$300K/Month Improving the RVing Experience with Innovative Permanent Jack Pads – Kent Wilson of SnapPad
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 43:16)
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Kent Wilson of SnapPad shares his journey of revolutionizing the RV industry by introducing the world’s only permanent jack pad. Despite starting with no orders, official endorsements, or website, he persevered and expanded the product range to offer a unique solution that enhances the RVing experience.
Kent Wilson, the founder, and CEO of SnapPad, explains how their innovative permanent jack pads for RVs provide a solution to a common problem in the industry. SnapPad’s big rubber shoes for RV jacks snap on and stay on permanently, eliminating the need to carry mats, blocks, or pieces of wood around. Wilson discusses the company’s process for creating jack pads with different shapes and sizes of feet configurations while emphasizing their unique compatibility data, made possible through over 10,000 lines of data. Despite facing manufacturing difficulties, SnapPad sold well across sales channels, with a 50-50 mix of direct-to-consumer and wholesale, and plans to expand the product line. Wilson also talks about the importance of managing finances and accounting early on and having a good co-founder in a startup.
- 00:00:00 about selling a product, it’s about providing a solution. In this section of the transcript, Kent Wilson, the founder of SnapPad, explains what their product is and how it helps solve a problem in the RV industry. SnapPad’s permanent jack pads are big rubber shoes for RV jacks that snap on and stay on permanently, eliminating the need to carry around mats, blocks, or pieces of wood. Wilson goes on to explain that SnapPad came to be after his father, who launched an RV leveling accessory about 30 years ago, was diluted out of his company by an unscrupulous investor. Now, SnapPad provides a solution and a fitment system for RVs, allowing customers to select the product that works best for them.
- 00:05:00 In this section, Kent Wilson, founder of SnapPad, discusses the thought process behind creating jack pads for RVs with different shapes and sizes of feet configurations since there is no Central database of RVs with leveling configurations. SnapPad initially launched with one pad size that was more prevalent in the industry, then after customer requests for different sizes and shapes, they made it a product line. They have over 10,000 lines of data to capture compatibility data even as they actively capture data when people purchase pads. Despite being worried about incumbent companies taking away their business, they have built a strong brand story that resonates with people, including making everything in the U.S. and their compatibility data, which is unique in the industry.
- 00:10:00 In this section, Kent Wilson, the founder of SnapPad, talks about how they got started with their innovative permanent jack pads for RVs. They initially launched their product with no advertising and instead relied on direct feedback from RV communities. They also explain how they persuaded a manufacturer to invest their time in the new idea without charging them for the initial design work. Wilson also shares some advice for entrepreneurs who want to get a prototype made and take it to market. SnapPad works in partnership with their manufacturer and owns the molds that are required for creating their product.
- 00:15:00 In this section, Kent Wilson, the founder and CEO of SnapPad, shares how the company faced manufacturing difficulties due to a surge in demand during the pandemic. SnapPad was 40,000 units back-ordered at one point, and the pressures proved to be too much for one of their manufacturers, forcing them to find new distributors and manufacturers over a year and a half period. While the pandemic spiked demand, supply chain issues meant that SnapPad could not capitalize on the increase to the desired extent. Although SnapPad’s products can weigh up to 50 pounds, they sell well across sales channels, with a 50-50 mix of direct-to-consumer and wholesale. The company’s product line stood out to dealerships who began carrying their products, a trend that continued via word-of-mouth. Due to shipping issues, SnapPad’s customers often seek out nearby dealerships for purchase instead of ordering directly from the company.
- 00:20:00 In this section, Kent Wilson shares the marketing strategies that SnapPad used to acquire new customers. After starting with minor Facebook advertising, they found success with micro-influencers. They would send their product to influencers with 500 to 5,000 subscribers and ask for honest feedback. If the influencer liked the product, they would share it as an install or review on their channel, providing SnapPad with an authentic review and valuable content. As they grew, they added PPC advertising to their marketing mix and expanded to YouTube and Instagram. Although PPC has become more competitive, advertising was easier in the early days since they owned the product category, had a strong value proposition, and a juicy AOV, which gave them room to bid on keywords. Finally, as a US-based manufacturing company, SnapPad prefers to maintain QA and QC of the product by being close to the manufacturer.
- 00:25:00 In this section of the video, Kent Wilson discusses the market for their RV jack pads and how they have seen success in selling their premium product that is made in the USA. While the RVing culture is prevalent in North America, he notes that it is starting to take off in regions such as Germany, the Middle East, and Australia. Wilson talks about the importance of managing the cash conversion cycle and supply chain as they sustainably scale their business to meet the demand for their product. Additionally, he mentions their plans to expand the SnapPad brand by introducing new products, both new designs and those that fill gaps in the market, to move beyond just providing permanent jack pads for RVs.
- 00:30:00 In this section, Kent Wilson discusses the RVing market and the different types of individuals who enjoy RVing. These range from baby boomers who have retired and travel every winter, to younger people who enjoy weekend trips with their families or digital nomads who travel and work from anywhere. The market is diverse and growing, with people getting into RVing for various reasons. As the leader in innovative permanent jack pads, SnapPad has a growing team of about 20 individuals, with most of them remote and working from various locations in the U.S. and Canada.
- 00:35:00 In this section, Kent Wilson discusses some of the mistakes and failures he and his team experienced while growing their business, SnapPad. One major lesson learned was the importance of paying attention to finances and accounting early on, especially after finding product-market fit. Another challenge was becoming too reliant on one supplier, which proved to be an issue during the pandemic. Wilson recommends books by Jim Collins for entrepreneurs, and he is excited about the innovative products from consumer brand, Hexclad. As for productivity tools, SnapPad uses Slack and Shopify, as well as Anvil for supply chain management.
- 00:40:00 This section of the video is a Q&A session with Kent Wilson, founder of SnapPad. He discusses the importance of having a good co-founder in a startup and how it can make all the difference in the world. He also talks about his preference for being an entrepreneur and controlling his own fate, even though it can be quite difficult. Finally, he shares how to connect with his company, RV SnapPad, through their website or Amazon.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
Book: Anything by Jim Collins
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Kent Wilson of SnapPad
|08:25||Finding the first customer|
|25:33||The RV Culture|
|35:00||Mistakes made, lessons learned|
|37:38||Rapid fire round|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Kent Wilson of SnapPad
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Anything by Jim Collins)
- A business in eCommerce or tech that is currently doing great things (Response: Hexclad)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Slack and Shopify)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Nick Sharma)
- Best business advice you ever received (Response: Have a really good co-founder if you’re getting into startups and entrepreneurship)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey, there’re entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Trep Talks. This is a 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 have used business and really excited.
Welcome Ken Wilson to the show. Kent is the founder of SnapPad. SnapPad makes and sells the world’s only permanent jacked, a new product category in the RV industry. And today I’m going to ask Ken 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 joining me today, uh, this evening, and really,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: really appreciate it. Yeah, thanks for having me.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So as I was just, uh, talking to you a little bit, you know, your product is a little bit unique. Mm-hmm. Uh, I went to website, I couldn’t complete, like at the first I understand what this is.
So for view, can you please, uh, explain what the product is, what problem it is solving, and uh, and then we’ll get into like how do you
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: come up with the. Absolutely. So we’re an RV accessory company. Uh, what we’ve made is called permanent jack pads. So that probably doesn’t mean anything to you if you are not an rvr, but, uh, modern RVs, especially the bigger ones have.
Hydraulic leveling systems on them. Cuz as you can imagine when you’re living in an RV or even traveling in it, you need it to be leveled because you have counters and um, appliances and TVs and all sorts of things. So they have these automatic leveling systems which are equipped with. Metal jacks, which are sort of feet that come out of the bottom of the RV to help level it.
And for years before us, people were carrying around, uh, what were called jack pads or things to put under the jacks in certain situations. So if you’re on soft terrain, you don’t want the jacks a sinking into it or uneven terrain like, like gravel or sand. Or if you’re on, uh, finished terrain, let’s say concrete or asphalt, uh, especially with a heavier rv, you can, um, damage.
Things like that. So people carried around mats, blocks, pieces of wood, other things like that. What we quick came up with are sort of big rubber shoes for these jack feet that snap on and stay on permanently. So, uh, you don’t have to run around and put things under them or pick them up whenever it’s setting up or tearing down as an rv.
Um, yeah, and we came up with it a few years ago. It found product market fit pretty quickly and we’ve just been iterating on that, uh, initial.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and are you an rvi or yourself? Like how did you discover that this was a need or you, this was, um, a product that, that could have a need out there?
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah, this is, uh, an interesting part of the story actually.
So we’re a family business. I’m the older brother. There’s two younger brothers and my dad who are part of it. . Um, and he, my father, Gordon Wilson, launched a RV leveling accessory about 25 or 30 years ago at this point. Hmm. And it became kind of a staple in, in the industry. Now, the funny part is, is he didn’t get to enjoy that success.
He, he raised money and was actually diluted out of his company by a unscrupulous, um, investor. So, um, he came back to us. when we were all sort of grown up. Um, some of us had business backgrounds, some of us had marketing background and he said, I kind of want to try getting into the RV industry again. And I have this idea for, um, leveling accessories which are more permanent rather than something you have to carry around.
And then we took that idea and, you know, played around with it and found something.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Very cool. So, um, are, but, but do you, are we, like, are you, um, do you use RVs at all or, this is completely, it’s like your dad’s brainchild and you’re kinda the business
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: execut. , I wish I could rv. It’s . I don’t have the time or the money.
It’s, it is quite the, the hobby depending on how much you get into it. But I think, um, I know I now know more about RVs than probably a lot of people , um, given how much we’ve been into it. So down the road I definitely want to want to try it myself, uh, a lot more than I have. But yeah, it’s, um, it’s a hobby I can’t afford to get into right now just because building the business is, um, a lot of my.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So it is, it is an accessory. And um, I saw on your website there’s like a fitment system, so, you know, people can select the, the, the kinda RV and, and so forth. Cause I guess every, every, um, RV has a different way for this, uh, accessory to fit. Um, is that the big. Is that what makes this business, uh, useful?
That, you know, you have all the, these different options. So it’s not just one product, but you have to um, you have to have all these different kinds of, um, you know, designs. Uh, but I guess that also makes it a little bit challenging to, to manage everything. Cause it was, all the designs were the same then, uh, you would only have one product.
Can you share a little bit about, you know, what, what was the
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: thought process? . Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, it’s probably why it was an opportunity in the industry because there are so many different feet shapes and sizes and configurations, so it makes it very difficult. And there is no central sort of database for what RVs have, what leveling configurations.
So we’ve built it from the ground up over time. So we launched the, the company with literally one pad size, uh, that. More prevalent in the industry at the time, and then as it gained product market fit. And we had literally customers coming to us and say, well, I don’t have this size and shape of foot. I have this.
Can you make something for us? And once we started getting, you know, requests set a certain threshold, we decided, okay, well now this has to be a product line itself. And then over time, yeah, we’ve just kind of filled up the industry. But yeah, it. and now we have a kind of flywheel effect going because we have an entire UX built up around, um, not only selling people using the compatibility data that we have, it’s over 10,000 lines of data at this point, I think, but we mm-hmm.
now capture, actively capture data both on the, sort of the lead gener generation side of it, but also when people buy. So now we we’re building a database which does not exist in the industry, which lowers. For people who buy in the future, that type of thing.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So do you ever worry that, uh, you know, these RV companies, because now it’s, you know, it’s kind of a proven product that in the future they’ll, they will come up with their own, uh, accessory.
Um, and, uh, maybe that, that that’s going to take away some
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: of your business? Yeah. There’s obviously, there’s incumbents in the industry. Multi-billion dollar company. So that’s always a concern. We have built some pretty good moats. Uh, obviously being a first mover and creating the category is, is a good one.
Um, we have IP around the mechanical functioning of. The snap pads. So there’s IDs protected by a patent. Um, we have a brand that has a better than 80 NPS over the last few years, so the brand is strong, but we have a nice story. So we, we try to leverage that brand story that I told you at this, the start of this conversation.
You know, we’re small, we’re family. Company, we’re kind of trying to regain a legacy that was lost. I think that resonates with people. Uh, we make everything in the us, which is a big thing for made in the US a sort of companies, especially for the niche. We’re in RVing, so we’ve kind of lined up a number of.
and you know, the one we just just discussed, compatibility. It’s very, very difficult unless you’re extremely dedicated to this very specific niche, um, to overcome that. So it’s a lot of those things sort of lined up, which is why we’re still kind of the, by far the leader in what we’re doing.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now you did mention that, you know, you found the product market fit initially and that that kinda encouraged you to continue, uh, going down this path.
Can you share a little bit about how, um, well, first of all, how did you come up with the prototype and then how do you find your first
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: customers? So we shopped around in the US for a rubber manufacturer that would work with us and we, we were lucky to find someone even though we had no customers and just sort of a concept.
And we worked with them and they’re sort of onsite engineer. And we started with all sorts of things like uh, adhesives and rare earth magnets and other things that would just stick a piece of rubber to a metal foot. and eventually, uh, we were testing out one of the things and a lip had kind of been put in, um, just as part of the product, and it snapped on, and the engineer got back to us and said, actually, I don’t think we need any of this other stuff.
The, the mechanical function of the lips slipping over stays on the foot. And then we had it, uh, tested by a third party to see if it would stay on under certain, uh, duress, I guess I would say. And it did. , um, they. Agreed to manufacture the initial sort of run. Um, we didn’t have any money at all to advertise or anything, but what we did do is we went straight to grassroots.
So there in RVing there’s a lot of ownership groups and message boards, and we, you know, signed up and asked people, is this a thing? Would you like to try it? And, uh, the word just kind of spread from there. So we made, we launched on September 29th, 2015, and we made our first sale the very next. Oh yeah, I think we made $10,000 in the first couple of months with next to no advertising.
It was all just, you know, beating the bushes, getting direct feedback from these communities. Um, and any time someone commented on Facebook or on I messages board or if we lost a, uh, cuz we had, it was a Shopify sort of store, so if we saw someone bounce, we got back to them and said, why didn’t you complete the sale?
And it was. Sort of all hands on deck for three months to see if we can get
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: traction. So, um, you said that, you know, you’re working with this manufacturer in the US and, um, when you’re creating this, how did you persuade them to, uh, I mean, did they charge you some fees to come up with those designs, or how did you persuade them to, you know, kind of invest their time in a
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: very new.
I didn’t actually sell them on the idea, it was my dad and actually my, my younger brother, they travel. They had come up with a couple of pretty rough designs up until that point, and I think the manufacturer seemed to just buy into the idea. Um, they weren’t a huge rubber manufacturer. They were sort of mid-market, like big enough that they could do the job, but not so big that.
they needed an initial PO of a hundred thousand dollars to make it worth their while. Mm-hmm. . So they, they seemed to just buy into the concept, into the vision and be willing to try it out. And they did not charge us for the initial, uh, design work, which was absolutely essential to us sort of getting off our feet.
Cuz yeah, this is a bootstrap business. We weren’t raising VC dollars or anything, so it had to be as economical as.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, that’s very interesting. So to me, it seems like your dad is really the one, the the entrepreneur person. And I don’t know, maybe you’re the, you know, you’ve had your own businesses in the past, but would you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who have like a new, new idea or a new concept, um, and, and maybe they want to get a prototype made?
Like what, uh, are there any lessons from your story that they can, you know, um,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: that they can. Yeah, we all kind of grew up in an entrepreneurial household, so we’ve all kind of started things on the side, had side gigs, built things. It’s, it was months of looking for the right partner and we’d actually tracked down a couple of ma rubber manufacturers and the fit wasn’t right.
And when it comes to prototyping, sometimes it is just being persistent and looking for that fit, that person. Or that group or that company who isn’t just looking for a big po. Um, and buys into the vision to some degree. And honestly, I’ve been looking around these days and I see there’s a lot of companies that work with entrepreneurs who have an idea and will work with you to take it from prototype to some sort of manufacturing standard.
So I’ve seen sort of green shoots in the entrepreneurial sort of ecosystem of, you know, If we’d had that at the time, it probably would’ve been less, less painful. But there are groups out there who now work with people who have a vision and an idea and try to get it to at least a, a, a market sort of, or at least a pmv, uh, something that you can get to market and try out.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, um, have you continued working with the same manufacturer or. You know who, like I I’m as you as you said, as you were saying before, you know, you own the ips and stuff, like, um, does this stuff require like certain molds to create and things like that? And is that something that you own, that you can, you know, regardless of which, who the manufacturer is, you can take to anyone?
And, and so it’s, it’s kind of like a risk management, um, with that or, or, or is this something that you’re working in partnership with
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: your manufacturer? . That’s correct. So we, every time we tool up, we buy, um, the molds themselves, as you say. It’s a, it’s compressed rubber sort of pro process. Um, and the process itself is something we basically know about and own the ip.
And then every mold that we have is owned by the company. And unfortunately, the initial manufacturing work with for years. Went out of business in 2020. So the pandemic put a lot of pressure on them. Things went wrong. They had to sell to the, to the bank by, it was actually mid 2021. It started in 2020, and at that point we had gone omnichannel from the direct to consumer sort of brand that we’d started out with.
And. The pandemic spiked our demand and completely undermined our manufacturing. Um, we were still with that one manufacturer at the time. We had to expand to the three that we’re with now over that period. We were 40,000 units back ordered at one point. Um, and whoa, we just kind of made it out, um, and had spread to some of the other manufacturers, which was tough to do.
At the time, just because we couldn’t travel or meet with anyone, it was all no airplanes, no crossing borders, none of that. So, uh, we managed to get new distribution, new manufacturing over a period of a year and a half or so. But yeah, unfortunately they went, they went out of business because, um, the pressures were a bit too much for them.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Did pandemic actually fuel your business? Because people, I would assume people wanted to get outta their house and at least, you know, they can. Are we
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: somewhere ironically? Well, it did. I mean, as I said, it spiked our demand, but we couldn’t leverage it to the degree we we wished we could have because our supply chain was just not ready for that sort of huge spike.
Right. It was, we were, we had actually started to work on it prior to that point, and we were in the process of getting new manufacturers on board, and then it was just a, you know, that tsunami. Of change occurred. And so, uh, it was just a scramble for, for months and months and months to do what we could find other people that could.
Um, we, we turned off all marketing. We turned off all direct to consumer sales because any individual PO from any of the wholesalers that we were working with at the time, completely overwhelmed, um, what we were doing. So we finally got out of back order in January of 2022. It took that. .
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Interesting. Yeah.
So I see on, on your website is, uh, so you, you are direct to consumer. That’s your website. Um, and then you have a wide range of, well, it seems like a lot of, uh, um, retailers, uh, or are we, uh, accessories dealerships or auto, auto dealerships, uh, who are carrying your product. Can you share a little bit about.
You know, which sales channel is really the dominant one, you know, your online one or, or the offline one. Um, and how did you, how did you, um, how did you get into the dealership, uh,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: business? Yeah, so we’re, we’re about 50 50 in terms of direct to consumer and wholesale, which is a nice mix. Um, I think by about 2017, we’d released a couple of product lines, and what was happening was our veers were taking.
Units and rigs in for service and dealerships. Were seeing them and going, what is this? We’ve never seen these before. And it was just sort of spreading by word of mouth. So we got direct calls at, at, in 2017 from dealers saying, uh, we wanna carry these and sell them to our users. And then once you get, start getting enough dealer, , uh, distributors start to pay attention.
So we actually don’t really sell direct to Con Dealer anymore. That’s how we started. Okay. On the retail side. But eventually it’s, uh, I think we’re in a thousand dealerships now in the us and as you can imagine, trying to sell direct to a thousand, uh, different individual, uh, businesses is, is very challenging.
So we’re in major marketplaces like Amazon and e and etrailer. But yeah, uh, we, we have, I. , eight different major distributors we work with in North America currently. How
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: much do these, uh, uh, do these products weigh? Uh, is that, is that a challenge, uh, for like online
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: shipping, uh, a bit? Absolutely. So they’re, they’re big chunks of rubber and, um, the bigger ones can weigh nine pounds each, and it sometimes you get packs with four to six of them in ’em.
So our biggest, our biggest skew, I think is over 50 pounds. It’s, it’s one of the rare ones, obviously it only goes on a certain kind of RV , but yeah, that one can be, you know, 50 or $60 minimum to ship. And there’s a lot of actually three pls that don’t even wanna deal with packages over 50 pounds we’ve found.
So it’s, it was definitely a challenge to find a good three pl with distribution partner in the US who would do both direct to consumer and wholesale and deal with kind of these, I think on average we’re about 30 pounds a. .
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So I believe like, uh, it’s probably much easier for someone, like if they find your website, they can easily find the dealership close to their place and go and just, uh, despite maybe it’s, uh, easier process like that.
Um, have you, I mean, you, you do have a pretty good, as you said, product market fit. So you know who your target market is. Mm-hmm. , um, how. What kind of marketing are you doing in terms of new customer acquisition to attract or, or get in front of this, uh, your, uh, audience, um, and what is really working well, uh, right
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: now?
So what we started to do once we got beyond the initial product market fit, and it was all word of mouth and. sort of grassroots stuff was very minor. Facebook advertising, I’m talking five bucks a day, which is the lowest budget you can put, but we got into micro influencers. So finding, you know, the, the RV community has a lot of people on YouTube and Instagram sort of just sharing the lifestyle cuz there’s a lot of what we call full-timer RVs who, RVers who just live in their RV and travel around.
So, um, I found, you know, influencers. . 500 subscribers, 5,000 subscribers. Nothing like the, the Kardashians of the world. Mm-hmm. . But, um, they were very authentic, very honest, and I would just send them the product and say, what do you think? I’d just product seed and go. I would just, we just want your feedback and if you like it, We’d love it if you shared it as an install or, or a review on your channel, and that was a huge sort of unlocked, Boris, cuz it does two things for you.
It, it gets you in front of an audience with an authentic review, which is. worth its weight and gold, but it gets you, uh, content as well. So if you can get them to share that content or allow you to repurpose it as an ad, um, it’s hugely valuable. So that became one of the sort of tent pole tactics that we’ve used moving forward.
And then obviously we’ve gotten into s e m full on P PPC advertising as it’s going forward. That was my background coming. Um, I was initially organic social Strat strategist, and then p c so, uh, Facebook became a primary acquisition channel early on, but now we’ve gone into YouTube, Instagram, and sort of the whole meal deal as we’ve gotten bigger.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And is it easier because, um, what I hear generally is, you know, Google Edwards or even Facebook advertising, Instagram advertising, everything is really, really. Um, competitive, uh, but a product like yours where it seems like you have, um, a, you know, uh, I mean, not, not everybody would sell, sell this kind of product, and it seems like you have a bit of a, uh, first mover advantage and, you know, right.
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Uh,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: is it e easier for you to, or, or cheaper for you to get. Keywords or, or um, clicks on this, these kinda keywords or this product through Facebook
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: and Google. It’s gotten harder over time just cuz the macro environment has gotten more competitive just in general when it comes to PPP C. But yeah, it’s, it’s nice that we aren’t really competing against anyone.
We own the category. We have a really juicy a o v, it’s, you know, over $150 us. , uh, per pack. So that, that definitely helps. It gives you a lot of room when it comes to bidding on things. Mm-hmm. . Um, we’re gonna, we’re releasing new accessories down the road, which we can bundle with our primary products. Um, so yeah, it’s, it’s nice to have a value prop that kind of sells itself.
Stands on its own because nobody else really does this. It’s it. So, especially in the early days, advertising on Facebook was, I’m not gonna say easy, but easier than it would’ve been if we were competing with, in a saturated market. Right. So there was, we found the product kind of sells itself and the friction is in the compatibility, not in trying to get people to buy it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Of course you’re manufacturing in the us. Have you ever thought about. Going to an outside country like China where I’m, as I’m assuming this, can probably be manufactured at a fraction of the cost of what you’re doing in the us or is the concern that if you go to China, of course many copycats may, may come up and start selling on Amazon right away, and, and then you’ll be diverted from your business then to, to going, you know, after those copycats and trying to get them to shut down and those kinda.
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah, there’s, there’s lots of considerations. That’s definitely one of them. Another one is, um, this is a unique pro process and we like to have to be at least close to the manufacturer to maintain QA and qc. So be sure that what we’re getting. Uh, is is up to the quality standards we want. So we wouldn’t want to order a C can from somewhere overseas, have it arrive and 60% of it be bad.
That’s, that would be really bad news for our supply chain. The other thing is it’s a great brand Halo, um, for the Maiden USA thing, given the. the market we’re selling into, it really resonates. Um, so there’s, there’s a lot of sort of upside for us, even though it is technically probably more expensive per part to do.
Um, we’re a premium product. We market ourselves that way. We’re unique in the marketplace. So being able to manufacture and have a closer relationship with them, with the manufacturer in the US, I think benefits.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So RVing is, is it really, um, an American culture? Like, are, are there other countries in the world, maybe in South America or Europe or other places that are also getting into RVing?
Or is this really just a North American thing right now? Or maybe even a
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: US thing? Yeah, that’s, that’s a great question. It’s, it’s pretty big in, in, obviously America’s the biggest market in the world. Canada’s pretty big. . And so we’re gonna, we’re slowly sort of moving into that region. We’ve heard that Germany and Europe, it’s starting to take off, especially in Germany for some reason.
Um, the middle, well,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Germany’s the, the hub of auto manufacturer,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: the people are right. And it’s in the middle of Europe, so it makes sense if you can drive around. Um, the Middle East, we’ve heard it’s starting to take off and Australia is a known sort of RV region too. So we have definitely been starting to.
Sort of overseas to see where else we can expand down the road. So the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: challenge, uh, for you as a business person is not, um, you already have enough demand, so you’re not necessarily looking for more, uh, Customer acquisition, which probably you, you already are, but really, um, your focus more on how to sustainably, uh, scale, you know, scale your business so that you’re, you’re not running into cash, cash flow issues and, and those kind of things.
Um, what is, like, what, what are, what is, what is the, what are you thinking about like as an entrepreneur, as a business person, when you think about your business, not just working in your business, but rather like as, as, as growing your
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: business as a. Yeah, there’s two big things for us right now, especially the leadership portion of the, of the business.
One is I, we know we have a, a product that’s a hit. So it is managing sort of the cash conversion cycle and the supply chain to make sure that we can always fund that growth sustainably. Right? Because it’s, as I said, half of our business is wholesale, which is great. Um, Great growth sort of channel to have, but you have net 30 terms on things.
You have to buy inventory and then sell it over time. Uh, so it’s a l it’s, you know, difficult to manage from a cash conversion. . And then over the last few years, especially portions of the supply chain have gotten more and more expensive, uh, freight shipping. Even some of the basic materials like rubber that go into our pads have all sort of gone up over time.
So we’ve had to manage what that contribution margin is. Be very keen towards that. And now we’re looking towards really optimizing. Just freight moving, moving stuff around within the supply chain is surprisingly difficult to be efficient at. So that’s a huge sort of thing moving forward. The next thing for us, aside from that, is evolving the brand from just the permanent jackpot people to, uh, leveling accessories in general.
So we’ve got four new products that are coming out pretty soon. Uh, we are looking at maybe two new tent pole products, uh, within the next six months. and we wanna kind of just move our niche out a little bit from only snapping onto the bo bottom of jack’s to some of the other things when you’re setting up as an rv.
So, um, yeah, the first part is we still have a lot of growth potential on the primary product. The second part is how do we evolve the brand from that primary product to the overall accessory?
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So those, those new products are not like new designs or new products that, that it’s really just getting into existing categories and adding those products to
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: your portfolio is, there’s gonna be a mix of those.
So there’s gonna be some where we always do an annual survey with users and say, what else would you like to see from Snap Padd? And they’ve said, I want, you know, what you do, but in this sort of product that exists. So we’re looking at that, but we’re also looking at existing gap. That exists in the market saying, Hey, we can solve this problem and nobody else seems to care about it.
So there’s, there’s a mix of new problems that we found that we can solve and, you know, existing products that we think we can just do better. So your,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: your, uh, customers right now? Uh, I’m assuming there’s not really, I mean, because. They’re buying this product. It’s not really a repeat purchase. Like they, they buy once and, and hopefully this is, uh, good for a few years, ,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: um, it’s kinda like buying tires, right?
Okay. It’s actually made out of tires, so that’s, that’s one of the base, sort of, it’s a recycled tire product. But the funny thing is, is some people in this market either have multiple RVs or changed RVs multiple times. We’ve, we’ve been out since 2015, as I mentioned, and we’ve had some people buy four.
Packs already, which is kind of surprising. But the other good thing about them is they’re a, uh, they’re kind of a viral product, not in the online digital sense, but because RVers are always parking with or RVing with other RVers, they see it on the rig. And, uh, so word of mouth is definitely one of our top three, um, sales channels,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So are, um, I’m very curious about RVing in general. Is it, I mean, based on what you know now, is it, do you consider like, is this a hobby? Is this a lifestyle? Like who, I mean, to me it seems like it’s, it may be an expensive. , uh, think or, I mean, uh, so who are these people? Is this like the, the, the people who are more into adventure or they’re just like the, the rv, like as part of the vacation or something?
Can you share a little bit about what you have learned about, uh, the people who, who get into this lifestyle?
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah. It’s not really monolithic. There’s sort of a taxonomy of our beers, so to speak. So you have, you know, baby rumors who are long retired. Have pensions have paid off their house and they’ve decided to buy an RV to travel every winter or even whenever they want.
There’s, that’s a big portion of the market, but it’s started to expand from there. There’s what they call weekend warriors, which is people with a family. They wait for summer to come around, and then they head out with their RV every, every weekend to. , you know, travel or a camp. And then you have a lot of new entrance into the RV lifestyle recently just because of the pandemic and people who couldn’t do anything for a vacation besides RV and just, you know, decided they like it.
But you also have digital nomads who are buying band life sort of lifestyle. , they get an outfitted, you know, class B or Class C motor home, and they can work from anywhere with a, as long as they have a wifi signal and a laptop, and they’ve decided that they want to. travel and work rather than do the corporate office nine to five thing.
So there’s, it’s interesting strata of completely sort of different kind of people if you saw them in a room. But, um, they have, they all have their different reasons for embracing RVing, either as a, as a lifestyle or just at least as a hobby.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: What does your, you said, you know, it’s a family business. What does your, and it seems like it’s, uh, your business is growing.
What does your team look
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: like right now? Uh, we’re up to about 20. So we have, um, sort of a mix of people who come into the, the head office here in Calgary, Alberta. Um, some people are part-time remote, so that’s a lot of our customer service team we do. . So the engineer I spoke of who helped us with the initial sort of manufacturer when they went under, he joined us full-time.
So he is now, he lives in the us, he visits all of our manufacturers when he has to, and he kind of heaps abreast of what’s happening on the ground, uh, in terms of making the pads there. So yeah, it’s, um, there’s a marketing department, an r and d department, logistics, B2B sales. , the executives. Uh, I think, I think that’s everything.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So I I didn’t realize you were located Albert, uh, Alberta .
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: That’s right. We’re, we’re West Canada, but most of the stuff is out the us
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So you’re not actually in like your leadership team any are in the us Like how do you manage the business?
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah. A lot of remote stuff. That’s, and that’s why when I mentioned the pandemic, it was so difficult for us to, Move around and find other manufacturers because we were stuck here.
You know, the north south border was closed for so long. So, um, as I said, we, our, our lead engineer’s down there, so he can travel to any manufacturer. He has to, he’s been in the business for over 20 years, so he’s completely, um, comfortable with, with all of the processes and things that need to be done. Um, but there’s just now there’s just ongoing relationships that we manage remotely.
You know, email, zoom, and uh, phone calls .
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So in every entrepreneur’s learning, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures. Mm-hmm. Um, what would you see? Say in this business have been some lessons or big failures or mistakes that, that have been made in that you thought, you know, maybe, uh, that, that you learned something out of that.
What did you learn and what can other entrepreneurs learn
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: from your mistakes? Yeah, definitely lots of those , of course. So one of ’em was when we found pro product market fit, we really poured a lot of our energy into. Sales and building the brand, which is a pretty natural reaction. We did not get ahead of our financing, our finances and understanding our numbers and getting, you know, the right sort of accounting processes in place.
And when we discovered that that was a, a, a serious need, um, a lot of mistakes that have already been made. So it took months and months of sort of excavating back filling. Redoing a lot of sort of years of bad accounting. Let’s put, let’s put it that way. And even now, we’ve finally sort of gotten on our feet after a couple of years of, of redoing this.
So, I would, you know, big piece of advice for anyone who, once you get past that product market fit, you gotta start paying attention to your numbers immediately and how you’re gathering them and what you’re doing with your accounting. So that was a big one. The other one, as I mentioned, was our supply chain.
So getting in with that initial manufacturer was huge for us getting on our feet, but we became too reliant on that one supplier because they were actually doing the um, the fulfillment for us on the direct to consumer side as well. So they put ’em in boxes and they shipped them out, which was great.
You know, it took a lot of headaches off us, but it meant we did not have our feet under us. Once that became an issue, we didn’t fundamentally understand it. And, um, once the pandemic hit, we were not. As a business to handle it. Now we, we learned on the fly and it was very, very painful and, but it almost shut us down, quite frankly, not to have to understand our supply chain fundamentally, and have built it out as a robust sort of portion of our business.
So it seemed too easy and it was . So we’ve learned a lot of hard lessons, uh, on both of those fronts as we’ve grown.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire segment, and in this segment I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in one or two words or a sentence or so.
So the first one is one book recommendation, uh, for entrepreneurs and
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: why? Uh, probably anything by Jim Collins. I like Good to great. He’s done a lot of academic. Research into what makes good companies good or great companies great, and what makes other companies fail. And I found anything he’s written to be, uh, extremely insightful.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, an innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about? Uh, of course not, not your product, but someone, some other product, .
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah. I keep, uh, close tabs on a lot of the sort of, Consumer brand stuff. I really like what Hex Clad is doing.
They’re sort of a, a really high end, uh, pots and Pans company. Mm-hmm. , they have great marketing. I love their sort of UX and their, and their design, but the product itself looks, um, fantastic as well. Cool.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A business or productivity tool or, or software, um, that you would recommend or a productivity tool?
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah, that’s a good one. When our tech stack kind of grows all the time. Um, obviously Slack is kind of central to what we’re doing. We’re a Shopify store. Fantastic. Uh, we use something called Anvil, which is a N V Y L that helps us, uh, main, uh, manage our suppliers. So it’s, it’s been a really good piece of tech for us to make pos and track what’s coming from the three manufacturers that we have.
So those. Just a sort of tip of the iceberg, the ones that come to mind right now. .
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now, you, you did mention that, uh, sup uh, supply chain management was a big thing. Like are you using any software to, to manage your
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: supply chain? As I mentioned, um, so the three PL that we work with, which is called Red Stack Fulfillment, they have their own sort of backend that we plug into the plugs directly into Shopify.
Anvil, as I just mentioned, is great. Uh, we’ve been sort of building out our own. Inventory tracking and projection stuff through just Google Sheets, but we’re sort of going to be moving into E R P, um, territory here pretty soon, I think. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Business eCommerce or tech is current doing great things. So the previous, I think I’d
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: have.
The previous, I probably answered that question already. Yeah, we’ll just repeat that for sure. Okay.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you?
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: Yeah, that’s a good one. There’s a lot of them that I, that I follow. Um, probably Nick Sharma on Twitter. He’s has a great background as a direct-to-consumer marketer, but also operator at this point.
So, You know, anything he does or talks about, I, I tend to pay attention to. He’s the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: marketing guy, right? Like, he, he talks a lot about Mark. Ok. I think I’m subscribed to his, uh, email probably final and final question, um, best business advice you ever received or you would give to
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: entrepreneurs? Yeah, there’s, I mean, there’s, there’s volumes of it, right?
I think the one I would go with given my experience is, Have a really good co-founder if you’re getting into startups and entrepreneurship. This is a really tough grind. It’s, it’s tough from all sorts of angles psychologically, um, but how hard you have to work, what you have to do to get over humps, and it changes over time, but it never.
it gets easier in some ways and not easier than others. And if you have people you can trust implicitly who have the same vision as you, um, it, it makes all the difference in the world, quite honestly. Are you,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: um, are you happy that you got into, um, entrepreneurship and business versus having like a nine to five where, which is more like, you know, I guess you, you’re more in control.
Of your time, you know, just do your work, come home and
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: enjoy your life. Absolutely. Yeah. It’s, I’ve done both. I’ve had all sorts of jobs. I’ve worked at Starbucks as a university student. I’ve worked in parks and , you know, cutting grass, and I’ve done sort of the, the nine to five thing as a someone in a digital agency, and this is.
The lifestyle I would choose, even though as I mentioned it, it’s actually quite difficult. But building things and ha you know, controlling your own fate, uh, is definitely what I would choose overall as an ideal. , definitely.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, well, Ken, tho those were all the questions that I had today. Thank you so much for your time.
Thank you for sharing your story. Very unique and, and interesting story. Um, if, uh, anybody wants to buy, um, you know, your product, what is the best way they can,
Kent Wilson of SnapPad: uh, connect with you? Yeah, so we’re RV Snap padd. It’s uh, rv snap padd.com. You can find it pretty quickly. We’re on Amazon as well as on the web. Uh, and myself, I’m on Twitter at, uh, Kent Wilson.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Perfect. Well, Kent, thank you again for joining. My Kent Wilson of SnapPad: thank you. Thank you.
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