Today we talk with Mike Scully, Founder of Lever Gear - a company that makes beautiful compact multitools and gadgets for conveniently carrying your must-have tools (pills, toothpicks, phone chargers, etc.) everywhere you go. Now set to make at least 1 million dollars in annual revenues by 2024, Lever Gear's recent success has not come on a platter - they have had to overcome several obstacles and restrategize. Mike shares all these experiences - including their consistent crowdfunding success on Kickstarter - in this eye-opening episode packed with insights on building and scaling a company in a fast-paced, digital world.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
How to increase sales and referrals by prioritizing superior product design and user experience.
How refocusing your business's attention can lead to higher profits and higher growth.
Improving marketing and publicity efforts through new product development and product iterations.
Tips for constantly launching successful crowdfunding campaigns.
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.levergear.com to learn more about their innovative multitools and gadgets - and how they can help you solve common problems anywhere (open boxes, tighten loose screws, etc.) while carrying fewer tools. And because they look beautiful, Lever Gear products will also make great holiday gifts for your employees - you can get them for a 10% discount by emailing Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org and mentioning the "Harvest Growth podcast."
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]:
Using crowdfunding to launch new products is very different today than it was even just a few years ago. Today's guest has been through the entire cycle, back when it was relatively easy to generate six figures or more from a launch through to today, where you need to be much more focused and deliberate in your efforts. Whether you're considering crowdfunding as a way to launch a new product or maybe looking for ideas on how to use new products to inject growth into your existing business, you're going to get a lot out of this interview.
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, john LeClaire.
Jon LaClare [00:00:50]:
Welcome back to the show today. I'm really excited to be speaking with Mike Scully. He's the founder of Levergear.com. This is a really cool line of products, and Mike has, I believe, developed all these he'll talk more about that certainly done a lot of the development as part of the process. If you go to their website, Levergear.com. Personally, I love the headline on there. Beautifully crafted Tools to Tackle Everyday Life. And that kind of gives you a summary of what the product does.
Jon LaClare [00:01:16]:
We'll dive into what it is and some of the fun stories that Mike's been through in growing this business over the past several years and really learned from him. So, Mike, welcome to the show today.
Mike Scully [00:01:27]:
Hey, John, thanks for having me. Happy to be here.
Jon LaClare [00:01:30]:
So I kind of said what the product does, or your tagline at least, but I didn't say anything about the product itself. So can you tell our audience what is Lever Gear? You've got a few products, but they're in a similar category. And how did you come up with the original idea?
Mike Scully [00:01:43]:
Sure, well, Lever Gear is, you know, we make small, multi tools that are easy to carry and multifunctional so you can get more done in your daily life. That's kind of what we strive to do. And it's all sort of part of a niche called EDC or everyday carry. And that kind of refers to all of the items that you would take with you on a daily basis, either in your pockets or a wristwatch or in your bag. But the stuff you carry to kind of just go about your day and do the various tasks that you're doing. So it has sort of turned into its own niche, its own sort of creature, where people who are interested in this, they'll take pictures of their gear and they'll sort of lay it out on a table and just sort of get into what they're carrying, why they're carrying it. And so that sort of became our niche in our market.
Jon LaClare [00:02:43]:
And so finding some commonly used tools putting them all on one really small product or device that fits in your product.
Mike Scully [00:02:52]:
Our sort of subcategory is kind of the multi tools that just do a lot of different functions because for me, personally, I'm kind of a minimalist. So I don't like to carry a lot of stuff with me, which is kind of why a lot of the driving force behind our products is making them compact and packing a lot of sort of functionality into a very small space. So it's still usable but it's really easy to carry and in some case doesn't require any extra effort to carry it.
Jon LaClare [00:03:24]:
What are some of the most common uses or features, maybe elements of the products?
Mike Scully [00:03:29]:
Right, well we sort of have two kind of lines of products that we're going down. One is more of the multi tool side of things and I can talk about some of the specific tools we have and then one is more sort of like electronics accessories but basically on the multi tool side of things. Just sort of like small generally metal tools that have different features and sort of combine them in unique ways. The other sort of aspect of everyday carry is these are sort of purposely designed for everyday carry. So they're small, but they also have to kind of look cool and have sort of a sense of style that someone who is going to be using it every day is just sort of like proud to have and enjoys using and really gets a lot of joy out of it. Part of having an Apple iPhone or something is the design and just sort of nice overall feel to it when a lot of other phones could kind of do the same functions and do the trick but you want something nice. So we try to kind of blend that functionality with the kind of like design and craftsmanship that make it a nice product that someone's going to want to use every day.
Jon LaClare [00:04:51]:
I think that's a great way of describing it for these everyday carry items especially, but I think it's whatever our listeners businesses might be. The more you can focus on the look and feel of the product, of course the uses, the quality, the main benefits of the products have to work. But on top of that, there is that benefit of just that coolness factor, right? Look and feel. Because you're more likely to use it more often. You're more likely to share it with others, show it off, et cetera, and really help grow your business that way. Just by having people use it more and tell their friends about it. Are there any unique uses that you've obviously been playing around with this product for a long time, right? So you've had prototypes, you developed this for the original product and many since then. Any interesting uses that you found along the way where you're like, man, I'm glad I got my lever gear with me.
Mike Scully [00:05:39]:
Yeah, we're always finding new uses for it. Our first product that I think you're referring to was the tool card, and that was sort of the product that launched our business, just for a little background. I'm sort of a mechanical engineer and an industrial designer by background, and so I had been kind of designing products as a consultant for other companies, but I always wanted to do my own little product. So always thinking of ideas. That where I could sort of start a company around. And I had the idea for the tool card, and it was just sort of the perfect thing at the perfect time to just jump in and do, because it was simple enough that I could kind of design it and get it manufactured and sort of do that on my own. And so that kind of is where we jumped off. But as far as uses, like, kind of unusual things, especially back in the day when we first designed it, we were just running around taking pictures of doing all different kinds of stuff with the tool card and things that I wouldn't think of doing.
Mike Scully [00:06:44]:
It has wrenches and screwdrivers and a little cord cutter, a bottle opener, box opener. So those are kind of our standard tools that are on it and some and some rulers and stuff like that. But we say there's 40 tools on it, but hundreds of uses. So what you're actually going to use it for? It could be anything. I mean, I've used it to scrape frost off my windshield. We pride a jammed quarter out of a gumball machine with it. My wife actually saved a woman who was trapped in a bathroom stall one time wow. Using her tool cards.
Mike Scully [00:07:23]:
So it was kind of neat. Just our sort of thing. When we first started the company, it was just like any little project would pop up and be, oh, I got my tool card, I'm ready to go. Yeah, the uses are kind of like whatever you come across, our tools may be able to help you in some ways.
Jon LaClare [00:07:43]:
And you've managed to grow this not just from uses and a product, but into revenues. Right. So this is everyone's goal in growing a product related business, is how do we turn this into revenues? And the business has grown quite a bit. Next year, you're set to hit a million dollars in revenue, which is fantastic. And along the way, you've, I'm sure, had a lot of learnings we'll talk about. But let's go rewind a little bit to your original launch. How did you originally launch that first product?
Mike Scully [00:08:10]:
Sure. So, yeah, that's kind of how our company launched is I had the idea, and this was in 2015, when I first kind of decided that we were going to do this. But Kickstarter was a few years old at that point, but it had kind of grown sort of from this sort of very obscure thing that techies or real early adopters were into, into having sort of a larger audience. And it was sort of a great time for Kickstarter because it was a good blend of there were a lot of people on it and excited about it but not as many projects being created. So the competition wasn't quite as difficult. We just did a Kickstarter for the tool card and we had a really good launch. We also rolled that into Indiegogo. We raised about a little over $100,000 through crowdfunding, so that was enough to kind of get us going and pay for our tooling and our first batch of inventory and kind of got going.
Jon LaClare [00:09:16]:
From there and then going forward several years now to today. You mentioned in a quick conversation before this interview, you're in kind of a time of transition. So how is the business now changing as you more from this growing business that's been working on a lot of things over the years to being focused now on a few things. So what's next for you?
Mike Scully [00:09:37]:
Yeah, well, just kind of going into that transition back in 2016 when we launched or 27, the first sort of full year of the tool card ecommerce, it was a different ballgame and we were kind of new to it. But we were having people just rip our Kickstarter video and throw it up on YouTube and know we would just send a product to some influencer somewhere and they would do an unboxing video for free and we would just get tons of sales. Or we would just put some stuff on Pinterest and get lots of sales. But every year it gets more and more competitive and a lot harder to sort of make it work. So you have to keep continually sort of adjust your strategy and kind of go with what's working and try to stay ahead of the curve a little bit. But yeah, as far as an adjustment that we're making now, I focused on a lot of the wrong things. I think for the first few years of the company, I think one, we got fooled a little bit by this early success of the tool card into thinking we were really going to grow a lot faster than we ended up growing. And so I hired a few people to kind of accelerate that growth.
Mike Scully [00:11:01]:
And we got an office space and we sort of had planned for kind of a continued growth, but it was more sort of like we were getting a little bit better and things were getting a little bit harder. And so the growth was kind of slow and hard to come by. And then we launched a second product which is called the Bit Vault and we also launched that on Kickstarter. And at the time I actually tried to launch two very similar products. There was the Bit Vault and the Bit Light and they were kind of the same thing. It was a waterproof carry case that you could keep hex bits in and turn it into a screwdriver. So it was a neat little tool where you could keep pills and toothpicks and any little small items that you wanted to carry safely on a day to day basis, but also keep a few hex bits in there. If you were a cyclist or you had something where you had specific bits that you wanted to have with you, you could do that as well and turn it into a screwdriver.
Mike Scully [00:12:05]:
So that was the bit vault and then the bit light added a little flashlight feature to that. So there was a little battery and some Led bulbs in there and the product development of that was a lot more complicated probably than we were ready for and more expensive. And then as we were getting ready to launch or we launched our Kickstarter with the two products, and then kind of as we were developing it further for mass production, a lot of sort of very small, very powerful. Flashlights came out onto the market because the Led technology had changed, and we were going to be kind of releasing sort of an obsolete flashlight with the bit light. So I tried to sort of reengineer it to fit with a new LEDs, but it was just mike, our costs were getting out of control and it just wasn't going to work. So I actually had to come back to our Kickstarter backers and be like, we're not going to be able to launch this product. So we refunded all the backers who had backed that BitLight product or we gave them the option they could switch to the bit vault if they wanted, but Kickstarter is hit or miss. If the company can't fulfill a project, you can be out of luck.
Mike Scully [00:13:32]:
But we didn't want to do that. We wanted to make sure anyone that backed us and supported us got their money back and weren't any worse off for showing us faith in our company. So that was a painful experience because it really sort of set us back financially and time wise. I had sunk a lot of time and energy into developing that and then now we just have the one product which was the bit vault, which was a good product for us and I'm actually redesigning that now for next year. But that sort of added to sort of made things more difficult, having to try to move forward with sort of being in a hole with some debt and that kind of thing. After that, we added a third product called the Cable kit. And that's where we get into the sort of the electronics accessories, which is sort of adding these products and sort of growing that way, growing our offerings, growing our top line sales. But at the same time, things were getting more expensive in terms of marketing and just sort of every aspect of the business each year was sort of getting more expensive and creeping up on us.
Mike Scully [00:14:52]:
And we started to have some manufacturing issues with the tool card and costs were getting higher. So I kind of made a decision at the beginning of the year that we really needed to just scale back a little bit and refocus on what we're good at, which is coming up with new, cool new products. And then I needed to focus on marketing to let the world know about it. Those were sort of the marketing side is something where I have not spent enough attention over the last five years. But I realized that's really the most important thing probably of running a business. So that's our renewed focus. It's product development and marketing. And I'm excited to be creating more new products again, that's exciting and I.
Jon LaClare [00:15:44]:
Think it's great advice or a great example for businesses, really, at all levels, that renewed focus is necessary for us, right? So we may not realize, we may not be thinking about it, but I would encourage all of our listeners, what in your business could you simplify, could you reduce to help you really focus on what's driving your success? So, Mike, as you mentioned, for you, that's new product development, that's sales and marketing, and those are elements for, frankly, a lot of our listeners, probably we could always be doing more in the marketing space. And I think that is an area that is often forgotten or put aside, especially with inventors, right? So when you are so good at bringing out new products, developing on them, et cetera, it's a different animal to think about how to market that product, that business, et cetera. So it's a good area to focus on, for sure.
Mike Scully [00:16:33]:
Yeah. And the marketing side, the sales side, really, that's where I should have been focusing, but I kind of was doing all kinds of stuff and going down a lot of different paths. And the more sort of things you try to focus on, the less of your time goes into what's really important. And for us, launching new products, like I said, and marketing. And they kind of go hand in hand because when we go through a product launch and we come out with something new, that really boosts our marketing because we can then show something new to our audience and our customers and also sort of the influencers in our space and there's a lot of excitement around it. If influencers are just trying to pitch a product that's five years old and a lot of people have already seen it, it's not quite as exciting. So we want to get into a cycle and a rhythm where we're launching a new product every at least two or three a year, and ideally more than that, where we can just keep that momentum and that excitement kind of ebbing and flowing a few times throughout the year.
Jon LaClare [00:17:50]:
That's a great connection, I think a great nugget to pull out of this interview in my mind is that connection between new product development and marketing. It really makes marketing easier when you bring out new products on a consistent basis. Like you said, it's more of a story for you to share with your existing audience, but also for influencers or others that you work with outside your business as well. That's a great yeah, and one thing.
Mike Scully [00:18:11]:
We found, we did a new Kickstarter for our newest product over the summer and we were marketing for the Kickstarter launch and there's like an excitement around it's almost like get in on this new thing. If you're marketing and you're collecting an email to let them know when the launch is going to happen, there's less of a commitment on the person who's interested in the product because it's more just like, oh yeah, let me know about the launch. Sure, you can have my email and let me know when that's coming. So the marketing for that and then the build up for that is it's an event. It's like this is a special sale that you're only going to get once if you join this crowdfunding campaign. So there's a lot of elements of good marketing sort of baked into a product launch, which I think helps a lot as well. You've got scarcity, you've got a discount, you've got the FOMO, I guess, and there's a limited time, like you said, it makes everything easier to market when you've got something new and exciting.
Jon LaClare [00:19:24]:
Agreed. Yeah, great point. Well Mike, are there any resources that have been really helpful to you and your business or your journey along the.
Mike Scully [00:19:34]:
There'S? You mean like software type resources?
Jon LaClare [00:19:37]:
Could be like any books or websites or mentors or conferences that have been helpful to you?
Mike Scully [00:19:42]:
Sure. Just on the software side, we use WooCommerce, WordPress and WooCommerce, which is a little bit unusual. I think most people are probably on shopify these days. But for a while I was struggling to try to find the plugins and whatever to sort of make our store what I wanted it to be with sort of more automated funnels and sort of upsells and cross sells and order bumps and that kind of stuff. So we found a software called it was called Woofunnels, but I think they changed the name to Funnel Kit, which basically it's a nice plugin that lets you turn a WooCommerce store into more of a store with funnels and more kind of upsells downsells, all that optionality and some better shopping carts and that kind of stuff. And then tie it in with your email marketing. So for us on WooCommerce, that was kind of a neat discovery for me as far as books and stuff. Right now I've been binging on the game podcast with Alex Hormozi.
Mike Scully [00:20:59]:
I don't know if you're familiar with Alex Hormozi, but he actually has written two books on marketing. That one is called Million Dollar Offers, the other is Million Dollar Leads and they break down those aspects of marketing and product development in a very just succinct way. And I feel like it's very thorough, but it's also understandable and it's succinct and he lays it out in a framework that makes a lot of sense to me. So I've been really enjoying that. So I would recommend those two books too.
Jon LaClare [00:21:38]:
Great advice. Thank you for sharing those. Well, Mike, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Mike Scully [00:21:46]:
I guess the only thing that I didn't touch on is I mentioned this a little bit. We've got a new product that just launched on Kickstarter and Indiegogo. It's called the Edgext and it's a little sort of keychain size multi tool that has ten different tools built into it. But the neat thing is it's got a retractable little exacto blade that kind of you can extend. It uses a little exacto knife or whatever you need a knife for, but it's small and slim so you can keep it on your keychain or just throw it in a bag and it's just really easy to carry. And so I'm very excited about that new product and our inventory just shipped, so we should be getting that in early November and we're going to fulfill our Kickstarter orders and then hopefully we'll have that on Amazon by late November and on our website late November. So that's a cool little product that makes a great gift. Or if you're into tools and then since your audience is kind of focused on business and a lot of entrepreneurs, if anyone's looking for corporate gifts for their employees or good customers for the holidays, we've got some neat little products that they might want to check out.
Mike Scully [00:23:01]:
So just at Levergearcom.
Jon LaClare [00:23:05]:
That's great, Mike. And you mentioned a discount for audience as well.
Mike Scully [00:23:09]:
So if anyone does reach you, if you're into we wanted to get some corporate gifts. If you saw something you liked on there, just send me an email, it's just Mike@leveragyear.com. And let me know you're interested in seeing what we have for corporate gifts and mention the podcast and I'll take 10% off the price of those corporate gifts.
Jon LaClare [00:23:32]:
Mike Scully [00:23:34]:
And if anyone just wants to buy something on the website, they see something they like just for themselves or a Christmas present, you can use MikeS10 when you check out, it'll save you 10%.
Jon LaClare [00:23:46]:
Awesome. Great line of products, great business, and thanks for the stories you shared today too. Our audience, please visit levergear.com. We'll put all the other information that Mike mentioned so the corporate gifting, discount, et cetera, in the show notes as well. So if you're driving, check it out when you get back to your home or the office. We can always go to Levergear.com to check out mike's, great line of products. Thanks again for joining the show.
Mike Scully [00:24:09]:
Mike. Thank you, John. I appreciate it.
Jon LaClare [00:24:11]:
Please visit levergear.com to learn more. And be sure to check out our website, 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 hundreds of products since 2007, you can download our secret sauce, our product marketing campaign cheat sheet at harvestgrowthsecretsauce.com. Or you can go to our website, harvestgrowth.com, and set up an appointment to speak one on one with a member of our team to answer any questions you might have.