“Shred Soles” by Nate Musson
Describe your muse in 1-3 sentences.
Comfortable, canted, performance, snowboard boot insoles.
What is the website for your muse?
How much revenue is your muse currently generating per month (on average)?
$1,000 – $2,500 per month
How did you decide on this muse?
I had the idea for this product in the back of my mind since winter of 2005. After reading 4HWW in 2007, I started to hand-make and test different degrees of canted insoles in my snowboarding boots. I know it sounds cliché, but the idea was kind of like an itch that wouldn’t go away – I just had to keep taking steps towards it, and 4HWW gave me the “road map” along the way! I also felt that this product could fit the 4HWW muse criteria, so I went with it.
What ideas did you consider but reject, and why?
I’d considered making a more versatile, non-canted, non-snowboarding specific insole with cool art printed on it. It would have been way easier to make, but I just didn’t feel that it was niche enough. I really wanted to have something that was snowboarding-specific.
What were some of the main tipping points (if any) or “A-ha!” moments? How did they come about?
First, my own personal testing. I personally made and tried out hundreds of different insoles with different degrees of canting. Second, the affirmation that I was on to something by a professional boot fitter whose classes I’d attended. I kind of had to dance around the topic since I didn’t have a patent at the time. Third, customer feedback! The very first online sale happened before I even had inventory or marketed the site (the site wasn’t even done!). I had to send the customer my last sample in my size. A couple months later, he emailed me with this unsolicited feedback: “After 2 foot surgeries, I didn’t think my feet would be able to handle snowboarding, but thanks to the Shred Soles, I’m carving up the mountain. Thanks again.”
What were your biggest mistakes, or biggest wastes of time/money?
$600 phone call to a trademark attorney just to have him tell me that “I’ll never be able to trademark Shred Soles.” He was wrong. I just kept pursuing it with the USPTO and it worked out. Paying for services that I didn’t need yet (or ever), like shopping carts, 1-800#, and a podcasting account. Buying business cards too early, and now the info on them is outdated. Getting stuck on patents and trademarks and not moving forward with the rest of the business because I was concerned that they wouldn’t work out.
What have been your key marketing and/or manufacturing lessons learned?
Manufacturing- Keep making calls/emails until you find the right fit. I made 30 or more manufacturing contacts until I found the right one! I had guys tell me that what I was trying to do was stupid, impossible, and that it’s just not the way things are done!
Marketing- Facebook ads and fan page, Twitter, Email list, submitting to product reviews, posting in snowboarding forums, and a little SEO!
How did you find your manufacturer, and what would be your advice to first-timers?
I found my manufacturer through Google, emailing the few that looked decent, then exchanging more emails and phone calls with them if they responded. I decided that most of them were not a “good fit” for what I was trying to make. Finally, I came across a manufacturer that was receptive to my idea! They always responded promptly, while many of the other manufacturers I’d contacted had been very slow to respond.
My advice for the first-timers seeking a manufacturer would be to send lots of emails, make lots of phone calls, and be persistent! Find one that’s “into” what you’re trying to do and really understands the scope of your project.
Any key PR wins? Media, well-known users, or company partnerships, etc.? How did they happen?
I’ve got some big coverage lined up with the #1 snowboarding magazine through a lucky industry connection. Shred Soles has also been covered by the #1 and #2 independent snowboarding bloggers.
If you were to do it all over again, what would you do differently?
I’d get set up with a mastermind group from the start! That alone would have made the biggest overall impact in every area of the business, IMO!
The new site just went up, and it has a much cleaner look! I’m going to add some new items into the mix (socks, for instance), as well as a new secret product! I’d love to do some kind of information product in the future, and have a couple of ideas on the back burner.
Do you have a successful muse that’s generating more than $1,000 per month?
Please tell me about it! If it stands out (meaning you give specific details of lessons learned and what’s worked vs. what didn’t), I’m happy to promote you and help further increase your revenue. If you qualify and this sounds like fun, please fill out this form here.
Both physical and digital goods are welcome, as are services, as long as they’re low-maintenance, income-generating “muses” as described in The 4-Hour Workweek.