Building a Pouch Underwear Brand – Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 56:42)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear shares the story of building his underwear brand Sheath Underwear, working with UFC fighters and Comedians as a marketing strategy, and persisting through challenges to bring his idea to market.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear

00:00Introduction
01:44Robert Patton Backstory/ Army Life
09:44Product Idea
13:10Initial Launch and Failure
17:31Product Material
20:12Competition
21:14Brand Differentiation/ working with UFC athletes
28:12Financing/Manufacturing
42:57Experience with Joe Rogan
48:44Team
50:58Fulfillment
51:53Rapid Fire Round

Rapid Fire

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

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear

  1. One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2021 and why? (Response: Think and Grow Rich)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Tesla)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend/Productivity Tip (Response: Discord)
  4. A startup or business that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Gas Digital Network)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or business-person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Gary Vee and Andy FriSella)
  6. Best business advice you ever received or you would give (Response: Be persistent; it’s not over until you give up)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra  

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 Robert Patton to the show. Robert is the founder and CEO of sheath underwear, and also a former US Army veteran, she turned her which is a premium men’s pouch underwear company that sells to active men in over 74 countries. Robert is also the host of Robert Patton global port podcast. And today I want to ask Robert, a few questions about his entrepreneurial story, and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business. So really excited. And thank you so much for joining me today. Trep talks.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Thank you for having me. Yeah, I looked a little bit into the podcast, I guess it’s something like a TED talks for entrepreneurs ish kind of spin off, right?

Sushant Misra  

Yeah, it’s, you know, I want to learn about the exciting and interesting stories of entrepreneurs, how they got started, and, you know, what their startup story is like, and, and maybe, you know, when they share some of the strategies and tactics. So I think it’s, it can be quite inspirational for the new generation of entrepreneurs, to learn and get inspired to start new businesses. So having said that, I’m very interested in your story. So you are an Army veteran, and you started this business? Can you share a little bit about you know, how you got started? Did you get the idea for sheet underwear when you were still in the army?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I did, I was literally, in Iraq, serving, you know, on tour, my second tour, and, you know, they say Mother, the necessity, necessity is the mother of invention, and edit that necessity of invention. And, you know, you hear that growing up, but it’s like, not that many people are maybe that inventive, because I’ve kind of been entrepreneurial, my whole, you know, since my teens and on, but I’ve had numerous ventures trying to start, like small businesses selling coupon vouchers to Vegas, and I had, I had had a previous invention that honestly would have been a billion dollar idea. It’s in every Walmart and Home Depot, it’s like these keys for, you know, the, with a football team on them, like I invented that before it even happened. So I kind of had that type of a mind frame going into the army. I went into the Army in 2006. And it was, I was like, at a bit of a dead end with my college tuition. And my job, I was doing HR Human Resources at a company called Eye Care Centers of America. And, you know, like, just I felt I was 26, I didn’t have that many options. So I joined the Army. And that really changed my life around it showed me that I was a man, you know, as I felt like, I was still a boy, prior to joining the army, and it really helped me develop and evaluate myself amongst my peers. And I really stood out amongst my peers. But that’s kind of a little bit of a backstory. So I started excelling in the army, went on our first tour, came back. And then on our second tour, was when I had the invention, and it was a little bit less intense. Battle wise. On the second tour, there was like, it was pretty relaxed, actually. And I was going to school, I had started meditating, I was doing yoga, I was trying to, like, I had started watching the secret. You know, I don’t know if you’ve heard of that. I’m sure many people have, right, the law of attraction. And I started really trying to open my mind to that possibilities, the potential of you know, manifesting these things. And I had read thinking Grow Rich, which I always mentioned about it when I was 23. So about three years prior, I had kind of gotten the seed of that type of thinking, shifting from the cubicle, you know, rat race type of thought and trying to escape that and create something for myself and but, you know, you asked about the invention and I it was just really hot. It was so hot. I said it’s hotter than the doubles balls. It was like extremely uncomfortable. And you know, I was in Iraq and our generators had gone out. So we had no power. It was the summer of 2008 and I should I was wearing these old underwear like the old Whitey tidy Army issued underwear that were actually probably someone else’s that got mixed in, in the laundry because we’re all doing like laundry together and they were too big and they were cutting into my thighs. And I already have sensitive skin. Okay, and now I’ll get to the point like this. Most people, you know, have that problem sometimes, but don’t think to fix it. It’s like you just unstick yourself from your leg and go about your day. But this was so bad that I was like, I cannot bear this another moment, I’d like, you know, ran inside a little place that we lived. I don’t know what they’re called anymore. But I just grabbed a towel, and I stuffed it down my pants. I’m sorry. But I was just trying to separate everything. And it provided some relief initially. And that kind of got me thinking that if I was like, Why doesn’t underage, like have a little separating section for the man parts? That would be really helpful right now. And as like somebody probably has come up with this. So I went online, we had by this time 2008, you know, we had online in Iraq, the first tour was much less access. But this tour was a little bit more. And so I started searching pouch underwear couldn’t find anything. For weeks. Finally, I found something that was similar. And it’s obviously out of Australia is the company obviously. But that made sense to me. Like, obviously, why does it unwrap a pouch? And it’s it’s a similar concept as far as separating the men parts from in between your legs. But there it was. It was a more primitive kind of design, in my opinion, because it like just smashes everything together still. And so it was I actually ordered some from them. And I got them and I was like, okay, but it wasn’t quite right. You know, and I felt like I needed to do better just for myself. It wasn’t even I wasn’t thinking I’m going to start a million dollar company or anything yet. Just for myself. And so I went to the tailor. We had tailors in Iraq, and I had taken some underwear and some Sketchpad but drawing like what I wanted them to sew, which was basically sewing a pouch inside a, you know, a piece of fabric inside the underwear that so when you put them on, you could just separate your boys from the inner thigh region. And they snickered at me. And it’s kind of I always, you know, it’s like, Who’s this guy? Well, he’s, you don’t alter your underwear, you’re just supposed to make them shorter or longer your pants, you know, not your underwear. But they did it. And it was way too tight. And it didn’t it wasn’t comfortable at all, but i The concept was born and I had, like, somewhere to start from.

Sushant Misra  

And you find because you need the more main motivation for this idea, I guess was the the climate the heat? Do you find that given this design, your main market is in areas where it’s hotter?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Yes, I mean, the southern states from Texas to Florida, are typically very busy during the summer months. And but, you know, California, New York, these highly populated areas are also just I think we get our most sales from like, LA and New York City. But I think that’s just because it’s such a high concentration of people that and we market in those areas pretty heavily.

Sushant Misra  

And so, a question came to mind and it just slipped. So how did you show up? So yeah, so I remember it now. So your underwear would be considered more of like a luxury item right? At the at the price point. Do you have you ever thought of you know, because there are so many places in the world that are like, you know, deserts and hot places and things like that. Have you ever thought about like creating a mass consumer version of it that can be like mass produced and sold everywhere? Because people who are living in like really hot places? I think there definitely would be a market for this.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Yeah, cuz and that’s where it was invented. And we have we’d like you mentioned earlier was sold in 74 countries. We do have people buying from the Middle East region, but it’s not that many and I would like to focus more. We were We’re gonna try to break through and Abu Dhabi, this lady was telling me that she had connections because she has an office there, and she was gonna make me pay her $35,000 for a maybe like an introduction. So I was like, I don’t know, but I have a plan. And I, what we’ve sponsored UFC fighters, a lot of them. And it occurred to me this guy was fighting on the main event card on Saturday, his name is Bob law, remember the name Muhammad, Muhammad. And he’s like, I don’t know where he’s from, I think it might be Iraq, but he has that, you know, Middle Eastern look, but he looks like a model though, like a Middle Eastern model. And I want to, I reached out to him, we were already talking, he’s, we’ve already sent him a care package, and, you know, going back and forth, and but I want him to be like, almost the face of sheath for the Middle East. Because, you know, sometimes it helps for people to see someone that looks like them wearing a product to give it validation, you know, different segments of different markets, of, you know, like a white man’s not gonna appeal as much, maybe to black person, and vice versa, although I was just watching OJ, and he was like this. You know, he broke through all the racial barriers of marketing, and, you know, he was the face of hurts and stuff. And, you know, we started out with, you know, just our friends and stuff and like me and people that I knew, and it has grown to the point where now we’re, we have every race, sex or sexual orientation, like, all these different people representing sheath, you know, there’s no real, it’s not confined to one segment. It’s like, a world wide product men, it’s just men, all men, whatever race, and there’s a guy, and I’ll, I’ll let you ask another question, but his name is lathe, Ashley, and he’s a trans male. So you, you know, transition to a male and he where she is. And that’s just he’s like a Versace model. So I mentioned him from time to time, because he’s like this. People. You know, we’re finding more and more people higher profile status that to represent our brand. And it’s pretty awesome.

Sushant Misra  

Yeah, I think I think that makes a lot of sense. So I know, when I read your story online, when I was researching it, I think I read that when you started for the first few years, the idea didn’t really take off, like in terms of sales and things like that. Can you share a little bit about your initial experience? And what? What kept you going? Like, you know, you had created this idea, and you were using it, your friends were using it? It wasn’t really taking off commercially, but for some reason you just kept at it? And how, like, what are you doing other jobs at that time to keep you financially, you know, taken care of, and things like that?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Well, when I first had the idea, I was still in the army. And I stay, I was still in the army until 2011. And we had, like the end of 2011. So we’re at about 2012. And we had our first launch in 2010, which I had the idea in 2008. So about a year and a half later, two years, we launched and it was out of a company in Pakistan, and they delivered the product, it was our first production. But what had happened was I was too quick to go to production. And so the product wasn’t ready. And so that was the obstacle, which now so I spent my last $5,000 on a product that I can’t sell, because it’s it was it was premature. And so what kept me going I read this book, like I mentioned earlier, thinking Grow Rich, for one, it’s called an in one of the 17 principles of success is persistence. You don’t it’s not over until you quit. It’s not over to give up. And I I really felt as though I was sitting on a goldmine. And because people would ask me like, are you serious? Like, do you really think this is gonna take off and there was not even the slightest doubt and like, there’s no doubt I was 100% Sure, because why? Because I love the product I wore and I was like, if I like it this much, I really feel like other people are gonna like it. I just need to fix it. And you know, get it out to them. So that belief and that faith that it would ultimately succeed and change my life and many others is kind of what kept me going.

Sushant Misra  

So you started in 2008 This is 2021 so almost 13 years And I think you said that you hit the million dollar mark in revenue. Right? And what year did you did you hear that? Like, how long did it take you?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Okay, so I think it was 2019. Yeah, that we it was like 900 and something 1000. So we just said million, it was like 990 or something, because and then in 2020, we did 2.1. And we have typically doubled revenue annually since 2013, which was the official relaunch after that initial launch in 2010, which, you know, set me back three years. And so the lesson there, to people that I say is, don’t rush the first production, like, Sure, don’t wait till it’s perfect. Because a lot of people, you know, if you wait too long, till it’s perfect to bring it to market, you know, you’ll never bring it to market but get it a little bit closer, don’t just make sure it’s ready, at least an A Beta level. Because, yeah, three years, that’s a long time, like, had I not been set back through years, I’d be three years further and like, at first to market, which we have some competitors like Saks, which got out in 2005. So we’re like way behind them. And to wonder came around came around a similar timeframe that we did, but at the same time, I feel like everything happens for a reason. And so that delay was part of God’s plan or something, you know, it because it, it actually benefited me, I was in a bad marriage, and she would have got 50% of the business if it did take it off. So I actually bought she back from my ex wife for $1,000 during the divorce, just because I didn’t you know, I was just like, I don’t want you to be a part of this anyways. And so there’s

Sushant Misra  

a few other Cushaw, the co founder for this company.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

No, I mean, when you’re married, yeah, that whole thing. And so we got divorced, I got the company bought it from her. And so that was like a blessing in disguise that it hadn’t taken off yet. Because otherwise, she would have be a nightmare.

Sushant Misra  

So the differentiating factor for this product is of course the bout, but as the material also different. Is there something different about the material or

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

funny thing, you so initially it was 100% Cotton, I wanted to because I knew I felt like changing a product completely would be too much for let’s just say older generational type people who are used to their ways, and they don’t like change, you know, so I wanted to introduce plus, I like cotton, who doesn’t like cotton, cotton, yet the fabric of our lives. And so I started with that. And then we went to like 95% cotton. And in some elastane to kind of give it some flexibility. And then we just started paying, you know, paying attention to trends in the market. And mo doll is a pretty durable, and it’s it’s a high quality fabric, modal, it’s a extracted from a beech tree, it’s semi synthetic, a lot of our competitors were using it and being a soldier without any experience in this type of, you know, field of work, just like copy what other people are doing, you know, and that are successful. Do that. So we changed to Madol 95% modal and the majority of our products to this day are still made of 95% modal and 5% spandex. I think it’s 92% modal, but we just released a bamboo version, which you would you know, it’s like Could it really be that much better? I’ll let you guys be the judge of that. I think I when I put him on, I was like whoa, this is like it was the cool there was you know, it felt in the modal feels the same way. But not but then there’s levels to comfortability and stuff and the bamboo and people who wear bamboo I guess kind of know and like swear by it, but it’s just a really smart fabric, I guess. So it cools you when it’s hot. It keeps you warm when it’s cool. It’s, you know, anti microbial and stuff. It’s just I’m liking it, but we did just release it. So I’m waiting to get more feedback on that. And we have other fabrics like the polyester blends that Under Armour might use and things like that.

Sushant Misra  

So I know I know that you said that. What got you laid there were other competitors who were In the market and who have like similar designs and things like that. And now you’re probably and I’m sure now there are more competitors. Okay,

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

but go ahead. Not too many. But there’s like a dozen of us, I would say. pouch, you know, even Hanes just came out with their own pouch, or was a Fruit of the Loom one of them. And so, but it’s such a weird design, I was like, What do you? What does that even do? It’s like got Velcro in it, don’t even get it up to go buy some, check it out.

Sushant Misra  

So the way so the way you compete with these competitors, now, the way you differentiate your company and your product, Is it really your story, your backstory, and also the the kind of people the kind of market that you go after? So you mentioned that you you know, you sponsor a lot of UFC athletes and things like this. Can you share a little bit about your, how, how you differentiate your brand? And what does it take to stand out in the marketplace?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

So what I do is, find things that I like that I resonate with, and market using those, like, athletes or entertainers, because, like, is it that it’s a win win, because I’m working with people I enjoy working, like I admire or look up to or get entertained by, but also promoting the product and but here’s the thing, okay, so comedians, they, they tell stories, they tell you things in a way that keep you know, you’re you have a more open mind, and they hit a part of your brain that more like maybe subconscious or whatever than typical, just somebody telling you about a product, as you’re listening to them, you’re vulnerable, you’re laughing. And anyways, so we use comedians, a lot of comedians. And that, for a new idea, I felt like that it was important to use tech tactics that would break through that initial resistance from someone being presented a new product, so you make them laugh, break down their defenses, you know, EPB, just like cartoons, and drawings. And it is funny, kind of like if the product itself can be talked about, in a funny way, you’re talking about balls, and I don’t know, it can be see. That’s it. And so, in, there’s so many ways to describe it. And comedians come up with the most ingenious new descriptions of the product, which I love. Because they’re, you know, creative and all that. So that is huge. Don’t tell anyone about that secret. And, and then, you know, I wanted to present it, I wanted people to feel like there would be a god almost, and I know that’s like a strong word or whatever. But like, you know, like a Greek god like, mythology superhero, when they put them on. And so we want people that were the product to present that image. larger than life, badass, MF FERS, you know that. So that’s where the fighters come in. And that’s where we have this guy, Robert Oberst. He’s the strongest man in the world. He is like the fourth strongest, but I say is the strongest, because it sounds better than the fourth of August. But I always correct myself because I don’t want to lie. Anyway. strongest man in America, Robert Oberst. And that’s not even true. Still before its strongest, anyways, you know, so we’re trying to present the product in a way that is, gives you hope, I’m reading this book, you know, and there was a guy that created a makeup company back in the 1920s, or whatever. And he never told the women that the product would make them beautiful. If he sold them the hope that it would, you know, or something, and I don’t know how he did that, but hope goes a long way. And, you know, because they’re, you can’t tell I can’t tell a person that the underwear is gonna make them strong and pretty, you know, but other people actually do say that it’s kind of funny, like people our customers will be like, I put them on and I felt sexy, you know, and that may end that made me want to start working out. And so we have inspired people and I think it’s a lot of it’s through our presentation of the product also, I guess, we want to promote a healthy lifestyle, you know, do yoga, do meditation, do breathing techniques and Workout martial arts all you know the positive things that make a well balanced life. And you know, we listen to Gary Vee. I’m sure you guys everyone knows about Gary Vee. And I don’t really listen to him anymore. But I did a lot and I’ve read some of his books and you kind of get the gist of it, hustle. I think he’s this like, work hard, grind, go, go. But he also, you know, he helped me get over my fear of doing these by telling, you know, he’s like, You don’t have to be something you’re not just be who you are, where you are right now and show that progression of evolution over time of the entrepreneur. But that in so you don’t have to fake it, you know, you fake it till you make it kind of but at the same time, be real and show the people to Germany. And that helped me just get on camera. I remember the first couple of times. Oh, I got on to like face. I would just I got a little notice that my internet was unstable. Hopefully it’s coming through. Okay. Yeah, it’s fine. But I would, okay, good. I did a, you know, Facebook, and I was like a deer horn. Deer staring in the headlights. Because I was like, say, you know, nervous, they’re all gonna laugh at you. But so I went on Twitter, where nobody watches their little Periscope live, except like, one person will pop in and 01 and dip my toe in the water of this. So he really helped me with that. And he’s got a lot of good advice for young people trying to start something, I think.

Sushant Misra  

Yeah, he’s got some. I think he definitely has a gift of the gab, I guess. Yeah. And that that’s his gift. And I completely understand your because I went through that phase. Also, you know, being in front of video and things like that. I think some people are naturally comfortable being out there and being in front of video being and others, I guess more more of the introvert personality. That’s, there’s a bit of an effort, but you have to get used to it and then it becomes better for sure. So I agree. What? So So I know that. So you said you know you had for you had the first $5,000 You invested in the manufacturing, creating your first batch of product that didn’t work out. Any entrepreneur who’s starting out, you know, the financing is always a challenge, right? You know, if you have an idea, you need some money to get that start, especially if you’re working with a physical product. What was your experience? Like? Did you just invest your own personal money? Did you try to fundraise somewhere? How did you how did you find finance your business in the beginning?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Both both of those, I am mostly my own money for the longest time. And you asked earlier if I had a job. So like, when I got out of the army, they have a thing where if you go to school, they’ll pay you to go, like 1500 bucks a month. So I was getting 1500 bucks a month while I was getting my bachelor’s, then to keep it going. I went ahead and got my master’s to keep getting that check while I was building the brand. And so this is into like 2013 Okay, in so I was getting money. And I went and got you know, I got a job at a golf course, Washington golf carts. I quit after like two months, but I did try, you know, as I was just to get a little bit of extra money, and I was delivering Chinese food not Chinese. Yeah, Chinese food for what, like in 2014. But that was kind of kind of pay the bills. And okay, so at the same time that $5,000 I had bought 1000 pairs, and they were all ruined, but I went and worked out a tailor, the Tony from elite tailoring, Vietnamese tailoring expert, for sure. And I said to him, if you know Will you let me work? Like, let me teach me how to sew teach me how to work these machines and I’ll man your counters for free. And they’re very suspicious. Yeah, these old Vietnamese ladies in there like what why do you want to get out? It’s like I have money. I was like, I don’t need your money. I’m trying to learn you know, blah blah blah. So I prove to them that I get a deposit from the government you know from for the job. Built in anyways, so they ended up letting me work there. And he taught me how to sew. And so I was going, you know, I was going to classes at night and stuff. So I did a lot of that, you know, like, kind of do whatever you got to do whatever it takes to succeed. And that was 2012. And it was 2013. Like I, when we had been working there for about a year with him, and I just I redesigned the prototype, and found a manufacturer and sent that to them, they sent it back to me. And so now I have this prototype. And if you have a prototype, you can do a Kickstarter kicks, I’m sure most people know what it is. But I’ll explain if you don’t, it’s a crowdfunding website, where you present a concept for a product, people pre ordered that product in bulk. You take that money in a pool, pay the manufacturer, you pay, you get the product, and then send them all their orders like six months later. And then they’re cool with it because they want to support these growing businesses. And that was really cool. The bad part about that was it was it was successful, because it is stressful when you get you have a month. And all we had to do was make like $8,000 Maybe I didn’t, I wasn’t trying to get rich off. I just wanted to make just enough to pay the balance due and I had, I had gotten into an accident, I got rear ended coming home from a Joe Rogan comedy special and buy a taxi. And so it was so I got a refund. Insurance check like a month later is 5000 bucks. And I instead of fixing my car, there wasn’t that much damage I sent. That was a down payment for this initial batch of underwear from China, but I still needed the other 60% Because you got to put 40 down and then you pay 60 When the production is done. And so we had to be successful with the Kickstarter. Otherwise I was gonna have to sell my car to pay off the balance which I would have done. Well, I was committed. Yeah, I mean, it was gonna happen but the Kickstarter was successful, successful, successful. And we it was great. But then if people were loving it, they’re ordering more we sell out. I ordered more from China. And they did me dirty. We’d like to say in the south, they sent me product that was unsellable. It was mangled. There was threads coming out of this pouches were like sideways and was like why did you even sit? Why did you even bother to stand that? It was literally they it was embarrassed anyways, it was embarrassing. And it took me a little I don’t you don’t open them up and look at them all like, you know, like you open one or something and check it and make sure it’s good. And the top one I think was fine. But like a lot of them were messed up. And so but it took about two months to figure out that the resupply was garbage. And now what do you do? I just spend all my money on the new one.

Sushant Misra  

So did you when when you went back to them and said, you know you sent me garbage? What? What was the response? What?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

They gave me 30% of my money back well. So and that’s like, Okay, I was like,

Sushant Misra  

okay, so and this was through Alibaba like just just just for other people’s so they can learn from it. Quick. This was yeah, it was

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

it was not from Alibaba, but I do recommend them these days because it is. I don’t remember how he found was it Alibaba? I used to I used originally I used a company called it was like MFG comm short for manufacturing calm. That was the initial one. I don’t remember how I found this particular manufacturer, but I have once you start making it, they’ll start reaching out to you. And so what I don’t remember, but Alibaba is the go to place now for the listeners, yes, you can put in, you know, just like a request. And then manufacturers will respond with their pricing and minimum order quantities and, you know, terms and things how much pay up front. What? But this other so, you know, we were just like at this point, we hit a roadblock because I have all this product I can’t sell and I spent all my money on that product. And we but we had customers that wanted more. And it was a weird position to be in. But still, there was never any question of quitting or anything like that. But I saw I was like, I don’t know what to do, but do another Kickstarter, because that’s what we did last time that worked. I’m not the smartest guy of like, that works. Let’s do that again, you know and but You know, it’s like you can’t do two in a row there, you know that you can’t do that. But turns out a lot of people do do that, actually, they largely use Kickstarter. But that’s beside the point. So we ended up doing it. And I spent that 30% that I got back from the previous company on the down payment for this new manufacturer, and I’ll tell you this, because I was I, there’s a lot of anxiety, stress, worry, you know, of the future when you’re doing something like this, especially when something like that happens, you know, and I put all my eggs in this basket. But I never gave up and there’s like a line somewhere in one of these books or movies about if you pass all the tests that the universe brings to you and, and you show that you’re not going to give up. It’ll open its doors for you it but it’s not going to let you through without going through all these tests. But I felt like because I didn’t give up. It did it said okay. Here you go. And this manufacturer reached out to me. And they asked if they could create a sample for us. And I said, Yeah, and I sent it to them. And they made it better. They fixed it, they made they made it like a perfect piece of clothing.

Sushant Misra  

And something though?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Well, I just wanted like, when I and so like there was an interim period of worry, like, is this gonna work still, but I would go to the My closet. And then middle of the night, I couldn’t sleep. And I put those underwear on. And be like, yes. It’s kind of work. Because they were good. They were really good.

Sushant Misra  

And I think I think at this point, you had the validation from, from Kickstarter, like if people are willing to fund your idea, then then you have a market there. So So I think that that that probably gave you a bit more confidence. Also.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I was a little Yeah, I mean, I was a little bit nervous that they were going to be like you can’t even go to production, right, you know, why are we going to buy from you again. But what ended up happening was, they all bought again, and told their friends and so we kind of like doubled our previous Kickstarter. On the second one. And, you know, the rest is kind of like history because we, you know, we did 30,000 in 2013, it’s 60,000 2014, then 150, then 250, then 500, then 900, you know, then 2 million and so it’s like not, it’s basically doubling most years. I think there was one year that I skipped where we went from five, I don’t know, it was one year where we didn’t quite double, actually, we only grew by like, 30% or something. But for the most part we’ve doubled. Which is I don’t know, is that good? I think that’s good.

Sushant Misra  

That’s pretty good. Yeah. And that’s pretty good. Yeah, I think you have a good growth. Anyone who’s watching and who has had like a similar experience, like buying from China where, you know, they order something and they received a bad batch of products, I think there’s a lot of, I would, I’d be interested in hearing your, you know, what you do now to make sure that doesn’t happen again. But I think what I’ve heard from a lot of people is there are actually specialized companies, that they’re probably located in China. And for a small fee, they actually go to physically go to these manufacturing companies and, and they check out you know, at least I think 10 or 20% of the of the batch to make sure that everything fits the specification and things like that. And so I think that’s a that’s a really great way to make sure that the products that you’re ordering from from, you know, far, far, far beyond where you are that that you’re not wasting your money. Is this something that you do now or

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I we have such a good relationship with this company that we’ve been with since 2014, the one that sent me that pair like we’ve been with them since 2014. And so we haven’t had to do that. We’ve had one issue maybe too, with fabric being too thin or something. So what those guys do is they’ll go in and measure the density and quality of the fabric making sure it’s up to the spec. Spec certifications that you send them, and they in they act on your behalf and just go test it, like you said, and it’s really cheap, it’s like 100 bucks, it’s not that much money for them to go in there and do it, we just don’t, because we don’t need to, but those companies are out there that exist, I went to some fair in Las Vegas, I forget what it’s called, but it’s where a lot of vendors from all over the world go to present what they have to sell, you know, to entrepreneurs here, and I forget that it’s like one code test code or something test code, where are they, you know, we’ll do what you were just saying, and I do recommend it, especially because you might think it’s gonna be like, extremely expensive, and it’s not. And if you haven’t done a production with a company, it’s for that added, you know, confidence, or, you know, reassurance and protection, I think it, I definitely recommend it, I just don’t because we have our company that we’ve been working with, and we just found a new company, not just found, just started work making underwear with a new company, but we’ve been making shirts with them for like, five years. And they, you know, will let us do smaller minimum order minimum orders. So for anyone, that’s what, like, a minimum order of any particular product, like, if you’re gonna make shirts or underwear, it’s probably going to be about 2000 Now, you might be get lucky and find a company that’s willing to work with you and that you do like 500 but that just to give you probably not gonna get less than 500 and just put that out there because that is like a factor a barrier of entry. It’s like, okay, $5 or $10 whatever your price per thing is times 2000 You know, that’s what you do and then shipping then the tariffs that were in increased over the past few years. Ship Yeah, it gets there’s a little bit of a barrier to entry which you know, that’s what Kickstarter is for. And you got to make sure and factor that in a lot of times people run a Kickstarter just to cover their costs but don’t factor in taxes and shipping and then that has to come out of pocket just factor that.

Sushant Misra  

I want to shift gears a little bit towards marketing. I know that you have you’ve done some some guerrilla kind of marketing. I know there was a story where you through and underwear and Joe Rogan, or something like that. Can you share a little I mean, I want to hear that story. Also, but but I also want to learn about what are some of the other kinds of marketing that you’re doing these days that that is working for your

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

company? Okay, right. So big fan of Joe Rogan. And you know, it was December of 2012. I don’t know the exact date, but I had the plan to go there and throw these underwear on the stage after his set. You know, you don’t want to like interrupt his comedy routine. But when he’s done, throw them up there. And so he I could tell he was done because he’s doing crowd work. We’re in Austin, Texas, and he’s just talking to the people saying, you know, jokes and whatnot, refund, refund it up. Sounds like this is my chance. And I’m recording it all. I do have it all audio recorded. It’s kind of cringy to listen to, because it’s pretty embarrassing, but I throw them up there. And he knows it. You know, of course he noticed he’s like What’s this Austin is weird shirt. Keep Austin weird shirt. And he picks it up he said sheath, a pouch for in your underwear? What are you trying to hide the JUGS in there. This is a stupidest idea I’ve ever heard of, or maybe a billion dollar idea. And and I was like, thank you when he said billion dollar idea. But I used to I’ve had Joe Rogan since 2012, saying it’s a billion dollar idea. And I wanted to take that. And he also said this is a horrible marketing idea. Don’t do that. You know, and he’s this and that to this day. Well, not to this day, because there’s a silver lining here that just happened recently. But he wouldn’t take any of our I wanted to sponsor his podcast, we sponsor a lot of podcasts. And you asked how we market and we promote a lot of podcasts. But they’re all former guests of Joe Rogan’s, like if he’s like Johnny Carson of our time if so if you’ve been on Rogan and I like to I’m reaching out to you I’m sponsoring you and I’m gonna pay you in so to represent sheath and so we got like all of his friends, like most of them, honestly as many as we could to an started sponsor. And then so now 10 years late now, nine years later, one of our sponsored promoters, Michael malice. I’ll say his name that guy kills it for us. He’s so great Michael malice, definitely recommend his podcast. But he went on Joe Rogan. And the last 20 seconds of this episode that aired last month, he, when Joe said, Where can people find you? He said, I she’s not aware. And Joe Rogan said she, he, it’s like, did he remember? Did he not remember? I don’t know. But he was like, Oh, really? She’s done to where he’s like, is it good underwear and Malissa it’s the best underwear. It’s got a separate pouch for Jada. And he was like, and they said, some words. Don’t necessarily repeat. But he was like, huh, he gave it the. And so we’ve been on Rogan now. And he knows about us. And that was just like a, you know, like a dream come true, if you will, just to have our product mentioned on his show and him not deleted, or whatever I thought he might he might cut it out or something. Because after it happened, and he had Michael malice, he said, How much would you pay me if I get you on Rogen? I said 10 grand. He said, Okay, that thinking back though, it’s like, if I had known it was gonna be the last 20 seconds of a three hour podcast. I might not have said 10 grand, but I think it actually did something because but you know, since Rogen has gone to Spotify, his, the numbers are down a lot. Like, I mean, I used to listen to every episode. Now I listen to like one and four or something, maybe. But our numbers did go up for him and all. Like, we’re spending about 20% of our revenue on on advertising. So if we’re making $300,000, which we haven’t hit that number yet, but I think we might this month. We’re spending like 50 grand on ads, which is a lot, right. But one ad for Rogen is 10 grand, no 50 grand $50,000 for one minute, you know, but the guys I’m paying? It varies. You know, I’ve paid as high as 6000 for Andrew Schultz are $250 for Michael malice. The same guy just said that got us on Rogan. I was paying him $250 An episode. And that guy. We’ve now we sponsor every episode, and it’s gone up to about 450 per episode. And then we sponsor everything he does on YouTube. And he’s gone on other podcasts and promoted our product like Lex Friedman, great podcaster guy. And malice mentioned us on Lex Friedman not killed. So he’s going on other people’s podcasts and talking about us. And that’s great. I want more people to do that.

Sushant Misra  

That’s an that’s an NGO and every time it has mentioned you, you you do see a bump in the cells.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Yeah, and we use codes to validate validate it. And you know, you know, some people are coming from using honey, you know, for county code or some different stuff, but it’s his his codes. He’s our highest valued promoter, and we don’t even he’s not our highest paid, but don’t tell him that.

Sushant Misra  

I know I know we’re running out of time. So I guess I’ll ask you this question. I want to know a little bit about your team. So you’re you’re almost 2 million in revenue. What what does your team look like right now?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

We have five people that live in a house in San Antonio and then me here with my wife and a warehouse down in the basement. But we’re actually moving the warehouse to another warehouse and we’ve moved warehouses a lot that anyways but there’s so there’s seven team members currently active with two kind of satellite. What would you call them? They’re not employees remote. Yeah, I know. Yeah. But contractors, they’re on the team but they’re not like officially on the team so that that would make it nine I think and but we had we had a guy in UK but he just as our inventory grew he couldn’t keep up with the just he didn’t have space for it. You know he was like he was doing it out of his house and we were right about to move into the UK officially with like a big three PL third party logistics. Pit the name of it but and then COVID it and what was and I know I do have I have to go to but what was interesting is we were producing all this inventory for for to expand into Europe. COVID hit and so I told China I said don’t send it to Europe. Senator To me, and that’s why I have it in my basement right now, because we weren’t doing shipping until, you know, until COVID Hit like we had a may, you know, just a warehouse company that ships for 300 other products. And that was a horrible, by the way. I mean, I haven’t found a good one yet. And we’re well, so we haven’t brought it back home, it was doing well. But now we’re doing so many orders a day. It’s like, we need to have to build our own warehouse or re go about, you know, outsource it again. So we’re outsourcing it again for now. Because it’s a, I don’t want to be a warehouse worker. Yeah, to be the CEO. You know, but I have been, and I was, I’m actually going to go back downstairs and do about 17 more orders after this. And I did like 30. But we have a few different warehouses. Well, too, right now to total.

Sushant Misra  

So you’re doing your fulfillment, you’re on your own, like interest in house.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Yes, but actually, only about 20% is in house like 80% is at this company in St. George. St. George shipping or something, Utah. And it’s just, that’s what they do to ship stuff. But we’re their only client. And that’s why we went with them is because they’re starting a new they were like we’re starting a new fulfillment center. And I’m, personally I’m tired of working with these companies that have 300 other you know, people they’re shipping for, because you don’t, you know, you have no priority, you want to take care of our customers. And he’s given us the kind of customer service, same day shipping level that we want for our customers. And, you know, we want to be like Amazon it to an extent and value with the shipping as well as the product and our customer service.

Sushant Misra  

I know we only have maybe one minute left, I’ll quickly want to do the rapid fire round. So I’ll ask you a few questions and you have to answer them maybe one word or one sentence quickly. So the first question is, do you have any book recommendations? I know you mentioned a few books. Do you have any book recommendations for entrepreneurs or business people?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I mean, I would just say Think and Grow Rich and then this book which is a derivative success through a positive mental attitude I don’t know if it’s coming up Yeah. Also written by Napoleon Hill, Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich you can’t go wrong it’s a little dry but it Everything’s in there all the other success books are derivative of that book go ahead.

Sushant Misra  

And innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

about? I guess Tesla’s I don’t know if that’s how new that is. But we just got one and it’s awesome.

Sushant Misra  

A business or productivity tool, or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Oh, we’re using a discord as a team communication platform, then that’s been working really well. Slack is pretty good. Also. Discord, it’s free.

Sushant Misra  

A startup or business that you think is currently doing great things?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Start startup or business that is currently sort of

Sushant Misra  

ecommerce retail

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

can I say gas digital network? It’s a it’s a Podcast Network. And there it’s just something I can think of right now. They’re doing really well.

Sushant Misra  

Appear entrepreneur or business person whom whom you look up to or someone who inspires you. Besides Joe Rogan.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Well, okay, so Napoleon, Napoleon Hill, who do I listen to right now? Where’s Tim Dylan? They’re not inspirational.

Sushant Misra  

Call any entrepreneur, any fear entrepreneur that you learn from?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I know. I mean, I mean, I would say Gary Vee, but like, maybe, let’s say, Andy, for Sella. I like him. You know, he is the MF CEO. He owns first form. Okay, and I used to listen to him a lot. I do recommend him. I haven’t listened to him in a while. But he’s also kind of like a real no nonsense business. Get it done. And a lot of principle, like there’s there’s the stuff. You don’t have to reinvent anything to be successful. The principles are all laid out before you. You have to kind of do it. Yeah, yeah. He lays it out for you like that.

Sushant Misra  

And final question, best business advice you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Hmm, I mean, there’s so many i You have to be persistent. And you win it It’s not over until you give up. I guess that’s what I would say.

Sushant Misra  

Perfect. Thank you, Robert, thank you for joining me today. Atripla. Thank you for sharing your story and sharing your business insights. Where can people buy your products? Where can people listen to your podcast? How can people get in touch with you?

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

Thank you so much. Go to sheath underwear.com. We’re also available on Amazon. That’s sh e, a T, H, underwear.com. And Amazon. I have a podcast, the Robert patent global podcast that’s on all the different platforms, including YouTube. My handle is Bobby the bank, if you want to follow me and see what I’m about. I don’t have that many followers trying to build my public profile, Bobby the bank on all the platforms.

Sushant Misra  

So, thank you, thank you so much. Really, really appreciate your time really appreciate you sharing your story and all the business insights. Thank you. Thank you so much for joining us today at Dropbox.

Robert Patton of Sheath Underwear  

I really appreciate you thank you very much for asking and it was fun and

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