Kevin Consolo Co-Founded SneakErasers with his friend Chris and at one point these guys considered quitting.
Sure they had an amazing product - an eraser that turned dirty sneaker shoe soles white and clean again! But building a business was expensive in terms of money, time, and personal life. At a certain point they had to make a decision to quit or continue and take a big risk. Kevin and Chris chose to move forward and it's so exciting because they now have their product for sale in a TON of stores, including Walmart!
Watch this story for inspiration on continuing on your entrepreneurial journey AND to learn from their process getting into retail.
What are the key take-aways? What 4 things Kevin could say it took to get into Walmart?:
In Kevin's words:
1. Taking a Risk:
Chris (Co-Founder) and I often talked about what we would regret if this business failed. One of those items on the top of the list is attending an industry trade show. We would kick ourselves if we never made the financial leap and attended a show to hear buyer's reactions face-to-face. And, given my career and experience, the best face-to-face events are ECRM, so naturally we chose to attend one of their planning sessions. While the response was incredible and much more positive than we could've expected, you also learn a lot from the feedback and new ideas materialize. It was incredibly worth it for our growth in 2019.
2. Willingness to talk to ANYONE:
Go to the networking sessions. Pick up the phone. You never know who has contacts that can help or advice that can shape your business. We knew we had so much to learn (and still do) and we continually had conference calls to see if our strategy needed adjusting.
If everyone was going to say "No" to our product and we were going to call it quits, the only way we could achieve that result is to go out there and find out. Which means, we had to make the strategy and find every decision-maker to try to get feedback and see if it indeed makes sense as a new item for their business.
If we didn't attend ECRM, if we weren't willing to find and talk to everyone, we would never have found our future Walmart distributor. Because we found each other and it was a perfect match, we put our efforts together to get to the Made in America Open Call event. Each step led to another crucial step the opportunity for a pitch that would change our business and get us into Walmart and other stores.
3. Being Ready for the Pitch:
After we got the "YES" from the Walmart buyer, which was one of the top moments of our entrepreneurial path, I quickly realized that we probably would’ve received a different reaction had the pitch been a year prior.
With Walmart, you have to have your ducks in a row. Because of talking and learning from all these industry companies in the past, and understanding GS1, WERCSmart Certificates, SDS Reports, IRI/Nielsen on-boarding, our corporate responsibility/USA jobs creation, co-packers, logistics - all of this allowed us to move past the details and be ready to focus on the product and their customer.
All the buyer had to do was say YES and we were only a few weeks away from being ready to deliver. I didn't realize until after the pitch that everything we did to lead up to it was the reason we were able to move quick and get that positive response.
What would you share with other entrepreneurs on this journey?:
1. Obstacles happen, every day.
It's about how you pick yourselves up, be patient, breathe, learn, and make the best decisions to overcome those roadblocks. Chris and I got really good at telling each other "we willl figure this out, we can do this" and supporting one another in what may have been seen as a time of crisis. Looking at what we can do to fix the situation, instead of breaking down, is the best thing you can do.
2. It doesn't happen overnight.
It felt like forever that Chris and I would say to each other "we're so close we're SO close!" We just believed that it would finally start the snowball effect if we put in the work. But it certainly wasn't that easy. Your friends are out doing something fun on the weekend and you're sitting there grinding away at the business, wondering if this is all going to be worth it. You start to realize how many hours you've put in and the fact that you're doing it for free. Chris and I would make calls and ask "why isn't this working? What are we doing wrong? How should tweak the strategy?"
I did have to rely on the skills I've learned in my career about business plans, retail strategies, the science behind why people buy things, and just make the right adjustments sometimes. Even if the business was going to fail, Chris and I knew that we would've still learned so much about what it takes to launch a product from scratch, from invention to consumer sale. And the experience was almost like picking up another degree.
Plus, I got to talk with one of my best friends (who lives 2500 miles away) every week. We would be so deep in the trenches sometimes, that hearing positive feedback from friends and family really made us feel like it was worth going that one next step. And that stuff means a lot.
It took 3.5 years, a lot of trial & error, a lot of hours and minutes on the phone, but now we're finally going to have multiple brands in over 25,000 stores in America. We couldn't get here without the ups and downs, and you have to look back and realize the bad moments are just as important as the good.
3. If you have time in the day, say yes to every conference call invite.
Accept calls from marketing/advertising, logistics, freight, packaging and especially other entrepreneurs. Don't ever think you've learned all there is to learn. Ask inventors if you can have 10 minutes of their time to ask them why their strategy worked. There's always something you can pick up from people in the industry and people that have succeeded!
Their journey has been exciting so far but it's not over yet!
View their innovative and growing brand, order some of your own SneakErasers and follow Kevin's journey through the links below:
Want to shop more? Here's a longer list of where you can find SneakERASERS:
Costco (Southwest USA)
Fred Meyer (Northwest USA)
Harp's Fine Foods
We would love to hear questions or encouragement for the SneakErasers team. Please leave those questions or email them to us.
MORE ABOUT START TO SOLD
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MORE ABOUT EMILY PAGE
Emily is CEO of Pearl Resourcing and has managed and launched multiple 7-figure brands in Costco, Williams-Sonoma, Kroger, and Amazon. She's bringing you the expertise, resources, and mentors you need so that you can develop products and make them sell.
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