Kush Kapila

Founder of STERLINGS Mobile

Kush Kapila is Founder and CEO of STERLINGS Mobile, the premier mobile salon and barbershop for busy professionals. STERLINGS has performed over 30,000 services to over 5000 clients including Intuit, Illumina, Qualcomm, Warner Bros., Walgreens, Schick. Most recently STERLINGS has entered into a long term partnership with P&G’s Art of Shaving.

Prior to STERLINGS, Kapila had increasing positions of responsibility working in software, hardware and medical device, for private and public companies both in the high-tech and life science industries.

Born and raised in Montreal, Kapila holds an undergraduate degree in Computer Science from McGill University, a Master’s in Bioinformatics from Concordia University and an MBA from the Rady School of Management – UCSD.

Kapila enjoys mentoring other startups and is currently the co-chair for Vistage on Campus at UCSD and advisor to Executive Oil Services.

In his spare time, he likes to play hockey and guitar and spend time with his wife and two sons.

Where did the idea for Sterlings Mobile come from?

I was probably the last person on the planet to start a mobile barbershop. As a high tech professional I knew very little about barbering but it was a chance encounter one Saturday morning back in 2012 when I came up with the idea. I went to a chain salon and waited 45 minutes to get a trim and ended up with a buzz cut. Frustrated with the experience I was driving home and passed a food truck – another embodiment of the value of mobile services – and the STERLINGS concept was born.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

It’s daily networking, checking in with my leadership team, and strategic planning both short-term and long-term. I like to make to-do lists and budget time during the day to finish those tasks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

It’s a combination of reverse-planning; knowing what I want the outcome to look like, and flexible adaptability in forward development. It’s important to set realistic timelines and stick to them, so the flexibility allows us to meet our deadlines and checkpoints while remaining true to the end goal.

What’s one trend that excites you?

As a mobile business CEO, the changes coming to the retail experience and the boom of experiential marketing are opening up new pathways of growth for us. We know we have a successful model and can’t wait to share more of our stories and successes with others.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Coming from a software engineering background, I have a knack for detail. That, combined with the ability to see how small subunits create the interplay of a larger machine, allows me to compartmentalize and divide out tasks to create productive workflows.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Slow down, it’s about the journey, not the destination.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Nobody is ever self-made. At some point somebody helped us along the way.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Stay organized, even if not physically, digitally. Have lists, set short and long term goals constantly. Always question what is going on and how it aids in growth.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Find the right support network, mentors, advisors etc. Human capital is underrated. Surrounding yourself with the right help is good for the rollercoaster ride of growth. Two, three, four heads are better than one. Not just knowledge, but also for emotional fortitude.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not getting rid of a toxic employee sooner. I kept trying to make it work and was avoiding the difficult conversation but I didn’t truly realize how unfair it was to the rest of my team. I now live by the words “If you’re worried about having a conversation you’ve already waited too long”

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

A better Zamboni. As a hockey player I have always wondered why the Zamboni still exists. Created in the late 40s it has largely unchanged. Expensive to buy ($100K+), costly to maintain, slow and labor intensive. Someone one day is going to innovate in this area and create Ice Roombas.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

An indoor knee hockey set for my two boys. Allows us to grab a quick pickup game before dinner.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

My favorite tool is Asana. Helps me and my team stay connected and make sure we’re making progress on our projects and goals.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Outliers – Malcom Gladwell. Success is the product of time spent, you have to invest yourself in it (10,000hr rule)

What is your favorite quote?

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”
― Nelson Mandela

Key Learnings:

 Get organized
 Have an end goal with a flexible pathway to get there
 Innovate. Create. Ask questions. Take calculated risks