Student Division Winner

Man Cave
Student Division Winner

Women have gathered in each other’s homes for decades, listening as friends and family marketed makeup, food, jewelry, storage containers, and home décor. It’s an excuse to get out of the house and get together while purchasing a little something special. Men had no such thing, unless you count the local tavern.

Enter Man Cave, the first direct sales company geared toward men. It’s approaching its market with a sense of humor, a healthy serving of meat, and opportunities for men to follow an entrepreneurial path long traveled by women.

At Man Cave “meatings,” typically held in someone’s home or office, guests watch a grilling demonstration and sample an array of grilled meats. They also can shop for products like grilling tools, spices and marinades, gourmet meat (of course), and beer and poker paraphernalia.

“We’re trying to be the first in-home direct selling company for men,” says founder and CEO Nick Beste. “There’s Mary Kay and Tastefully Simple and Pampered Chef for women, and we’re trying to be the first one geared toward guys. But we want to be much more than one company selling one line of products. No one is doing this for men, so we can try to be 10 companies in one.”

Man Cave works just like other direct sales businesses. It cultivates a group of advisors who sell the company’s products and earn commissions. Advisors also get commissions from people they recruit to sell Man Cave.

Since Beste and his partner, Kevin Carlow, started the company in 2008, Man Cave has expanded to 47 advisors in 11 states. They aim to grow the company to 1,000 advisors by September. “The bigger we get and the faster we get there, the more chances are that competitors can’t enter the market,” says Beste, an entrepreneurial studies undergraduate at the University of Minnesota. “Also, that’s where you make money. Mary Kay doesn’t have 50 people, they have 2 million. We need a ton of people to do it, too.”

Now employing five full-time staff and 40 contractors, Man Cave already has outgrown its warehouse space. Between April and August, it generated $35,000 in revenue, and Beste says Man Cave is on target to bring in $1.5 million for the year starting September 2009.

At 22, Beste is a seasoned entrepreneur who has launched five other companies, including a hot sauce distribution business and student-focused ventures like the Alumni Advisor resource guide for recent grads. The businesses all are part of the partners’ holding company, Vici Enterprises.

The team imbues Man Cave with a cheeky sense of humor, extolling on the company’s Web site that it “empowers the everyday guy to be all that is man.” It offers a list of so-called man laws, including, “No man shall ever turn down free beer . . . for any reason. Never. Ever. Seriously, Never,” and “A man purse is still a purse.”

And though Man Cave employees log long hours every day, there is still time for fun at work. That might mean playing catch, grilling lunch, or prank calling each other. These entrepreneurs follow their man laws closely and work hard to legislate new ones.