AquaVault, a noted Shark Tank company went from doing $100,000 to now doing millions with an estimated value of nearly $20 million. The three founders, Jonathan Kinas, Avin Samtani and Robert Peck, open up about how tripping over obstacles was the best thing that ever happened to them – and how it helped their company grow. Mistakes, it turns out, can lead to success – and riches.
The AquaVault method in three easy-to-digest steps:
1. Know how to structure your deals and be wary of exclusivity contracts
One thing we’ve learned and we stand firmly behind is this: Never offer
Lesson: “If anyone is mandating exclusivity, make sure they have skin in the game as well! Demand that they commit to purchasing a sizable block of inventory and/or make sure you reserve the right to terminate the contract after a pre-determined trial period which typically should last 60 to 90 days. You don’t want to offer a free ride and expose yourself to the risk of being locked out of a valuable territory to an unqualified party for a prolonged period of time” -Jonathan Kinas
2. Do not be a jack-of-all-trades.
” Working harder, not smarter” is a mistake we made when trying to minimize expenses and become a jack of all trades. As we quickly learned, a jack of all trades is a master of none. Selling 24 hours a day took a back seat to customer service, returns, shipping, digital marketing, client management and everything else that comes with operating a business. We were so wrong to think we could handle it all.
Lesson: Hire talent where needed and sell as if your life depends on it. Don’t try and be an operational hero. Your intention may be to cut back on expenses but inadvertently, you’re cutting back on your maximum productivity. “Delegating responsibility is a powerful tool when performed correctly. There’s no secret as to why a lot of CEOs surround themselves with rock-star teams.”-Avin Samtani
3. Have a fundamental understanding of how YOUR business works. Not how a digital marketing company thinks you should work.
So, we’ve hired a fair amount of digital marketing companies without having our own fundamental understanding of how that aspect of the business works. It is very easy to be fooled into paying a third party company to manage your digital advertising if you have very little knowledge of yourself as to how to analyze what they are doing. We were paying a ton of money, but the returns were dismal. This is known in startup land as “bad math.” By developing a thorough understanding we learned that the ability to detect talent can only be achieved when you have a fundamental understanding of what to look for. “Once we studied the inter-workings of how digital marketing should be done, it quickly became very easy for us to realize which companies knew what they were doing and which ones didn’t.” – Robert Peck.
Marketing on Facebook, Google, Instagram, and all the other platforms can be the most critical component to almost any business and if executed efficiently, can be a very lucrative strategy. It’s when this is done inefficiently that you wind up burning tons of cash by targeting all the wrong audiences.
Lesson: Plenty of companies out there will steamroll you with industry jargon and make you think they are qualified and fancy, but in reality, a lot of their services are not even worth the paper it’s written on. Please trust us on this. Do your homework before blindly hiring these companies. The good ones are hard to find but worth their weight in gold.
Yes, we’ve made mistakes. Yes, we’ve had to pivot. Would we do it differently? Not a chance. We celebrate everything we’ve learned and every pothole we’ve ever tripped over. We just don’t want you to make the same mistakes or trip over the same potholes because on the other side of that pothole is your success.” Being an entrepreneur is the ultimate roller coaster and as long as you can endure the challenges, roll with the punches and learn from your mistakes, your chances for success are exponentially greater than those who have not come to understand the way this game works.” -Jonathan Kinas
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