Traveling made easy with the perfect travel backpack – Fred Perrotta of Tortuga

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 57:12)


Sponsors & Partners

Udemy Horizontal Logo New customer offer! Top courses from $12.99 when you first visit Udemy


Fred Perrotta of Tortuga shares how he and his partner introduced the perfect carry-on-sized backpack, making it easier to pack and travel.

Episode Summary

Fred Perrotta, CEO and co-founder of Tortuga, shares the story of how he and his business partner developed the perfect travel backpack. Inspired by the book “Four Hour Work Week,” they set out to create a durable and convenient backpack that combined the best features of a hiking bag and a suitcase. Initially struggling with manufacturing and funding, Tortuga eventually found success by redesigning their product and focusing on their primary target market: travelers. However, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a decline in sales, causing the company to shift its focus to leaner, simpler products and restructuring their three collections to target a broader audience. Perrotta emphasizes the importance of balance in innovation and building brand trust, while also sharing his entrepreneurial insights and advice for aspiring business owners.

  • 00:00:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta, the founder and CEO of Tortuga, shares the story of how he and his business partner came up with the idea for the perfect travel backpack. While backpacking in Europe, they realized that their hiking bags were not great for travel and thought there could be a better solution. Inspired by the book “Four Hour Work Week,” they began the process of creating a travel backpack that would combine the best features of a hiking bag and a suitcase. The result was Tortuga, which helps travelers avoid the cost and hassle of checking luggage with carry-on size travel backpacks and day packs.
  • 00:05:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta describes the development of Tortuga, a travel backpack, and how it was designed to be comfortable and rugged like a hiking pack, while still being convenient like a suitcase with effective organization. The company’s design and manufacturing processes improved over time as it worked with third parties and found suitable partners. Tortuga has three main products: the travel backpack, packing cubes, and a laptop backpack for personal items. Despite increased competition in the travel backpack space, Tortuga has focused on building a company around making one superior product that larger outdoor brands did not fully target. Fred and his co-founder Jeremy started this venture as a side hustle, with Fred working at Google and Jeremy in film school.
  • 00:10:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga, talks about the challenges they faced when starting their backpack business and finding a manufacturer. He explains that finding the right manufacturer and selling them on the viability of the business is the biggest challenge. Manufacturers don’t care about the product or whether it will succeed or fail, but they are interested in good customers who pay on time and place regular orders. Therefore, a good relationship with the manufacturer is crucial, which requires building trust by paying on time and accepting more friendly payment terms initially.
  • 00:15:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga, discusses their journey of manufacturing their travel backpack. Initially, they sampled in China but found the manufacturing process too difficult and eventually found a supplier in the US. However, they had to manufacture at higher prices, which reduced their profit. They released the first version of the bag, which wasn’t aesthetically pleasing, but still functional, giving them enough validation to redesign their product. Later on, they began to manufacture in China until tariff increases forced them to explore manufacturing in Vietnam. Tortuga didn’t have a criteria or a budget for the minimum viable product when developing their bag, but they realized they needed a better system after running out of funding for product development.
  • 00:20:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta of Tortuga reflects on the mistakes they made while starting their business and how it may have been helpful to have rules in place to prevent impulsive decisions. However, he also acknowledges that learning from mistakes is a necessary part of the process and that being a little naive may have its value when starting out. Perrotta believes that following one’s passion and being okay with being driven by their heart over their head at first is valuable as long as they eventually listen to the evidence and make changes accordingly. The turning point for Tortuga was when they received enough positive feedback and made the necessary changes to their product to gain traction with customers.
  • 00:25:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta talks about the growth of Tortuga, particularly the turning point when they redesigned their bag to fix some issues and launched it in 2013. This redesign allowed for consistent sales and real profit, indicating that the business could potentially become a full-time career. While their initial goal was to generate passive income, Tortuga’s ambitions grew with each goal they achieved, leading to the addition of more products, employee expansion, and targeting a wider range of age groups and travel styles. Despite the expansion, the primary target market remains the travel demographic.
  • 00:30:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic affected the travel industry and his travel backpack business. He admits that it was a tough time for the business with the main reason people buying their bags waning off, leading to a decline in sales and subsequent layoffs. They tried several strategies to keep the business going and cut costs after stabilizing. Afterward, the company shifted its focus to build the post-pandemic version of the business using their 12 years of experience to their advantage. They decided to shrink down from having 20 SKU’s to leaner, simpler versions, and restructured their three collections to target a broader audience.
  • 00:35:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta talks about the challenge of product-based businesses, particularly when expanding beyond the hero product. While still focused on travel, the company plans to create smaller bags and accessories to serve varying needs. Initially, there was a strong focus on uniqueness and innovation similar to the first travel backpack. However, they have since realized the importance of having balance and not strictly adhering to idealism. Fred also talks about building brand trust so that customers would still buy from them, even if they release products that others have made. They primarily sell through their website but are open to retail options.
  • 00:40:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta discusses the challenges of selling a big purchase item without a relationship with stores and the trade-offs of not being in stores as a retailer. He also shares their primary marketing channel, which is content and SEO, and their preference for channels they own, such as their site and blog. Lastly, he talks about their primary shipping location, primarily in the US, and the complications around international shipping, including costly import duties that have led to unhappy customers.
  • 00:45:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta, co-founder of Tortuga, discusses some of the mistakes and lessons learned in his journey as an entrepreneur. He explains that when a product starts gaining traction, it can be sudden, and business owners need to be ready for that momentum. However, it’s also important to balance marketing with proper inventory management, operational procedures, and cash flow. Fred cites an instance in which their product kept selling out, but they couldn’t order too much at a time, and thus had to sell out for months before they had more in stock. Despite making every mistake possible, Fred believes that entrepreneurs can learn from their mistakes and successes and make the right decisions for their current problem.
  • 00:50:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta, the co-founder of Tortuga, discusses some of the important aspects of business growth beyond just marketing. He emphasizes the need to manage finances and understand the flow of cash through the business, as well as being aware of the cost of products. Perrotta then quickly answers a series of rapid-fire questions, offering book recommendations such as Bobby Hundred’s “This is not a T-shirt,” and productivity tools like Text Expander. When asked about a company in e-commerce that he admires, Perrotta mentions Western Rise, a performance clothing brand that he is connected to. Finally, Perrotta shares his admiration for the podcast “My First Million” and its hosts, who inspire him with their entrepreneurial conversations.
  • 00:55:00 In this section, Fred Perrotta advises aspiring entrepreneurs to keep going and not give up when their business doesn’t take off immediately or when they see others doing better. He notes that there will be challenges in any business venture, but persistence and dedication will eventually pay off. Perrotta also directs viewers to his website,, where they can purchase his travel backpacks.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: This Is Not a T-Shirt by Bobby Hundreds; The Box by Marc Levinson

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Fred Perrotta of Tortuga

00:56The business motivation
06:56The product
09:09The entrepreneurial journey
24:18The turning point
29:00Target Market
34:50The covid impact
39:47Sales channels
43:17Fulfillment and shipping
46:08Mistakes made, lessons learned
50:38Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga

  1. Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: This Is Not a T-Shirt; The Box)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Airtable)
  3. A business or productivity tip that you would recommend (Response: Text Expander)
  4. A startup or business and eCommerce retailer tech that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Western Rise)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Sam Par; Sean Purey)
  6. Best business advice you ever received (Response: If you keep going and keep showing up and keep putting your all into it every day, then you’re gonna make something out of it)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey, they’re entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is the show where I interview successful e-commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders, and ask them questions about their business story, and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they used to start and grow their businesses.

And today I’m really excited to welcome Fred Prota to the show. Fred is the founder and CEO of Toga. Toga helps travelers avoid the cost and hassle of checking luggage with carry onsites, travel backpacks, and dayaks. And today I’m going to ask Fred a few questions about his entrepreneurial journey and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start to grow his business.

So thank you so much for your time today, Fred. Really appreciate 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: you joining us at Yeah, of course. Thank you for inviting me and for having me. Definitely. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, I mean, your business has been running for some time. I believe you started in 2009 or 2010, somewhere around that time. So it’s been like almost 13 years.

Can you share, I mean, do you even remember the story, your startup story, the motivation that got you started? 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: I do, you, uh, you know, you always have to be able to, uh, to repeat it to folks. So, uh, it’s important to to remember that a lot of things I’ve forgotten from them, but I do remember that, um, yeah, Tuku is kind of a, a scratch or niche kind of business.

Um, my business partner and I went on a trip, uh, backpacking Europe in 2009. Uh, that was during the recession. Flights were pretty cheap, so, uh, we took a little vacation and it was my first time really backpacking, traveling internationally, taking a longer trip like that. Um, and, uh, I’m kind of nerdy. I like to do the research, so I was trying to find the right bag before the trip, um, and bought kind of a big hiking bag, which is what most backpackers get.

Uh, and then went on the trip and quickly realized those big bags are really for hiking. They’re kind of for the outdoor industry, not for traveling. So, um, had a bit of a pain to deal with that every day. So, I would open it up, dump everything out, get what I needed, repack the whole thing. So packing and unpacking every day.

We were staying in hostels, taking trains, so, uh, kind of roughing it. Um, and just learned that those weren’t great bags for traveling. Uh, but we had a lot of free time. This was sort of early, uh, mobile phones and internet and all that. So, um, we weren’t just on our phones, on our, uh, train trips. We were actually, uh, talking and kind of got around to, to talking a lot about the backpacks because the ones we brought, we didn’t love for traveling and, you know, thought there could be a better solution.

We had both just read the four hour work week, um, if you’re familiar with that book. So, yeah. Uh, in that book, Tim Ver kind of lays out how to build a, a physical product business. So we thought, okay, we’ve got this idea, uh, around backpacks. We’ve got this book. We could just do what he says to do and, you know, put it together and.

We’ll be rich and successful. Right. So, uh, came back from our trip, came back from Europe, um, bought a domain name. That was the first thing I did. Cause that was the only thing I knew how to do. didn’t know how to make a backpack, but, uh, yeah, we came back, we’re all excited about it, and that got us, um, uh, started on the process so that by the time we ran and told the problems that you inevitably run into, we were, uh, uh, we were excited about it and, uh, decided to, to push through those problems and solve them.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: You know, it’s so interesting that Tim Ferris, you know, if you look at the whole internet industry and the, the, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: the advent of 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: internet and, you know, the e-commerce and so forth, uh, there’s like technology and social media platforms that kinda propelled that, that enabled businesses to come like from offline to online.

But, you know, people like Tim Ferris were kind of like the catalyst, you know, they played the role of, I guess, motivating people or showing them. Um, the way that it can be done easily. And, uh, and so I, I’m sure there are so many people who were motivated by four hour work week to, uh, to build the business.

Um, and, and you know, myself also like when traveling, uh, you know, I’ve probably made the same mistake, right? You, you buy the, the big backpack and then everything is in there. Nothing is organized. Can you share a little bit about the difference of what, what a travel backpack is versus, uh, a hike, hiking backpack?

Is travel backpack really something that compartmentalizes different things? So, you know, everything is organized and, you know, easy to find. 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Yeah. So we wanted to combine. Uh, those hiking bags, which they don’t work well for travel, but they do have some good features. There’s a reason people do travel with them.

We wanted to combine sort of the best of those with the best parts of a suitcase and put it together into something that worked well and wasn’t just a suitcase with a couple straps on it. So, um, like a hiking pack. So we, we call it a travel backpack. And what that means to us is that, uh, similar to a hiking pack in that it’s comfortable, uh, and really rugged, so you know, you’re carrying it on your back.

That’s a lot of weight. Um, it needs to be comfortable. You, it has a hip belt, so that’ll take some of the weight off your shoulders, put on your hips because your legs are stronger than, than your shoulders. Um, so we want it to be comfortable and convenient like that. The problem is the organization. So, um, we also brought in some elements of a suitcase in that, uh, our bags all, they open from the front, so it opens like a book.

Uh, that way you can see, see all your stuff laid out as if you know, like it works in a suitcase. You can see it all laid out. You can grab one item if that’s all you need. Everything else stays in place. You can organize it all however you like to pack. So, uh, kind of laid out like a suitcase, but carries and is comfortable like a hiking pack.

So wanted to to bring those together into one product. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And, and that was the vision from the very beginning? Or did that vision like evolve over 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: time? Um, or, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: or was that was the original vision. Vision, but you know, your design 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: improved over time. Yeah, the design certainly improved over time because we had no background in designing or manufacturing or anything, so had to work with third parties and, uh, designers and factories and things like that.

So, um, did that and got better at how to communicate to those third parties that we had to use, uh, how to communicate our ideas on what we wanted. Um, and then, you know, found good partners for us at each stage along the journey as, as we kind of leveled up, would find the right great fit in terms of factories and designers.

So, uh, we had to get better and then find the right partners to work on those things. And right 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: now, like as a business, how many products? I believe on your website, this I, I, I found like three main products. Are those the main products that you’re selling right now? 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Yep. So we have the, the travel backpack, like we just talked about a minute ago.

That’s kind of our, our main product, uh, common accessory people like to buy are packing cubes, which just lets you organize and segment your bag a little bit more. And then we also have a laptop backpack, so that’s more for, uh, personal item or undersea luggage. So kind of your second bag that you would carry with a suitcase or with a duffle bag or something like that.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And so when you started, like 12, 13 years ago, o obviously this, you know, it, it may have been like an innovative product or a new kind of a product or a product 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: aim towards a certain niche or 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: target audience. But, but now, 12, 13 years down the road, what do you find? Like, do you think that this, um, you know, there’s so a lot of products out there that are targeting the, the 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: travel, um, that, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that, that, you know, the traveler, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: um, and do you find like your.

Um, you have a lot of competition. Yeah, there’s definitely been, uh, more people entering that space. When we started, uh, the only bags that were really comparable were usually one product made by an outdoor company. So same companies that make those hiking bags would often have one that they kind of targeted towards travelers a little bit.

So, uh, bigger brands like Osprey, uh, they’re a hiking brand, or r e i, uh, big retailer here in the us. So, uh, some of them would have one product for the, for that person, for that market. And basically our original bet was we could take that one product that. They don’t really focus on because they’re mostly doing outdoors.

We could take that one product and do a better job of making it and build a business around that idea, right? It’s just one small, one small product to that big brand. But to us, if we totally focused on it and made that our only thing, we still thought that was big enough to build a company around. And 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: can you take me back to the beginning, you know, when you were, when you got this idea you were motivated by, can you share a little bit about, you know, what were the first thing I, I believe you had like a co-founder also, and this was, you started as a side, side hustle kind of a thing.

Um, can you share a little bit about that, that journey of, you know, what 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: were all the first thing that you did 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and how did you actually get the, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: the business off the ground? Yeah, we, we started on the side, so I was working at the time at Google, um, which was always on the list of best places to work, but, uh, I, I wasn’t enjoying it, so I was like, well, if I don’t like working at the best place to work, that’s probably a sign.

I better figure out something else, a different path. Uh, and then my business partner, Jeremy, he was in film school at the time, so he wanted to figure out something. Um, our, our initial idea was to create it as like a passive income kind of business. So, uh, for Jeremy, he wanted to pursue filmmaking. So he knew, obviously that’s a difficult industry and he would need some other way to have, uh, more consistent money coming in, uh, as he tried to, to work on that career.

So we both had different reasons for wanting to start something up. Um, and yeah, we started with the, the stuff we knew how to do. The very first thing I did, I bought a domain name That doesn’t get you very far though. So, uh, the first important stuff we started doing was we found a designer on, uh, we used Upwork at the time.

Uh, Uh, or actually, sorry, Elance. Now it’s, Upwork is kind of the more common one. Mm-hmm. . But we used one of those freelancing sites, found a designer, uh, and then started working with him to communicate, all right, we want a bag that has these features that does, uh, these things. Um, who it’s for all that sort of stuff.

So that part of the process actually worked, felt pretty fast, like it seemed to work well. The really hard part after that was finding someone to make the bags. So that’s where we kind of really quickly got in, uh, over your head and don’t really, you learn when you really don’t know what you’re doing. So, um, yeah, we, we bounced around a lot at that stage.

So, uh, at the time everyone told us we should make it in China, so started trying to work with, uh, manufacturers there. But obviously there’s a, a time gap. There’s a language gap. We had never made anything before, so, um, you know, Very hard to vet factories, hard to know, uh, how to work with them, all that sort of stuff.

So, uh, went through a lot of, uh, trials and tribulations there. Spent months trying to get our first sample. They sent a picture of the first sample before they sent, uh, us the bag. And it was, it was about twice the size of the person who was wearing it in the picture. So we spent months trying to get a sample, and then the first one is just a disaster.

Mm-hmm. . But, uh, I think everyone who, uh, usually doesn’t have a background in making stuff and gets into it has all of those, uh, same kind of horror stories. Like you just have to learn through trial and error. You try some stuff, it doesn’t work. So you try something else and keep going until, uh, til it starts to work.

if you are 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: starting today, like this whole aspect of finding the manufacturer and you know, is, is the, is now the, the biggest bigger challenge. That you have to, you know, because it’s a new idea, you have to sell the idea to the manufacturer or the, you know, the, the, the, the factory so that it’s a little bit of a risk for them also.

Are they investing in your idea or is it, is it still the challenges to find the right factory or the manufacturer? Which one, you know, what have changed in the last 12, 13 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: years? I think the challenge is selling them on, uh, you and potentially the viability of that business. So, um, you know, they’re indifferent if the, they think the product’s gonna be a hit or they think it seems stupid, you know, they, that’s not their, uh, area of expertise.

So what, uh, what they care about, what they want is a good customer, right? So, uh, one that you can actually. Pay for this order that you’re gonna place. And, um, I’m sure they also think about whether you are gonna be a good, uh, customer with them. Like, are you gonna ask for a bunch of changes? Are you gonna be a pain to work with?

Um, you know, are you gonna accept the product as is? How are you gonna be to work with, um, I’m sure plenty of, uh, suppliers have worked with people who are, you know, on the phone yelling at them every day. Maybe that’s maybe justified, maybe not. Um, don’t pay on time, pay late, all those sort of things, so, mm-hmm.

you gotta think about, obviously you care about what you want and getting your product made, but if you’re gonna have a good relationship, you gotta think about what they want, right? So they want to know that you’re gonna pay in full, you’re gonna pay on time, and that, uh, you’re gonna place more orders, right?

So like, yeah, they’re, they’re happy to get a new customer in an order, but if you just place one order and go out of business, can’t sell them, whatever, then you know, They’re, they’re not gonna make that much off you, right? They want someone who’s placing an order every month, their quarter, whatever, and, you know, sticking around, adding more products, all of that stuff, right?

They want a good, good customer, like any service-based business. So, um, obviously you can’t promise that all upfront, but, um, you do have to have to sell them a little bit on taking a chance with you. That was something we had a, a tough time with. Um, and then I would also try to pay them on time and, uh, you know, maybe accept terms that are a little more friendly to them, payment terms that are a little more friendly to them initially, to, to build up a little trust with them.

Um, you know, that might mean paying earlier or paying, uh, bigger percentage of the order earlier. Um, and yeah, that’s not good for you, as good for you as a business, but if you can prove to them that you’re gonna pay, pay on time, be a good customer, um, making that kind of investment can maybe pay off down the line.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: But I, I believe you ended up actually not, you initially, you not getting your product manufactured China, I believe 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: you, you moved to U us. Uh, are you still, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, is your product still manufactured in the US or, um, have you 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: gone back now? We’ve, uh, at this point we’ve been all over the world. So, uh, we started sampling in China.

We got that picture of the giant backpack and we were like, oh no, we’re never gonna be able to make this work. This is too hard trying to do us to China. Um, you know, we freaked out about it. Uh, we actually found a supplier, uh, like you mentioned in the us and they were also hard to work with just for different reasons.

So, doesn’t solve all your problems making it locally, but we did find someone eventually made a hundred backpacks with them, uh, in Long Beach in Southern California. So we got that done. But, uh, at those prices, we weren’t, weren’t gonna make much money on the bag, but we figured, all right, let’s. Let’s get it produced before we run outta money.

Um, let’s make something and sell it, right? Trying to be the minimum viable product kind of approach. And we said, right, we’ll, we’ll get it out there. We’ll figure out do people want this? We’ll learn something. And then, uh, we’ll figure out better pricing and, and manufacturing down the line. So we put those bags out, um, because we, uh, worked, we got to the point where we were either gonna run out of money, uh, and not order anything, or we just kind of had to order it where it was.

There were more things we wanted to change, but uh, we had to just put it out there. So the first version of the bag was very ugly. It had a giant logo. Lot of problems. But, um, Uh, so we didn’t have a very high conversion rate, but the people who did buy, uh, really liked what we were trying to do. You know, maybe they didn’t think it looked great, but it worked well, solved the problem they needed to solve.

Uh, traveled well, all that. So we knew we were onto something. So, uh, we redesigned the bag, uh, and we later started manufacturing in China. Um, manufactured there for years with a couple different partners. Uh, at 20, I think 2017. Uh, the tariffs increase, uh, were increased on goods imported from China to the us so, mm-hmm.

uh, we had already been exploring Vietnam before that, but, uh, we started, uh, working with some partners in Vietnam starting then. Um, and now that’s where, where we’re doing most of the manufacturing and Vietnam’s kind of the other, uh, Vietnam and China is sort of the two big, uh, bag manufacturers. A lot of the outdoor brands have been in Vietnam for a while, so, uh, started manufacturing there a few years ago and, uh, yeah, that’s where we’re at now, so bounced around us to China to now Vietnam.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, you know, this whole idea of, um, validating the idea and, you know, the minimum viable product in the, in the beginning, like, because I’m assuming you were bootstrapping, like, you know, you probably put some of your own money. Was there in your own mind, or, you know, when you, when you had the discussion with your co-founder, like was there a criteria that where you said, You know, we’re putting X amount of money together and this is our budget.

If, if, you know, if we try to sell this idea, it doesn’t work. You know, that’s it. Like what, did you have a criteria to say, yes, you know, this is not working. We have already spent this much amount of money 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: and, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you know, if we are not able to sell it, then we’re going to, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: uh, end this 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: idea. Or like, did you have any, any of that kind of a discussion when 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: you were building your minimum viable product?

I, I needed to talk to you back then. Apparently. No, we, uh, we did not do that. We, uh, we should have, um, the budget came because until we placed the order, everything we were doing was, we’re doing it pretty cheaply, you know, try to get a website up. Um, so it was like a little money here, a little there.

Nothing felt like, uh, you know, we’re putting so much in that, you know, everything’s on the line, uh, until we got to that order. So, uh, the only, we had bootstrapped everything up to that point. Uh, but we got some money from, uh, this group called the Jewish Free Loan Association. Uh, so they do, uh, no interest loans and kind of like help the, I guess, help the Jewish community out.

So my partner’s Jewish, so we could qualify for that. Uh, so we got, uh, some money from them, and that was going to be all right, we got this money from them. We’ll use that to place the order. Um, and then, The, the product development kind of dragged out so that money started, started shrinking as we’re spending on other stuff.

So that was kind of the driving factor that made us say, all right, we’re, we can’t spend all that money we got from them and then have to pay it back and have no way to pay it back, you know, no income to pay it back with. So, mm-hmm. , uh, that, that kind of pushed us over, um, or pushed us to place that order right then.

Um, and then once we were selling, we also probably should have had some, uh, some rules in place to guide us, but, um, you know, like, probably like a lot of other entrepreneurs like your heart’s in it, so you’re like, it’s gonna work. We’ll figure it out, we’ll make it work. Even though we were selling one or two bags a month at that point.

But, uh, like I said, the feedback was good enough that we thought, okay. You know, we were attached to the idea, so we were talking ourselves into it, of course. Um, but we were getting good feedback. We knew what was wrong in terms of the, the look and design of the bag. So we thought, okay, if we, people like what we made, we know what needs fixed.

So if we just fix that, then, you know, then we can have a real business that sells more every month. So, um, it probably would’ve been the right thing to do, to have some rules, but, uh, to prevent the, um, you know, you always can make a case and talk yourself into it when you want something to work, so, mm-hmm.

that would’ve been good to do, but it might’ve stopped us early on because there were a lot of signals that were telling us to stop, but we just ignored the red lights and kept going. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Well, well, the reason I’m asking that question is like, you know, with the benefit of hindsight, um, any entrepreneur who’s, let’s say, starting out now, uh, what would your advice be?

You know, of course, Starting a bag business, I would say it’s still a 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: rather 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: straightforward kind of a product. Uh, of course you still have to get everything right, you know, design and everything. But still, you know, it, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: it’s, it doesn’t 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: it, it’s not like a technology based thing. Looking back, like if you were advising an entrepreneur or someone who’s just starting out, have similar kinda a product based 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: idea, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, would you, based on your experience, like say, you know, although we did this in a, in, in this sequence and in this manner, but now looking back, I would advise you to do something 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: differently.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: or, or would you say that, you know, if somebody has an idea and they’re 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: passionate enough, you know, just, just 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: take enough actions and you know, even though you’re going to 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: make mistakes, you know it’s gonna work. Yeah, it’s, uh, it’s really hard for that early stage to say, like, you know, people always ask what, what you would do differently or advise to someone, you know, and, um, yeah, I would like to not have made those mistakes, but if someone told me the right answer and I skipped those, I would’ve just made some different ones or made the same one later on.

So it is, you know, it’s part of the learning process. You can’t, um, uh, strategize everything upfront and then execute it all perfectly. You know, you’re, you’re gonna make mistakes and, and run into these problems. So, um, the learning is a necessary part of it. And I, I don’t know as much as I would wanna tell someone to do what, um, you know, you mentioned before of having the parameters of if this happens, then, you know, we continue, if this happens, then we stop.

Um, there is some value in the, you know, an entrepreneur just being a little naive and, uh, Believing more than, uh, more than there’s evidence to support their beliefs. Um, that has a lot of value when you’re starting out. Um, of course, you know, some people take it too far, but, uh, I would maybe earn the direction of following that at first and, you know, kind of following that passion and, uh, being okay to be a little driven by your heart, over your head or something for a while.

Um, probably need some rules around, you know, you don’t wanna do that for 10 years and hope something’s gonna change. But if you have, uh, uh, you know, if you do that for some period of time, a year or something and, and do see like what needs change to make this work versus, um, you know, just hoping that something changes.

If you, you do see a, a path forward and know what you have to change, then, uh, I would say keep at it. But, um, you know, if the evidence mounts too much that you should stop, maybe eventually you should listen to the evidence. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What was the turning point for your business? So it seems like, you know, from what you’ve shared, the, the sales at the beginning were, you know, um, you know, not, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: not, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, I would say sporadic, I guess.

Um, at what point did you, uh, and your co-founder say, yes, now we have made enough changes to the product and it’s, it’s, you know, now it’s really sticking with the, uh, the people who are buy, buying it, and, you know, now the idea is really working. Was there like any, any that kind of a turning point, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: uh, in your business?

Yeah, that was the one time it was, uh, a really clear line of what changed. Mostly the business has been sort of gradual growth over time and then occasionally with, say a new product launch or something that we change, we take. Step up to that next level and then slowly grow from there. But, uh, the biggest one was, uh, I mentioned earlier that the first version of the bag was pretty ugly and sold, uh, sporadically, as you said.

Uh, it’s a nice way to say it. Um, so we redesigned the bag, uh, to fix smaller logo, fix some stuff that, uh, we thought would make it work better. And we launched that in, uh, 2013. That was the second version, V2 of the bag in 2013. And, uh, right away we started selling. Uh, we had a little bit of a wait list. We did some pre-sales.

Those were looking good. Uh, at once. It was available on the website. We had more consistent sales, not, you know, one a month, but, uh, frequent sales and made, uh, maybe five figures or so, uh, towards the end of that year and early into the next year. So that was enough for us to see, okay, there, there’s some world where we make money every day from this visit, like a real amount of money every day.

Hmm. So that’s. That, that is the baseline, and then you can work from there to, to build that number up, obviously. But, uh, that re deciding the bag and, and that relaunch in 2013 was the sign that we went from, like, first we had an idea, then we made a product. But that’s when we thought, okay, this is the sign that this can actually be a business.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: No, it, I think, I guess it, it may also depend on when, you know, when an entrepreneur starts a business and they have a certain goal, like as you said, you know, your goal and your co-founder’s goal was maybe to create a passive income so that, you know, your co-founder can pursue their acting career or, you know, you can have some additional 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: income coming in.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: at this point in your, um, business, like, have you achieved that goal? Was, is that, was that, is that still the goal or has it, you know, transitioned into like a full-time business, full-time career for you? Uh, and you know, is your, so I, I guess, you know, When someone starts a business with a certain goal, I guess, you know, the kind of time and effort and resources they’re putting in is, you know, it’s, it’s based on that goal.

How, how has that, uh, is that, is that, is that it still your goal to create passive income out it or, you know, uh, or has it become kind like a full 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: business for you? Yeah, the, the ladder every, uh, like a lot of people, I think every time we hit one goal, we just kind of move up to the next goal. You know, you just kind of set your ambitions a little higher.

So, uh, that’s been the cycle for us. Um, uh, when we started out, we, we thought we would, uh, run ads and that would be sort of the traffic to the site. And then, um, you know, once in a while we’d place an order and it would be mostly passive, otherwise, uh, I had worked at Google previously, so I thought, okay, I know how to do the ads.

This will be great. But like I mentioned, that first version of the bag was very ugly, didn’t convert very well, which meant those ads weren’t profitable. So, um, we had to figure out another avenue and ended up, uh, more doing content marketing rather than advertising. So, um, partially because of how the business ended up working in terms of getting traffic in and making sales, uh, and partially just kind of our own ambitions.

Once, once we’re making some progress, it’s, we kind of wanted to like, do more, let’s do some new products, let’s eventually grow the team, add some employees. Um, and yeah, we’ve just, uh, kind of at each level that we reach, um, we’re still having fun and enjoying it, so we just kind of wanna do more, like, solve more problems, make more products, like, um, you know, uh, a lot of the businesses is very fun.

So, um, yeah, we still like it and kind of keep, uh, keep raising that level of ambition rather than, you know, settling or selling it or whatever. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And is your target market still the, the, the 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: travel or the traveler, uh, demographic or has it changed? Uh, no, still primarily travel. Um, I would say when we start, we had, we had a vision that was probably very similar to us.

So, uh, you know, 2020 something or college student kind of age, staying in hostels, uh, backpacking, really roughing it. Um, we’ve definitely broadened out from there. So we have a wider age range. We have, you know, uh, we do have students who travel with the bags, but all the way up to, you know, people who are retired and, um, Say they didn’t know if they could carry the backpack for, for traveling, cuz they’re older, but uh, you know, they love it and it’s comfortable for them.

So have a wider range that way. Uh, in terms of age and then also just how people travel. So yeah, we still have those backpackers and stuff, but now, you know, we’ve got the digital nomads, we’ve got people who don’t travel much internationally, but do a lot of, uh, weekend trips or our salespeople so they have to travel for work.

So, um, that part of it is wind out, but we still stay, uh, travel specific. Um, especially because, like I said, when we started, a lot of brands were outdoor brands making one travel bag. Uh, and then there’s a lot of companies that are, uh, it’s just, just bag brands. So they make a work bag, a gym, travel. So they do a little bit of everything, but, uh, focusing on one category for us, lets.

Really focus there, let’s us do the content marketing, uh, which is important to the business, and, um, kind of be, be part of that, uh, that niche too. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: How did, uh, covid affect your business? Was that like a big 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: dip in your 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: business? Uh, because of course nobody was traveling, so 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Yeah, it’s, uh, it was not good . Um, yeah.

Uh, so we, uh, I like to say now that we started in a, a recession 2009 and we’ve made it through a pandemic. So, uh, , I don’t know what’s next, but hopefully, uh, hopefully, we’ll, we’ll make it through that too. Um, yeah, it was pretty tough for us, especially, uh, being in travel, obviously travel, uh, you know, pretty much dried up.

Uh, and we’re also really focused on international. Usually people buy new luggage when they’re taking a big trip. International, uh, you know, backpacking Europe or a long honeymoon, whatever. So, uh, the main reason people bought our bags kind of went away and even, uh, even the other uses. So we have a smaller bag that you could carry to work or school or whatever.

Those also like were less, uh, relevant. So, um, yeah, it was not, uh, not a good time. We had to lay off a lot of our team, uh, sales really fell off. Um, we tried all kinds of different stuff to, to keep the business going and, um, work our way through it. And, uh, once we kind of got some things, uh, stabilized, cut some costs, um, figured out what we wanted to do, then, you know, for the last couple years we’ve really been building with an eye.

Post pandemic. So rather than just kind of muddling through the pandemic, we started thinking about, all right, what’s the next version of the business after the pandemic? Like, what, what should this look like? We’ve got 12 years of experience so we can use that. And then tried to use it as, uh, as an opportunity.

So even though obviously it was terrible for the business and uh, for lots of other reasons, but, um, tried to use that as a reset that we could, uh, build the company that, you know, we weren’t building from scratch, but kind of from scratch a little bit. So, uh, thinking about what would be the next version of the business and starting to build that ahead of time 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and, and that, that next version of the business.

Like when you think about it, is it like getting into adjacent categories? Is it more like creating other 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: travel focused products? Or, or, or, you 


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: what does that mean for you? Like, how do you. I guess, you know, being in one category and having like a 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: limited number of products, kind of like, uh, you only 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: have, I guess the risk, uh, is much bigger, uh, in terms 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: of, you know, you know, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: if, if the travel industry is affected than your business, basically the factor.

So how do, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: how do you think about it? Yeah, there’s, uh, I mean, there’s gonna be some risk, uh, involved, right? There have been other times that, uh, hurt the travel industry or even just, you know, when the price of gas is higher than people travel less because, uh, you know, air travel gets more expensive. So there are some inherent risks that.

You know, you’re gonna have to live with, in any, any industry. Hopefully it won’t, uh, you know, drop whatever, uh, air travel dropped 80% or something, um, as drastically in the future. So yeah, basically what we did, uh, on the product side was we actually used to have a lot more products. We had maybe 20 SKUs.

Uh, so during the pandemic we, we moved some of those to Amazon. Uh, we liquidated some with some third parties that kind of give you not a good return on them, but we could turn some into cash. Um, so we went from having 20 something SKUs, shrunk it down, uh, with the idea of being one, being a little leaner and simpler so we could manage the business during the pandemic and then to grow it, but grow it differently afterwards.

So, um, the big change there is that we used to have, uh, three collections at three different price points. So we had like our premium one, our budget one, and our. Goldilocks in the middle one. Mm-hmm. Uh, but what we’re gonna, but the problem that we had, uh, is we’re kind of like the, uh, the mattress companies that are big in D two C where we’re good at making that first sale, um mm-hmm.

and that’s a value valuable sale. Few hundred bucks. We’re not as good at making that second, at getting that second and third purchase from someone because we make a good bag. Then, you know, they don’t need one next week. Then if they’re good for five years or maybe longer, so, That’s been the challenge.

So we’re gonna try to grow and, uh, grow products with that in mind. So we’ll be doing more, uh, accessories that you could buy to use with the bag more, uh, smaller bags that you can use as a person item or for work school, you know, other purposes we’ll still, you know, focus on travel, but, uh, just by making smaller bags, they’re kind of more versatile.

You can use them for more things. Uh, versus our, our big bags are pretty big. They’re, you know, the size of a carryon suitcase. So, um, get into some categories where we’re making smaller bags and accessories. So, uh, that’s the plan and we’ll start to roll out. Uh, we’ve got some new stuff coming the beginning of 2023, and, uh, we’ll be launching a lot of products next year.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: It’s, it’s one of the challenges of creating a, you know, a, a product based business or like a single product based business that. You know, you have, you know, you started out with like this one product, which you can call like a hero product, right? You know, where, which was your main product at the beginning.

And you put a lot of, you know, heart and mind and, you know, effort into it, to, to create like the, the best design, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: the 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: most, uh, customer validated product. And in a way that kind of becomes your, you know, from a operator principle, you know, 80% of your sale are coming from that product, but then, you know, you’re adding new skews and which are not, which, which may be selling, but you know, they’re not the best sellers.

Um, how do you think about, you know, when you’re adding a new product, is it like always, like when you’re adding something new, is it always like you have to be very focused on building that new product? With the same kind of, you know, focus 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: and effort and, uh, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you know, love to, to make sure that, you know, customers have the same kind of demand for that, rather than just having like an adding another skew so that, you know, you have like additional revenue generating.

Like how do you see, see this 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: now? Yeah, we, uh, we try and do a bit of both, uh, depending on the product. So, um, I think when we started out I definitely had that mentality of everything had to be like any new product had to be super unique and uh, you know, as, uh, as big of a deal as the first, uh, travel backpack we made and had to be that innovative and, you know, you’re kind of always trying to, to reinvent.

Um, and there are some businesses that are basically that, but. That’s not really how most successful businesses operate. They may, they have, you have to do some innovation and some, um, you know, creating a new category or just doing new features or whatever with some products. But, um, those should always hopefully be your winners.

But you can also, um, uh, you know, make money off of simpler things that are, you know, you’re not copying what’s out there, but you know, you have to understand the market, see what people are buying and see, maybe you can bring some of your perspective to that product, even if it’s only a little bit unique or a little bit innovative.

Um, and the other side of that is you want to kind of build up your brand with folks so that if you do release something that’s. You know, could be seen as less unique. They still wanna buy it from you because they trust you for, uh, quality or they like the business and they already have one bag from you.

So when they go shopping for this other category, of course they want it from you because they already trust you. So. Mm-hmm. , we’ve tried to have a little bit more balance that way and not been, uh, as, I dunno, strict or idealistic or something maybe. Um, and just accept that, you know, if there’s some categories that already exist, people really like them, we can put our spin on it and make something a little bit unique.

But, um, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel with every product. So, um, you know, I think some people are really good at that and accept like, Hey, yeah, I’ll make something. I don’t care if there’s 20 other brands selling the exact same thing. Mm-hmm. . Um, and then I think some entrepreneurs have more of my perspective, which is like a, I don’t know, being a designer or product person where you’re like, no, we have to change the world with every product , but sometimes you can just make some packing cubes and.

You know, it’s just a cube of material, but people like them to organize their stuff, so, you know, make it, let people want it, they buy it, so, you know, we can be the one to sell it to them too. Cool. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, in terms of your sales channels, um, are you, uh, really just selling through your website, do you, have you ever considered like, going through the retailer route or is that like too complicated or too risky 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: to, to pursue?

Uh, so it’s mostly through our store and then we do sell bit on Amazon, and then we’ve tried a couple other little things, but, uh, they weren’t, weren’t too major. Um, when we started out, we thought we would try to be in stores. I think partially because that’s, uh, part of the strategy laid out in four hour work week.

Uh, I think he tried to get his, he was making supplements and I think he tried to get in GNC or one, like one store, you know, that he could have a relationship with. But um, yeah, that was one of our original ideas. We, you know, called around and. Of course they ignore you because you don’t even have a product yet.

You don’t know what you’re doing and, uh, you know, aren’t very good at selling the, selling the buyers. So, uh, we didn’t make any progress there. So we started out on the site and we’ve just kind of kept that, uh, rolling. Um, there are some downsides, especially selling something that’s, you know, a big purchase, uh, in terms of consideration and price.

Plus it needs to fit well, so people want to try it on. So, uh, we’ve done what we can to mitigate that. So allowing people to try it on at home, return it, uh, you know, have 30 days to return and try to make that process easy. Um, but yeah, there are, there certainly are some trade-offs to not, uh, not being in stores, but something we’ll, we’ll probably revisit in the future.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: has your marketing changed or evolved over time? I know you said you, you moved, uh, from Google ads to quantum marketing. Is that still your primary. Uh, marketing channel. Have you, are you on social media? Are you trying like, some of these channels like TikTok and Instagram to, to drive 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: traffic? Yeah, we’ve always been driven by content and seo.

Um, and the big thing there, we do a little bit of social media, but really, uh, ultimately what’s really worked well for us is, uh, kind of sharing our knowledge and helping the customer. So, um, you know, some of these channels, there are of course informative, whatever TikTok accounts, but a lot of it is more entertainment, uh, driven and we’ve always done better by.

Helping people travel better, whether that’s telling them, uh, you know, suggesting ways to pack, places to go, uh, anything like that. How to fit your bag and carry it well, make sure it’s comfortable. Uh, we’ve always done better at education than it’s entertainment, let’s say, uh, if those are two categories.

So, um, yeah, we’ve always, uh, for that reason we’ve tended to focus on, uh, content and we also like channels that we can own. I think because, because we started out in content where we can own the site, the blog, whatever. So, um, we’ve tended to place more, more faith in those than in. Things we don’t own, like Facebook and, and all that.

So, um, especially when you see people, you know, worried about, uh, cost of acquiring customers going up on Facebook or issues around iOS, uh, 15 or 14 whenever they made the update there. So, uh, I see some of this stuff that like, causes a lot of problems in the ad world and uh, kind of makes me appreciate, uh, what we’ve built on the, the content and SEO side.


Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, a little bit on, um, your fulfillment and shipping. Are you shipping mostly in the US or are you like a global, um, strategy and, uh, pretty sure a little bit about your fulfillment strategy. 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Yeah, we’re, uh, primarily US right now. We have a distributor, we’ve worked with a bit in Europe, um, but primarily us.

We used to ship internationally, uh, more, but uh, there are some. Let’s call complications around that. And what we’re finding then is, uh, so we work with a a three pl, which is like a warehouse that does your shipping and stor storage. So, um, they send stuff out and depending on your partner there, uh, for the warehouse and for carriers, um, it can be a little difficult, the international shipping.

And what we found was we were shipping a lot, especially to Europe tended to be a big, big market for us. And, uh, people often didn’t know that they would have to pay the import duties, so that would really add to the cost. Uh, obviously shipping was slow. If we were shipping from the us, uh, they had to pay for shipping because it’s, uh, expensive for a big bag and long distance.

So, um, what ended up happening was people would get the bag, they would end up paying a bunch more in shipping and all this stuff. Uh, so they weren’t happy about that. Um, and. , it was kind of creating a situation where they were having a bad experience, even if they got the bag, like they were having a bad experience.

So, uh, that meant they were unhappy. They were a bigger percentage of, uh, customer service time than they were of revenue because they would have problems receiving the bag or they’d be mad about it. Um, and rightly so. So we decided to cut back on that and focus just on the us. Um, and then we’ll revisit that again.

Uh, I think we have a better plan now, but revisit that when people can see all the costs upfront, pay them up upfront, um, and have kind of a faster and easier time shipping and receiving the bags. What does your team look like right now? Uh, so, uh, in addition to, uh, shrinking down our SKUs, we also had to shrink down, uh, our team and lay some folks off.

So, uh, today we are four people, uh, myself, my co-founder, uh, and then some people in, uh, marketing and support. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So did your co-founder ever end up pursuing the acting career or ? 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Uh, so it was, uh, screenwriting and directing. So he, uh, he’s written, uh, he has now written a bunch of screenplays by now and, uh, even made one movie.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Oh, wow. So, so it did 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: work out . Yeah. He, uh, got to do, uh, a bit of both worlds, uh, still working with, uh, an in fora, um, and then also doing the screenwriting. Oh, cool. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always, uh, mistakes made, lessons learned, uh, in your journey, looking back, you know, what, like what are one or two 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: big mistakes that you think or, or lessons learned, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, that you think you can share with other 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: entrepreneurs who are, you know, in a similar uh, journey?

Yeah. We’ve, uh, I feel like we’ve made every mistake, uh, there is, but I’m sure I’ll find some more that I can make. Um, so yeah, that, that’s how we’ve always, uh, learned. I think the, um, you know, we talked before about some of the mistakes, uh, in getting started trying to make that first bag. Um, but then even once we, uh, did have a product that was getting some momentum, uh, the next year after that, we had a product that we went from not being able to sell it to, uh, selling well and because we were still growing, so we couldn’t order too many, uh, bags at a time.

So we’d do a small order. Uh, what would happen was we’d get the order in, we would announce it to people, and it would sell out that same day. Hmm. So then once we had a bag that was working, we spent a year where, , we’d get a, uh, an order in sell out immediately and then be sold out for like three months until we got the next order in.

So, okay, we switched, we flipped problems. Um, so, uh, I think the lesson out of that is like when, when it happens, when you find that that fit and start getting some momentum, it, it can be sudden. So, um, you have to be ready for it, but you also can’t, uh, over-engineer, over plan. Like it would’ve been a mistake for us to order, you know, 10,000 bags instead of 1000 because we didn’t have the proof yet, right?

Mm-hmm. . But, um, but once it happens, we probably could have been smarter about, uh, maybe finding other sources of money so we could scale up the orders and grow a little quicker. Or maybe we should have raised the price to, you know, offset that demand and manage it a bit better. So, um, I think probably some things we could have learned, but, uh, We’re just so grateful to be selling anything at that point, that that was kind of the focus.

So, um, yeah, I think a good lesson in being on both sides of, you know, failing and then succeeding in some way, um, and being able to adjust quickly and, uh, kind of make the right decisions for whatever the, the current problem is. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Do you think that, you know, a business like this, the, the, the bottle, like, you know, once you’ve got the product, a product that is working, right, which is selling, is the bottleneck at that point really the marketing, like, is it really about how well you can market your product in the market that really limits your growth?

Do you see it like that or, uh, do you have a different perspective 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: on that? Yeah, I think it’s a, a combination or maybe a balance of that marketing with the, uh, the operational side of the business, and especially, The cash flow and inventory side. So, um, you know, you, uh, obviously if something’s working, people are liking it, you wanna press the gas on the, the marketing side of the business, but you can also fall into that situation I described a minute ago where you’re so successful you can’t keep stock in, or, um, you know, you’ve heard of some people where if they don’t have their margins worked out, then they’re growing, but losing money, like the more they grow, the worse they’re doing.

Um, so there are a lot of challenges around, uh, cash flowing, um, and reinvesting that money into more inventory because, uh, while it looks like you’re making a profit over here, that profit, uh, is really just to buy more inventory, right? Goes back into the business. So, um, As, as you’re growing and, and getting better at marketing.

I think the, that’s, that’s the visible one I think people tend to recognize and know, but you also need to make sure you’re on top of the finance side and, um, the cost of your products. Plus the marketing still leaves enough left over for you to buy more products. So, um, making sure you understand that sort of how cash flows through the business.

Um, and your cost is also important. Otherwise, you can, uh, be doing great on the marketing side, but running into trouble elsewhere. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now we’re going move on our rapid fire segment, and in this segment I’m going ask you a few quick questions and you have to few words or one or two sentences. So the first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurs or business professionals in 2022 and why?

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Hmm. Looking up my bookshelf, uh, to the side here. Um, I’ll recommend to a, uh, that are less common, try to give a unique answer. So, uh, one is, this is not a t-shirt, uh, it’s by Bobby. Hundreds from the, he has a streetwear brand called The Hundreds, and it’s really about creating a brand out of, uh, uh, out of a culture and community and building the brand out of that, which is cool.

And the other one is called the Box, which is, it’s like this thick, it’s 500 pages, but it’s about the invention of the shipping container and how it changed, um, the economics of, uh, of trade and, and sales. So I think important if you’re, if you’re importing stuff, making it in another country and using shipping containers, you should probably know the history of that.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s great. Um, an innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retailer tech landscape that you feel excited about? 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Hmm. Um, I think the one I’ve been. Using the most and getting more and more excited about is Airtable, um, which is kind of a, I guess it’s a database technically, but it feels mm-hmm.

a little lighter weight and closer to using Google Docs or something. So, um, we’ve been using that more and more, and I think I’m starting to understand what you can do in there, um, and have been really liking that for, uh, a couple parts of the business. Yeah. I is, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, is versatile, more versatile than, than Excel because it’s, yeah, as you said, it’s kinda like a database that, uh, you don’t need to, you don’t need to be able to code manage, um, a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: productivity tool.

I, I think probably the one I use the most often every day is Text Expander, which is, uh, a little app that lets you type a. Little, uh, short code, uh, like a couple letters and we’ll expand into, I use it for URLs or, uh, common replies to emails, things like that. Um, but just based on how, how many times a day I type in one of those, that’s probably gotta be my top one.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I’m assuming that’s great for customer service 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: is that, uh, it is, but most of the customer, uh, service tools have something like that built in, so. Okay. Um, yeah, you can usually save answers and some of them now try to, try to guess which saved answer you’ll put in, you know, sort of a machine learning kind of thing.

Mm-hmm. , uh, a 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: startup or business in e-commerce, retail or tech? Tech that you think is currently doing great. Thanks. 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Um, I’ll give, uh, a shout out to, uh, a company that we’re friendly with called Western Rise. They do a lot of, uh, Kind of performance clothing. So, uh, tends to work well for travel. So, um, we’ve always, uh, been connected, but they just launched a new Kickstarter.

They’ve done a bunch of Kickstarters, but they did a new one, uh, that it’s for a rain shell. So, uh, it’s cool to see a brand leveling up from like t-shirts to pants to now like more technical outerwear. So, uh, as a, as a product nerd, I like seeing brands not just get better at marketing and selling, but also, uh, doing harder and harder products is cool to see 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: a peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: inspires you.

Uh, lately I’ve been listening a lot to the podcast. My first million, I don’t know if you ever listened to that one, but, uh, I really like the two, uh, entrepreneurs on there, Sam Par and, uh, uh, Sean Purey. Um, so they’ve, really inspired me, not necessarily with their businesses, which, uh, you know, are, are great and fine, but just with the conversations on the show always makes me, uh, excited to go out and, like, think of new ideas and, and explore new stuff.

Yeah, I, 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I come across those clips on TikTok . I, I didn’t know the name. I didn’t know the name of it, but yeah, I, I do, I, I follow them and I, I do come across, uh, the mini clips, uh, from that show. It’s very 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: interesting. Yeah. It’s, uh, it’s an interesting show. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, and final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: Um, I think, uh, you might guess this from, uh, you know, all, all the problems we ran into starting out and the fact that we didn’t quit, but, uh, I think some of the best devices often to keep going. Like maybe some people take that too far and, you know, keep going when they should have stopped. But I think a lot of times people, you know, something doesn’t take off immediately or, um, You know, we’re, uh, I live near Silicon Valley, right?

So it’s easy for me to see like, oh, this business raised a hundred million and billions in, you know, these kind of numbers. But, um, like that’s, it’s not the the scale of business, uh, I operate in, but, um, you know, that that kind of stuff can be discouraging. You know, it’s easy to see someone doing better than you and think like, oh, this isn’t working, or, I can’t do it, I’m not good enough, whatever, and give up.

But, um, I think a lot of times the the answer is to keep going. Like, you’re gonna run into problems. There’ll be shortcomings to the business you chose, or, you know, uh, things that are challenging about your business or category or whatever. But, um, you know that that’s kind of the nature of the game. And if you keep going and keep showing up and keep putting all your, you’re all into it every day, then you’re gonna make something out.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. That’s, uh, great advice. Thank you Fred. Really, really appreciate, uh, your time today. If, um, if someone watching this show wants to purchase your, uh, uh, travel, uh, backpack, what is the best way they can, 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: uh, do that? Yeah, they can just, uh, go to our website. It’s tortuga and that’s T O R T U G A.

It’s the Spanish word for turtle because turtle’s got everything he needs right on his back. . That’s awesome. 

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: That’s a, that’s a great man. Uh, well, Fred, thank you so much again for sharing your story, for sharing some of the, you know, some of the challenges and strategies and tactics that you used to start and grow business.

So yeah, thank you again for joining Trep Talk 

Fred Perrotta of Tortuga: and, and sharing your story. Yeah, thanks, uh, it was great talking to you. It was a good conversation. Thank.

Also, get inspired to Create a Profitable Online Business with Justin Fenchel – Making partying more fun by introducing portable party punch

One Reply to “Traveling made easy with the perfect travel backpack – Fred Perrotta of Tortuga”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *