Sometimes, Sandy Showers and Dirty Dogs are the Mothers of Invention
EDITOR'S NOTE: This first-person account of changing careers and starting a business is one in a series of eight stories shared by Next Avenue readers. The full collection is available here.
By Lisa Lane
I love the Jersey Shore, and one year I was at a beach house with 15 of my extended family members and four dogs. I realized that as much as I loved the shore, I did not love constantly rinsing sand off people and dogs and showers by filling a bucket over and over.
Even then, the beach house bathrooms were always dirty. The showers and tubs were in constant use and cleaning them (and the dogs) was a hassle. Bucket rinsing the shower walls was messy and time-consuming.
The initial solution to keeping the bathrooms clean was to use the outdoor shower only. In theory, it was a great idea but the line for the outdoor shower was always greater than the supply of hot water. I thought that there must be a better way.
No one wanted to invest the time or money to install hand-held showerheads in each bathroom, but that got me thinking about a hose that someone could easily put on showerheads, bathtub spigots and even bathroom and kitchen faucets without using tools or hardware. Something like that would be helpful not only to me but to anyone with a shower. So, there was mass-market potential from the start.
My issue was that I had an amazing idea but no clue where to start. I decided I wouldn't leave my old job as a pharmaceutical sales representative until I had a real product in hand, patents and trademarks locked down, had lined up a manufacturer and figured out distribution. Sales experience is great, and it helps to be able to sell a product, but there is so much more to consider.
I had to learn everything, including sourcing, figuring out my margins, how to list a product and launch it. That took two years and involved spending a lot of late nights and weekends working out details on things I had never thought about before. I learned a lot of this stuff from "The Mom Inventor's Handbook".
All those hours paid off in the end. Amazon ranked my invention, Rinseroo, highly in its search tool, and BuzzFeed wrote about us soon after launch, which was a huge help. Other websites followed, and we quickly earned our way onto important platforms like Chewy.com (an online pet store) and Walmart.com. We had about $2 million in revenue last year.
Unfortunately, our success attracted a lot of infringers — they'd literally copy our exact listing, down to stealing images of me and my dog. Even worse, the knockoffs were not as good as Rinseroos, so we started getting bad reviews. I finally had to hire a company called Red Points to chase down the scammers. They shut down 6,000 infringers in one year.
Once I got a feel for how to do this, I got hungry for more. I keep inventing — one new product, Leak Locks, a rubber cover that stops toiletries from leaking in your suitcase, is already on the market — and I am currently working on scaling internationally and pursuing more patents and trademarks.