Season 1 of the 5 Minute Pitch was a great success. I got to hear and weigh in on the pitches of a diverse set of entrepreneurs, each one putting themselves out there to make their dreams come true.
Another awesome thing about that first season was the response we got from people who watched the show on YouTube. Now we’ve made it possible for all of you to listen to all of the pitches whether you’re working out at the gym or during your daily commute.
Introducing the 5 Minute Pitch Podcast. Listen to all your favorite contestant’s pitches at different stages of the competition anytime.
Today, I give you guys a preview of what the episodes are like. Here’s one of my favorite contestants doing his round one pitch.
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Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike and welcome to the 259th edition of the EcomCrew Podcast. All right guys, we're going to do something very different today, something that we've never done on the EcomCrew Podcast and may never repeat again. But let me give you a little bit of background. There is this company that I love called Gimlet Media. And I remember listening to their first podcast they would put out called The Pitch, I believe it was their first episode. And it basically was behind the scenes of them making this business, this podcasting business.
And one of the things that they've done really well over the years is drop episodes of a new show that they're coming out with in the feed of an existing show that lots of people are already listening to. I think it's brilliant. And so I want to do that here because we are releasing the 5 Minute Pitch as a podcast. And if you already listen to the EcomCrew Podcast and you're in this feed, then you can listen to this episode of the 5 Minute Pitch right here right now. So if you do like this episode, I encourage you to go search for 5 Minute Pitch on iTunes and subscribe and listen to the whole thing.
We're dropping the entire first part of the 5 Minute Pitch the whole first round, which I think is 32 episodes all at once today. Right now they're all there. So if you like this episode, I encourage you to go over and listen to the other ones from the first round, then we'll drop the entire second round a few weeks from now that'll be the deliberation round, and then the finalists round and then eventually we'll have the finals podcast there. But the goal here is that you guys will love this episode. I love this episode. Each of us got to pick an episode that was our favorite. This guy, I don't want to give away too much. So I'm going to leave it for you guys to listen to. So enjoy this episode of the 5 Minute Pitch. This is a full episode in its entirety from the 5 Minute Pitch feed. Enjoy.
Liz: Welcome to 5 Minute Pitch. I'm your host, Liz Saunders. 5 Minute Pitch is the competition that gives entrepreneurs from around the globe the opportunity to virtually pitch their business or product idea for the chance to win a grand prize of $50,000. This season, more than 30 entrepreneurs will pitch their ideas via Zoom Conference Call to our panel of five experts for the chance to advance to the finals and pitch to the judges live in Miami, Florida.
Our panel of expert judges includes Greg Mercer, eight figure amazon seller and the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout. Michael Jackness, a serial entrepreneur who has spent the past few years building a high seven figure e-commerce conglomerate while blogging and podcasting about all of it along the way at EcomCrew. Steve Chou, the son of two tiger parents. Steve Chou started to seven figure businesses while working full time as an engineering director. He now runs Bumblebee Linens and Mywifequitherjob.com. Scott Voelker, seven figure business owner and host of The Amazing Seller Podcast.
Today we are joined by guest judge Andrew Youderian. Andrew has started and sold multiple e-commerce businesses and is the founder of Ecommerce Fuel, a private community for seven figure plus e-commerce sellers.
This week on 5 Minute Pitch.
Dave: And it was about seven months ago when I released my first bobblehead and something kind of interesting happened. No one really cared. No one wanted bobbleheads.
Scott: David, if you did get the $50,000, would you be willing to do a special edition of Steve Chou’s six pack shirtless bobblehead if we all helped you market it with our listing just like that, is that something that you would be open to do?
Scott: okay, perfect.
Steve: Just make sure that the packs are very crisp.
Liz: Let's hear from our next contestant and founder of MMA Bobblehead, Dave Manley. His passion for sports and mixed martial arts and a desire to display MMA memorabilia in his office led him to develop a premier collectible product, the MMA bobblehead. Today we'll find out if he's got the product and business model to get the nod from the judges to advance to the next round.
Dave: I'm really, really excited. This has been a crazy journey for me in this business and all the way even standing in front of you here today. I mean, I not only get to hang out and work with my sports heroes, but now I get to hang out and talk to the guys that indirectly mentored me on starting this company. So yeah, I'm really excited.
Liz: This is 5 Minute Pitch.
Scott: Sup Dave?
Mike: Hey Dave.
Steve: Hey Dave.
Dave: Hey guys, how are you?
Scott: Good, man, how you doing?
Steve: I like your background.
Dave: Thank you, thank you.
Steve: Hey, Dave, welcome to the 5 Minute Pitch, your five minute pitch starts now.
Dave: My name is Dave Manley. I'm the founder of MMA Bobblehead. I'm a huge MMA fan. And for those of you guys who don't know what MMA is, it stands for mixed martial arts, it's like the UFC. One day, I decided that I was going to clear off a shelf in my office and I was going to start collecting MMA memorabilia, it’s like sports memorabilia. So I decided that I was going to start with a bobblehead of my favorite fighter, Dan Henderson. He is a legend in the sport. So when I went to go buy a Dan Henderson bobblehead, they didn't make it.
So I was like, oh, man, so I went to my next bobblehead choice, who was the current champion at the time, also very popular, and they didn’t make him either. So I went all the way to the tops, to the most popular athlete in MMA, Conor McGregor, nothing, nothing came up. And it was right then and right there, I just got hit with a thunder bolt of inspiration. I've always had an artistic background. I've always been creative and made things. I'm a businessman by trade. So I went all in, and I decided to learn everything about bobbleheads from the paint to the clay to the springs and the neck.
Bobbleheads have kind of looked the same for the last 50 years. I mean, from four to four, the poses might be a little different, instead of a football; it might be a baseball or whatever. But the guys, the athletes always look the same. They're always like this cartoony figure that you can't really tell who it is, unless you saw the name on the face. And I just thought why, why is that? Why can't someone put more artistry and craftsmanship and care into these things and make them like really nice, like a collectible. And so I set out to do that. I practiced and practiced and practiced.
About a year went by until I figured that I can start hitting these fighters up to see if they wanted a bobblehead made out of them. And I was really surprised that none of them really did. It was like I was getting nos left and right nos, that these fighters didn't want a bobblehead. So I was feeling really dejected and down. And then one day, a fighter saw the artwork that I did, and he wanted to meet because he wanted to get his own bobblehead. And that fighter was Dan Henderson. I couldn't believe it. It was just so unreal. So when Dan said yes to the bobblehead, my life changed.
All these fighters started coming out of the woodworks, and when I say fighters, legends. So I went to work, I was really excited. And I'm working on all these bobbleheads and doing a really great job. And it was about seven months ago, when I released my first bobblehead, and something kind of interesting happened. No one really cared. No one wanted bobbleheads. And honestly, guys, I really, to be honest with you, I thought I was going to lift up my bobblehead to the sky and stand on my soapbox and all these MMA fans were going to come flocking to me because this is something so cool and unique and has never been done before for the sport. And that was so far from the truth. None of that happened.
Liz: Dave realized that in his efforts to develop an amazing product, he had neglected the very thing that would bring his product to the masses, e-commerce and product marketing. Let's see if he was able to turn things around and attract some attention.
Dave: So I changed things up really quickly. The budget was almost zero for marketing. So I decided, you know what, I want to maybe be the face of the company and let MMA fans in on my world and let them know that I'm not just some corporation or some guy trying to do a money grab, that I'm a massive, hardcore MMA fan just like them. And I wanted to kind of pull back the curtain and show people how they were made and interviews with the fighters and get it to be more personal. So I started doing that and I started to get traction. Every guy…
Steve: That’s the end of your five minute pitch, a great story and I love the story.
Scott: great story, love it.
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Liz: The judges really enjoyed Dave's pitch of his MMA bobbleheads. Let's see what kind of questions they have for him about his business.
Mike: You said you've launched a little sales what have the sales been so far? I mean, good, bad or indifferent, what are the numbers?
Dave: Okay, yeah, the sales started horrible, terrible. The first month I think I made about $1,200. The second month, I jumped all the way to $4,000. Then we jumped to 7,000 after that, all the way to the last month, which was month seven in October, we made $25,000. It was really unbelievable the trajectory of the sales, but every fighter that I've released has been better than the last.
Steve: How much do one of these sell for and how much does it cost for you to make one?
Dave: When I announce the fighter, we do a pre-sale. So during the pre-sale time, we’ll sell them for 44.99. But then once the pre-sale is over after two weeks, then it goes to 49.99. The cost on making them landed, depending on the artwork Steve, its about $17 ballpark.
Steve: And are there licensing agreements with the fighters, do you get to pay them a royalty on that?
Dave: Yeah, so I make a deal with the fighter. It's straight up with every fighter, it's 15% gross revenue sales. So whether it's a non-autographed or an autographed bobblehead, that's what they make, 15%.
Scott: David, do you get an exclusive with each fighter when you do the bobblehead to say, hey, I'll do this with you but you do an exclusive with me or are they free to go do this with other people?
Dave: That's a great question. And absolutely it's a three year exclusivity deal where they can't make action figures or bobbleheads with any other company. So I have them for three years.
Mike: So you're selling the bobblehead ultimately for 49.99. Your cost of goods is $17. You got 15% of gross revenue, so you're paying $7 and 50 cents to the fighter, and that's on top of the cost of goods. Is that correct?
Dave: Yeah, that's correct. And then not to mention, I forgot to mention that the fighter signs 150 autographed bobbleheads and those sell for $75 apiece. In the beginning, yeah, when I launch the autographed bobbleheads, they sell one for one on the non-autographed one. So I'm almost sold out on every single autographed bobblehead that I have. So the margins get very, very good from there.
Mike: Are there any licensing agreements or anything to do with the UFC themselves, or they don't have their hands on this at all?
Dave: There's no licensing agreements with the UFC. They like it. They've been very supportive. In fact, they did a big interview with me about two weeks ago. And Dana White, who's the owner of the UFC did a video of all my bobbleheads and put it on his Instagram and was very complimentary towards the bobbleheads. And in a matter of a few days, it got 300,000 views, it blew my mind. I mean, I'm a grown man; I don't really get choked up much. But when I saw that video, to see the guy who started what I'm doing give me just any acknowledgement really, it was phenomenal.
Liz: It looks like Dave has started to get some positive traction and attention for his bobbleheads. He is facing some challenges though. Dave feels he needs to improve his marketing efforts as he is primarily using social media due to a lack of funding for different strategies. This is because he is pouring all his revenue back into the creation of more bobbleheads. Additionally, the fighters contribute only minimally to the marketing effort themselves through their own social media. And Dave has a huge list of fighters waiting for their bobbleheads who are currently on the back burner.
Scott: Is it a problem of you not been able to make them because it's time constraints on you because you are physically doing this as a process or is it more of the financial issue of you not having the capital? Because I would think that you could pre sell and get that capital before you even make them.
Dave: Okay, so I work with artists and fighters. So timetables are all over the place, right? It would be a dream to make two or three at one time, I can do it, I can physically do it. It's the capital that goes into these that I'm lacking. But at the same time, I'm at the point of this company where I'm ready to tackle like two, maybe even three bobbleheads fighters at once.
Steve: So the $50,000 would go towards producing more bobbleheads.
Dave: I mean in order of priority, absolutely, that's by far the number one. I would love to make two to three, but marketing would be awesome. That would be kind of number two to get the word out there. I feel like I have zero brand awareness.
Mike: What is your plan for marketing with that 50k?
Dave: I'm very coachable guys, to be honest with you. And I don't know a lot about marketing. I'm very grassroots. But when we're talking about like SEO and PPC and optimization, I'm clueless. And what I would do with the money and education would be really huge for me. And I would love to use that money yeah, to make more bobbleheads at once but to educate myself and maybe get some consulting and then also marketing too.
Scott: Dave, if you did get the $50,000, would you be willing to do a special edition Steve Chou’s six pack bobblehead if we all helped you market it with our listings like that, is that something you would be open to doing?
Steve: Just make sure the packs are very crisp.
Greg: Dave we’ve enjoyed it. Thank you very much for coming on.
Liz: After the pitch I caught up with Dave to see how he feels now that his pitch is over.
Dave: It was great. I had a great time. I think it went really well. The five minutes went super-fast and speaking to the panel of guys about my business, it's like a dream come true.
Liz: Dave's enthusiasm and passion for his project is through the roof. Let's see if the judges put him through to the next round.
Steve: First of all, I loved Dave's enthusiasm. And clearly he's very talented. He actually sent us bobbleheads and they looked fantastic. And I have a buddy who makes bobbleheads and I just noticed that the artwork on his were very intricate. He's got a great audience. MMA is an untapped market and here's what I like about it. The fact that he wasn't doing any marketing at all and he was making a lot of sales just says something.
Mike: So it was a good sign right?
Steve: It was a great sign yeah, so with just a little bit more effort like he could just blow this out of the water.
Greg: Yeah. I really liked — the one thing that stood out to me was when the samples came around, they were beautifully done, from the unboxing to the quality of the packaging to just the product itself, it was just premium and so that was great. I love the margins on his products and I love the fact that he had three year exclusive deals with the fighters. That's big. I mean we're all looking for something that you can't rip off. And to me, combined with his sales numbers, 25k in the last seven months from zero or almost zero seven months ago, yeah, I really liked it.
Scott: Yeah, I loved his excitement, his passion and then how the idea came to him and how he went out there and just found a way, and it just — kind of how it all came to him but then how he also went out and got it once he’s seen what he could do with it. And he just needs help marketing and I think he knows that which I think is another problem with some business owners, they don't realize they need that but he does need that. So yeah, I'm excited about where he can go.
Steve: He's got an open mind also, I like that.
Mike: I mean for me, amazing product. My thing was it's not something I would ever buy because I'm not into bobbleheads and I'm not an MMA enough to want to purchase it. But being in e-commerce long enough, I fully understand high quality products, being in a niche that people are really passionate about, I love the defensibility of this. I mean having a product that as you were saying has a three year at least defensibility window, he signed up with all the big players in this niche, so like getting other people on board is going to be a shoe in and this is like the guy to go to. As long as he can keep that trust up, he'll own this niche probably for eternity. I love that.
On the downside, the things I worry about is like where he goes from here not having the marketing and other experience. But I think that it's such a strong play that he'll find his way there probably no matter what, and I just see a lot of good things going for this brand.
Scott: Yeah, what’s not to like about Dave. He’s an awesome guy. I love the margins. I love that market. It's a growing market, it has some really passionate fans inside that particular market. I would also encourage him to try to get the fighters to promote these deals a little more. I mean a lot of these guys have huge Instagram followings, just huge followings in general. If he can do that, that's really good. But the hardest part of all this to me is trying to get the fighter to sign these deals to do the bobbleheads, right? The barrier of entry there is high. So he has something that's pretty defensible and I like it. So with that being said, let's do some voting.
Scott: Let’s do it, Steve.
Steve: Yeah, absolutely yes.
Greg: Yeah. I'm in Yes.
Scott: 100%. Yes.
Mike: Yes for me as well.
Scott: Easy yes.
Mike: We got a five yes.
All: Congratulations, Dave.
Liz: Congratulations, Dave. You're moving on to the deliberation round. Next time on 5 Minute Pitch.
Female: One of the main things that people say is, oh my god, I love your packaging. It's the colors just speak to me.
Steve: Are you pitching your coffee company as a high end, a medium end or a low end?
Male: High end.
Steve: High end, okay.
Male: This is not the Po Puffs vodka. This is the Grey Goose, the top shelf coffee.
Scott: The coffee market is just brutal. I mean, it's so, so competitive.
Mike: All right guys. I hope you enjoyed this episode of not only the EcomCrew Podcast, but the 5 Minute Pitch podcast. If you did enjoy this episode, this will be the last one that you'll find here at EcomCrew. You'll need to open up your podcast player and search for 5 Minute Pitch. Go subscribe and listen to the episodes over there. Steve, Greg, and Scott and I had a great time doing this together. Awarding the $50,000 final prize was the highlight of my year so far.
I hope you guys enjoy this podcast and go subscribe and follow along through to see who wins the $50,000. I don't want to give away too much but it's one of the first 32 contestants I can tell you that. But in all seriousness, I hope you guys enjoyed this. If you want to leave a comment and let us know what you think of the episode, that's going to be at EcomCrew.com/259. Besides that, guys, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.