2018 SVP Startup Profile: Smask
Dillon Galynsky ‘20
Tell me a little bit about yourselves and your company Smask?
Smask is a personal smoking filtration device that reduces pepsinogens and eliminates odors.
Believe it or not Smask actually wasn’t our first startup; we previously owned a software based company together. Although a rewarding experience, we knew it wasn’t for us. We are much more interested in software hardware integration than just software itself. We wanted to build something that uses software to make hardware come to life. This, among other things, lead us to Smask.
I (Dillon) attended and engineering high school where I got play around with 3D printers and explore my love for tech and building things. Through this, I attained the basic skills I needed to create a rough prototype for Smask – since then, we’ve been constantly moving. Leny has a background in life sciences and specifically in health. With his expertise, we make a great team. Ultimately, we’ve been friends since the 5th grade and being on this journey together has been one of the most amazing experiences.
What is the story behind Smask?
There were a couple of factors that lead us to start Smask, both of which stem from what we find most important—our families. Dillon’s dad had a near death experience due to second hand smoke. While my (Leny’s) mom is an avid smoker, which is ironic because she is a doctor. Growing up in a smoking environment, I (Leny) gradually developed asthmatic symptoms. What bothered me most was seeing my little sister have trouble breathing or coughing; this is when I knew there had to be a better way to smoke and there needs to be change.
What is the most valuable thing you’ve gained from the Summer Venture Program thus far?
The Summer Venture Program has given us many things. For instance, it is the first time we have been given a place to work full-time and not be bothered. We are able to focus solely on Smask and it’s been a really productive summer for us. An important realization we’ve made, this summer especially, was that we need to expand our team in house. As we grow, we want to bring more talent to our team and it’s something we are continuing to focus on.
What’s been a milestone/accomplishment you’ve made since the Summer Venture Program started?
We have grown so much these past few months, but we are particularly excited and proud in the additions we have made to our team. We are currently bringing on software and sensor engineering guys who both have ample experience in their industries. We also are extremely thankful and happy with the network we’ve fostered this summer and can’t wait to see all that it brings us afterwards.
What’s been an obstacle/surprise you’ve faced?
There are challenges that come at us every day, but we view these simply as next steps in the process of building Smask. For instance, it was a challenge connecting to the FDA, but we are starting to get a handle on that now. It’s a bit exciting to be scrappy and have to work around various obstacles. We’ve been tightening up all aspects of our business to prepare for when we approach investors, who we know will poke at us in all directions.
What is your favorite memories or moments from the Summer Venture Program?
Honestly, all the one-on-one interactions with people at Workbar, Babson, and beyond has been really rewarding. Throughout the program we’ve built more than just connections, but actual friendships that will last. We went out with David and some other SVPers a few weeks back where we got to see Ralph perform on the piano – he’s amazing! Everyone helps each other out at SVP; it’s a good community to be a part of and the best cohort we could have asked for.
If you could run any company in the world, existing or not, what would it be and why?
I (Leny) love to fly planes so if I could own any business, other than Smask of course, it would probably be airline – you could use Smask on my plane!
I (Dillon) love innovating, building, iterating, and developing. I would love to own Ideo and help make things come to life.
What is your go-to restaurant around Workbar?
Falafel King is 100% the way to go. It is a healthier option and it won’t break your bank. The food is delicious and they have amazing customer service! Who else would give us a free falafel as we wait in line to order?
Any tips for aspiring entrepreneurs that you want to share?
Build to scale. You have to start somewhere, but be sure to think big and develop patience. Being an entrepreneur means investing both your time and money into something that you might not get much back from right away (financially speaking). You need to love what you are doing, or else it will get old really quick. One thing we’ve learned throughout the years is that it’s easy to become fixated on a “perfect” idea you have, but sometimes, that idea just does not work out. Be open and unafraid when confronting change. Adaptation is key.