Get close to your employees, and take a genuine interest in their future.
Evrim Oralkan is the founder and CEO of Travertine Mart, a boutique online flooring company specializing in premium-grade travertine pavers, tiles, and pool coping. Until Travertine Mart’s founding in 2007, travertine could only be found in brick-and-mortar shops. Travertine Mart has provided a cost-effective solution that brings high-quality travertine straight to your door. Travertine Mart was named to the Inc. 5000 list in 2012 and 2013 and was a nominee for the 2013 Edison Award.
Evrim resides in Miami and New York with his wife and two children. He is passionate about collecting art and has been involved in arts organizations across the globe.
Where did the idea for Travertine Mart come from?
The idea came from the total lack of natural stone hardscape product with functionality in the U.S. market. Travertine pavers are heat-resistant and less slippery when wet. Therefore, they are ideal pool pavers. My connections in Turkey are strong, and I was able to create the supply chain.
Since then, we have streamlined the nationwide shipping and distribution process for these very heavy and costly-to-ship travertine pavers, travertine pool coping, and travertine tiles.
What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?
I multitask all day. First, I go over operational emails and select a few to discuss with the staff to make sure we provide the best possible service and experience for our clients. This is the most important and enjoyable task of the day for me. The rest of the day is allotted to going over the numbers, search analytics, and other control systems.
I also spend a lot of time every day researching new marketing processes and tools. To stay productive, I try not to let emails rule my day so I can actually get things done. Do not use your email as a to-do-list.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I follow several websites in various fields for inspiration. I try to apply these ideas to our field and marketing processes. Before I research the selected ideas more, I meditate for 15 minutes. Meditation helps me see the different dimensions of an idea. After careful research, I brainstorm what I’ve gathered so far with key employees. The brainstorming process is actually what brings good ideas to life by putting them to the test with differing perspectives.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am very excited about finding new software as a service (SaaS) ideas that I can implement in our business.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I like improving all aspects of our business, and I also like to finish what I start in a fairly quick manner.
What was the worst job you ever had, and what did you learn from it?
I’ve had several tough jobs in my life; however, when I look back, they all helped me become who I am today. I’m happy professionally and personally. Everything in your life happens for a reason.
If you were to start again, what would you do differently?
I would prefer to have it exactly the same. What I can do differently lies ahead of me.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get close to your employees, and take a genuine interest in their future. Challenge yourself to become a great communicator to inspire and motivate them frequently. Your employees will help your company achieve the results you seek over and over again.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We try not to depend on a single channel of business and strive to add various channels. While we focus on online retail sales, we have also established a wholesale strategy and are aggressive about achieving results. It is due to this diversification process that Travertine Mart has been putting out remarkable growth percentages. This also helps our company stay sustainable.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I honestly don’t take failures very personally because I know that I’ve done the necessary research and approached an issue from several different perspectives. The failure tells me it was not meant to be. I know that as long as I follow the right processes, I will get it right most of the time.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Considering the rise in water levels and the surface of Greenland melting, I would suggest launching an amphibious home construction business in New York and Miami. The Dutch have extensive experience and knowledge in the business.
Tell us something about you that very few people know?
I am a passionate art collector, and I believe I can change the world for the better.
What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I’d recommend “Manage Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus and Sharpen Your Creative Mind” by Jocelyn K. Glei. The book offers creative and convincing strategies and advice to turn your not-so-productive and stressful lifestyle into a highly productive one.
What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?
Elon Musk has influenced my thinking by creating pioneer companies like Tesla Motors and SpaceX. I admire a leader with originality. I also admire Donald and Mera Rubell for being so influential in the art world and staying so humble.