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Should you focus on growth or profitability? Unbuckleme’s Co-Founder, Becca Davison shares her thoughts

by Female Startup Club
May 11th 2021
00:46:05
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Today’s episode is brought to you by Klaviyo, my favourite email marketing provider. And I say that both because they’re supporters of this show AND because they actually are the best when it comes... More

before we dive into the show. Today we have some super exciting news as of this month. Female startup club is officially part of the hubspot podcast network, something we love about the hubspot podcast network is all of the inspiring shows dedicated to helping professionals learn and grow, especially women in business. So if you love female startup club and want to check out other shows like us, we definitely recommend checking out being boss, the gold digger podcast and the shakeup, Check out all these shows and more at hubspot dot com slash podcast network. This is Becca Davidson for female startup club. Hey everyone doing here. Today's episode is brought to you by Clay vo, my favorite email marketing provider and I say that both because their supporters of this show and also because they actually are the best when it comes to functionality and how incredibly easy the platform is to use with everything set up for you. Today, I'm joined with Becca Davison, she's the co founder of a company called Unbuckle me that she's been building with her mom. When Becky's first daughter was born, her mom offered to help her with childcare but quickly realized that her mom couldn't unbuckle her daughter's car seat because of arthritis in her thumb.

Her mom is an occupational therapist and decided to invent a tool to solve her own problem. Becca recognized the need and together they've launched their business after an appearance on shark tank in 2020 and Good Morning America in 2021 buckle me is gaining global attention as an essential car seat tool in this episode, we chat through different topics like how to patent your invention, how to choose whether to focus on profitability or growth at all costs the shark tank experience and start up capital. You can also watch this episode on our brand spanking new youtube channel and as always, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing this inspiring story or many people, please do help me find new ears by sharing it with them. If you want to check in with us or other listeners, you can join our private facebook group or find us on instagram both at female startup club. This is becca for female stunt up club, customers want more from brands, delivering more means owning the customer experience, taking control over data acquisition analysis, creative and delivery.

Clay vo calls this owned marketing and believe it's the best path to growth for more, visit clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. That's clay vo dot com slash F. S. C. One last thing before we jump into this episode, I want to quickly shout about our course the ads, M. B. A. Although I'm totally biased, I'm told by so many of the hundreds of women who have taken it so far that it's amazing and they've been able to increase their revenue in their business using the methods taught the ads. N. B. A. Is A. D. I. Y. Course to help you master the technical skills needed to run profitable facebook and instagram ads by yourself. We've partnered with leading performance marketing agency amplifier to create the best online program out there. And these guys know a serious thing or two about performance marketing. They've spent more than $100 million in ads during their time. You'll learn everything from winning ad creatives to identifying your target KPI s, implementing retargeting funnels and deploying scaling strategies to increase your revenue to upwards of six and seven figures per year.

It includes six modules with more than 30 video lessons and you can learn at your own pace. But what we're most proud of is that $30 from every sale is donated towards girls secondary education through the Malala Fund, a charity that champions every girl's right to 12 years of free, safe quality education and is working for a world where every girl can learn and lead to learn more. Head to female startup club dot com, female startup club presence. Becca Hi, hello and welcome to the female startup club podcast. Hi, thank you so much for having me. I'm so excited to have you on the show today and to tell us your really cool story. I love so much that you're doing this with your mom and building this together. That is just the coolest thing ever. I've loved reading about your story and the company. Thank you. It's been fun. I bet can you start by introducing yourself and what the company is. Sure, absolutely. Um so my name is Becca Davison, I guess I now call myself an entrepreneur, but I certainly didn't have that title and my kind of prior, I've done a bit of a pivot kind of in my life um I kind of started my professional career and in the corporate world and lived in new york city kind of did the, you know, hustle and bustle of the day job and it wasn't until actually I moved back to Houston, which is where I grew up and had my first daughter that I invented a product with my mom and it really came out of a need and so our product is unbuckle me and it's a small tool that makes it easy to unbuckle a child's car seat.

So the five point harness on the car seats are actually regulated to be difficult to press, they require about £9 of pressure. Um and the reason for that is so that kids can't unbuckle themselves when the car is moving. So it's certainly an important safety feature, but that's really the need, that kind of prompted us to start our business around this product and we've grown since then and we have other products, but that's really in a nutshell, what we are, oh my gosh, I love it, love it, love it, can we get back to where the story actually starts and that kind of ah ha moment that I'm sure happen for you Or your mom. Yeah, absolutely. Um So I think this was very much like we were the right people in the right circumstances to bring this you know to the world. So like I said I had moved back to Houston, I had my first daughter, I was on maternity leave thinking about you know going back to work and figuring out child care and all of that and my mom kindly offered to help me out like one day a week she lives nearby in the neighborhood and I was like well that's great, you know when when for everyone, she was so excited, this is her first granddaughter.

Um she was so excited to have her one day a week and it was like she had planned you know when she was little it was mostly just you know crawling around the house but as she got to you know six months, eight months she was like I'm going to take her to the zoo and to the park and I'm gonna plan these fun outings and bonding and it kind of came to this screeching halt one day when she was like well you know the car seat that you brought, you know, I can't do that buckle or I could do the button really so I can get her in it and I think she had a couple you know kind of scary moments where she actually did take her out and got somewhere and couldn't unbuckle her and I think there was one instance where she actually asked a stranger like passing by said like can you just do this buckle for me, I can't get my granddaughter out of the car seat and that's not safe certainly, but it's also you know not comfortable. Um no one likes to be dependent on others and so I think what's really unique and interesting about you know us being kind of the people that had their or at least my mom being the person to have this experience is that her background is an occupational therapy so she's a therapist And spent a whole, you know 20 plus career basically creating adaptive tools for her patients that had different disabilities of the hand.

So it's totally like in her wheelhouse to you know just very quickly pivot and think well I have to solve this problem right? Like I think she mentioned the problem to me and I was you know kind of like well I didn't know a lot about car seats. It sounds frustrating, I think we went shopping to see if there was another car seat that we could buy and I think the person at the store was you know didn't know a lot about it either, but we kind of went around and touch you know felt them all the buckles and kind of quickly realized like they are all for a good reason now, very difficult to press and so that wasn't a solution and so I think it was only just a couple of weeks later my mom and I think one day when I went to go pick up my daughter, she's like, oh by the way you know that problem I mentioned to you I solved it. I was like how'd you do it? And she pulled out this little plastic thing. So my mom has obviously her background being and therapy and sprinting. She did a lot of like post people that had hand surgery. Um she made splints for them and they use a lot of you know rubber bands and levers and a lot of those concepts to exercise different muscles of the hand like in rehabilitation and so she had created this little like C shaped tool if you can envision you know if your listeners are listening, it's a C shaped tool that's got like a little peg kind of that sticks out the top and it just slides kind of around the top and the bottom part of the buckle and the little peg aligns over the button and it just creates leverage so you push further out and it makes it so easy and it just completely solved her problems.

So she didn't have to push as hard that was kind of the beginning, you know first phase and I was like well that's really interesting and kind of cool mom that you thought to do that totally. That's incredible. Yeah you should use the split material that she had in her garage left over from some project, but it's the same material that they make splints out of. It's very poly like you heat it up and it stretches, you know, my mom to her credit, she was very creative and she's very um I think being a therapist for so many years, like she's very tactical and sort of like creating things so it was very easy for her to just kind of play around with something and made it and that was it and she was prepared to just use it. It was like that was her life, she was happy, solved her problem and yeah, just invented this nifty little thing. And so from that moment, at what point did it start ticking over in your mind or her mind that this could be something that other people were facing and could help others? Yeah, you know, it was, it was my mind because I don't think she was thinking that direction at all. Um you know, I I have somewhat of a business background.

I remember I went to business school and I was always like really jealous of those people in business school that were like huddling around inventing their next big company and next inventors and such and I was like, man, I need a good idea, but I never really felt like I had a good idea and so I think that seed was already planted in my brain and then when I saw her, you know, she had built was like mom, you know if if you worked so well for you, there's got to be other people. Probably like arthritis is fairly common and there's lots of grandparents out there and I think her first response, I remember her saying like well I can make a few more for your friends, like if that's what you have in mind, I was like no mom, this could be something we actually, you know make like manufacturer and she's like, oh you mean like hire somebody to make it, you know, it's just the wheels started turning and I just remember, you know, kind of like leaving our house one day being like think about it, think about it, maybe this is our business, you know um We did we just kinda started thinking about it, poking around, I think we probably both, you know went to the computer and google and sort of researching like what you know what that might look like in terms of the market demand and you know how many people have arthritis, how many grandparents are taking care of kids, you know, trying to get some of that market research.

I always tell people like that is such an important step is sort of just you know sizing the market, making sure there's enough people out there, you know that would not only that need it, but it would actually open up their wallet and give you money for that solution, like it's enough of a problem that they would pay for something. And so during that research, were you thinking, oh yeah, there's a pool of people here. This is big enough because it seems kind of niche on first thought. Yeah, it does. And so what's really interesting about our story I think is, you know, first of all, we were very encouraged by kind of the early, you know, that realizing talking to some hand surgeons that my mom was connected to and different people that, you know, arthritis is really common. And so we found out that really a third of women in their fifties and sixties have some sort of arthritis and what's called the CMC joint, which is this joint at the base of your thumb. So it actually is very common. It's more common in women than men. Women have, like looser ligaments, I think biologically that makes them more predisposed to having arthritis. And then just reading some of the research on grandparents, right, grandparents are younger today, they're active.

They want to spend time with their grandkids, I think, you know, most grandparents that live within the vicinity of their grandkids are spending, you know, good amount of time with them. Um it's definitely growing consumer market as well. Grand friends spend a lot of money on their grandkids, you know, there are bits chuffed chuffed to look off to the grandkids, yeah, so all of that, you know, and parents are working and working parents, um, you know, grandparents are stepping up to help out. So yeah, all those trends we're really encouraging to us and then I'll kind of fast forward that we actually did kind of stumble upon some additional markets of people that could use our tool that we actually, I don't think we really found out about that until we had started, probably started a little bit of early marketing. So we did a Kickstarter campaign and started to see some feedback from people, but we discovered that, you know, moms with long fingernails were frustrated from breaking their nails and car seat buckles. And so our product kinda is a way that they can lift up their hand a little bit so that they're not mashing their beautiful manicured nails or thumbnails like into that buckle. So that was the whole market that surprised us. And then the other market that surprised us because my daughter was still so young at the time is parents of older Children, like four and five year olds that we're still in a five point harness.

You know, they've got the mental acuity to kind of be like, hey, I want to, I want to get out, I want to unbuckle myself, but they just lack that thumb strength. And so parents were buying essentially looking at our tool to be able to hand back to, you know, an older child that maybe is in the third row of an suv or a minivan and that parent and in many cases is like crawling back to the third row to unbuckle that child and instead have kind of found that with our tool they can pass it back, the kids can unbuckle themselves, they can pass it back to mom or dad in the front seat so it stays out of reach. That was an important design feature that it doesn't attach to the car seat so it still can be kept out of reach. But yeah, I mean speeds up kind of like the car line or the drop off line and kids love the independence, wow. So those were some additional markets that really helped us kind of feel like, okay, there's, there's a lot of people out there like really every family between those three scenarios, every family's got somebody that can use our product. Yeah, so it's actually really broad, really, really broad when you take a closer look more than you think, right? Yeah, yeah, it's interesting.

And then you've got the disability market, you know, people with like different, you know, rheumatoid arthritis or set up a policy, Yeah, any sort of weakness, you know, carpal tunnel syndrome. I mean it kind of stretches in a lot of different directions and I feel like for the generations of now getting older all being on our phones and already having these problems, we're all going to have these weird hand issues when we're old, if we're being real here, it's scary. I get so sore in my hands already. Yes. Right. It's really interesting that you bring that up because there are studies happening right now that are just being published on, they call it texting thumb and texting thumb right? It's overused when our thumb joint is one of the most overused joints in the whole body and it gets a ton of you certainly with texting so I'm gonna have that. Yeah, I probably already have it. I know I'm so guilty of goodness. That's where I think people that have carpal tunnel like you know, it gets inflamed from like a lot of overuse. So Oh goodness, Okay, so you mentioned that you did the Kickstarter campaign and something that I always love to chat about is the kind of capital you need to get started how that money is allocated and how you financed in the beginning.

So you mentioned the Kickstarter thing was that kind of the first amount of money that went into the brand or the business or did you need to, you know, pile and some cash before that. So, um that's a great question. Yeah, I think every product is different. I think that's, you know, that's really important to note, right? Is that it depends on where you manufacture, it depends on how big or small, you know, so we're talking for our product, it was plastic, so it's an injection tool. Um, it's small, but we decided early on, we wanted to have like a dual mold because we wanted it to have like both. A hard, obviously had to be hard to be kind of a lever arm, but we wanted it to be kind of a grippy, soft top so that, you know, added cost and expense and you know, in terms of manufacturing to get those two molds that kind of came together. Um, so, you know, we made some of those early decisions and you know, certainly that was, you know, we actually initially manufactured in the United States and so that has a little bit higher price tag to do that locally. So those were some decisions we made early on. So I think we did, you know, just even to get before, you know, to get to the point of Kickstarter, you know, we did put in some money ourselves just to get the cad designs, you know, created, We wanted to, we wanted to make sure that when we launched on Kickstarter, we had a pretty close to final version of what the concept was and what it would look like.

We actually had 3D prints done before our Kickstarter campaign. And one of the things I remember we did was sent out probably like 50 different prototypes to people we had never met. And that was really important. I tell people that as well and get feedback from people that, you know, beyond just your friends and family that will tell you, you know, it's a great idea. I keep going like we wanted to go to strangers that weren't afraid of hurting our feelings. And so we sent out a bunch of prototypes and got some really cool feedback, you know, certainly validating feedback being like, this is amazing. I would buy 100 of these. Um, but you know, feedback on price, you know, what would you pay for it? And then I remember a lot of, a couple of the people said, well, you know, I love to like attach it to a key chain or a diaper bag. And so we thought, well let's add like a little loop on it. So that was something that we hadn't actually thought to do ourselves, but got that feedback from others. So I guess that answer your question, we did put some money out there for some of those activities, some of the kind of early research, we went to a couple events, we went to a juvenile products trade show. Actually, this was back in like the fall of 2016 and the reason we went there, they actually had a specific section for inventors.

So you pay like a discounted rate for a booth in that section but the buyers are there, right, you're kind of right next to the big trading floor and I know trenches have taken a hit with Covid and everything, but this was pre Covid and there were buyers coming through from big box stores and there was media and so that was a really great research kind of trip for us to sort of ask those buyers, you know, would you buy this or is there a demand for it? Um, what's the right price points all of that? So, so we kind of put up some money before kick started to just get to that point where we felt really confident, what was the reaction of the bias that you were meeting at the trade chair? So that was again really validating. They were like, yes, this is a problem. Like we hear people walking through, you know, our store right? Like a target or buy the baby, you know, that say, hey, you know, these buckles are difficult. Um, the other really validating piece of feedback we heard from was actually car seat manufacturers and so they had representatives there that kind of stopped by and they even said, you know, we get calls in our customer service department from people saying that they struggle with this issue and we don't really have anything really great to tell them right now other than, you know, look for someone else in your, you know, your family that can help.

But you know, they thought it was a really interesting concept to, so all the feedback was, was really great. So that was certainly gave us a lot of, you know, tailwind to to go into that Kickstarter campaign feeling like, okay, we've got a good concept, we've got a market, we know that this product is important and is needed. And so it's just a matter of kind of getting it to market. So then I think the Kickstarter funds were largely, you know, there's more tactical steps of, okay, let's use this to, you know, put that big chunk of money down for the injection tool and for our first inventory run. And so that's kind of, we were very piecemeal about our funding was kind of like when we need to pay for this, I need to pay for this. Uh, we didn't do any sort of formal fundraising or any other outside investors. What kind of um, order did you have to place? You know, being the first order, Sometimes the minimum order quantities can be in the hundreds of thousands and sometimes you can get a small batch, What were you guys facing? So that was a decision we made when we decided to manufacture in the us was that we were very intimidated by, you know, going overseas and having to place, you know, there's like tens of thousands of units, especially because our product is so small and so to get to like minimum weights for freight, you know, ocean freight.

It's like you have to order so many units. So I remember our first production run in the US was 4000 pieces. And that seemed like a ton of you know unbuckle me products for us. But it was great that our manufacturer was very responsive. Like we had like a three week lead time. So it was very easy. I think we even placed our first reorder like maybe before he even delivered the full 4000 pieces. So we were very much kind of patting on ordering like you know 1000 at a time. It was very and I could credit that for manufacturers, they were really great to work with, especially this beginning few kind of months to figure out what our demand would look like. I do want to talk about the beginning few months now and sort of that launch phase, how are you marketing in the beginning and how were you reaching that older demographic that you initially had in mind? Yeah, that's a great question. Um and it's interesting because when we discovered that we had these three markets, it was like we have grandparents here. We've got you know younger parents with like the four and five year olds. And then you've got like moms with long fingernails and those are like pretty different demographics to try to reach.

And you've got mom's with long fingernails, right? It's like those people are you know those are different consumers. And so I think that if I'm being honest, I think that challenge is stuck with us even through the years, it's like, how do we, you know, make our marketing dollars efficient when we're kind of going in different directions. So I think the answer to the question, it's a little bit unique kind of by market. I mean we certainly have focused heavily on the grandparents because that's kind of our, you know, very much aligns with our heart and our story behind this, and so, you know, certainly social media has been a big part of it. So facebook, you know, my mom's on facebook and instagram personally, so we know that grandparents are there. Um, so that's been a great way to connect with those people. We've got, you know, other various kind of marketing things, you know, different partnerships collaborations. We've tried to get, you know, pr stories or media placements in places where grandparents are reading and looking and paying attention to. Um we did a couple other trade shows, we connected Early on with a couple of trade shows that got us into several, you know, mom and pop retailers.

I think we had one show where we got like 25 purchase orders from like mom and pop retail stores across the country, so that was fun, you know, just to feel like we're growing out of Houston and we're kind of getting out there locally in different communities and word of mouth, to it's one of those things, I think we always see a huge spike in sales right around like august september and at first we were like, what is this? You know, there's no holiday here really, but we realized it was back to school season and I think that's when people are with their kids in car seats, talking to other moms and parents and grandparents and uh, you know, it must come up, I think in different communities, especially thinking about those kind of four and five year olds that are, you know, back to school and parents are being rushed in the car line and they're having to get out or go around the car door to open their kids. So that's been kind of a fun surprise if we get this like fall peak and sales, it's almost as good as the holidays. So wow, that's so cool. How interesting what have been the key moments of growth since that kind of time if you're to look back at the last few years at what moved the needle and really gotten you out there?

Yeah, I mean, I'd say early on, I mean post Kickstarter, you know, we started selling on our website, but I think, you know, going on, amazon was a big growth opportunity for us in the beginning because you know, amazon has such a built in audience of people that just love to shop on amazon. Um, so you know, focusing on building out our presence there, getting reviews, you know, getting kind of some advertising going on amazon was really great and then obviously, you know, the shark tank experience, I would say it was like a real launching point for us and that was just last year, almost exactly a year since that experience and I think things have just really exploded for us since then, in a lot of different ways and a lot of new distribution opportunities and we were just on Good Morning America a couple of weeks ago that came out of that shark taking experience. So yeah, just a lot of, I think exposure, um and we always think like reaching so many people through those things has like an amplification to reaching more people because everybody, you still want to, you know, hopefully they're showing it to people talking about it, giving it as gifts. Um so just kind of has this ripple effect and we've seen it really in our sales is just, it's kind of exponentially grown since that air date last year.

I loved watching that video. You were hot property on the episode five offers from every shark. That's crazy. That must have been such a wild moment. Well it was fun and it was special because you know, I had my mom and my daughter actually was the little girl in the show, so all three of us were there and it's of course such a stressful, like experience trying to like focus on your pitch and focus on a four year old mood and snacks and um, so yeah, by the time we got out there, it was like, let's just do this, like we, we've got a moment, let's make the most of it. So totally, we were really happy to see the sharks, you know, really? And kevin asks like a very similar line of question if you watched it. You know, he's like, is this a narrow market, like is this just grandparents with arthritis? And I think once we started to explain like, you know, it is and grandparents with arthritis or not to be, you know, dismissed like that is our key market, but that there are kind of other markets as well that have helped us grow in other spaces, something I was going to ask and other people bring this up from time to time to, as in listeners that I'm just curious about in general, but related to you, is the goal to be profitable along the way or is the goal to grow like at scale and sell?

And I bring it up because I know in the show you were mentioning like kevin O'leary was talking about doing the royalty deals and you were worried about the profit margin and that kind of thing. So I'm wondering what the goal is when you're building the business and yeah, if it's to be profitable, like as you go along and take the money out of the business or if it's to be like let's grow at all costs and sell the business. Yeah, that's a good question. Um and we've thought about like different things at different points I think in our kind of journey, um, certainly early on, um, you know, we were not looking to take any money out of the business. It was just, you know, put everything in, you know, whether it's buying inventory or marketing and it was like, we just, you know, we have to get this out there, we have to say yes to all these opportunities. You know, even if they cost money even if it's going to an event that we have to, you know, pay more money to go like let's just go, go go and unfortunate that my mom and I, you know, being business partners and you know, mother daughter, like we were most very aligned in our vision and we still are, but you know, early on it was great to be able to feel like we didn't have to, you know, we didn't have investors sort of looking for profit or you know, anything bad.

So it was like we could just do what we felt like we could afford and we believed in the growth. So yeah, I mean we've kind of had a similar mentality, but we, you know, fortunately as we started to scale, we moved our manufacturing actually last year right around the shark tank air date our manufacturer decided to close due to Covid really was kind of the reason they didn't close, but they divested their injection molding business. And I think I got that call like three or four weeks before shark tank aired and I was like, oh my gosh, this is going to kill me. Um, so we had to very quickly kind of pivot and figure out our supply chain. And so that was, you know, an opportunity where we had to put in a lot of capital to sort of make that pivot, you know, as you said, like ramp up our inventory and reinvest and sort of getting our inventory to a place where we knew it was about to grow, you know, I've been aired on the show and some of these new distribution, like we just rolled out with walmart a couple weeks ago. So getting prepared for that walmart inventory. So that was kind of like we had to throw all this cash back into that. Um, and now I think we're finally like kind of on the other side of that big investment to where, you know, we're starting to see some, some really healthy profit.

And so, you know, I think every business is different. It's taken us a while, I think to get to this point, you know, we've been at this, I don't know, four years or so now, um, to feel like we're finally like at a very comfortable place. So I would say the listeners like it depends on what your personal needs are certainly, and there are businesses that, you know, you have to grow slower because you need to take some of that capital out for, you know, whatever personal reasons you have and that's mine too. But it's, we've been lucky. I think that we've been able to sort of throw it back all into the business, grow fairly quickly and get to where we are today. So it's different for every business. I think it's so tough when you talk to other people because it just depends. Of course. Yeah. I think it's just interesting hearing different people's perspectives to understand like why people choose a certain way or, or you know, spark a thought in someone else's mind like, oh yeah, I hadn't thought of that before. Always find it interesting to dig in. Yeah. And I do think, you know, one thing, you know, one of the great things about going on shark tank I think is that it really forces you to get your numbers squared away and they're really study the numbers, you know, they always say, um and it's a great exercise and it's one exercise that I think it's kevin o'leary that's like if you don't know your customer acquisition cost you're definitely losing money.

Like I think he says that and I think it's easy to get carried away with marketing sometimes and you see like you see the revenue and you know, you're so excited by that, but I think it's really important to get down to that margin math, so to speak and make sure that, you know, it's fine to reinvest capital back in marketing if that's what you're, you know, you decided to do as a business, but it is really important to make sure you're running the numbers and making sure that you're not putting too much into marketing, figure out what your cost of customer acquisition is and making sure that you're still staying within, you know, the appropriate range so that you have a path to profitability. Because I think that can be scary when businesses sort of blindly, you know how focused on the product, focused on growth and don't realize that maybe they're giving away too much margin and then kind of wonder later why they're not profitable. So I think it's, it's a discipline that is really important for every entrepreneur to make sure you, you have that in place because you know, our product is 14 99 and we sell to retailers for, you know, 7 50 for half of that mostly. So there's not a lot of margin to work with. So it does limit us and so, you know, as much as we were putting money back into marketing, we had to be mindful like, you know, once you pay for the product and pay for shipping, you know, everything that goes into it, there's only a finite amount of money left to make sure that we still are going to be profitable at the end of the day.

So I think that's important. Yeah, absolutely. Thank you so much for sharing that. I want to ask you about patents. I saw that you patented the product. How do you patent a product in simple terms? Mm hmm. Um, so we focus on the U. S. It's a process. Um, I mean I could spend an hour talking about the process for patenting. Um, but I do recommend it. Um, it's been a huge asset for us as we've grown because we have seen, you know, knock offs come up here and there and it's been really, really powerful for us to be able to defend our markets based on our intellectual property. Um, but essentially yeah, you file an application with the patent office and you usually wait a year or so and, and then you kind of start what they call prosecution. So you work with your attorney and kind of go back and forth. What you're really trying to do is kind of define the moat essentially like how broad or how narrow kind of is that circle around your invention. And so obviously as the inventor, you're trying to make it as broad as possible. And the examiner usually at the patent office is kind of trying to make sure that you're still within the bounds of what you can claim. You know, you're not trying to just claim any plastic tool under the sun, right?

They can't give you those patent rights, but trying to figure out what the languages that explains what you've claimed, essentially what your invention is. And it's such an interesting profession. I sort of thought often like if I could go back and reinvent my whole life, like maybe I'd be a patent attorney because I find it like a puzzle. It's very fascinating. Um, it's like a, you know, word language, word soup sometimes, But um, yeah, so you know, that's the whole process in and of itself that can take a lot of time for inventors and a big one and I do think patents are valuable. Yeah, big one. Um, I think again every product is different. I've seen other products that don't have patents and they do extremely well and they kind of rely on their own brand and marketing and differentiation around like the product itself that you know, that can be extremely effective as well. And you kind of save all the money that you spend on patent attorneys and all of that process. So it's not to say that everybody always needs a patent totally right, got it. How do you defend when you're seeing copycats or similar products come onto the market?

What's your kind of approach to navigating that? Yeah, so it depends on where they are. Um, amazon is actually really stepped up their resources for small businesses, I think in the past few years this has been really helpful. Um They don't have a process now where you can work with amazon basically submit your patent in the U. S. Um and work with them and they have a kind of defined process where they essentially will give the other. You basically go to the party and say I think you're infringing my patents and they will give them a certain period of time to defend themselves and then if that window closes and if they don't defend themselves then amazon removes them from the amazon platform. If they do decide they want to defend themselves, amazon partners, you with a third party attorney and there's a very subsidized fee for kind of a limited patent claim kind of process where much much cheaper than any sort of litigation in court. But you can kind of each state your case and decide you know who's and then they render an opinion and if there's an infringing product it's taken off amazon and if it's not then they are allowed to stay. So it's a really great program for small businesses like us.

They don't have the budget to take any and everyone to court because that can be quite costly. So that's been really powerful for us. We've used that quite a few times. But yeah I mean it's you know it's negotiation as well. I mean I always tell people like don't forget you know often that the first line of defense doesn't need to be like a cease and desist letter like the first line of defense can be a conversation right call the person of like we had one product that I think we, you know, I think I sent him an email and just said you know, hey we have this patent, are you aware of it? And their response, this is actually a company overseas. Their response was congratulations on your patent, we were not aware best of luck and they removed their products from amazon so wow you know there's a full range of yeah, I was really surprised by that actually, but like don't assume that everybody's just like got their teeth out and there, you know nails out to fight. Um it sometimes can be resolved in much more cost effective ways. So I always tell people like you know started the conversation certainly there's a time and a place for lawyers and threats and legal action and that sort of thing. But I have seen um and I've talked to some other companies as well like you know sometimes just a conversation to start, you know you can find a win win.

Yeah like there's a human behind that other computer too. So human to human just seeing if that can be resolved versus going down the pathway where if there is a win lose situation but at some point it's also a lose lose because you're both having to invest dollars that could be spent on the business into the face. Yeah, it can get so expensive so fast and I mean for better for worse like to take someone all the way through a patent infringement that you know, it can sink your business, right? And it comes to the point of like, where do you want to spend your money? Can you find a solution that you can live with? Really great piece of advice? I love that. Yeah. I think you have time in a place, right? You just have to take each situation as it arises. Absolutely. Where is business today? And what fun things can you shout about? What's, what's going on? What's the team look like? What fun things are on the horizon? Yeah. So you know, like so many of us, I think we've like come out of Covid, well I shouldn't say come out because I know there's many parts of the world that are still really struggling with it. But at least in the US it feels like there's light at the end of the tunnel and certainly people are starting to get out more and shop more.

So, You know, we've been like full blazing ahead in 2021. There's so much on the horizon right now for growth for us As I imagine we are launching with Walmart and in about 2600 stores next week. Actually, early May. Yeah, we're very excited actually. This is the first you're the first person to hear that hot off. So hearing in here first in here first. Yeah, so we'll start sharing that probably next week. My mom and I are super excited to go to walmart and see your product on the show. So we're really excited about that and Target, we've launched a Target dot com, so we're really excited to kind of start building that relationship with Target, you know, we are car seat accessories, so we've been focused on, you know, where consumers buying car seats, we want to be hanging right next to where car seats are sold, and so that's driven us to, you know, to target, to walmart reselling by the baby. We've been there a couple of years, which is part of the bath and beyond. So we're trying to, you know, be in those kind of big box locations, you know, amazon has been, you know, just growing for us exponentially, I think shark tank this help that just kind of wave of attention and focus.

Um, so that's been really, really exciting, but beyond that, what I'm really excited for our businesses, I think I've kind of taken a pause this year and kind of try to figure out where, you know, where do we go next from here, what's the next step for our business and for us it's into new products and so we're really focused on new product development, Got a couple ideas in the hopper related to, you know, travel and the other thing I'm really passionate about that is kind of surprised me is as my kids have grown and I have two daughters and child passenger safety and kind of learning as we've gotten more connected to manufacturers and you know, different safety advocates that you know, love our product for the reason that you know, adults shouldn't be driving car seats when they can't do the buckle that's not safe. And so connecting with those actually got certified myself a couple of years ago as a child passenger safety technician and so expanding that awareness about different products that are, you know, smart, certainly innovative and helping solve problems but also safe. I think that's one thing that, you know, there's a lot of accessories on the market today that just aren't safe. They're not, they're detracting from the safety and efficacy of those car seats.

So you know, our vision for our company is to create and promote products that are safe and then have the recommendations and endorsements from the safety experts out there. We've got a couple ideas in the hopper and a couple of partnerships actually that with other brands and other small businesses and entrepreneurs that we're looking to kind of combine and share the work that we've done and starts to spread those products with more consumers. So all good things. What a journey! That sounds so exciting. Yeah, it's been fun. More genius ideas coming through from your mom coming through with the goods. Yeah, we hope so. Exactly. We were just on a call yesterday. You know, she's she's laughing because I think she feels like some of her splint making materials like old or cracking and she's like frustrated. She's not able to do as many of her prototype so she needs to resource her prototyping material. Oh my gosh, that's so funny. I love that. What advice do you have for women who have a big idea and want to start their own business? Yeah, I mean, I certainly recommend it.

I think it's it's a lot of fun and I love having, you know, the autonomy to manage my own schedule and manage my, my day to day. So, um, I think research is a big part of it. I think you want to make sure that you're backing the right horse, so to speak. And if it's, if it's not the right idea, I'd say, you know, do the research, you know, run the numbers, make sure you've got the numbers in the margin. You know, if it's a product for example, that you've got a price point that you can sell it for. Um, and you know, that gives you a little bit of margin, but also don't be afraid to pivot. I think that's the other thing is, you know, I've had friends, you know, that maybe start something and they find out, you know through market research that maybe it's not the right idea. Maybe, you know, don't go too far. I think be afraid to like accept failure and recognize like maybe there's another idea that's better for me. Um, and you never know where that's going to leave. Like if one door closes, right? You know, there might be another avenue or another path. So, you know, I think big and think creatively, right. I mean it doesn't have to be a product. You know, I think that there's, you know, service based businesses, there's education, there's so many different business models. I think today, you know, of ways to start businesses and I know people, um, with a product and then find out that there's a demographic that wants to learn more about how they made that product.

And so they kind of pivot into like an education space, you know, or a blogging space. So yeah, I mean, I'd say just, you know, be creative, you know, be thoughtful about it, do the research. Um, and have fun with it. Right? Believe in yourself. Believe in your idea. You know, don't take no furniture, no, is not, you know, no forever. Just no for now. You know, maybe maybe it's yes later. So absolutely persistence and perseverance, I think is key. It is absolutely key. Cool. So at the end of every episode, I asked a series of six quick questions, some of the things we might have covered already, but I always do the recap. So question number one is, what's your, why? Why do you do what you do? Yeah. So I think that the customer reviews are really what drives me like seeing those people, you know, especially the grandparents, right? That like, you know, take the time to write like a paragraph review about like how this small piece of plastic has enabled them to spend time with their grandkids, right? And bond with them and make memories with them. And you know, even just, I think about my mom and the time that she gets to have with my kids and taking them out to do stuff and the memories my kids are gonna have of those special times with their grandparents.

So, you know, just seeing the responses from people is really what drives me and makes me feel like I'm doing something important. Yeah, wow, that's really special. Gosh, question number two is what's been the number one marketing moment that made the business pop? Um, I have to say shark tank. I mean just this past year has been kind of taking us to the next level in terms of exposure and sales and, and everything that comes with that, you know, all the distribution opportunities, um, connections with those buyers. Um, you know, we've had those conversations, I kind of found the buyers and I tried to reach out to them, you know, for different retailers and it felt like after shark tank, it was like, you know, I got just different kinds of responses and interest. And so I'd say that was a huge jumping point for us. It was inbound not outbound. Exactly. It's like, oh, I want to talk to you now. Question # three is where do you hang out to get smarter? What books are you reading podcasts? Are you listening to? Things that you're subscribing to that are worth mentioning? Yeah, I mean I, I love, love, love learning from other entrepreneurs. I think there's, I'm so inspired by so many stories, um, and all different scales, you know, some that are just getting started.

Um, you know, some that have been around for a while. So I love reading a member of a couple of facebook groups with different business owners and entrepreneurs and I just, I love those because the threads and the topics that come up are two things that, you know, the things that I'm thinking about that I'd love to crowdsource different thoughts or ideas are oftentimes things I'm not thinking about, which is things I should be thinking about. I love this podcast. One of my favorites is, um, is how I built this and I think there's, you know, he has amazing different speakers. Um, and so that's one of my favorites that I listen to everyone while I'm walking outside. I always try to get outside. You know, I will say exercise is on top of my priority list these days because I've got so many computing things to do, but I do try to get outside, you know every day and listen to podcasts. So amazing love Kyra's question number four is how are you winning the day? What are your AM or PM rituals and habits that keep you feeling motivated and happy and successful? Yeah, that's a great question. I think that's really important um you know, mental health and just kind of finding ways to unplug enjoy the day to me getting outside is a big part of it and unfortunately live in Houston that most of the year, um the weather is such, it might be a bit hot, but at least we can always get outside and try to walk around and clear my head and sometimes I feel like I do my best brainstorming and thinking when I'm not at my desk and I'm walking around and I have two little kids, so you know, they're a huge part of my day and I need to make sure that I kind of plug in with them and make sure they're feeling validated and you know more or less emotionally stable by the end of the day.

So I think those, those two things in addition to the business really kind of round out my day, amazing Question # five is if you only had $1000 left in the business bank account, where would you spend it? That's a really good question and I was thinking about that. I have a kind of interesting answer. I think I would say on inventory. Um, and I say that because I think we've, we've been through struggles for the past couple of years when we, you know, for instance when we had to change manufacturers and we were short on inventory and it's the worst feeling when, you know, you have customers wanting your product, but you don't have the product assault to them and having those delays. And you know, people just even saying like, you know, day to day, I can't take my kids out like when are you gonna have your product back in stock? So I'd say inventory because I think there are so many creative ways, even without a dollar to try to market your product? You know, whether it's, you know, finding the right communities, you know, we've been fortunate to find, you know, other car seat experts and child passenger safety technicians that talk about our product for free and we've tried to offer them, you know, affiliate revenue and they're like, no, no, no, no.

Save your money. Like I believe in your product and we want to share it. So I think you can find those creative, low cost marketing tools if you have something to sell. So I'd say inventory. Gosh, that's incredible. Yeah. For you. And last question question # six is how do you deal with failure? What's your mindset and approach when things don't go to plan. Yeah, it's a great question. I think it's about breaking it down to kind of, that next tactical, like, what comes next? Right. I tend to be a very results oriented person. So if I'm struggling with something and I think my, you know, it helps to sort of break it down into like, okay, if it's some big failure, like what does that mean? Like tactically speaking, what is the next path for? What is it that that's, you know, no longer a relationship or an opportunity? And so maybe is there a different one? Or is it No. For now, let's keep trying a different way or approach it differently. You know, it depends on what it is. But I think, you know, we've certainly had our share of challenges, um but it's just sort of taking a deep breath realizing like this isn't the end of the world, like there is a path forward and I just need to find it amazing.

Becca thank you so much for taking the time to share your story and learnings with us on the show. I really loved meeting you. Thank you. You too. Hey, it's Doom here. Thanks for listening to this episode of the female startup club podcast. If you're a fan of the show, I'd recommend checking out female startup club dot com where you can subscribe to our newsletter and learn more about our D. I. Y course, the ads M. B. A. I also truly appreciate each and every review that comes our way. It might seem like such a small thing, but reviews help others find us. So please do jump on and subscribe rate and review the show. And finally, if you know someone who would benefit from hearing these inspiring stories, please do share it with them and empower the women in your network. See you soon. Mm. Yeah. Yeah.

Should you focus on growth or profitability? Unbuckleme’s Co-Founder, Becca Davison shares her thoughts
Should you focus on growth or profitability? Unbuckleme’s Co-Founder, Becca Davison shares her thoughts
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