Start! : Birth of Scent Trunk


12th March, 2015

Start! is a new series on Basenotes looking at the journey's of new fragrance start-ups. In Series 1, we follow the story of Scent Trunk.

 

This is a story about me, William Yin, and a company called Scent Trunk.  No.  It’s about more than that.  It’s about a student’s entrepreneurial journey.  It’s about my transformation from a top-of-the-class student to a fragrance-head entrepreneur.  It’s about taking the leap of faith, developing a start-up and the growth of a young company.  I’m Will, and I’m the founder of Scent Trunk.  We’re developing the technology which can determine what you like to smell, so we can match you with the perfect scents.  Scent Trunk is a monthly personalized fragrance subscription, so men can get their perfect scents, and avoid annoying department stores.  But no, we’re more than that.  Scent Trunk is a marketing company which helps fragrance brands sell more, by sending targeted samples to the men with matching scent preferences.  But no, we’re more than that.  Scent Trunk is a big data company which helps brands optimize their fragrances.  

But wait, perhaps I should start at the beginning. 

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I’m Will, a Canadian student from Queen’s University.  I’ve always been passionate about start-up.  Maybe it’s because I like the competition, or maybe it’s because I secretly want to be rich.  It’s both actually.  But I never had the courage, to actually do it.  It wasn’t until last summer.  I’m a mining engineering student in school, so I had a job lined up to work for a large oil company.  I also had a job offer from the Queen’s Summer Innovation Institute, which was a summer incubator to develop young entrepreneurs.  I remember this moment so vividly because it literally changed my life.  I had an offer from the oil company to make $32/hour while working 40 hours per week.  I had another offer from this incubator, to make twice as little, while working twice as much.  The choice seems pretty obvious, right?  Well somehow I chose to pursue entrepreneurship.  I remember thinking, I had to do it. I wanted to start a career doing something I was passionate about.  Everything about entrepreneurship intrigued me, the hardships, the successes, being broke, being rich. 

There was a $40,000 grand prize for the business that ended up winning the pitch competition at the end of the summer.  I knew the money would really help jumpstart the business.  So I thought, how do we win this prize money?  What are the judges going to be looking for in 4 months?  That’s right, traction, sales, proof of demand.  I knew developing a complicated product would take too long.  I knew that e-commerce was on the rise.  And I knew a lot of subscription companies were becoming successful.  So, what could we put in a box and send out to people every month?

The Problem

Funnily enough, we thought of everything, except fragrance.  It wasn’t until 2 weeks into the program.  I realized I was going to meet a lot of important people and I had to make a good impression, so I needed to step up my scent game.  I went to the department store, where I was overwhelmed by the different scents, bombarded by different salespeople and sprayed with a bunch of stuff.  I spent 3 hours there, and walked out frustrated and empty handed.  What did I do?  Well I went on Google, and searched “Top 10 Men’s Cologne”, chose the best one and bought it.  Only to realize a week later, that it smelled awful on me.  That was my spark which threw me into the fragrance world.  I learned that it smells different on everyone based on their body chemistry.  It’s when I realized how important sampling was. It’s when I realized, there was a need for Scent Trunk, so men could try before they buy, avoid annoying department stores, and get the scents they actually want.  That’s how Scent Trunk was born.   We had our business idea, now it was time to make it real. 

 

 

Visit Scent Trunk and use the code Basenotes20 for 20% off your first month.

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About the author: William Yin

William Yin is the founder and CEO of Scent Trunk. He is graduates from engineering at Queen's University at the end of April and is pursuing his dream by being an entrepreneur. His goal is to change the way men buy fragrances and help men who are inexperienced, discover the world of scent. Will's favourite fragrance right now, is Otis, by Jazmin Sarai.

Website: https://scenttrunk.com

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Comments

    • The Smelly Scientist | 15th March 2015 20:02

      All the best in your endeavor. I wish I had pursued my passions when I was a bit more... liquid. :)

    • The Smelly Scientist | 15th March 2015 20:02

      All the best in your endeavor. I wish I had pursued my passions when I was a bit more... liquid. :)

    • The Smelly Scientist | 15th March 2015 20:02

      All the best in your endeavor. I wish I had pursued my passions when I was a bit more... liquid. :)