A powerful product appeals to basic human needs. Uber transformed transportation. AirBNB tackled travel accommodations. MailChimp modernized electronic communication. Now, Goodwipes rises as the hero of (hiney) hygiene.
If you think a product that addresses crap is crass, here’s some facts: the average American relieves themselves 4-10 times and washes their hands 6 times per day. The global market for hand sanitizer is expected to reach $1.6 billion per year by 2020, and, annually, $6 billion worth of toilet paper is flushed down U.S. drains. Then, there’s those that use moistened towelettes for removing makeup, cleaning equipment, and wiping down grocery carts, steering wheels and kids.
A great wipe – versatile and engineered to meet multiple functions – is exactly what many need. So, it shouldn’t be too surprising that in 18 months’ time, the Goodwipes guys have placed their packets in over 1,000 retail stores across the nation, including in namesake outlets like Urban Outfitters, Paper Source, and the Container Store (and another major retailer to be announced early next month).
Bonded Bros Build a Business
Charlie: Sam and I met in Tallahassee at Florida State University our freshman year. We were in a fraternity and quickly bonded over a weird hygiene habit we both shared – wiping our asses with baby wipes. When we were in the fraternity house, we had a lot of the guys saying we were weirdos. Yet, within the first 30 days, we had all the guys in the house using baby wipes. So, we were always known as the “wipe guys”. People thought it was funny and they liked it. What we saw was that people would try it out, and, once they tried. they would convert.
Out of college, we did some franchising and then went into a different direction working with supplements and nutrition. And we were like, What do we do next, how do we pivot? We knew the lifestyle and health and fitness market, but it had peaked within the five years. The only other thing we knew how to do was wipe our butts and practice good hygiene. At the time, we were reading a lot of entrepreneurial books. I think Sam was reading The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I grabbed it, and we just knew that we really had our first noose. We really picked up something niche that would be different. So, we thought, let’s do butt-wipes for guys.
Getting Down and Dirty with Product Development
Charlie: As research and development proved its course and evolution, we thought, we are doing this for guys, we can certainly bring this on for girls at the same time. We had a lot of great feedback from people, who told us that they had baby wipes in their car all the time. When asked what they used them for they said they used them for their hands and face, but that they just were just too small to do all the jobs. So, we blew them up to be extra large and super durable. We placed different ingredients in there that would cool the body, as well as some natural cleansers and antiseptics to break down dirt and grime. Then, we launched four products about nine months after the ideation happened.
Sam: It was all about reaching out to a whole bunch of manufacturers. Initially, we had no idea what we were doing. That took a lot longer than we anticipated, 3-4 months of reaching out to people all over the globe. Brazil, Israel, China, America. We just weren’t getting everything we wanted for the flushable wipes and body wipes. We narrowed it down to a couple out of China, who communicated the best, offered the best quality and had the right certifications, and all that stuff. Then we tweaked around with different ingredients, and doing research going back and forth, we need tea tree oil or something else. There was a lot of back and forth, which seemed to take forever. Now, we are really happy with the result.
Charlie: There was a lot of sampling and just doing. We had no idea what was going on, and when approached manufacturers saying, we want to make these wipes, we would be hit with 20 questions – what’s the weight, what’s the substrate – and we didn’t know how to answer. That opened a whole new level of learning. We had to become experts on wipes really fast.
Charlie: We have bootstrapped everything so far. We had a couple of years out of college when we did really well. We were on the road a lot and were able to save some money. We were able to fund the product ourselves. We able to get some of the design, research and website done, and were able to fund the initial round inventory to the American core. As we were learning the freight charges and all the costs we didn’t know about, we quickly learned that we didn’t have enough money to get it off the boat. So, we did a last minute crowdfunding campaign – super funding and family – to help us get $3,000 to get it off the boat. We quickly raised $10,000 in just a couple of days. In the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t a huge fundraising campaign but it was a great feeling to get that initial feedback and support from friends.
Rallying for Retail Placement
Sam: We are roughly in 1,000 independent stores, some of them are smaller store chains, but also include 100 Urban Outfitters. We are also doing really well on Amazon. Over the past four months, we have picked up a lot of volume and rankings. A lot of the retail side is extremely time-intensive. A lot of it is “hurry up and wait.” You put everything together and do a presentation, and then don’t hear for months and months. It is a long process. We have the Container Store starting in May and we just launched in Paper Source mid-March.
Now, we are really focusing on the travel industry, because we are seeing that people are buying these when they are going on vacations or traveling. It is a nice thing to have for your purse, your pocket, your briefcase.
Charlie: It comes down to just taking action, to hustling to make things happen. We are about to start our first round of fundraising, and we have to show the type of revenue we’ve been able to produce ourselves. That is very embryonic to itself. It is about moving and keeping your pipeline full, too. We get a couple of wins and then something will happen. We learn every day that we have to have something in the mix in terms of sales. You have to take action to be ready for an opportunity coming down the line.
Charlie: We’ve bootstrapped everything up to this point. We’ve proven concept. We’ve proven ourselves. So, we have a ton on the docket. We have a test in a humongous retailer, the Container Store, Urban Outfitters is rockin’ and rollin’. Then there is Amazon. We will probably do 2x our total revenue this year of what we did last year on Amazon alone. We have found our stride there. We don’t have the full financials to execute the future all on our own, so that is where funding is coming in.
Sam: We are expecting that at any time a large retailer is going to say, We want you. So, we need to prepare to meet that demand with a raise.
Charlie: 2016 is going to be pretty exciting, and 2017 is going to be even better.