A self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur,” David Liberstein of Dream Product Guru started his very first business that lasted 10 years while he was in college back in the 70’s. He monetized his passion for photography by making photographic note cards with inspirational quotes on them, first in a darkroom at his parents’ basement garage– until it grew into an operation with its own in-house designers that made up to $100,000 for half of the fiscal year as a young company. They joined trade shows where big companies took an interest in their designs, asking if it was possible to use their creations as prints for their products. That was how he started gaining experience both as a licensee, and as a licensing agent for his own company’s designers. From then on he took on other business and marketing roles, at one point helped with product licensing to put designs of characters from Looney Tunes, Betty Boop, Cirque de Soleil and others on starter bottles, set-up other businesses, and has helped product developers and inventors from various industries launch their dream products. Gain access to David’s wealth of valuable branding and invention licensing knowledge gained from over 40 years and counting in the business.
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I’m with my friend, David Lieberstein and David’s company Dream Product Guru. Doesn’t that sound awesome, like dream product? Don’t we all want our dreams to become reality? David’s one who knows how that happens. He’s also a brand and licensing expert. A lot of you out there who want to make a product to be licensed but there are a lot of nuances to that. David’s been on both sides of it and worked in within that. You’ve got to hear from him and his expertise in those areas. First, I want to just get to know him because this is our meet David. Tell us a little bit about how you got started in the product launching, product development world here.
Thank you, Tracy. I’ve enjoyed being in the business world for over 40 years. I’m a serial entrepreneur. I started my first company before I even got into college with my passion for photography. I just had an idea and I created this photographic note cards with little inspirational verses in my parents’ house. I launched that while I was in college and had that for around ten years. It was very successful and during that period I had artists approach me at the trade shows that had whimsical animals and whimsical children. That’s where I first got introduced to licensing because companies came to my booth and said, “We really liked these cute little pen ink, colored drawings of these animals or these children and we’d like to put it onto our products.” I learned how to license our designs to different companies and I ended up having Sony Corporation in Japan represent us to their licensing division. Back in the ’70s, both of my artists, we had over twenty different licensees doing all kinds of children’s products and such that they were doing over $50,000,000 a year in retail. At 23 years, we’ve got a check for $100,000 for six months of sales both that I split with my artists.
It’s a challenging world that our end design side of licensing than licensing industrial products. There are so many other categories where there’s a clear need and you’ve got the solution. There are lots of preferences and trends that happen. That’s a lot harder licensing route so to be that successful is amazing. You’re talking about being “the maker side of it” so the producer side of things and helping with the why you would license and why you would bring that in because you played right in both worlds.
That particular situation I licensed the artwork to put on my greeting cards and on other products, then I became the licensing agent for the artists to license their artwork to other companies to put our graphics on their products. The second company I had for over 25 years is Wine Things Unlimited in the wine accessory housewares industry. I worked with a number of different artists, more for partly for artwork to apply in ceramic mugs and glassware, but also with an artist to design functional shapes of ceramics. I ended up licensing the rights to characters to put on our figurine bottle stoppers such as Loony Tunes, Betty Boop, Star Trek, Cirque du Soleil. We then got into glassware and eventually got into licensing colleges where I had collegiate glassware line. I understand the whole gamut of as a licensee and as a licensing agent.
That is such a unique experience because we have a lot of people who have gotten licensing advice from attorneys. It’s important you’ve got to have contracts. There are contracts involved. You should understand what that is, and you should have an attorney, but to get advice about whether or not it makes business sense to evaluate, am I going to make money doing this? Is this worth it? Is this going to hurt my brand or help my brand? That’s a big question and there are not a lot of people with your experience on both sides of that who are able to advise well. You have people who have only been the license source all the time and so they have their viewpoint. To be honest with you, it scares me because they have to burn through a lot of people in the process to find the right personal license, the right brand to license.
As a matter of fact, I took on a client on housewares product. They have the fully patented issue for their invention. It was called a Sweater Hammock. I connected with them through CEO Space Entrepreneurial Program and I really liked the product. They didn’t want to venture themselves. They wanted to license so I took it on an agent. I went to the house where it showed before, shopped it around, went to the booth that had clothing racks and drying racks and such. This is a unique product that mounts on the wall horizontally to pull a net across to the opposing wall above a washer, dryer or bathtub rather than a line which is a 24-inch-wide netting. You can lay your sweaters out or any kind of hand washable clothing. It was an important category but at the end of the day, I found two very good companies where I had some interest. One company really interests probably $300,000,000 or $400,000,000. He told me straight out the VP that they had just acquired three new companies. After a couple months of communicating with them, he said, “It’s a great product. It’s perfect for us but it’s going to get lost,” because partly it hadn’t been fully engineered. We didn’t have a working prototype yet, didn’t have hard costs and it’s one item. He just acquired three different companies with dozens of products.
Hundreds usually that they have to assimilate so that is always hard. It is hard to get a lot of attention when you’re in a company that is doing a lot of licensing. Basically, they know that they don’t have the best hit ratio. It’s like having a large SKU count or just having a large product line in general. You know you’re going to have some failures in there and that’s part of why you have so many. Let’s break that down a little bit into some things that are common. You mentioned that they had this concept and some drawings. I know that they did come out of that where they give you patent drawings, pretty pictures and sometimes a webpage that you can pitch. Then they start upselling you on pitching you at the licensing show, pitching you at the next show and getting a booth. That’s where it starts, then it expands and expands. Before you know it you probably spent them out. You would have to do to buy a whole entire product line and see if you could sell it on Amazon yourself. It’s usually more than that. That’s what I see.
It’s a huge rip off of inventors and from those companies out there, I really feel deprived on inventors on greater people because they may not have a strong business sense, but they’re passionate about their idea. They’ve spent a lot of time and energy to get it into the design phase and patented. Unfortunately, these companies take advantage of them. They’ll end up spending $15,000, $20,000, $30,000, $40,000 $50,000, which as you say, you can venture your own company with production tooling in inventory websites, depending on the product for under $50,000. You don’t need hundreds of thousands of dollars for a lot of single products if they don’t have a really complicated tooling involved. You know how to negotiate the factories to get a lower minimum to begin with until you have your sales happening.
This is the thing that we discovered so often that happens with these companies, but also in general with a lot of inventors. Even if they’ve done it themselves and didn’t fall into that trap is that they have a design. It wasn’t engineered for the cost that it needed to command in the marketplace and that’s where it falls into the realm of that. Now then I have to give them the bad news that they have to redesign everything. They do not want to spend money again because they spent it the first time and they got a pretty picture and it should be good, but it doesn’t work like that.
That’s a perfect example. Going back to clients of mine, I went back to message this company that’s not going to go forward to licensing and it’s going to get lost. I’ve talked to all the people that I feel are appropriate. I don’t think it’s licensable. It’s up to you, but if you want to venture it, I’ll be happy to help you and consult with you to take you through the whole stages of sourcing and through the whole production phase and launch the company and marketing it. At the end of the day, they said, “We want to do that, but only if you come on as a partner because we want your expertise.”
That’s where you get somebody in to help you because that’s more valuable sometimes than money in.
I believed in the product. I really liked them. I saw the importance of that product category and so I did sign on as a full equity partner. We launched the product at the Housewares Show with the designs that had been worked out with some tweaks that the factory made to make it more functional. On the plane, on my way to Chicago, I happened to be sitting next to a gentleman that I knew from another area of my old business. He has a housewares company. He is not in this category but we were talking and all of a sudden, I told him the pricing on this product and he said, “I don’t know that category about aces. You’ve over-engineered. It is way too expensive because we were looking at a retail of like $75 and our target was $35 or $40 retails.” I’ve got on the horn that night on email to a couple of my sourcing agents and said, “Can you figure out how to make this simpler? We need to cut the price in half.” One agency came through and quoted me a price two-thirds lower for a very simplified version of it. We went into the show with the current sample but I priced it completely differently.
Whippo was interested and some other majors. We had production challenges with the new sourcing agents. I had go on for months and months. We had to move onto another sourcing agent. We just got our first sample in from the new agency at a lower price and less than half of the original one. We went to move forward into tooling and I’ve sent out images of the prototype to Home Depot buyer and other major buyers. We’re having to relaunch the whole thing. You have your venture and you have everything lined up. Missed the forest for the trees of what pricing should be that you have to simplify the design if necessary.
When they met me before, that’s exactly the price that I gave them. I said, “If we don’t engineer and design it to be this price, then you won’t be able to make enough traction to market to be worth sustainable and worth doing a business around.” You can sell premium products, you can sell higher priced items, but it’s of more effort to start that business and do that. It also plays you right out of the game of being able to either license it, then sell your brand and/or get into the bigger mass market. If you don’t start at the right target price, that’s hard. It usually is the design and engineering that holds you back in as you had sourcing challenges. We have a lot of the people who have those challenges here. Our clients and what we work with here is we do have a source that we’ve used for a decade. Tom and I trust her. If you guys need help with that, we can help anyone on the platform including our experts. The issue that we had just happened to us was yet another client who runs into the trap if they had a price. They put a contract in place and then the factory came back and said, “We need $2 more per unit on it.” We were already in purchase order mode. It even happens to us and we’re good at this. We usually have that.
That brings me to the third major thing that you mentioned in that when you take this long process, it took that company three months to tell you that they didn’t want a license anymore. There are lots of time lost along the way and licensing to me, I’ve always found it to be a very drawn-out process. The longer it takes, the more risk there is that something else is going to come on the market. They’re going to think it’s too much work and they give up on it from the license source standpoint. Timing to market is a huge problem in the licensing plan world. Usually, the inventors get impatient.
You can’t blame them. I haven’t come across any agents out there that act as a licensing agent for inventions. There are plenty of agents that will sell artwork because there is an easier thing to sell graphics to print on a product. When you’re talking about a product, you’re asking a company to invest in tooling, in engineering, inventory and marketing. It’s a big investment. If companies don’t license a product generally, depending on what the product is like on the Sweater Hammock, they would’ve had to put a $100,000, $200,000 into the product between tooling engineering, inventory, and proper marketing.
I have a client I’ve been working with on the licensing as a consultant. He’s been in there for over a year and he was working on it for a couple years before me. It’s a very esoteric frying pan and it collects grease. It’s challenging to find the right company where your product fits their product portfolio, number one. Number two, do they have a program in place to work with an inventor on a licensing basis? The inventor doesn’t want to show his pearls to a potential licensee if they don’t have a licensing program. He just gave away his idea and most ideas can be engineered around. You have a patent and it still comes down first to market and you have a year or two in advance before that’s well. Someone’s going to find a way to get around that patent off and do their own version of it. You only want to show your design, your idea to a company that has a licensing program in place that they have a format to go through and somebody who work with directly that manages that.
Otherwise, this is also a drag on the timing and system. When you have a company who doesn’t do it, they’re like, “Do we have an attorney that we can call on this?” It will drag out the time even more, and then also you get, I call it “the not invented here syndrome.” The internal teams are like, “This is devaluing us so let’s make sure that it doesn’t succeed.” They undermine the licensing. It is not a great idea to be approaching a company unless you’ve worked for them before. You have a track record with them or personal relationship with them or someone on your team does because that’s what happens to it. You’ll just find out months down the road that it’s not working out.
I can tell the inventors, the average royalty these days is only 3%. You only get more, you get 5 to 7% if your products has already been on the market, has proven itself and already has a track record. You then license it out, they’ll pay you a bit more. At 3% average for an invention, even $1 million in sales, which is a hit run for most companies, is $30,000. You’re not going to be able to support yourself fully on that unless it’s a hit run and hits the five or ten million.You're looking at two or three years out before if it hits well before you're going to start making some serious money. Click To Tweet
Seven out of ten consumer products fail. You only have a 30% chance of success. That’s not good.
I know a couple of inventors where they have a number of inventions that are licensed in one product. They might make 5,000 a year, one, they might make 50,000, and one they might make nothing on. They have a number of inventions that are licensed because they are very creative persons. They’ve got lots of inventions, lots of patents. Generally speaking, most of the inventors will have one great idea. I often say even though inventors think that it’s an easier way to go to find that perfecting company, license it out and sit back and collect the passive income. If it works well but again, you’re talking about timelines.
Let’s say you find the right company. It might take six to twelve months to go through the steps or longer to find the company, negotiate the licensing deal and then we’re going to run. Once the licensing deal is closed, it may be a year, twelve to eighteen months before it even hits the marketplace because it has to go through their product cycle. Once it’s in the marketplace, most products take six to eighteen months to get traction. In addition, beyond a small advanced world so that you hopefully will be able to negotiate, which is if you’re lucky, you’ll get 5,000 or 10,000, very rarely at that. That’s about as much as you can hope for. You’re looking at two or three years out before if it hits well before you’re going to start making some serious money.
Tom and I have 37 patents. Many of them we developed with companies and with brands, so to say we invented them outside of it and then went into a company is not true. We do have some of that were like that. The reality is that with the exception of the products that we sold directly ourselves, or we invented for our own company and our own brand to bring to market, we have lots of successes, but they’re mixed and the ones that did the most volume where our biggest hits friend had the least royalty on them. Our best product and we had what was considered to be a platinum record product sold $20,000,000 at mass market retail a year. It was only one skew so there are lots of low complexity to it. It’s easy to manage and everything, but that single skew would yield us $225,000 a year on average, so Barely 1%.
You’re very fortunate to have that kind of a hit.
We had it for five years, which is a long time in the mass market for us to get that. Think about that and you’re like, “Those metrics are great, but I can’t tell you how many you did $30,000 a year. Probably the bulk of what we did during that time period.” It was only the fact that we worked on so many projects with so many clients and had so many in, that it could make sustainable income for us. Many, many times we wouldn’t be making a living off of our fees that we charge certain clients. We would be making it off our royalties that of things we designed two years earlier. You can’t start up that way. No design firm could. There is that hard place for an inventor as well as like, it’s great, but you may not get that windfall to start this invention brand of all these great ideas you have. You may not get it so that you can sustain your business or your growth of being able to do that.
As you know, once you license your idea to a company, what you’re hoping they’re going to put it through the pipeline and get it out there. When they say they will, there are no guarantees. You don’t have any leverage on them about that. Secondly, once they have it in the pipeline, if it doesn’t just take off on its own accord, you have no control over how much time and money they’re going to put into marketing the product and pushing it.
This is one of the reasons that Tom and I ventured out and decided to take matters into our own hands because we would see that. We would do these great designs and they were amazing. These products should have made it to market, but the company didn’t market themselves properly. This was back before the internet, so it was even older than that. We didn’t make back our investment and our time to have designed for them. We started putting in our criteria over the years where we don’t design for companies that don’t have sales channel because it proves that they can market something.
We’ve expanded that in the last few years because there are Amazon sellers who understand the market dynamic, have great marketing programs, have things in place, direct response or however they might do it. The marketing piece they have down, and they practice that. They just don’t have as great a product as they could. Now we can come in and we can help them with that. I see that it’s a different world nowadays where you can make it work, but that marketing piece should come first. When you think it’s because you’re such idea product people.
That’s also why I encourage my clients and potential clients that if at all possible, get the capital from savings, friends or family, do the numbers, do the math to see what this is going to cost to produce it. Maybe it’s only $5 a unit and you only have to buy 3000 units. That’s $15,000 or maybe $220,000 and a website is $3,000 to $5,000. Maybe it’s only $25,000, $30,000. You need to get this going plus marketing costs. That might be very attainable for you so that you’re completely in charge of your future and your potential earnings rather than hoping that this company’s going to do something with it.
That’s the thing its hope is not a plan here. There are so many things nowadays where we find that there are factories that are very, very comfortable with small minimum runs. There are disruptive technologies like 3D printing. There are a whole bunch of technologies that we can utilize for doing textiles or materials and getting minimum and low runs on those. You don’t even have to take that big of a risk in the early days. There are a whole bunch of marketing strategies on which you sell a product that’s not quite exactly your invention. Just so you can test your marketing vehicle and make sure you test the sales. You then have a little fan base, so you don’t have to market to your friends and family.
You might be able to market to your fan base to presale something. You could maybe make your first run doing that. There are lots of these ways to be able to make that work. We’ve got a few of those on the office hours. I just want to remind people that they’re there. We’ve got a whole episode on small order quantities, minimum rents and manufacturing concerns that Tom Hazzard has done. We also have one on prototyping. We can do low runs in prototyping mode with the digital technologies and disruptive technologies. Those are your concerns and you’re seriously thinking about what David is suggesting here and I think you should.
There are also alternative ways to keep that cost down to that under 30,000 metric for you if it seems like it’s not. That’s definitely time to get in touch with the rest of the experts on the platform here please. David, back to what you were talking about, I want to talk a little bit about what’s changed over time. There’s still this “old school mentality” about what licensing is like. You’ve given us the reality of the new pictures, but in a sense, bullet point that for us. This is the way it used to be. You have a myth about this perception and this is a reality of how it is. Licensing is fast and it’s really not. What are some of those?
I have a good relationship with a licensing agent in Chicago. He’s been in the business over 35 years primarily as a licensing artwork. I saw him at the licensing show and I’ve seen him at the Houseware Shows. He said, “The business has changed so much over the years. Back in the ’80s, ’90s didn’t get licensing deals all day long at 10% royalty. The deals would be good for three to five years.” Nowadays he says, “You have to work so hard to even get one deal on a really good artist that’s well-known and a very low royalty, 3 to 5% even on an artwork. The sales cycle is much quicker now because people are so indie about what they’re interested in, both the consumer and the retailer or the buyer for the stores that have product. We only have a life cycle of six to eighteen months where in the past it was five to ten years. It makes us all have to be much more creative or coming up with a product that is very simple, generic and has evergreen potential. Those are a couple of terms that I can see on the address.
My mom is a fine artist and she’s been approached by many, many licensing agents over time. I keep looking at the numbers and I’m like, “Mom, it doesn’t make sense” because of what you just said. It doesn’t make sense that you would spend your time and do this because Laguna Beach is a big art community out here. She is going to be all summer in the Art A Fair, which is a very, very big deal out here. They warned them that they would get approached by these unscrupulous agents that come through and they won’t get deals. They’d try to get signing fees, which you should never do.
Never ever as an adventure artist pay someone for the opportunity to make money with your design or your idea. They should only receive money as a percentage of the royalty they receive. There may be a consulting fee involved or some upfront faith money because an agent is working on a percentage of the royalty. He or she can’t put a whole lot of time into your program without some type of compensation. There may be a minimal amount upfront, but it’s not pay us, and we’ll pitch it. That’s not the good way to go.
I’m so glad you said that. I wanted to be clear on that. There is sometimes counsel too and I think there should be because there’s an evaluation standpoint, prepping materials and getting the program in. There are a lot of time put in before you ever sit in front of someone to talk licensing. To be able to say that that’s ongoing month after month, that is not the way to go.
Also, for your mother as an artist, if her artwork is unique enough to extend then it will translate onto coffee mugs, tote bags, apparel and things like that. There’s a handful of Asians out there that I’d be happy to refer you to.
Her work is amazing and beautiful, but it’s abstract. It is harder because they’re looking for more whimsical and illustrative things. I see that on merchandising, as you call it. When you spread your art on merchandising, it’s not in that world. The best that you can do is go to HomeGoods and buy paintings there that you put on your walls. They are done by artists. It’s not like some machine did it somewhere. They’re reproductions of someone’s finer. They were licensed or has a right to repurchase from someone. That’s probably the world she falls into for her particular style. It is important for people to realize that there is that out there. That difference has happened over time and the margins are going down.
People used to say that, “Minimum guarantees are easy to come by. We’re going to sell 10,000 of your units. If we don’t, then we’re going to pay you for that.” It goes the other way when you try to license Disney or Universal Trolls, whatever you want to do, they’re going to charge you. Collegiate is one of the bigger ones. It’s hard on the college. USC charges a different amount than Yale. It’s crazy as to figuring out what package you’re in, but it will cost you over time and all of those minimums to each of the colleges too. That’s there from that side, but you don’t get to command that on your side typically.
We were licensing with colleges. We had 25 to 30 colleges on our products. The University of Texas, University of Florida, they were a higher minimum guarantee annually than other ones with a couple of key companies that act as a fiduciary for all the different colleges. It streamlines that. If anybody wants to venture on themselves and get into collegiate, I definitely consult companies on how to do that whole process. When you’re negotiating a contract for your own product, you absolutely want to try to negotiate the most possible advanced guarantee, good faith money. Also, you want to try to negotiate a minimum guaranteed per year. I was working on Abraham from CEO Space. He was the client that I took on a couple of years ago. We made a connection through CEO Space. I really liked him. He’s a young guy. I wanted to support him. I took him on his licensing agent. I went to the licensing show, the Housewares Show. I found a mid-sized company, about $20,000,000 company. I loved the concept of his Spin-Cup, which rotates a design on a double wall, acrylic mugs, beverage classic you see at Starbucks. He had patent pending and everything. His company loved it. They had hundreds of licensed characters that offer for all the games on Marvel and all that stuff. The owner had a licensing agent that he’d used for years to help him negotiate deals. He hadn’t negotiated a deal with an adventure before. He’s always on an artwork.
It took us a year and a half to finally get a deal. I finally got a contract with them. When they sent me back the contract that we’d all agreed upon, which was minimum guarantees for five years advance, etc. They had changed it to a ten year. There were no guarantees for advances for the first three or four years. There were no guarantees that they wouldn’t shelve it. I said to my client, “Abraham, you can do this, but you’re just giving away your idea and it could be shelved.” I had a conversation with their agent and she said, “You’re absolutely right. It should be a very simple, clean deal.”Reality is reality. It takes time for a product no matter how good it is. Click To Tweet
Three or five-year proper advance and guarantees. At the end of the day, they felt that they didn’t want to go forward with it until the patent was fully issued. They said to me, “It’s going to take us a year and $100,000 plus in development costs and mold costs to translate it into art with a plus all of our designs and get approvals from all the licensees to put their designs on it.” They put it on the backburner until the patent got full issue. It took a year and a half of my time managing it ongoing. In that day, I was not compensated because I didn’t feel it was appropriate to ask him because I was going to get a nice piece of the pie. That patent hasn’t been issued and the whole project is backburner.
I’m a big proponent and I know you are too of getting started because some cases all that time you could have killed it yourself if there wasn’t a market on it or you could have proven and created a demand for it that they didn’t know. Abraham’s a good example. It was a low amount. I quoted to them under $20,000 to make a couple thousand piece run or something like that that I was able to figure out the pricing from some of my factories. We would make a hybrid. A little more labor was involved in a higher per piece cost, but you’re testing the market so it’s worth it, and you know what you can do in production. Would you do that and create an event where you basically sell out of these 2,000 pieces all because you put them on display at a big surfing show that happened in San Clemente? You figured it out in an event and you create an attraction for it and then somebody is going to go, “I can’t walk away from that. Look, there’s already press on it.”
You create your own pipe and demand on it from making a run. Plus, you learn a whole lot about the things like is it going to be mass produced? Am I going to be able to do it in the way that I thought I could? Do I have to re-engineer something? Am I going to be able to get the costs down? You’re going to learn some things on this process that is going to inform you. I know we’re both big fans of that because it makes your job easier and that you can command a better deal. You can also command a faster deal, which is critically important in today’s world. If it’s only a six to eighteen-month life cycle that you’re seeing on the artwork in the product, I see it as twelve to eighteen months is typical. It’s a little bit longer only because it takes longer to get into the marketplace. They expend on investment. They usually give it a full year. Even still, if you get something that’s going to last beyond that or make you more than your minimum guarantee is slim. To be able to command more because you have proof is so much better. I know why you’ve been doing some things on your own. Tell us a little bit about some of the products and stuff you’re working on your own because you’ve got some cool stuff.
One of my early clients, years ago got me involved in places into the funeral industry. My client, Kim and her husband own a couple of veterinary clinics. She came up with this idea of a product to go into the garden to grow a tree with the cremains of the pet and grow a family tree from a couple of seeds. She found it was already manufactured so she started exploring it over in Spain. The next thing, she realized that was out in her wheelhouse to negotiate with factor and import. She hired me as a consultant. I worked with her for an hour a week for six months. It ended up working directly with the factory in FDA and negotiate to get the first container in this product called the Bios Urn. As it turned out, she wanted to just market directly to pet consumers online and didn’t want to deal with the wholesale leads. I said, “I don’t know the industry, but I know hosts I’ve been doing for 30 plus years.” Over a couple of years, just part-time, I followed up on the leads that were coming in. I got an established maybe 150 different funeral homes and distributors. People loved it but it didn’t sell through that well. I parted company the end of 2015 because I wasn’t making much money, but I thought that’s such a great concept. What would make this sell better? I thought, “Let’s give people a real tree. Maybe if we make it portable, because if you don’t own a home for decades, then people who move within ten years, they’re not going to dig up out of the backyard.”
That doesn’t seem like the most viable solution.
I came up with this idea of a lovely ceramic pot with a bonsai tree so that you can keep the cremains of your family member, a person or pet, in an affordable fashion, whether you have a home, condo or an apartment with a bonsai tree or any type of plant or flower arrangements to go into the center. The design and shape of the pot doesn’t look like death. It doesn’t look like the standard urn. I launched the BonsaiUrn.com and I’ve been to two major trade shows in that industry. People love the concept. It’s been a whole journey of my going into my first patent product engineering. The engineering was done incorrectly. We lost about six months because the volumetric was wrong.
There are so many things that can go wrong. That’s why you’re all are here at Product Launch Hazzards because there are a bunch of them.
I tell my clients, once you launch your product or service, it takes two to three years to gain full traction and make a living out of this and then to succeed. Because I know what I’m doing on Venice, for so many years with Wine Things I was doing five million a year plus sales agency and such. I’ve done tens of millions of dollars over the years. I know what I’m doing. I’m going to get this done in two or three months. Reality is reality. It takes time for a product no matter how good it is. We have the Bonsai Urn on a number of websites that sell urns, but it’s one of hundreds of thousands of items. How do we get the people to know about it? It takes time for social media, advertising, marketing and people getting confidence.
Brand awareness to kick it.
Even the experts launching their own new product company takes patience, perseverance and positive expectancy. That’s what I tell everybody.
I want to mention that there are related articles to this interview with David because I have featured Bios Urn. There was an article featured about that that I wrote for Inc. Also, there is my interview with you where we talk a little bit about the Spin Cup and that story of Abraham is in that article and his view on it. There was a follow-up that I did with Abraham a little bit later where he gave input onto another article. There are three licensing-related Bios Urn in there. They’re all in there. I want to make sure you check this out because you can read a little bit more depth into the story on what David’s been telling here. David, what do you think is the biggest burning question, the biggest hazard out of all the things that you work on that derails these projects that gets great products to be unable to make it to market? What do you think the biggest one that you’ve seen over the years?
I would say timing and patience. It has a much longer lead time than people think. Certainly, money is an issue. If you’re going to launch yourself, you need to have the capital, whether it’s $25,000 or $50,000 or $100,000. That can definitely hold the projects. The biggest issue is that people lose confidence and faith because they don’t have the patience and passion. If you’re going to be an entrepreneur, you have to have positive expectancy. Temper that with the reality of the marketplace. Just because you think it’s a good product if it’s going to be priced at twice where I should reach out for and then they always buy it. You look what else is on the market like we talked about the Sweater Hammock. You need to temper a positive expectancy with what’s real in the marketplace.
If you have a product, that idea that you see has a niche and you want to find a unique niche where you’re not duplicating what’s out there, but something that has a different twist to it, a different niche. You just have to be patient and know that the timing is going to take longer than you think it’s going to take. Unless you have the experience of doing this yourself, bring in the experts, include that in your budget because it’s going to help you save a lot of time and money. You can learn on the job and you’ll make lots of mistakes that can be costing over two or three years. Whereas, if you work with experts, there are lots of great people out there, it makes a huge difference in having a team that can get you there successfully and profitably on a timely basis.
Thank you so much for that, David. Your experience is so valuable. That’s one of the things that I value. One of the reasons you were invited on to be an expert here on this podcast is because what you’re hearing here is that if we don’t think that you can be successful doing it, we’re going to tell you and we’re going to either turn your business down or send you to the expert who should help you first. That’s really what I value about all of the people that are on Product Launch Hazzards, all of our experts here. That’s why I put them here because I know they have the same philosophy that says at the end of the day for them, isn’t them making a check in their consulting fees and all that. It’s that your product is out on the market and into selling. It was meant to sell and it achieved its potential.
We want to be positively expected about it too. If we think we can’t, then we’re going to refer to you to someone who can either evaluate it or give you the help and advice to get you to that next step so that we can come back in and help you take it the distance or whatever’s necessary to get it to market. We see too many great products and too many great people fall through the cracks of all of these things, of what they don’t know. All of these insider things that you don’t know are going on around you or you’re also falling victim to a lot of that. We’re trying to operate transparently here and give you a safe team in which you can ask the good questions. You’re going to get a response that is in the best interest of you in getting your product to market.
I’m here to be of service. If I can help that client have that wonderful experience in their lives to have a positive experience and launch their company successfully, that makes me feel good. The money is secondary. I prefer to turn away a client than to say, “Let me have your money.” Even though I think this is a loser product.
Everyone, remember that you can reach any of our experts, David especially. Join the next call that he’s on and ask him your burning questions. Thanks, David, for joining us.
Tune in to David Liberstein next Office Hours. Connect with and find out more about David Liberstein in our Experts Directory.
- Dream Product Guru
- Bios Urn
- related articles
- interview of Tracy Hazzard with David Lieberstein on Inc.