This is a follow up story for Comfy Cup LLC. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Kyler, I am the inventor and co-founder of the Comfy Cup. I am currently 12-years old, but I was 8-years old when I came up with the idea to create a more comfortable athletic cup for boys.
I was frustrated by the protective athletic cup my baseball coach required boys on my team to wear. It was hard and uncomfortable. I would fidget with it in the batter’s box, on the field, and in the dugout. It was constant interference from focusing on the game. I tried a variety of athletic cups available in sporting goods stores and online, but couldn’t find a better solution.
Instead of whining about it, my parents challenged me to come up with a solution. And now, I hit a homerun! Comfy Cup is changing the game for youth boy athletes. My simple invention has grown into a successful business venture for me and my family. Comfy Cup is now available on Amazon and The Grommet and in my local Scheels sporting goods store.
I have sold Comfy Cups in all 50 states, plus Canada and Australia. My company grossed over $140,000 last year and profited around $30,000--which helped fund my college savings and my Roth IRA.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We have sold Comfy Cups in all 50 states, Europe, Australia, Mexico, and Canada. To date, we have sold over 15,000 Comfy Cups. We used our profits at the end of last year to purchase a year’s supply of Comfy Cups, which are currently housed in our basement warehouse and at Amazon distribution centers. We are feeling grateful for this decision, as the factory in China is currently not able to manufacture our product due to COVID-19.
Create a solid business plan and marketing strategy so you will be ready to take-off when the economy gets back on its feet.
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in our sales, with baseball seasons on hold, orders for equipment have halted. We went from selling 70 Comfy Cups a day at the beginning of March 2020 to selling 1-2 Comfy Cups a day at the beginning of April.
We have explored adding bigger sizes, but there is a lot of testing that goes into that...it is not as simple as just making a bigger cup. We need to consider stronger material for bigger, more advanced-level players. We also have explored adding slider shorts to our product line, but again, that requires manufacturing many different sizes and minimum orders for each size. So, for now, we are sticking with what we know and what works. We currently offer one size Comfy Cup for boys ages 7-11 in three different colors. My hope is that the Comfy Cup will be the solution for boys all over the world who are just getting started with contact sports, looking for a softer and safer solution for athletic protection.
Shark Tank auditions made a special diversity tour in Kansas City. Due to our connections with local entrepreneurial networks, we were granted an invitation to try out for Shark Tank in February. We tried out for Shark Tank in Oklahoma City several years ago. We waited in line early in the morning to get a wristband and waited all day for our audition time. This time was different; we knew our audition time slot on the day of the audition. We were less prepared, as this opportunity fell into our laps very quickly. This was beneficial, we were less rehearsed and more authentic for our audition. We believe this gave us a better audition. We are currently awaiting the results of that audition.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We learned the value of having enough product on hand (should a global pandemic effect manufacturing timelines). We have learned that it is better to have too many products than not enough, so we are grateful to have plenty of Comfy Cups available for our customers when they are ready to purchase them.
We also learned the value of staying connected to local and national entrepreneurial networks so we can be “in the know” about opportunities and events that will help grow our business--such as Shark Tank auditions.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Well, we are hoping (fingers and toes crossed) that we will get to move forward in our Shark Tank audition. We would love to recruit the help of a Shark to take Comfy Cup to the next level. Of course, isn’t that every entrepreneur’s dream?
We feel grateful that Comfy Cup has consistently grown 50% year over year. We anticipate COVID-19 will impact our sales this year, but we are positioned to end the year strong and soar into 2021.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
We love Chris Guillebeau's new book The Money Tree. He was so kind as to share an advanced copy of the book with us and we couldn’t put it down. The story was engaging and interwoven with valuable nuggets of inspiration for creators and entrepreneurs. This is a wonderful book and a fabulous gift for any aspiring entrepreneur, student, or anyone who wants to make money.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Hang in there. 2020 has been uphill and it can only get better!
Use this time to re-evaluate what is working and what isn’t working in your business. Create a solid business plan and marketing strategy so you will be ready to take-off when the economy gets back on its feet.
Be sure to connect with the Small Business Administration. They have valuable resources right now for government grants that can help you stay afloat during these challenging times. Consider applying for opportunities under the CARES Act, including SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), the Paycheck Protection Program, (PPP) and the Employee Retention Tax Credit.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are not in the position of hiring any new employees at this time, but hope as Comfy Cup grows to add new team members to support us in growth and marketing strategy.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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