Top 10 Finalist: Dhakai

What is Dhakai?

Dhakai is a factory-direct B2B marketplace that enables promotional product distributors and suppliers to move from idea to final product ethically and cost-effectively. Dhakai streamlines the apparel sourcing process by automating design, sampling, quotations, production matchmaking, communication, auditing, approvals, payment processing, production tracking, and logistics. Dhakai serves brands like the NFL, NHL, Hitex, and Halo, and the company is seeing explosive growth by disintermediating brands and manufacturers and providing up to 30% cost savings for their customers.

Quick Facts

Company Name: Dhakai

Location: Des Moines, Iowa

Founder(s): Russel Karim

Year Founded: 2020


About the Leadership Team

Russel Karim (CEO) is a three-time tech founder with roots in the apparel manufacturing industry. Russel Co-founded the FanFood app, an express service targeted at concession lines at sporting and entertainment events. He exited FanFood at the end of 2015. In early 2017, Russel founded Cedar Valley Food Runner, a food delivery service that provided fast delivery from local restaurants. After two years of growing the business to four cities and over one hundred drivers, it was acquired by EatStreet Inc. in 2019.

In 2018 Russel was recognized as 20 under 40 by the Courier newspaper for his leadership, community work, and business. He has received the 2019 Outstanding Immigrant Business Award from the National Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit. He has received the GOLD and Bold award from the University of Northern Iowa. Russel was featured on the Times Square jumbotron for his work with the Nasdaq Center.

Rebecca Arellano (COO and Co-founder) brings 25 years of industry experience in apparel product design and manufacturing. Rebecca holds a degree in apparel design and merchandising. Rebecca worked at Cabela’s for decades and supported its exit to BassPro for over $4B. Rebecca also managed all the Sports Authority and Nexus Outdoor’s private label programs. Rebecca manages all of our design, manufacturing partnerships, and operations for Dhakai.