Do you have a great idea but feel like you don’t have enough experience to successfully market a product? Today we talk to Cheryl Rigdon, inventor of TheSpatty.com, who started as a consumer just wanting to solve a personal frustration. Cheryl shares with us her experiences of going on SharkTank with just a handmade prototype, appearing on Good Morning America and The View with her first batch of inventory, and later expanding her products in retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, and Amazon.
In today’s episode of Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
You can watch the full interview HERE
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Jon LaClare: Today's guest appeared on Shark Tank with a handmade prototype and then went on to appear on Good Morning America and The View after she got her first batch of inventory. Later, her product got into major brick-and-mortar retailers like Bed Bath & Beyond, and Walmart and saw a lot of success on Amazon. How did a speech pathologist with no experience marketing products build a profitable high-growth business so quickly? She shares her story and some great advice in this 20-minute interview.
Welcome to another episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, focused on helping consumer product companies, inventors, and entrepreneurs harvest the growth potential of their product businesses. Today, we're speaking with Cheryl Rigdon. She's the founder, owner, and inventor of The Spatty, thespatty.com. Think spatula when you think that word, T-H-E-S-P-A-T-T-Y the URLs is in the show notes as always. If you're driving, please go check out the show notes afterwards as well.
This is a really cool product, and Cheryl's had a lot of success with it. We're going to hear a lot from her story that hopefully will help you be successful with your businesses as well. Cheryl, welcome to the show. Thanks so much for joining us.
Cheryl Rigdon: Thank you for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Jon: I will let you describe The Spatty. I think you'll do a better job than I can. Tell us for the audience's sake what is The Spatty?
Cheryl: It's a miniature spatula. It's a money-saving tool that goes into virtually any product on the market to retrieve every drop of product. When you can't get your product out and you turn it over and it won't come out, The Spatty goes into those bottles and gets the reminder product for you, so it saves your money and saves your product.
Jon: What are the most common uses for The Spatty that you see either yourself or consumers that you talk to? What types of products?
Cheryl: Beauty's a big one. That's the most expensive, your foundation bottles, your lotion bottles any beauty products. Beauty products, they are very expensive, your lip glosses. Also, we see a lot of use in the kitchen for people with their condiments, their ketchup or mustards, peanut butter, even some of the larger jars of larger openings you can still use it for like peanut butter, Nutella. I think the kitchen and cosmetics are the two areas that we see The Spatty get the most use out of.
Jon: You'll tell me if I'm wrong, but I suspect some of the reasoning or rationale might be a little bit different. You mentioned beauty products can be so expensive. It's on these tiny jars, single ounce, or a couple of ounce jars or whatever that getting every last bit out can be a really a money saver for one thing. In the kitchen, some items are more expensive than others, but sometimes it can be that frustration where you've got that last little bit in there and I don't have anymore.
I want to use the Nutella or peanut butter or whatever, this is my last chance to get something out. It might be a utilitarian benefit as well, right?
Cheryl: Yes. We see it in the kitchen. It's like, "Oh, this is my last bit of ketchup. I don't have another bottle of ketchup to use." No. You have The Spatty there to get it out with. You're making a sandwich and you can't get the mayonnaise out. That's how I see it mostly in the kitchen. It's not so much as a big-money saver, but more of you need to get it out and you don't have any more peanut butter, so you have The Spatty there to get the last of that. With cosmetics, it's definitely a big money saver because there's up to 25% of product left in the containers that you can't get out. It saves you a lot of money throughout the year.
Jon: Yes, absolutely. I would say many of the coolest or best products, best inventions either I've seen or interviewed on our podcast a lot of them seem like, "Yes, that seems like a really obvious idea." Because it's a big problem everybody faces. People may be thinking as they listen to this podcast, "I had that same idea 10 years ago, I should have done something with it or whatever." That's a sign of a great product.
When it's so obvious that the first time you hear about it like, "Yes, of course, I can't believe this doesn't exist already out there in a big way." Can you tell us a little bit about your story? How did you originally come up with the idea?
Cheryl: I do actually hear that all the time about people saying, "Oh, I thought of that, or why didn't I think of that?" Yes, that is something I get a lot. I actually came up with the idea of Spatty out of frustration. I was getting ready to go on a date with my husband. I was putting my makeup on and I couldn't get any more foundation out of my bottle. I turned it over and I was banging it on my hand and nothing was coming out.
I was like, "What can I use to get into my bottle to get the product out?" One thing I could think of that was small enough was a Q-tip. I go and grab a Q-tip and I use it. I'm putting it on my face and I get cotton all on my face. I'm picking the cotton off and I was like, "This isn't working." I take the cotton off and I just use the handle of the Q-tip. It takes forever, but I finally get enough out and I'm like, "There's got to be something that I can buy that will go into my foundation to get this product out." I couldn't find anything, so I was like, "I want to make something myself because I didn't want to waste my product. I didn't want to waste my money." That's where I came out with it, just having that frustration of not being able to get to my product.
Jon: So many great ideas that's exactly how you start as a personal frustration and then kudos to you for doing something about it and designing something that's really beneficial for so many people. One of the great things I've seen about your business is you've had the chance to have some great PR and I can't call it lucky. I can't call it falling in your lap because I'm sure it took a lot of work to get there.
I'd love to talk about how you achieved that, but you've been on the Shark Tank, Good Morning America, The View, and many other local and national shows as well and had some great success from a PR standpoint. Can I ask you, how did you get your product onto these shows?
Cheryl: I feel like I'm lucky getting on these shows definitely. When I went on Shark Tank, it was just a handmade product. It wasn't manufactured. I really had just invented it maybe six months prior to going on Shark Tank. I definitely appreciate my producers that I worked with to get on Shark Tank.
They vouched for me week in and week out on having me be on the show. I think they were great blessings and I'm thankful for them. Being on Shark Tank actually if you got the word out there about the product because it was just handmade, so that's where Spatty got a start, which isn't-- Most physicists can't say that, I don't know how many can say they got their start from a national show like Shark Tank, but that's my story.
Then getting on The View and on Good Morning America, being on Shark Tank helped a lot with that because when I wrote to them and the people who do those shows I could say, "Hey, I was on Shark Tank I want to let more people know about this product. They liked it and that's something they have me on their--" Every year usually on The View and on Good Morning America offering the product on their show. I've had a lot of success with that and it's been great helping, especially the national shows, getting the word out there so more people can know about Spatty and know that they can save money, don't have to waste their products.
Jon: I love how you described how starting with Shark Tank, not everybody can do that as a national very successful show like that at your first time out the gates. The nice thing is you use that as a springboard to get onto other channels or platforms. That actually is a pretty common approach. Again, not starting with Shark Tank, but starting maybe with local news or local shows and then using that to springboard international.
One of the reasons why I've seen that with a lot of our clients and ventures I've talked with over the years is when you talk to a news program, for example, or Shark Tank or any other. They're thinking about a story they don't really care about your product. They're not in the business of driving your success. They're just driving viewers. They want a cool product something that's unique and different, but they also want a cool person.
They want to get to know the person, the story, see that you or somebody, not everyone likes being in front of a camera and that's okay. I'll find somebody from your company that does, but they want to see that there is a person and a product or a person and a business behind it. Once you see that first success, as you've said so eloquently, that can really springboard your success into other PR channels as well. That's a great way of saying that.
Cheryl: Yes, yes. They sure have brought a lot of PR my way, so it's been nice.
Jon: Yes, for sure. Which would you say of the various big shows or programs you've been on has been the biggest driver of sales for you?
Cheryl: In the beginning, Shark Tank definitely. I had to take pre-orders from that show. I didn't have the product yet. I was in the middle of getting the mold made when my episode aired. I was like, "I have no product." I was excited about it being on TV. I got enough pre-orders to pay for the mold and pay for my first production run of product. That was a huge blessing.
Then Good Morning America has also been a good driver of orders and the views since those are your national shows. We have tons of viewers that watch it and are able to see it and learn about The Spatty. Those three I'd say have been my biggest ones.
Jon: Oftentimes, I hear that whatever your first big appearance is can be great. Oftentimes, it gets better as you go because your systems are more in place like you talked with Shark Tank, and you didn't even have the product ready. Not everyone's going to buy a product on pre-order. It would've been of course even better had you had inventory in place, but everyone has their own story of starting, right? You had to start there, that really catapulted you. I'm saying, obviously, you did it the right way for your business but your business and your systems get better as you take advantage of those opportunities over time. It's only going to get better as you progress.
Next time you're on the air. Now you got inventory and then after that you've got maybe digital marketing figured out to retarget the people that don't buy the first time. It can get better and better as you learn with each appearance as you go.
Cheryl: Yes, it is, it does. Yes, definitely each time you learn from past things or-- I think one of the great things now is I think Shark Tank has gotten so big and so many people have bid on it. There's like a group now, so for anybody who's fixing to come on to Shark Tank they can get invited to this group, and they say, "Hey, what helped y'all with y'all sales? Or what did y'all do to help with this?" That's been I think a great support group for people coming on there.
It's also where I could ask questions from each other, great entrepreneurs who have found great success. I can go to them and say, "Hey, this is going on, have you all experienced this? Or I'm thinking about doing this what did y'all do that y'all saw that y'all had luck with?" It's been a great group of people to bounce things off of.
Jon: I would say any business owner whether it's a product business or whatever business you have, that type of support group is immensely important, and obviously, that group is not going to be right for everybody because you have to be on Shark Tank to get that. Don't feel restricted by that, for our audience or listeners, there are many masterminds or groups that you can join or be a part of.
Just find one with the people in a similar circumstance, some that are ahead of you, some that are behind you in terms of their timelines, success, revenues, or however you want to define it and you'll learn from both of those. I think that's a great example. That group is perfect for you and for anybody else that's appeared on Shark Tank, but others I would challenge you. I'm a part of one as well for agency owners, that we're all very different agencies, but we face the same problems and there's a lot of these for product marketers, inventors, et cetera too so that's good advice for-- [crosstalk]
Cheryl: Yes. There's one called Entrepreneur Exchange that's on there and there's a lot of people who have it on Shark Tank that are also in that group. That's a pretty big group for entrepreneurs, the people are looking to start their business that they can go in there and ask questions. There are a lot of Shark Tank companies that are on there as well.
Jon: Very cool. That's good advice. Let's jump over to a little slightly different topic, retail. You've got great PR success, you've had some entry-level website sales to setup your business and eventually got into a lot of retailers as well. Can you list out maybe some of your bigger retailers that you're currently in?
Cheryl: Our first one we got into was Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart's a big one that we're in. We're fixing to get our-- our newest product is the lip Spatty for your lip glosses and lipsticks and sticks when you go into Walmart they're going to put it in a little over 3,000 stores come October just in time for Christmas. Those are probably some of the two big ones I mean, Amazon, which is an online retailer. We're in talks with Dollar General, I'm hoping that it goes over well because they have over 7,000 stores.
We have just one right down the road from us, I mean, they're everywhere. It's a great little store you can just run to, to get something that you need. Hoping everything works out with that and maybe we'll be in Dollar General before the end of the year. It's the biggest one that I'm working on right now but Walmart and Bed Bath & Beyond are our probably our two larger brick-and-mortar stores that we're in.
Jon: I similarly talked with PR how one big appearance can lead to many others, retail is very much the same. They watch each other and they want to hear about success at one before they take on the risk of picking a new product into their listing. It's starting out really helps, getting in one helps you get into many other retailers there as well. Tell us about the process, how did you land your first big retailer?
Cheryl: I think Walmart they do something every year called Made in America, that's how I originally got into Walmart, I applied. There's actually one coming up thinking of still applying to go to it. I think the application's still open, but that was how we got into Walmart originally was going to their Made in America event where they open it up to all these different companies so that looks great getting into that. Then with Bed Bath & Beyond, I had no retail experience, I was a speech-language pathologist and had no idea about how to get into retail, had no idea what I was doing about starting a business.
Somebody contacted me from being on Shark Tank that's what her job was, was to get products into retail. That was a huge help in the beginning. I didn't know what a GS1 barcode was, I didn't know what these programs called EDI were, all these things that you have to have to get into big-box retail. He helped me get all that set up and he had the contacts for a lot of the buyers that we could reach out to and send them samples and that stuff. That was a huge help in the beginning.
He helped me set all that up, he helped initiate some of those first calls, and Bed Bath & Beyond is actually a funny story because we had sent to Bed Bath & Beyond they told me no that they didn't want it. Then I went and met with some store owners locally told them about my product and about Shark Tank and how it's local and was like, "No."Which I'll sell you locally in your store and they said, we have to get approval through corporate. They actually reached out to corporate and so Bed Bath & Beyond actually called me back and said, "Hey, we heard from a couple of local store owners that want your product in the stores," and they wanted it picking it up nationally after I was told no so don't ever take no as an answer, you got to keep going back to them.
Jon: Good advice. I would say necessary advice because especially as a product marketer, you're going to hear no. The best products in the world do not get yeses in the very beginning, at least certainly not from everybody. Yes, just handle those no's work and keep working at it and you'll find a way into the doors, whether it's retail or PR or other initiatives as well. That's great.
Cheryl: I was actually originally told no, from Good Morning America being on their deals and steals segment as well, too because I didn't originally get a deal from the Shark Tank. They're like, "Since you didn't get a deal from Shark Tank they originally did say no to it." I've been on there year in and year out for the past several years so yes, definitely keep going at it. If you get told no, don't take it.
Jon: Well said. Do you have any resources that you recommend to our audience, any books, podcasts, or seminars whatever it might be that have been really helpful? You talked about masterminds or your agents or your group, I should say on Facebook with other Shark Tanks but are there any other resources that you recommend to our audience?
Cheryl: The Entrepreneur Exchange is one that I would definitely recommend because there are a lot of people on there in different stages with their businesses. Like I said there are some people who have been on Shark Tank, a lot of people have been on Shark Tank they're on there, it's actually founded by somebody who was on Shark Tank so I think that's a great resource.
That's where I kind of send people to that reach out to me, I'll try to help the best I can, but also send them there because it's such a big community of people, they're all in different places in their journey, that's a great place to go.
Jon: I'm glad you brought that up because I've had a few guests that have been on Shark Tank and are part of the Facebook group that you mentioned before and of course, it'd be awesome if everyone could join but again, it wouldn't be the same group that we have. There's something to pass by to get onto that group so I think that's a good backup for everybody else if you haven't been there already. A lot of the same people might be able to help you through entrepreneur exchange. Great resource. Thank you. Is there anything I didn't ask you in this interview that you think could be helpful for our audience?
Cheryl: I guess finding the right people to have around you to support you because being an entrepreneur, starting your own business is not easy. You do get a lot of times there are lot downtimes where you might get frustrated or you might feel like I don't want to keep going or this is too hard. I'm getting no's here, just finding people to support you and that way to keep you encouraged. Also, finding the right people like I did beginning because I didn't know anything about getting into retail. Finding that person who knew about that, who knew how to get into retail, helped me out a lot in the beginning because I wouldn't have known kind of what to do.
You can't be an expert on everything. Finding social media person, social media is so big these days, just finding the right group of people around you who have skills and knowledge in areas that you don't have.
Jon: That's good and you will have naysayers, not just retailers, not just Good Morning America, but you'll have friends and family that may think your idea is stupid, right? Like it's just the nature of launching a product. Not everyone is going to love it, not everyone's going to support it or understand why you're even doing it so talk to people that can support you. You mentioned a support group of whatever that might be in terms of agencies or brokers or experts in the field, absolutely.
Also, positive people in your life. People that are going to be there to support you because we're all going to have down days. I talked with a lot of successful product marketers like yourself that you still-- Not every day is a win, right? You still have difficulties.
Jon: Things go wrong in even in the most successful business, so having positive people to support around you is really important. Thanks for bringing that up. Again, thank you, Cheryl, for taking the time. It's just been a great interview. For the listeners, please go to TheSpatty.com to learn more. Also, be sure to check out Harvest Growth Podcast to see other episodes we've recorded. If you like this episode and you want to learn more about how you can profitably grow your consumer product business, please subscribe to our show and leave us a review at iTunes or Google Play.
I will say, also, check out the show notes. We got a promo code, a discount code the show has put on the website, TheSpatty.com. If you use the discount code "harvestgrowth" you'll get a 25% discount off of your purchase. I encourage everyone, at least check out the website, and see the great work that she's done. If you love the products, then please buy one. It's a fantastic product. Cheryl, thanks again for your time. I really appreciate it.
Cheryl: Oh, thanks for having me. I enjoyed it.
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