Inventing a Kids Car Seat Buckle Release Tool – Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 37:50)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe shares the story of co-inventing a car seat buckle release tool and profitably bringing the new product to market.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe

00:00Introduction
01:10Startup Story
03:44Market Demand
05:54Building Prototype
10:06Target market
11:41Patent
15:21Shark tank Experience
16:54Not closing the Shark Tank deal
19:11Getting into retail
21:39Being a mompreneur
23:42Taking salary from the business
26:38Sales Channels
27:38Shipping and Fulfillment
29:38Mistakes made
33:48Rapid Fire Round

Rapid Fire

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

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Klaviyo)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: Google Drive)
  4. A startup or business that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Bug Bite Thing)
  5. Best business advice you ever received (Response: Invent for a need, not a want)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep talks. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce 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 have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome Becca David Davison to the show. Becca is the CO inventor and co founder of unbuckle me, which is an innovative parenting tool that makes it easy to open kids Carson buckles. And today I’m going to ask a few questions about her entrepreneurial journey, and some of the strategies and tactics that she has used to start and grow her business. So thank you so much for joining me today at Dropbox today. Chris, thank you for having me. So very, very interesting. Product. Can you share a little bit about the startup story of how you got started, I believe you, you collaborated with your mom,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Sure, happy to share. So I you know, my background is not necessarily in entrepreneurship. So this was definitely a career pivot for me, kind of an unexpected invention that took me down this path. I was born in Houston, and I grew up here and lived in New York City for a while after graduating from college and then moved back home to Houston to have to start a family. And after my first daughter was born, I was living close to my mom. And she had offered to help me out with childcare during the week when I went back to work. And which was a great setup. But after maybe a few months, my daughter started getting older and more mobile, she wanted to take her out in the car. So we got her car seat. And she quickly realized that because of some arthritis in her thumb, she could not press the red button on the car seat. And it sounds kind of silly, but it’s actually quite significant. Those buttons we’ve learned require nine pounds of pressure so that kids can’t unbuckle themselves. And we’re talking about the five five point harness that kind of goes over their shoulders. And it’s much harder to push actually federally regulated to make those buckles quite hard to push for children. So it’s it’s intended to be that way, they’re more difficult than an adult seatbelt and a vehicle. And she couldn’t do it because it the way it’s built, it requires you to really just use your thumb. And you know, she’s very active, very mobile, and in many other ways, but that joint is sore. And it’s very common among older women to have some degradation and arthritis in that joint. So that was really the problem that kind of set us down this path. And my mom spent her career as an occupational therapist. And so her background was to create and sort of develop adaptive tools and solutions for her patients that had spinal cord injuries or rehabilitation post surgery or various needs. So this was really top of mind for her to just create a solution to her own problem. And that’s really how we got started. And my mom had basically invented this thing and was using it. And I saw it and thought this is really cool. And you can’t be the only one on the planet that has this challenge and this problem. So I suggested that we start a business. And so I run the business side of things, I have a business background. And so my mom is more of the creative inventor, and I’m kind of the business side of things. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

did you like I mean, it’s one thing to say, you know, there could be a market out there. How did you? Did you actually do some sort of test or talk to people? Do? Yeah,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

yeah, it’s an it’s a great question, because it’s a really, really important step. Because this path is, you know, it’s expensive, and it’s labor. So you definitely want to make sure you test the market. So we did. I mean, I’m a mom, I had a lot of friends, certainly the first step was sort of look around at different friends. And I started asking, you know, do your parents have trouble with carseat buckles is a common challenge. And we did some research, Google’s great, you know, just sort of statistically how many parents are taking care of, or grandparents are taking care of their grandkids. And we started to learn, you know, there’s a lot of disabilities that that cause sort of limitations and degradation of hand strength, even things like carpal tunnel that are quite common, cerebral palsy, you know, any sort of spinal cord injury, there’s a lot of things that can cause people’s hands, you know, to be weaker than they would like them to be, especially when handling kids. So the biggest probably step that we took to really research it and it was sort of funny timing is we learned about a juvenile products trade show that was taking place in the fall and it was like a month away and it just sort of the timing worked out and and also just felt like a big step, sort of a line in the sand of like, let’s actually pursue this idea. And so we call them up and we sort of got a last minute spot and we did exhibit but it was like an inventor’s kind of area. So it was a smaller section. And but it you know, it was at the Las Vegas Convention Center. So that was our first step into really the industry. And we met with, you know, buyers from from target from Wamena. From from juvenile products, stores, we talked to, you know, media, people that write about juvenile products, we talked to safety experts, like we just really, that was the best, I think opportunity for us to meet. Obviously, it was pre COVID. So it was a great opportunity to network with the industry and really learn about if we are going to enter this space with a product, a consumer product, like what does that look like? What is the price look like? What does it need to be made out of? What are the regulatory considerations? So that was a big step we took to research but a lot of it we did you know from home, and just from word of mouth and friends. So it’s I think you can do Facebook’s a great place to kind of run surveys or just post in different groups and communities and sort of see what the response is. So yeah, I think that’s a really important step.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And did you have a prototype at that point? Like, did you when your mother created this? Like, did she just put together from, you know, what was like that first thing? And then how did you go from there to having like a proper prototype?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

That you can show? Yeah, that’s a great question. So she, she, my mom had some splint material, which is, like a thermoplastic stretchy material that they make splints, like hand splints out after you’ve had surgery or whatever. So she had some of that on hand, because that’s her background. And so she grabbed some of that, and she remembers, you know, it’d been, she’s retired, but But when she used to work in the clinic, you know, she would stretch it and sort of make these different custom splints, and a lot of the concepts, you know, with rubber bands, and, you know, leverage and counter lever, you know, just sort of, they would use those things like rubber bands to strengthen joints in the hand. So she’s familiar with a lot of those concepts. And so when she thought about, how am I going to solve this problem, effectively, she was thinking, Okay, I got, I have to use a material that’s sort of hard, like she was going after the concept of leverage, because that’s how you reduce I mean, there’s simple, it’s really a simple machine. So if you’re looking to think about physics, it’s like, there’s only so many ways you can reduce force and gain leverage. So for her, it was like, how do we get sort of a torque concept around this buckle, and so that led her to, you know, just sort of figure out how we can have some backing around the back of it and sort of use a lever, it’s like an old fashioned Nutcracker is another concept, I think, that she had in her head. And but she used that material to make, I wouldn’t even call it a prototype at the time, because at the time, it was just this, you know, kind of funny gadget that she was using for herself. But that was our kind of initial thing. And then we made once we got serious about or semi serious about, you know, let’s make a product, I think we made hundreds of iterations of kind of what that prototype should be, and what it would look like. And then finally, he kind of sat down with an engineer and kind of helped us get the CAD, kind of to a place and then we continue to do 3d prints and tweak. So it was a really long process. You know, my mom and I are both a bit perfectionistic. And so it was just kind of iterative, test and learn. And we sent out, you know, 3d prints to people and said, Try it, does this work? What would you change about it? So, it was a long process, I mean, definitely end to end, probably close to a year, when we really had our product on the market.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So I mean, you really have to be committed to the idea to like really put that kind of effort and probably some financial investment also in like the engineering design and all creating the prototype and everything. So but one thing, one thing I’m very curious about is, when I looked at the product, of course, it’s a it’s a great product. The first thought that that came to my mind was, I was thinking, you know, is there a way to tie this to like a keychain or something. But is there some some mechanism to put it on the because, you know, if you’re thinking about car, like, Yeah, you don’t want to carry this on? You’re okay. Okay.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, there’s like a little loop here, we did put and that was a great point, that was a piece of feedback that we all say that we got that idea from a lot of the product testers that we send around samples, 3d printed samples, and a lot of them said, like, it would be great if I had a little loop on it, we were like, Oh, that’s a great idea. We didn’t like think of that ourselves. But it’s a good addition to the product. But it’s interesting because more and more cars now, you know, people are using keyless cars and they’re leaving it in their purse. And so it’s I think keychain is becoming less the convenience, but I still think the best places either just like hook it on something in the car, like the visor, or keep it in the side pocket of your car. So personally, I don’t use that loop a lot, but I know a lot of people do. So, that was a feature we got from you know, some of that market research.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Cool. So in terms of the target market, I mean, this this would really be more towards a very specific kind of a person who is maybe on a little bit older side, they have you know, some mobility issues in the hand. Is that Is that really the focus target market? Is that what do you find the kind of people who are really buying this product?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

So that’s probably the percent 60% of it. So that is probably the bulk of it. But I don’t know if you watch our Shark Tank episode, but that was one thing. Kevin O’Leary was really you know, saying like is this is this kind of a Nishi small thing. And smaller market, smaller market, you know, you got had grandparents, you got to have kids. But what I think has been surprising to us is that, and probably a bit of luck, I saw a question there about luck. But what we learned when we started seeing product reviews for this was that a lot of younger families are buying it and then passing it back to a four year old in the third row, for instance, instead of having to crawl all the way back there to buckle them, you know, pass this back, they can unbuckle themselves, pass it back up, you know, and hop out of the car really easily. So it’s really a kind of a game changer for like the carpool drop offline or a scenario like that. So that’s probably another 30% of our market. And it actually may even be more maybe closer to, you know, 50% of the market, 50% beam, or 40%. And then I’d say the other sort of small segment, and for us, it’s probably 10% Are people with long fingernails, so acrylic nails are you know, they don’t want to, you can kind of use this to get your so you’re not just mashing your thumb into the car seat buckles. So that was to, you know, surprising markets that we discovered as we started to pursue it initially, yes, we were very much focused on arthritis and disability and grandparents and such, but it sort of broaden that. And so now, you know, we’ve very, we focus pretty heavily on the back to school, you know, kids sort of carpool line scenario, that’s been a really a big market for us.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I wanted to ask you about the patent side of things. I know, you know, with something like this, which is a unique kind of a product, you know, you know, you want to bet on the idea, you want to bet on the design. But when I was doing like I was looking around, I went on Amazon and I saw there were a couple of similar products and maybe even similar names also. And, you know, they’re selling it. Some of them actually have probably even improved the design a little bit in at least from what I saw, I don’t know the quality of it. But how do you what are your thoughts on this? Like, you probably spent some good amount of money. Patenting this. How do you deal with that?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, I mean, patents are an interesting thing, I think, yeah, for a product like this, it’s been extremely important. For every, you know, knockoff, you see, on Amazon, we’ve gotten rid of probably 100 behind it. So we are conscious every month, we submit to Amazon, and they take them down and are probably twice a month now. It’s just it’s kind of a routine thing, just to get them all taken down. And Amazon’s got some really great pilot programs now where they’re helping with enforcement, which is making it a lot easier for small businesses like us to enforce our patent versus having to, you know, take someone to court like you used to which is is financially cost prohibitive for a small business. So we are still actively, you know, kind of monitoring it. I mean, patents are an interesting thing. And I could talk a long time about patents, it’s sort of, especially for a product like this, you know, you get a patent for sort of the novelty elements of it, but there are aspects of it that are, you know, simple and obvious. And so you can’t patent everything about it, right, you can’t patent like a C shaped piece of plastic like that, you know, you have to sort of narrow it enough to make it sort of defined by what you’ve created and invented. So it’s a bit of a dance, sometimes you get people that kind of come in and argue, well, I’m on infringing because it’s a little bit different in this way. And that’s different than the way you wrote your claims and your patent. So we got a little bit of that. And so it’s a complicated thing, I think, on the whole, you know, we really focused on having the best product out there, you know, we’re the only product that’s got any sort of like overmold soft touch feel like at the quality of this, you know, material is really, really top notch, it’s got to, you know, got overmold and, and under mold. So that took kind of an extra leap of the manufacturing to make it like this. And I think that’s when it really sets us apart. And just the brand, you know, that we were on Shark Tank and that we were the first and that we have the story behind it. And so that’s why, you know, I like talking to people like you, it’s just trying to get our story out so that people understand like, yes, a lot of creativity, a lot of time a lot of sweat and tears went into this and we hope people you know, we’re doing well enough and so we’re happy if we lose a little bit of sales to those knock offs. It’s it’s sad, but you know, it’s not worth putting a lot of energy and stress into it. We do what we can certainly from an enforcement standpoint, but they’re contingent, you know, they’re always going to pop up every every week. I go on Amazon and there’s new, there’s new knockoff so it’s discouraging, but I can’t let it ruin my day.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Definitely. You mentioned Kevin O’Leary. So I definitely watched the Shark Tank episode. It was a great episode. I think I think you’ve got deal with like three different deals from pretty much everyone there? Can you share a little bit about that experience? How did you contact them? Did they contact you? What did you actually end up? Getting the deal at the end? Like? And if yes, like what has been your experience so far?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, I mean, it’s a truly tremendous experience. Being on the show, we auditioned twice, well once and didn’t make it and then came back and audition the next year. So it’s one of those things like just, you know, keep trying, but, I mean, it’s the impact our business has been incredible. I mean, it’s from a sales standpoint, it actually just aired two nights ago. And I mean, every time it airs, our sales spike pretty significantly, at least two or three times normal. So I can always tell when I see it, I’m like, Oh, we must have aired on like a rerun, or CNBC or whatever. So, um, I mean, that’s,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

like, it’s like, a week worth of spike a month worth of Spike, and they were,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

like, Oh, it’ll be a day. So like, every day I you know, I look at a sales every day. So it’ll just be like, you know, if we err at 8pm, or whatever, 830, there’ll be just this huge spike. So it’s really fun. It’s like, Oh, I must have aired tonight, because, so far, we’ll see little spikes for different things, something goes on, you know, tick tock, or whatever, but, but when it’s like, really like three times the daily sales or something like that. And the initial, you know, bump we got was huge. When it was the first airing of it, it was, it was wild. We did like, I don’t know, three, four months of sales in one night or something crazy, but, but that’s kind of the gift that keeps on giving. So that I mean, that’s been the biggest benefit. We also, I think the credibility of being on the show has led to a lot of really exciting b2b opportunities, you know, we’re working with Target or working with Walmart, like all those things, I think came out of the show. And just being able to say, like, we were on Shark Tank, and we got all these deals and opportunities. So yeah, it’s been really cool. But did you actually

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

end up finding the deal with them or no,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

so we didn’t, we didn’t end up, we didn’t close the deal. And it’s for, you know, a lot of different reasons, I think, on both sides, it just ultimately wasn’t, wasn’t exactly the opportunity that either of us really were looking for, at the moment, I think just as we kind of got through it and got down to the the weeds of like, where their experience was, what their vision was for kind of growth and where they could take, you know, their their relationships, you know, licensing, things like that wasn’t exactly aligned with what we were interested in doing for growing the business. So, but it’s all good, we’re still, you know, on great terms, it was very much a happy kind of mutual, a lot of the deals on Shark Tank actually don’t close. For whatever reasons. And it’s not, it’s not actually a bad thing. It’s just that you know, it’s a TV show, it’s fun, it’s exciting. And it gives you tremendous visibility, we got everything out of it really we want to do, I think, not having to give away a part of our company was and still getting kind of all of the bump of the show and excitement. It’s really, I think, a best case scenario.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I’m very curious, like, when you go on that show, do you? Like, do you only get to interact with sharks while you’re making your pitch? Like, you don’t have any contact with them before the show after the show? You’re there, you’re making the pitch, whatever deal is there? And then you’re you’re on your way? That’s it?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

That’s it? Yeah, you never, they never gonna have any information about you until you walk through those doors. So it really is an honest, you know, assessment, as, as you see, it’s certainly edited. I mean, we were in there, we were actually not in there that long, we were probably only under half an hour, they edited it down to 10 minutes, or whatever. But I know other people are in there for like an hour and a half. And they edited down to 10 minutes. So there’s a lot that in a lot of context. And there’s some contexts that that they cut out of ours, but I think generally they did a great job with editing our episode. So some people kind of get edits, where I think it makes you know, it’s more dramatic or whatever. But yeah,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

so I know your products are also in, in different retail stores. Could you share a little bit about what was the process? Was it really just about you know, picking up the phone, calling the retailers buyers and making the pitch to them? Or was it something else?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, I mean, a lot of it was was hustle and just, you know, in the beginning, you know, going around Houston and talking to retailers and we at the juvenile products tradeshow, we met some of those contacts several years ago and just stayed in touch, you know, as we got kind of down the road down the process of having more of a product and, you know, we kind of followed up with them and said, Hey, we’ve got a product now would you work with us? So a lot of that is I think a lot of that b2b relationship is networking. You can find people on LinkedIn, you know, find the buyers and connect with them that way so that I think it was more in my wheelhouse being kind of in the corporate world. It’s a little bit easier to sort of navigate those conversations. But um, yeah, I would say that was I mean, we we got a break at one point very early on with byebye baby which is a great store for us to get Online, and then we found out that stores it by the baby, they have kind of a very federated model where every store is allowed to make their own buying decisions. So you know, one example of hustle like we got on the phone, and we call it every single store in the country, there’s 125, private baby stores. We call them all, we just like cut the list up. And everyday we call the view and just talk to the manager of the store and said, Hey, would you like to try it? You know, would you like to bring it in store and try, we think it would do really well in your car seat section, here’s what it is, here’s why it’s great. And I think we’ve probably got like, you know, 2530 stores to opt in. And then we’re able to go back to the buyer at the corporate level and say, Hey, we’ve got 30 stores, you know, selling our product, it’s going well, they’re reordering. So some of that it’s like you kind of make your own success. And I think that it That’s true. It’s not true with everything. But I think with retail, especially, you know, retailers are busy. And they’re not, they don’t always have the time to sort of like do the legwork. And so if you can just make it easy for them and sort of feed them data and sort of, you know, you do the hustle. In a sense, I think that they’re happy to support you. And they, you know, continue to be a great partner for us.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Do you consider yourself an entrepreneur a mompreneur? Of course, you know, this is like your full time thing? How much time? Do you spend every day on the business itself? That like a full time thing for you? Or? Yeah, what do you think? Like? I mean, from my perspective, seems like a pretty pretty much a dream, you know, you can do this from home, you can, you know, live your take care of your kids. How do you see this thing?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, I feel really, really fortunate, it wasn’t a full time thing, honestly, until probably last year. And prior to that, for the first I’d say, you know, three years or so the business, I did it part time. And that was really just, you know, because I have a family with two young kids, and we kind of needed the cash flow. And, you know, businesses take a while to get, you know, up and running and profitable. So, for those first few years, I was doing it part time, which, you know, before COVID sort of looked like, going to work and then coming home and working late at night, working on the weekends. You know, when you’ve got little kids, it can be easy, it can be hard, you know, sleep gets sacrificed, I did try to cut back work a little bit and work more part time and then have, you know, a day or so a week where I could really focus on the business. So that worked out pretty well. And then finally, and we’ve fortunately gotten to a point last year, where we were ready to kind of go all in on it, I’ve actually brought my husband on now he’s kind of left his full time job. And so both of us are in it. And we’ve got some really cool growth ideas this year. So it took a while it took a lot of patience to sort of wait until we were you know, ready at that point. But yeah, now it’s full time. And it’s nice that my husband is in it with me, because we’re able to balance the day, the week, you know, the hours, you know, one of us can pick up the kids and the other can keep working. So it’s it’s been, it still remains a juggling act of all the things in the business. And it ebbs and flows. Some days, you know, there’s it’s really busy as a lot going on other days, things seem to be in a bit of a coasting mode. So we’re, you know, we’re going up to new products now. So that’s kind of the focus now. So it’s been very lucky.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So do you pay yourself and your husband like, do you every every month when you do like accounting? Do you pay yourself the salary first? And then based on whatever is remaining? I’m sure there’s some sort some sort of investment that goes inside the business again? Can you share a little bit about that, like, now that you’re, you know, completely focused both both people in the business?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, I mean, we started taking a salary pretty early on. And it wasn’t much I mean, it was not a livable wage for my family, which is why I continued to work. You know, my kind of my, my corporate jobs, but we did. And I think that’s important for the business. Because I think, you know, when you don’t pay yourself a salary, you know, someone has to run the business. And so you end up overstating your profit a bit by kind of hiding that in. And if you’re a single proprietor or single entity, it doesn’t really matter, because you’re paying yourself out of the profit anyway. But we have a partnership. So my mom and I are business partners. So we, we did we’ve been paying ourselves and so it you know, now we’re sort of at a point where I think we’re paying last year sort of myself a competitive salary for kind of running this business. My mom takes a small salary this year, my husband is taking a small salary and mine came down a little bit. So we, you know, we’ve kind of managed what we think the business can afford, and what’s appropriate for someone running this business. And at the end of the day, you know, my husband doesn’t really matter because we’re on the same team. And then we take profit distributions whenever we can. And so those are kind of irregular and to your point, it depends on how much needs to go back into the business. So if things are kind of quiet, and there’s not a lot going on, like we’ve taken some nice profit distributions We’re coming up on kind of some new product opportunities, we’re gonna have to order some inventory. So I’ll probably keep more of the cash in the business. And we may go for a few months without taking profit out just if we need to reinvest it. So it just depends on sort of where where things are at. But that those are all the levers, right? I mean, they need to kind of balance you know, payroll, which is, you know, you kind of got to make payroll every month versus profit, you can kind of take your time and pay out when you have extra cash flow.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So I know, I know, you mentioned new products when I went on your website. To me, it seemed like there was this product, I believe there was there’s another product that that holds, like, baby bottles or something in the car. And then there were other products that were not necessarily I think they were not your brand. They were just other other products in the in the, I guess children and car supply. It’s kind of things CFT that, I’m assuming you’re buying from buying wholesale and selling it yourself.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

For the most part. Yeah. So right now we’re we’ve done a lot of quick expansion with partnerships with different brands, mostly friends of ours that sell similar products in the same space. So yeah, so we haven’t we haven’t yet. I mean, we’re working right now on the new products, that will be our products. And so we’ll probably continue to have that sort of shop store in the category, but we’ll develop more of our own stuff.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Or most of your sales, like direct to consumer to your own website, Amazon or the to retail.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Mostly through Amazon at this at this moment.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I know. Yeah. Amazon,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

you know, Amazon’s always a love, a love hate relationship. And it’s good until something goes wrong. And your listings get suppressed for something and you’re off Amazon. And they don’t like you know them have in the control of of the sales channel. But But yeah, it’s great. I mean, I wouldn’t be where we are. Without Amazon, I think Amazon really enables more niche kind of small products to succeed. I think that, you know, it’s we do have our own direct to consumer channel through our website, but it’s expensive to try to get consumers to come to your website. And then by the time in a place, it’s difficult. It’s an expensive sales channel to sell an inexpensive product. So that’s been where I think we’re Amazon has really enabled us to thrive. I’m very

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

curious about your fulfillment and shipping. So on your website, I think if I ordered the product, I think the product itself was like about $15 or so 14 something and then the shipping was around $14 Something also, but on

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

the US,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I think so. I’ll have to check again.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

I think it shouldn’t be $14. It’s like $3 Oh, yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay, maybe maybe it was I’m in Canada, so maybe,

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

maybe that’s okay. Yeah. So Canada. Yeah. So to get into Canada, we have to pay international shipping. So it is I think 13 or $14. Sorry. And it was in the US. It’s like $3

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Okay, okay, that makes sense. Um, but on Amazon, of course, it’s three. Do you ship like both your website orders and Amazon orders to like the same? I believe you’re, I think I read you have a shipping partner like a fulfillment company or something? Yeah, we

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

do. We do. We have a fulfillment partner that works with us. But we shipped to Amazon. So we do FBA mostly.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And FBA is a much does it cost more than the fulfillment company? Why wouldn’t you like just use a VA for like all your orders?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Well, there’s a few reasons. I think, yeah, it adds cost, right. Because there’s, if you end up shipping FBA orders outside, like if someone orders to my website to have Amazon, ship it out, there’s just an additional cost on that. So I’m sure I’m paying to ship it to Amazon, and then I’m paying Amazon to ship that out. So it’s sort of double paying for that. So that would be more expensive in that instance.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So you’re shipping US and Canada. Do you also ship like, do you blog globally? Do you ship international markets

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

also. And we do a little bit if there’s demand and it’s expensive. So it’s not a key focus for us. We’re really focused on the US market for the most part. Currency buckles also are different designed a bit differently internationally. Some of them are similar, but some of them are different. So something to consider, we’ve really mostly focused on the US market.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I know in every entrepreneurs journey, there’s always you know, it’s, it’s not always straightforward. You know, there’s mistakes, there are failures, there’s lessons learned. Could you share like your biggest failure or mistake while you’re creating those business? What have you learned in the process and What can other entrepreneurs learn with that?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Yeah, that’s a great question. I mean, I, my, my inclination, I guess is in my style is sort of to do things myself and to try to figure out how to do them rather than hire people. And part of that’s because we were very inexpensive products that we haven’t had the margin to be able to hire experts in different fields. So I’ve had to sort of figure out a lot on our own. And so, you know, there’s been, yeah, lots of sort of stumbling blocks and opportunities, I think. I mean, I, you know, there’s, there’s many, I mean, we initially built our website on WordPress, because it was cheap. And then it was like, we went on Shark Tank, and our website crashed. So I still to this day, like lose sleep at night over, you know, we’ve lost sales from that we should have been on a, you know, stronger kind of website provider like Shopify or something. So, little things like that. You know, we started out manufacturing in the USA, which was important to us, it was nice, we could do kind of little small production runs, we were still nervous about investing a lot of our own capital, in essence, we are self funded. So we like to have in our kind of domestic partner, but very kind of quickly got to the point, right before Shark Tank, actually, and part of this is COVID related, but they decided to basically close, they’re their injection molding business. And so we got left and alert a little bit with that. And even prior to that, you know, the tool just, you know, logistical things around manufacturing, you know, ejector pins breaking and running out of colorant, and supply chain. So, you know, our supply chain was very shaky, I would say pre Shark Tank, and then we kind of got hit hard when we went on the show. And it was like we are, we were backordered for I think most of the summer. So it took us a while to sort of transition, we finally did go overseas, we’ve got a fantastic manufacturing partner. Now that’s like, just we’ll never run out of inventory again. So those were kind of early. Yes, it’s in China. Those were kind of early struggles that I think a lot of small businesses go through before you kind of get things cooking and firing on all cylinders. So you know, it, they’re all just, they’re nothing that you really everyone’s gonna have those sort of trip ups, there’s not a lot to say, you know that to avoid other than just, you know, take it as it comes, you know, look for try to anticipate sort of those disruptive moments. I mean, having a supply chain solid supply chain is I think, like, you know, priority number one in the beginning, if you’ve got a consumer product, like you’ve got to, you can’t do marketing catch anything else if you don’t have a product that’s reliably available. So that’s, that’s been a headache for us. And we finally, yeah, couple years ago, got that straightened out. So

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

very curious, like, Did did COVID affect your supply chain at all? Or did the during the COVID time? Did your sales go up? Did it affect your sales at all?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

Or? No? It did? Yeah. No, it didn’t. It didn’t give us a bump per se. I think people you know, stop traveling and kids stop going to school, grandparents stop seeing their children or grandchildren. So all those things negatively impacted sales. But it was when we went on Shark Tank we aired in in May of 2020. So a lot of eyeballs on TVs everybody was home. So we you know, we certainly got a big sales bump from that. And then supply chain was we had a lot that we were dealing with kind of behind the scenes. And so I think, just as I mentioned, like getting that call from our US manufacturer, like two weeks before we aired saying they were closing, we were like he’s like well, we’re finished the run but like you kind of in a lurch. So we definitely had some hiccups there. But fortunately, I kind of got through it in the fall of 2020. And then 2021 was our best year we’ve ever had by a long stretch. So I think a lot of businesses just kind of popped back in 2021 consumer spending, you know, increased a whole lot the market rebounded. So. Yeah, things things have been really, really good. And we’re hoping 2020 is also a good year for us. Cool.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So now we’re going to move on to the rapid fire round where I’m going to ask you a quick question and you have to answer them in one word or one sentence. Okay, the first one is a book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs or business people in 2022 And why are you a big book reader?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

I used to be before I had kids. I’m just so exhausted. I don’t have as much but I did just finished a book a couple weeks ago called the exit printers playbook. And I think it’s a great book. A friend recommended it to me as as I’m sort of thinking about when’s the right time for us to potentially exit our business but it’s a great book to read even just early on because it has some really great things to think about as you’re scaling and running your business thinks to position yourself well for an eventual exit. So I think the author is Joe Valley and it’s it’s a great book it’s easy read and I’ll definitely keep it on my nightstand as a reference if and when I get kind of down that road.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

I’m so many I’m Gosh, I don’t know if this is a good one a tech product or you know, I think ways of reaching customers I started working more closely with with clay VO for email and attentive for kind of SMS marketing, I think that there’s some really good players out there that are trying to make it easier for small businesses to sort of cultivate that customer relationship and sort of nurture the flow. So I think those are some opportunities that we’re definitely leaning into for this year

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

of business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

for productivity or productivity. Um, gosh, you know, any of the Google products, I’m a big fan of Google Drive, you know, email chat, we use a lot of their products. And I don’t know how creative productivity

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

a startup or business that you think is currently doing great things.

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

And I’ll say bug bite thing. They were on Shark Tank the same season we are and I think Kelly’s doing a great job with that company. I’m inspired by them because they also have a one SKU kind of hero product that they’re just doing incredible things. It’s that Section tool for bug bites. I use it personally. I’ve been really everything they’ve got going on over there.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Do you use tick tock for your business?

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

We do a little bit I wouldn’t say often it’s a budding but it’s funny I do if I do see a big bump or a little bump kind of an Amazon sales for the day. Something happened on tick tock

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

fine, final question, best business advice you ever received, or you would give to other

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

entrepreneurs? That’s a good one. Um, I think it’s Lori Grenier maybe that says, invent for a problem, and or invent for a need, not a want. And I think that’s a good one is sort of the most successful products, I think solve a real problem. And more than just a nice to have like something that’s really bothering people or bothering you. If you can come up with a solution to it. That’s what people will throw their money for. Especially when times get tough. It’s like I still need that thing I can’t do without it versus the nice to have.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Perfect, those were all the questions that I had. Thank you so much for your time for sharing your story for all the different strategies and tactics for other entrepreneurs that you shared with us. So really appreciate your time today and, and thank you for everything. So

Becca Davison of UnbuckleMe  

of course yeah, nice to meet you. Thank you

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