At 52, Domenic Dean (Dino) Minichiello still has the look of an MMA fighter at the top of his game. Fit and casually well dressed, there are only a few deep lines around the eyes that mark the battles over years, but his step is light and belies any doubt that there have been big wins. Unconventionally, the seasoned entrepreneur, fashion designer, and founder and CEO of Snap Brands is heavily tatted. Blue ink flickers up from under a relaxed shirt collar, stopping just shy of the Adams Apple, which itself rests discreetly between the sweeping horns of a bull. Likewise, his forearms are writ large with excited imagery - not something one would expect of his generation or from the benefactor of a long line of classic Italian bespoke couture. Yet nothing about Dino Minichiello fits expectations. Just as his tattoos pre-date and anticipate the millennial love of skin art, everything about him suggests he is a step ahead of his own time.
Being ahead of the curve is what has made Dino successful in both design and venture capitalism. As a protégé and son of master tailor and mentor, Paul Minichiello, a fixture in the Vancouver fashion scene for nearly five decades, Dino began his career as all good entrepreneurs do — by breaking the rules. Anticipating the trend of branding underwear as outerwear, he launched ONS, a chic but sassy line of bespoke undergarments, branded explicitly to look their best on the bedroom floor. ONS shot Dino into the Vancouver fashion scene as one of the first designers to anticipate the unlimited possibilities of underwear conceived as play, entertainment, identity, and compassion (portions of sales went to HIV/AIDS research).
Leaving ONS at the height of its popularity, Dino moved into the Yaletown fashion scene in 1999, as Minichiello Retail. Stacking his team with a classically trained master Italian tailor and Dino’s own starkly honest designs, he carved out a previously unrealized market niche, which he characterized as “Old World Italian Design with a New World Attitude.” True to the slogan, each garment both embraced and rejected the classic mold. Dino’s personalized silk linings captured the untamed individuality unique to each client, while refining the rebel under the suit with the impeccable and knowing detail of classical couture. This ability to recognize and represent North America’s obsession with individualism and capture it under the coveted European standing of class, inspired an intense client following. Custom orders came in from sports professionals such as Bob Lenarduzzi, Cheick Kongo and Olympian, Charmaine Crooks.
Rebranding Minichiello Retail in 2020, under the name Cattivo Ragazzo, Dino continues to redefine the tension and attraction between tradition and individualism, chivalry and machismo. Contemporary followers include: MMA fighter and columnist, Cheik Kongo (who flashed his personalized suit to cameras at the Bellator MMA Fighting Championship); pro free mountain bike athlete, Geoff Gulevich; pro skateboarder, Cameo Wilson; Hall of Famer, Al Wilson; entertainer, Jim Byrnes; actor, Aleks Paun; and film director, Gabriel Napora.
Within the rich network of Dino’s many business relationships, he encountered an abundance of great ideas and opportunities loaded with market potential. He was eventually driven to raise venture capital for underfunded start-ups. In 2009, Minichiello took a detour from fashion to found Triumph Capital, a private equity and investment banking firm, with the idea of bringing under-funded, ahead-of-the-curve projects into new levels of profitability. In 2014, Dino and his team established an ambitious, live-event media and post-production company to feature under-publicized Mixed Martial Arts events. It was christened ‘Takedown Media.’ Takedown produced a publicity package that was sold and distributed to networks across the globe. Ken Pavia was made director of business development and Takedown quickly acquired the participation of more than 30 international MMA organizations. After suffering a big personal financial loss trying to stop shares plummeting on a stock market short, Dino left Triumph Capital.
Reflecting on his losses now, Dino traces an imaginary line around the inked number ‘338’ tattooed on his inner wrist. It’s the house number of his family home, “…where I was raised and where I returned, if only in spirit; after losing everything. It’s really your family and your roots that remind you who you are and give you ground to stand on when fortunes crumble.” Asked how he is different from his father, he remarks, “I spend a lot of time with my daughter. We’re very close. I give her a lot of freedom to be creative from a safe place.”
Despite some devastating losses, the Covid19 pandemic has fueled Dino’s most visionary project to date under Snap Brands. Snap Brands is a direct-to-consumer (D2C) telehealth company that leverages audio analytic biomarkers, behavioural economics, open AI tools, tested SEO strategies and approved data gathering techniques to deliver a “blue ocean” value proposition. Snap Brands partners with, acquires, develops, distributes and sells health and wellness products and services in unparalleled and profitable ways. Dino has stacked the Snap Brands team with first-rate scientists, researchers and military technologists together with a strong executive management team.
When asked how he feels about returning to venture capitalism Dino refocuses the question onto the value of his team and the Snap Brands vision. “Even outside of its’ biometric capacities, voice technology has been a critical part of the growing Internet of Things and people are eager to use it (think of Siri, Mirror, Peloton, wearable watches). But the full force of its potential has not even begun to be felt. The deadly accuracy of biometrics turns voice technology into a whole new game when considered in the context of mental and physical health, and this is where Snap Brands is active. Anyone who doesn’t include voice technology and biometrics in their investment portfolio will have missed an incredibly lucrative opportunity. As CEO of Snap Brands, I am surrounded with a remarkably smart and resourceful team of experts. And the potential untapped market is larger than the current cannabis market.”
Learn more about investing or partnering with Snap Brands at https://snapbrands.ca