Interview: Linda Lewis, Founder, Flipple

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What does it really take to manufacture in the U.S.A and still be profitable?  It’s an on-going dialogue for most mompreneurs but this grandmapreneur knew that she would never outsource oversea’s.  With 30 years of manufacturing experience both as a buyer and in laboratory testing, Linda shares the in’s and out’s of what you need to know and how to get your product made…

  • Are words like machine shop, tool room, CAD drawing, injection molds foreign to you?
  • Have an idea and not sure how to find out how to get a prototype made?
  • What are the pro’s and con’s of evalulating U.S. vs. Oversea’s made?  Which is cheaper? … not necessarily what you think.
  • What would you do if you found out your  patent pending product was already out there and that person had been given a patent?
  • How did she get into 45 Buy Buy Baby stores and midwest grocery chains?

Many tips and great advice along the way.  Watch her story now!

 

Read the transcript

Rachel:            Hi. I’m Rachel Olsen, founder of Best Mom Products, where mompreneurs share their  adventures in business. Today I’m talking with Linda Lewis, founder of Baby Flipple. Flipple is an adapter funnel that turns any standard bottled water product into a baby bottle. Just add your formula and pop on a clean nipple for a baby bottle on the go. Linda, a grandmapreneur, quit her full-time job in manufacturing of 30 years and sold her house, car, boat and 401(k) to fulfill her dream of bringing her product to market. Today we’ll learn how Linda realized her ah-ha moment and used her expertise in manufacturing to create Baby Flipple, which is now sold at buybuy Baby and Midwest grocery chains. Let’s get started. How did the idea come to you and what year was it?

 

 

Linda:              Like all great inventions, it came to me through necessity. That’s when I was a very bad grandmother, we went out boating with my grandson, and we left the baby bottles behind. We had bottled water and we had formula and he was nine months old, so we just funneled formula into bottled water and he drank because there was no place to buy new bottles. He survived the day and we all survived the day with a lot of crying and pain. He was a real mess because he wasn’t able to drink from a water bottle yet. I got thinking, “This can’t be the only time this has happened.”

 

My kids and I spent the afternoon talking about, “What if? What if?” I thought, “This is really something I need to try to do.” I went back home and spent a lot of time at my kitchen table, measuring and cutting and just figured out a way to make it work. I’ve been working on this for probably four years now. It just actually has come to market a year ago. It’s a real timely and expensive process.

 

 

Rachel:            I think you have a product with you. Do you want to show everybody what it is to give them a better idea?

 

 

Linda:              Absolutely. This is how you would find Flipple now in the retail stores. As you can see, it’s got a non-verbal illustration, which is very good on your packaging. Keep it crisp, clear. This is where you’ll find it. This is the actual product. You just take any brand bottled water. This is Flipple. You screw it on, so now you have a funnel, so you can easily add that formula to the small opening of the water bottle. You unscrew it. You flip it over. Screw it back on. This is any standard nipple collar. That’s it. It’s that simple. There you go. You leave the baby bottles at home. There’s no cleaning at the end of the day and you’re already carrying bottled water and baby bottles. This just guarantees safe feedings while you can make your day a little less stressful.

 

 

Rachel:            On the go, I can definitely relate. I have two young girls, two and a half and four and a half, and I definitely have forgotten bottles after I was done nursing. I remember just being out thinking, “Oh my god.” They’re so clunky. When I heard about your product, I definitely thought of it as a, “Why didn’t I think of that?”

 

 

Linda:              You’ll really like this next stage. It’s my sippy top. It’s a transitional sippy top, so all you do is take all the components you already have and put in this nipple. It’s a sippy nipple. Just take the nipple out and put this nipple in and now you have a sippy cup.That’s phase two.

 

 

Rachel:            The sippy cup part, is that on the market yet?

 

 

Linda:              No. This is the prototype.

 

 

Rachel:            How interesting. Now that everybody understands what your product is, because I wanted you to show it, I don’t have everyone show their products, but I feel like it’s new to market, so it’s something that would be good to show and get a better understanding for. You’re such a wealth of information. I don’t know how I’m going to narrow this down to 30 to 45 minutes. You have a huge background, 30 years in manufacturing. You have the idea. Tell me about how you brought it to market. What was your experience in manufacturing and how did that apply to this product?

 

 

Linda:              My experience really helped me because I understand material and testing, raw material testing, but you don’t really need to know that. You can’t be an expert in everything. What I would suggest, what I did, was I went to a machine shop. Again, I had a working prototype because I cut apart baby bottles and then I cut off the top of a soda lid, put that inside, so I actually had a working prototype. I took that to a tool room, a machine shop and they put on a lathe and gave me an actual prototype that was functional. At that point, I had CAD drawings.

 

What I would highly recommend is either find a machine shop and then ask them. They’re doing all kinds of work for all these other businesses. Mine happens to be injection molded and they do work with injection molders. You could say, “Who’s a good business to source my product? Who would be somebody that I could go to, to manufacture my tool?” Just because a machine shop can make you a prototype doesn’t mean they’re qualified to build this expensive production tool.

 

 

Rachel:            That’s interesting. Can we back up a little bit for the moms listening that just have an idea and they haven’t even broached on this yet? What is a machine shop? What is an injection mold? Can you decipher how did you know just to look for these things? Where do people find them?

 

 

Linda:              If you were in a town, I would go to a car dealer or somebody, and say, “Can you recommend a machine shop in town?” Go to your mechanic. He’ll know because anybody that needs to have anything rebuilt, and in the manufacturing world auto body places always have to have things rebuilt, they’ll be able to recommend you to somebody. You could just Google “machine shop” and I’m sure you’ll find something. Just ask around.

 

Something else you could do, like what I did, injection molding is when you have a plastic part, and what they do is they build you a tool that’s like an ice cube. They take this plastic, these little pellets of plastic, and they melt it down and then they inject it into your tool just like you’d make ice cubes, only a lot more complicated.

 

If you can find an injection molder… You can Google that. That’s very easy to Google. I would recommend trying to source it between three and four hours to your house so that you can drive there. There’s nothing that beats face to face when you’re dealing with these people, talking to them and showing them your concepts. Then you can say, “This is what I want to do.” You can ask them because they use all of these tools. You can ask them, “Who would you recommend build this tool so that you can manufacture my part?” You decide which way you want to go. You could start at a repair shop and work your way up to sourcing your product, or you can source your product and work your way backwards to find all the different stages you need.

 

 

Rachel:            That’s very interesting. Tell me, what did you do when you were in manufacturing?

 

 

Linda:              I was a buyer for probably 25 years. This really helped me. I was familiar to manufacturing. It’s got nothing to do with what I’m doing now, but it did help me. I bought raw materials and packaging, factory supplies. That was all very helpful. Five of those years, I worked in a lab so I learned how to tear apart products and test them. Then I also learned about your different certifications, like ISO and traceability. It’s really been helpful. Don’t think that you have to have this background to be able to get to where I’ve been able to get. If you do what I just said, you’re likely to get your end result.

 

 

Rachel:            You’re a wealth of knowledge and I told you this before, I’d love to have you back again just to talk about your experience in manufacturing.

 

 

Linda:              I could talk forever on that.

 

 

Rachel:            When they have a prototype and they show up at, let’s say, the machine shop and they make their meeting and they go through it, then were you charged for your prototype?

 

 

Linda:              Oh, yes. Nothing’s free in this world. What they did, there’s a piece of equipment called a CMC and that’s where they take a solid piece, in my case, but not all cases, of plastic and then they put together what’s called a CAD drawing. That just tells this piece of equipment what it’s supposed to do. Then it just shaves it and it just spins and spins. Out of that solid piece of rod, you end up with a piece just like this.

 

 

Rachel:            Can you share how much the first prototype cost you?

 

 

Linda:              Two hundred dollars. That also included my CAD drawings. I thought that was very reasonable. It really helped that I had an actual part for them to hold onto. There was a little bit of research, but not a lot. I wouldn’t underestimate what a machine shop can do. They’re full of engineers and people that know how to do this stuff. You won’t be the first person to go and approach them. Machine shops are hungry for work nowadays so they’ll give you the time.

 

 

Rachel:            You’re located in Midwest, in the Chicago area. Is that correct?

 

 

Linda:              I’m about three and a half hours. I’m in central west end. I’m not close. I source everything out of St. Louis. Another thing is, right in my hometown, which is Galesburg, Illinois, there’s a shop that could actually make Flipple, but I went there and it was filthy dirty. There was paper stacked high on top of every file cabinet. I’m thinking, “It’d be so convenient if I could just drive three blocks and check out things,” but then you have to look at the surroundings. They just didn’t meet the standard. I’m not going to make a baby product unless the facility is squeaky clean. I think that’s very important. That’s why the closest isn’t always the best and the cheapest isn’t always the best, as we learn usually through error or mistake.

 

 

Rachel:            You get to the point where you actually have your prototype and you go to manufacture it. Tell me about that process. How long did it take you to actually find a manufacturer that you wanted to work with?

 

 

Linda:              I asked the machine shop if they knew anybody that was capable of making this type of a tool. They recommended me to this mold or tool shop. I went there and I showed them the part, showed them the CAD drawing. Something else I always recommend, maybe not at the machine shop level but anything above that, from there all the way through the rest of the product’s life, always get three quotes because you would not believe how they can vary. Then it allows you to say, “This person’s quoting this,” and you could talk to your other manufacturer or the other tool room and say, “Why is there a difference in the materials? Why are they $5,000 less than you are?” It’s a way of checking the quality of what your end product’s going to be and then also it educates you all along the way, which anything you can get out of these manufacturers is a wealth of knowledge. Just suck it all in.

 

 

Rachel:            Are they willing to give you that information? Are they just willing to sit and meet with you for hours and tell you, “This is the process”?

 

 

Linda:              No. You’re a very small fish in a great big pond. They will meet with you. Just try to be as brief as you can and listen to them. You can even take in the other quote that you might have and block out the pricing and say, “This is what they’re quoting and here’s what you’re quoting. Can you explain the difference? Why are you so much more than they are? Is there something in their quote that maybe they should be including in theirs?” You can compare what’s being quoted and I would highly recommend that, but it’s really unethical to share the pricing, so you block that out. When you get close, you can throw hints, but just be real careful with that. If you get the one that you’re going to want to work with and if they’re out of your price range, you just have to work with them and say, “I really want to do business with you. What can we do? Here’s they did material wise. What can we do to get you there?”

 

 

Rachel:            Are they usually willing to work with you, or it just depends on the relationship? Did you feel like you had a good relationship with the person you ultimately ended up with? Why did you choose the manufacturer that you ultimately ended up with? What were the deciding factors?

 

 

Linda:              Quite truthfully, I ended up choosing the wrong person, the wrong company. What I did was I wanted the absolute best tool that you can buy, best material, the best everything. That was a mistake because with the new product… If you think about if you have a product that’s sewn, you’re always tweaking it. When you’re sewing something, it’s really easy to adjust a hem or something, a seam to make the product fit better, but in manufacturing it’s very expensive. I think I was wrong in wanting the best tool I could get. I had some quality issues. Even though I did have the best tool, I had some quality issues with this company. They were dishonest with me.

 

I told my manufacturer what was going on, or he was well aware of what was going on because they were having problems running the part. I said, “What would you suggest I do?” Now I’m at the people that are producing the part and I’m saying, “I don’t know what to do. What would you suggest?” He said, “There’s another tool room. Go talk to them.” I was able to send my tool to this other tool room and they looked at it and they were instantly able to identify what the problem was. Had I not done that, my original tool maker would have fixed the problem for $3,000, but by the competitor pointing out their error, I got it fixed for free.  Again, it’s just network.

 

 

Rachel:            I’ve noticed that just by talking to you, you’re very open and you’re always asking for advice. Asking them the expertise advice and going through that process. That’s a very important thing to point out as an entrepreneur.

 

 

Linda:              Kill them with kindness. Absolutely kill them. Be so humble. Let them know you’re starting up. You have great plans, limited resources. This is you doing it all by yourself and you want to do it in America. It’s stuff that they’re really going to love to hear. Say, “I want you to work for me. Will you help me?” With that new toolmaker, I’ve spent countless hours with them now developing new products. They’re happy about that, so now there’s a lot more business coming their way.

 

 

Rachel:            Let’s switch gears a little bit. You’re stressing made in the USA. Your product retails for what right now?

 

 

Linda:              Right now it retails… I’m trying to get it around $5.00 because I understand you can buy baby bottles for $7 or $8, nice ones. You can buy cheap ones for $1 or $2. I’m trying to be right in the middle of there, so $5 is what I’m selling it for.

 

 

Rachel:            It’s a pretty inexpensive product, all in all. It’s affordable. What is the minimum production run that you have to do? I talk to a lot of people that do overseas and I’m trying to get a grasp and it just seems so all over the board to me.

 

 

Linda:              In the United States, I’ll do a run of 2,000 pieces. You can run less. You can run 1000 pieces, but there’s the setup charge. If they have a $500 setup charge, then they’re going to… It’s not that high. I don’t know how high it is, to be quite truthful. They divide that out and work that into your part. If you order 1,000, let’s say your part costs 50 cents and your setup cost is 25 cents on a 2,000 order, then it’s $1 on a 1,000 piece order.

 

 

Rachel:            The setup cost is a one-time fee, is that correct?

 

 

Linda:              No, not really. Not at all actually. What I’m talking about is when they have to shut down the piece of equipment, remove a tool and put your tool back in and then hook it up electrically, plumbing wise. It’s usually about an hour and a half to two hours and they have to charge you for that machine time. Every time they put my tool into the injection molder, a piece of equipment, I get charged this two-hour rate. They work that into the pieces.

 

 

Rachel:            Is it a choice? Would they ever give you just a flat rate or they automatically work it in without you knowing really what they’re charging?

 

 

Linda:              You ask for quotes before you build anything. What’s it going to cost me? Say, “I want quotes for 1,000, 2,000 and 5,000.” Now I’m doing 5,000, 10,000, and 25,000. A setup fee is something you’ll never get around unless you’re doing millions or 100,000. It’ll be so small you’ll hardly notice it.

 

 

Rachel:            I know that you’re passionate about being made in the USA. You’re manufacturing in the USA. Tell me, is this a patentable product?

 

 

Linda:              It is. In fact, I just have gotten my patent.

 

 

Rachel:            Congratulations.

 

 

Linda:              I’m going to warn you of something else that happened, which I couldn’t believe this had happened. I put in my patent request like three years ago. It’s still under review. Well, it was under review. In one of the searches they found out that just a year ago, there was a product that was almost identical to mine that was issued a patent to John Herrara out of Sacramento, California. I’m like, “What am I going to do?”

 

However, about a year and a half ago, I realized… Do you know how I said that you’re always tweaking and changing? Well, people don’t know this, but water bottles have different neck heights and thicknesses and thread pitches. You can figure all that out if you take, for example, a soda bottle lid and try to put it on a real generic water bottle. It won’t work. It’ll leak. What was patented by John only works, so you had to have one adapter for this type of bottle and another adapter for this type and a third adapter for the other type. There are actually three types in the United States.

 

What I did was I found a way to incorporate my product where you can use any of the bottled water products. To do that, I put in four or five new elements. Now I modified my patent to include these new changes. It’s still patent pending. Meanwhile, I thought I better get a hold of John and see what he’s doing and see if I could buy his patent off him. That’s what I did. He hadn’t done a thing with it. He recognized the problem that you had and he didn’t know how you are going to educate your customers which product to use with which bottle. Plus, I didn’t think he realized how expensive it was going to be and so he just sat on it. I bought his patent from him.

 

 

Rachel:            That is fascinating. You’re a go getter. It’s very interesting. You see somebody with a patent with a similar product and you have different tweaks and you just went right after him. Did you just not think twice about picking up the phone and calling him?

 

 

Linda:              You have to weigh what it’s going to be now versus once I get successful. If, all of a sudden, I get Nestle, who makes Enfamil, Ice Mountain Water and they also own Gerber, say they pick up Flipple, all off a sudden for me to go and make sure I have a patent. Now I’m a little nervous because after this happened I’m just skittish. I thought, “I’m going to buy that because this is going to be the cheapest I could buy it.” If I wait five years and say FEMA… I’m working with FEMA trying to get them to put it in their emergency rescue bags. If FEMA gets it, and I get all kinds of notoriety, just trying to buy that patent then would be a lot more expensive.

 

 

Rachel:            You’re very smart. Good for you. I’m going to go a little bit of a different route. You have all of these costs and you had said that you sold your home and your car and your boat and your 401(k). Tell me about that process and where you’re at today.

 

 

Linda:              That’s very true. You buy a patent. What I did was we had this great idea. I had kids in college and I was my own income. I just didn’t have any extra money, so I’m thinking, “What can I get rid of?” The first thing that came to my mind was my beloved boat where the idea was crafted. I had to sacrifice that. I was like, “Oh, this is horrible.” I used that and that got me going. That got my patent going. That got my prototypes and everything that I needed. You spent all this money and then you’re out of money and you still don’t have anything you could sell. You’re nowhere close to having anything to sell.

 

You just start looking around and start liquidating things. I kept thinking, “Well, I have this car and it’s got 100,000 miles on it, but I think I could get 200,000 out of it if I have to. I don’t need a new car. I’ll just drive this for the next four years. That makes sure that I don’t have to worry about that.” Then I started selling stuff. I had a great experience. I was able to retire from my job. I’d met the man of my dreams. You can still do that at my age believe it or not. We got married and he had a house and a car, which worked really well for me. What I did was I borrowed his car and I didn’t give it back until he married me. That works too.

 

 

Rachel:            This is good advice.

 

 

Linda:              If you can get it to work, it is. I had my house to sell. I basically showed up at the door with nothing but the clothes in my suitcase and I put absolutely everything else into the product. I tell you this and I’m joking about it but it’s actually true. I haven’t gone entirely through my 401, but as I need money, I pull more out. It gets really big.

 

If this thing snowballs… Especially if you’re looking at doing something over in China or overseas, because they have large minimum orders. They expect you to pay for the stuff before it ships, then you have four weeks on the water clearing customs and then a little bit of transit getting to you and then you have something to put together so that you can go sell.  Then most of your customers have 60-day terms, so you can count on your money being tied up for as much as six months. That’s one reason.

 

That’s not the main reason for me wanting, of course, to be dedicated to making production in the United States, but that’s something you really have to think about. It’s called landed cost. You have to figure out what all those values are. What’s the value of your money being tied up? Say you order 1,000 pieces. You’re not going to get paid on that for five months. Now you’ve got a big order coming in and you need 6,000 pieces and all your money’s tied up on the terms from that very first order. I hope that makes sense. I’m trying to explain it in a way.

 

 

Rachel:            It does. You’re very knowledgeable. It’s a good way of pointing out because I think a lot of people make the assumption, “Go to China. Go overseas. It’s going to be so much cheaper and so much easier,” then it’s like the chicken and egg. You’re trying to figure out where’s your money coming from you’re paying out? Then also, if you’re going the retail route, you’re not going to be paid out on that even longer than that. They’re not going to buy it from you upfront.

 

I appreciate you sharing that. I feel like it clarifies it because people feel very adamantly that I talk to. I feel like manufacturing’s such a hot topic with every single mompreneur that I talk to. Everyone feels like they can’t make any money if they don’t go overseas. Let’s move into the area of sales and marketing now. You’re in buybuy Baby. It’s a Midwest grocery store chain. How did you make that leap? How did you get your foot in the door?

 

 

Linda:              I went to trade shows. Again, that’s really painful because trade shows are very expensive. I retail my product for between $2.50 and $3.00. Trade shows cost $2,000, plus you have to fly there. You have all your expenses while you’re there, so there’s no way you can break even. That’s where my 401 came in. You have to do it. At these trade shows, I went to one that’s called ABC Kids, which is the biggest baby trade show in the United States and that’s where I met buybuy Baby. I also had showed it to Walmart.com and some other big hitters. Then you come back and you work it, but you have to do that. You can sell it out at your fairs, like kid fairs that they have, or kid expos.

 

I walked around, I had to have looked ridiculous. I’m surprised people didn’t run from me. Up in Chicago on Lakeshore Drive, I had a cooler full of water and I had Flipples in a bag and whenever I saw somebody with a baby, I gave them a bottle of water and Flipple and asked them to just walk around with it on their strollers. I explained it to them. I was handing out all kinds of free product. I can’t believe people would even talk to me.

 

 

Rachel:            What did they have to say about it? Did you get direct feedback from them?

 

 

Linda:              They all loved it. Everybody I gave it to said, “Oh my gosh.” I haven’t gotten any feedback from anybody. I didn’t really ask. I was starting out having a little questionnaire and I thought, “People are there on vacation. They’re not wanting to do a questionnaire.” I gave up on that. I just said, “Here’s the product. I just ask that you use it. If you don’t use it, please give it to somebody that will.” I said, “Would you be willing to put it on this bottle of water? Here is the product. Here is the nipple cap and collar, but it hasn’t been sanitized. Do you have clean nipples in your bag?” Of course, they did. I said, “Just put it in this. Use it.” They go, “Sure. We’ll do it.” It’s so much fun. I’m walking around all day and pretty soon I’m dragging and I’m tired and I’m seeing all these strollers with Flipple on top of bottles.

 

 

Rachel:            I think that’s a great idea and it’s very grassroots. Let’s talk about the bigger picture. You’re in these major stores. Do customers know to look for this product?

 

 

Linda:              No. They don’t. You can go into the stores and do a demo, but that’s really hard. For example, one of the grocery stores I’m in, I’m in the Midwest, so that you know I’m in, Hy-Vee, Snooks, and County Market. Who else? I just went to a trade show and have picked up a whole bunch more. You can’t go and do store demos. buybuy Baby, I’m in 45 of those and they’re all over the country, so you have to work with the marketing person. With buybuy Baby, that’s the way it does. Just today I sent her an email with all kinds of recommendations on how to sell my product, how to educate their associates on my product.

 

Then I just bought advertising. This is the first bit of major advertising I’ve bought. It’s a magazine called Healthy Moms and Babies. I don’t know if you’re familiar with it. I haven’t been with in the maternity section for a while so I don’t know what’s on the tables. It’s got a large circulation and a lot of followers online. This is my very first way of building awareness for my product. Those are the mothers and the people who are going to look at it, especially if they already have a child. They’re going to be looking for convenience. That’s what this product is.

 

 

Rachel:            It is a product of convenience. I want to go back to buybuy Baby in a second. A few things have popped up. One thing is, earlier in the conversation you said it retailed for about $5 retail and then you just said before you were going to the trade shows that it was $2 or $3. Was there a version before that was $2 or $3?

 

 

Linda:              I’m sorry. It wholesales for $2.50 or 3.00. I apologize.

 

 

Rachel:            Maybe I heard you wrong. That’s good to know. Then I was curious, how did you decide on Healthy Moms and Babies to do an ad and how much did that cost you?

 

 

Linda:              They saw my product and they contacted me and then they walked me through the magazine. It’s just an incredible magazine. I was very impressed with everything I saw. That ended up costing me $1,000.

 

 

Rachel:            How long does that run for?

 

 

Linda:              We’re going to run it online for six months. I think the magazine is three months. They’re also going to this big seminar for doctors and neonatal nurses and all of that in Washington, D.C. They’re going to be there with the magazine and my ad is going to be in it. I thought that it’s really important. Not only am I getting the patients, but this is going to be visible to the doctors and the nurses.

 

 

Rachel:            You had mentioned FEMA and these things. You’re selling to organizations. You have a big vision for this, it sounds like, to be used for so many different things. I didn’t even think of the FEMA and it just clicks. Of course, what a great idea.

 

 

Linda:              It does. Right off the bat, I thought of FEMA. It’s not easy getting involved with the government. I’m just working on that now. They require that you have a couple years under your belt, some sales to prove good product and your stability. It is a process. Even buybuy Baby took three or four months of working before I got to them. Just because they see it, they’re not going to be talking down the doors to get it.

 

 

Rachel:            BuyBuy Baby, you met them at the ABC Kids Trade Show. Did you reach out to them afterwards? Tell me about that three to four month process. What was that like?

 

 

Linda:              It’s a lot of emails and waiting. They all say, “Oh, we had so much to look through. We’ll get back with you.” If I happen to talk to them on the phone, I’ll tell them, “I’ll follow up in a month, month and a half.” Give them a little bit at a time. It just takes a lot of follow-up. FEMA, I’ve been with them now three or four different times, just waiting. Just what I did yesterday, he said, “I haven’t had the chance to catch up with the guy I need to get it to.” I thought, “I’m going to send a new product. I’m going to send it to them.” I told him, “Take this and just set it on his desk and tell him to call you about it.” You have to be really creative about how you’re going to get to these people because nobody’s got time for you. You have to make this easy for them as you can.

 

One thing that I want to just go back to briefly about trade shows. Don’t try to have a whole booth to yourself. If you can find somebody that you could share a booth with to cut that price in half, it’s well worth it. Then all of a sudden the whole show, travel, hotel and everything, costs you $2,000, instead of $2,000-plus. Make sure you have a product that you have synergy with, the product that you take into that booth that you’re sharing with and around your product. I did that a couple of times. They’re going to glance at your booth and if they have a bigger display, say it’s a stuffed animal and I have water bottles, they’re just going to see stuffed animals. They’re not even going to stop. Be careful with it. I’m not trying to backtrack here but I wanted to just check that. Trade shows might not let you split a booth, but you can get a hold of somebody without [inaudible 39:15] a charge but you can go in under somebody else’s name. Then once you’re in the show, it’s okay.

 

 

Rachel:            Is that okay by the people putting on the show or it’s okay, wink-wink?

 

 

Linda:              It’s okay, wink-wink. They’ll charge you $500 to share a booth. The downside of that is you’re not recognized, so if I go in with ABC Company then that’s how it’s listed in the book. When you’re at the show, you’re handing out all kinds of stuff. It’s the flyer that they look at more than the book.

 

 

Rachel:            That’s a good how to be scrappy tip.

 

 

Linda:              Shh, don’t tell anybody.

 

 

Rachel:            You’re in these stores and they’re selling. Do you basically take whatever your profits are and put it back into the product and new products? Is there anything left over for you at this point?

 

 

Linda:              Nothing. I haven’t gotten a paycheck in the three, four years that I’ve been working on this.

 

 

Rachel:            It takes a long time to build a business. What are you hoping for? What does the future hold? We didn’t go that much into social media just because I know that you’re really starting out there. I think you were telling me you don’t do a lot of online marketing and you’re just going to start to reach out to bloggers and deal sites and the whole online world. Is that right?

 

 

Linda:              Exactly. I have to figure out how to work that. I do everything by myself so far. I don’t want to have a really strong online campaign because it’s going to be me packing everything. I’ve already talked to two different sources about handling this e-commerce business should it take off. I’m starting to go after it now. I’ve got the wheels in motion for help. I always have to think real far ahead.

 

Something else, again I’m jumping all over the place, but with money, talking about money and how tied up it gets. Go to your city. A lot of times, if you’re opening a business in your town and they know you, they have revolving loans that are low interest. Go to your bank and get pre-approved so that when this stuff starts to happen, you know exactly how much money you have to work with. Most of the time they say they’ll work with you as long as you have a purchase order. They’ll overextend what they would normally give you with a purchase order. Be careful but that’s all stuff you should do ahead of time.

 

 

Rachel:            Wow. Very interesting. That is a good tip.

 

 

Linda:              You go to these trade shows and you don’t know. You might pick up somebody that wants it right away. You have to be ready.

 

 

Rachel:            Good for you. That’s a great tip. I want to go through, since we have to wrap up here a little bit, what the entrepreneurial trait, personal trait that you feel is most important that’s helped you succeed through these years.

 

 

Linda:              Tenacity. Your highs are really high, lows are really low, and you just have to wake up in the morning every day and it’s got to be a fresh start. Whatever happened yesterday, you’ve just got to get over it. You cannot procrastinate. Whatever that nemesis was yesterday, you have to tackle that. You can’t let any angle of this business or this process overwhelm you.

 

 

Rachel:            I called you a grandmapreneur. I don’t know if I just made up that word. You’re a mompreneur too, but the idea came to you as a grandma. Are you working on this full time?

 

 

Linda:              Yes.

 

 

Rachel:            You have the time, so that’s a huge benefit for being a grandmapreneur.

 

 

Linda:              Exactly. I don’t know how people would do it. That’s what I did for the first couple years I was working on it. I was working full time. I had a seven-until-five job. There was no way to talk to manufacturers. I’d have to go on vacation days to go and take care of my business. I was fortunate being able to have my years and retire. That was a luxury and probably a key thing along with a husband that was very supportive. Make sure you have that in order too.

 

 

Rachel:            You’ve given a lot of great advice throughout this. I think it’s going to be hugely valuable. Thank you.

 

 

Linda:              Thank you very much.

 

 

Rachel:            I wanted to say, thank you for sharing your story and being so open and honest, because I think that’s what really is going to help the people who are watching this. I want them to be able to learn from other people’s challenges and their successes. The name of your company is Flipple, but your website is BabyFlipple.

 

 

Linda:              Right. Somebody already has Flipple.

 

 

Rachel:            I saw that. Flipple can be found online at www.BabyFlipple.com. For our viewers and listeners, if you like what you heard today, please subscribe to our monthly newsletter at www.bestmomproducts.com so we can make you aware of future interviews. I promise not to spam you. It will just be used for any major announcements and newsletters. If you’re interested in hearing from specific founders or are interested in advertising or sponsoring, please contact me, rachel@bestmomproducts.com. Thank you and until next time.

 

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» Founders, Health, Interview, Products, Transcript » Interview: Linda Lewis, Founder, Flipple
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