BiggerPockets Business Podcast

BiggerPockets Business Podcast 66: Leveraging COVID and Other Timely Trends to Build Wealth With John Berlingieri

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Are you looking for some motivation on how to make money during this pandemic?

If so, this episode is for you!

John Berlingieri — serial entrepreneur and creator of The Sanitizing Station — tells us about how he was able to go from idea to getting sales in two months on a $20,000 product aimed at helping to protect people from Covid infection.  And how he was able to overcome all the complexities of doing so during the pandemic, while supply chains were shut down and in-person workers were scarce.

In this episode, John provides tons of great tips on everything from naming your business and products to getting publicity for your business to “faking it until you make it” when working on BIG ideas.  John also discusses how to design, prototype and build FAST when getting to market quickly is the one of the most important aspects of success.

Make sure you listen for John’s amazing tip on what you should be reading to find lucrative business ideas, to keep up on business trends and to ensure that you beat your competition to market.

Check him out, and subscribe to the BiggerPockets Business Podcast so you won’t miss our next show!

Click here to listen on Apple Podcast.

Listen to the Podcast Here

Read the Transcript Here

J:
Welcome to the BiggerPockets Business podcast, show number 66.

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John:
Read like the physical newspaper, just making sure you know what’s going on around the world exactly how we saw what happened in Italy with the breathalyzer machine. What happened in Thailand and in other parts of Asia with the sanitizing tunnel. That was one of the integral parts of being able to pivot.

J:
Welcome to a real world MBA from the school of hard knocks, where entrepreneurs reveal what it really takes to make it. Whether you’re already in business or you’re on your way there, this show is for you. This is BiggerPockets Business. How’s it going, everybody? I am J. Scott. I’m your co host for the BiggerPockets Business podcast and once again, I’m here with my lovely co host, Mrs. Carol Scott. How’s it going today, Carol?

Carol:
Doing really well, but I think that we as parents and business owners are joining a lot of people around the country right now in this whole crazy dilemma of what do we do with our kids to make sure they continue learning. All the back to school choices are coming up and we know what we’re doing but we are definitely empathizing with all of you who are in a similar situation, just trying to do what’s right for your family, what’s right for the kids and just make the best of the situation that we’re in. So hang in there everyone, we’ll somehow get through it all.

J:
Yes, absolutely. This whole COVID situation has changed life for pretty much all of us, which is a good lead in for our guest today. He certainly changed his life around based on COVID. His name is John Berlingieri and he is a serial entrepreneur who spent much of his youth in and post college work experience in the manufacturing world. His grandfather owned an aeronautical manufacturing company and he’s done manufacturing his whole life.
He’s had several businesses focused on manufacturing and when COVID came along, he saw an amazing opportunity to capitalize from a business standpoint and also help people with this whole COVID crisis. So back in the beginning of April, he came up with this idea for creating a sanitizing station, basically a walk-in station, where you can go in and it would do a whole bunch of stuff to ensure that you’re safe from COVID and those around you are safe from you if you have COVID.
Over the next couple months, March, April, he basically went from concept to manufacturing this $20,000 product. On our show today, he’s going to talk all about how he came up with the idea for the sanitizing station, and how in just two months, he went from just pure idea to building this thing, dealing with disrupted supply chains, getting stuff from China. I mean, it’s just a Great story, and it’s a great example of how in this difficult COVID time, we as entrepreneurs really need to be pivoting and changing our business, to do whatever it takes to continue to make money and to continue to be successful.
Make sure you listen all the way through because john has some amazing tips for investors and one of the best tips that I’ve heard in a really long time about what we as entrepreneurs, investors, business owners should be reading, what should we be reading today to really keep on top of what’s going on in the world and be able to compete with the best of them as successful entrepreneurs. If you want to learn anything more about John, about his company, about his product, check out our show notes at biggerpockets.com/bizshow66. Again, that’s biggerpockets.com/bizshow66. Now without any further ado, let’s bring John Berlingieri on to the show.

Carol:
John, it is so great to have you here today. Welcome to our show. We are so looking forward to hearing all about the National Safety Health and Compliance Commission in your amazing product, the sanitizing station. So thank you for joining us.

John:
Thank you for having me, J and Carol. I really appreciate it. I’ve been listening to you guys since day one, and I’m happy to be on the podcast.

J:
Awesome. Thank you. I really appreciate that. I'm glad we have you here, because one of the things that I've noticed over the last few months is that there have been kind of two types of entrepreneurs, those that are trying to figure out how to be successful and keep their business moving forward, status quo, and those that are taking the tack, got a pivot, got to do something different, got to stand out and really leverage to use an overused term, the new normal, and I love the fact that you've dove into doing this whole pivot and taking advantage of the changes that have gone on.
So I just have a whole lot of questions. I know Carol does as well. Not just about your business, but about all the decisions that went into this huge leap off the cliff to do a big project that’s COVID related. So, said I’d love to hear a little bit more about your background, what got you into business entrepreneurship, kind of where it all started?

John:
Sure. So I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. So my grandfather, who I’m actually named after, so he’s from Italy. After World War II, he was a farm boy in Italy, and it was devastated, war torn Italy in the 1940s and 50s. He moved to Argentina, and he became a machinist and he was working at multiple factories and other industrial plants. So we were in Argentina, my dad was born there, as were his siblings. Then in the mid 70s, they came to New York and my grandfather was working as a machinist during the Vietnam War, creating airplane parts for the military, for Grumman, for Boeing, and then he brought my family over, well, my dad and his siblings and they started their own company.
It was a machine shop defense contractor, and they just progressively built the business. They started with one machine in a basement actually and kept building a second machine, a third machine, getting more contracts, being a subcontractor for other big contractors and just progressively kept building the business and in the mid to late 90s, I started working there after school.
I was nine years old, 10 years old, sweeping the floors, cleaning the toilets, washing the windows and then progressively started helping assembling parts and part marking. As I grew up into a teenager, I started going on to the machines, the CNC, large computer controlled machines that mill because there’s a milling and turning. We actually mill the steel, the titanium, the aluminum and custom made aircraft parts and also parts for satellites, for NASA, all different big contractors like Harris, like I said, Boeing, Grumman, directly for the military, the Navy, the Coast Guard.
That’s how I got my taste of aeronautical engineering and the precision that goes into making aircraft parts is mind blowing. They call the tolerances, or if you took a human hair and split it seven times, if the part was in or out of those dimensions by 0.001 of an inch, it was scrap. With all the documentation behind that the precision of manufacturing and then controlling those parts, these parts are going on fighter jets.
So the amount of paperwork and traceability that’s behind that gave me a really good insight into manufacturing at a high level. So I was able to parlay that knowledge on to other projects that I was involved with going past that initial learning curve.

J:
So did you go to school for engineering? It sounds like you were doing manufacturing and engineering, or aeronautical engineering type work early on. Was this before college, after college, during college? What did you study in college?

John:
It was before college. So from a young teenager or like a boy almost 9, 10 years old to my late teens, early 20s. I learned hands on, I sat in on meetings, that’s how I had all my whole business experience. Anytime an accountant, an attorney, an inspector from the government or another outside inspector, because we had the ISO 9001 and also the AS9100s certification specifically for the aircraft manufacturing. I would sit on all those meetings and all the audits and learn through that experience. So that was one of my request to my dad and to my uncles and aunts. I say, hey, can I sit on literally every meeting you guys have from 17, 18, 19 and I would just be quiet. Just sit there and try to absorb all the information and just learn.

J:
So after working for your grandfather’s business and getting experience and getting education, did you go into entrepreneurship, business ownership yourself right after that or did you get a job outside of college with somebody else? What was the progression from here you are, you see the entrepreneurship with your family, you have engineering background now. What are the next steps that lead you to kind of say, okay, I’m ready to be a business owner myself?

John:
So actually, in the early 2000s, I was into eBay and going to auction. So actually the storage unit auctions before the Storage Wars and all the TV shows there was literally like five or 10 of us going around to all the storage unit auctions. So that’s besides the factory that I would work during the day, I would, either on the weekends, go to these auctions and try to resell the items on eBay. I went to college, I have almost a third of a scholarship, almost a half a scholarship.
I was there for about one semester and I dropped out because I just wanted to get into the business world and pull the trigger and get involved, while everyone’s coming in drunk and high in their pajamas. I just wanted to get right into it. So I just started doing the auctions a lot and then I’ve got a little warehouse with a partner, and we were selling the products on eBay. That’s how I started my entrepreneurial journey, reselling online.

J:
Okay, and so that was 15, 20 years ago. You’re buying and selling, you’re doing transactional. Where did you go from there?

John:
So then, I was doing the eBay, so say for about a year or so. I went back to my dad’s shop, and I took a greater role in managing and the operations and the shipping receiving of his factory and I traveled to Italy during that time to visit a friend who was studying overseas and I saw a breathalyzer vending machine in Italy. I said, that seems like a really cool idea. I was 21 at the time, juniors in college or my buddies were. I bought one of those machines and I showed it to my dad, a couple of the other engineers and I said, hey, look at this machine. It’s going really well in Europe. Let’s bring it to the US.
So we reverse engineered it, made our own and we make airplane parts so to make a vending machine is easy work, more or less for us. Then I started a breathalyzer vending machine company. From actually seeing it in Italy, I said, hey, let’s do it and we started manufacture a couple samples. I marketed them, and within like three weeks, I sold like $50,000 worth of breathalyzer machines. I thought, I might be onto something.

Carol:
This is your early 20s. Your first real kind of solid, product manufacturing situation on your own after your eBay thing. You saw this product in Italy, said I want to bring that to the US, there’s not competition yet. You go back to your shop where you’re manufacturing precise parts for airlines, for airplanes, so the concept of this breathalyzer machine, you’re like, oh, heck, I can do this in my sleep. This is nothing compared to what we’re used to doing, and you sold that much right out of the gates. That’s phenomenal.

John:
Right out of the gate.

Carol:
Phenomenal. That is the coolest thing. So I think you mentioned that your dad was working with you maybe at the time. Did you have other business partners doing this or was it that solely the two of you? What was the arrangement there?

John:
My dad was just helping in an advisory role. So it was I was 100% owner and that and then we just kept progressing along with the first prototypes. We got the orders, we first were fulfilling the orders. One of my main ideas with the breathalyzer is reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, having residual income. So I was like, oh, if I can have a few, maybe I have a route of say 50 or 100 vending machines, then these can be many rental houses. I can net say 50 or 100 or 200 bucks a month off of each vending machine. So if you do the math, if I have 50 and then make 100 a month, I was like oh, I can make five grand a month residual income and help people with drinking and driving.
They can check themselves with the breathalyzer. So try to do some good for the community but while also making money. So I listed them for sale and like I said, they sold like $50,000 worth within three weeks. So I kind of shifted from the route perspective of placing machines and I ended up placing a bunch of machines also, but I actually took them off the wall so I could fulfill the order.
So the ones I already had placed, I had to kind of backtrack and I sold and filled the orders and then we just, I got another office space, a warehouse and we just went into production and making a few hundred and a few thousand and I was selling distributorships throughout the US. So we had like 50 in Vegas, 50 in Miami, 50 in LA, like pretty much every big city, we had a distributor and we ended up selling like three or 4,000 machines in total.
Then a lot of competition from China came in, Korea, just other manufacturers came in and kind of just killed the market and lowered the price significantly. So there was little to no margin.

J:
Well, I’ll tell you, we could have an entire show just on that business and that product, and it’s funny, I didn’t know about that. If I would have known that I probably would have said, hey, let’s do that one first. So maybe we’ll come back and have you back just to talk about that business, because it sounds like there are a lot of great lessons learned there. I want to get up to today. So where did you go from that business and how did that lead you to, we get into this COVID crisis and you’re like, okay, now I’m going to do a product that is specifically geared towards what’s going on in the world today.

John:
Sure. So, I went fast with the breathalyzer company, but within that was over a span of like two or three years. I was able to sell it. I should have, looking back in retrospect, I should have sold it at its peak and that was my first company that did over a million dollars in revenue. I should have sold it when we were doing 1.1, 1.2. I probably could have got like seven, 800,000 for it. I ended up just kind of riding the wave thinking I was going to come out with another product then I ended up selling it for a fraction of that, selling the route and the components and everything.
So after that I kind of went right into Amazon. So back to the transactional, eBay ran its course more or less and I got into Amazon and Amazon FBA and selling products on that, and then the whole corona, COVID thing happened. So I was essentially out of business with my Amazon FBA. I was selling non essential products, so I couldn’t send any more products in.
I was just selling through my inventory and I have a partner, I’m sure you guys know of the Entrepreneurs Organization, EO. So I’m a member of EO. I was actually in a accelerator which, so to be a member of EO you have to do over a million in revenue. So they have an awesome program. So for Accelerators, if you do a minimum of 250,000 in revenue, you can become an Accelerator with the hopes of getting you above that million mark within three years.
So I was in Entrepreneur Organization Accelerator program, and I have this really awesome coach who's my mentor. His name's A.J. Caro, who's actually my partner now, and he's very successful. He has a large security company with like over 1,500 guards and also a home health care company that has a home health care aides with also about 1,500 employees. So he started from nothing, built it up. So he has like, we're close to 3,000 employees, really smart guy, organized, systems driven.
So I learned a lot from him and he told me that he had a case of COVID in his finance department, and he called a decontamination company to clean the office and it was like a dollar or something a square foot. He’s like, I just spent like four or $5,000 on decontamination. I’m sure it’s going to happen again somewhere here or at another office, one of our friend’s office. Let’s start a decontamination company.
I said all right, let’s do some research on the foggers, the machines and everything. We started off in that realm of decontamination cleaning and there are so many companies, Servpro, just every janitorial company or every carpet cleaning guy became a decontamination company with little to no certifications in general besides Servpro and people that are versed in that area. So we said, are we going to be one of 100 different guys decontaminating?
We’re too business savvy. I have my manufacturing background. He’s very systems driven. Let’s see if we can come up with some type of sanitizing booth or sanitizing station. So we were researching online and we saw in Asia, because Asia already was say, three, four or five months ahead of us, what are they doing? They’re very smart. They’re ingenious, what are they doing to tackle this problem? In Thailand, there was college students that set up a carport and they had UV lights, and it’s some type of misting system in there.
It looked kind of cheesy, it was like a big tent card port but the idea was there, the concept was there. I said, let’s see if we can come up with a prototype.

J:
Was this March or April or May? Kind of nail down the timeframe that you actually started on this.

John:
We’re talking March, mid March. A.J. and I had this conversation actually on an EO call, we started a weekly call and that’s when he brought up that he had COVID in his finance department. Then we transition into the station or booth in early to mid April. So that’s how-

Carol:
So you wasted no time. You wasted no time. I think it’s also, listeners, I think it’s also really important that you know John’s geographic location. John, tell everyone where you’re located and where you’re working out because I think that helps set the stage of why maybe one of the many reasons you were so ingrained in this right off the bat and saw the urgency.

John:
You’re right. So we’re based in New York, specifically on Long Island, which is about an hour east of Manhattan. A lot of people commute in and out of the city. So we’re very connected to Manhattan and New York City, which was hit and it was devastating here. It was unbelievable. I had neighbors that passed, frontline workers that passe. Just horrible, it hit us like a ton of bricks out of nowhere. So we were exposed to it first and then as an entrepreneur, and just my personality, I wanted to help and try to fix the situation.
I can’t just sit on the sidelines and just let this happen while everyone shut down. So that’s how we just pivoted right away. So what the Asian community was doing in Asia, and just tried to start making prototypes and copy what they were doing and put our spin on it.

Carol:
That’s really cool. I find it also definitely noteworthy that, it’s almost come full circle where you’re talking about 20-ish years ago, you were overseas and you saw the breathalyzer machine and you’d mentioned earlier a big draw of that product is that you’re helping people. You saw an opportunity for a business, but also one that was going to save lives. I think it’s fascinating that here we are, 20 years later, you’re in the epicenter of this crisis. I’m so sorry to hear that you had neighbors who passed and so on. You were just like, we’re not just going to sit by and let this happen.
We have the power, the knowledge, the expertise to do something about this. So you decided to tackle it head on. I think that’s just very smart in so many ways. So, first, I’m just so curious. This is a big undertaking. We’re talking about you saw this carport type of thing with the plastic on the sides and it sprayed the disinfectant and whatever. So first can you tell us what your take on the sanitizing station is and how you first started the product development and how it evolved.

John:
So it’s interesting that you bring it up. There’s a lot of similarities and my friend, actually my mom brought it up a couple times, how it is similar to the breathalyzer machine like you just stated. So my partner and I started making prototypes. So he’s actually very handy also mechanical and we were up late at night about like 10:30 and I’m in his office and we’re like I said, we found that product in Thailand. Then a couple days later he, at a PVC piping, he built a station or at least the framing of it.
So we thought we were going to build it out of PVC and then we can wrap it with some type of boat wrap, like the boat shrink wrap that you winterize the boat with. I said hey, let’s try that but it was a little too flimsy. Then we progressed on to vinyl fence. Hey, let’s get some vinyl fencing. Let’s get like the eight foot sections and we’ll put them together and we’ll make a rectangular box out of that and we can hook up some sprayers, maybe some UV lights to it. So that was the second prototype.
So we went from the PVC piping to the PVC fence and then I went back to the sheet metal shop that built the vending machine case for the breathalyzer. So I hit them up, I said, “Wow, I haven’t seen you in 10 to 15 years in a while,” and I said, hey, I have a new idea. Let’s build this and so I was with them and for a couple weeks and we ended up building the frame or the outside casing of the sanitizing station.
So that’s how we progressed along from PVC to sheet metal because the PVC was a little too flimsy, but we got the concept. We got the sizing, we got the whole schematics of it down. Then we went to, like I said, to the sheet metal shop and then we just kept fine tuning it, adding features here, adding features there, ordering samples from China like tablets and the pumps and all the electronics, the breakers and all the internal guts for the machine.

Carol:
I've got to know John, I'm so curious. Well, first of all, this is so fascinating, all of these different parts and all of these different components that have to work together to construct it. Just from a logistics perspective, I've got to know how were you able to get these components from China? I know in my industry, in real estate, in staging and even on Amazon right now you order anything and stuff is backordered. Stuff that used to take two and three and four days maybe is now weeks and weeks and weeks. What were you able to do to get all your stuff so quickly and efficiently so that you could work through these prototypes?

John:
Calling on connections in the industry from electrical suppliers. We have family friends in the electrical supply business. So A.J. and I would just do it like a shotgun blast. If we needed UVC lights, we would place the orders in four different areas, on AliExpress, Alibaba, Amazon and then say a local supplier and whoever came in first, we would just use that knowing that, like you mentioned that Amazon from one day prime, turned into two week prime out of nowhere.
So we would just blast everyone for, like go after four or five suppliers for each component. Then we’d be calling and texting each other like, oh, hey, I got this end, oh, I got this part in. Where’s the other parts, check the tracking and everything was delayed and backed up, but if you try four or five different avenues, generally one will come through.

Carol:
That is such a great tip in and of itself. So often, we hear or we think about as small business owners, we hit a roadblock and I can’t get this done because but you and your partner were having nothing to do with that. Were like, we’re just going to keep hitting up person after person, after supplier, after supplier, whatever we have to do until somebody can come through and give us the materials we need. So I just think that’s a really great takeaway and a really great reminder that often things are a lot more within our power if you have the right approach.

John:
Absolutely.

J:
Here’s the thing that really strikes me, that stands out here is that maybe you have a different attitude, but from an outside perspective, this seems like a huge risk. So we have COVID going on, it’s mid March, there’s a lot of disagreement about whether this is going to be a two month lockdown, and then everything gets back to normal. There’s talk of by the time summer comes, the virus is going to be gone and we’re not going to have this concern anymore.
Other people saying yeah, it could be six months or 12 months, but even at the worst case scenario, most people back in March were saying, in a year we’re going to have a vaccine. So you’re sitting here spending an inordinate amount of time and energy and presumably money to build this product, that by the time you have something that’s ready to go to market, for all you know, the markets not going to exist anymore.
So if we got here to June or May whenever and you had your first Product ready to sell, the virus could have petered out. You didn’t know that. So what was the calculus going on in your head to decide whether this was actually worth it to put in all this time, energy and money, knowing that the market might not exist by the time you’re done?

John:
That is a very good question. That was one of our main concerns. Hey, is this going to be a three month ordeal, six months and nowadays, we’re not even talking a month anymore. Is this going to be a year, two year, three year ordeal or the next 10 years? Just like after 9/11. I was a teenager when 9/11 happened and all the security changed at the airport. So now, we’re just used to everything being post 9/11. We just saw how devastating it was in Asia. I mean, in China, how many tens of thousands of deaths happened and then in New York.
When it really hit New York and my friends, other entrepreneurs, restaurant tours, other factory owners just shutting their business down left and right, we’ve never dealt with any of the thing like this before. So we could just see the writing on the wall indicating that this may be a long ordeal. We’re not getting back to normal and also the stock market just crashing horribly and just day after day. Holy crap, another 1,000, 2,000 points.
Oil, remember oil was negative, like 30 something dollars, they were paying people to take oil. So kind of combining all of those factors, the businesses shutting down, stock market crashing and everything else going on, to recover from this wasn’t going to be a one month thing. So we were taking the risks, hey, maybe six months and now that everyone’s hypersensitive with the social distancing, the mask wearing this is just going to become the new normal and we just decided to take the plunge in and run into the fire.

J:
Yeah, it was a big bet because now that I think about it, you didn’t just have the risk of the virus going away. You also had the risk of, what if the virus stays really, really bad and we stay in lockdown. If we’re in lockdown, well, nobody’s going to use your product. If the virus goes away, nobody’s going to use your product. Your product is valuable in the situation that we ended up in, which is we were opening up but we’re trying to be hyper vigilant and safe and hygienic.
This is kind of like a best case scenario for your product. Had it gone either other extreme, virus goes away or the virus gets so bad that we’re back in lockdown, your product isn’t useful, but you kind of came out of this in an absolute best case scenario, it sounds like

John:
Yes, pretty much. It seems to be that way right now. A lot of my friends and associates and even our factory, because we’re a aircraft manufacturer and work for the government, we were essential. So I had that in mind, at least the essential workers were working which is still a decent amount of the population. The food processing facilities, the factories, everyone, the toilet paper. Remember when toilet paper was such a hot commodity it didn’t exist anymore?
Those areas where were still working and at least we would know that we would be able to supply those offices, those critical offices in factories with the machine, because there’s a way to take temperatures and also disinfect people as they go through the machine. Just rewinding a little bit in regards to other entrepreneurs and how, the example I gave them when I was looking for components at this critical time, we placed orders with four or five suppliers.
Same thing happened when we were building the website and the brochures and everything. I like to leverage virtual assistants online. So on Upwork on Fiverr, I would hire, and I’ve been using them for about 10 years and it’s the VAs. Any entrepreneur, get a VA. All your web developers and all your marketing people they use the VAs and just send you a bill for five times the price. So learn how to use Fiverr and Upwork.
So in regards to the web developer, I hired like two or three web developers at one time, like one expensive one medium price, and then one maybe a little bit lower price and see what they would come up with. Then I would mix and match from one virtual assistant from another and then we’d make like a really good website. Then same thing with the brochure, I would just send it out to say three different people and see what they can come up with.
In case someone, say one of those virtual assistants got COVID or the internet shut down, you have to have multiple backups, and especially with something this critical, and on such a short timeline, we had to get it done as fast as possible.

J:
Yeah, that’s a great point and that was actually the next question I was going to ask you, was about the timeline because you had to get things out. If this took six months or 12 months or 24 months, you potentially most likely miss your opportunity. So it sounds like redundancy and having multiple vendors and multiple suppliers and multiple writers and multiple virtual assistants was kind of the key to getting everything out quickly.
So just for our listeners, and for my knowledge, can you walk us through exactly what the design of the machine does? How does the machine work? We’ll have a link to the website in our show notes. So anybody can go and take a look and get more detail, but just for those listening right now, explain to us exactly what the technology is, what happens when I see this machine I walk into it?

John:
Sure, of course. So now in regards to the machine, we saw that right out of the gate that there were nurses, EMTs, taking temperatures outside of buildings. So we said, okay, that’s a critical component, we need to take people’s temperatures. There’s hand sanitizers that are popping up everywhere. So, they’ve been around but now they’re everywhere. So temperature taking and hand sanitizer, that seems to be one of the most critical components.
So in the sanitizing station, the first two steps is having a tablet on the wall that takes people’s temperatures and also we incorporated into the tablet, facial recognition. So we can connect that to an access control system into a building and it can take photographs of anyone that went through the machine. So it can timestamp you like, time date and also your temperature. So we can record that showing that, okay, look, everyone that went through the building had a normal temperature, or, for example, maybe someone had an abnormal temperature, at least we have a record of that.
So getting back to the question, as you walk into the machine, put your face up to the tablet, get all contact list, no touching at all, you get your temperature read, and it’ll tell you if you have a normal temperature or an above normal temperature and on top of the machine, we have a green and red light. So in case we have five of these machines lined up at a stadium and a security guard’s monitoring them, they would easily be able to see if someone had an abnormal temperature and can pull them off the line. So that’s why we added the light at the top of the unit.
Then after you get your temperature taken and say everything thing’s good, you get the green light, it tells you, great you have a normal temperature, you put your hand down and also contact list hand sanitizer, you get a portion of hand sanitizer, and then you walk through the plastic partitions and there’s an all natural, FDA approved disinfectant, that sanitizes your whole body and it’s not a skin irritant or eye irritant. You can breathe it.
You know what, this is how everyone will know what solution we’re using. When you go into the grocery store and you see the produce getting misted, I always thought they were getting watered. It’s not. It’s this specific solution that we’re using. So it’s safe. We drink it, we’ve eaten it before and that’s the same product that we’re using, and it’s called HOCl. That’s the technical name of it. It’s essentially electrolyzed water. It’s like a saline solution and they use it in contact, eye contact solution cleaner.

Carol:
So cool. This is so fascinating. I’m absolutely loving hearing all the steps and of course, I was looking at your website earlier, and some news articles you’ve had, and so on. Just everything about the machine, it just seems so brilliantly designed. So curious who you worked with to figure out the different components that were necessary. Like, for example, I didn’t even realize until you mentioned it just now that there’s the red and green light on top of the machine.
So it’s easy to identify somebody who has a high temperature, for example. So who were the types of people that you collaborated with to say, hey, we’re thinking about doing this type of machine? What are the things that would make it a successful product?

John:
So seeing what the market was doing right now, what everyone’s response was, so my partner, A.J., he has the home health care agency. So they were being asked to take temperatures outside of office buildings. So we knew that was a critical component. We had to take temperatures. Then doing research online and found out that in Asia, that they, and Europe because Europe got hit before us, they had tablets like Android tablets that would take your temperature.
So they have a thermal imaging scanner above the tablet. So we bought that and integrated it into the machine. So we just had to do all the wiring, the back end electrical on that. The hand sanitizer was pretty simple. It’s just a wall mounted hand sanitizer. So we just mounted that to the side of the machine also. Then the disinfecting spray, everyone’s concerned. What are they spraying on us?
That’s a huge concern. So doing extensive research, what is on the EPA list, on the EPA enlist? What is CDC approved? What’s FDA approved, and there’s a bunch of things that kill or inactivate the virus on hard surfaces, but what’s safe on humans? So I’m thinking, what do they use to sterilize water? This product they use to sterilize water. What do they use to clean food like at a chicken processing implant? This is what they spray on the chicken. This is what they spray on the food prep areas.
Through a lot of research, that was probably one of the most difficult parts is finding the proper sanitizing solution that’s safe and I sprayed it on myself. I had dozens of people go through it. I’ve gargled with it, I sprayed it in my face, and I wanted to test it. I was my own guinea pig, as were other members of the team. So that’s how we went through the whole process of seeing what components are critical, and how can we integrate them all into one station.

Carol:
I love this. So, so cool. Again, I’d like to point out, it sounds very much like a lot of your experiences have come full circle because you talked about earlier, back when you were even a teenager sitting in with your grandfather, with your aunts and uncles working at the manufacturing company, you were sitting in with government agencies, you were sitting in on these high level meetings with these stakeholders in a lot of different industries at very high levels at a very young age. So I think it’s really cool and noteworthy that that has served you so well on this product. I think it’s really neat. So talk to us about the marketing and the sales process of this product.

John:
Sure. So we were trying to see who would be in need of the product right away. So schools got shut down. So we were thinking about schools definitely needed, any essential workers. So back to the factories, back to those office buildings that are critical, that no one really thinks about, but like, say, like some back end office work that does taxes. Those are still critical. We have to get our taxes done, that do payroll, that do IT work.
So that’s who we were marketing to initially, and that’s is who our clients have been so far. Critical offices or essential workers that work in offices, and also the school, specifically in New York. They have to submit their plans for reopening by July 31, and some school districts we are incorporated in that reopening plan so far. Actually, we just had a meeting, yesterday morning for a charter school, and they were interested in getting 10 of them and they’re adding us to their reopening plan that needs to be approved by the state.

J:
I love this. I love this whole story. I want to go back and revisit the timeline. So you started on beginning of April to develop a product. You went through prototypes, and, I mean, I don’t know if you know the exact day but about when was the first product ready to be manufactured and shipped?

John:
I’d probably say end of May.

J:
Okay, so less than two months from we have this idea to we have a product that we’re ready to actually manufacture and sell.

John:
You’re right. Yes. I was working literally like 18 hour, like 100 hours a week. 18 hour days, just non stop. My wife thought I was going to have a heart attack because I was not sleeping and just working like crazy. Then also being in contact with China, they’re 12 hours ahead of East Coast. So, we just start talking at like 11PM and then we go to like 3AM and then I’m up again at like seven or eight in the morning, doing it all over again.

J:
So basically, what you’re saying is hard work is a component of success? That’s interesting. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard that before. I love it. Because it’s not just hard work, but it’s smart work and it’s willing to take a risk and it’s willing to do all these things that we think about with an entrepreneur, a successful entrepreneur, but a lot of times, it’s not all at the same time.
You have to take risk at the beginning and then you have to put in some hard work and then you have to make contacts. You had to do all of this simultaneously because again, your market window is potentially very small. So two month period where you had to make the decision to take this risk. You had to make the investment, you had to build the contacts, the relationships, you had to do the prototyping, you had to start doing the marketing, start doing the sales all in a short period of time. Can you give us an idea of, so who was your first, do you remember who your first customer was?

John:
Yes, it actually was an office building. So they had essential workers, actually it was another home health care agency and they had, also visiting nurses and they were, so their staff was non stop, they never shut down. So they have staff coming in and out of the building constantly and they were the first company to implement the machine.

J:
So we have a machine, like this is a large machine, you actually walk into it. So I’m curious, like what was the process? You get this order. Do you have a bunch of machines sitting around waiting to be shipped or is it you get an order and you then you go and you start manufacturing it? How do you transport it? How do you install it, just the whole process because a lot of times we talk about products that are just handheld things like widgets.
A lot of our entrepreneurs and nothing wrong with that. That’s great, but the whole manufacturing and shipping and fulfillment and setup is you don’t have to think about those things. For something like this, you have to think about those things. So what’s that process look like?

John:
So to fulfill that first order, it was our first five that we built, it was one of the first five. So we wanted to make sure that we were selling it locally so we can test it and get all the bugs out. So that was definitely a big part of it. We gave them a slight discount knowing that we were going to be close and we were going to be using them as a guinea pig and they were cool with it.
They were excited to be the first company in New York or anyone to actually have the machine. So we had a close partnership and relationship with them, and we designed the machines so it can be foldable, meaning that the walls can collapse in on each other. So in shipping, because say when it’s up and assembled, it’s like seven feet tall. So that’s kind of tall. So we made the walls collapsible so we can make it like three and a half feet tall so it can ship easily.
So we had all that in mind, we wanted to make sure all the components were plug and play. Let’s say the pumps burnt out or something happened. We could easily ship them another pump, they can unbolt it with like four bolts, plug it in and it’s back up and working. So that was the way that we were testing it in front of the first company and we were there a couple times a week just adjusting things, programming the tablet for the temperature, getting those readings correct and it was just a good relationship.
So if anyone is thinking about having a product, something larger like this or even a smaller product, working with a local company that would implement the product and maybe giving them a little discount, and just working out all the kinks over those couple weeks or a couple months until it’s perfected. That’s why like for example, we added the light, we added to the top of the machine. That wasn’t in our first prototype.
We added a couple more Mr. Heads. Initially we only had two now we added four. Adjusted the wheels. The wheels were locking and scraping. So we changed the wheels out. Just a couple different things that we just kept tweaking along the way, until we have the, what we think is the perfected model right now, but as an engineer, I’m always trying to improve it. Staying up at night, see how we can make it better, but little by little.

Carol:
So cool. I’m just sitting here so fascinated by like you mentioned earlier, J, the fact that you saw this need, you just went guns blazing, figuring out how to produce this thing. You’re now part of a school systems reopening plan, and I’m just thinking through the product itself and just seeing pictures of it, for example. J remember a million years ago, it feels like when we take the boys to Legoland, for example, and you already go through the security thing, the white piece of plastic thing to before you actually have the person search you and I’m thinking, this just seems like such an obvious answer for so many venues.
For all the theme parks, for someday when sports become a thing again. I think the amount of foresight that went into this product in the way you subsequently developed it and like you said, used the local companies so that you could be part of the ongoing tweaking and development is just so brilliant, all the way around. So I absolutely love everything about it. It’s very cool.

John:
Thank you.

J:
Can you give us an idea of what your cost is to produce one of these? I know it’s probably going to change over time as you get more scale and get better at manufacturing, but right now, just to get an idea of your margins, how much does it cost to produce one of these things and what’s your typical retail sales price?

John:
So now the price of metal and the components and also like the sanitizing situation, just like the PPE, it’s been hard to get masks. So the price has fluctuated. So right now, we’re around like the 10,000, 11,000 mark of Our production costing. Obviously, with volume we’d like to get it down to eight, 7,000 and our retail price is 18,000. So there’s a decent margin in there. If we’re making it for 10, 11,000. I think we’re selling it for 18.

J:
So about 40% margins there.

John:
Yeah. 40%, and then we have financing. So we worked with a couple, we have actually two financing companies that we're working with, that are equipment leasing companies and they can, per 36 month lease, they can get it down to about like $700 a month for the payments.

J:
Got it. How long does it take to build one of these machines? Let’s say somebody put in an order today for 100 of them, what is your lead time look like? What’s the process look like?

John:
We’re talking about 30 to 45 days right now. So pretty quick. With a normal lead time, I would say like 30 to 60 days, but we’re trying to get it 30 to 45 days right now.

J:
Got it.

Carol:
I have one other question I’m so curious about. So the name of your company, it’s the Sanitizing Station. Do they say that properly? Is that the accurate name of the product?

John:
Yes. The product name’s Sanitizing Station and I filed the trademark for it right in the beginning

Carol:
Right off the bat, awesome. Then your company itself is called the National Safety Health and Compliance Commission, which I would love to hear more about how the name of the company came about.

John:
Sure. So keeping in mind that we spoke about earlier that we didn’t know how long, or nobody knows how long this whole crisis is going to last. So we said, let’s start off with the safety and health part of it, with the Sanitizing Station and also the decontamination when we first started and then let’s say this kind of slows down over the next six to 12 months, we would like to get into a compliance part, say OSHA compliance or that ISO compliance for the factory.
So we were going to start a division of compliance and go that route. So, we still have that on the back burner just in case a couple of years down the road, this slows down, we will shift gears into to maybe another safety compliance combination service, something like that.

J:
I love the fact that the name sounds very formal. I know a lot of us, we develop companies and products and we want cute names are easy to remember names, but I guess there’s value here in sounding formal and sounding like a company that, if I hear the name of this company, I’m like, I trust them, because it doesn’t sound like Bob-

Carol:
Isanitizer.com. Like, cool thing-

J:
Bob Smith sanitizing station. We don’t think a lot about or I don’t think enough, I think about names a lot, but it’s all part of your branding strategy. It’s all part of building trust with your clients. It’s all part of conveying your brand.

John:
You’re right and you want to position yourself in the market to be as big as possible. So having a proper website, having an authoritative name, especially in our industry. If you get a call from the National Safety Health and Compliance Commission, you’re like, who’s this calling me, you’re going to take it a little more serious. Having an 800 number set up, getting all these things set up right away. So you can appear larger than you are and have more authority and people will take you more seriously. I see some entrepreneurs not taking those steps, they’re not taking this seriously in the marketplace where it’s very competitive.

Carol:
So John, the other thing that I think is just so beautifully done about the name of your company, like you mentioned earlier, it enables you to pivot is necessary and it sounds like that’s a key theme throughout your entrepreneurial journey is just this whole concept of pivoting when the time is right. So can you talk a little bit more, about just to all the entrepreneurs out there in general, how you’ve been able to position your companies in such a way that you are able to pivot strategically, to pivot quickly to make the decisions that are most relevant for what’s necessary, depending on whatever is happening in the market and the importance of other people to do that as well.

John:
One thing I do every morning is I read multiple news outlets. So I’ll give my secrets. I read the Drudge Report, Al Jazeera RT, Reuters. So I get a right leaning perspective, a left leaning’s perspective, what are they doing in Europe? What are they doing in Asia, in Africa? Because as Americans, we’re in our American bubble. Everything’s whatever, CNN or Fox and it’s so interesting when you read RT or other international outlets, they talk about stuff in the US you would never hear about here.
I don’t know why, maybe the politics behind it, but just seeing what’s going on in the world. Reading a Japanese or Chinese news outlet. Maybe it doesn’t align with our political views, but hey, they’re people. They’re going through very similar things that we’re going through and we’re all interconnected. So keeping my ear to the street and being like a news junkie.
I used to be like obsessed, and I would read it for about like three hours a day, but now I chopped down to like 25 minutes. Then I am still old school and I read the physical newspaper, and just making sure you know what’s going on around the world and that’s a way that I was able to pivot. Exactly how we saw what happened in Italy with the breathalyzer machine. What happened in Thailand and in other parts of Asia, with the sanitizing tunnel, they call it a tunnel or a cabin.
We’re calling it the Sanitizing Station, and that was one of the integral parts of being able to pivot by understanding in the marketplace.

J:
I love this and if there’s nothing else our listeners get out of this entire episode, that nugget right there, that idea right there about reading voraciously and we all talk about, what are our favorite books, what are our favorite mindset books, our tactical books. Books are great for long term business success, but what you’re talking about is what we should be doing as entrepreneurs for short term business success.
It’s knowing what is going on in the world because you talked about your breathalyzer product. You saw that, I think you said in Italy and the fact that you were able to make that successful was because you saw a trend that was going on somewhere else in the world. You didn’t just contain your observations and you’re reading to what’s going on in America or what’s going on in New York or what’s going on with your liberal friends or what’s going on with your conservative friends.
You were basically saying, let me see what is going on in the world today and how I can leverage real time information and real time trends and real time everything to be a better successful entrepreneur. It’s so obvious, everything is so polarized today. We want to say, I’m left leaning. So I’m going to just read liberal stuff or I’m right leaning, so I just want to read conservative stuff and it’s so limiting, or a lot of us say we’re American. So we care about what’s going on in America, but we don’t read other things.
Like you said, read Al Jazeera, read BBT read all the great, great or not great international newspapers, because that’s really what gives us the insight to be successful. So I’m sorry for harping on this, but it’s so important and you’re the first person we’ve had on this show that’s really mentioned the value of doing that and so I just want to make sure our listeners hear that and get into the habit of reading everything you can.
Don’t just read the stuff that you agree with, or that will agree with your views or agree with whatever country you live in. So thank you for saying that, and again, sorry for harping on it but it just had to be reiterated and I love that tip.

John:
You’re 100% right. Get out of your comfort zone, read what others are doing. It’s actually very interesting and especially now with all the technology we have, it’s not like 30 years ago when you just had the local paper. I mean just have a couple news outlets set up like you mentioned and just go through them quickly. You can just skim through them but at least you get a feel of what’s going on in the world. I would like to bring up something in regards to marketing and how I got some press and publicity in regards to the Sanitizing Station.
So, we had the product, we had it developed and everything. Now how do we get press for it? So, the news channel is not just going to come to my house, into my office and say hey, I want to feature the Sanitizing Station. So this is another tip for entrepreneurs. If you have a cool product or a good idea or something you want to show to the news or to get some press for, literally just call. I called like every single news outlet, I emailed them just literally pounding the phones and emailing them back and forth.
There’s a list of contacts, just email the president, the VP, the PR specialist, the business development specialist, just email the hell out of them then follow up with a call, one or two calls and just hit them up. Some people will never respond to you. Your emails will go into spam, but I just did like a shotgun blast again and I just spent half a day just calling everyone a couple times a week and that’s how we ended up getting a lot of press.
We were on the local, like we have News 12 up here in the northeast and then CBS picked us up, ABC and yesterday because I speak Spanish, Univision was here. They did a live morning show in the morning from like, it was like 8:30 in the morning. It was pretty wild being on live TV.

J:
You can say anything you want about your product and hope people believe it, but if a news outlet that people trust says something about your product, people are going to believe it. So that’s just another just amazing tip. Don’t be scared to pick up the phone and a lot of us we’re shy. We don’t like to scream from the rooftops about our amazing products, but you got to do it and you got to get other people talking about your products as well.
So absolutely amazing tip. So where do you go from here? What’s your plan? Are you going to keep improving the product, I assume? Are you going to try and get the cost down, are you going to expand your marketing? What is the next year or two or 10 look like for this company?

John:
So a combination of everything you mentioned, getting the cost down via increasing volume, so that if anyone’s in manufacturing or considering manufacturing with any product, obviously the more volume you make, the better the pricing that you can get from your suppliers and in turn, you can increase your margins. So that’s definitely one of the main focuses and then just increasing marketing. Calling those news outlets and then once you get picked up by one news outlet, they’re all in tune with each other.
It’s a small community. All the producers, they either they worked with each other, went to college together. They all know each other. So then another news outlet will pick us up, maybe someone else will pick us up. So going that way, building a distributor network. So solution or say, chemical manufacturers they want to sell and move our product. Other equipment manufacturers and distributors, mainly distributors.
So building the distributor network, hiring a sales team. So I’ve been doing interviews, we have a couple salesmen right now, making outbound calls, setting up the CRM. So right now we’re using HubSpot, and the phone system, working on the scripts, working on the FAQs, the rebuttals. So trying to build an internal sales team and an external sales team at the same time.

J:
Is this a business that you think, let’s say COVID goes away in a year because let’s say we have a vaccine, do you plan to keep moving forward with this business? Do you see other applications for the Sanitizing Station or is this one of those, okay, if COVID goes away next year, you’ll be happy that you cashed in on the opportunity and you’ll move on to something else?

John:
So it seems that the severity of the crisis has everyone hypersensitive. The workplace anxiety, who’s going to go back into a movie theater right now or I love to frequent Broadway. I have multiple tickets, but Broadway is canceled till at least 2021 right now. This doesn’t seem like it’s going anywhere, anytime soon. One of the things that we can implement with the machine is maybe another metal detector, I mean, adding a metal detector so we can add like a security aspect to it. Same with the tablet and that whole facial recognition as like a security and access control. So we can always pivot in that direction into the, say, security aspect of it.

J:
I absolutely love that and you’re absolutely right. I mean, even if COVID went away today, even if there was a vaccine today, I know I wash my hands 10 times as much as I used to do it, even when I don’t have to. I’m walking around my house. I know my family is not infected. I know the surfaces in my house are not infected, but I still wash my hands multiple times a day, even though I don’t have any specific concerns.
So I definitely see your point about if something changed, if COVID went away, these habits are now more ingrained in us than they were a couple months or years ago. So yeah, that’s a really, really good point. This has been fantastic. I’d now like to jump in, if it’s okay with you and Carol, to the part of the show that we call FoUr More and that’s where we asked you the same four questions that we asked all of our guests and then the more part of the four more is where we give you an opportunity to let our listeners know where they can connect with you, where they can find out more about you and where they can find out more about your business. Sound good?

John:
Sure.

J:
Okay. I am going to take question number one. So, you’ve told us a little bit about working for your father and your grandfather. I don’t know if that was your very first business or not, but can you tell us what your first job was or what your worst job was. I’ll let you decide which one and what did you take from it that really has stayed with you till today?

John:
So first business, so I lived behind a public golf course. So I would go in there with our friends and shoot BB guns and play paintball, but besides that, there were a ton of golf balls in the woods. So we would go and pick up the golf balls, and we would go to the little cleaning machine and we would clean up the golf balls, and then we would go and approach golfers on the fairway and say, “Hey, here’s 10 balls for five bucks,” or whatever we were selling.
So I was nine, I think I was in third grade, or second or third grade at the time. So that was my first business, and what I learned that still sticks with me today is just getting over the fear of approaching someone. Half the battle is just showing up. Once you get in front of them, and you just say, hey, I have a product to sell. Just getting over that hump and that fear. Because it’s terrifying as a nine year old going up to like, whatever, like a 40 year old guy coming out of the woods, saying, hey, do you want to buy some golf balls?
It’s just going for it. Pulling the trigger, just get in front of people and don’t be scared. Just like picking up the phones. We bombard everyone with emails. Now emails don’t even get through. We all know how many emails we all get. Get old school, pick up the phone, call people. Everyone’s home right now. It’s easy to get in touch with people and set up Zoom meetings. So just getting over that hump and showing up.

Carol:
I love that. Get all old school and pick up the phone. Seriously, J, I’m always harping on everyone about exactly that. Just pick up the phone. I love it. Okay, John, second question for you. What would you say is the best piece of advice you have for small business owners that you haven’t already mentioned today?

John:
I would say during this crisis, and I'm sure we've lived through multiple crisis's, the.com, boom and bust, the '08 recession. Now this whole COVID disaster that's going on is to just reassess the businesses and try to make decisions quickly and move fast. Don't wait around. It's better to make a bad decision than no decision. At least just pull the trigger and get it over with and see what happens. No one knows what's going on right now in this landscape. The President, Congress, business owners, we have no idea. So just trying different things and pivoting quickly to get over the next hump and the next mountain.

J:
I love that and I 100% agree it's better to make a bad decision than no decision. Because too often if you make no decision, then you will by default have a bad decision made for you. So it's better to make that decision and having thought through it than just letting it happen to you. So, fantastic tip. I love that. Okay, question number three, we talked a little bit about reading.
Normally, I would be asking you what your favorite book is at this point and if you’d like to tell us your favorite book that many of our listeners may not have read yet, that’s great. Or if you just want to give us some of your favorite news sources or news outlets that you read, just give us an idea of what should we be reading that we’re probably not reading at this point.

John:
Well, I’m just finishing up Atomic Habits, which is great and I know a lot of your listeners mentioned The E Myth which I’ve read like four times. That I definitely like to review every year or two, but right now with the new sources, my first go to is the Drudge Report, which is just a great compilation of all the different news sources. It’s a little more right leaning, but they definitely have some more liberal articles in there. Then I shift over to a Russian news outlet, RT.
So you get a whole completely different perspective, say like a little anti American, and they just have things that you would never hear about in the US which, I don’t know, we’re either trying to cover up or not display. So RT, Al Jazeera is a little more in the middle. So I like Al Jazeera and you get like a more Middle Eastern perspective. Then the BBC, like you mentioned, is great. Also, Reuters. So I try to mix it up and then every week or two I’ll do a South American, because I have family in Argentina and Brazil.
So I’ll do like Argentina news, then I have family in Australia. I’ll do like Australia news, and it’s crazy. We don’t hear about like 90% of the stuff that goes on in the world. We just hear about Biden and Trump and all this crazy election things that are going on right now. I would say expand your intake of information instead of the normal CNN, Fox rigmarole.

J:
I absolutely love that and I’ll tell you, I read many of the outlets that you just mentioned. It’s so funny, when I God, I’m talking to some friends and I’m quoting an outlet that is anti what my typical political views are, I always have to defend the well, why are you reading that? Well, you’ve answered that question for us very well. I’m reading that because it makes me a better entrepreneur and makes me a more rounded person, because we always want to get not just confirmation bias on the things we already believe, but we want to hear what the other side thinks, because that’s ultimately what’s going to allow us to make well informed decisions. So love that. Thank you for all those-

John:
That’s right.

Carol:
Well, after all that, the insight of all these worldly views, I’m actually kind of mortified and embarrassed to ask my very light hearted question of my number four of the Four More which is, John, What’s something you’ve splurged on in your personal or professional life that was totally worth it? Even though that sounds pathetically shallow right now after what we just talked about, but let’s end it on a light note.

John:
I’ve just been working like crazy right now, but I would say one of my pleasure outlets is a boat. I got a boat a couple of years ago. Nothing too fancy, just like a 22 foot deck boat, but we’re on Long Island so we’re literally on an island. So the ocean’s only a couple minutes away. So even after work if I can shoot out at like seven, 8PM just go out and catch the sunset and talk to suppliers in China or email people on my boat. Get some salt water therapy, that’s what I like to do. It helps me stay sane.

Carol:
Perfection.

J:
Love it. Love it. Okay, so that was the four part of the Four More. Now for the more part of the Four More. Tell our listeners where they can find out more about you, more about your company and anything else you want to let our listeners know.

John:
Sure. So they can find out more about our company at the, it’s called sanitizingstation.us. That’s our website. Also on social media, we have a sanitizing station on Facebook, on Instagram. They can also email me. My name is john. So [email protected] and that’s the way that you can get hold of me.

J:
Awesome. John, this has been amazing. I love the fact that you were able to start this business so quickly. You’re so in touch with what’s going on in the world, and you’re leveraging it and just some amazing tips. So thank you so much for being with us today, and I very much want to touch base with you again in a year and see where this business has gone, if it’s pivoted again based on what’s going on in the world, or what you’re doing and maybe we’ll have you back at some point and talk about your breathalyzer vending machine because, again, I didn’t even know about that business, but I have a feeling there are a lot of great lessons to be taken from that one as well. So thank you so much.

John:
My pleasure. Thank you for having me. It’s amazing being able to be on the podcast. I listened to literally every episode, and I would be more than happy to come on to speak about the breathalyzer and also touch base in a year to see how we progressed and pivoted.

J:
Awesome. Thanks, John.

Carol:
Thank you, John.

J:
Talk soon.

John:
Thank you.

Carol:
Oh, my goodness. Seriously, how awesome is John? It’s seriously fascinating to me so many things. First of all, I love how he talks about he was working in an aeronautical engineering factory at age nine. Are you kidding me right now. The fact that he’s added all this amazing experience to pump out this product in a matter of months and get it live onto people’s sites in such a short amount of time is absolutely fascinating and just great reminders all the way around.

J:
Yep, he had some amazing tips. Obviously, I love the tip on reading everything. Doesn’t matter if you’re liberal, conservative or in between, read everything because not only do you want to reinforce the things you already believed, but you also want to learn about what the other side is thinking to make us better, more well rounded entrepreneurs and people.
He had some great tips around publicity. I loved, and we’ve heard this before, but his tip on literally just show up, go for it. Pick up the phone, call people, call news outlets, call newspapers, get your message out there because you want other people to be hyping your products along with you, because that’s where the value really comes from.
During this crisis or any crisis, it’s so important to reassess and to make quick decisions and this was obvious throughout the entire discussion, that literally John was able to make a decision that he wanted to release this $20,000 manufactured product and two months later, he was doing it. So just so many great tips and this is one of those episodes that I’m going to go back and listen to again because there are a lot of great tips in there, that John didn’t make a big deal out of but you hear him and the more you listen to him, the more you think, oh, that really makes sense. I got to do that.
So amazing episode and I’m really excited to see where John goes with this business and whether it’s still a business in a year because who knows what’s going to happen with COVID. I have a feeling that he’ll do a good job of pivoting if and when the time comes. Okay, and with that said, I think we’re good to go for this week. You agree, Carol?

Carol:
Yeah, let’s wrap it up.

J:
Okay, everybody, thank you so much for tuning in. Stay happy, stay healthy. Have an amazing week and we will see you next week on the BiggerPockets Business podcast. She’s Carol, I’m J.

Carol:
Now go read daily and watch trends to pivot your business quickly today, or here is my alternate. Now, ready for this? Now, go old school and actually pick up a phone today. I had an alternative there.

J:
Oh, nice.

Carol:
There was lots of good stuff.

J:
Two for one week. I like it.

Carol:
Thanks, everybody. Have a great week and we’ll see you next time.

J:
Thanks everybody. Bye bye.

Watch the Podcast Here

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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How John started a manufacturing company at age 21
  • Adapting and finding opportunities right away
  • How he works with local companies and gives discounts to get sales
  • How he hires multiple virtual assistants for fast deployment
  • Why he reads lots of news
  • How he markets his products
  • From idea to a working product in less than two months
  • How they got their first customer
  • Cost for manufacturing machines
  • How they crafted the name of the company
  • How he pivoted and made quick decisions
  • How he obtained publicity
  • And SO much more!

Links from the Show

Books Mentioned in this Show:

Connect with John

What does it take to start, scale, and sell your own business? Every Tuesday, J and Carol Scott ask this question to entrepreneurs of all stripes and delve into stories that go beyond the launch. F...
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    Account Closed from UK
    Replied 13 days ago
    I think this pandemic has effective even more not just this niche but the others too. Not just the rent or real state industry but also the insurance services and repair industry too. I think 247 Home Rescue provides the best services within reasonable prices.
    Zach Lemaster Rental Property Investor from Denver, CO
    Replied 11 days ago
    Loved the podcast! Thanks for sharing! We all have to look for opportunities to ensure our businesses are productive in times like this, and with any future unsettling times.