Mark from San Marcos, CA is the creator the “Stud Bar.”
It is a unique home pull up bar system that can be easily mounted in your home or garage gym. It saves you the time and money of developing a huge pull up bar system. It is also a great space saver because it is mounted on the ceiling.
What is your fitness and fitness equipment back ground?
My fitness background is Mt. Biking, cycling and snowboarding so ending up manufacturing a pull up bar was completely by accident.
Is this your first product? How did you come up with the idea for it?
This product is my first business venture. I got into Crossfit four years ago before there was a Crossfit on every corner so building a garage gym was the only option. I searched the Internet for a suitable pull up bar to install in my garage and had a basic idea in mind of what one should look like and there was nothing out there. It was pretty apparent to me there was a need for the product so I started cutting steel and making prototypes in my garage. I built ten units sold them all pretty quickly using eBay as a test platform and realized then I had to run with it.
eBay was a great idea to test your product. Now I have a feeling most of my readers are thinking what about the money? I do not have a disposable income or money put away for this? So what was your start up cost?
I was broke at the time and knew begging a bank for a small business loan would be futile. I found a credit card company that would allow me to take a 10k cash advance which I used to get a small container of bars manufactured overseas. The interest rate was crazy but I paid it off in three months after the shipment arrived and the bars started selling off my website.
Took some risk with the interest rate, but it paid off. Great decision. Sounds too easy though, what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome when starting? and how you worked around or over it?
Once I had inventory and a website I assumed I would be in business and orders would start rolling in. I was wrong. The web is so big its easy to get lost on page ten of google. I started sending out emails to distributors and CrossFit boxes informing them of my product and trading links with anyone who would. I sent a sample bar to Greg Glassman the owner of Crossfit who promptly put my link on crossfit.comwhich at the time was getting 800k hits per month. This gesture put me on the map with Crossfitters and this is when things started happening.
No SEO (search engine optimization) experience and you hustelted to get your name on the biggest platform for your product. That is a great story. As you have grown have you added on employees?
It’s just me, I work full time as a Deputy Sheriff and run Stud Bar early in the morning and after my shifts and on my days off of course. I take pride in my response times to customer emails and the level of personalized service I provide. This is probably my biggest secret to being successful. Shocking people with personal responses to their emails in a timely manner. Proper customer service and care is definitely a thing of the past so by simply treating customers as you would want to be treated as a consumer gets peoples attention. Alot of my sales are from customer referrals which is the easiest, cheapest form of marketing and advertising you can get.
Perfectly said Mark. I think that is such a valid point that I hope my readers take away. Taking the time for a personal response in a timely fashion can go a long way. Growing within through referrals is my best marketing tip for gym owners it is interesting to see the parallels in the Fitness Product Business. What are you average sales per year?
I haven’t grown overnight. I can almost set a clock to my monthly sales which have grown slow and steady over the past three years. I don’t necessarily go after new accounts or distributors I generally wait for them to contact me. This is mostly because I work full time and keep busy with shipping and invoicing etc.
I know you already touched on this, but could you give us more insight on how you market? referrals, seo, or advertising? what has worked best for you?
Link trading is my bread and butter. I offer Stud Bars to anyone who puts my link or logo on their fitness related website for wholesale with free shipping. This serves two purposes, gain back links to climb up the Google ranks plus gain sales from that sites viewers. I just recently hired an SEO company which has been worth the investment. I also purchased 20 pullups.comand placed my product and logo on the site driving more traffic to my mine.
Link trading is a great tool for people who are just starting and have no money to spend on advertising. What is the best piece of advice you have for someone who is starting to launch a fitness product?
Start small and establish that there’s a healthy market for what your making. You have a year from the time you sell your first unit to apply for a patent. I would rather spend my start up capital on product, packaging, website etc and start earning a profit before spending 5-10K on a patent which could exhaust your start up capital.
I love that advice on the patent I have seen too many people worry about patenting a product that does not have a proven sales record. What is the last piece of advice you would give someone who is about the launch or thinking about launching a new fitness product?
I have no education or business experience. If I can do it then anyone can. I know alot of people with million dollar ideas just not a million dollars worth of drive or determination. If you have a Donny Deutsch “Big idea” moment like I did when I realized the need for a quality pull up bar then your already half way there. Concept, prototype, manufacture, market, enjoy. Business is all about relationships and networking. I’m not greedy and being sincere and personable makes people feel good about selling my product or helping me get in contact with a big sales rep or company. I recently started listening to Jack Canfield “life Mentor” who is one of those cheesy self help entrepreneur motivational speakers on my Ipod while driving to work. At first I was apprehensive and didn’t trust it because it is alot of happy hug yourself every morning your a beautiful person stuff. However the stories and examples of peoples success that he speaks of is so motivating I find it rejuvenated my desire to be successful and keep on the path to continue growing my business and enjoying the rewards of being a positive person.
Great piece of advice to leave us with! The need to fuel the fire and stay motivated is so important when you are running a business on your own. Thank you so much for your time Mark. It has been great to hear your story. Do not forget to check out StudBar.com
Four take aways from Marks Interview
1) Start Small and Test the Market
If there it sells then go for it.
2) Send Personal Emails to Target Market
Use link trading here to establish leads and let leaders in the field test your product.
3) Respond to all Emails with a personal and friendly touch
The personal touch goes a long way. Do not overlook it.
4) Stay motivated and positive
A motivational speaker, a podcast, a blog it can be anything to keep you on top of your game and motivated to sell and promote your product
Do you have a product you are lunching? Post your link the comments