Dallas Robinson & Mike Buonomo
Secret to Success:
Kisstixx is an Orem based start-up that launched in 2010 by Dallas Robinson and Mike Buonomo, two undergraduate students at Utah Valley University. In just two years since they sold their first box of Kisstixx lip-balm, Robinson and Buonomo now distribute products worldwide.
Forbes magazine selected Dallas Robinson, who created the vision for Kisstixx, as an “All Star Student Entrepreneur,” in August 2012. Robinson was one of only nine students selected for the Forbes annual recognition. Kisstixx was also featured on an episode of Shark Tank in March 2012, when billionaire investor Mark Cuban invested $200,000 into the business. This year, the Small Business Administration (SBA) also selected Kisstixx as one of four companies to feature as part of the annual SBA video contest. The video can be seen at http://www.sba.gov/stories/kisstixx. “We have set ourselves apart from the (rest) of the lip balm industry because we are creating a fun, innovative, high-quality product that is delivered for a better value,” said Robinson. “Kisstixx is unique in that the lip balm comes in two compatible flavors. When you take one and give one to your special someone the flavors mix to create a new experience. It’s fun, it’s hip and the flavors are incredible.”
Robinson and Buonomo have secured contracts with national retailers including, Win Dixie, Kmart and Walgreens, and have signed nearly a dozen contracts with international markets including the United Kingdom, Australia and Japan. Kisstixx is also embarking on new products and business partnerships including the launch of a double-ended lip balm, which will be available on QVC beginning in October 2012 in partnership with Shark Tank’s Lori Greiner.
“Getting Kisstixx to where it is today has taken a lot of hard work. We have put in a lot of hours, and have sacrificed a lot,” said Robinson. “We tried to save as much as we could to put back into the business, stocking shelves through the night for Winco Foods, and eating lots of ramen noodles. It was scary, there were times that we didn’t know if we would make it.”
While discussing the business idea with faculty from UVU, Robinson’s professors referred him to the UVU Small Business Development Center (SBDC) to help answer his questions about starting a business. “The SBDC helped us answer technical questions and build a business plan so that we could get a loan from the bank,” said Robinson. “As two young college students, that was pretty incredible for us. I attribute a lot of our success to the help we received (from the SBDC).”
Kisstixx has created 17 jobs, in addition to the 40 sales reps representing the company. “It’s amazing what Dallas and Mike have accomplished in such a short time, said Fakler. “They have really got a lot of traction in terms of sales and it is quite the accomplishment.”Ken Fakler, Director of the UVU Small Business Development Center continues to meet with Robinson and Buonomo monthly as a business advisor. “We have tried to build a culture in our company that you always ask questions, even if you think you have the answer,” said Robinson. “It’s so important to get expert opinions before making any big decisions.”