Read This Before Starting A Company

Some people think being the Chief Bottle Washer of Clean Bottle is life on easy street.  Go to France, ride your bike, constantly post on Facebook.

Its no easy gig.

In fact if someone told me how hard it was going to be I don’t know if I would have done it.

The most frustrating part?  Trying to get your product into stores.  Especially bike shops.  Now we have a TON of great bike shops that sell our product.  But a good chunk of bike shops were started by someone who liked bikes or liked to fiddle with bikes and thought that owning a bike shop would be a cool idea.

Unfortunately, there is little correlation between your enjoyment of bicycles and your success as a business person.

So inevitably you have to deal with a lot of very poorly run shops headed by stressed out, short fused owners.

Each day I spend about 5 hours cold calling these shops.  I don’t know what hell is like, but it can’t be much worse than cold calling shops.  But, you gotta do what you gotta do, right?

Here are some of the more classic conversations I’ve had with bike shop employees and owners.  I’m sure its the same with any product you try to sell.

So be forewarned.  If you want to start a business selling product to shops you will need to cold call a lot of shops.  And it is a lot more difficult than it looks.

People’s Response when I say “Hello, this is Dave from Clean Bottle, can I speak with the buyer?
“Did you say Dave with Clean Bottom?”

“Did you say Dave with Clear Bottom?”

“Did you say Dave with Green Bubbles?”

“Did you say Dave with Queen Battle?”

“Did you say you are the buyer’s in-law?” (that one i have NO IDEA how they got that)

Yes, all these are ACTUAL responses.  It is funny the first 100 times.  After that you really can’t understand why people can’t understand the words CLEAN BOTTLE

People’s Response when I ask them if they would like to order bottles

buyer “Oh I’ve had a bunch of people ask for them Clean Bottles”
me: “Great, how many would you like to order?”
buyer: “I can’t order any until I sell these other bottles I have.  For some reason they don’t sell”

buyer: “I liked your bottle, does it come with a cage?”
me: “I’m sorry?”
buyer: “Do you sell each bottle with it’s own bike cage.”
me: “Um, right now we offer just the bottles, although they are designed to fit all the standard bike cages.
buyer: “Well, people only buy bottles with a cage.  Call me back when you have a cage.”

me: “this is dave from Clean Bottle. I wanted to make sure you got the bottle we sent you”
owner: “yeah, i LOVE Clean Bottle. They RULE”
me: “okay, can I take down your information so I can get you some?”
owner: “I don’t know. i have to talk it over with my partner”

me: “would you like to buy the Clean Bottle?”
buyer: “have you tried cleaning it out when there is mustard in it?”

buyer: “I gave the Clean Bottle to the owner.  Its his favorite bottle and he loves the concept.  But, no one came up to us and asked for them so until we hear people asking about them we can’t carry them”

buyer: “do you have an insulated bottle?”
me: “no just the regular bottle”
buyer: “no offense, but non-insulated bottles are for Yankees”

buyer “are you on a land line?”
me: “no, I am on a cell”
buyer “I can’t talk.  You aren’t on a secure line”

So before you spend a lot of money developing and patenting a product do yourself a favor.  Call up 50 shops and pitch the product to them.  If none of them thinks its good enough to buy, or you realize you aren’t cut out for selling your product all day every day, then you may want to reconsider .  Or develop it, but then buy a lot of whiskey to keep you sedated throughout the day so you don’t pull all your hair out :)

 

  1. Mike K Reply
    Mustard?
  2. E @ Act Fast Chef Reply
    Well if I had a store, I would sell them! I think it is a great concept and plan on buying a few for myself!
  3. Dana Lieberman Reply
    Well, as one of the shops you cold-called a couple weeks ago, I can tell you we get too many cold calls from companies that have nothing to do with cycling, and it can be hard to decipher who the caller is, at first. With that said, we got the bottle and it's great. I'm trying it out some more this weekend and look forward to talking with you soon. FWIW, mine didn't come with mustard...is it defective? :)
    • davidjamesmayer Reply
      Thanks Dana - sounds like you are one of the sane ones! I am sure it is tough as well for you to screen callers like that especially when you are trying to run a business at the same time.
  4. John Macgowan Reply
    Hey Dave, I'm right there with you. After 3 years of cold calling/emailing potential interview guests and hearing " Pod-what? What's a Podcast" I quit using that term and say "I would like to interview you for my Internet Radio Show" :) Actually the ~7,000 or so Indoor Cycling Instructors that that listen maybe interested in hearing exactly who is Bottle Boy and what's it like inside?
  5. Jeff Reply
    Hi Dave, I saw you on Shark Tank the other night. Really enjoyed your presentation and appreciate you honesty on this site. I do not bike, but after looking on your website I see you have great market coverage in the Woodlands, TX where I live. You may be limiting your marketing presence by limiting to bicylce realted excersize. Hit up 24 Hour Fitness. EVERYONE has a water bottle there!!! I will be going to GNC to get a few for my wife and I. Great spirit sir!

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