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How Click & Carry Converted from an Idea to an Amazing Product - Amazon Seller Tips with Kimberly Meckwood - Part 1
February 14, 2022
How Click & Carry Converted from an Idea to an Amazing Product - Amazon Seller Tips with Kimberly Meckwood - Part 1
Things we discussed in this session:

A. Part

B. Part 2

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Transcription in this episode:
[00:00:01] spk_0: Welcome to the seller, roundtable e commerce coaching [00:00:04] spk_1: and business strategies with Andy Arnott and Amy Wees, [00:00:10] spk_0: hey, what's up? Everybody, this is Andy are not with [00:00:13] spk_1: AMy [00:00:13] spk_0: Louise and this is still a round table number 131, we are super excited to have Kim make wooden Kim welcome, thanks so much for being on today. [00:00:22] spk_1: Thank you so much. It's a pleasure to be here. [00:00:25] spk_0: So kim the way that we always like to start our show is to get a decent amount of background you don't have to give us, you know, the 20 minutes, you know, intricate, you know about, about how uh Mikey and eighth grade wouldn't give you a hug back. We don't need to go that deep, but we love to hear kind of where you're born, where you grew up, um, you know, kind of your hard [00:00:45] spk_1: knocks, school work [00:00:47] spk_0: kind of what your life journey was until today. [00:00:50] spk_1: All right, well I'm from Scranton pennsylvania, everyone knows Scranton because of the office and uh, I went to school here for two years and then transferred out to school in California and I've been in California for 30 years. So I live in Los Angeles and let's see, went to san Diego state, um lived in Senegal for eight years and now another 22 in Los Angeles went into pharmaceuticals that medical device sales and now I'm an inventor, [00:01:23] spk_0: awesome, I love that. Um, so one of the other things, you know when, whenever people watch a lot of the Aecom world, a lot of the entrepreneurial world, they always see the like glitzy stuff, right? The big parties in las Vegas, the limos, you know the fluff. Right? So what I would love to know is let's start out with some of the early challenges that you kind of had to overcome in terms of, you know, getting getting your, your from your idea to maybe your prototype to your invention. Kind of. What were the, some of the early challenges on that journey? [00:01:57] spk_1: Gosh, there were so many. So the first was actually getting a working prototype and actually getting the motivation to move forward with my invention. So at the time I was selling a drug for Parkinson's disease and one of my doctors at USC, she's one of my best friends to this day, but she said to me, will you shut up and stop talking about this and do something about it. So I did, she happen to have a neighbor who was studying her masters for product design at the Pasadena design School. So I called Audrey and I um, I hired her to help me with a three D. Cad print plus the passing Native Design School actually had a three D cad That enabled me to make inexpensive prototypes. So I went through nine different iterations before I came upon the winner. So then the next challenge came into play. The next challenge was getting a mold made. So I sent $5,000 ever to China to have a mold made and received the product and it didn't work there where some modifications that needed to be made. Those modifications were made. I filed for a patent the next, the next obstacle, it took about three years for the first utility patent because at the time we had a recession and the patent office didn't have a whole lot of employees um, made another modification, ended up getting a second patent and then it was time to launch the product. So those were the early obstacles. [00:03:29] spk_0: Yeah. So, um, you know, a lot of people would love to know, you know, how you kinda came up with the product and as you did that, you know, a lot of people, was it, [00:03:41] spk_1: did you convince yourself [00:03:42] spk_0: early on this is gonna be a great product home run, like it's gonna Iraq or were there sent a lot of self doubt or you know, early, early challenges in terms of not only convincing other people that it was a great idea, but just convincing yourself that it was a great idea. [00:03:58] spk_1: So I'm an inventor. So no, I never thought it was a bad idea. I always thought it was fabulous. Of course that's how inventors are. But there were a million naysayers around me and just, just for reference, I want to show you what click and carry is. So this is click and carry and it's a simple handle device that helps shoppers to manage and carry multiple bags, that ones. Now I developed it for groceries, but people use it as a ski boot tote, which you would need in Idaho for dry cleaning, for paint cans and construction pales, you could walk multiple dogs at once. And then once you get at home it's a stand for your phone or ipad and I'll quickly show you how it works. You twist it open And you load the handle, dad's onto each side. Each side takes 40 lb for a total of 80 and then you click the top back in. So the bags are locked into place and you can carry it in your hand or better you wear it and your hands free. So the reason I invented it is because I had this amazing boyfriend and when we broke up I had to carry my own groceries and I knew there had to be a better way. So that's where clicking. Carey was born and originally it was just the bottom section and it actually worked. It was perfect. But the problem is when you set the bags down, they would pop out because there was nothing to lock it into place. So the next generation actually had had two pieces with a magnet in the center and that would have worked well. But as a dad of three young kids, um a kid could get hurt on it or help you to lose one piece or the other. So I knew it had to be a single unit and um, it's actually patterned after a brit and this became the winner. So when it's locked into place, it looks like a boomerang. Otherwise it's an X. And that's how clinton Kerry was born. [00:05:43] spk_0: I love it. What it reminds me of when I when I went on your website and kind of took a peek around is it reminds me of like you you're looking like, you know, I'm old enough. I'm gonna date myself here to know what National Geographic magazine was. My parents had it around and I was always like thumbed through it and it reminds me of, you know, probably like in India or brazil where women are carrying like these giant things with a stick kind of over their shoulder kind of balancing it. That that was kind of like, it looked like the modern version of that. Uh So I [00:06:12] spk_1: thought that was, that was [00:06:13] spk_0: interesting. Yeah. And the other thing I thought it was, you know, some of the most simple ideas are some of the greatest ideas. And uh it also made me chuckle because my dad and I always have this joke about, we don't want to take more than one trip from the car into the home when it comes to bringing groceries in. So like my dad and I are experts are literally getting like, you know, like as many bags on each finger as we can while we're like, you know, super manning it into the house. So I think that's uh that's that's pretty interesting. Um [00:06:41] spk_1: something that um [00:06:43] spk_0: I think a lot of people that I've talked to think that you need some kind of like you need to be special or super smart or something like that to come up with an idea like that. What do you say to those people who you know, think that you need to need some kind of super power to to come up with great ideas? [00:06:57] spk_1: I say anyone can do it if I can do this, anyone can do it and this sounds ridiculous. Harry um bad talking some guys, but a different boyfriend had a patent. His name was Shaheen and I thought to myself, if this guy could get a patent and utility patent, I can do it to anyone can do with this. If you have the determination and you really believe in yourself and the utility of your product, you need to go for it. But remember they're going to be a million naysayers along the way. You just have to keep going and just ignore them. If you really think that you have something special do it and you know, listen to some of the feedback because I've listened to a lot of feedback from my customers and I've made corrections on my click and carry, but don't let them defeat you. Just keep believing in yourself and your product. Anyone can do it. Yes, that is such, I mean, I feel like we should go out on that question, but we're not done yet. So you know, I want to talk about product development because that's one of the biggest things that people struggle with if they have an idea for a unique product, it's like, oh my gosh, you know, if it's not just a simple differentiation, if it's something new and kind of never seen before, it seems very scary to kind of develop it. So can you talk a little bit about how you got started developing this product? You said, you know when you started, it was just like the two pieces. So talk a little bit about like holly idea kind of came to you and then like how you started prototyping and you know how you got molds made, like how did you know how to do all these things and what did you do during your product development process? So a couple of different ways. The first is um, like I said before, my friend jennifer told me to shut up and stop talking about it and do something about it. And I did. And here's advice to all of your listeners, There are so many resources available to you out there. For example, I actually utilized a student who was studying product design for her Master's at the fascinated design school. So I was able to hire her at an inexpensive re versus in the real world hiring a real product engineer. Um There is the small business association, there is score which are ceos who help other business owners with, they impart their knowledge to the new up and coming business owners. There's the P. T. R. C. Which is the patent and trademark resource center. Every single solitary state has one. And librarians at the at the patent and trademark resource center are taught to help people do a patent search um to write their patent to figure out how to do their renderings which are necessary in the patent process. So there are a ton of different ways you can get help from your community, even local colleges. I mean there are so many students who are interested in helping entrepreneurs because they're gonna get credit for their classes plus they're gonna learn something on your dime. So there are so many different amazing resources And then for me like I said I worked with Audrey so I paid her a certain amount and we worked on the three D. Cad renderings and it took us nine tries until we made it to the finish line. And um gosh um it was important for me to have the physical uh three D. Cad printed model because I really needed to see it because I think in three D. So I needed to visualize it that was very helpful to me but I knew that once I had the winner the one that I knew was going to work and believe it or not, the real wind is that there's a male female part in here that makes the click noise. Um that's what locks the click and carry into place. So that's the important piece. Um on the 9th one, that's when I said I need, I need some, some sort of function like this. And that's when I knew it was time to go and get a mold made in China. I couldn't afford to make the world in the United States at the time and I still can't, I still work with the chinese manufacturer. How did you even know to go to china? How did somebody tell you that? Like how did you know to look for mold in china. Yes, great question. Um so first there's a book called Mom Adventures Handbook by TM Ramana Soft and it's basically uh how to get your product to market. And I used that as a guide initially. But as luck would have it, the guy across the hall for me, I live in a condo in Los Angeles. The guy across the hall worked for tie the beanie baby company and um, he introduced me to his factory and he um he's going to introduce me and helped me to get it manufactured. So, so that that was back in the early days of zoom and um, it's been a, an interesting adventure ever since and I know something that I struggled with when I got my molds made was that I didn't know the terminology. Um You know. Yes I was working with designers and I had all my three D. Cad and all those files and everything but I didn't know what to look for as far as mistakes. And I also didn't know what needed to be communicated because this was my first product. I didn't know that the slope in the draft on the different parts needed to be a certain way. And um I had no idea. So I got a lot of bad samples in the beginning. A bad rough samples and I think much of it was because I didn't know and I didn't know how to communicate and because there's a language barrier there. Did you have any of those problems? I did. So my first factory I had two factories now in china and I'm currently with my second factory. And that was a referral through a friend and I'll explain in a minute. But my first factory they did an okay job. They were fine but there was not consistency in the twist portion. So when I went on T. V. C. The only negative comments I would get is that it's too difficult to open and that was because of the first mold. So when I was switching factories, what I did is I worked with six chinese engineers at the new factory and I also worked with a master toolmaker here in the United States because he may not have been a plastics infusion guy. But he's the one who actually built the molds in the United States. He was a master toolmaker and he was so helpful he was just incredible at helping me to modify my product. And I went from a 5.5 ounce product down to 3.5 ounces. Which is a huge change as far as shipping you wouldn't think a small amount of fication like that would make such a difference. But it saves me a lot of money for shipping. Number one. But number two now I have consistency in the twist. So now even someone who has an arthritic hand can open the clicking carry. So that's what I want to quickly go back to what we were saying about the naysayers. I listened to the the bad feedback from my customers and I made a change. So you have to constantly do that with your invention over time as well. Yeah I agree. I had to do the same thing also because I learned hard lessons and shipping volume and I just drink it down. So never never give up on that. So you mentioned that you got on to Q. V. C. When you first launch it. I guess um You know my next question is what made you decide to try out for shark tank. But before we get to that um you decided to not license the product but to bring it to market and where did you start selling it? Like, let's talk about that before you started to try out for shark tank. Sure. So I sold it locally. I would sell it in local gas stations and grocery stores and we have something called the Pasadena um, flea market, 20,000 people go there one sunday a month and farmers markets. So we do things like that and get feedback and, and to start to do my thing. And when I ultimately ended up leaving my job to do this full time, I've exited my job twice to do this full time. I'm back to doing clicking carry full time, which is a big deal to me. But the first time when I quit, I um, I did a trade show in Chicago called the home and housewares show and it was complete magic. I was in a small section called Adventures corner and they had a mock shark tank with various vendors and unbeknownst to me, I was discovered by Key VC there. So what happened is that parlay it into a talk show is the Bethany frankel show and Bethany frankel is the Skinnygirl margarita girl and she brought me on her show. Her show was ending at the time and she had a segment tweet called Bethany in Your business and I agreed to go on, I was thrilled to go on because I think she's pretty great, I admire her and her her skill and I think she's, she's a shark. She's just amazing. Um, so I went on because I thought I was going to get Some advice from her and maybe a small five or $10,000 stipend. And instead I was presented with a contract with key VC by David Venable and Lisa Robertson at the time. So it was a really big deal to me. And it really got me started, it really put me out there in the market. So just to sum that up, you basically started knocking on doors in the beginning. You're like, I'm going to sell this to whoever's going to buy it. I'm gonna, you know, just going out there to gas stations. Hey, I got this product, can you carry it in your station, this kind of thing selling it to everybody And you did the mark Cuban in the beginning and then, and then after that, which is like mad respect, anybody would have mad respect for that. And then you went to a trade show which really, you were shown off their an inventor's corner and you were able to be recognized there and that's what got you, you break for Q. V. C. Okay. Then what made you decide, it seems like you're on a good path. What made you decide to try out for shark tank. Oh boy. Well that was my dream. I love that show. I think it's just a phenomenal show and it's a great way to get pr because I know that when people see click and carry, they realize, oh, I could use that. That's really going to help. But if they don't know about it, then no one's going to buy one. So that was just a great platform to really spread the word and to share my invention with the world. So that's why I really wanted to be on shark tank plus I love the sharks. I think it's just a phenomenal show and I always have, even from the beginning, I actually started applying in season two and I made it all the way to working with the producers and at the 11th hour they decided not to take me. So I just continued to try and try and try again. So it turns out to this day I hold the record for the most attempts ever to get on the show, which was seven or eight and I finally made it on, I love that. And you know, tell us about that shark tank experience, you know, where you, you tried out a bunch of times, you know, but what was it like to actually be there? Oh my gosh! Well, firstly, I don't know if I should be embarrassed or proud that it took me so many times to get on, but I wasn't going to give up because it's just an awesome show. But it was both the scariest and the most exciting day of my whole life and um I was so nervous actually, physically ran out of saliva. I had to leave the stage at one point to grab the civil water, but it was, it was just amazing. Um all of, all of the things that I studied for the most part it was in there, but I did forget a few things. For example, I messed up my pitch in the beginning I was supposed to say and juggle all that life has to throw your way and the only thing that could come out of my mouth was and juggle and then I finally came to my senses and while the cycle listeners juggling I said and juggle all that life has to come your way. But it was definitely delayed and the bad news is the whole time. I kept thinking, oh, you messed up, you messed this up. And so psychologically that was damning in the beginning, but otherwise everything was pretty smooth. Um all the sharks talk over each other so it was interesting trying to hurt them and um answer their questions without offending one or the other. Um but it was, it was quite an experience. It was really exciting and fun and one of the best days of my whole life. Yes, I can imagine. I'm pretty good at public speaking, but I can imagine I would be super nervous in that kind of situation. So something that I learned from you that really surprised me is that shark tank deals aren't immediate. So like you've got a deal on the shark tank um but it doesn't happen right away. And so obviously you might not be able to talk about all of it on a podcast, but maybe you can tell us a little bit about how a shark tank deals kind of work. Thanks for tuning in to part one of this episode, join us every Tuesday at one PM pacific standard [00:20:15] spk_0: time for live Q. [00:20:16] spk_1: And A. And bonus content after the recording at cellar [00:20:19] spk_0: Roundtable dot com, sponsored by [00:20:21] spk_1: the ultimate software tool for amazon sales and [00:20:24] spk_0: growth seller. [00:20:25] spk_1: S EO dot com and amazing at home dot com.