Building A Niche Pet Product Business (Shedding Dog Bodysuit) From Scratch – Tyson Walters of Shed Defender
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 44:58)
INTERVIEW VIDEO (ADBRIDGED VERSION) (Length – 18:28)
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Tyson Walters of Shed Defender shares the story of building a niche pet product (Shedding Dog Bodysuit) business which started as a way to solve a personal problem and then got a lucky boost through a viral post from The Dodo.
Resources Mentioned in the Episode
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Tyson Walters of Shed Defender
- Could you please share the startup story of Shed Defender? How did you come up with the idea? How did you know there would be a market of this product?
- How does the sizing work? Do you get returns due to size mismatch issues?
- Could you share the story of going viral when The Dodo published an article about your product?
- What is the manufacturing process look like?
- What channels are you selling through? What has been your experience selling on Amazon? Have you pursued selling in retail stores?
- How do you fulfill ecommerce orders – Amazon FBA?
- What marketing and advertising are you using? Which marketing channels have work best for you in term of new customer acquisition and retention?
- Could you share a bit about your social media? Do you find your social media drives traffic and conversions?
- What does your team look like right now?
- What have been some of your biggest challenges or failures in the process of starting and growing your business?
- Do you want to add more product offerings in the future?
- What was the reasoning behind going to Shark Tank? Why not try other avenues or Crowdfunding?
- Can you share a little bit about the process of appearing on Shark Tank and what preparation did you have to do?
- Did you see a boost in sales after the Shark Tank episode aired?
- Did Shark Tank appearance get you other press opportunities?
- As an inventor can you talk a little about protecting your intellectual property through trademark, patents etc. On the Shark Tank episode, you had mentioned that you let go of pursuing the patent for the product because of the costs involved. Could you share the pros and cons of getting and defending a patent?
- What happens after a deal is confirmed on TV?
- What has been your experience working with Lori Greiner? What kind of support does she and her team provide to your business?
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender
- One book that you would recommend to entrepreneurs/business professionals in 2020 and why? (Response: The Four Hour Work Week)
- A peer entrepreneur or business-person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Elon Musk)
- A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend. Response: Yotpo)
- Best business advice you ever received or you would give.(Response: Don’t be naive. You have to understand you got to put in the work. Nothing happens overnight. When it does, it just makes things even more difficult. So put in the work, the reward will come later. And yeah, don’t be naive, you’re not going to get rich overnight.)
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 Tyson Walters to the show. Tyson is the CEO and founder of shed defender. Shed defender is a versatile one see that contains pet dog hair. And dander reduces anxiety and can replace the medical corn for dogs with hotspots, skin conditions, allergies, surgical sites, and more. They carry nine different sizes, so they can accommodate dogs from four pounds to 130 pounds plus sizes. And today, I want to ask Tyson a few questions about his startup story and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business. So thank you so much for your time today, Tyson, and for joining us.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Sushant Misra: So I know that you started, you got the idea for your product, and you started because of a personal need. So could you share a little bit about your startup story? How did you get the idea for this product? And yeah, what is your startup story?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, that’s a pretty common question. And most people who know me and have seen my St. Bernard, they understand why I created it. So you know, I got Harley’s probably 1111 now didn’t realize how much dogs actually shed are actually her breed at least. And then within, you know, the first year, Her hair was just getting everywhere. You know, there’s just not a whole lot you can do. I mean, you can brush them every day, you can bathe them, do all that stuff. But I mean, there’s always just excessive shedding. It was something you know, I could deal with, but it was like it got in my car, my house and I brought her everywhere too. So friends and family, were complaining about the hair, I’d have to, you know, leave her outside or not bring her or my roommates are getting very upset about it. So I got tired of other people complaining about her hair being everywhere. So you know, I looked on the market and tried to find other products, you know, that could fix the solution or be the solution other than just, you know, a brush and bathing and there is absolutely nothing out there. You know, that would work. So, you know, I came up with the idea in 2011 I believe. And I just moved home from college. So I had my mom’s start. So in the first prototype, have just dog suit onesy that would just contain the dog’s dog’s hair, you know, and wear it for situational use on the house, the car, other people’s houses and stuff like that. So for me, it was a no brainer, but yeah, a lot of people are curious why I want to run my dog
Sushant Misra: for this is more of a dog problem or like can it be applied to like a cat or something? Other animals also,
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: um, you know, I created it for the aspects of just dogs but I mean, we’ve had people use it for their cats, but I we’re working on creating it designed specifically for them because their shape and their back legs, you know, kind of move differently. But with our new sport version, it’s open underneath because our original version now zips from the chest, down to the butt of the tail. And so covers everything you have to unzip for potty breaks, but our new sport version stops at the belly so the dogs can go to the bathroom at any point in time. So we have a lot of people using it for their cats. You know, I mean they do shed quite a bit and then for you know, post surgery use a lot of cats lick themselves hotspots, so they use it for that too. So dogs Cats with dogs primarily.
Sushant Misra: Yeah, and one of the questions that that I had in my mind when I was browsing your website, when I looked at the sizing, it’s like, you know, when people are buying it online, is there is there like a mismatch? I know the sizing on your site is based on like, the different pound, or the weight of the animal? Like, do you get a lot of returns where people buy it, and they say, Okay, did not fit. And, yeah,
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: and that’s, that’s the hard part with dog clothes is there’s so many different shapes and sizes of dogs. You know, they’re not like us where, you know, pretty standard, you can get away with, you know, four or five sizes, but we have nine right now. And, honestly, I’d love to make more. But the more sizes, you get, the more confusion. So we do deal with a lot of exchanges. Some people just don’t look at the size, the weight, the sizing chart, some people think, Oh, I have a small size dog. So they get a small, but it’s a 10 pound Chihuahua, and they need the extra extra small. So we deal a lot with that. And that’s, you know, just something you got to be okay with and kind of work into your price, knowing how many exchanges and returns you’re going to do as well. So it’s all it’s all part of the business.
Sushant Misra: Now, one thing that you mentioned is that you you got the idea for this right out of your college, you know, when you and you started in 2011. But I think you were it wasn’t really, it didn’t really become like a serious business until much later. Can you share a little bit of what what were those first years? Like? Was it just that you were not getting a lot of fields, you were not sure sure that this product will actually make a business?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, so it took a long time from conception to completion. You know, it took several years, I had my mom started someone, you know, the first prototypes, and we went through a bunch of different fabrics, we went through just plain netting, which obviously didn’t work to cotton, which you know, ended up just being too hot. And then, you know, once we had kind of a working prototype, I had to grade all the sizes, too. So at that point, you know, within the first year, I kind of finalized the design for the most part, and I had as a seamstress, I found off Craigslist, actually. So she was working on it. But I was also working, I did construction, and had other couple side businesses just to hustle and make money to pay my seamstress to get this done. So it was just a lot of trial and error and finding fabric and tweaking this and that. And, you know, I didn’t have much money to work with, you know, I just bootstrapped it myself. So it took probably until 2014, to finally get something where I could like actually start selling and that’s when I started just selling online. But a very smart I saw like maybe one to three a month was like a $5 month budget for advertising. So it was hard to get the word out there. And I just had one seamstress who was just making them, you know, on demand.
Sushant Misra: Okay. And I know that if at a certain point, you know, was making that three or four sales per month or something. You you had an exponential growth where the dodo, which is the site that focuses on animal videos, they I believe, wrote an article for you and the sales went off the charts. Can you share that story of what happened? And what difference admit for your business?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, that was a pivotal point in the business and, you know, personally, my life as well. So I was actually right around the time where I was thinking about just tabeling this idea, and, you know, go on to find a different career and stuff like that. So yeah, I was selling on mine for like a year and a half, you know, once again, selling a couple of months maybe, and the dodo picked up on it. And they’re like, we usually don’t do any articles promoting products. So you know what we do, but it’s such a unique product. We’d love to write something about it. And I didn’t think much of it. Because I’ve had some people do that before. And you know, there’s no traction, there’s nothing there. But they did an article and as soon as it hit an eight in the morning, I woke up to you know, on Shopify, you hear that ding when you get a sale, and I was just hearing games all day and gets to like, two a month. I’m getting like 100 in one day. And it just took off from there went viral. And next thing you know, it’s just kept going as on the Daily Mail and I was getting calls from New Zealand radio stations and United Kingdom. I mean all over the world. And it just kept going and going and BuzzFeed picked up on it. That was later. But yeah, I just kept going like wildfire. Once it goes you know, one person shares it. And then from there, yeah, I was used to having My seamstress Do you know, maybe she can make three or four a day. But with like 1000 orders, I had to find a manufacturer, I mean, the whole business, I had to go legitimate like immediately and I really had to give a button gear to get things work.
Sushant Misra: For me what it sounds like is that there was there was a market for it. People wanted something like this. But until that point, you you hadn’t actually found a way to actually validate your idea, I guess, what was it? Yeah,
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: I really wasn’t doing any advertising. Like I said, My budget was around five bucks a month on Facebook. I didn’t have much content to work with, I, you know, I didn’t even have, you know, I wasn’t ready for when it went big anyways, I was unprepared, but I didn’t really have the money to get prepared anyways. So it was, was pretty remarkable how it happened and how fast it happened. And, you know, the next steps had to follow.
Sushant Misra: And is that is that now a big part of your marketing and advertising is like, you know, being on these, these kind of fights like the dodo, or the communities that are specifically for like animals and things like that, because they’re the ones that are driving yourself.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: I mean, ideally, if any publicity is great, we want all we can get, we’ve been fortunate enough to kind of luck out and get all these, you know, from there, you know, we got BuzzFeed and that video that like 15 million views, and then we had viable unilad you know, all those social media viral sites picked up on it. And then, you know, we got some TV appearances, like Good morning, America, the view. So I mean, those are the best because you know, it reaches the most people, but those are just dumb luck, or, you know, pay to play, we have to pay a lot of money. But we were lucky enough just because we have such a funny, unique product. People are like, what is that. But that was the hard part actually, advertising to begin with was explaining what it is. People didn’t understand the concepts, people thought you wore it 24 seven, and it was, you know, unhealthy for the dog. So it took a lot of education and explanation. Before people caught on and understood all the benefits, you know, what it was actually for
Sushant Misra: food for dogs, like two parts of the, you know, you all of a sudden went from like tier three or four products to like, you know, thousands and thousands of products. And the other side is the supply side where you only had one seamstress who can create like three or four of these, you know, at a time. So can you share a little bit about your manufacturing? Going from that seamstress to what, what process? You had to follow from there and where you are right now?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, so I was I was prepared. I had some contacts in mind, just in case something like this happen. But I didn’t know how quick it was going to happen. So my seamstress did as many as she could for, you know, about two months. In the meantime, I was living in Northern California. So I went to San Francisco, where there’s a manufacturer there called national apparel. And I got him working on, you know, getting the patterns, getting digitalize, there’s all this stuff that I never dealt with. Because my seamstress wasn’t had nothing digital, she cut it out by hand. So we had to switch everything over. And so I had him do a rush. But I mean, I didn’t know I had to get labels, size labels, let other labels side zippers, I had to do all this stuff that my seamstress kind of did on behind the scenes stuff. So I had to find all that within a couple weeks and then still took about two to three months for people to get there. Most people get their initial order. Just because you know, you can only make so many so fast, especially on the first round of manufacturing. So luckily enough, there was no other product like it so people couldn’t go buy it elsewhere. So they waited and they were actually happy to wait. And we didn’t have too many upset customers. But yeah, it was a long wait for some of these people.
Sushant Misra: And right now like, are you? Is it still being manufactured in the US? Are you did you wait, do
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: we do both? So the bulk of it and China found a really good manufacturer out over there when visited their plant not and all that stuff. And then we do some domestically here down in Southern California too.
Sushant Misra: And one question that just out of curiosity is when when you work with China now with the new administration, Trump administration, I think the imposed like some additional tariffs and things like that. Do you see that when you get the like did it make an effect in your business?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, it went from a 2.8% tariff to adding at first it was 10% and only up to 25%. So as of now it’s 2027 point 8% Whoa, on the gut, so that definitely made a dent in our profit margin, and we didn’t raise prices, I didn’t want to put it on the consumer. So, you know, we did find other ways to, we just order order in bulk, obviously, so then they get cheaper shipping rates and this and that. So yeah, we had to definitely account for that. Which is a bummer. But I personally understand the bigger picture behind it. So it is what it is.
Sushant Misra: Does your business have like a seasonality where, you know, you feel like people buy more of these and winter because they think it will protect dogs from like, cold weather or something like that.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: So we do, we kind of have a couple different peaks. And it’s been hard to tell, because we’ve had so many spikes due to, you know, viral videos. It’s kind of hit and miss. But I mean, definitely, q4 is by far, the biggest, I mean, it usually accounts for, you know, probably almost 50% of sales. Just because Halloween is a big one, people love dressing up their dog. And then between Thanksgiving and the holidays, you know, Christmas buying people traveling with their dogs to family and friends houses during the holidays, they like to have it. So q4 is our big seller, and then the shedding season is a big one, too. So it kind of picks up around March, April, June, those three months are pretty good. March, April, May, when the dogs start shedding. And it’s that heavy season and allergy season two as well.
Sushant Misra: Okay, I wanted to ask you about the channels that you’re filling, it seems like you’re only selling ecommerce, like your website, Amazon and I believe one other place Did you never perfu going Rito
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: we did but you know, it’s uh, it’s tough on, we have some small mom and pop shops we sell to some vet clinics. But mainly we focus on e commerce, we really haven’t been ready to go to any big box stores. You know, several reasons, one, one being you have to have a lot of capital to get into those stores, they have a big purchase order, which they will the lead time to make it and they get paid by them. I mean, you have to have that capital upfront for quite a while to even pay back. You know, back looking back, our packaging wasn’t that great for retail, we didn’t have that strategy in mind. So moving forward, this year was going to be a year to try and get into brick and mortar, we change our packaging retail friendly. Got the prices down a little bit. And then COVID hit. And that completely ruined that whole strategy. So we kind of put that on halt. And we’re still trying to. And we also created some new products to we wanted to offer our whole line of products instead of just one, you know, that helps retail stores. You know, we could get some displays and shippers with all our products. We created you know the sport version, and we got some new products as well that I can explain later. So next year, we’re going to try and do that. But for now, if anything we’re trying to get into I’m starting to sell on Amazon, Europe, Amazon, Canada, Amazon, Australia, and kind of expanding those online marketplaces for
Sushant Misra: now. By the way, did COVID help your business or hurt?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, it’s slowed down quite a bit. You know, when it first started, when the first shutdown happened, I think people were worried about, you know, work money paying bills, stuff like that. But then, April, it actually picked up a little bit. So we were lucky enough to where I think people were inside with their dogs all the time and spend more time with them. So April and May were decent months considering the circumstances. So I guess it was pretty neutral. It didn’t hurt us too bad. So I’m happy with the results. You know, I didn’t we didn’t tank or anything like that.
Sushant Misra: Okay, I’m working with Amazon. You know, when you have like, additional costs with the tariffs and things like that, and I know that when you sell on Amazon, Amazon has its own, you know, hi faces and things like that whatever thermos that you use, is it Do you find that it’s it’s still worth it for you in terms of like making profits and things like that, because the volume of orders that you get from Amazon is so high?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Oh, yeah. I mean, really, they take 15% of your sale. But you know, if you compare it, you know, on our site, we usually give out discounts and things like that, and then we also you know, we’re paying for shipping. So actually After you factor in all those Amazon shipping is cheaper. They pay for return shipping. So our exchanges returns, you know, we don’t worry about that other. And then you know, there’s no discounts people pay full price on Amazon. So in the end, it’s not that bad of a comparison and, you know, to be on the biggest marketplace in the world is a must for us. I mean, it accounts for probably 65% of ourselves.
Sushant Misra: Okay, and all your fulfillment goes through Amazon FBA or do you do some of your own also?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, you know, on our site, we have a fulfillment center, three PL and then we use Amazon FBA for the Amazon Marketplace.
Sushant Misra: For what, why not use of beer for everything? If it is less expensive?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, a few reasons. I don’t want all my product in the hands of Amazon. They don’t I can’t ship the chewy through them. Should we calm? Okay, don’t do business orders. Business a business? You know, they don’t do. They don’t do a few things. It’s, I mean, I looked into it a couple times, and it just wasn’t, it wasn’t the right move. You know, I don’t want them having complete control over your product. You never know what happened with them to change your policy or something. And you know, to get your product out there. So backed up right now, you know, the word stuff on Amazon and never shows up on time. Right now. I’ve had stuff I sent in in May, and it still hasn’t been transferred into their filament centers. So that’s not something I want to put all my eggs in one basket.
Sushant Misra: marketing and advertising, could you share a little bit about you know, what, what works really well for you in terms of, you know, acquiring new customers or, you know, building better relationships with existing customers and so on?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, so, you know, our main advertising effort goes into Instagram and Facebook ads. You know, I personally believe it’s the easiest, quickest and cheapest way to get in front of the most people. It’s pretty easy to find, you know, the right customers through, you know, some some Click Funnels. So we have a marketing agency that helps us out. And so between yet Instagram, Facebook, we do some Google ads as well. A lot of traffic flows through Google, which is great. And then we just do sponsored brand sponsored ads on Amazon as well. And, you know, right now we put, we’ve done other things, too. We’ve done some, you know, we do some giveaways, we’ve done some influencer stuff, which it’s really costly. And I don’t think what we did was really worth it. We did one, we’re gifted celebrities. It’s pretty expensive. But, you know, we had a couple of things where we had Ben Affleck using my leash, and his new girlfriend. And the problem is like, it’s out there. And all the tabloids, we see it like, Oh my gosh, that’s so cool. There’s pictures where you can even see our logo on it. But I can’t use it, because they have to sign off on it, I can sue me. So it’s like, well, that’s really cool to brag about, but I can’t use that negative form of advertisement. So it’s, and you know, or else, they got it. And they’re like, Hey, this is a cool product, I’m gonna post it on Instagram, that’s what we hope for. And that never happened. So same thing with Emily, Reggie koski. Or, you know, what her name is? great pictures of her using it, she uses it all the time. But like, I’m not capitalizing on it. So, you know, that kind of backfired on us a little bit. So you get it? I mean, or else you want to pay like $100,000 and get to do it. You know, you got to put a lot of money into that.
Sushant Misra: Interesting. And and your social media, I guess from on the advertising side, you’re doing the ads, but your general social media, you’re using it as like a engagement tool? Or do you see that a lot of people come directly like organic traffic also to social media.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, we do both. I mean, quite a bit. So yeah, a lot of people use it kind of an awareness thing. You know, we post quite a bit to get people engaged and looking and hopefully, you know, get people to try and share. Growing your Instagram is something we try and focus on. It’s always difficult with trying to get user generated content, and stuff like that. So that’s, that’s one of our big focus and key points.
Sushant Misra: Okay. Um, what have your team look like right now?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: So at this moment, there is actually just three of us. It’s me, yeah, I found it and then my sister in law, does VP of Marketing also. Many other things and the business whatever I need help with really. And then my mom actually does customer service. So we’ll work remotely right now. We’ve been able to handle it, you know, operate just like any other business. And but I mean, you know, we’re big on customer service, customer support, we’re always there to help. You know, we try and act like a big company with a small company, you know, attitude and personal, you know, touch to it. You know, eventually, probably next year, we’re going to expand hire office, maybe bring shipping back in house. But for right now, because then we’re just kind of e commerce. It’s worked pretty well. No, it’s limited faculty.
Sushant Misra: I mean, one thing that seems really interesting to me is that you mentioned that you started this right out of college. And then you mentioned that, you know, you were working like construction jobs and things like that. But I was thinking, what was the point of college? If you had to start a business? What did you learn from college? It was it was the money, I
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: remember whatever. Yeah. But now I do. I can’t I get business management. And
Sushant Misra: so you knew that you were going you you wanted to start a business?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah. Ideally, I always wanted to, I didn’t know what I always had ideas. I always liked inventing things and building things as a kid. So I mean, I give college some credit, just from learning a few things. I mean, you just learn a lot of I mean, just aspects of life, you know, you learn some business stuff, a lot of the business stuff I learned, honestly, was just experience. But General, some accounting and finance and stuff like that, it definitely helped along the way. helped with contacts it helped with, you know, quite a bit, but like I said, most of the stuff you learn is just going to be, you know, what’s in front of you, once you start going. And any career. I mean, a lot of it’s stuff, you just have to learn on your own the hard way.
Sushant Misra: So I want to ask you a few questions about Shark Tank, because I know you had a appearance on on Shark Tank, and then you also got received, you were successful in receiving funding there. Could you share a little bit what like when you were looking for funding? What was the reasoning for you to go on Shark Tank? Was it more that these investors would help you out in ways that, you know, a traditional funding source would not be able to help you? Was it more that you can get some advertising offered? A little bit like what was the before when you went in there? What was the rationale?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Well, we actually weren’t looking for funding we were doing all right. I didn’t even apply for the show. They reached out to us. Okay. So, I mean, I had thought about applying for a year, so just you know, getting the exposure. But yeah, we’re lucky enough the one of the producers, which they do this a lot, they reached out to you. And I definitely wanted to do it. So you know, they helped us do all the videos, the audition, stuff like that, which was nice through like the six month process of getting application and and getting, you know, actually on the show. But yeah, the money would have been great. But if anything, we were looking for the exposure, obviously. And then if we did team up with shark, we wanted more of a helping hand partner, a strategy partner, you know, money, yes, we always want to lead that’s totally fine. We want to expand and innovate. But I want someone who could help us get to the next level, someone I could call when I needed help and kind of strategize and formalize, you know, ideas to get to the next level, not just someone’s gonna give us money, and that it’s all on me. So that was our idea, you know, going in,
Sushant Misra: but then you did eventually end up getting the funding from there, right?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, well, we got a deal with Lori, we got three offers and I took a deal with Lori. So on TV, it looks like we got a deal. But after aired, we both both parties decided it wasn’t really a good fit. You know, we didn’t think our product would be good on QVC and that’s kind of her bread and butter. So we amicably, you know, decided not to go forward. But I mean, all the sharks were nice to show was great. You know, nothing bad to say, Lauren was awesome. I just don’t think she would have enough time for us. I don’t think it was, you know, just not a good fit. So we eventually found private equity funding later. And so this year, we finally team With a private equity firm, and so they’re really involved in the pet industry. And they helped us, you know, strategize add new products, which is a big push for us. So it ended up working out a lot better this way.
Sushant Misra: Did you feel like once you did the, the the show when once it aired? Did it give you a boost in sales? Does it does it usually help, like airing on those kind of shows you’ve been on?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, definitely. So yeah, that show was a big boost. The first week, you know, I mean, the first night day, see, just yeah, sales kind of goes through the roof. And then it tapers off, you know, after a week or two. You know, it’s back to normal. You always think like, I always thought, Oh, man, I’m going to be on that show. I’ll be rich and famous. You know, being naive as a business owner is never a good idea. But you know, you got a dream and believe. So yeah, you people forget, you know, you only last for so long. But then it really errors. And you see that that boost? Sometimes? It’s probably reiterate maybe like 10 times since then. So you always see periodical boosts that show up? You’re like I bet it aired again. But yeah, I mean, that first week would be nice to have those sales consistently.
Sushant Misra: Do you? I think one of the discussion and there was, you know, they asked you do you have like intellectual property protection, like trademarks and patents and things like that. And I think at that point on the show, you said, you know, you didn’t perceive it, or something along those lines. So my question is, you know, given that this is such a unique product, are you do you now have intellectual property rights? Like, what is the process of doing that? What are the pros and cons? And do you worry, like your product getting copied?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, yeah, we always worried about it, we worried about it before, when on the show. The problem with the patent is it took me so long to create the product and I was selling, there’s limitations, there’s time limitations on it. So once you bring a market or a product to market and advertise that it’s for sale, which I had done, you have a year to file a patent. And at that time, I did not have the money, you know, you’re talking thousands of dollars. And I didn’t really know about the year, you know, time on it. So you know it had expired. So at that point, you forfeit, you know, the opportunity for it. But you know, in the end, so many pads are easy to get around. If you have it, someone’s gonna knock you off and shine anyways. You know, I have one friend who I met on Shark Tank, and they’ve spent a couple hundred thousand dollars fighting knockoffs with lawyers and attorney fees when there might have been better off spending that money developing products and going you know, other ways. So you know, our new products, we have a couple patents going forward. But you know, we have a headstart, several year headstart, we have a great product we have special fabric that we use, that’s just incredible, you can tell the difference between us. And there’s a couple of knockoffs you see on Amazon, there’s super cheap, it almost helps us go buy those and they rip in a second, and then they go buy our product. So yeah, you’re always gonna worry about that. And it’s always gonna happen. But you know, for the most part, we haven’t had too many issues, we have a pretty good customer base that’s loyal. And, you know, our name is fine to becoming. I mean, it’s not huge by any means. But it’s becoming aware of people like, oh, I’ve seen that I’ve heard of that. So you know, they’re gonna want to buy at least the top tier product. So so far that’s been working. Well see what happens.
Sushant Misra: One more question about Shark Tank. So when you appear on television, so this is television. How do you and when you’re doing a pitch like Shark Tank, where you have to be like very short and concise and what you’re saying? What kind of preparation goes into it? Like how do you prepare for it? Do you just like stand in front of the mirror and do the pitch like 100 times and make sure that you know, it’s like, automate? Yeah.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Now I don’t it’s been a while since I’ve done one, but for Shark Tank, you know, it was a big deal. Probably the most nerve wracking time my life. And we practice and we practice. I mean, for months, we even hired my sister in law, you know, who works for me, she was very detail oriented, and a perfectionist. And so we even hired a media trainer. And, you know, we, my brother was on the show with me. So we’d have our friends sit down and pretend they’re the sharks, and we’d walk out and rehearse things and go do questions. I mean, it’s just preparation after preparation after preparation. I mean, we’re over prepared, which is great, which is one of the reasons I think we did well. So yeah, you just gotta hammer it down. And the 32nd pitch is like, that was the most thing I was nervous about because you want to get that right, you come out there. And that’s the main You got 30 seconds to shoot that pitch? And hopefully it goes well. So that’s just something me my brother worked on way too many times, but it paid off.
Sushant Misra: Okay. I’m finally, um, I know, in every business there, you know, the entrepreneurial journey, there’s always, you know, you make mistakes, there’s challenges. Can you share one or two challenges are the biggest mistakes that you made? building your business? And what was the experience? What were the learnings? What can other people learn from it?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: I made a lot of mistakes. And you know, a lot of them I don’t necessarily regret because I made them at a time where they weren’t big enough to ruin me. And I didn’t lose too much money and stuff like that. But I mean, one time I, when I first manufactured overseas, I did have batch in China and half of back to Guatemala, and China nailed it. And then Guatemala, just they screwed me over big time, I got 5000 defective pieces. I mean, I lost a lot of money, and it was devastating. And it’s obviously you can’t sue them, you can’t do anything, because they’re not registered here. There’s no, no jurisdiction there. They so you know, it’s partly my fault. You know, I met with the guys, they got samples, I did everything, but it didn’t do enough due diligence. You know, to go through more of their references and stuff like that. You live and you learn, but it’s only 5000 pieces, you know, now I order, you know, 20,000 pieces or more at a time. So it could have been worse. Other than that, I mean, just know your finances and know your numbers. You know, a lot of times you can live your QuickBooks and you control yourself, but you know, really know what your product costs, know what it takes to make that sale, cost per acquisition, knowing your numbers is key, you know, for a while I thought I was doing well. And then you break it down. You’re like, Oh, god, I’m barely breaking even, or planning ahead. So the numbers and finance part, I hate it, but it’s one of the most important things you can do.
Sushant Misra: So the experience with the Guatemala is that the same thing with China. Also, let’s say that your Chinese manufacturer, for whatever reason, creates a bad batch of products. And so you have to test it before it ships out. Or how do you mean,
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: for China, I went over there. I went to the manufacturing, I went to the plant, you know, flew into Hong Kong and met them. I talked to several of their references, you know, American to do business over there. And they’re very reputable. So that went well, the Guatemala you know, I only reached out to a couple of their references. They didn’t have any big names, you know, like the other company did, you know big businesses, the other guys, they just do small batches with them. I mean, they were just shady people. You know, everything was great. And they just gave me faulty zippers to the wrong fabric. They were late is just bad. All around.
Sushant Misra: For whatever is next for for your business. Are you coming up with new products? Where do you see it in the next like, two to five years.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, so we have a lot of new products. So we just launched several months ago, our bungee leash to three handle leash, which is great. So you can you know, have one handle at the end, one handle in the middle, and then one handle very close to their neck. So complete traffic control instead of wrapping around your hand. You always have a handle to choke up on. And then also it’s a bungee leash, so it stretches from four feet to seven feet. So there’s no jerk or pull. Also short enough so doesn’t drag on the ground and the dog’s leg and get tangled up in it. But then it can stretch the seven feet so that they can kind of roam around a little bit if need be. I have another leash that is in the prototype stage. That will be a big one that one you know has patents working on. And then we just launched our we have two shampoos and conditioner ones that de shedding shampoo and one’s a sensitive skin shampoo. And then we’re going to launch some soft tissue supplements as well. So all our products minus Alicia is kind of focused on the dog’s health with shedding skin and coat, anxiety, sensitive skin and stuff like that. So we’re gonna have a whole line of products, you know that we can hopefully move forward, maybe get into the brick and mortar and go from there and have a couple other innovative products like the leashes and some other things that are want to do but yeah, ideally we want to get the brand name out there. Expand You know, maybe so we’ll see where it goes, you know, it’s discussion we’ll have in a couple years with us in our private equity people and see where it takes us. But you know, so far it’s looking good every year, your growth as well doing well, we’re pretty happy where we’re at now.
Sushant Misra: So at this point, when you are launching this new product, is it like, do you test it? Do you say, okay, you have like some prototype of it and try to sell it to existing customers, or you do like a landing page and say, do a pre sale kind of thing to know that there would be a demand for the Florida just as a, as a insurance policy? Or how do you are just like, you know, you build it, and then you test it out?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: It’s, it goes, it depends for the leash. In our bungee leash, you know, I had this idea, and I had my manufacturer in China make it and I just, I fell in love with it. And people would always be like, Oh, my God, I need one of those. And I handed out some of my friends, and everybody loved it. And there’s no three handle bungee leash on the market. So you know, I didn’t presale, anything like that I knew there is room for it, I knew it was a great product. So I just went for it. Sales are great selling them all over the place. And then like, say, our sport version, the new version of our product, people wanted an open underneath, so the dog didn’t have to unzip the bathroom. So that was just straight from customers mouse that, you know, we fixed that issue. And then the shampoos is we just made and we’re just going with it, you know, it’s a it’s a low cost item, it was a low minimum order quantity, it fits in our portfolio of scanning, coat shedding, it’s a perfect add on. So on our site, it’ll go well, you know, it can be an add on tool, hey, you know, by this shedding shampoo, you know, goes along with the shed defender, stuff like that. So that was easy. And then the soft to supplement as well. You know, we have a calming one is sensitive skin like allergy one, and that a D shedding skin and coat one. So once again, it goes with the rest of our products, we can upsell and soft juice supplements like one of the fastest growing sectors in the pet industry right now. And we already have a pretty good Amazon presence. So we think we can kind of parlay that into into that. And same thing. It’s one of those items where it’s not too risky. To start out, it’s not revolutionary, you want to do that much advertising. You know, we already have the platforms with chewy and Amazon in our site. So we’re starting from scratch.
Sushant Misra: Okay, so now we’re going to move on to our rapid fire round. And the idea here is that I’ll ask you a few questions. And you have to answer them in one or two words or one or two sentences. So the first question is, do you have any book recommendations for entrepreneurs or business people and 2020? And why?
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: You know, I used to love this book. Now, I don’t really care for too much, but the four hour workweek, okay, got me motivated to work from home and think outside the box and do things on my own. So I could recommend that book. It’s okay, but that was probably eight years ago. So it’s not my favorite anymore. But it is a good book. It’s
Sushant Misra: it’s a good title. But I think you know, as entrepreneurs, if you four hour per week is not enough.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: It’s not realistic. And he Tim Ferriss even apologize after he made that book. He made another one so I’d recommend his second book,
Sushant Misra: okay. An innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce retail or tech landscape that you’re excited about.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: I mean, this kind of goes along with Elon Musk stuff. I love space. I love the rocket technology. Everything Elon Musk does. I’m infatuated with all that stuff.
Sushant Misra: Ilan Musk is an alien.
Sushant Misra: a productivity tool or software that you would recommend.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, you know from my business, I feel like reviews are everything we use a company called iapo it’s one of the bigger ones and it’s a review system I would highly recommend that
Sushant Misra: startup or business and ecommerce retailer tech that you think is great doing great things right now.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: You know I do not know not nothing comes to mind at the moment.
Sushant Misra: appear entrepreneur, a business person who inspires you.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, you know, that’s got to be Elon Musk again. I love what he does is great.
Sushant Misra: And finally, a best the best business advice that you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Um, you know, don’t be naive. You have to understand you got to put in the work. Nothing happens overnight. When it does, it just makes things even more difficult. So put in the work, reward a be later. And yeah, don’t be naive, you’re not going to get rich overnight.
Sushant Misra: Thank you so much. Those were all the questions that I had. No is your opportunity. If you want to share anything about your website to places people go and buy your products, please go ahead.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Yeah, so you can find us at shed the vendor.com and also on Amazon and chewy. And then hopefully next year, you might see us in brick and mortar stores, but I’d recommend go to our site. We always have discounts. We do free shipping, free exchanges. It’s a great product, you guys should check it out.
Sushant Misra: Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your startup story and also about your business and some of the strategies and tactics that you’ve used to start and grow your business. That’s really inspiring. And thank you for your time.
Tyson Walters of Shed Defender: Thank you appreciate it.
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