In a perfect world we could borrow a million dollars from our parents to launch our business, or we would land hundreds of thousands of dollars from early stage investors, or better yet our new brand goes viral and we earn millions of dollars in revenue during our first year.
But this is not reality. Not only do less than 5% of U.S. business have such lavish beginnings, over 50% of small businesses fail during their first year. The number one cause of business failure has nothing to do with poor branding, poor leadership, or lack of product quality. The top reason even the most astonishing brand fails is financial strain. We may not have a fairy godmother to help us launch our dream business but many of us find ways to build fascinating companies on a budget. Every successful boot strapping business owner has a secret to their success. For Bittylab founder Priska Diaz, she has several methods to flourishing her brand.
Bittylab is the maker of Bare® Air-free feeding system. After sleepless nights due to her newborn’s GERD symptoms she sat at her kitchen table and engineered a feeding system that could stop her baby’s pain. She learned that swallowing air with every feeding while in a laying down position and feeding an uncontrollable flow of milk, as all baby bottles do, was causing her son’s feeding problems. So she designed a bottle to eliminate all of the above issues. Today, Bare® Air-free feeding system is clinically proven to eliminate GERD symptoms in 75% of babies, in the first two weeks. Bare feeds the baby AIR-FREE milk, while in an upright position and lets the baby control the flow of feeding. Bare has been flying off the shelves at Bittylab.com/shop, BuyBuyBabies, Walmart, Babies”R”Us, and independent baby boutiques.
And the greatest thing about this mom inventor? She is self-made, creating her brand from scratch with very little start-up capital. If she can do it so can you. Here is her best advice:
Why did you not seek an investor?
Although we had great interest from investors since the very beginning, we chose not to take them. We recognize today’s parent is a smart shopper. With all the available information on the internet, shoppers can read as much as they need to before making a purchase. From the moment we started talking about the concept of an air-free feeding system on social media, moms got very excited. We knew that as soon as we had the product available, an avalanche of parents would be all over it.
How did you initially launch your product?
Our first launch was done on a small scale, it was mainly for proof of concept/market test. The technology Bare Air-free offers is so new across multiple categories that we needed a proof of concept before having a national or international mass launch. The first production was only for 10,000 pieces, since then we have already sold over a quarter of a million units.
How did you raise $50,000+ through your website? Explain!
As we promoted the concept through a blog and social media, people mentioned we should put it on Kickstarter, as it was “the thing to do”. We decided to try only to learn that you need to put all kinds of effort in promotion behind it, get your own backers and direct them to your project page. After the campaign ended unsuccessfully, I figured, I could try again, except this time I can direct my “backers” to my own website and pre-order the product. The day of the launch, I had an avalanche of pre-orders that crashed the site, after quickly recovering, we raised $50,000 in the first 48 hours and an additional $25,000 in the next couple of weeks. Not only I had successfully funded our new order, but I had nearly 8,000 registrants on my newsletter, tons of traffic to my website and thousands of fans on social media.
What do you think of crowd sourcing now?
Crowdsourcing can be a really good way to launch a product, however, working on a strategy previous to your campaign is essential to its success. From my own experience, the platform you choose to host the crowdsource, or pre-sale, in my case, has very little to do with its success, it’s all about the promotion efforts behind it.
What are your 3 best financial tips for entrepreneurs looking to succeed financially without a big investor?
1.“Baby steps”, if your product is groundbreaking with new technology, you want to test and measure it at all times, this will also keep your overhead expenses to the minimum.
2.“Network”! Don’t be afraid to ask for advice, people are more than happy to help and the right connection can save you a lot of time and money. Reach out to your local SCORE chapter, chamber of commerce, local and regional community banks as well as other Small businesses for help.
3.“Keep it going”, figure out how to keep the momentum going or your sales will fluctuate like a rollercoaster, which is hard to manage and difficult to forecast. With sales on the way, you can fund your own inventory needs.
*View press and follow Priska’s story at bittylab.com