(Part 2) How Suzy Batiz made $1 million: She protected her concept, used friends’ input

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As I indicated in Part 1 of this series of blog entries, Suzy Batiz, founder of Poo-Pourri, shared her advice, further proving what a true shining star she is, right here, living and working among us in the StartupNation community. What a role model!

Below Suzy provides more of her advice.

In Suzy Batiz’s Words:

COVER YOUR BASES/PROTECT YOURSELF

Only once I got my manufacturing organized and costs controlled did I start with patents, trademarks, logos, etc.  At this point, I had spent very little money and had really only spent time, which freed me up financially to file for patents, hire a graphic designer, buy some stock bottles and produce my first run of 1,000 units.  We also paid $400 to do a patent search to make sure it was a patentable idea. Then we filed a provisional patent application which gave us a year to run and then file for the actual, full-blown patent.  I would recommend this to all startups as the upfront cost is much less.  Also we initially filed for trademarks through an attorney which have been very expensive. It’s very easy to do on your own, and we have filed all other trademarks ourselves through http://www.uspto.gov/ .

The first patent attorneys we contacted were very pricey so we researched through the internet to find one that was reputable but had a much lower fee than our local attorneys.  It has proved to be a great relationship.  Do your homework and check backgrounds.  I always Google the words “scam” together with the person’s name or business name to see what comes up.  You will be amazed what you find.

USE FRIENDS AND FAMILY TO FINANCE & MARKET

We had an initial investment of $25,000 to work with (which is not a lot in the grand scheme of things). Therefore, with limited resources I approached all my friends and family to help.  My husband designed the website and I asked many friends if I thought they even remotely had talents that could help.  You will find that people are very willing to help especially when they believe in what you are doing!

We produced 1,000 units, this was a huge leap but I figured I could sell them out of the trunk of my car if needed.  Keep in mind the minimum from the manufacturer was 5,000 units.  I negotiated this down claiming that I did not want to produce that many until I had seen if the formulations would work and they could produce (turned the tables).

We emailed friends and family and asked them to email everyone they knew and to give a testimonial.  They did and to our amazement, web orders started coming in. One friend called and suggested that I send some to her friend that owned two retail stores.  I sent samples and he wanted to purchase wholesale.  I asked him for help.  He referred another store and then another until the first month I had 15 stores selling the product.  He then suggested that I contact a rep group and I asked him for referrals.  Armed with proof that it sells at retail (as I had 15 stores selling it already), I could confidently speak with rep groups about the product and the retail environment.

KEEP GROWING & LISTEN

The rest is history.  We sold over a million dollars of product (wholesale) within the first year and are continuing to grow.  We keep hearing that the stores want more products to sell.  We increased the line in January and quadrupled our sales.  We are developing more products for this show season.  We listen very closely to consumers as well as stores to keep a feel for the market demands.

Go, Suzy!

I’ll post more of her experiences and advice soon.

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