How to Launch Your Product Without Sinking Your Savings Sonia and Bill Massey's company TimeAway LLC aims help small businesses with big ideas get started.
In this ongoing series, we are sharing advice, tips and insights from real entrepreneurs who are out there doing business battle on a daily basis. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what's your business?
We are Bill and Sonia Massey, President and CMO of TimeAway LLC, a consulting company specializing in product development. Our mission is to assist our customers with bringing their ideas or concepts to reality without overhauling their purse. We produce practical products at a reasonable price like our award-winning flagship product The Restroom Kit®.
What inspired you to create this business?
Before 2008 like many entrepreneurs Sonia and I participated in the booming real estate market until it folded. After the collapse, we researched many opportunities before deciding to start another business of our own. Essentially, we wanted to be involved in a recession-proof business. We knew many creative people needed assistance in developing their idea the same as we did. Having gone through the struggle developing The Restroom Kit, TimeAway was a natural progression for us.
What was your aha moment?
We've had many aha moments bringing TimeAway and The Restroom Kit together. Initially, The Restroom Kit was a product developed for family outings and vacations with the kids. While on a bus trip my younger sister sold one of my prototype toilet seat covers to a fellow passenger, which was totally unexpected. With that, we researched the travel and health industries, spoke with a couple of mentors then decided to move forward with developing our flagship product The Restroom Kit.
What advice would you give entrepreneurs looking for funding?
The advice we would give to entrepreneurs would be to look to family and friends first. Our initial attempt at seeking funds was via crowdfunding. We didn't have much success because of a minimal following. We did find success in pitching our friends and family. Anyone who's investing in you wants to know that you're all in before they invest. They are investing in you initially; your product hasn't done anything special yet.You were on a recent episode of Elevator Pitch. Any pitching advice?
When preparing to pitch your product confidence is one of the most important assets you have. No one knows your product or service as well as you do. Some key points to remember, let your audience know who you are (introduce the company), what does the product or service do, why should they invest, what industry will you affect and what are some statistical facts about the industry?Related: These Music Innovators Are Shredding The Industry's Obsession With The Past
How did it feel the first day you opened for business?
Our first day of business was nerve-racking and exciting at the same time. Although we're an 85% online business, waiting to receive that initial order was intense, but during our prelaunch, we had one customer purchase over 2000 units of The Restroom Kit. That let us know we had something special. The consulting wing of the business took a little longer to pick up, but it did.
What was your toughest challenge and how did you overcome it?
The toughest challenge was finding a reasonable manufacturer. We negotiated with companies that made promises they couldn't deliver. We'd agree on deliverables templates, prototypes or samples which they overcharge and under-delivered. We overcame those challenges by doing our due diligence deeper research; asking the right questions; hiring companies that we could visit frequently.Related: This 19-Year-Old Entrepreneur Is Exposing the Secrets of the Billion Dollar Underground Sneaker Market
Is there a particular quote or saying that you use as personal motivation? What is it and explain how it inspires you
Sonia: "Keep going through your nos because they will get you to your yesses quicker." This inspires me because every customer I received a NO from is going to bring me closer to the Yes customers.
Bill: "Rome wasn't built in a day. It was built every day."