Categorized | Shoestring Startup

StepnSoak – The First Step in a New Future!

 StepnSoak - The First Step in a New Future!On a dismal day in 2009 I looked around my small art gallery and realized the crash of 2008 had finally trickled down to me and I was drowning. My daughter and I had spent the last 5 years building it and suddenly everything had stopped – but the bills. It was the saddest day of my life and I was devastated. As I made plans to have a “closing” sale a angel walked thru my doors who had heard I may be interested in selling my gallery. I was exceedingly grateful – BUT – there was a catch – the price had to be extremely low and her payments to me were to be small structured payments over a period of 7 months. We shook hands and after much negotiating the deal was done.

 

My plan was to go back into Health Insurance sales but I was out of touch with how the Health Bill had affected that industry. It was brutal. I worked endlessly to make ends meet and then to make things worse my pet horse developed a hoof abscess that made him limp terribly. I had to soak his hooves as soon as possible which proved to be no easy task. He successfully ripped – kicked – broke every hoof soaking system on the market – and almost kicked me in the head. I HAD to soak this hoof abscess to treat it and I was beyond frustration – I thought “There HAS to be a better way”. After I finally got the hoof soaked (2x a day for 3 days) I got on the Internet to try to find a better way.

I had a vision in my mind of what I wanted to buy – a tall, rectangular, soft matte vinyl, slip on “boot” that would open easily to fit the base of any size hoof – be strong, simple to slip on, durable, reusable, keep my head up and out of hoof striking range and have ties attached so I could criss cross them around the leg and secure the “boot” with no fuss. I became possessed and for the next 2 months from 3 AM till dawn I searched for my idea on the Internet all over the world and could not find it. Hummm. I smelled opportunity. I then drew out my vision on a piece of computer paper and called a local patent attorney to see if he could help me see if this product existed anywhere.

It did not cost much for him to do a search and find there was nothing like it was on the market. I had little to no funds except the small art gallery payment so I had to be clever and shop for everything – first a prototype. I went to the Thomas Register to find a company who dealt with vinyl and could make make me a prototype. I interviewed several companies offering cost ranges of a prototype from $7500 for one to 10 for $100 per “boot” – who would also sign a confidentiality agreement. I ordered 10. Once I got the prototypes I used them on every size hoof I could find and gave a samples to vets and farriers who work with hooves daily. Their response was all positive. Once empowered with their “hands on” request for more I went back to the prototype manufacturer and in September of 2009 I placed my first real order. We took photos of StepnSoak being used on my own horse, designed the website www.stepnsoak.com and created promotional pieces, created a LLC, opened a StepnSoak bank account and we were in business. As exciting as it was I was still also selling Health Insurance 6 hours a day to keep the bills paid.

The small time payments from the gallery allowed me time to research, try, fall, fail, redo, shop, compare and get very creative. I became my own PR agent and discovered a publication company that distributed press releases to equine magazines, wholesale equine product distributors and related organizations. I went to my local media and had stories written about the great new reusable hoof soaking “boot” I had invented and forwarded every article as a Press Release to the bigger media who sent them out nationwide. I contacted purchasing directors of all the equine health catalogs nationwide and send samples. I sent out thousands of introductory letters – made it a point to create a 1-800 # – a business e-mail – a PO Box – as well as began the process of securing a patent and trade-marking the name “StepnSoak”. All this really took shape in early 2010 when we secured our first nationwide wholesale distributor on a “trial” basis. I continued to tweak the product with a new, better strap design, better vinyl, added free hoof pads to protect the “boot” and the hoof and then moved production to a SC plant closer to my home to eliminate shipping costs to me. I sent out Press Releases with every new distributor and improvement. Things were beginning to snowball as were getting picked up for distribution by more and more nationwide equine health catalogs and then something even more wonderful happened.

 

A podiatrist who happened to be a horse owner saw StepnSoak and saw a different use – he told me of all the reasons people soak their feet – from health to beauty to Rx reasons and he felt very strongly StepnSoak would be a wonderful “at home” portable foot care product for people who did not, or could not sit captive to a heavy pan of water of the floor but wanted more mobility in use. I went back to my online research and found hundreds of mainstream articles about foot soaking being used for pain relief, maternity, on soldiers feet, to detox, to ice sports injuries, for at home pedicures – and shows like Oprah and Dr Oz were on the forefront of promoting the advantages of a simple footbath to millions of viewers! I discovered studies that showed foot care products are on the verge of a $3.2 billion dollar explosion due to a older, heavier and foot weary generation so we launched a second website -

www.StepnSoak4feet.com and within 30 days a huge drug company saw our product and order thousands of them – for foot fungus clinical testings! A professional athletic trainer found our new website and realized how it could be the perfect tool for treating sports injuries on the sidelines during sports games. We brought several to her to have on hand during the nationwide NIKE Challenge and she was extremely pleased with the simplicity of design, ease of use and portability so she has promoted use of them to other athletic trainers in colleges, semi-pro and pro teams and we are now being launched as a new sports injury product nationwide.

StepnSoak - The First Step in a New Future!In our ongoing quest of making StepnSoak4Feet better we added non-slip rubber strips on the bottom and lengthened the ties. We have also found a major clinical study published in a prestigious cancer medical journal which definitively proves the soaking of feet for 20 minutes daily dramatically reduces the fatigue and insomnia side effects of chemotherapy so we are targeted to launch in Cancer Centers as a tool for patients to use at home, on the road and when staying at hotels. New uses keep cropping up and we are pursuing them.

We are now only 18 months old from that first prototype of a new concept with a bright future. If I could give anyone who wants the freedom of self-employment any advice I would tell them this: First of all do research – do not let your passions and personal focus drown your idea. Your concept may already exist or have no real market – only research will prove that. Call a Patent attorney and have them do a search if you think you have something new – it is cheaper in the long run to get their professional answer before you spend money to recreate what already exists. Don’t quit your day job while making your dreams come true. I still sell Health Insurance. The company money goes right back into building the brand – not to me. I work 10 hours a day – first for the bottom line and then for the future. Neve never never give up – clone other’s press releases – wake up everyday with a vision of success and be open to change.

Promote promote promote – you never know who will see your product and can help make it better. Make sure your company has it’s own definition – it’s own website, FaceBook page, 1-800 phone number, bank account and postal address so it stands on it’s own and is not a extention of your other business or home. It will fill it’s own shoes. Do your own PR and don’t be afraid to make your own promotional materials – who else but you is going to give it the spark it needs to ignite? Decide what it is you want for YOUR future – we were approached by a “As Seen On TV” type company to market this nationwide – it was very exciting and flattering – but they wanted to lock up all the rights of the product for a long period of time, pay us a small royalty and move manufacturing overseas. We knew that would end our equine division as they had no interest in that and we like being manufactured in the USA. We passed on it. It is easy to get stars in your eyes but we felt a obligation to finish what we started. Right now our product is the simplest, best priced set of reusable hoof soaking “boots” on the market and I feel I am helping horse owners just like me everyday. In this economy anything that can solve a problem and save money is a great thing to be part of. The foot division is just getting up and running and it is exciting to be part of a completely new product that can make peoples lives easier, better or healthier. We may still be growing but we are at the helm of the ship and see nationwide success right ahead on the horizon. Never give up.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews
Richard Hooker on Jim Blasingame

Shoestring Fans and Followers


Categories

Archives

Business Book: How to Start a Business

Shoestring Book

Shoestring Venture in iTunes Store

Shoestring Venture - Steve Monas & Richard Hooker

Shoestring Kindle Version # 1 for e-Commerce, # 1 for Small Business, # 1 for Startup 99 cents

Business Book – Shoestring Venture: The Startup Bible

Shoestring Book Reviews

Shoestring Venture Reviews

Invesp landing page optimization
Powered By Invesp
Wikio - Top Blogs - Business