How a Husband and Wife Team Sold Their House to Build A Startup. Then The COVID19 virus Hit – Karina Rabin – EP43

“People think that once your product is in Home Depot it will be flying off the shelves—no it’s not. You still have to do marketing to push traffic to those stores.”

What you’ll learn:

If you own a small business or startup, you most likely cut your marketing budget to extend you cash flow through this COVID-19 pandemic. You are most likely also figuring out how to pivot your marketing strategy now that your retailers are closed, cash flow is tight, and customers are turning to ecommerce marketplaces. On today’s episode, we interview a new business owner with a small company to talk you through these very issues.

About our guest:

Karina and Jared Rabin are the co-founders of a popular all-in-one picture hanging tool called the Hang-O-Matic. They sold their dream home in Orange County in order to self-fund their product and get it into major retail stores like Hobby Lobby, Menards, and Home Depot.

Key takeaways from this episode:

  • What is the Hang-O-Matic? The tool you need in quarantine–4:50
  • How Karina and Jared met and brought Hang-O-Matic to market—6:01
  • Major Hang-O-Matic retail partners—7:14
  • How Karina navigated third-party sellers driving down MSRP—8:18
  • The impact coronavirus has had on Hang-O-Matic sales—10:10
  • How a small retailer business shifts to ecommerce—10:52
  • Why COVID-19 demands you shift your marketing focus and learn new skills as a business—11:45
  • Increase ROI directly within retailer sites—13:56
  • How to balance vendor IPO’s with long payment terms—15:14
  • The unique licensing deal that doesn’t just deal with royalties—10:28
  • Karina’s biggest fears and hopes as a small business owner living in a COVID-19 world—21:10
  • Best marketing strategy for startups like Hang-O-Matic—23:01
  • How to get a 100% buyer response rate with the right sales pitch—25:45
  • Get into stores immediately with the right LinkedIn pitch—28:14
  • Biggest lesson Karina learned by starting a business before the virus—31:53

Announcer: Welcome to the Page One Podcast, a twice weekly podcast featuring a variety of guests and thought leaders on topics ranging from channel strategies to tariffs, influencer marketing, best in class product launches and all the details about how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers or what we call rCommerce. Now here’s your host, Luke Peters.

Luke Peters: Thanks for joining us on the Page One Podcast. I’m your host, Luke Peters of NewAir Appliances and CEO, also of Retail Band Digital Strategy Agency. We’re now in Coronavirus world, and I know everyone’s mind is on that, so I’m going to adapt these interviews to ensure that you listeners are getting the most out of this podcast so you can expect us to get right to the point, provide valuable business insights and focus on COVID-19 impacts. And, briefly, I am offering a free evaluation of your online business strategy. If you’re interested, find me on LinkedIn or at luke@retailband.com and this is focused on growing your digital sales online, which is high demand right now, obviously.

Luke Peters: in this episode you’re going to learn from Karina Rabin on her journey together with her husband, Jared, their secrets of working together as a husband and wife team. The challenge of penetrating retail without experience and a packaging disaster that costs them $100,000 when they were starting out. Karina and Jared are the cofounders of a popular all in one picture hanging tool called Hang-O-Matic. They sold their dream home in Orange County in order to self fund this product and get it into retail stores. And on the Page One Podcast today, I want to welcome Karina to it and go ahead and fill in any gaps there. Karina, that I might’ve missed.

Karina Rabin: Oh no, you were perfect. Thank you so much for having me. Every time I hear that we sold our dream home, I get teared. We missed that house so much.

Luke Peters: Where was it at?

Karina Rabin: It was in Lake Forest in Orange County. You’re probably familiar. It was a brand new construction home. The little community only had 65 houses. It was a really small, tight community, and it was walking distance to grandma’s house.

Luke Peters: That’s awesome. And is it kind of by Silverado Canyon? Is it back in that area or a different part of a Lake Forest?

Karina Rabin: Yeah, it’s really close to Foothill Ranch.

Luke Peters: Oh, got it. I know where that is.

Karina Rabin: Our business address is still at Foothill Ranch. So kind of like there’s a Target over there. So really close. It was really nice. It’s really close the sports park

Luke Peters: The Whitening Ranch is kind of in that area, right? Is that the Target I’m thinking about.

Karina Rabin: Brand new.

Luke Peters: Yeah, I know exactly where then.

Karina Rabin: Exactly. Yeah, so it was what it was called Whistler Ridge.

Luke Peters: Okay. I know the area exactly. It’s kind of a mountain biker’s dream. I’ve mountain biked over there many times. And for those of you guys who are not in Southern California, so what Karina is talking about, Lake Forest, it’s kind of Southern or central Orange County, 10 miles inland. So kind of backing up or right before the foothills in the Santana Mountains go up to about 5,500 feet.

Luke Peters: It’s pretty interesting geography in California. So gives us some cool mountain biking. Those mountains themselves are about a 40 minute drive from the beach. Those are not the bigger mountains that people are skiing on, but they’re kind of near the coast. And so I live in Huntington, so I’m like about a 30 minute drive from that area. So great to have you on the podcast. And before we jump into it, why don’t you go ahead and kind of give the audience a little better idea of the product that you guys are offering, and a little bit more about the business.

Karina Rabin: It’s really great for people to get now because everybody’s obviously home. I’m even redecorating my walls. You get bored of old pictures, you want to put up new pictures. Hang-O-Matic is a reinvented 6′ tape measure that has a yellow bubble right on the actual tape, and it has two, I would call them markers, where they actually staple your wall. You just mark the wall really, really tiny, faint mar, in case you change your mind, and you don’t want to hang a picture there, it doesn’t ruin the wall. But this way you can hand anything.

Karina Rabin: It doesn’t leave any nails in the wall. It just marks them like you would with a pencil just to let you know where you’d want to hang whatever you want to hang. And the tape measure is 6′ from small to a large items. And because it’s a tape measure, you can also use it for one hole. Say you want to hang something 65 inches off the floor. You can use the Hang-O-Matic like a tape measurer, bring one of the markers to 65 inches, and mark the wall where that one picture is going to hang.

Luke Peters: That’s great. So the business is focused around this single product or do you guys have more products?

Karina Rabin: That’s it. My husband invented it when he was in college in California so he invented in 2000 when he had the idea and filed for a patent. And then we met in 2008. I literally met him… I was living alone in Los Angeles in West Hollywood. And I got into a fight with an Ikea shelf. I couldn’t match up that keyhole on the back of that decorative shelf. So I was able to put in one nail, but I couldn’t match The second nail with the keyhole, and I that’s so frustrated at this shelf, and I just kept banging and trying to move the nail because I was so close. It was like a hair, and I put a baseball size Hole in the wall.

Luke Peters: That’s so funny. And I know exactly the problem you guys are solving. I’m kind of a wannabe amateur photographer. So I’ve hung a million photos. Somehow my wife makes it look easy. She does a better job than me. But I know exactly what you’re talking about. Some frames only need that center nail, let’s call it because they’ll have the wire going across it so they’re easy to balance. And then some will need two. And when you have to put in two, and then measure them perfectly, and then put the photo up there, it’s so hard to not only get the width right, but then, what if they’re cooked? So you’ve got two problems them. That is great. So you guys were successful at getting it into store so quickly, pre coronavirus partners there on retail?

Karina Rabin: So the major one that’s still open, knock on wood, is Home Depot. So right now they’re the only store that’s really keeping us in business. So it’s Home Depot. We’re also in the Container Store. They’re closed. Hobby Lobby. is our biggest customer. Because Hobby Lobby sells so many decorative items and they have the Hang-O-Matic right at the register.

Luke Peters: That’s awesome.

Karina Rabin: So next to gum, right? Hobby Lobby was moving our inventory the most. Sadly they just got ticketed, and they had to close. But they already had a lot of stores closed. We’re also in [inaudible 00:07:51] in Wisconsin. They’re a hardware stores so they might be open. We were on QVC five times in England and the US. We were at ACE Hardware. We just got out of it. ACE Hardware, a lot of small owners own a franchise. They have the stores. So I had about 50 people who didn’t ask permission and put it up on Amazon, and so I was basically fighting with my own customer. So we had to stop selling to ACE Hardware. Meyer is another store we were in. A [inaudible 00:08:23] we were selling it through third party, Amazon sellers. It was difficult for us to compete with ourselves, so we had to lose some of those stores because they were driving the price down sometimes, and we were competing with way too many people.

Karina Rabin: So we had to make a decision because we’re a small business. It’s just me. And my husband does operations. He runs the company. But he also has a full time job. So he’s busy. He’s working a full time jobs. And he had a computer by his side. He had two computers, his day job and his laptop. Recently we had to license the Hang-O-Matic to another manufacturer because we sold our house fun ourselves. We were also in Bed Bath and Beyond Michael’s, Joanne’s, and it just got so expensive for us because we’re having to reinvest the money back. We lost $700,000 on packaging and so it got really difficult to increase distribution because now we’re trying to get into Target and Lowe’s.

Luke Peters: Thanks for sharing all of this because I want to dive into all of it. How the cashflow crunch has impacted you guys. It sounds like getting into all those stories, would be a blessing, a huge revenue opportunity. I guess there must’ve been some challenges that I want to get into. And before we do that though, talking about coronavirus, how has it impacted you on a percentage basis? Are you guys down 50, 60% because you’ve lost the revenue from all of those stores? Has it had a significant impact on you guys?

Karina Rabin: I don’t know the exact percentage. My husband is does all the operations, but I would say it’s probably a little more than that because our only store that’s still sending us PO’s is Home Depot and they’re not buying as many units as they were prior to the coronavirus. So I feel like I’m having to jump through hoops and try and figure out how to become an eCommerce business.

Luke Peters: Yeah. I’ve seen you guys on Amazon. So it sounds like you have a good presence on Amazon. Right?

Karina Rabin: So we are on Amazon. I found there’s one Amazon seller who is buying the inventory from us, so it’s real inventory, and he puts it up on Amazon. Just to take some of the workload off me because I’m just one person. My husband, like I said, works full time, and he never took the rings on learning marketing. I did. So when we started selling into stores, people think, “Oh well great. Now that you’re in Home Depot, it’s going to be flying off the shelf.” Well, no, it’s not.

Karina Rabin: People don’t know what’s in Home Depot. You don’t wake up one morning and think, “I think I need a picture hanging tool.” No one thinks products that you don’t know exist. So we are still having to do marketing to push the traffic through those doors. I was doing Facebook ads but now I have stop doing Facebook ads because now our income is lower not getting so many orders because of the virus.

Karina Rabin: Now I’m having to learn new things. I’m having to learn how to do Instagram. I’m having to learn how to Tik Tok. Which is so funny, but I like to throw darts to see what works. And I’ll do anything because we’re a small business. I have to figure out how to expand our online distribution. I’m trying to get into Target. I hope we’re going to be shelved in Target so I’m driving traffic to Target because we are online at Target. And sometimes the way you get into these stores is you prove to them that you sell online, and then they give you space.

Luke Peters: And today we’re recording, so this is April 6th, so that’ll give the listeners an idea of how far we are into the Coronavirus. So probably the impacts started hitting you guys about three weeks ago with those store closures. And you’re absolutely right about the marketing. By the way, there is a good Home Depot marketing offering right there on the Home Depot site. Hopefully you’re taking advantage of that. I think a lot better results than directing Facebook ads to it. If you’re not taking advantage of it, I would highly recommend considering changing your investment from Facebook right to that Home Depot ad tool or ad offering in the sponsored ads.

Karina Rabin: Is that on their website?

Luke Peters: For the .com? Yeah.

Karina Rabin: So I can learn how to market to Home Depot on Home Depot’s website.

Luke Peters: Well they have an offering that’s actually kind of a separate point. It’s a little more complicated, but let’s just say that companies can advertise their products through Home Depot on Home Depot so you don’t have to use third party advertising like Facebook and Google. You can do it right there on Home Depot. The ROI is great. A little bit more tailored to your categories.

Luke Peters: Every category is different so you’re going to have to look at yours and see how it works. Just wanted to let the audience know as well because it’s a really important thing to be able to do. And then you know that’s great that you have someone selling on Amazon. It would be interesting to see, if you guys own that, how much you could improve that, and it sounds like the direction you’re going, which is really smart because you got to own your digital. I’m a firm believer in that.

Luke Peters: You had these, stores shut down, but now this lets you kind of transition over to Amazon. What’s been the challenge with cash flow? Has it been just because retailers have long terms and the margins aren’t as good, or what’s been the challenge there? Because it sounds like selling into all of those stores would have been a bonanza, but it seems like it’s been a little bit more difficult, huh?

Karina Rabin: So the challenge is the timeframe they pay. For example, we were in Bed Bath and Beyond when they weren’t doing so hot and started closing their stores. And I’m still a vendor, and I just got an email that… They already don’t pay for 90 days. They’re not paying us during the 90 days, but we’re still getting PO’s from them and other retailers. Well Bed Bath and Beyond just sent an email that they’re adding an additional 60 days to the 90.

Luke Peters: Yeah, I saw that.

Karina Rabin: And then the [inaudible 00:14:55] sent an email that they’re also increasing their payment terms. I’m grateful that we just recently got licensed become the company we’re licensing to are bigger than just my husband and I. And so they are able to keep fulfilling these orders and keep buying boxes and keeping buying inventory. It’s such a high expense, you almost can’t catch up because of their terms.

Karina Rabin: And that’s what happened with us in the beginning because we were so excited to keep going, keep going, and it just got to the point where we couldn’t grow distribution because we ran out of money. We only had one house at that point. We didn’t have any more houses to sell. Let me just tell you, whoever watches Shark Tank that is just for entertainment only. What they say on Shark Tank and what happens after might be different.

Karina Rabin: On Shark Tank, I was one of those people who kept watching and watching and hearing everything did they said. And they said if you have a purchase order you could just walk into a bank. So I kept going after these stores. I got Bed Bath and Beyond and Joanne’s at the same time and that was a $200,000 purchase order. Okay, well I heard on Shark Tank, when you have a purchase order, you take that to the bank. Well we ran out of banks. [crosstalk 00:16:21].

Luke Peters: It’s not that easy, for sure.

Karina Rabin: Our house was brand new, my husband and I were both working full time, both in sales, so we’ve purchased this house before we started doing Hang-O-Matic, and so we couldn’t refinance because the house is only six months old. We didn’t have enough credit with the bank, and the banks didn’t have accounts with those stores. So they were like, “Well, how do we know you’re going to be paid from this store in that store?” And we were like, “They said on Shark Tank, you can get…” No you can’t

Karina Rabin: So we went far as we could and my husband worked both jobs. We had hired one assistant, who is helping us with Home Depot because those orders were coming in every Monday, and there’s a lot of data entry and then sending it to the factory. We were making Hang-O-Matic in America. So then we had to also deal with our factory, and this is our second factory. The first factory, we had to sue because they didn’t make the product correctly, and they didn’t want to fix it. So we had to find a second factory.

Karina Rabin: So there’s just so much that goes into when you make this product that if inventors company and they say, “Oh, I have an idea.” I don’t even want to know what your idea is. I want you to answer this question. Can you run a business? Can you afford to buy 100,000 units? Hello? Can you do these things?Before you tell me your idea, that should be your first question. Do you have money to do it as a business?

Luke Peters: Everybody’s caught up on the idea, but they don’t realize it’s the execution of the idea that matters. Ideas are a dime a dozen until they’re funded and actually executed on and actually become successful. So you bring up a great point there. Tell me about that licensing deal that you did. So did you license another brand, or another company’s licensing your product just for specific retailers? Or are they taking over all sales?

Karina Rabin: No. We have an interesting licensing deal. The most common licensing deal is, they give you a percentage and you go away. And they do the sales and the manufacturing and whatever, and they just pay you a royalty. Well, our licensing deal is a little bit different because we still wanted to be involved in Hang-O-Matic, and the company we went with is a tape company, so they make really good products. They have a sales team. They’re a small company, so not as big as Black and Decker or whatever. So we are still involved in sales, so I’m still doing sales, and I’m still doing marketing, and all they do is manufacture it. They don’t sell it. We do.

Luke Peters: Gotcha. So they basically took it to China or something like that, and they’re just running.

Karina Rabin: Exactly. So they basically just took away the offering. They’re making the product, they’re obviously buying the boxes, they’re making it. It’s still Hang-O-Matic, it’s still our box. My husband’s picture is on the box. Nothing has changed other than I am not getting those orders anymore, so I’m not having to do it all. So it’s nice that they took it over. So it’s almost like the same relationship as I had with my factory that was in California except that this guy is making the product way much better. Because they’re an actual tape company where the other factory was not.

Karina Rabin: Now Hang-O-Matic is made, unfortunately, overseas but it’s been improved. It just works better. I don’t have to check every single one that goes out because sometimes he sends me boxes for me to send samples to new retailers. I just sent some samples to two new stores. My previous factory was so bad, I had to open and take the Hang-O-Matic out of every box and check and make sure it was good. Do you know how much work that is?

Luke Peters: I can imagine.

Karina Rabin: I’m doing my own compliance.

Luke Peters: It’s great. You guys have this licensing deal. You guys have amazing retail partners, but unfortunately most are closed, and due to COVID-19 it sounds like you know business is going to be cut by more than 50%. what concerns you the most about the future, but also what are you most optimistic about? I mean we have the government EPP program, which I believe would still be able to help you guys. It’s pretty significant.

Karina Rabin: Yeah.

Luke Peters: How are you feeling now that you’re three, four weeks into this COVID-19 problem?

Karina Rabin: My biggest fear is two things. First my fear is the licensing deal gets canceled because they don’t think it’s worth keeping us on because we’re not selling as many units. That’s my first fear. My second year is what will happen with these retail stores. Will they stay in business? Will they continue to buy Hang-O-Matic. So that’s my fear. We only have one product. We wanted to come out with a second one and we were in the middle of making the second one. The second product was going to find the stud, what would be called Hang-O-Matic Stud.

Karina Rabin: But now we have to put that on hold. So, I’m just worried. Obviously, it’s more emotional. That’s why I’m doing my hardest to keep it alive online and trying to tell people that if you buy at a Home Depot online or Target online or they could go to Home Depot, but our Home Depot this weekend, the line out the door was so long because they’re not letting that many people in.

Luke Peters: Yeah, I’ve seen that everywhere.

Karina Rabin: So now there’s less foot traffic going into Home Depot. So I’m just worried because we sold our house. We sold our house, we moved to Colorado. I miss Orange County. I miss being close to my inlaws. I just worry, will we be able to come out of this and go back selling as many units as we were. [crosstalk 00:22:37]

Luke Peters: Yes. And then before this, you guys were in a great position. It sounds like it was more of a cash flow problem with your selling into all these retailers. Why don’t we quickly talk about that. We just have a little bit of time left. But I think it’s valuable for the audience to hear how, Karina, you and your husband did this startup from nothing, no experience in retail at all.

Karina Rabin: No experience.

Luke Peters: So let’s quickly go through these. What’s your best marketing strategy?

Karina Rabin: So the first thing we did is went to a trade show. I understand people can’t go to a trade show now. What I’ve learned is you don’t need to go to a trade show. Everyone you need to talk to no, matter what business you’re in, are on LinkedIn. And how to find anyone that you’re looking for is, you type the company name that you’re looking for in the search up on top. I typed in podcast, and that’s how I found you. So no matter what you’re looking for, LinkedIn is really good keywords you use to search whoever you want to find.

Karina Rabin: So yesterday I was helping some inventor who had no luck on finding companies to license his baseball product. We’ll have you type in the company name of this baseball company? “No”. Well that’s your first problem. You don’t need to go to a trade show. If you’re looking… I’m helping one client, this gift basket company came to me trying to get into stores. I typed in Macy’s on LinkedIn, got everybody who worked at Macy’s, I connected with everybody. So my best strategies when you want to connect somebody is first you connect. Don’t write a message of why you’re connecting. I feel like when there’s a message, the person receiving it knows there’s a sales pitch coming on.

Luke Peters: That’s so funny. So you’re having better success connecting with just to connect. There’s not none of this fake, “Hey you, you, we’re in the same industry. Let’s see if we can help each other.” You don’t even send any of that, and you just do a straight connect on LinkedIn. And that’s kind of how you found your buyers?

Karina Rabin: Right. Because I feel like when you see me connecting, you are just intrigued why is this person connecting with me and so you will accept it because I didn’t say why I’m connecting with you. So you don’t know yet. And you’re interested in finding out later. I feel like LinkedIn has this culture where everyone’s interesting when someone peaks their interest. And when people connect with me and they say things like, “I see we have a lot of connections in common.” Oh yeah. Uh-huh (affirmative). That’s a terrible sales pitch.

Karina Rabin: So I already know a second one is going to come on and say something else silly. because a lot of people now pitch me and because I was initially bad at selling Hang-O-Matic and no one wrote me back. And if you want, this is my best tip. As soon as I changed my message, then all these people started writing me back. So I feel like I could say, of course, people get mad when I say it that I have a 100% response rate, which is really high. And then my husband argues with me, you can’t say 100% because not 100% responded. But every store I needed to talk to responded. Does that make sense?

Luke Peters: It does. And tell me about that. So we’re talking about LinkedIn strategy and finding buyers here, and the fact that, in a short period of time, you guys were in store at a ton of stores. I mean that’s a major achievement. Trust me. I’ve been in business a long time. We focused on .com but it’s not easy to get in stores. And you guys were, and now you’re mentioning that you changed your pitch. Are you saying that you changed your pitch down to no text at all? Or are you saying that after you connected then you had a special message that you would send out and you found it to be successful?

Karina Rabin: Yes. I always pitch. The first store we got into because you were talking about online was The Grommet. Have you heard of The Grommet?

Luke Peters: Yep.

Karina Rabin: And they sold a 1,000 units in 30 minutes and sent us a second purchase order for $250,000.

Luke Peters: Wow, that’s amazing.

Karina Rabin: And we were like, “Where would you like us come up with that?” And so we lost a $250,000 purchase order because we couldn’t fulfill 30,000 units in two weeks.

Luke Peters: I wish we would’ve known each other back then.

Karina Rabin: Yeah, me too. And when these were started, we did try to make it in China by ourselves. So we had a middleman, and we couldn’t get it less than $3 a unit. And so there was just no way we were able to make money, make 30,000 units so fast. Anyway, that’s another podcast.

Luke Peters: Karina, tell us about, because we’re running short on time, I think the LinkedIn strategy was really interesting for the listeners. Now, how did you actually get into the stores? This is usually a very long process of having to pitch the product, and then every retailer has its own type of process that they run you through. And usually these things takes years to get in. What did you find that worked specifically or, I guess, quicker than maybe other friends or other colleagues that you know.

Karina Rabin: What made it quicker is connecting with them once I saved my pitch. And I’ll give you an example because this is the biggest problem I see people doing on LinkedIn. So let me pitch you and then you understand what I’m saying? So I would say, “Hi, I’m the co-inventor of Hang-O-Matic, a picture hanging tool that measures, levels, and marks. Do you know what a picture hanging tool is?

Luke Peters: Yes.

Karina Rabin: You do? You would know that it’s-

Luke Peters: Oh, I see what you’re saying. I know about picture hanging. Okay. I got you. No, I don’t know about a specific picture hanging too.

Karina Rabin: But you would know what mine does. I feel like it’s very genetic of saying it’s a picture hanging tool. Then I change my message to all in one picture hanging tool. And I still didn’t get anything. Then my third and final switch was, “I think you would agree that picture hanging is difficult to do straight the first time. Your wall gets ruined, and you’re stressed out and frustrated at having to patch and paint and start over. Hang-O-Matic is a 6′ tape measure that levels, measures, and marks.” Boom.

Karina Rabin: Everybody knows how frustrating it is to hang pictures. And everybody knows what a tape measure is. So when you pick somebody on LinkedIn, the first thing I’m noticing people not doing, they’re not saying something that makes sense to me. “Hi. I’d like to help you grow your leads.” What leads? Do you even know what I do?

Luke Peters: Yeah, because the thing that you have going for you is you’re a problem that so many people know about, and that’s why that pitch resonates really well, I think.

Karina Rabin: But, I think, anyone who’s selling, anyone who’s selling something, can find that relatable value to the person that they are pitching. If you have a home office, especially now, I know you’re home because we all have to be, and you have an office or you might have to build an office. And I’m selling desks, I would message you and say, “I know you would agree that you’re probably building out of you office right now and need a desk that you’ve never had before. Well I have this desk that fits into a small room, it folds, it’s white and shiny. And I can get that desk to you next week. So the message has to start with a relatable value problem that you’re potential receiver might have. Like that.

Luke Peters: It makes a lot of sense and thanks for putting it out that way because I tried to do this on the Page One Podcast, I really liked to get tangible examples. You kind of walked us through your LinkedIn strategy. We kind of understand your pitch. People can adjust their strategies because yours is a little different and I think we all are. LinkedIn 101 is include a message and you’re saying, “Hey try it without a message in there.” And I totally agree that could be kind of a new trend and maybe a better way to do it. And then kind of onto your pitch and how your pitch morphed over time.

Luke Peters: So I think Karina, that’s super helpful. Why don’t we finish this with… You guys, husband and wife, team started with nothing. Had to sell your house for this business, got into all of these large retailers, found a lot of success, but also some cashflow crunch. And then now getting hit by COVID-19 and finding a way around it. I’d love for you to sum up what you’ve learned in that process. And maybe if you had a second chance, what you might do differently Because that might be telling and helpful to other entrepreneurs out there.

Karina Rabin: If I knew then what I know now, when we received that Grommet order, my husband did not want to sell them the units because we only had a thousand. He wanted to wait. So I could see that now. Given that we received that $250,000 purchase order later and come up with units. And the other thing I would have done, one of our biggest mistakes was cutting corners and hiring people who were less expensive to help us with our packaging and marketing material.

Karina Rabin: We trusted people on Fiverr and Upwork and other small designers who just charged 1000 bucks and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I know how to design,” but anytime you really design marketing or packaging for any service, I highly, highly recommend people got to someone with a big company who’s actually done it. So I went and found, again, on LinkedIn, a packaging company, that does packaging for As Seen On TV products. You go into CVS, Walgreens, et cetera and you see all those As Seen On TV products. I went to the company who makes packaging for that because, obviously, they’re already in the store. They’re already selling. So they know how to do that. [crosstalk 00:33:26]

Luke Peters: They’ve done it.

Karina Rabin: So we cut our losses. We spent a lot of money on other designers. The other thing we did not do is that, after somebody designs something for you, print it. Meaning like print the email, print the PDF, go to the… well, can’t go to the mall now. But what we finally did the third time is, we went to the mall and stopped every stranger. We had them take a look at the PDF of the new packaging that we re-designed for the third time, and said, “Tell me what this does.” Because watching Shark Tank and hearing Mr. Wonderful, “That’s a demo product. That’s never going to sell because you’re not going to be there showing it.” Now we have to, somehow, design this packaging so people know it’s a tape measure that levels, measures, and marks because no one’s ever heard of that before.

Luke Peters: Exactly. Because you’re the creator. You know ti. But in their mind you got to make sure the audience picks that up in a couple of seconds.

Karina Rabin: Exactly. So you really need strangers. Not your family, not your friends. Not Facebook friend. Strangers. So now I tell other people who reach out to me on LinkedIn and ask me what to to, is I tell them to go and into a brand new group on Facebook where people don’t know who you are and people don’t know what you’re selling. Share your stuff. Even if it’s a message, sometimes I’ll write a sales pitch for someone, and then I got into a brand new group and put out this pitch to see what people comment to see if they understand what it is.

Luke Peters: That’s a brilliant strategy. Test it. So, your big learnings were make sure your packaging is right. Make sure you’re ready for big time when you go live. And then I really liked this last one you’re talking about Facebook groups, and there’s so many uses for Facebook groups. And I don’t know him as well and I know a lot of companies are taking advantage of that newer platform, and you’re getting kind of a tighter audience around that. And I love that idea of testing the product Facebook group, especially now, as you mentioned, Karina, the malls are closed.

Luke Peters: So yeah, I think that’s a great way sum up the podcast. And I want to thank you for joining me on the Page One Podcast. Before we leave, how about you let us know how listeners can contact you to learn more about you or your business?

Karina Rabin: Sure. Our website obviously is Hang-O-Maticmatic.com, Or they can reach out to me on LinkedIn, which is K-A-R-I-N-A. My name. My last name is R-A-B-I-N. I also now created a YouTube channel and a free website to learn how to pitch or learn how to get retail, their license if they wanted to. My husband and I instead of creating another online course that people don’t need, we created a YouTube channel where we share how we did everything. So we’re not trying to profit from that. And that’s called The One Pitch because you only need one.

Luke Peters: I love it. That’s a great idea. And I’m sure that’s going to expand your network. So I think that’s a cool idea to stay busy during house lock down. Thanks again Karina for joining us and I just want to thank all the listeners for joining us on the Page One Podcast sponsored by Retail Band. Quick reminder that I’m offering a free evaluation of your online strategy. We can take a look at what you’re doing on Amazon, Home Depot, Wayfair, and other, all those other retailers and help you grow your business.

Luke Peters: They’re online, which is now more important than ever, and we can look at your product listings, look at the tools you’re using, see if influencer marketing makes sense for you. And if you’re interested, contact me at luke@retailband.com or on LinkedIn. Thanks again for joining us. Really appreciate your reviews on iTunes, and we’ll see on the next episode.

Announcer: Thanks for listening to the Page One Podcast with Luke Peters. If you like our show and want to know more, check out our other segments. Also, please help us out by leaving us a rating on iTunes. Want to learn more about our commerce? Check out www.retailband.com to get more great tips and tricks on how to accelerate your eCommerce sales with the big box retailers.

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Episode References: Hang-O-Matic

Contact Karina Rabin: LinkedIn

Contact Luke: luke@retailband.comLinkedIn 

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