Building a startup without substantial financial backing, without a team and without a network of wealthy investors is a huge mountain to climb. But today's guest on the podcast, Regina Crisci, managed to acquire all three for her bootstrapped business, Diaper Dust, shortly after launching. Regina shares this inspiring journey with us, revealing tips that can help entrepreneurs succeed under difficult circumstances.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Why bootstrapping or starting small does not mean you're limiting future business growth.
The competitive advantages of being a Founder with a marketable, compelling personality.
Simple and often overlooked management skills that can make or mar business success.
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!
Visit TheDiaperDust.com to discover why this unique odor-eliminating product has high ratings on Amazon, and why Mark Cuban of Shark Tank chose to invest. Use the discount code "harvestgrowth" to receive 10% off at checkout!
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: Stinky diapers, maybe the ultimate problem to solve. Today's guest has a product that gets rid of the smell in diapers. It's a fantastic product, but it's also a great story. She got a deal on Shark Tank with Mark Cuban, and she shares some great learnings from the experience that will help any product marketer, whether they're planning to get onto the show, Shark Tank or not.
Advertisement: 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 our Harvest Growth podcast, Jon LaClare.
Jon: Welcome back to the show. I'm really excited today to have on with us, Regina Crisci. She's the founder of Diaper Dust. If you're a parent, going to be a parent, have ever been one or a baby. We've all been smelly ourselves or whatever, or certainly babies. Man, the diaper smell can be something that's really hard to overcome. Regina has invented a product that's really amazing to solve that problem for parents. Great gift idea. If you've got people that you know, that are pending-- Babies that are coming, that kind of thing, or friends and family or yourself to use this product, for sure, certainly has a great story to share with us as well. Regina, great to have you on the show. Thanks so much for taking the time.
Regina Crisci: Yes, thank you for having me, Jon.
Jon: If you could explain a bit more to our audience, what is Diaper Dust and how does it work?
Regina: Diaper Dust is a diaper deodorizing powder that's utilized inside a soiled diaper before you roll it up and you throw it away in a trash can. You can use a diaper pail. We definitely encourage people to just use their regular trash to really simplify the whole odor eliminating process. It is charcoal-based, so it's unlike any other deodorizing powder out there on the market.
The normal powders will use a combination of baking soda and other deodorizers, fragrances, things to cover up. What sets us apart is that activated charcoal. We utilize that, that's our powerhouse deodorizer, that is how I refer to it. It's a very simple-to-use product, and I created it to simplify the whole thing. To eliminate all other products, you just need this one diaper deodorizing powder.
Jon: You were talking a little bit before the interview started. I've got four kids of my own. They're all out of diapers, thank heavens at this point. Man, I've been through that, that experience a lot. Diaper pails are, maybe they take, keep the smell out of the bathroom, but when you're done and you take that outside, it's just not a pleasant thing to do. We love our kids, and they're amazingly cute when they're babies, but the diaper changing experience and certainly storage experience, they're not fun.
I'm grateful you've come up with this solution that works so well. It's a great idea, which is one of those things like any parent know is like, "Oh, fantastic." How did you personally know that you were onto something once you got to the point you're developing this into an actual product?
Regina: I knew I was onto something when it worked. I was like, no matter what, nobody can say, "This does not work." I was like, I have to run with this. Then my next big step was finding out that nobody else was doing it. It started with me trying to solve my own problem of, I had my son's diaper pail and his waste basket, and it was just smelling up his entire room, lid open or closed. When I said, "Is anybody putting anything inside the diaper?"
And when that was the question that I was Googling and researching on my own and coming up with nothing, that's when you go to the patent attorney, that's when you really get the big guns in research to find out, "Am I really onto something? Could this be something incredible?" That was when it worked and then when I found out that nothing else like it was out there.
Jon: That's fantastic. Then if we fast forward just a little bit with your business, you were just getting it really off the ground by the time you appeared on Shark Tank and got a deal with Mark Cuban and it's been very successful for your business. The first question I'll ask is, from my understanding, your sales were relatively low because you were still a very new business, which is not the norm either to get on the show or to get a deal with somebody. They want successful businesses, easy, low-risk investments that are already growing. That's typically what you see. What made you think break through and get their attention to get on the show and get a deal?
Regina: My hard work and I know that sounds very simple, but one thing that I know sticks out to Mark particularly, is somebody that gets it done, somebody that's faced with a challenge and just does it, just does the work. I was definitely willing to do that because I was restricted financially, I was funding this myself, and so I had to be very autonomous in everything that I did. It's not like I could hire somebody to do the filling. I had to do everything in my backyard. I think that my determination to bring this to fruition was what really motivated that deal.
I'll be honest, I was pretty surprised myself, when I get the deal, I was like, "This is against all odds of Shark Tank." I'm a long time viewer of the show, so I knew that the odds were stacked against me getting out there on that carpet. I was like, I told myself I wouldn't even apply to this show unless I had a lot of sales. When my application was pulled, I looked at my numbers and I was like, "Well, I'm not there yet, but there, I'm not going to be given another chance, so let's go."
Jon: You talked about getting the deal. I think that's great advice on hard work, determination, and of course a great product, but a great product's not enough. For people to believe in you, whether they're buying your product or investing in your business, it's part of what goes behind it, which is you ultimately behind the business really pushing it forward. Great product and great founder-owner, it's that combination that really makes a business successful. What do you think helped you get through the clutter of even getting their attention to get on the show in the first place?
Regina: I think what really stood out to them is that I was very fast in my responses with every step that, or any anything that they asked of me. It was like, "Okay, ball's in your court." "No, it's in yours." I got it done and I sent it back in. I was very diligent with the instructions that I read. Anything that I saw that they repeated, I was like, "Okay, that's very important. I have to make sure I do this." I followed everything to a T, and that's what I would want somebody to be doing. I would want that respect of their time. I never wanted to give them a reason to say no. Never give anybody a reason to say, "No." Like, "She was too late." "No, I'm not too late. I got this to you on time."
Jon: I think that advice goes well with consumer responses as well for small businesses and big businesses alike, but especially in the early stage of a business, the faster and better you are at responding to customers' questions, et cetera. A, it's going to give them a much better experience with your product, and B, lead them to really have that affinity or connection with your brand to lead towards testimonials, towards word of mouth marketing, towards really getting out there and helping grow your business as well. That responsiveness, again, not just Shark Tank, but also in responding to customers. Once you're on the show, what was the experience like?
Regina: Oh, surreal. It was very surreal. I felt like two different people, when I'm standing on that carpet, the facade of me was really trying to stay calm. It was being professional, answering questions, and then behind me was, "Oh my gosh, this is happening." Lori Greiner has Diaper Dust in her hands. Mark is saying that it's working. I just made Mr. Wonderful laugh. I really felt like I was in a dream and I was grateful for every single second.
Even though, I know everybody's seen it, but when Barbara went out and Mr. Wonderful went out, and Lori and Emma, even as they were going out, in the back of my head, I was like, this is still awesome, and Mark is still in.
Jon: That was awesome.
Regina: It was absolutely amazing. I do, I have anxiety just on a daily basis and I almost wish I could have just calmed myself down just a little bit more, so I could have really taken it all in, but all in all, it was a wonderful experience.
Jon: I work a lot with Bob Circosta from HSN. A lot of my audiences has heard, and they know him. He's the original pitchman, he's been on there for 40 years or something like, I can't remember the number, 10,000 hours of live TV shopping. He always talks about, he's like, the moment you get nervous or stop being nervous, I should say, on live TV, recorded shows, whatever it might be, is really the the time you should stop. Part of the nervousness is because you care. If you channel it right, it can help you.
I think a lot of people talk about-- The words they use are blacking out. That's probably a little bit extreme, but it's like you're so focused on being successful and having that adrenaline rush that it keeps you performing well but you do forget a lot about the experience. It helps you perform in the minute but luckily for you and for all of us, they recorded it.
Regina: Yes. [laughs]
Jon: You can certainly see it afterwards.
Regina: Exactly. No, that's a great way to put it. As I kind of joke, I'm like, "Anxiety pays the bills. Anxiety makes me move."
Jon: Keeping a focus for sure. I know you can't share everything about due to some of the confidential nature, the deal, et cetera, but at, at least a high level, once you got your funding in place and received that, how many strings are attached to that? Do you have to use the money for a very specific purpose, or report back on every little minutia that you do, or is there a lot of flexibility still in running the business?
Regina: As far as my deal with Mark now, I can't speak for all of his deals but mine was a very simple, straightforward one. I have all of the control really over the day-to-day. We stay in contact, biweekly via email in updating reports and updated sales numbers. I can turn to him when I have questions about, "Is this the right move? Do you feel like we're doing the right thing?" As I said on Shark Tank, this isn't my first language. I do need some of that reassurance even though I'm very autonomous in the decision-making. I do need to hear, "This is okay. This is good. This is a good decision to make."
As for me at least, I'm assigned a team. Ansley, John, and Ryan. Ansley is my main contact. She's an investor with Mark Cuban companies, and we stay in contact on a daily basis. We set goals. Initially, it was the co-packer, the manufacturing, the bones of production. Right now, we're in our marketing plan and strategy process because I don't know if you had kept up with our story from Shark Tank to pretty much mid-July, but we were out of stock. We sold out for Shark Tank. I was able to fill bottles in between co-packers but ultimately nothing was finalized until the end of July.
Jon: You shared so many pieces of really helpful advice. Now I want to unpack it a little bit. A couple things is, one is your weekly reports. I think this is great advice now. For our audience, not everybody wants to be on Shark Tank or should be or will, whatever. But I think there's still some great learnings there that really apply to everybody.
If you've got, whether it's a team, you're reporting to an investment team and advisors and or helpers for you, but even if it's to yourself, that level of detail of doing financial reports on a regular basis down to the weekly level, very few people do that. I think it's great that you have that attention to detail. You see quickly what's going on in your business. You can notice problems or opportunities as they arrive. That's one thing I want to mention and really bring up that I think is really helpful for everybody.
The other iis having a sounding board. For you, it's great that you've got Mark and his team but everybody can have somebody. It's somebody that might be in a similar situation, a mastermind group, a mentor, whatever it might be but finding somebody that connects with you, it can be lonely running a business. You're making all the decisions all by yourself. Just being able to, like you said, bounce ideas off other people that may be in a similar situation is again, great advice.
The last thing I'll mention, just again that reiterate that you mentioned was setting goals. Short-term and measurable and actionable goals to keep yourself moving forward. Again, whether you've got a team pushing you, your advisors, investors, or whether you're doing this to yourself or with yourself or with advisors, mentors, friends, mastermind, et cetera. Great advice there I think to really unpack and to help in your business.
Regina: Absolutely. That's not something that's innate for me to-- I don't have a planner and I didn't have a planner. Now I do. It's made me grow a lot, not just as a business owner and entrepreneur but as a person. It's made me more organized.
Jon: Oh, fantastic. Good to hear. What's next for your business?
Regina: Oh, what's next? We're trying to expand into the single packet, like single-use diaper deodorizing packets to be even more travel friendly, to be more discreet. We put out a survey because we were getting a lot of responses outside of the mommy-baby market. Those responses were adult incontinence, ostomy care, pet care. I want to offer a product that is more discreet than our bottle. Something that an adult user can just throw in a bag and take with them to a public place, to a relative's home and be discreet about how they're deodorizing. Some family members, they don't know that their brother or sister has incontinence. They don't need to know either. It's none of their business. That's what I'm trying to offer, that part of our consumer market.
Jon: Love it. Not resting on the laurels of your current success but realizing great opportunities to continue growing your business. That's fantastic. Are there any resources that you recommend that have been helpful, particularly for you and your business?
Regina: I started out using the small business resources at the community college. They're actually free in every state. It was more to get a basic business plan, understanding a business plan, some market research but of course, because it's free, it is limited. Other things I just research. I use Google and I market research. I use a lot of Facebook groups to do market research and some podcasts that I'll listen to.
It's actually WorkLife by Adam Grant. I love listening to him, especially like I said before, I'm a very anxious person and my mental health means a lot to me. He's just very motivating in work-life balance. Actually, your podcast after I found out about it, I was like, "How did I not know about this? This really is everything that I'm looking to start my day with." I like to start my day listening to a motivating podcast no matter, who's talking to and I can learn something from it. Your HarvestGrowth podcast, it really, it's been a game-changer.
Jon: Oh, awesome. Glad to hear that. Thank you. I swear I was not fishing for compliments, but good to hear.
Regina: I know you weren't but I'll give credit where credit is due. I'm now a follower.
Jon: Awesome. I certainly can't take any credit. It comes down to having great guests like yourself on that. It's your stories that make the difference. This has been really helpful to know for our audience they can learn a lot and grow from your experience. My last question I'll ask you is, is there anything I didn't ask that you think would be helpful, Regina, for our audience?
Regina: Mostly to know that that this is a product that you don't just have to use it for baby diapers. Certainly, my son is four-and-a-half, he's out of diapers now. You can use it for general trash deodorizing. You can use it to deodorize anything, a trash receptacle, garbage disposal, any waste basket that has a liner in it, of course, because that charcoal. A question that I get a lot is if people can use it in their litter boxes and where it is safe to use in your litter box. I would not use it in your litter box because the charcoal, it can be messy. It can get on your cat's paws, so please don't use it in your litter boxes. You can use it in your Litter Genie or in dirty litter after scooping it out, but please don't use it in the litter boxes being used.
Jon: That's good advice. Good to know.
Regina: That's awesome.
Jon: For our audience, I do encourage everyone, please check out Regina's website, TheDiaperDust.com for those of you that are driving, and it's in the show notes as always. She's been generous enough to provide a discount or promo code. Again, if you use HarvestGrowth, all in one word, you'll get a 10% discount off your purchase. Also, be sure to check out Harvestgrowth.com to see other episodes we've recorded. If you like this episode, want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your own consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and be sure to leave us a review. Regina, thanks again so much for your time.
Regina: Thank you, Jon.
[00:19:57] [END OF AUDIO]