Frustration with soggy sandwiches paved a path for Desiree Haller of SubSafe to create a new product, leading to a new business and a deal with the Sharks on Shark Tank. Tune in to this week’s episode of the podcast to learn more about building a great product, growing a company and making a deal with the Sharks.

Topics Discussed and Key Crowdfunding Takeaways

  • Why solving a need is the key to a great product
  • How to overcome prototyping challenges when designing a new product
  • How to determine your target market for a new product
  • How long the process of getting on Shark Tank actually takes
  • What to expect when you audition for Shark Tank
  • Tips for making a deal with the Sharks

Links

Sponsors

Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by The Gadget Flow, a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. The Gadget Flow is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Click here to learn more and list your product – use coupon code ATOKK16 for 20% off!

backerkitArt of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, raise additional funds with add-ons and manage orders for fulfillment, saving creators hundreds of hours. To learn more and get started, click here.

Transcript

View this episode's transcript

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to Art of the Kickstart, your source for crowdfunding campaign success. I’m your host, Roy Morejon, President of Enventys Partners, the top full service turnkey product development and crowdfunding marketing agency in the world. We have helped startups raise over 100 million dollars for our clients since 2010. Each week, I’ll interview a crowdfunding success story, an inspirational entrepreneur, or a business expert, in order to help you take your startup to the next level with crowdfunding.

Roy Morejon:
Art of the Kickstart is honored to be sponsored by BackerKit, and the Gadget Flow. BackerKit makes software that crowdfunding project creators use to survey backers, organize data, and manage orders for fulfillment, by automating your operations and helping you print and ship faster. The Gadget Flow is a product discovery platform that helps you discover, save, and buy awesome products. It is the ultimate buyer’s guide for cool luxury gadgets and creative gifts. Now, let’s get on with the show.

Roy Morejon:
Welcome to another edition of Art of the Kickstart. Today, I am joined with Desiree Haller, CEO, and I gave her the title of Chief Sub Organizer, with SubSafe. Desiree, thank you so much for joining us today.

Desiree Haller:
Oh, thank you Roy for having me. I’m very excited to be here.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, really excited to have you on the show, I know we had Zorpads on a few weeks ago, and they shared the same episode on Shark Tank with you guys. You and your husband Adam went on the show in hopes of sharing a 13% of your company exchange, but ended up doing a deal with Mark Cuban, and Charles Barkley, where they gave you $100,000 for 25% of the company. So, I love this product, give us and the audience an idea of where did this idea come from? What inspired you to create SubSafe?

Desiree Haller:
Well, the husband and I are avid boaters, and even more specifically we do a lot of offshore fishing, and where we live, we spend the whole day, it takes about two hours just to get to the location. So it’s really an all day event, and I think like most men are kind of creatures of habit, my husband always did the same thing. He went to the sub shop, he got the sub, he put it in the cooler. And we would always return with half of a soggy mess, you know, the part that stayed in just those extra couple hours was just enough to throw it over and ruin it.

Desiree Haller:
So I was actually just, I had no intention of creating a product in the beginning, I was just trying to find something on the market, and it was just kind of one of those light bulb moments when I looked at him and said, “I tried to buy you something for your birthday, and I couldn’t find it anywhere.” So that’s how it all started, it started on a boat.

Roy Morejon:
Awesome, well you were solving a need, right, like many of the problems that entrepreneurs and startups face, they saw a problem and they solved it with creating a product like that. So, I’m really interested to know, you know, again because of the simplicity of the product if you will, what was that process like in terms of product development for the first time for you guys? Who did you work with, how many iterations did you go through until you had that perfect SubSafe?

Desiree Haller:
A lot. It actually … our first prototype was made with PVC pipe, ’cause we didn’t have a lot of money to get the actual sample made. So we started there, and then I actually got in contact with a family member who does a lot of manufacturing, and from there we were able to kind of facilitate the process.

Roy Morejon:
Excellent. So what was the biggest challenge for you, as a first time creator, entrepreneur if you will, when you were encountered with designing the product out?

Desiree Haller:
Everything. We had issues with the threading, and initially we had issues with the thickness, and the first couple ones that we received, if you pushed on it too hard, then the other side would pop off, and we really wanted to create an extremely high quality product that you can feel comfortable putting in the cooler, throwing a case of waters, or beer, or whatever onto it, and not have to worry about it for the whole day.

Desiree Haller:
So it … I would say we probably went through, I think it was four or five samples, we still have ’em all, before we finally got it right and added the silicone ring, and really made a product we were happy with.

Roy Morejon:
Nice, so what tips would you have for a company, or entrepreneur, about to move into the assembly and manufacturing phase of product development?

Desiree Haller:
I would say, get as many opinions as you can. It’s kind of something that I live by anyway in business, I just think that you don’t have to take all of them, but you never know when somebody has something to offer that you didn’t think of, and I wish that we had … We were so, and you know, it’s a catch 22, because if you have a product that you’re in the process of also patenting, then you wanna be careful who you discuss it with, but I wish we had gone to more friends and family, and just said, “Hey, you have any ideas of how you think this could work better?” ‘Cause someone ended up saying something, and then 11th hour we were like, “Oh, duh, perfect, that’s what we need, we need the gasket.” So, anyway, get as many opinions as-

Roy Morejon:
So when you were talking about … Yeah, when you were talking about friends and family it’s interesting in terms of like, the marketing side. So how did you guys go about deciding who was your target market, and audience, potentially outside of the boaters in the community there?

Desiree Haller:
I think that just kind of happened organically. We, through social media and all of our targeted ads, we just kind of did a lot of trial and error, and we … the consumers ended up coming back to us, and saying, “Hey, I don’t only use it at the beach, I use it here, I use it when my kids are playing ball and I’m sitting sidelines all day,” and you know, they started giving us more ideas and it kind of just happened organically over time.

Roy Morejon:
Interesting. So did you guys learn Facebook ads, and how to run all of that on your own?

Desiree Haller:
It’s … I’ve learned a lot of things since we launched this company. I mean, essentially everything I’ve done. That is the one thing I have not fully learned yet, and it’s just … it’s like reading Chinese to me. But I’m working on it, and I’m getting there little by little, and it’s something, by June is my goal to have fully mastered it, and be able to run the campaigns myself.

Roy Morejon:
Yeah, unfortunately it’s an ever-moving target with Facebook’s recent changes now with how they’re scoring our ads, so again, more studying to be done on everyone’s part right now.

Desiree Haller:
Exactly. And of course, once we aired, it was … it’s been extremely chaotic in a good way. It’s been such a blessing that I haven’t exactly had time to sit down and research.

Roy Morejon:
I can imagine. So in talking about Shark Tank, the show, how long was it before you found them, or they found you, to your show actually going through the process, and actually having your show air?

Desiree Haller:
We started the application … So we launched February 26th of ’18, and we started the application process weeks after we launched. Maybe a full month, but pretty much right away. And we filmed in June of ’18, and we aired January 27th, so it’s a really long time to keep a secret that big. That level.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. Yeah, I know it can be difficult, right, holding all of that juicy goodness in terms of whether you did a deal, or didn’t do a deal, and whether or not it’s actually gonna air or not, right?

Desiree Haller:
Exactly, because that’s not guaranteed as you know, so yeah, it’s kind of business as usual, life as usual, and you know, the due diligence process of the deal itself takes time, so we learned a lot of patience, I’ll just say that.

Roy Morejon:
Nice. So what was the process like when you were auditioning for Shark Tank?

Desiree Haller:
It was a lot of back and forth, and … but all and all it was a really great experience. I know that there was certain things about this show that’s proprietary in and of itself that we have to be careful, but everyone was just super supportive, and every step and every next level that we made it to and through, we just had a great time with it.

Roy Morejon:
That’s great, and I think a lot of people that I’ve interviewed on the show, and clients that we’ve had on the show, really echo similar sentiments of just the professionalism of that entire production crew. And you know, I had Mindy, one of the executive producers on the show earlier as well, and it seems to be quite the well oiled machine.

Desiree Haller:
Oh absolutely. Absolutely. Everything was just smooth sailing, and yeah, it was great. It was an incredible experience that we will just forever be so grateful for.

Roy Morejon:
So what was the biggest thing that you learned through the whole process of being on Shark Tank?

Desiree Haller:
I think we learned a lot about ourselves, honestly. It was … Well, first of all let me back up. It was so cool being there with all of the other entrepreneurs, and getting to know some of the other businesses, and personalities, and we’ve made lifelong friends through that whole process, too. But yeah, I mean you learn a lot about yourself when you’re forced to do … My husband and I are not public speakers, we’re just very normal people, and to do that and be a part of something that big took a lot for us. Probably a lot more than your average person, so yeah. It was … it kind of was like, all right, if we can get through Shark Tank, we can get through a presentation to X, Y, Z retailer, you know?

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely.

Desiree Haller:
Kind of set the bar for us.

Roy Morejon:
So what’s been the biggest surprise since your Shark Tank episode has aired?

Desiree Haller:
I think what I was … I was prepared for the influx in online sales, but it was a really kind of sweet surprise how many retailers also reached out to us as a result of seeing the show. Relationships and opportunities that normally require a lot of time and effort, if at all, you ever receive them, just were pretty much handed to us, you know. So it was … that was really, really sweet surprise.

Roy Morejon:
So you and Charles Barkley and Mark Cuban have started a new company, how has that been going, and any advice to other people getting on Shark Tank, in terms of making a deal with multiple sharks?

Desiree Haller:
Yeah, I would say do it. It’s more … I mean, isn’t that just kind of the ultimate dream? For one, I had no idea how involved Mark was gonna be, and that has been just such a help. He is extremely involved and oftentimes he is the first person to respond to my emails, you know, when I send it out. And Charles has been so supportive of us, it just … the more people you have, the more that’s brought to the table, really. The more opportunities, the more connections, the more wisdom, the more experience.

Roy Morejon:
Absolutely. So what, if anything, would you do differently if you were starting this whole project over again?

Desiree Haller:
I wish I had my sales right now in this moment to determine the valuation, rather than three months into it, or not even. But no, I … they gave us a very fair value, they actually gave us a better valuation than we went in asking for, which I’m sure as you’ve watched the show, never happens. So we’re very thankful for that. But I don’t have any regrets, I really don’t.

Roy Morejon:
That’s great. All right Desiree, well this is gonna get us into our launch round, where I’m gonna rapid fire a handful of questions at you. You good to go?

Desiree Haller:
Okay. Yes.

Roy Morejon:
So what inspired you to be an entrepreneur?

Desiree Haller:
I think it was just something that I’ve always had, I never really saw myself working for anyone else, I’ve always run other people’s businesses, and I knew ultimately one day that it would just be me and my business.

Roy Morejon:
If you could share a sub sandwich with any entrepreneur throughout history, who would it be?

Desiree Haller:
Oh, good one. Man, I’m pretty happy with Mark and Charles.

Roy Morejon:
I hear that.

Desiree Haller:
I am.

Roy Morejon:
All right, so what’s your favorite sandwich?

Desiree Haller:
I am a turkey, provolone, all the veggies all the way type of girl.

Roy Morejon:
What’s your favorite condiment?

Desiree Haller:
I like mustard.

Roy Morejon:
There you go. What book would you recommend to our listeners, or other startups and entrepreneurs?

Desiree Haller:
So, I actually … I’ve read all of the Sharks’ books, and this is such a good question. From, for someone who is starting at the very beginning of the process, I highly recommend Lori’s book. She takes you step by step through the entire process, but I loved Mark’s book, he has a lot of great business advice in there. But if you’re just getting started, I would say Laurie’s book.

Roy Morejon:
Has Charles written a book yet?

Desiree Haller:
He has, he’s written a couple books. Are you Afraid of a Big Black Man is actually the title of the one that I read most recently, and it touches on a lot of racial topics, and it had me … I had to read it in private, because I was crying in just about every chapter, but it’s a really special book. I think it’s one that I would highly recommend.

Roy Morejon:
Last question in the launch round: where do you see SubSafe in the next three years?

Desiree Haller:
With an entire product line on all the major retail shelves. So I have about five more products coming down the line.

Roy Morejon:
Excellent. Well Desiree, this has been awesome, this is your opportunity to give our audience your pitch, tell people what you’re all about, where they should go, and why they should check out SubSafe.

Desiree Haller:
Awesome. So, SubSafe is the first waterproof, crush-proof container for sub sandwiches, or really any food that needs to be kept in a cooler. It has flattened ends, so you can use it as cups, bowls, it is completely watertight, so you can use it as dry storage, and it floats, so if you are doing water activities and it goes overboard, it’s not gonna sink like a lot of other dry storage products. It holds a bottle of wine, it’s perfect for travel, putting your toiletries in, it’s really just a completely multifunctional container.

Desiree Haller:
And you can find it at www.thesubsafe.com.

Roy Morejon:
Awesome. Audience, thank you for tuning in, make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com for all the notes, the transcript, links to the website and everything else we talked about today. And of course thank you to our crowdfunding podcast sponsors, the Gadget Flow and BackerKit. Desiree, thank you so much for being on Art of the Kickstart today.

Desiree Haller:
Thank you Roy for having me, I appreciate it.

Roy Morejon:
Thanks for tuning in for another episode of Art of the Kickstart, the show about building a business, world, and life with crowdfunding. If you’ve enjoyed today’s episode, awesome. Make sure to visit artofthekickstart.com and tell us all about it. There you’ll find additional information about past episodes, a Kickstarter guide to crushing it, and of course, if you loved this episode a lot, leave us a review at artofthekickstart.com/iTunes. It helps more inventors, entrepreneurs, and startups find this show, and helps us get better guests, and help you build a better business.

Roy Morejon:
If you need more hands-on crowdfunding strategy advice, please feel free to request a quote on EnventysPartners.com. Thanks again for tuning in, and we’ll see you again next week.