. Other customers, according to Zamarin, are people who want to keep their stuff clean, like moms who want to protect their couch from pets.
Currently, the company sells the DetraPel spray online.