This is a follow up story for Beach Gladiator. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
We are Beach Gladiator, and our names are George and Mike. We developed a solution for chafing (you know, chub rub?) that is targeted for beachgoers and the beach market. What we started a few years ago as a small regional business has now grown into a national brand.
Beach Gladiator is a roll-on “rash guard” that helps protect common rubbing areas from becoming irritated. Chafing often causes a painful rash. When applied, Beach Gladiator creates a slick protective barrier that shields the skin from rubbing and friction. It’s great for those who surf or swim, but it’s also for walking, running, biking and playing in the beach elements. No more Spandex under your clothing to keep from chafing and rashing – this is a rash guard in a bottle!
The coolest thing about the beach Gladiator is that it was started by just the 2 of us and we still have control over what we want the brand to be. The greatest influence on the product was and continues to be our kids, who were our first customers. We knew that if it worked for them, we would be proud to offer this product to the rest of the world. We continue to keep our kids as our main focus and bring them with us to events and even on sales calls. Thankfully, most of our “business” trips are to a beach somewhere. We often are asked, “does this stuff really work?” Well, you are talking to the creators, and we made it for our own kids. It better work.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Each year, to include 2019, our product sales have grown 2 - 3 times the prior year. However, our “season” is only 3-4 months per year. This is because our product is mainly sold in the summer, and our market is mainly the east coast of the US.
You will spend most of your waking hours working on this, so choose wisely. Try to have fun whenever you can.
Amazon continues to be our best channel, in terms of volume and profitability. However, dozens of competitors have now cropped up since we started selling there 3 years ago.
Retail stores (mainly surf shops) continue to be a challenge. We must gain each store one at a time, the old fashioned way, by visiting them and presenting our product. Emails and mailers haven't worked.
Additionally, these stores are typically very inconsistent with re-ordering. Often, when a product runs out, they forget to re-order. We do have our reorder information on the back of our packaging, but it often gets ignored. Without “boots on the ground” (dedicated sales force), it is hard to acquire and maintain stores. We are still looking for a product rep that can help us with this.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We learned that the main ingredient, the one that really makes our product works well, is not easy to find, and continues to rise in price. It's what separates our product from most of the others, so we need to continue to look for sources that can supply it and keep our retail price from having to go up.
We continue to be homegrown and genuine with our social media. However, we don't post very often and I’m sure we are leaving something on the table. We both need to become more engaged with social media and leverage all the unique opportunities we have with such an effective and helpful product.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We hope to add the product to our brand (sunscreen/sunblock, lip balm,, protective clothing, etc. Beach Gladiator will then become a brand, focused on protection, with our anti-rash product continuing to be our focus and our star performer.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I am into non-fiction books about self-improvement and personal triumph over struggle.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Like I had mentioned in our initial story:
In the long run, you have to enjoy what you are doing. You will spend most of your waking hours working on this, so choose wisely. Try to have fun whenever you can.
Plan your cash flow and watch it carefully. New entrepreneurs sometimes focus too much on raising capital and lose sight of actually generating profits. Use debt sparingly and with caution. You don’t have to be profitable on day one, but you must have a plan to become profitable.
You only get one shot at life. Take some risks.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
As mentioned, we are in the offseason. However, we will need help in the summer and looking for sales representation for our surf/beach stores
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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