In this post we talk to the inventor behind a men’s grooming too called “The Cut Buddy”, Joshua Esnard. Joshua goes into the details behind when he started his project and he navigated the startup work.
- Monthly Revenue: In 3 years – 1.5 million in sales of The Cut Buddy Hair/Beard shaping tool. over 110,000 units sold in more than 100 countries. Also a shark tank winner and best seller on amazon.
- Date Started / Years in Business: Started in Jan 2016 but came up with invention with I was 13 years old. I am now almost 32.
- Location / Homebase: Chatham county, North Carolina
- # of Employees: 3 full time and 50+ sales models
During the launch phase, did you maintain a full time job?
During the first 3-4 months of launching the business, I worked for Broward College as a professional development coordinator. There was no way I would be able to keep up with bootstrapping without a job to pay bills.
It really is not feasible to think you can leave a job with no savings and start a business. Many rich entrepreneurs always suggest you make the jump and take a chance. I love that idea but I’m not jumping off a cliff unless I know I’m going to hit some trees on the way down that will brace my fall. So I kept this job until The Cut Buddy sales began to replace my income to a point that I felt I could leave.
The majority of my friends who ask me for money, are the ones who left a job without having a financial plan, lol. Most businesses fail in year 1, so you have to be smart with your expenses and income, or you will be homeless.
How did you acquire customers/subscribers/users?
Targeted affiliate marketing through video demonstration and discount incentives. I hire social media models to test my product and give honest feedback. I request that they do a video where they integrate my product with their daily life instead of doing a straight QVC / Sales pitch. I want them to show that the product can actually help people get over struggles.
Since their videos go to targeted customers who fit my customer profile, it helps get warm leads. I also give the social media models a coupon code to offer their customers, and I pay them a commission. Everyone wins this way. I pay less for marketing (FB ads don’t work for a lot of products… and don’t try to convince me otherwise, lol), the influencers get more views and commission, and the viewer gets good info and a discount on a great product.
What software / platforms / tools have you utilized since launch?
Lead Dyno sales tracker and affiliate system app is great. I use it with Shopify. Wix merchant platform sucked when I started in 2015/16. I am sure they have made improvements. I went viral and I wanted to beat up every employee who designed Wix merchant system.
It was very hard to process orders with their system, lol. It also had very limited integrations with merchant systems. Since I switched to Shopify, it has been much easier. The apps you can add on are seamless and have helped a lot.
How did you fund The Cut Buddy and how does is make money/revenue?
Bootstrap from last pennies on credit card. No one would fund my “funny” invention. I often got blank looks at pitch competitions. I still get rejected by banks after all my success.
Bank loans for startups is a myth and usually false advertising. We will see a big settlement in the future against the banking system. They claim to be there for the poor business startup, but they aren’t. My credit score in near 800 and I’m a bestseller on Amazon. How can I not get a loan still?
We still sell 1 tool, the cut buddy, for all of our revenue. We are in a bunch of retail stores and just did a huge deal with Andis clippers to be in all Walmarts nationwide. Discount stores are a good revenue source too, but you have to be willing to literally make close to nothing on a unit. But if they are ordering more than 10,000 units often, then it’s a pretty good revenue base.
Amazon is a big revenue source as well. Just make sure you sign up to brand registry if you own the patent to your product. We have been knocked off over 2,000 times (no exaggeration). China does not play around lol…
To date, what have been your biggest challenges as a company?
Infringement…. mainly from China
What have you done to overcome them?
It’s an ongoing issue. But you have to identify it’s happening quickly or your company will crash. The U.S. patent system is shit. It’s really just a filing system and there is no real proactive push to punish major corporations for not being stricter on IP violations.
However, you can see Amazon, Ebay, AliBaba and others are trying their best to form programs to prevent the issue. There is still a lot of work to do to protect the American inventor. The problem is it’s very hard to identify who you need to sue when 2,000 fake dealers have your product selling all over.
I am working with many legal counsels at these marketplaces to get it resolved. They are trying to help me, but the problem is so large that it will never totally go away. I can estimate close to 3 million I have lost in revenue due to this.
If you had to do it all over again, would you?
Hell yes, I wish i did it earlier. I’d be retired by now.
What would you do differently?
I would definitely make sure I had my infrastructure set up for success before launching. Going viral in 3 months without having knowledge of all the working of business is scary.
Any advice to give?
If you have an idea, don’t tell anyone; just go to a patent attorney. If you plan to share it, do an NDA with your friend. Also… Linkedin is the shit! Make sure you hustle on that.
Lastly, if anyone reading this wants to know more about The Cut Buddy … where do we send them?
You can contact us at @thecutbuddy everywhere, Instagram, FaceBook and Twitter.