Gable Eaton — TeqTouch
Listen To Your Audience To Have A Successful Product
A former White House marine shares his story of persistence, discipline, and building relationships. Today, we speak with Gable Eaton, the Founder of TeqTouch and creator of UTouch. He discussed how he built a successful product that blocks germs from touch screens even before the era of COVID-19.
UTouch is a patented wearable stylus used as a barrier for protection against germs on public touchscreens and touchpads. It is made of grade 50A durable, nontoxic silicone. UTouch uniquely designed features include raised nodules for max interaction, accommodation aperture for longer fingernails, and a snug fit that contours to the user’s finger.
In today’s episode of the Harvest Growth Podcast, we’ll cover:
You can watch the full video interview here: https://youtu.be/Ub1GkanZvls
Check out UTouch by TeqTouch at TeqTouch.com. Use the discount code “harvestgrowth” to get 50% off a pack of five.
Do you have a product that you’d like to launch or grow? Do you want help from a partner that has successfully launched hundreds of products that now total over $2 billion in revenues? Visit HarvestGrowth.com to set up a free strategy call. Check out InfomercialMarketer.com for educational content on all things surrounding direct-response marketing.
Jon LaClare: A former White House marine shares his story of persistence, discipline and building relationships, and how he built a successful product that blocks germs from the touchscreen of any device even before the era of COVID. 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 Gable Eaton. He's the founder of TeqTouch and the creator of the UTouch product, which is really cool.
For those of you who are watching on video, you can kind of see it in the background. Many of you are listening on audio, of course. So, I encourage you to check out his website, which is teqtouch.com. That's T-E-Q-T-O-U-C-H.com Of course, it's in our show notes as well, but teqtouch.com you'll see his line of products. Gable, I'm so excited to have you on the show. I love this product.
Gable Eaton: Thank you much for having me here. I greatly appreciate it and I love your show.
Jon: Oh, thank you. I really appreciate that. Tell us about your product. What is the TeqTouch?
Gable: Okay. TeqTouch is the company and the product that I created is called a UTouch. It's actually a wearable tech that you waer on your finger so that you don't have to come in direct contact with germs on public touchscreens, and touch pads, and also shared work devices. I created it mostly because when I exited the service, I am a marine, when I exited the service and entered into corporate America, a lot of people will reach over to touch your screen and that kind of annoyed me a little bit and they will leave fingerprints and smudges behind. This was around 2016 when I came up with this idea and got the patent for it. I wanted a way where people would not leave fingerprints on my screen. Of course, it morphed into what it is today, a personal device that you can wear on your finger that you don't have to now come in contact with those screens, those touchscreens in public.
Interestingly enough, it morphed again into what's called a branding tool, because you can put your company logo there and on the key chain [unintelligible 00:02:15], which is pretty cool. That was the idea behind it. I just didn't like coming in contact with those germs on those touchscreens, and as you can see now today, everywhere you go, there's a touchscreen, or touchpad. It was amazing how I got to the whole patent process, coming up with the actual concept of what it should look like, and how it should feel. It was a long journey. I've got some pictures on my IG that shows you how it morphed into [laughs] what it is today, from this big bulky piece that you would put on your finger to this sleek piece that goes on your finger now.
Jon: Originally, it was more about fingerprints. I'm assuming now, are people buying them a lot because of not transferring germs, just during the COVID era? Have you seen a change in the reasons that people are buying and using your product?
Gable: I'm going to tell you something. Again, I created this product pre-COVID, and I actually came to market in 2019, just a little bit before COVID made landfall. All the people, from the company lab in Chattanooga, Tennessee, all the people that I introduced the product to, once they use the product, try the product, you can bet everyone came back to me and said, "You know what? I can't touch a touchscreen anymore. This is disgusting. Ever since you introduced me to UTouch, I just can't do it." So, I like to think that I create a product that has real utility. Yes, the answer to your question is yes, the feedback has been tremendous.
Sales are slow, but steady. Again, it's about working with the media and the partnerships that you create, to actually get the word out about the product and what it's for, but once people realize what this product is for, and the fact that they can carry it with them on their key chain, in your little case, you're hooked. It's like, "Let me get this thing. I'm going to need this." Okay, the feedback has been pretty good.
Jon: You mentioned how some of your-- I think you said this was a surprise to you, but some of your business has come from promotional brands. So, you're adding brands or logos to the product as well, which if I understood you correctly, that was not originally part of your intention, correct?
Gable: No, it wasn't. There's a long backstory to how all of this actually came about, the thought process about creating something, and just fulfilling that need to be a creator to produce something of use. I originally, again, created this to sell them individually, to individuals, to use my website to do what everyone else does, to use IG and Facebook ads to drive traffic to the website. Then, I was speaking with someone and they said, "This is a great branding tool." So, from there, the idea of, "Wow, this could be a branding tool." I actually contacted a few people in [unintelligible 00:05:38], one of my military groups, they actually came on board and said, "Hey, we'd like to order some of these," and that kind of started before me.
Okay, well, this is another avenue, another, how to say, a stream of revenue that is useful, and I produced this unit for them with their company logo on it. It worked out pretty good and I'm in pursuit of other companies that want a unique branding tool. Southern Company here in Atlanta, they purchased a number of units as well. So, to answer your question, becoming a brand new tool, especially in this environment, is something that became totally viable.
Jon: It's interesting, we have a client from a few years ago that start off, and they were a successful business, really cool line of products and they were a couple million dollars in sales roughly at the time, and kind of like you, stumbled into promotional products, stumbled into the idea of adding a brand or logo to their product line, and that just catapulted their business. It's not for everybody, right. Every business is different, but I think it's a good learning to think of being open for what's next for your business. We can't always force the future of what we should be doing with our business. It's not about writing a business plan and sticking to it never making a change, or being open to ideas like this.
For them, it took them from a couple million dollars in sales, to eventually well over $10 million in sales per year and sold off their business. It was really, in large part, because of just listening to their audience and finding this unique opportunity of adding logos, making it into a promotional product and really catapulted their growth. Again, that might not be the same answer for everybody. It sounds like it's working well for you, too, but just being open to something, watching for the next opportunity for your business, I think, is an important thing to learn from.
Gable: I agree with you, most definitely. My goal is to actually do that, to move more into the promotional space. My Chimera is square. I would love for Square to include two of these in each package that they sell. Those are the [unintelligible 00:07:52] that you look for, but you're absolutely right, and as you explained, the other company, it took them from doing a couple of million to doing whatever they're going to join today, more larger numbers. For me, the numbers are great, but also just getting a great product out there that can quite possibly prevent someone from becoming ill, because those touchscreens actually house germs from 2 to 30 days. I think that the product that I created has real utility use, and it's also a mitigating product for some of these companies, where people are moving back into the workplace and they have [unintelligible 00:08:30] . So, yes.
Jon: That's very true, and I think your point made earlier on it's partly about germs, fingerprints on your own device, from other people or whatever, too, but I think the good timing for this is the world now even when COVID-- some say will never go away entirely, but even if it does, our consciousness of germs, bacteria, sickness is out there, and there's so many touchscreens everywhere that it makes you do a double take, whether you just finished a meal in a restaurant, and now you pay, when they bring it to the table and you've got the little device, you work on their screen, to the gas station, to really everywhere you go.
It's really about touchscreens, you touch them so often and a simple device like this, I love the concept where it really can change how we interact with devices, keeping ourselves safe from any potential germs out there, COVID or anything else.
I love how-- as you know, I sent you some questions before we started this interview just to get your thoughts on, for one, was what helps you to be successful. I like your answer. You talked about for you, it's all been about persistence and relationships, which I think are topics that can work really for anybody, whatever category we're in. I love it. It's a great way to answer that question. Can you talk more about that? How are those two characteristics, being persistent and improving relationships, how that really helped you to improve your business?
Gable: It was a great question and I was really happy that you asked that question because it was a learning experience. I learned that even if you have a great product, no one's going to do business with you because they don't know you. You have to be vetted, and the only way to be vetted is to be persistent in creating and building that relationship. It is so important, whether it's with your chamber of commerce, or with me, it's with groups like Bunker Labs, or it's with groups like American Corporate Partners, or someone like that. The time that you take to invest in those people is the time that they're going to take invest in you.
The persistent part comes from, you may not be doing the sales that you want. I'm an entrepreneur, I've been blessed enough to have some financial help, but this is all on me. There are times when you have to make some really tough decisions. Are you going to stand behind your product? Are you going to stand behind your company? Are you going to keep going? Because as an entrepreneur, it takes just that one customer that's going to take you somewhere else. You have to have that mindset that, "This is what I'm doing. This is who I am. I am TeqTouch. My product is UTouch. This is who I am, and this is what I'm about." You have to stick to it because-- what was the book? Field of gold or diamonds or something like that, it's just that short from getting there. You have to be persistent, you have to continue to build on those relationships and stay in contact with those people. They can't be one-offs.
Jon: I think, to me, that lines up really well with your military experience. First of all, thank you so much for your service. Of course,
Gable: Thank you.
Jon: I'm always not surprised, but it's interesting to see how many really successful companies are founded and run by military veterans. I've got many friends, I didn't take the chance to serve militarily, but I've got lots of friends that have over the years, and I love hearing their stories and see how they've learned. A lot of them talk about the experience that they got in the military didn't translate directly to maybe what their career is, or the company they founded later on in life. You didn't learn how to make reusable tech in the military, I'm assuming, but you did learn a lot of qualities and characteristics that made you who you are and helps you to be very successful. Is there something that stands out from your military background that you credit with your success?
Gable: I'm a former White House Marine. I did two years White House TV under Reagan. The first thing that you learned at that duty station at 8th & I is discipline. Discipline, discipline, discipline. There are times when you're testing, that discipline is tested, even your character is tested where you have to do what you say you're going to do. Sometimes it's difficult being an entrepreneur because the terrain changes. That's another thing, learning that terrain, but it's about that discipline. Again, those relationships. I was really struggling really bad last year, I was struggling. Then, I've reconnected with my military family, veterans that are in business, and that encouragement is there.
It has followed me from the military. It followed me into the trucking industry, it followed me into the moving industry. Now, I'm learning to use it in my own company. The discipline, and again, those relationships. So, now I'm building those bridges, bridging that gap with my military people who are in business. It's interesting that in my younger years, one of the things that I learned that most CEOs or most people, management, upper management, they all have some form of-- a lot of them have military background. So, that skill does translate. While creating a type of product does not come from the military, but having the discipline to see it through and learning to build those relationships.
Jon: Yes, I love that, and I think whether it's military or whatever background we come from, I think sometimes inventors or product marketers feel a little bit stuck in the beginning like, "I don't have experience doing this," but it's really experience creating who you are. Your background gave you these characteristics to be able to succeed and figure things out, which is really the job of an entrepreneur, right? There's no handbook that tells you everything you need to know, but the ability to figure things out along the way, and having, as you mentioned, the discipline and persistence to keep at it.
I' love to hear more stories about your time at the White House. That's fascinating. We could do a whole nother podcast interview on that and find those stories out. I do want to switch gears a little bit. You also mentioned a $7,000 mistake that you made. I want to talk about that in a second, but first, I want to share a message from one of our partners, Shopify. There's a reason that over 1.7 million e-commerce businesses trust Shopify to handle everything from marketing and payments to secure checkout and shipping. At Harvest Growth, dozens of our clients find that Shopify is the best platform to connect with marketing channels like Facebook and Instagram. We've seen conversion rates more than double for some of these clients when transitioning to Shopify from other platforms.
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Gable: Let me tell you something, that $7,000 mistake set me back about a year, okay, in sales, because that was money that was earmarked for marketing. What I did was I contacted my manufacturer. They sent the samples back, everything worked perfectly well. Just absolutely wonderful. I had a bright idea. That bright idea was in the design of this product, there are nodules on there that you probably can't see there. There's a nodule on the tip right there. I wanted to make it bigger, so that you can have a little bit more pinpoint accuracy when the pinpoint accuracy was there. I asked him to change it, and to make it just a little bit bigger. Mind you, this is a manufacturer, and they say, "Do you know how big you want?" I said, "Just a little bit." They did.
Not only did they do that, they built my tool based on my request. When I got it back, that thing was huge. It would not interact seamlessly with the screen like this one does. You had to hit, hit, and moving. I said I can't go to market like that. I'll be destroyed. It cost me $7,000 to retool. That money was earmarked for something else. It was a costly mistake, a completely totally and costly mistake, and you learn from it, but then again, that's where that persistent stuck in here. [chuckles] I had to be very persistent to stay in there and stick with this and keep it moving. Yes, it was a very costly mistake lesson. If you're dealing with a manufacturer, use those schematics and those diagrams to mark up what you want. Initially, [unintelligible 00:18:05] and make sure your measurements are correct. [laughs]
Jon: It's like the old mantra, "Go slow to go fast." Take the extra time, whether it's being more detailed, marking it up. Even if it says it takes one more round, which wouldn't work with overseas manufacturers. That could take weeks, but getting right is so important. If you go slow in the beginning to get it right, then you avoid potential costly mistakes. I'm sure time lost along the way to get it retooled and fixed later on as well. I will say, that's kudos to you. It shows your character and why you're successful.
Now, with your business, it is the fact that you did take that time and money, when it was desperately needed. Could you just use that tooling and make a product that's not quite good enough, the quality's not there? Sure. You realizee that that's going to impact the long-term viability of the business. Sacrifice short-term revenues and costs out of your personal pocket in order to fix it, get it right, and that's what puts you on that right path for the long term.
I think it's a great example for all of us. It's a good reminder, too, because it's not always that big or obvious. Where you're saying it didn't work really at all or certainly not good enough. Maybe that was a little bit easier decision to make, but so often, we are tempted to cut a corner. It's either to save time, save money, or whatever it might be. Then, at some point, you have to, you got to launch before it's perfect. You can keep tweaking forever, but you've got to make sure the quality is there, it's going to be good enough, that it's going to meet your expectations and your consumers' expectations as well. I think that's a great example we really should all follow in our lives as well. How has that mistake or costly problem, how has that helped change the way you've addressed other problems as they arise in your business?
Gable: I will say this, again, what you just say stated, move slow. Move slow. It's a patented product and move slow for better growth. There are two follow-up products after UTouch. What I know now is going to aid me in bringing those to market. Let let's face it, I'm a guy who came up with a wonderful idea and had the wherewithal to go get a patent to secure my intellectual property. Got it made and put it out there. That mean I did everything backwards. First of all, I didn't think I needed to do any market research because I knew the utility of it, plain simple. That was just something that was innate. I knew the utility of the product.
Of course, in hindsight, now, coming forward, it has worn itself out that it is a product that has a great utility right now. I say that to say this, I did everything wrong. If you can't sit down and write a book on how to do it wrong, you can't figure this out. I can write that book on how to do it wrong and look at how it was done wrong and I can move forward from there and it's like, "No, go get the audience first." Build your audience. Let the people know the product is coming out first. Build up that anticipation. Send out some samples, get some really good feedback. Then, launch that product and then get a professional to help you do it because you can't do this-- I won't say that you can't do, but I will say this, don't do it on your own.
Find the help that you need, build that team that you need to get it out there, because this is not something that's easy. It is not something that's too, too, difficult, but that road is a lot more smoother when you have that team with you. You don't have to learn these hard lessons. The blueprint's already done. Find that blueprint. Of course, you have to tweak it like you say, but find that blueprint, find a person that's done this before and mirror what they've done. Don't do what I did and build a wheel that's shaky a little bit to get to where you wan to go [chuckles].
Jon: I think you learn from others' mistakes or you learn from your own. If you can, you'll find that the more you can get people involved, whether it's a mentor relationship or somebody who's in a similar background. Again, that's a reason I love doing this show is so we can all learn from each other as product marketers, to learn from some of these mistakes so we wouldn't repeat them on our own. If not, even with that, we're going to make some along the way, but as long as you learn from it, you can adjust and improve throughout the process, for sure. Gable, is there anything I didn't ask you that you think would be helpful for our audience?
Gable: I think we pretty much covered it. The idea of being persistent. This started with a vision, it started with a vision, but you have to marry that vision to some OKRs, some KPIs and understanding what it is you have to do. You have to put yourself in that environment that's going to give you the opportunity to grow. People like CO.LAB app, people like Pathway Lending, people like Bunker Labs, those groups and those people, my great advisor Renee Bob. Surround yourself, get those people that are going to help you and want to see you achieve. If anything you can take away from this today, you don't necessarily have to go the hard way. You don't have to go the hard way. The blueprint is out there. You've got a great idea, protect your property, and then find that blueprint and follow it, because it's set in stone out there, but you can tweak it along the way. I would add that.
Jon: Thank you so much, and I encourage our listeners, please check out the UTouch product that Gable has invented and created. It's a fantastic design, fantastic product and their website is Teqtouch. It's T-E-Q touch.com. He's been kind enough for our audience, our listeners. If you use the promo code 'harvestgrowth', one word, you can actually get five Teqtouches for half price. Normally, it's $50. You can get them for just $25 with that promo code 'harvestgrowth'. Also, be sure to check out Harvest Growth podcast.com to see other episodes we've recorded. If you like this episode and wanna 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. Thanks again, Gable. I really appreciate it.
Gable: Thank you. I greatly appreciate it as well.
[00:24:57] [END OF AUDIO]