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FROM KICKSTARTER SUCCESS TO QVC BREAKTHROUGH WITH TOOTHSHOWER


Today’s guest, Lisa Guenst, is the Owner of ToothShower, a fast-selling new flossing alternative for shower use that gained over $400,000 on Kickstarter and sold on QVC. In this interview, Lisa reveals how she grew her business from the ground up as a new entrepreneur and shares the important lessons that she picked up along the journey. Part of this includes reducing the cost of manufacturing, order fulfillment, customer acquisition and incorporating a lean methodology into her product development process. Join us now to see how these factors affect business growth and scalability. You will also pick up tips on crowdfunding, marketing and more.




 

In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:


  • The importance of releasing a minimum viable product (MVP) when trying to introduce an innovative product

  • Running a successful crowdfunding campaign amidst tough competition and limited opportunities for awareness

  • Benefits of crowdfunding for early-stage startups

  • Crafting effective business plans to help you understand your business vision and close more deals

  • And so much more!

 

You can listen to the full interview on your desktop or wherever you choose to listen to your podcasts.



Or, click to watch the full video interview here!


 

If you want a convenient way to spend less time flossing and keep your gums healthy, check out the ToothShower. With it, you can conveniently water floss in the shower.

Visit www.toothshower.com to learn more.



To be a guest on our next podcast, contact us today!


Do you have a brand that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of brands that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Set up a free consultation with us today!


 

Prefer reading instead of listening? Read the full transcript here!



Jon LaClare [00:00:00]:

Today's guest generated over $400,000 with a Kickstarter campaign, and she has grown the business significantly over the years since then. One of her key learnings was how to be laser focused on your manufacturing and fulfillment costs so you can afford to drive growth through marketing. She also shares some great advice on writing powerful business plans to help raise money, whether it's to launch a new product or to grow an existing business.


Announcer [00:00:26]:

Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they don't seem to know harvest the growth potential of your product or service as we share stories and strategies that'll make your competitors nervous. Now here's the host of the Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.


Jon LaClare [00:00:47]:

Welcome back to the show. Today I'm really excited to be speaking with Lisa Genst. She is the owner of Tooth Shower. Love the name and I know it's going to make you curious, what is the tooth shower? And you're going to love this product. It's a really cool concept, a really cool idea and a product. It's in market very successful that we're talking about today. And she's got a fascinating background story that I know you're going to learn from as well. So stay with us, enjoy the show.


Jon LaClare [00:01:11]:

But first of all, I want to introduce Lisa. Welcome to the show.


Lisa Guenst [00:01:14]:

Hi. Thanks for the opportunity.


Jon LaClare [00:01:17]:

So, Lisa, for our audience, can you describe what is the tooth shower and how'd you come up with the idea?


Lisa Guenst [00:01:23]:

Sure. I'm a dental hygienist. And just according to the CDC, over half of adult Americans have some form of gum disease. It's really frustrating to see people lose their teeth, go into bridges, implants, dentures when they don't have to. And it seems like there's a lack of education. You go and buy this really expensive, fancy motorized toothbrush, but you're still not cleaning between your teeth. And I realized that people needed an easier way to get where all the gum disease starts between their teeth. They don't like string floss.


Lisa Guenst [00:01:58]:

Everybody makes fun of it, how much they hate it. So what I designed was a water flosser that you don't have to use at your sink and have a mess everywhere. People will use a water flosser at home and their gums will heal, but then they'll stick it under their sink because it's noisy or makes a mess. They don't have countertop space. They don't have an outlet. So this is too shower. Just quick, hold it up here. Really nice.


Lisa Guenst [00:02:22]:

Dexterity handle, and we did a lot of bells and whistles here. We have a mirror. We have storage for different users. We have a water pressure dial. We have a magnetic handle holder. But the whole thing is powered by your shower. So now you don't have to recharge anything. You don't have to plug it in.


Lisa Guenst [00:02:40]:

You don't have to have countertop space. You don't even have to fill up a water reservoir, and you can blast out everything that's caught between your teeth. I mean, even if you don't even do it every day, it's just better than not at all. And it really helps prevent gum disease.


Jon LaClare [00:02:56]:

Some things I love about it, because I years ago, had a competitive product, as you described, that sits on your counter. You have to plug it in. It's big and bulky and stopped using it like everybody else that you mentioned. I think that's very common. So they sell a lot, but they don't get a lot of usage, I think, is my understanding of it. And I love that you've solved that for me. Something else that I noticed is it made a big mess. Right.


Jon LaClare [00:03:20]:

So as the spritzing happened on your countertop, it gets on the mirror, it gets kind of on my clothes or whatever else in the shower. Of course, you don't need to worry about it. And I want to ask you, I've never asked this question of you, but I think this is part of the benefit. But you'll confirm it, I assume it doesn't matter whether it's warm or cold water going between your teeth. Right?


Lisa Guenst [00:03:40]:

Right. It doesn't matter. Well, I'm sorry. That's the beauty of this, is that some people with sensitive teeth, they can have whatever temperature they want because they can adjust their shower.


Jon LaClare [00:03:50]:

Agreed. So for me, I love having warm water in my mouth. And frankly, staying in the warm shower, especially in the morning, right. As I'm getting ready for the day, it gives you a chance to be there. I mean, most people enjoy being in the shower. It's a nice wake up for the day, and so it's great for that perspective. Gets warm water in your mouth as well, whereas sitting on a countertop, of course, is going to be, at best, room temperature, if not kind of cold, on your teeth. And if you have sensitivity issues, a lot of people stop using it.


Jon LaClare [00:04:16]:

Right. And most people with gum issues, their teeth can be sensitive as well. So just have to talk about those things. I love the product as well. It's a fantastic idea born out of a real need that you've discovered in your working life, but also in your personal life too.


Lisa Guenst [00:04:32]:

Yeah. And we included some unique accessories. We have a dual headed toothbrush that it'll get the backside of your teeth and flush at the same time as you're brushing, where a lot of people miss the backside. So we try to get areas that people have trouble with. We also have a gum massager that has seven streams of water. This is innovative to us. We got that patented and that fits great around braces.


Jon LaClare [00:04:57]:

Oh, fantastic. Which are the people that need it the most? I've got four kids. They've all been through braces except one. But it's brushing is a difficult thing for them to do, to do it well. This makes it easy and kind of fun too, I think. So. That's great.


Lisa Guenst [00:05:12]:

Yeah.


Jon LaClare [00:05:13]:

Let's talk about the business side of it. So you've had some great successes. Of course, any business has had challenges along the way, but let's start off with successes. So what would you consider so far in your business? The first big success. Right. That kind of got your business going in the early days.


Lisa Guenst [00:05:28]:

Well, when I came up with the idea, my son was an engineering student. He needed a senior project. So I asked him if he could try making a shower powered water flosser, prove that it would be strong enough, and he did. So we took that to an engineering firm. But then we realized how much money we need to get the molds as a product that's never been mass produced. So we went into Kickstarter and Indigogo, we went into both platforms and we sold over practically 4000 units. We raised almost $400,000 and that helped us move into manufacturing. So that was a great success.


Jon LaClare [00:06:05]:

That is a great way to kick start, no pun intended, to your business a lot, especially when you've got molds involved. So our listening audience, if they are familiar with creating any device that's plastic, it can be expensive to create the actual molds. Now you can do 3d prototypes. The prototyping process might be simpler, easier than it used to be, but man, when you go into production, it's still expensive, it's still a lot of work and you want to make sure you've got it right. Kickstarter and other platforms are potentially good ways to go to get that business off the ground. When the funding isn't there for molds, for simpler products, it may not be necessary. Right. Because there's still a cost that's involved in launching on Kickstarter.


Jon LaClare [00:06:44]:

Gone are the days when you put it on Kickstarter, a new product and it's a great idea and it just automatically sells. Right. In the early days, 1015 years ago, that happened. Today, it's like going on Amazon. Like any other website that has a lot of products, you've got to have some marketing behind it so there is some investment. But when you've got big expenses like molds, et cetera, it can be fantastic. What was maybe a learning or something that helped you to be successful on Kickstarter?


Lisa Guenst [00:07:13]:

Well, I was mentioning to you that we used a marketing company, their name is launch Boom. And they were so helpful because we had no idea how to launch a product on crowdfunding. And like you said, it's really difficult to get awareness. And we learned that crowdfunders are different than everyday ecommerce consumers. They love innovative products. They're very forgiving if it's not perfect from the gate, but it was just a great experience and they really helped us grow because they taught us how to get pr, how to market, how to reach out to people that like innovative products. So that helped.


Jon LaClare [00:07:53]:

I think that's good advice. And it's hard to go alone. In Kickstarter, we don't really do a lot ourselves, but we've launched hundreds of products over the last 17 years or so, and so some of them started on crowdfunding platforms like yours and others didn't. There's pros and cons. Again, we talked about depending on what your product is and your financial wherewithal in the beginning, et cetera. But when Kickstarter or any other crowdfunding platform is to be used, there is a benefit of finding a good partner to help you with. And it's part of it, too, is they've got lists, right. When they are a good one is a specialist.


Jon LaClare [00:08:27]:

Right. The reason we don't really operate in that space is it's so different from everything else, right? So we work in the e commerce space, driving traffic through Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Google, et cetera. But on Kickstart, it's a very different world. So getting specialists that just do that and to partner with you and help you out, I would say is important, if not crucial, at those early stages of a new campaign. So after Kickstarter, you got onto QVC, which is, that's a big win. That again, we deal with a lot of product launches, and that's a dream of many. We've gotten on a lot of products ourselves, but not everybody makes it there. It's a difficult process.


Jon LaClare [00:09:03]:

How was that experience, I guess, of getting accepted by QVC let's talk about that first. How'd you get them excited and get to be on the air?


Lisa Guenst [00:09:13]:

Well, they already sell water flossers on there, so they were familiar with the industry that we're in, and I'm not really sure how we got on, except we were fortunate that we did. The downside we had, though, is we got on in the middle of COVID So I didn't get to go on the studio. I had to be skyped in. So it was a little more difficult to relate to the consumers during that time. But we were glad we got on. Gave us great awareness. I mean, that seems to be the biggest thing with a product, is just constant awareness.


Jon LaClare [00:09:46]:

Absolutely. And interestingly enough, that lasted for about three years. A little more than three years, both HSN and QBC, of remoting in everybody. Right. At least the guests. The hosts went back a little bit earlier, but it lasted for a long time, and I think they finally realized it's not as good for the audience. That interaction or interplay between the guest and the host is so helpful. So I'm happy that they're back to it.


Jon LaClare [00:10:11]:

So along the way, you've, I'm sure, run into some challenges. What would you say has been one of the bigger challenges you've faced?


Lisa Guenst [00:10:19]:

Early on, I would have told you that money is a big challenge. I had no idea how expensive it is. Like they say on Shark Tank, to the cost of acquisition, to the consumer, to acquire that customer. So our downside, I think, has been that we made the product come out of the gate with everything we thought it should have. Where you asked me about books and things, I've since read a book about a minimal viable product, and I keep saying I think, but I know that we need to go back to that stage of just minimal viable. What is the most minimal that's needed? And that would keep our cost of goods down. That was the hardest part. We paid too much for the product, which happens a lot when you have a small moq, because it's the first time you're making it, and you can get your cost of good down as your moq goes up, but that's hard to do if you're not making money anyway.


Lisa Guenst [00:11:26]:

I would say that was my biggest learning experience, is that I should have come out with a more minimal product that had a better cost of goods. So we're going to sort of go back that way.


Jon LaClare [00:11:37]:

It's common, and it's not always, I would say, in my opinion, having been down this road, quite a few times myself as well. With clients dealing with these launches, it's very common. But sometimes you need those learnings to know what bells and whistles can be removed by perfecting the product, making sure your early adopter customers are happy that it works well, et cetera. And over time you can learn what to take out. You did mention Moq. I just want to mention for our audience, that means for most of you probably know, but it's minimum order quantity, common term with factories. It may be, I don't know what yours was. We don't need to reveal that necessarily.


Jon LaClare [00:12:12]:

But it could be 1000 or 10,000 units that they won't produce any fewer than that. So you've got to come up with finances to develop and build out your minimum order or quantity. And when you've got that, the more expensive your product with their minimum order quantity makes the inventory obviously more expensive up front. So what have you learned over time? Maybe what are some of the bells and whistles as you worded it, or features that could be removed to bring down your costs?


Lisa Guenst [00:12:38]:

Well, that was the benefit of crowdfunding was that because we sold so many units, we sold 4000, like I said, we were able to have a little bit better moq. And I wasn't stuck with all these units that I had to try to just sell to ecommerce. So half of our order, or even two thirds of our order, our moq was already sold before we even got it in. It was preordered on the crowdfunding. But the other thing with the crowdfunding is we got great feedback from people what they liked, didn't like. So I think the biggest thing we learned is that it's hard to get people to change their habit from cleaning their mouth at their sink to doing it in the shower. And that in the shower, they really don't want to be in there really long. Like you said, they enjoy it, they like it, but it's a morning routine.


Lisa Guenst [00:13:27]:

They got to get in and out and get somewhere. So I think the simplest thing that I can narrow it down to is it just needs to be a water flosser. It didn't need to have a mirror and storage for the whole family and it didn't need to be the size that it is now. On the flip side, we have fantastic reviews. Everybody's loving the product. So it's not that this product isn't good, it's just that the minimal viable I think, is that they just want to be a little quicker in the shower. They don't necessarily need to dumb massage and brush your teeth and water pick. They just want to get the one thing done, which is what their toothbrush is missing, which is cleaning between.


Lisa Guenst [00:14:06]:

But this handle we did has been really good. Get a lot of people who have children with dexterity problems or older people with arthritis. And we realized we need to keep this handle. This has been a plus. And then we realize that we need to keep our unique accessories for people who have unique situations, though, where we have like an orthodontic brush, we have a periodontal pocket tip, but it's where people have bone loss, we have sensitive gum tips. So anyway, we're going to keep all our extra accessories, but you don't necessarily have to have them all up front. We'll do the minimal of just a water flosser and then you can add those things on later if you want.


Jon LaClare [00:14:44]:

It's a great explanation. I kind of compare it to, again, there's so many ways. There's no right and wrong way necessarily, but I guess the right way is to wherever you're at in your business, to learn what you can do better. Right? In your case, you've talked about there are things you can remove from the cost to get the price down, which gets you a broader audience. Right? Not that it was a mistake in the beginning necessarily, but this is a great way to grow the business. And I kind of liken it to the Tesla approach. Right. So Tesla started off years ago with just a sports car, two door, but you saw very few on the road.


Jon LaClare [00:15:16]:

It was very expensive, very premium, but it got a lot of pr because of it. And because it was that high price point, he was able to build up margins, the ability to grow interest, education and demand, and then eventually come out with one that is now significantly less, 70, 80% less in cost to the end consumer than the original car was. So there's some learnings along the way that can benefit from that. As you start with smaller audiences in the beginning, it's going to be early adopters anyways. So having a higher price point can be okay. But as you're doing now, I'm just talking to our audience now you know all this, right? But getting that price down. So now you can grow to a much broader audience and sell a heck of a lot more of your products along the way. So of the cost of goods you're talking about, obviously you want to bring it down.


Jon LaClare [00:16:05]:

In your words, how will that help the business? We talked about getting a broader audience. How else does a lower cost and a higher margin help grow your business.


Lisa Guenst [00:16:14]:

So your example of Tesla was really good. Other people have said that about us. We came out with the ultimate and we've brought the price down for the consumer for that reason. So we can hit more people. So dental hygienists are recommending it. We go to trade shows. We get a lot of awareness just through the good reviews and things like that. But the way that the cost of goods is going to help us in the next inventory is right now.


Lisa Guenst [00:16:40]:

We've brought the price down for the consumer, but it's not helping our margins, our net profit. So in the long run it's going to help us to have a profit which can allow us to just reach more people. We need to reach people that really need this, that don't know about it. So there's a lot of cost in marketing. So if we could have a better margin, we could probably spend more money on marketing.


Jon LaClare [00:17:06]:

Great answer and couldn't agree more. It's important for everyone really to plan out marketing and other expenses. Selling expenses I would call them. So if you think of Amazon charges, you've got advertising on Amazon, but you've got other costs that go into it, for example, or fulfillment. If you're selling from a shopify website, you've got to bake in all those costs. And the bigger your margin is, the more flexibility. You have to be able to do discount pricing to pay for more marketing, to have better creative assets, videos, images, et cetera. So it gives you that ability to really grow your business.


Jon LaClare [00:17:40]:

Anything you can do without sacrificing quality. Right. Removing features that aren't as needed maybe, but still keeping as you're doing a very high quality product can really help grow sales because of your ability to spend more behind it.


Lisa Guenst [00:17:56]:

Right. And that was something we had to learn. We had never negotiated with a manufacturer before, so now we've learned how to negotiate.


Jon LaClare [00:18:04]:

Absolutely. So before this interview started, you and I were talking about some resources that have been helpful for you. One of which is you mentioned was a business plan template. You, for our audience sake, won a couple of business plans or business plan competitions early on and earned $25,000, which is great seed money to get a business off the ground in the very beginning. And great proof of concept that you've got a good idea behind you. But in order to win a competition, you don't just have to have a good product or a good business, you've got to have a great business plan behind it. What was the resource that you used that was really helpful for you to generate this business plan.


Lisa Guenst [00:18:44]:

Yeah, everybody kept telling me I had a business plan and I had no idea how to do it. So I use a site called live plan, and it's amazing. It educates you, gives you samples, templates. The biggest thing, I think was that it taught me the benefit of a business plan, what it needed to have in it. And the template portion gave you so many good examples on how to write. I mean, now, today with AI, I could probably do even better with that site because the AI would help me write it too. But it's a really good site called live plan.


Jon LaClare [00:19:19]:

Yeah, definitely check that out. And for our audience, if you're entering a business plan competition, or if you've got an existing business and you're trying to raise capital to grow by adding a line, extension, whatever it might be, often banks were required as well to get funding to get investors. There's so many reasons for a business plan, and you don't have to do it alone. It's not everyone's expertise. Most people have great businesses. They might be great inventors, but they're not good business plan writers. I'm not saying that about you necessarily, but we haven't done it before. Right? It's new to all of us.


Jon LaClare [00:19:49]:

So if we haven't, if we're not an expert in that field, so using a template can help, skip a few of those steps and make it better along the way. Well, Lisa, is there anything I didn't ask that would be helpful for our audience?


Lisa Guenst [00:20:02]:

I think the biggest thing as I'm talking to you that I'm realizing is that as an entrepreneur, you wear all the hats in the beginning, and that's really difficult and it burns you out quick. So as the time goes on, you learn what you're good at and then where you need help. And again, that's where having a better margin would help us with having money to spend for the help that we need and the expertise that we're not good at. But you and I had also talked about how that price of cost of goods used to be, in my mind, used to be going from the manufacturer to our warehouse. I really think now cost of goods, and we had mentioned this together, is from that manufacturer to the end result, the end user, because Amazon says, changed the e commerce so much with having to pay for shipping. That shipping cost now can be the actual profit that people used to make, and now they give it away because they got to pay for it to be shipped. So I think there's so many new costs with the Trump tariff, with the shipping, the customer with the higher cost of marketing. So those are all areas that I feel you have to really remember them when you're making your cost of goods.


Jon LaClare [00:21:17]:

Yeah, no, I appreciate that. It's a good thing to think of. Amazon certainly has changed the game and you've got to factor their costs into the equation. You can still make a lot of money on Amazon. It can be a great platform for sure, but it's a different cost structure than selling from a website or selling to retail. So important to remember that. So thanks for bringing that up for our listeners. I do encourage you.


Jon LaClare [00:21:37]:

Please go to toothshower.com. You can check out Lisa's product and check out her business, what she's done with a you can visually see, especially if you're listening on audio. If you forget it again, it's toothshower.com. You can always get that in our show notes as well. Also, did you know you can meet with a member of my team absolutely free for a 30 minutes strategy consultation? We've launched and grown hundreds of products since 2007 and learned some of our strategies while growing oxicle lean back in the Billy Mays days. We're here to help, so please go to harvestgrowth.com and set up a call if you'd like to discuss further.





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