I had a chance to watch my father become a successful entrepreneur as I grew up. After my father was done playing college football, he wanted to continue to use the commercial grade equipment that he used when lifting in college. After searching everywhere in Western New York, he had to go out of state to find a store that would supply him with quality equipment. He saw an opportunity in the market to start a fitness equipment store in Western New York.
I still remember his first store, it was this tiny store at the end of a plaza and my brothers and I would go there and try to eat all the fruit bars that he was selling at the time. It was a small business but it grew fast.
Starting your own business is no easy task, especially as you try to raise 5 boys. My father had a full time job and then has to also juggle running this new business and raising 5 boys. It had to extremely stressful and a lot of hard work and I was able to watch as his stores continued to grow larger and larger.
I have always been intrigued by the thought of being an entrepreneur. What intrigued me the most was that you are betting on yourself. All the success or all the failures all depend on you. If you put the hard work in, the long hours and really grind then you are most likely going to be successful.
I am now sitting just two weeks away from being on the most influential show on tv for an entrepreneur, ABC's Shark Tank. So how did I get here? The same way my father did - I saw an opportunity.
Last year during the summer I was at the gym during a blazing hot Texas summer day. By the time I got to the gym my water was warm and I was leaving sweat rings all over the gym's floor. I just wanted a sip of refreshing cold water by it wasn't happening. I went home that day and searched everywhere for an insulated bottle that I could mix pre workout or protein shakes in and also bring to work and travel with. I couldn't find anything and just like my father I saw an opportunity in the market and decided to make the best shaker bottle that I could.
After a lot of prototypes and a lot of patience, we were able to get a product that we felt comfortable bringing to market. The game plan when we launched was to use social media to bring in sales. I had a pretty decent following and was hoping to spread the word about Ice Shaker and grow from there. I was able to send Ice Shakers to all the New England Patriots players as they made their playoff run to go on to win the Super Bowl that year. We were able to generate a little buzz around the product but sales really were not coming in.
I had to get the product in front of our target market. We started going to fitness expos and the product really started to take off. We even had customers running up to our booth telling us that they have been waiting forever for someone to finally make an insulated shaker bottle. These booth greatly improved our sales but we had to find a way to have an online presence.
Amazon is the largest marketplace in the USA so it was time to use their power to get us started. I needed to build customer's trust and the best way to do this was to get some reviews on Amazon. I put Ice Shaker on Amazon and within the first day I got some sales.
I was impressed and happy but the sales were not very consistent and my listings were hard to find within Amazon's search. I had to figure out a way to show up on the front page of Amazon's search. So how do you figure out how to get on the front page of Amazon? I didn't know so I went and looked at the listings that were on the front page. I looked at their titles, descriptions and images that they used to rank them on the front page. I was able to replicate what other sellers on the front page were doing and soon shot up on the search rankings. Ice Shaker was now a lot more visible and sales really picked up.
Just 6 months in I was able to get Ice Shaker into 14 local GNC's and a few Nutrishops in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Ice Shaker was able to amass about $85,000 in sales heading into the Shark Tank.
I felt extremely comfortable heading into the shark tank. I was able to generate more sales then I thought I would be able to in 6 months, the product was something I really believed in and knew that people wanted, and my brother's had my back.
When I found out I was going to be on the show I was extremely excited. I had been a huge fan of the show since the beginning and had seen almost 75% of the episodes. Although I had seen so many episodes already, I went back and watched them all over again and took notes. I wanted to make sure I was able to answer every single question that the shark's ever asked on the previous episodes.
So what was the game plan going in? I wanted help with manufacturing and marketing. I also wanted a shark that had either a product or service in the same industry so I could hopefully align and work together with them to quickly scale my customer base.
Well you know I can't tell you that....yet! Be sure to watch ABC's Shark Tank on October 15th as I take on the sharks with my brothers Gordie, Dan, Rob and Glenn. Oh yeah and one more thing, if you want an Ice Shaker then you probably should buy it now! Don't miss out and try to order after the show as we might be sold out!