Doing social good through your business can help you live a more fulfilling life - both as an entrepreneur and as a person. It can also do the same for your employees, helping to increase their productivity and dedication to your mission. Today's guest, Mike Martin, has benefited from social entrepreneurship in many ways; he is an inventor and product designer whose altruism has helped him overcome personal challenges.
His recent innovation, the Coolin Curve, is a beautifully designed curved-bottom wine bucket that solves the problems of the standard wine buckets, and a portion of the proceeds goes toward Mike's Capitalism For Cause efforts in supporting cancer patients and charitable organizations.
Mike shares with us his previous struggles with heart issues, addiction, and family challenges prior to inventing Coolin Curve. Now, since turning his gaze outward by serving others, he has realized this approach helps minimize stress and keep you happier on a day-to-day basis.
Join us now to hear this incredibly uplifting and positive interview as Mike shares his fascinating journey of finding happiness in the grind of running a business through service and how it has also helped his business to grow.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
How social entrepreneurship benefits everyone
Finding innovative product ideas in saturated markets
Why customer service can make or break startups and young businesses
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 www.coolincurve.com to learn more about these unique wine buckets and to order one. To contact Mike for any questions or thoughts, call him at 281-687-1263.
To be a guest on our next Harvest Growth 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 interview is one of the most positive, uplifting interviews I've done over the past few years. Our guest shares how service has helped him to find happiness in the grind of running a business and also how it's helped his business to grow. After this 20 minutes interview, you're going to love our client and the stories he shares.
Are you looking for new ways to make your sales grow? You've tried other podcasts, but they 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, john LeClaire.
Jon LaClare [00:00:40]:
Welcome back to the show. I'm really excited to have a good friend, Mike Martin, and he is a very prolific and successful inventor that has an amazing story I can't wait to share with our audience by the end of this. Stick with us. You're going to love Mike as much as I do, and we're going to talk about some cool products, some cool business stories along the way as well. But Mike, I want to first welcome you to the show.
Mike Martin [00:01:02]:
Thank you very much. Glad to be here. Very exciting for a you've got a.
Jon LaClare [00:01:08]:
Really interesting journey, I think, with product development and inventing products and what you've done with them. It's very unique too. Let's start off by talking about one of your first successes. So the heavy scrub brush. Can you tell us a little bit about the story, what that product is and how it helps?
Mike Martin [00:01:26]:
Sure, yeah. I started my work career in the restaurant industry back in the again, floors were very slick back then. It was just part of working there. We were top siders you'd go sliding to the kitchen. And I never quite understood that, that we'd have such dangerous floors, but we just lived with it. And as I went on, I ran across some products. Rainbow vacuum cleaner, which is amazing, but door to door sales thing, which is kind of interesting, but I love the product and saw some concepts in there that I really liked. And so I bought a couple and wanted to go start cleaning restaurants.
Mike Martin [00:02:08]:
And I had a lifting theory, and I just needed to scrub the floors and went out there with the regular deck brushes that are out there and they were impossible to use. They were back breaking. And so I couldn't do the job the way I wanted to. And so I developed my own products, a weighted scrub brush for scrubbing floors. And that allowed me to scrub a decent sized building restaurant size in a reasonable amount of time. The big machines are good, but they're hard to use. And I just needed a tool that allowed me to go do my job. And so I put a weight on the brush and started using it.
Mike Martin [00:02:43]:
And as I would clean restrooms in exchange for dinner for two, that way the restaurant owners would see how my system worked without breaking the bank. Right? I'm in there for 30, 45 minutes, scrub and lift and get out of there. And they would love it, but they weren't going to pay big money for that. So I'd do dinner for two and that way my newly girlfriend Candy, who's my wife 28 years later, we didn't starve to death during that initial process. And I learned a lot. The first brush I invented was my baseboard brush for doing baseboards. And then I did my Heavyweight scrub brush and it was a lot of fun because a lot of the people that go clean at night with we always cleaned at midnight. They'd be come out and they'd say, hey, how much longer? And they'd see me using this very awkward weighted scrub brush.
Mike Martin [00:03:31]:
What's that? And I'd say, it's my weighted scrub brush for cleaning floors. And let me see that thing. And they would actually end up scrubbing the rest of the floor for me. So here I am sitting at the bar watching them scrub my floor. I was like, I need to find a brush manufacturer for this. And so I did, in Houston, Texas of all places, right down the street from my house. And we started building heavyweights and in the end we put them in about 5000 McDonald's and we made a run at it. And so competition got a little interesting.
Mike Martin [00:04:02]:
But we're still going, been selling them for 28 years, got brushes all over the country and it's a lot of fun.
Jon LaClare [00:04:08]:
And it's a very unique product that changes the way you can clean, especially in a restaurant or commercial environment where it makes it safer and cleaner. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Mike Martin [00:04:19]:
Yeah. So what dirt does when it gets on the floor is it makes it slit because it levels the surface. And so you always have to keep your slip resistance active. And the way you do that is by keeping a floor clean. And the best way to do that is with a scrub brush. Most people use mops. Well, 99% of the people use mops, which is great if you manage how the mop is used. A mop is a paintbrush, plain and simple.
Mike Martin [00:04:44]:
And so in order to offset the damage done by mopping, you must scrub your floor on a regular basis. It's that simple. How do you scrub your floor? You can use a press washer, a heavyweight, a deck brush or machines, but you got to scrub your floor. We use the heavyweight as a cleaning tool and it was designed for that. And so it's perfect. Now, I wouldn't want to clean a 20 year old floor with my heavyweight. I'd rather have a professional come in, get it zeroed out, and then you maintain your clean with my heavyweight. And we can do that as well.
Mike Martin [00:05:16]:
But it's just understanding cleaning. And what I really did is took all the money out of cleaning. That's what I did. And all the consumables, I took that out. I have heavyweights that are 22 years old. They're still using the same scrub brush. So scrub brush maybe is the wrong word for it. It is a cleaning tool because it is a tool.
Mike Martin [00:05:37]:
It's no disposable scrub brush. It is a tool that lasts. And that's one of my mottos. Quality tools that work. First of all, my main product has to work. If you use a deck brush, you work. A deck brush doesn't work with my tools, the products work. No matter what it is, it's going to work, it's going to last, and it's going to make a difference.
Jon LaClare [00:06:00]:
I got to tell you just a quick personal story. After we've gotten to know each other, I didn't know about your product until a few months ago. And over the years, at a church that I attend, we volunteer to clean it periodically, a couple of times a year kind of thing. And one of the things I always do is clean the bathrooms, which commercial bathrooms I hadn't done since I was a kid, right. Until last few years I've been doing this, and, man, it's given me a different perspective of that paintbrush approach, right? That it is gross how you're just moving stuff around with these mops. It's just not the same thing and how much better it is to truly brush that out. And it becomes a realization, right. It's not only about chemicals, and this is coming from somebody who's sold a lot of cleaning chemicals over the years.
Jon LaClare [00:06:42]:
Tools can be extremely effective in cleaning out, and they're a necessary part of the equation, for sure. And what a great product that has been for you. So that was a start to what you've done. As you said, 28 years. You've been doing this for a very long time. And then a little bit more recently. And the product we're going to spend a little bit more time on today is the Coolin Curve. So I love this product, huge fan of it.
Jon LaClare [00:07:03]:
And we're working together on this to really help grow the business. Can you talk a little bit about what is the Coolin Curve?
Mike Martin [00:07:11]:
Sure. The Coolin Curve, again, is another one of those products that like the deck brush. Everybody assumes the cooling curve is a wine bucket or a beverage chiller. And everybody assumes that, like, the mop that an ice bucket works. Who knew? Ice buckets don't work. They're hard to use. So I was sitting at a bar one day with my dad, and a bartender came and put a bottle in a wine bucket and put the ice on top of the bottle. And I looked at it, I was like, well, that's not going to work.
Mike Martin [00:07:40]:
And my dad was like, what's that? It said, this wine bucket. I mean, he looked at me like, who cares? And I was like, well, I think I'm about to invent something, dad. And he was like, oh, here we go. And so I said, watch the bartender. He took the bucket, it over to the table, and he pulled the bottle out. He opened it up, poured it, and then he went to put it back in. I was like, Here we go, dad. And he put the bottle back in.
Mike Martin [00:08:03]:
It wouldn't go in. He was crushing ice and he was smashing down. And he finally gave up. And I grabbed a pen and I drew my curved bottom wine bucket right then. And as soon as my dad saw it, my biggest critic, I would say when he saw it, he kind of smiled and went back to drinking his wine, eating his dinner, because he was probably going as a financier. Oh, no, here we go. But he smiled, and he thought it was a pretty good one, and I knew it was a good one. And so we developed, and off we go.
Jon LaClare [00:08:36]:
And it's a beautiful product design. I do encourage our listeners at least go check it out just to see this really cool design that Mike's come up with. You can go to coolincurve. C-O-O-L-I-N so no G-C-O-L-I-N curve. Curve. It's in the show notes as well. So if you're driving, don't worry about it. Wait till you get back and you can check that out.
Jon LaClare [00:08:57]:
You can get the link and go see the product. But it is a beautiful design. And on the site, you've got some photos of earlier iterations, what it took to really develop it. But can you talk a little bit more about the benefit? So the curve is all a part of it. How is it better than existing wine or beverage buckets?
Mike Martin [00:09:18]:
Yeah, so when you get a regular bucket, like you said, when you can put the bottle into the ice, that's great. That works out the first time very well. But once that bottle comes out and you pour some and you put it back, it's not getting chilled anymore. It's starting to get hot. And so when I developed it, my whole thing was celebration, right? Everybody's celebrating. If you're using something ice bucket, you're celebrating something. Something party is going on or something's happening. And so let's make it a perfect celebration.
Mike Martin [00:09:50]:
Let's have a perfect chill. And so by having it curved and tilted, your bottle is always going to have the proper amount of ice all the way around it. So that keeps it chilled. Another benefit that I didn't know that was going to be part of it was wine buckets. Ice buckets, sweat all over the place. And I didn't know that. And so we had to put little rubber feet on our wine bucket just so when you push the bottle in, it doesn't move too much, but just to put rubber feet on it, just for breaking right just so in case it wouldn't slide around any. But what that did is it raised the bucket off of the table about a quarter of an inch and that stops the contact sweat.
Mike Martin [00:10:32]:
Like when you have a glass of water on your table, the water goes everywhere, right. You have to put a napkin down to stop it. Well, the same thing with the wine buckets. When they're on the table, the water runs everywhere. And just because of our gap for feet, for breaks now, we don't sweat all over the place. And that's one of the things that people like the most about it, besides being so easy to use, is it doesn't have that big watery mess that comes with a standard ice bucket.
Jon LaClare [00:11:01]:
As I understand your story, that was not originally intended. So it's one of those things you design for a different purpose. It's about not sliding around when you put it in and you realize and learn. And it's one of the beauties of inventing products, is sometimes you realize you've got great benefits that you hadn't even planned on.
Mike Martin [00:11:16]:
No, I know. The heavyweight is one of those. I wanted the pole to stand up straight, right. So I never had to bend over and grab my pole because scrubbing is back breaking. Right. And so you had to bend over and get your pole. I made the pole stand up straight. Well, when people said it was too heavy to carry, we put wheels on it.
Mike Martin [00:11:34]:
And the only way they worked is because that pole stood up straight, we could pull it over. So it was like something totally different came to it. This great idea with the wheel. So you're exactly right on that. And so be open to everything that happens in your product because a lot of times it gets better.
Jon LaClare [00:11:52]:
I have to say one thing I really like so as a video marketer, right, we've been doing videos for a long time. So I'm always looking at products like, how could I turn that into a really compelling video? And yours is perfect for it. So on the website you've got one of the early videos that you shot of just putting the bottle in. You see the ice come up and surround it's just pleasing, right? It's one of those things where if you can show your product in use in a way that is pleasing to the eye and just fun to watch. Even in loop, it's great because then it gets you we, of course, have them samples or versions of this product that we use. And I get that same pleasing usage benefit out of every time you push it in. It's just seeing the ice cascade and waterfall around the bottle. It's so much fun.
Jon LaClare [00:12:39]:
It's fun to use, but also very purposeful benefits you've got.
Mike Martin [00:12:44]:
Yeah. And that's again on Amazon. When you read the reviews or wherever we have the views on the Internet, that's what they say everybody stood around the wine bucket and watched it work. Right. So I hear that a oh, the hit of the party was the wine is, which is fun. I mean, that's the things we want to hear, because, again, it's all about celebrating, right, and giving back. I love the fact that went from cleaning to celebrating. I can dig that.
Mike Martin [00:13:19]:
Jon LaClare [00:13:19]:
Well, it's the three C's, right? You got cleaning, celebrating, and I want to talk about charity now. Right. So you've got a side of your business you call Capitalism To Cause. That really started off it's a great story I want to share with their audience. But it started with the cooling curve. So can you talk a little bit about the Capitalism To Cause?
Mike Martin [00:13:37]:
Yeah, actually, when the Coolin Curve came about, I was in a lot of trouble. I had some serious health problems with heart issues. I was addicted to pain pills from three shoulder surgeries. And my granddaughter was born with a knot on her chest. My parents were also failing, and my wife's parents had failed. We had just finished up three years of hospice at our house, which, if anybody can do it, do it. That's the most rewarding experience ever, I promise. It's hard, but that's what makes it so.
Mike Martin [00:14:14]:
But anyway, Emma's born this knot on her chest, and that was my sign. I needed to go get help so I could help others. Right. Because I was no good to anybody. So I turned myself in to rehab, and in doing so, I opened up my heart to God in the universe and just said, let's go get some help. And, boy, I got it. Again, I invented the wine bucket. I met a kid who sailed first, and I never sailed, never had an inkling to sail.
Mike Martin [00:14:49]:
I lived down by the water, so that was I had water to sail in, but I didn't sail. But then I met this kid in rehab who was a sailing instructor. And again, I think we meet for reasons. And so three days after that, my granddaughter was diagnosed with cancer at three weeks old and was starting 52 weeks of chemo. And the next day, they asked me what we're going to do when we get out. And I said, I'm going to get with this kid over here. We're going to go get a sailboat, take cancer kids sailing in Galveston Bay. And everybody thought I was crazy, and I was like, that's just what we're going to do.
Mike Martin [00:15:24]:
Had no money, had no way to do it. Just an ID head in rehab. So went down to see my we went and looked at boats. Boats were $300,000. Didn't have any money for that. And so the next day and hurdles are hurdles. When you're an inventor, you're filled with hurdles. Hurdles are everywhere.
Mike Martin [00:15:42]:
So professional hurdler is what we really are anyway. Yeah, $300,000 boat, that's a hurdle. But again, just get around it, get over it, just get by it and go on with it, right? Anyway, I went down to see my dad. Wasn't going to tell him about my sailboat idea. He would have killed me. But I went down there just to see him for the first time since starting rehab. And that's when I invented the bucket. And it happened all right then.
Mike Martin [00:16:10]:
And like I said, I had a conversation with God, right? When the bucket when I drew it, it was like, God, if you're going to let me invent products, another product, and much different product than the heavyweight. Again, I sell in a $200 scrub brush when competition is $10. Right. I knew the cooling curve was going to be comparable to a wine bucket price. Right. I knew that we were going to be in a $20 range somewhere around in there. And I didn't have all that shipping with shipping scrub brushes and weight. So I'm onto something here.
Mike Martin [00:16:41]:
And I was like, God, if you're going to let me invent a product that can make a difference and take it to market and then also possibly get a sailboat to take cancer kids sailing, you can have it. And so right then, my company is called Capitalism to Cause. I generate money through the products I invent. And we're going to take a little bit for ourselves, a royalty. Right. But I'm going to put the company and the rest of my money that we generate into the operation side of Capitalism to Cause, and then we're going to generate money to give to charities. And so that's what we've done. And I have my own not charity, but we take cancer patients sailing in Galveston Bay.
Mike Martin [00:17:20]:
I did get to boat a 45 foot benateau two weeks after I got out of rehab. Seven months after rehab, we got our first container from China. Now we make them in the United States. But it's Capitalism to Cause, we take cancer patients sailing in Galveston Bay free of charge. That's just a start. I want to get cars. We can take the racetracks. People want to jump out of an airplane, I'll push them out of an airplane.
Mike Martin [00:17:48]:
I like to say I'm not going. I'll race the cars and sell the boats jumping off airplane, I don't know. So I might call heart condition on that one old sampled and son thing, but yeah, it's just, again, I get to live the dream every day. And so if anybody doesn't know this out there, inventors do. But it's hard. But just like hospice is hard, the hardest thing is where you get the most joy out of, right, when you finally do make it. Because I guess you find out just how awesome you are, because you did.
Jon LaClare [00:18:27]:
Well, Mike, you're such a great example to me and our audience, I imagine. Can tell from this short conversation, I certainly have gotten to know you over a longer period of time. You're one of the most positive people I know. And for me personally, I'm convinced that a big reason why is because of your nature, right? Where you think outward, right? You think about serving others, even with your business. And I think that's such a great example that everybody can really take home from this is how can we use our business, our success, to serve others, right? To help others. And you've done more than probably anybody I've ever talked to in terms of percentage of revenues and percentage of your time and focus. And that's amazing as an example. And it doesn't mean that everybody has to go to that level, right, to your level.
Jon LaClare [00:19:15]:
But even a minor focus, starting to think outward, starting to think about how can we serve better, it really helps us to perform better. There is a statistic, I think this is so funny that it's a statistic and I remember the exact number. But businesses that donate to charity, right, are much more successful than those that don't. And I think it's a part of you could call it, you and I are religious, right? Blessings from God. For sure. You could call it karma. At a minimum, it's for sure for everybody. Whatever our belief systems are, is getting that outward focus off of ourselves only.
Jon LaClare [00:19:55]:
It brings positivity, right? It brings great energy. It brings excitement into your life in ways that you can't experience just on the pure business side, right? Just on selling or marketing, which is important, right? We all have to feed our families. We have to have revenue, and that is so important. And that can bring thrills in its own right, for sure. But service is an important part. And frankly, we followed your example. We just did much smaller than you, but a service activity as a company just was it last week and got our whole office staff out just picking up trash and planting molt around trees, kind of prepping this park for winter and spent a half day doing it. Again, nothing compared to what you do.
Jon LaClare [00:20:35]:
But man, what a great energy it was as a team where we need to do more of that. It takes our mind off of just ourselves and kind of our internal focus and thinking outwardly. And that helps to drive happiness, for sure, but also success.
Mike Martin [00:20:50]:
Yeah. No, for sure. I just made a photo book of the best photos I've taken since sailing over the last six years from our cancer sales. And on the back it says, when you give, everybody gets. Because everybody says, I can't believe you do what you do. I get the most out of it. I mean, again, I get to sail with these wonderful people to hear their stories. I mean, you think my stories are good? Their stories are amazing.
Mike Martin [00:21:18]:
And again, when you were doing that, look what it does, everybody gets. That's the beauty of it. And eyes out is something I learned in rehab. When your eyes are in, you're watching your movie right in your head, and that's where nothing's going good. When your eyes are out, you're watching God's movie, and that's where everything happens. And this is going to be off script. I'll even show you something since you said eyes out. I'm going to strip for you and get to here, because eyes out.
Jon LaClare [00:21:50]:
Oh, I love it. The back of your T shirt, for those that are just listening, can't see the video. Eyes out in the back of this T shirt. Yeah. Love it.
Mike Martin [00:21:57]:
The natural antidepressant. If your eyes are out and you're helping others, your heart is good. And that's what's helped me, my rehab and stuff. And so I always wear my Eyes out shirts, and you'll see Eyes out wherever my stuff is because it's eyes out making a difference. Absolutely sorry I did that. You said it. And so that was God telling me, take your shirt off.
Jon LaClare [00:22:23]:
I love it. No, I think it's so important. It's an important part of, I mean, life in general, but a lot of our listeners are looking for ways to grow and be happier in their businesses, and this is a great way to do it right. Eyes out, thinking outward, looking for ways to help and serve others, for sure. So I love that. Mike, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Mike Martin [00:22:46]:
Just remember, customer service. I mean, again, customer service is gone. And customer service isn't just in business. Customer service is how I took care of my parents in hospice. Candy's parents in hospice. My parents were dying, and they died six months apart, and they died in the exact same spot in the house. Because customer service, I was aware of what was going. I was like, Wait a minute.
Mike Martin [00:23:12]:
If I put him here too, and he dies here, they're going through the same portal. They're married 63 years. And so it's just that customer service, we can never do enough for our customers, for our friends, for our family. And so if we just get the customer service out of the business phone and do it for everybody, I think it'd be a better place. And your business will grow if you have good customer service. Because like I said, no one has it. I called a company the other day asking for a number to one of their same companies down the street, and they said, oh, well, I don't have that number. I'm not saying the name of the company.
Mike Martin [00:23:48]:
But I was like, you don't have the number for the one down the street? No. Am I supposed to have all the numbers in the country? I was like, I would have gone down the street and looked up in a telephone book if someone called me asking for a number. So again, that's just customer service. Most important thing in life.
Jon LaClare [00:24:04]:
I love it, and I think that brings back home. We talked a lot about your charities and serving outside of your business, outside of your organization, how important that is. But service is a part of every business as well, right? It's how we serve our clients, our customers, and what I do as a video marketing agency owner, we call it client service, right? It's an industry term, everyone calls it that. So we spend a lot of time in our company talking about it. What does that word, service mean? Right? At the end of the day, we are serving the clients and customers we work with and it changes your perspective, right? It helps you to be more successful, helps you to help your clients be more successful if you're thinking about them, right? Not just always internally. So I think that goes directly in your business as well. So thank you for sharing that. I love it.
Jon LaClare [00:24:50]:
Mike, this has been a great interview. I know our audience is going to.
Mike Martin [00:24:53]:
Love it as well.
Jon LaClare [00:24:54]:
I do want to encourage our audience. Please go visit Coolincurve.com again. It's in the show notes. Check out Mike's product. You can learn more about the charity work that he does on that website as well. And he's offered to if you want to connect with him directly, I'll put this in the Show Notes, but his cell number, which I don't do very often because not many people are willing to give that out right over a podcast like this. But if you'd like to connect with Mike just to ask questions about inventing products bringing to market or even advice on service, or how maybe you can contribute to some of the work he's doing, you can reach him at 281-687-1263. Well, Mike, thanks again.
Jon LaClare [00:25:32]:
I really appreciate your time today.
Mike Martin [00:25:33]:
Thank you very much for the listeners.
Jon LaClare [00:25:36]:
Check out Coolincurve.com to learn more about Mike and his amazing business. That's C-O-O-L-I-N curve. Curve. It's in the show notes as well. 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 we've used to profitably, launch and grow hundreds of products since 2007. You can download our secret sauce, our product marketing campaign, Cheat Sheet@harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com, or go right to Harvestgrowth.com. You can set up an appointment to speak one on one with a member of our team in a free consultation to learn how you can grow your business.