ExpertCPG Podcast Episode 11

Turning Media Attention Into Retail Success

ExpertCPG Commerce Podcast
ExpertCPG Commerce Podcast
Turning Media Attention Into Retail Success
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ExpertCPG Commerce Podcast: Episode 11

Join us as we dive into Tim Swindle‚Äôs entrepreneurial journey, from creating hit board games to launching Paddle Smash. Discover the highs and lows of bringing innovative products to market and valuable insights for brands looking to grow. Don’t miss out on the strategies that can take your business to the next level!

Ready to elevate your brand on Amazon? For a Free ExpertCPG Amazon Audit, to get valuable insights, strategy tips, actionable ways to boost your Amazon sales, and ways to increase your brand’s visibility and growth, visit https://go.expertcpg.com/amazon-audit to sign up and begin your journey to success.

 

Podcast Video

 

About our Guest

TIM SWINDLE

PaddleSmash – Co-Founder

Bio: Tim Swindle is an entrepreneur and the co-founder of PaddleSmash, a Pickleball and roundnet hybrid that’s making waves in the backyard game world. After starting in commercial real estate, Tim pivoted to software where he built and sold a company for 8-figures in 2016. Soon after, Tim moved into the toy and game industry with his card game Utter Nonsense, which he sold to U.S-based PlayMonster for 8x EBITDA. As Pickleball became the fastest-growing sport in North America, Tim rode the momentum, launching PaddleSmash in 2018.

Contact Information:

linkedin.com/in/timswindle

https://paddlesmash.com/

 

 

Podcast Video Transcript

Ryan Flynn: [00:00:00] All right. So today 

Tom_11: Good.

Ryan Flynn: happy to welcome Tim Swindle. I’ve known Tim for a number of years, serial entrepreneur. We’re going to talk about a few different things today¬†

Tom_11: Good for you, Adam. 

Ryan Flynn: with, including. His most 

Tom_11: Hey. 

Ryan Flynn: paddle smash, which you may have seen on shark tank. So Tim, welcome to the program.

Appreciate you coming on.

Tom_11: Thanks, Ryan. Thanks for having me on. Hey.

Could I you? Yeah, So, 

Ryan Flynn: I wanted to talk to is we do this kind of founder stories series as someone that has done a bunch of different things and entrepreneurship and starting companies and brands and sharing your experience, with us and with the listeners.

So tell us a little bit about, background about how you first got, into the toy game space first. Tell us about your first foray into that.

Tom_11: the first one I did was a board game called Utter Nonsense, and it’s like akin to Cards Against Humanity, for those of you that are familiar with that game. I had read an article in Inc. magazine. That covered cards against humanity and talked about how they came to market [00:01:00] doing a Kickstarter, finding a car manufacturer and whatever.

So,I’ve read that article that basically provided a blueprint for how they went from just being some bunch of buddies, to, to creating this, you know, hit game. And it resonated with me because I had a game that I’d been playing with my friends for a number of years. Where we would be just like late night at the lake house or whatever and run out of things to do and, came up with this concept which then became, you know, utter nonsense.

So, anyway, that inspired me to, follow their blueprint and, created the game, launched it on Kickstarter and, that kind of launched me into the toying game space. so that’s the origins of that. At that time, it was a side hustle So,I was actually an entrepreneur in software.

And so that was my main gig and decided to do the board game, as a side hustle on nights and weekends.

Ryan Flynn: And this is really kinda with the advent of Kickstarter, right? Like this was around, like Kickstarter was relatively pretty new at the [00:02:00] time, correct?

Tom_11: Yes, it was,and it started to carve out a niche with board games and games in particular. So that particular category seemed to do really well on there. Yeah. And, again, I didn’t know any better. I wasn’t like a huge fan of Kickstarter, but I, it was like based on this blueprint that I saw off like, well, that’s what those guys did.

so that’s what I’m going to do. And,so that was how we launched it, brought it to the world. Didn’t really crush it or anything on Kickstarter. Like you see some games do, we only raised, I think $15,000 or $16,000 But it was that first win. It just, it got the ball moving, proved in some way that we were on to something.

And, that then led to an introduction to my now business partner. He at the time owned a chain of retail shops called Marbles the Brain Store.

And,

it became very apparent to me quickly that what Cards Against Humanity had created in the market was, a void within retail, because they weren’t selling to retailers, they were very [00:03:00] specific about who they would sell to, mostly just online through Amazon and their website, they created a void for these kind of adult party games at retailers.

And when my game came out again, it was like an adult, different game style, but, it was just like adult board game. Retailers were very hungry for it. So I was like, Oh, this is how I could be different. And, we started selling to retailers. and my first one was Scott and then.

Shortly after target picked it up Barnes and Noble Walmart, and it just took off from there.

Ryan Flynn: Yeah. It’s awesome. I was just, talking to somebody else about, you know, timing is a lot of it, right? it’s just like the market demands there and you’re just lying there waiting, your game, you just launched it and it it just to, you know, not to take any, anything away from all the hard work and

Tom_11: No, it’s

it was great. Absolutely. Yeah, it’s no, it’s not lost on me. I just happened to catch a trend at the right time. And, it was funny, that the one with target was the most interesting because they’re a big deal. And they don’t just take games off the street like that, like they did ours.

And I [00:04:00] just got very lucky with this one buyer who just had a very strong interest in my game for whatever reason. And I was very scared of working with target because, you know, these are big, massive companies. They place huge purchase orders. And if they decide to change their mind, they can basically like make you take them back.

And I had no way of selling through those, so it was a scary kind of proposition to work with a retailer of that size, And I kept, I would share this with the buyer. I’m like, no, like we’ll wait. Cause you know, this reason, this reason, and he just was like, okay, we’ll take that clause out of the contract.

You know, once we gave the PO, we can’t take it back or whatever. So I kept saying, no, he just kept finding ways to, to convince me to say yes. Eventually to where I was like, okay, I’m making a bad business decision by not, moving forward here. And, uh, we did.

And that kind of really put us on a different,

Ryan Flynn: Yeah. And I’m curious, were you calling on Target or did they just

Tom_11: no,they found us. Yeah. there’s like a couple of different [00:05:00] versions that I’m not exactly sure. I’m still friends with the buyer. his name is Mark, but, I think we were in some small trade publication at the time I had my sister come help me, She was, I guess like a school teacher, but she had some extra time.

And I was like, Hey, start trying to find a way to find some publications that would talk about our game. So she got us in one, it was toying game news, UK, and. Our game was not sold in the UK. So I was like, okay, great. nice work. but guess what? Guess who does read Towing Gabe News UK? The buyers target looking for new products.

So they read this article, the article, I think also mentioned that we were in marbles, that store that, my business partner Scott founded, and they had like a cool, reputation also within the industry for finding like new and upcoming products. So I think it was a combination of this little obscure publication plus what the story he liked about us and that we were already having some traction and they [00:06:00] found us actually they reached out and,convinced us to come in, which just sounds funny now that he had to convince us to come in when I would like, knowing what I know, I’d be begging him to take the game.

Ryan Flynn: That’s wild. So you wake up to that, the email in your inbox,

Tom_11: Yeah, it was wild. It was wild. Yep.

Ryan Flynn: that’s awesome. All right. So you had,a great, hit with utter nonsense, obviously, and a lot of success with that. us about the next chapter of your entrepreneur journey?

What was that for that?

Tom_11: Sure. so at that time, again, it was like, I had the software company and this little bootstrap board game software company was venture backed, raise a ton of capital, burning a ton of capital, running big teams, very stressful. And, then I had this like silly idea for a game that, took off.

So I was like, that’s way more fun. The game side of things is like way more fun. Fortunately, we sold our software company to LinkedIn. that worked out, the board game company, we released a couple of different versions of that game and then started getting some calls from bigger players within the space, private equity [00:07:00] backed company, toy game companies that are out there, one in particular play monster based in Wisconsin, and they ended up acquiring the company.

so that was like the end of that journey. 

Ryan Flynn: Was it a hard decision? Like, did you want to go down that path of selling it, or was it like,a really tough, you know, that was your, that was your baby, right? That

Tom_11: it was my baby, but I don’t have the same kind of,a lot of people do look at that, their product, like truly is their baby and it means everything to them. I didn’t have that kind of relationship to it, butit had also created a little bit of controversy in my life. I had, originally a business partner was a good buddy.

Um,the product did better than the relationship, unfortunately. So. It just kind of, you know, had soured, the product for me, you know, it was like it ruined a really good friendship and I was okay just closing that chapter

and, and being done with it. so yeah,it was not as difficult of a decision as you might,

um,

¬†I appreciate you going into that. And so you sold, Utter Nonsense, right? and then did you already have the next thing on deck? Or were you walking to the forest and trying to [00:08:00] figure out what you’re going to do¬†

yeah, there’s a little more of that, to be honest with you. I actually, I, I took some time off. I went and traveled for like six months with my, what was then my girlfriend who became my fiance, now wife. but with the goal, like she, I remember this specifically, like we were traveling in like in the Southern hemisphere for six months.

And, I was like, all right, I’m going to go find my next idea. my next product, going, walking the streets of Vietnam or something, that never happened, I was like, I was definitely on the antennas up of trying to like, see what might be out there, that I could maybe take back to the States or whatever.

¬†so yeah, that never came to be as I’d hoped. so I, one other thing I did that was in the toy game space, I had partnered with a YouTube influencer.and we created like this basketball trick shot game with ping pong balls, called alley hoopster and that just didn’t work.

so I just want to make sure I’m not giving you all the hits here. I don’t just wake up and poop wins. they’re [00:09:00] not, it’s harder than it looks. so yeah, so we created this game around him. And, it just didn’t hit, it didn’t hit. And, you know, we had 5 million plus followers across,¬† Instagram and things like that.

Uh, so our philosophy or idea or thesis was the distribution side of the business is probably like the hardest part, the product side, coming up with the ideas, product development is not easy, but it’s easier than the distribution side and actual selling of the products. And the one thing I learned with utter nonsense was while target was great.

they ended up also being roughly like 80 percent of my business. And games, unless you’re an evergreen game, like a monopoly, they tend to be, you have a shelf life of call it five to seven years. So that was always like nerve wracking to me that like at some day, like target’s going to wake up and be like, you know what, this game is out and we’ve got the new stuff coming [00:10:00] in.It also brings up where, what you guys do or I wanted to control my own destiny. So either like sell through Amazon or website, et cetera, so that, you know, no matter what, like I’m in charge in controlling my destiny, not, a buyer at whatever XYZ company, but it’s still hard to get your word out there.

And so the idea was like, okay, partner with a, like an influencer who has an audience,

let them be the distribution. Piece of it, and at least get that off the ground where then hopefully you go beyond that and you just go off into the ether. but it just, it never really clicked with this audience.

I think in hindsight, one of the mistakes we made was his audience was largely like 10 to 14 year old boys. So while the product might be good for them, they don’t have any money to buy stuff. and so it’s also who are you creating? the Product for, but who’s also the buyer of that product.

and a lot of times it’s moms, moms will have the share of wallet,[00:11:00] to go and buy these products. the moms though. Aren’t the ones watching his YouTube clips though. So,¬†

you’re relying on like the kid to go tell mom to buy it versus communicating to that buyer directly.

So anyway, it just wasn’t the right, fit. So that, didn’t work out. but Scott and I were together at the time working. That was something him and I did together. Scott, as it turns out, my business partner is a really big pickleball player. And he was like, always telling me how pickleball is exploding.

This is before it is what it is now of like pickleball is just everywhere. And so we were trying to come up with something in the pickleball space. We didn’t want to just be another racket or. Paraphernalia. I don’t know. We just wanted, uh, apparel, excuse me. Um, and so it was like, all right, what could we do?

So we actually concepted something that was very similar to what is now Paddle Smash, And, around that same time, we were introduced to what is the inventor of Paddle Smash. we saw it and [00:12:00] we played it and we were just like, okay, this is something we want to pursue.

So we ended up taking that and licensing it from him. and then taking it to market.

Ryan Flynn: So you guys you thinking about like a game around it and then you came upon paddle smash or were you just 

Tom_11: was weird. 

Ryan Flynn: to take a, yeah, take advantage of paddle ball. Or what was that? What 

Tom_11: Uh, yeah, it was, we’re trying to come up with a game that was like tangential to pickleball, like how can we ride the coattails of this huge trend in pickleball, but not just be in, like I said, like another, it’s hard because it’s like, all right, you got a paddle and a ball and a net, and there’s like I just, I don’t know.

Like how else do you can really compete in that space? so this, when we saw this, it was like, Oh, this is interesting. This is like a take on pickleball. It’s not pickleball. It’s something that people can just play in their backyard. So if you’re looking for this flavor of pickleball, but you don’t have access to courts or courts are always crowded, or you’re going camping, you know, and you just want to [00:13:00] get a taste of pickleball, it’s something you can just Bring anywhere, play in your backyard, whatever.

that’s the idea behind the game. So we didn’t really talk about it, but it’s like this cross between pickleball and spike ball. and you’re playing two on two with a partner, around this kind of circular court with a net up around it. And it’s, pickleball means spike ball.

This is the best way to describe it. so yeah, we were in the market looking for something like that. Yeah. Happened to come across this Joe that created it, and we were like, he’d already got a prototype, been working on it for a couple of years, playing with friends and neighbors and family members.

And he worked out a lot of the kinks and we just said, we’ll license it for you because he didn’t really know what to do with it. And we’ll work on taking it to market. That’s what we did.

Ryan Flynn: That’s awesome. It’s, yeah, it’s funny. you always think about idea people and like the execution type folks. But it’s like, that’s a perfect marriage of like, you know, obviously as we’re looking at the market to do something already.¬†

Tom_11: 

Ryan Flynn: awesome when you can find those fits.

I’m just curious, like¬†

how did you guys find each other? Was it just like you had feelers out in the market [00:14:00] about doing something around,pick a ball and that kind of thing? Or did, 

Tom_11: Yeah, I mean, so Scott, Scott’s role, so he ended up selling his company, and even while he was at, Marbles, it was bought by a large publicly traded company called Spin Master. His specific role was like finding new problems. so he had always been being approached and everyone’s got like a cousin or a brother or a neighbor.

That has an idea for a game. and then like in his community, he lives out in Salt Lake city, very technic community out there and everyone just knew Scott as like the game guy. like he constantly is getting bombarded with ideas, but he’s found a lot of diamonds in the roughs in his career where.

99 percent of them are garbage, but you just never know. So he’ll always just take a meeting basically. And so this was like a friend of a family member, that happened to be, I think, brother in law, like Joe is the brother in law of this friend of the family that Scott, you know what I mean?

It was just one of those [00:15:00] things. and he, so he got the call, Hey, I’ve got this brother in law that created this game and. Yeah. Scott was like, sure, I’ll take a look at it and did. And actually this was one of those few 1%, chances that he actually was like, Oh, there’s something here.

Ryan Flynn: Yeah. So what do you guys license it? Did you already kind of have an idea of what the game plan 

Tom_11: Correct. 

Ryan Flynn: with your background, with his background, your business partner’s background, was it, you guys already have an idea or like of the go to market strategy or were you still trying to figure that out when you kind of work out the licensing deal?

Tom_11: I would say first, the licensing deal was pretty quick. we were able to get that knocked out. while we started developing our game plan for go to market, again, the initial concept was. We want to control our destiny. We will launch on Amazon and we’ll launch on our website and build up sales, get a little momentum going, get reviews going, take [00:16:00] that data, then start pitching it to, The big different retailers like Dick’s Sporting Goods and Shields and Academy Sports whatnot.

Um, so that, was the idea. We were about two months away from launching it. So this was August or September of 2022. And,we have familiarity working with larger retailers. We knew that their buying cycles were typically over a year out. So they’re buying. Right now for like next spring, let’s say, or whatever, it’s like typically 12 to 18 months away. So we were like, man, it stinks that we’re going to be that far out, from potentially being in some of these stores, even though we’re not launched yet, let’s just do some kind of outreach, to some different retailers. So we did, and just like cold email, cold LinkedIn.found different buyers on, LinkedIn for Dick’s sporting goods and shields and some of the bigger sporting goods stores, retailers, and much to our surprise, they got back to us.

And,I think we had a little bit of mojo just with our backgrounds and [00:17:00] success in the space. and then when we tell them we’re. Launching a game that’s a cross between Pickleball and Spikeball, which is the buyer of these stores. They know that those are two of the top selling items currently in their stores.

Spikeball is probably, their most popular backyard game for the past 10 years. Pickleball is a massively exploding category at the time. And we’re telling them that this is a marriage of those two games, I think that alone was like enough to just get their interest and get a meeting.

And then, hopefully meeting us and just believing that we could follow through on what we were promising. convince them enough to take a chance on us. And, so anyway, so that kind of changed up the growth of go to market. Cause we did still launch our Amazon and website stores, but at the same time we were launching in some of these big retailers.

Not nationwide. we did just do like test stores to start. but it’s still pretty cool to be able to tell people that you’re available at Dick’s and Shields and Academy Sports and whatnot.

Ryan Flynn: yeah. It’s, uh, rewarding when you walk in, you see anything on the shelf. and¬†

Tom_11: Mm-Hmm. 

Ryan Flynn: went into [00:18:00] those stores. That’s always awesome. you got into, got some great early wins in retail, and then,what comes next? Was it, how did Shark Tank,you know, come to be.

cause you guys aired in what 2023 right end of,

Tom_11: 23. Yeah,

Ryan Flynn: 23. Yeah. Yeah. So how did that come to be?

Tom_11: So we launched, Paddle Smash in. At the end of October, 2022, and then in March, we were at a trade show out in New Jersey, in Atlantic city for camps for, camps. We thought maybe we’d want to have our game at their camp. And Scott and I have these like kind of silly seventies style, retro tennis outfits that we wear when we go just to stand out at trade shows. And everyone was coming up to us being like, this is hilarious. You get, you guys are great. You got to go on shark tank. And we were like, okay, thanks.

I actually, I don’t know if you know this, but I’d actually been on one time before with my niece, this was when fidget spinners, were big and we came up with this,unticked candy fidget spinner [00:19:00] kit, so you kids could make a fidget spinner out of candy. And we actually went on Shark Tank and landed a deal.

but it fell through and it fell through kind of in a, Unfortunate way that just left a bad taste in my mouth for Shark Tank. And so I just was like, ah, I’m like screw Shark Tank. We don’t, they don’t, we don’t need them. so anyway, after hearing this all weekend though, at the trade show, coincidentally, we were on the way to the airport and got an email from a producer at Shark

Tank that said, Hey, we’re interested in chatting with you guys and, Not exactly sure how they found us.

I will say that we, not we as in Scott and I, but the product was on the today show earlier that day. So it was like, maybe they saw the product, thought it was cool, looked it up and it was like, Oh, like this could maybe be a fit for us in Shark Tank. so that happened and I was like, all right, you know, cause swallow my pride a little bit and we should move forward with this.

so we still had to go through the [00:20:00] application process. it’s like a three months long. You’re meeting with producers, you’re doing the pitch and coming up with what you’re going to do on air and all this, like signing away a thousand documents that you’re signing your life away. but we did that and we eventually got the call to go out to L.

  1. to shoot Shark Tank in, um, June of last year, 2023. So, you know, initially talked to them early March, mid June, we’re in L. A. shooting. and then it was about whatever, three or four months later that it aired, in October of 23.

Ryan Flynn: yeah. And I was gonna say, you’re probably pretty rare he, of being like, an entrepreneur that’s been on Shark Tank twice,with two different companies. I, there’s probably only a handful of people that have actually done that, so that’s pretty cool as well.

Tom_11: you.

Ryan Flynn: Yeah, and the result, you have to spoil it if people haven’t seen the episode, but, yeah, walk us through the results of the pitch on Shark Tank.

Tom_11: Yeah, sure. so we, our sharks were, Mark [00:21:00] Cuban, Lori, Barbara, Mr. Wonderful and Robert Herjavec. So kind of like the OG sharks. Yeah. No, no guest sharks on this one. And, we going into it. So you find out the day before of who your sharks are going to be. And so you can pair a little bit about who you may want to work with. And Mark, everyone wants to work with Mark, I’ll just say, he’s the, he’s awesome. I have a ton of respect for him. just big fan of him as an entrepreneur and a business person. And he also happens to own a pickleball team. So, uh, it was a natural choice for us. And Robert actually co owns it with him, which we didn’t realize at the time.

and Robert’s just like a fun kid at heart type of a guy.it would have been great if we could do something with the two of them, we thought, before we went out there. so we did it. We, the episode’s aired, so we basically made a deal, ultimately. We had, Mr.

Wonderful also made an offer. but we went with Robert and Mark. I can also share at [00:22:00] this point that we backed out of that deal, we did not close with them, which is often the case with shark tank. So they, you make the deal on air and it’s not legally binding. what happened to me before, where we made a deal and they backed out on us, my niece and I, when we did our liquidy spin product.

So I knew that I’ll say that, it’s not a done deal just when you, you know, go on air, cause they don’t know, the sharks don’t know you before you go out there. They don’t know who’s going to be. The producers want to have that kind of raw quality. Reaction and feedback, from the sharks.

So they’re seeing you for the first time. and so they are not going to necessarily just do a handshake deal and then, you know, they do actual, like due diligence after the fact. And, yeah, I mean, I’m not going to get into like why it didn’t work out, but it just wasn’t the right fit turned out after the fact.

and we just decided it wasn’t best to move forward with them. but in our opinion, like. We got the benefit of still airing on shark tank, which [00:23:00] was awesome. And while it would have been great to have those guys as business partners, we still feel like we got a lot of the benefit of being on shark tank just by airing.

Ryan Flynn: Yeah. I was going to say, I was like, here’s the, you know, thanks for sharing your whole experience there too, by the way, but is there a downside to being in shark tank? Would you say, is there, outside of maybe, like your previous, you know, not getting a deal and maybe not airing, Cause I think you told me before, I can Yeah.

50 percent of the actual pitches air, which is interesting. Yeah. if, even if you air, is there a downside, whether you get a deal or not to being in Shark Tank, would you say? Besides I can see like, see it for inventory issues, right? Of running inventory on Amazon when it airs, things like that.

But is there anything else that’s really a negative, would you say?

Tom_11: I don’t know. like getting exposure on national television, I would say generally speaking, shark tank is in They’re not trying to make entrepreneurs look bad. but I’ve seen some where they do make them look bad, in which case that could be one potential downside, right? It’s like you go out there and they just hammer you, [00:24:00] hammer your product, make you look like a fool, may not be great for your business.

majority of time, I would say though, they’re trying to pump up and encourage entrepreneurship and. And it’s a more of a feel good type of a thing. I would say no. just cause having lived it now and seeing what happens, you know, cause it’s not just the airing.

I mean, we were, we just re aired this past weekend. So you get the re airs and you get the As Seen on Shark Tank, you get all these other, the whole ecosystem of the Shark Tank world. Podcasts and whatnot that want to, talk to you and talk about the experience. So it’s just more and more exposure, that you get from airing outside of just being actually on the show. So yeah, big fan, a lot of positive. I’ve really nothing negative to say about it. I will, I don’t know who edited our episode, but I will be forever grateful because. You know, you go out onto the tank for, I don’t know, [00:25:00] typically, it’s I think, 45 minutes on average. And then they will whittle that down, edit it down to the 8 to 10 minutes that you see on TV.

in that 25 minutes of stuff, they didn’t air there. A lot of stupid things I said, or Scott said, and the episode, our segment just turned out so good, made us look, I mean, all of my friends were like, did you take like acting classes or, you know, it was just like, I don’t know. They just did a really good job in not making us look like idiots.

So I’m forever grateful to whoever edited our particular segment.

Ryan Flynn: Yeah. No editing plays a big part of anything like that. Cause it’s just taking that raw video and making it into the store. But like you said, I wasn’t fishing for anything, any negative news on charity. I was just curious. I didn’t, I don’t really see the downside of it. I see it as a net positive.

Tom_11: Yeah, absolutely. 

Ryan Flynn: celebrates entrepreneurship and the entrepreneur and everything. So, um, I see you’ve aired. You had the deal fell through, but you’re still obviously growing. You’re still in regional. Tell us what kinda where Paddle Smash is at today.

Tom_11: Yeah. So we finished our [00:26:00] first full year last year. we were doing really well. So even besides or without Shark Tank and say, we were like exceeding our plan, um, Shark Tank kind of put us on a different trajectory. So we doubled what we were expecting to do last year. and then we’re continuing to look likely, more than double again.

This year, we’re expanding internationally. So currently available and throughout Europe, Canada, we’ll, we’re in some countries in South America, Iceland randomly, there’s like some random ones that were in Chile, going to be in Kuwait soon, we’ll be in Australia, New Zealand in a couple of months.

So, you know, international expansion is a big one. the original retailers that we’ve been working with, are Dick’s sporting goods, shield, the kind of sports, et cetera. they’re expanding doors. that’s a term for saying they’re taking us into more locations. So,just continuing to grow retail, one of the things we’re most proud of is that we actually are controlling still our own destiny.

by 75 percent of our sales is coming [00:27:00] through our own channels. So Amazon and our website, is the large driver of our product. You know, success still so far. that may change, but, we just feel very good about the situation we’re in here. Unlike what I explained earlier without a nonsense, where it was like, I was nervous, always being dropped potentially, by one of the big retailers.

And in this case, it just seems we’re not in that same precarious position by, going direct to consumer through Amazon and our website.

Ryan Flynn: Well it’s great to have that social proof obviously, as well, right? Like I’ve heard it time and time again. You know, buyers pull up Amazon to see What¬†

What are people saying? Yeah. What boots in, they’re obviously using all the tools you can to. Estimate sales and see what you’re doing.

¬†and even when people are pulling it up, they’re sitting in hall, get to amortize, I’ve watched shark tank and you just say, is this on Amazon and you see it is, or it isn’t, or it’s got, reviews or whatever. It’s just interesting to start seeing some of those. you know, it does act as a social proof kind of engine, right.

Um, 

Tom_11: big time. 

Ryan Flynn: you know, where else you can go. So, um, that’s [00:28:00] great. I mean, great to hear the growth. I’m curious though, you talk about all the growth, one of the biggest, as the biggest limiting factors, especially the last couple of years is like just supply chain and inventory.

So like, how have you kept up with that? Like, how has that been? you gotta have some, foresight to see, obviously some of these things are happening very quickly, like going to air, I don’t think you told me before, you don’t really know that until a little bit weighs out.

So like, you gotta be ready for that stuff. So Javier has managed that and it sounds like it’s gone somewhat according to plan, right?

Tom_11: luckily, it is,it’s been for us, especially because are new, you really don’t know what the buying cycles are, what the buying seasons are, especially for an outdoor game, which is seasonal, um, and the demand, we don’t understand, you know, so. we’ve been lucky to navigate it pretty well.

You’re right in that Shark Tank. You only find out if you’re going to air three weeks before it airs. Well, our lead times are three months. So we had to make a bet [00:29:00] after we went out there of, do we think we’re going to air or not? Because as I mentioned to you, I think before something like 20 or 25 percent of the episodes that they shoot.

Or the segments they shoot will never air. So they overshoot what they need and then they take the best stuff. So there’s a 20 to 25 percent chance, which is not insignificant that you’re not even going to air. Even if you went and did the show. So yeah, we had to take a kind of a gamble, that we were comfortable with and we did bulk up on inventory.

and then. fortunately we aired, uh, and so we just got lucky. We were also coming into like the holiday season. So it was like, even if it doesn’t air, we’ll still be able to sell through this inventory. or at least close to it kind of thing. but yeah, I mean, we were still trying to get better at that.

we’re coming, the same thing happened this weekend. Like we weren’t expecting this re air. And now all of a sudden, you know, and [00:30:00] we’re getting into like our peak selling season of the summer and, we’re going to, so one of some, there’s a levers that we pull. So we’ll turn off advertising, you know, because we’re getting all this organic traffic to both our website and to Amazon right now.

we’ll basically like dial that down to nothing, to try to maximize each sale at this point, because we know we’re just getting so much organic traffic. so that’s, one of the levers that we’re pulling right now. we’ve placed additional production runs to try to, catch the end of the summer.

but, yeah, we’re still figuring that out. we work with a really strong manufacturer. they are based in China. Longshore is the name of them. And they’re just like world class. So they have no limits in terms of their production capabilities. So if we did place like a 10.000 unit order. they can handle that no problem.

So they’re really able to like flex with, the demand, that we get. And so that’s been a big part of it. It’s that like working with a great supplier, I’d say is like a huge element of it. And that’s [00:31:00] why we work with them. They’re a little more expensive, but their weight is proven in gold by just like what happens in these situations.

And we’re like, we need you to jump on whatever it is, 5.000 10.000 units. We need them in a month, and,they, come through for us.¬†

¬†they’re they’re a big part of it.

Ryan Flynn: So a couple things that you know caught my attention. Obviously partnerships in front of the right. people to work with and like people that can perform. And then the second thing is, placing bets. So you place the bet on the inventory of, Epson airing, and that’s what entrepreneurship is.

It’s a lot of bets, right? You’re going to¬†

Tom_11: Yeah. 

Ryan Flynn: and you got to believe in. It’s just taking you all these educated guesses of being like, yeah, I think this is going to work.¬†

Tom_11: You

Ryan Flynn: your many a thing like, like yourself. So if you had to,look backwards, Tim, what would you say?

is something you wish you knew when you started all this? Like when you first started under nonsense and first starting into the world, entrepreneurship, maybe, obviously you’d seen it from, the venture software side, but I started doing your own thing. What’s something you wish you really knew that you, now,[00:32:00]¬†

Tom_11: know, that’s a good question, but it’s tough. Cause then that implies like,I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. If I like knew that at the same time, right? If I knew what I knew now, when I was dealing with Target, I probably would have taken the first deal because I know how hard it is to get into Target.

I know what a big opportunity that is. And so if I knew then what I know now and he reaches out, I’d be like, okay. You know, but instead I negotiated like the best deal of my life. By being ignorant to not knowing what to ask for. And they came back with all these, de risking my entire business with the way they did things.

They were offering all this marketing dollars that I didn’t have to ask for, cause they just wanted the product. it’s almost ignorance is bliss. And I know I’m not answering the question where you wanted it, but

like,

 I, and I was the same, a similar thing with even BattleSmash that yes, had experience.

The toys and [00:33:00] games, but like sporting goods are actually like a different category. And there’s a lot that we didn’t know about it. that ends up being a strength, because you’re just, you’re not ignorant in a bad sense. Like you just don’t know. And by not knowing you’re just forging for trusting your gut on certain things.

And, it’s, again, it’s like the industry experts may have disagreed with how we did some certain things or said, this will never work or whatever.

 

but we didn’t know any better. and I think that was actually a superpower,is like forging ahead with confidence, even though you don’t know maybe what you’re doing all the time,

Ryan Flynn: Yeah, that’s a great answer. ’cause you, if you knew everything, you wouldn’t learn and you wouldn’t and make the

Tom_11: not take the

same And yeah, exactly.

So I’m a big believer in I think the days of like pure DTC.¬†

Ryan Flynn: And the industry, whether, you know, kind of the e commerce blending more and more who [00:34:00] keeps saying, and I feel like, but like they are every single day, you know, anything you see on the horizon, that’s really going to affect industry for products, bringing products to market, let’s say launching new brands, whether it be games, it’ll be sporting goods, whether, whatever it may be.

Anything that you foresee is, either an opportunity or challenge for brands going forward.

Tom_11: I don’t know. I just don’t, I don’t, I personally, I don’t think that’s the answer right now. I think it’s gotten too expensive to do that. and I think just your product being more places is better. it’s a, every market’s crowded. And so, you know, I don’t know. There’s all these different stats around, like, how many times does a consumer need to see your.

You’re probably like, how many touches do you need to have with the consumer before they’re making a buying decision? I guess I just, I’m a believer in that, omnichannel, try to have it as many places as possible. so both online website, Amazon, as well as in brick and mortar [00:35:00] retailer. so that’s maybe, I don’t know, everyone’s sharing that view these days, but I think that’s definitely one that like I’m buying into, as far as a CPG company like ourselves, uh, I mean, what do you use?

I was curious, like, I know you’re a hardcore, obviously Amazon, but like. You know, do you agree with that or no?

Ryan Flynn: No, I do. I was just the phrase has got to be the customer where they are. 

Tom_11: I 

Ryan Flynn: and like, I obviously use Amazon, obviously I’m selfishly saying Amazon owning an Amazon agency saying that, but like,that’s true. you.¬†

Tom_11: you. 

Ryan Flynn: people are watching your episode of the shark tank and 

they’re just going to pull up their phone and they’re¬†

Tom_11: Well, you hear I hear you. Well, it’s a I’m glad you like it. I like I hear you. Iyou. One¬†

Ryan Flynn: may be. You’ve got to be ready for anything. Or if they just search for you on Google, you’ve got to be ready for that too. Having a decent Google shopping ad, things like that. So yeah, I think admin channels where that, there’s even things like, the Walmart company is doing a ton of interesting things with digital, right?

Like pairing digital you know, to Walmart and Sam’s [00:36:00] club, like pairing digital, the digital experience of the store experience, right? Whether you’re going to buy your groceries on Walmart, but if they don’t have it in the store, you’re just going to get the same as experience feeling and ship to you thing.

So it’s that’s where the, even the third party marketplace I think is. It could grow leaps and bounds there. it’s going to be really putting up a lot of big fight against Amazon in the coming years. It’s going to take a while, Amazon’s always up in the game too, with there’s the whole supply chain by Amazon.

there’s a big, a lot of, more and more efforts put into that where they want to fulfill your orders off Amazon, right? They want to, they do that now, but They want to also route orders to retailers, right? They want to be even more upstream than that. with this whole, Amazon warehousing distribution, they’ve started in the last year or two.

So just really interesting times. I don’t know. It’s just always changing, right? there’s no right answer, But it’s, yeah, you’veyou got to make the right best at the right time. I think Omnichannel is a part of the right answer, I think.

Tom_11: of the things that’s been interesting for us with Amazon in particular, so as we’re growing internationally, we’re largely looking to work with distributors in [00:37:00] these different countries. mostly for the brick and mortar channel, we are wanting to control Amazon.

And,

I guess it’s made me more bullish on Amazon because you don’t see this.

Like in the United States, we are so ingrained in that Amazon is like where everybody buys everything, right? it’s Amazon is this just like the behemoth. It’s not the case in a lot of countries. And so like when we want to fight for the rights of Amazon and pretty good place. It ends up not being a big of a fight because they’re like, sure, you can have it.

You know, like they just don’t, which I’m like, how is that possible? I’m like, Amazon is still just getting started in a way. You know what I mean? Like they’re so big in the United States, but if you get out of the U S there are markets that Amazon is not the dominant player. And I am like, man, there’s room for growth for Amazon.

They are going to be at some point, so it was just interesting, seeing that, outside of the U S that’s case.

Ryan Flynn: [00:38:00] No, it’s like us hearing about Flipkart in India or something, Which I think is a big, I think one of the main kind of marketplaces or sites there. And it’s people wouldn’t even know what that is here. the general public wouldn’t even hear that name and know what it is, but like if you’re an Indian, you definitely know what that is.

So it’s just the same kind of thing. people know Amazon, obviously all over the world, but yeah, it’s interesting times ahead¬†

Tom_11: Uh, 

Ryan Flynn: for sure. last but certainly not least, Tim, where can people find Paddle Smash? Where can they find you get the game? where can they go?

Tom_11: yeah. So we’re at paddle smash. com, also available on Amazon and then, various retailers, around the country and the world at this point. And then, I’m on LinkedIn. And if anybody, watching this had questions about entrepreneurship or, creating products and bringing them to life, I try to pay it forward and, answer any questions that come my way.

And feel free to find me on LinkedIn.

Ryan Flynn: Awesome. All right, Tim. great conversation. tons of great insight and really appreciate you sharing your story and your journey. Thank you.

Tom_11: Thanks, Ryan.