Our guest on today’s episode built a million-dollar business on Amazon by reinventing toothpicks, turning an everyday essential into an exciting, highly sought-after asset. His toothpicks, infused with stimulating flavors and hydrating active ingredients in each unique variant, now help with dry mouth, bad breath, cigarette cravings and other unique needs.
This meant he could expand outside the "toothpicks" niche and venture into the wellness, relaxation, brain boost and nicotine spaces. Today, over 50% of his buyers are female, many of whom love fashionable and chic oral care products. Also, his company Xeropicks has more than 90 Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) thriving in multiple sales regions on Amazon.
Join us now to learn from our guest, Todd Rosenbaum, about his entrepreneurial journey and experiences on Amazon.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
Growing your business to 7 figures on Amazon.
Why identifying competing alternatives outside your industry can be the catalyst for fast growth.
Growing and managing different successful product lines.
How a customer-first approach to product development can boost marketing and sales.
Finding the sales market that’s right for you and maximizing it.
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!
To learn more about these novel toothpicks, visit www.xeropicks.com and use the discount code harvestgrowth for 20% off when you make a purchase.
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: We first started working with today's guest in 2018, and their sales have grown tremendously over the years. They completely changed an everyday product by adding new benefits previously not possible. Once successful, they grew the product line to fit into several specific niches. After explaining this exciting product, our guest shares how he specifically built Amazon into a healthy seven-figure business. It's a great interview, I'm sure you'll enjoy.
Advert: 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: Welcome back to the show. Today, I'm really excited to have on with us Todd Rosenbaum, he's the founder of Xero Picks, and you can find it at xeropicks.com, also on Amazon under the same spelling. We're going to dive in and talk about exactly what this product is. I'm really excited. I've been a fan of this product for a long time. This is the latest flavor, I just got in the mail a couple of days ago, Freshen. It's an Arctic blast, I'm sorry, Arctic chill flavor of toothpick that is incredible. We're going to, again, dive into the details of the product as we get through this interview. It's also a really interesting story, so I encourage you to listen, stay with us for the next few minutes, and I'm sure you're going to learn a lot of things from Todd. Todd, welcome to the show.
Todd: Thanks for having me.
Jon: We've known each other for a long time, and it's been fun to watch your journey and see this business really grow. Before we dive into that, the business aspect, let's talk about the product. Can you tell us about Xero Picks, how are they different from other regular, let's call them, or traditional flavored toothpicks that are out there on the market?
Todd: Great question. Everybody has a presumption when they think about toothpick, typically the one they're going to pick up at the restaurant when they're checking out to clean their teeth, I mean, that's the old school, or picture some old cowboy dangling something in their mouth. At the end of the day, dental picks have really risen over the years for different functional purposes. In our case, we wanted to deliver function specific ingredients. That's a mouthful, to say the least. We took this novelty and created a reinvention from it. We figured out how to change the structure of it to not only carry flavor, but to put active ingredients in it that can be taken in comparison to a powder, or a capsule, or a liquid. So recommended daily allowances of vitamins, or caffeines, or even things for fresh breath.
We figured out how to reconstruct the wood with a patented technology and load dosage into it. We [unintelligible 00:02:48] with a toothpick, by the way. I don't want everyone to think we're just toothpick. Of course, it's Xero Picks, short for xerostomia, which is the dry mouth condition, which is the core foundation of everything we want to address in the mouth. At the end of the day, we're trying to give somebody an alternate device for the active ingredients, or fresh breath, than something that would be typically on the shelf in a liquid form, or a gum form, or some type of an oral ingestion product.
Jon: As I remember, some of the original products didn't really focused on dry mouth, and they're still called that, but I believe the other flavors all have that same benefit. Is that true?
Todd: That is true. Our core technology is to first help anybody that wants to use our toothpicks by additional salivary flow. If we can increase that experience in the mouth, there's a lot we can do. Dry mouth was obviously the first product, I shouldn't say obviously, it was the first product that we put out there, because it's a grand problem in many different sectors. People that are taking medicinal products in hospitalization on the extreme side, to the basic user with dry mouth or halitosis, those that are smoking are going to have dry mouth. There was a lot of reasons for us to start there. The first thing we wanted to do was increase the salivary flow, and then once we knew we were doing that effectively and efficiently, what else could we do inside of that experience?
Jon: It is incredible. I do want to encourage our audience, I've got one right in front of me I was chomping on right before this show, the flavor lasts for a very long time. I think most of us are familiar with, there's a kind of a standard red and white packaging for cinnamon toothpicks that have been around for a long time. I mean decades and decades, and the flavor lasts seconds, it just comes and goes. It goes away, and then you've got a regular toothpick after that. This is a completely different experience where the flavor can stay with you, in my experience, for a long time, you know an hour or more.
You literally, as it starts to go away a little bit, chew harder and it releases more flavor from the inside of the toothpick. Frankly, I've never seen anything else like it, there's never been a toothpick that I've experienced, I've been trying a lot over the years. It's just a completely different experience both from a flavor profile as I mentioned, as well as the nutrients that are delivered. Without getting into too many of confidential details, how is the manufacturing different? How from a big picture perspective, were you able to solve this problem where it's not just coated with a flavor that goes away, but it's truly infused into the wood?
Todd: It's really a great question, and you summed it up pretty well. Our objective was really to create an experience, a long lasting quality experience. The average toothpick that I mentioned before is typically bamboo, something sourced from China, and does not have a great quality and consistency in the density of the wood, or its life expectancy of what someone might use it for. After all, it's designed as a food article intended for use and discard. In our case, we wanted to make it more durable, so we use American birch wood, which if people aren't familiar, that's anytime you'd go to the doctor and they put that tongue depressor in your mouth, that's American birch wood. Harvested in the United States, I would say 99% of the time, or a pretty high statistic like that, so you're getting a good quality wood that drank good water from Mother Earth.
When trees drink water, best way I'd say it is, everyone knows it's gonna drink straight up, so all that water that was contained inside the wood needed some space. We figured out technologically how to replace that water with function specific ingredients and create a sustainable object or device in this case. We changed the structure to create parking spaces through our technology and inside of those parking spaces, we can then replace it with active ingredients like caffeine or B12, B6. Things that are anything from nootropics to nutraceutical, to basic beneficial or adaptogens and inside of that, it's going to stay.
The old method, people would soak a toothpick, literally they'd put them inside of vessels and inside by some terpene flavored cinnamon. The oldest one, the red hot, and that's what people knew, and it would just sit on the outside of the wood and dry. Once you sucked that off the outside, you'd be sucking on wood. In our case, we've pushed it all the way to the inner circle inside and out, top to bottom, you're going to get that full experience of the flavor and the ingredient throughout the entire experience. You did point out something really important, our toothpicks do last. We like to say, just for safety and people's caution on how active they're going to be gnawing on it or sucking on it, it will last 20 to 45 minutes.
20 to 25 minutes on a suck and flip, but honestly, I've gone hiking up Camelback Mountain here in Arizona and I've had it in my mouth for a good two hours and continued hydration. As long as I'm getting a light bite onto it, it's going to continue to give. It's going to give its long lasting flavor because we don't use any chemicals, any carriers. We don't need to put weird names of products to create sustainability inside of it. We're taking advantage of mother nature and trying to give our consumers, our users of this device really the best cleanest experience, and having it for a duration is important. Nobody wants something that they just paid maybe 25 cents retail for, that they're going to pick and chew and toss, that's unacceptable. We wanted to create sustainability in the experience and its afterlife.
Jon: You mentioned there are several different types of Xero Picks for different purposes. Can you list maybe some of your best sellers and what they do beyond dry mouth that we talked about?
Todd: Sure, it'd be my pleasure. I grabbed a couple of samples here for purposes, but this is one of our key lines, Dry Mouth that we mentioned. This one is designed just for salivary flow, fresh breath, it has what we call our signature tingle. We do do something interesting as I'll lift up a few products, is we put a Brazilian extract in. Some people get a little weirded out at first when they have our experience, because it's supposed to be unique, but we create a tingle in the mouth, the Brazilian extract does this. If you will, in Brazil, they were using it as the toothache plant, so it creates this little numbing, tingling sensation, but it activates the nerves in the mouth, actually a buccal activity, the cheeks, tongues, and lips to help increase that salivary flow and allow for an intake.
The Dry Mouth is designed for a flushing feeling. If somebody is having this experience, they're going to get a lot of increased salivary flow. When you go to something more function specific and one of our top sellers is the Quit product. This is great for smokers. As much as I want to help people smoke by giving them a replacement in nicotine, which is actually a program we tried with you guys on television campaigns. Which is a step down to help people do cessation and bring them from higher dosages of intake of nicotine down from a three to one of milligram doses, this is strictly B12 and B6.
Quit smoking is usually in a pretty high failure standpoint. I think we all know, really in high 80s, and it's usually a hand to mouth, and that's what the toothpick really helps with, so focus and clarity. This is a mountain berry flavor, one of our top sellers in our Quit line. This is one of our favorite products really to put out there because we know we're helping a lot of people, we get a massive amount of responses. This is really one of our favorite products. It has no nicotine, this is actually our quit. It's a cessation replacement, and you know, we have a lot of fun with that.
Our more exciting ones, for a different audience as we cover a lot of demographics, Energy. This will be your five hour energy competitor. We only boost you up for 45 minutes to an hour, 15 milligrams of pure caffeine straight into the bloodstream. No fancy other 52 milliliters of juice, has a lot of stuff in there that you can read the label, and there's like 30 ingredients. This has five and it's natural and you're not going to get that niacin burn in the back of the neck. This another major audience for appeal out there, brings us into that 18 to 25, people looking to extend whether they're studying students and work, things like that.
Then from there, we just have lots of fun. We just recently came out with a sours line, we have a candies line and these are for a completely different age demographic. This is your sugar replacement because we're gluten-free, vegan friendly, but more importantly, sugar-free. We're able to do this with natural sweeteners and create a fun experience, and the flavors are crazy. This is a new one we're coming out with that I'm holding, it's tiramisu. If you go to a restaurant, if you want to go to an old school Italian restaurant and you dipped a spoon through that beautiful cake, and that really rummy little feeling and vanilla ice cream kind of built it, I mean it hits home.
This is what we do. We create amazing flavors and experientials, sour green apple. You want that burst of like a runts, you know, without having to have all that chew and digestive issues, fun things like that. We try to cover a bunch of different gamuts. This holiday we're coming out with a gingerbread. We want to hit all the demographics. Believe it or not, we have a huge female audience. We're close to 56% female audience, so we know that it's no longer offensive to have a toothpick hanging or dangling out of your mouth. You're not trying to be, you know, like the old straw thing, like I mentioned, the cowboy, which is a great audience. We want to cater to all demographics, male and female and across age demographics.
We do that by having functional product lines. We have a wellness line for joint health, a rest and relaxation, brain boost with nootropics like bacopa and huperzine because we can do crazy things. You mentioned putting-- I mentioned dosage, we could put 80, 85, 90 milligrams into a single toothpick, that's incredible. It's never been done in history to change the structure of wood. Imagine if I put that into a different shape embodiment, like a tongue depressor. I can give a 9 or a 12-year-old a cherry or grape tasting experience with the doctor saying, "Ah," and the kid is gagging, but they're going to be tasting grape.
If we went and went through clinical trials for some FDA approvals, we could put it active ingredients like Tylenol and ibuprofen into a toothpick, it's really that functional. For now we stick with a bunch of different product categories that we think are beneficial to the consumers, to have an alternative delivery device for that caffeine or for that quit smoking cessation opportunity. I don't really have a favorite. We cover everything you can imagine from lemongrass lime to cotton candy, from pina colada to sour grape. It's really a really interesting and fun experience for us to continue to create new flavors. We're even thinking about doing crazy stuff in the fall, like flaming hot type comparatives, because it seems like you can have every flavor in a chip.
I was just at the store the other day and saw Doritos was doing ketchup and mustard flavored Doritos. Not that I'm jumping on board and going that far yet, but we have made Arnold Palmer flavors under licensing deal experiences for clients and it's pretty unlimited.
Jon: I've got to say, I've been using these for a long time. A couple of things that jump out to me and as I've talked with other people, as I've shared Xero Picks over the years, it feels like everybody has a different use for it. That's what I love about it, is it's so-- There's so much variety in even how you use it, not just the flavors, but really the purpose behind it. For me, I love the fact that, as you mentioned, the dry mouth, really making your mouth water. I learned years ago from somebody in the TV industry that has been on camera for thousands of hours, he would always pop in those Listerine strips you put in your mouth to water your mouth right before you go on the air.
I did it, I followed suit, and like before a podcasts like this, I'm not chomping at the Dry Mouth as I talk too much. These toothpicks are so much better. It's amazing for 10, 20 minutes before getting on a podcast or a long phone call or whatever. For me, it's been great to really like water my mouth with a great flavor that you really enjoy as opposed to that kind of strong Listerine type flavor.
You mentioned the dessert replacement too, one of the things I love about that aspect is I love desserts, I'm a sweet guy, I love all unhealthy foods, unfortunately. Part of the issue with desserts is you enjoy them and you're done. A couple of bites, you're done. Ice cream, cookies, whatever it might be. What I love about your sweet lines and really all the products that can almost replace a dessert, similar to smoking, as you talked about, it just kind of gives you a great flavor for an extended period of time with no calorie inducement or added in or whatever. Those are the big benefits that I found personally for me.
I want to jump in now and talk about the business now. This has been a great success for you and really grown over the years. A lot of your success today is on Amazon. You've been growing great, you had strong sales there. What do you think has really driven specifically on Amazon, a lot of your sales growth?
Todd: Well, that's an interesting question. In that world, there's so many different metrics that are available to you, and as the average business owner, it's overwhelming. It is a full-time job for more than one person. For us, we're in 17 marketplaces globally with almost the near 90 SKUs that I've mentioned. Not only are you trying to maintain those libraries, you've got to do it in languages and pricing, and then figure out how to appeal to each of those consumers in each of those markets and each of those product categories. We own the toothpick space is how I would say it, which sounds great, but it's such a big world out there and [inaudible 00:16:48] consumers play a primary business model like Amazon.
We have to be more creative, so we try to find-- I have mentioned alternative delivery device a couple of times in some of my answers. That's really the angle that we're playing, can we give people an alternative. In taking energy as an example, in taking caffeine, it can be done in gum and powder and liquid. We want to give a different alternative. I'll use it for working out. I think it's great for hydration. I think I'm thirsty. I really haven't broke a great sweat yet. I mentioned I did it when hiking. I find it great there for, as you mentioned, that continued salivary flow. I have to use those kinds of keywords and understand the metrics inside of that space. Can I afford to advertise and market to consumers to play with somebody like a Fiber Energy at a $2 to $3 per click attraction. It's expensive, so it's not for everybody's game to get into.
For us, it's a daily learning curve, every time that we want to make a shift and try to feel like we can expand the reach of sales by using those tools, so predominantly we can go for the most obvious things. We sell toothpicks, flavored toothpicks, cinnamon toothpicks, all the things that people would think about if they're going to type something into a search bar, whether it's in Google or in Amazon to get back to us. It's really the other thing that's a constant goal and objective to try to figure out, and we're always seeking. Some things that are a little bit easier, you think of, like quit smoking. That's a really easy keyword to put in and for us to compete and give somebody an alternative. We can't sell nicotine on Amazon, to do those things you have to be highly competitive.
The funding is a completely different animal when you're trying to compete with the cessation companies or the tobacco companies of the world, believe me, we've tried. We tried to jump into clinical trials and it's a big boys game to get into over-the-counter certificates that are required to sell nicotine. That would be a game changer, but for us, I mean, the tools are simple, they're usually inside the marketplace that we're looking to participate in. Once you go outside of there, you need experts like yourself to be able to try to find, reach and extend to those channels or those avenues that we want to be in.
Jon: I think you raised a good example of a way for listeners to think about their businesses. The easy road for you is to think about when you think about search terms, whether it's in Amazon or any other marketing platform, it's replacement for other toothpicks, but it's so much more than that. That's part of it. That's part of the success. That's part of the story. But like you mentioned energy, for example, realizing that our competitors are not always the ones that look like us, like our products. They might be who else are you replacing with your product beyond the obvious?
For you, it's flavored toothpicks, or regular toothpicks, or reusable toothpicks, or whatever it might be, but it can be so much more than that. You've done a great job of figuring that out, and it's helped your business to grow and I'd encourage your audience to do something similar. To look, "Okay, what else am I replacing? What other nearby competitors that may compete not in form but in benefit?" They're making the same claims or benefit claims that we're making with our own business.
Todd: Well, you mentioned candy as a great example. For me, I loved gum when I was younger, I'd chew it and then swallow it. Bad advice, don't do that. I don't know, the old saying, seven years in the belly or whatever they say. For me, the candies line was a creation out of necessity. The xanthan inside of gum would-- in today's world everything-- I get indigestion from everything, it seems like, that just might be age, but xanthan inside of gum, it does that. It wasn't just the zero calorie which was a major factor, and the replacement of sugar which was the top of the list. It was how I was gonna feel after that experience.
The dessert's line was the same thing. Don't get me wrong, I want a tiramisu. I want a gelato with some Ghirardelli chocolate syrup at ten o'clock before I go to bed. If I could suck on something and create an appetite suppressant, if you will, and I'm not suggesting that that is the alternative for us in use. It does work, because when you're creating additional saliva, your body, if you think you're thirsty or you're hungry, you're getting a replacement. For us to target those audiences and give those kinds of appeal, it's very rewarding, but as an entrepreneur, you have to be creative.
We've had a difficult time. I will tell you, for your listeners and for people that are out there, it's very easy to think traditionally in your business and inside your lane. People say, stay in your lane, stay focused. That's great, but we live in such a different time and different world right now that you have to think outside that box of how you're going to get sales back to you. Different sales channels is probably the most obvious for us. Outside of an Amazon, we can go after Walmart. What is it, 3% to 5% of market sales? We have that. Etsy's, we can jump onto the Kroger's or the Home Depot's or the Mercado Libre's of South America, but you're looking at incremental sales in comparison to Amazon. They're nice to have, they're also expensive to maintain. You need another set of inventory.
You need another person to manage it. Managing those sectors is just as expensive as the one that has a hundred opportunities. They really have the same cost, so you have to be focused in that. When we look at one of those product lines, each product line, and we're in seven different categories that retailers-- If we had to deal with retailers directly, like a Walgreens of the world, we'd be dealing with at least seven different buyers. That's impossible in today's world. It's hard to have a relationship with one, let alone six. We have a great product for retail, it's an easy grab and go. It would make sense at a counter or a register. It's just not the world that I'm interested in living in. I like the direct to consumer play, it gives us a ton of information about our consumers. If we pay attention to it and we use those tools, it does and it should help continue to grow the business, so we have to pay attention to those little things.
Jon: Well said, absolutely. Todd, are there any other resources that have been helpful maybe to your business that you'd recommend for our audience that might help them in their journeys as well?
Todd: I give a lot of our success attributes to our team and our customers. We listen and we try to use that. I would tell you that there was a book out there, or there's a resource, there's a YouTube channel. There's tons of that stuff and great podcasts. If you're a good listener and you find things, I'm going to say it's the people around me. I've got my kids, not kids anymore, they're young adults, are in social media, so paying attention to those trends at my age is important. I can simply overlook them. If I was just paying attention to the traditional outlets that I named like socials or books or feeds, I'd really have to be on top of the current thing. Paying attention to where there's movement is really at the top of my list.
Paying attention to our team and listening to what everybody says is important. Part of my leadership role is trying to make sure that I'm hearing them. What are great flavors? What are great lines? This is one of our partners in graphic designers, the Sourz. He was the last one in the company to create a line. Kept saying to me, "Hey, I want to create something. I'm going to do Sourz." After six months, I'm begging him to do Sourz. We put this out there and it was an 8% increase in sales over the first 30 days. And it wasn't like we were late on the game, it's just another product offering, but it came from inside. It came from-- Everybody is going to have a different perspective on things.
Like I mentioned, maybe we'll do not Flamin' Hot because that's a trademark name, but maybe we'll go into that category because it seems like such a hot space when you look at consumers and how they're paying attention to those things. I'm a little grossed out by a mustard or a ketchup Dorito, but it's obviously trending enough that they put some dollars to it. Earlier, you mentioned the Mouth Strip. I mean, that Mouth Strip has been around forever. It wasn't a hugely successful product, but it's maintained sustainability throughout the years of still being available. Got picked up in other spaces like cannabis. It became an attempted at CBD offerings and it's still a viable tool. You have to listen to the marketplace would be my answer.
Jon: I love how you talked about listening to the marketplace, but also listening to family, friends, employees, those around you. To be honest, I've asked that question to a lot of our guests over the years. I haven't heard that response before, but I love it. I think it's so important to expand our vision beyond ourselves. We can learn a lot from podcasts, from websites, as you mentioned, from experts around us, but there's circles we're not going to play in, we don't have interest in personally but our family, our friends, our employees will and it'll expand our vision. I try to do that as well, I've never put it in words though, so I love that, that's a great way to put it. Was there anything else, Todd, that I didn't ask that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Todd: I mean, I think we were pretty extensive on what we covered. I could definitely bore you with details and technicalities about how cool the toothpick is. It's a fun novel reinvention as I mentioned. W just hope that people are continuing to experience our product in a positive manner and we can touch people for whatever effects are in our product categories, we can help them. That really, sounds odd, we're making toothpicks. I mean, first of all, we're talking about toothpicks. It's a silly conversation just in itself, but we get off on helping people and our wellness lines and our quit smoking lines are key. We're just fighting the fight every day to try to expand that product category, make it a niche.
At first we didn't really understand brand. I would say for your listeners, how important brand is. Our relationship started as a brand experience and we were young and learning and people relate to things. My takeaway is you have to have a relationship with a product, so if you're out there selling something, understand the relationship that the product, you know, may have to the consumer that makes it a necessity. Hopefully that turns into some type of an ROI that keeps it going and keeps the idea thriving.
Jon: Well said. Well, I do encourage our audience. It really is a product you have to experience, but start off by checking out the website, xeropicks.com with an X. So X-E-R-O-P-I-C-K-S.com. For those of you who might be driving while you're listening, all of this is in the show notes. Go afterwards, you can see it at harvestgrowthpodcast.com, get all the details. Todd's been nice enough to give a promo code to our listeners as well, so if you use the promo code on the website, harvestgrowth as one word, all lowercase, you get a 20% discount off of the purchase of any Xero Picks product as well, and of course you can also find the product line on Amazon.
I encourage everyone to please at least check it out. It's an amazing product where Todd has truly reinvented something that's been around for a long time, and now it's a completely different experience and really a different purpose for toothpicks compared to the old fashioned way that they've always been for so many years. Well, Todd, thank you again for joining the show. This has been a lot of fun.
Todd: Oh, great to see you, my friend. It's certainly a pleasure.
Jon: For the listeners, be sure to check out xeropicks.com, X-E-R-O-P-I-C-K-S.com, and be sure to check out harvestgrowth.com to see other episodes we've recorded. And if you'd like to take a shortcut and learn the process that we've used to profitably launch and grow hundreds of products and businesses since 2007. Download our Secret Sauce product marketing campaign cheat sheet at harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com or go to our website, harvestgrowth.com and you can set up an appointment right from our website to speak directly with a member of the Harvest Growth team in a free one-on-one conversation.
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