Greetings from Jackson, Wyoming! I’m out on the road doing some Roadshow stuff for EcomCrew but will be making a side trip to Montana to visit my good friend Andrew Youderian of eCommerceFuel.
Spoiler alert! If you haven’t seen the 5 Minute Pitch, I’d tell you to stop reading and head over to watch a couple of episodes, especially the finale, on the official YouTube channel. There you’ll see Kim Meckwood, owner and inventor of Click and Carry, in action.
Kim is the season 1 winner of 5 Minute Pitch. Along with the $50K prize money, all of the judges will be giving her a week-long mentorship session at the end of July. I caught up with her after she won and we had a very insightful discussion, particularly on overcoming and learning from past business struggles.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
- Kim’s experience as a woman entrepreneur
- How she got her start in business
- How she and her business has been since winning the 5 Minute Pitch
- Her early struggles (using her 401K to pay for a surge of orders from QVC contract)
This episode is part of our Women’s Month celebration. We’d love to see more women in the ecommerce industry, so if you are a female business owner, head over to www.ecomcrew.com/underthehood and tell us your story. We’d love to feature you on the podcast.
Join season two of the 5 Minute Pitch by filling out and submitting the application form.
If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!
Full Audio Transcript
Mike: This is Mike and hello from Jackson, Wyoming! Out on the road doing some Ecomcrew Roadshow stuff and heading north towards Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park and then to Bozeman, Montana to go visit my buddy, Andrew Youderian, definitely looking forward to that. Recorded this episode back in California but doing the intro now that I had a moment to do that, here in Jackson Wyoming – a beautiful place if you've never been to this part of the world, absolutely gorgeous, this is my third time rolling through this area. As we pulled in today, snow-capped mountains, everything's really green, beautiful skyline, just an absolutely gorgeous place and looking forward to hanging out in this area for a little bit.
But for the 266th edition of the Ecomcrew Podcast, we are rolling forward with women's month and this is a spoiler alert so if you have not listened to the five-minute pitch yet, first of all, what are you waiting for? Go over to fiveminutepitch.com to check that out, you can also find 5 Minute Pitch on Youtube and five-minute pitch podcast now. On your podcast player type out “five-minute pitch” and go check that out. So if you haven't listened to 5-minute pitch yet, you probably shouldn't listen to any more of this podcast because it will definitely be a spoiler alert but I really think that you’ll enjoy it if you haven’t listened to it so definitely go check that out, go follow that and leave us a review there as well, if you get a chance.
But with all that said, Kim was the winner of the 5-minute pitch which is why I wanted to get her on for women's month here. An absolutely amazing entrepreneur and not only did she win $50,000 but she also won several days of Scott Voelker, Steve Chou, Greg Mercer, and my’s time. She’s flying to Austin, Texas on the last week of July to spend an entire week with us to get help with her business as promised and we're super excited about that and she has $50,000 in the bank after winning the five-minute pitch to throw at a bunch of things as well so we're super excited for her, couldn’t think of a better person to have won.
So today on the 266th edition of the Ecomcrew podcast, let’s bring on Kim Meckwood from Click and Carry.
Mike: Hey Kim welcome to the Ecomcrew podcast.
Kim: Thank you so much for having me, Mike. It's such an honour to be here.
Mike: Well, its definitely an honor for me as well and we finally met you in person at Seller’s Summit for the 5 Minute Pitch finale and we'll talk a little bit about that here in a little bit but the main reason we wanted to have you on for the podcast now is because we're doing this Woman's Month here on EcomCrew and we wanted to make sure that you were part of that.
I've been telling this story over and over again but you're hearing it for the first time, so I apologize for all the listeners that have heard this story over and over again but you don't need to be a genius to realize that there's just a lack of women in entrepreneurship and in e-commerce and I don't know it just– it really hit home to me, we did a Mastermind 2 years ago in Hong Kong and we had 2 women come to the event out of 20-whatever it was the first year we did that and this year, we had 23 people come to the event, and there were 0 women.
I was like “Okay, we gotta just do something to shed a little light on this and also get some awesome women entrepreneurs on the show” to just highlight how awesome women are and what a good job they're doing on entrepreneurship and if you’re a woman listening to this and you’ve been on the fence then you can do it too. So that’s kind of the main thing here.
Kim, you and I talked for just a brief minute before getting on and recording this so the first thing that I wanted to talk about was why do you think that there is this lack of women in entrepreneurship and it's even more profound in e-commerce specifically?
Kim: I don't know that I have the perfect answer to your question but I can tell you that it seems to be a little bit more difficult for women to get involved in business as it stands. For example, funding is more available to men as opposed to women and we’re unlikely to get loans to move forward with our businesses and something interesting that happened to me along the way is the fact that I actually invented my product in the United States, I had it United States Patented but I had it produced in China and every time I met with the associates from my factory, they would relay all of the questions to the men in my group, for example, I invited my nephew out here to help me out with my business and they addressed all the questions to my nephew and didn't believe that I could be the inventor or the owner of the company and that was very upsetting to me and that's why as a woman entrepreneur, I want to help other women entrepreneurs to move forward in their businesses and I think that it's maybe a lack of confidence.
Maybe women just don't realize that they can go for this and I think that I kind of have an undying faith in my product and in my company, so I'm not going to take no for an answer but maybe other women are taking no for an answer and they have to move into this e-commerce magic that is out there to be had because like you said, women need to be out there representing and showing their products out into the world.
Mike: Yeah I actually think that you're dead on, I think it is a lack of confidence and I think that that comes from just the way how society’s been over– kind of beating the stuff into woman's heads that women should be in the home kind of thing, or doing other things and not in business. It's obviously changing and it's so fun to see, it seems like its happening in real-time right now because things have changed so much over the past five or ten years especially versus the first 30 years of my life when it didn’t seem like much was happening in that regard.
So it's cool seeing the change and the other thing you talked about, being over in China, obviously things have not changed as much over there that’s for sure. I've noticed it firsthand, my wife and I travel there together, we’re both owners in the business and pretty much equals for the most part and in a lot of the things we do with that. But that is not the way things are treated over there and its really interesting because I don't speak the language and she does so it's even more weird seeing her having to translate this awkwardness but I don't know that we can change things there but hopefully in the US and some of these other Western-type countries, it'll be more of an equal playing field and you're right, there is a systemic issue in even things like lending. I hadn’t even– you’re the first one to bring that up. It's all these little things that add up to make it more difficult to be a woman in entrepreneurship and trying to run a business, you could have the lack of confidence issue, the lack of family support whether that's immediate family or parents or other people that are still kind of living in a different time in their head, a lack of funding…
There's definitely a good move towards doing things and hopefully this kind of thing that we're doing this month will help with that and we're not just having people on the podcast just because they're women, it's because you guys have created awesome businesses as well and that something that I want to talk to you about here, you've invented this product, you kind of alluded to it so talk about your product a little bit and then we’ll get into the business stuff as well.
Kim: Sure, so my product is called a Click and Carry and Click and Carry is a simple handle device, it allows shoppers to manage and carry multiple bags at once comfortably, you could either carry the groceries or purchases in your hand or even better, you can wear it over your shoulder and you're hands free and the interesting thing is although I invented it for groceries, people use it as a skewbutoh(sp?) or it could be used for dry cleaning, for sports equipment, its used for paint cans and construction pails, and you could even walk multiple dogs at once.
There are a lot of ways to use the product and then I have a couple of product line expansions coming. For example, I have a new strapping system that I'm going to be introducing soon that would allow one to carry a surfboard or a standard stand up paddleboard or even a ladder like a purse by using your Click and Carry and then when your shoulder starts to hurt, you just switch sides so that's what my product is.
Mike: Yeah, we first got introduced to the product through 5 Minute Pitch, you were a guest on there. This is a plug for Five Minute Pitch, go check them out fiveminutepitch.com, its on youtube and we've also released it as a podcast now so go listen to that and check it out, Kim was an awesome guest on there and I remember when I first saw the product, my initial thought was like, “this is so simple, its ridiculous. Why hasn't someone thought of this before?”.
But that's how most inventions are when you first see them, I mean it's amazing, it's one of these things that you just… Duh! Why hasn't this existed forever? Especially as the manly man, which I'm not really, I found like the one thing all men seem to have to do is carry every single grocery bag in at one trip.
Mike: And it hurts your hands, and it's impossible but with your product, it's easy to to do.
Kim: Absolutely, you can definitely get it all in in one trip and I agree with you, it's a simple idea but the problem is it needs to be demonstrated so that's the difficulty that I've been having with my product is the product awareness. When people see it, they get it and they want it and if they're caught on one shopping trip without a quick and carry and they're going to come back and order 2 or 3 so they are never caught again without a Click and Carry but it's getting the word out and that's why I'm so thankful that I met you and the other guys and I feel so lucky that I get to learn from all of you because you're going to help me to expand my horizons by getting the word out there on e-commerce so I can’t thank you enough for this opportunity to have competed in your amazing contest.
Mike: Yeah, we're definitely looking forward to it and if you haven't listened to the five minute pitch yet, spoiler alert coming up so turn off the radio or the podcast but you won the five pitch which is amazing so we're going to be, the help that you're talking about is going to be in person so we're going to be meeting up in Austin, shortly after this podcast comes out actually. We’ll be meeting up in the very end of July and definitely looking forward to that, I mean we've all been talking about you behind your back coming up with ideas that we have for you and the things that we can do to help and I think that it's an amazing product.
Its one of those things where once people see it, it's like, Aha, obviously, but like you said the struggle is how do you deal with that and that's a unique thing to deal with because that's not something that someone’s searching for so you can't go and do Google Adwords or even try to sell it on Amazon because people aren't seeking it out so I think its more of a social media influencer marketing, something that people can visually see and have that Ahah, maybe its on an endcap with a video at a retail outlet, you’ve done QVC and had lots of luck, so I think you know those types of things are the things that we're going to talk about concentrating on.
Kim: Absolutely and thank you and yes, you're right it's definitely an awareness thing and it doesn't even have its own category. I guess it would fall under the category of impulse but you're right there are no search words and one thing that you really opened my eyes to is that there's this amazing e-commerce world and I started out the hard way by starting in retail. Retail should likely be second and now because of all of you, I'm going to start on e-commerce and hopefully conquer that world using all of your tricks of the trade.
Mike: Yeah, we're looking forward to that. Our goals is to have you be one of these things where you're on the cover of Forbes and it all started because of 5-minute pitch and so we're eager to have you be part of all that and it'll be fun if we can do that and the thing that’s really fun about the 4 judges, Scott, Steve, Greg and I, we’re all really competitive so like we're all tripping all over each other to figure out who can come up with the best idea to make you successful so that we can be the one who says, “Hey! it was my thing that made Kim successful”, so this should be fun.
Kim: I'm the lucky winner for sure because I get to work with all of you so thank you again 1 million times over.
Mike: Yeah, no worries. We feel fortunate as well we couldn’t have had a better personality or person on there as well so let's talk about that as well, let’s kind of rewind a little bit, we didn't really get into your story for those of you who haven't listened to the 5-minute teach yet which you should, go listen to Kim's first round and talk about the product but most people haven't done that. So let’s kind of talk about the pitch that you did, about your product, what your sales were, the history of all this and we can kind of expand on that.
Kim: Sure, so I've been doing this for a little while now and I've had a lot of success on QVC, it's kind of a cinderella story. I went to the Home and House show in Chicago to present my product in an area of the show called Inventor’s Corner and as one of the perks in Inventor’s Corner, they allow you to pitch to a panel of judges who will critique your product and unbeknownst to me, QVC really liked what they saw and they contacted Bethany Frankel, she's one of the housewives, but at the time she had a talk show and she was helping female entrepreneurs. Once a week, she would highlight a female entrepreneur and give them advice and sometimes a $5,000 or $10,000 stipend.
And when her show was ending, I was her last female guest for The Advice so I was excited to go on and hear what she had to say because she built a successful business that she sold for, I believe, $100,000,000 called SkinnyGirl Cocktails & Margaritas and I was excited to get her advice and what happened is she brought out 2 of the main QVC hosts and QVC offered me a contract which was incredible and fast forward a month, I went on and sold out in 7 minutes on their show and that was my springboard into the retail world.
It was wonderful, the only thing is that it all happened too fast for me and they kept reordering and I didn't know all about finding investors and all of that good stuff so I made the mistake of using my 401k to pay for huge orders from QVC and it was fine for a while because most sales cycles are long sales cycles but what happened is about a year and a half later, I was hit with a tax penalty that really set me back about a couple of years, I would say and moving forward with my business, so I had to go back to work but I kept the dream alive and continued to sell to other retailers and to QVC.
And fast forward, last summer I found out about your contest because I listen to your podcast and I entered and I was hopeful that something would come of it but I was most hopeful just to learn about e-commerce because it was something that I didn't delve into and lo and behold, I met the four of you who are wonderful, I met wonderful competitors who are now my friends, I learned a ton and then ultimately, I was able to win the contest so now all the fun begins because I get to be mentored by all of you and I just think that this is going to bring me to the next level.
And you have already opened my eyes and into seeing that e-commerce is the way into the future and I was hasn't been to get on before because I heard that that's a great way to be knocked off but I see it as the way of the future and I know that I’m protected and I'll do whatever I can to continue to be protected with my product but now with your masterminds, I think that I could make this a successful business.
Mike: Yeah, I definitely think that it could be a successful business and I don't want to throw salt on the wound but one of the things that I wanted to bring up with the financing stuff that you had issues with, the most listened to and the most commented episode that we’ve had now which isn't even that long ago that it came out, so you can tell just how much it resonates with people but it was an episode that we did about financing or just accounting and knowing your numbers, the title was “Know Your Numbers”.
I think it was Episode 250, we’ll link it in the show notes. But the thing I just want to mention here to people that are listening is that again you're not alone, this is something that, unfortunately, it's not taught in school. You don't get e-Commerce 101 or Accounting 101 when it comes to this type of stuff and in your case, you're a victim of your own success which is even more crazy and that's exactly what ends up happening because e-commerce inventory is such a cash demanding business and you got people pressuring you from every angle to produce more units and you're just trying to get your hands on money in any way that you can without necessarily knowing the long term repercussions of that and it's a very easy thing to fall into so I don't know if you–
Kim: It really is!
Mike: Yeah. Do you mind talking about that? And again, I know it's throwing salt into the wound but I'm not trying to do that, I think it's helpful for other people to understand just what happens in those circumstances.
Kim: Sure, I am glad to talk about it because what people don't realize is that it's a long sales cycle and if I didn't have this overnight success with QVC, I probably would not have been in this predicament at the time because I would have grown more organically and slowly but because I was so successful they placed another huge order. My first sale was I believe they ordered 13,500 units but I sold out and then, they added an additional 6,000 units to the order so I had to pay the additional amount for that and at the time, the sales cycle was about three months to get the product created and sent to the US.
And then, they placed another huge order and when you have that kind of success you want to strike while the iron is hot, so I had just bought a condo, I live in LA, I had just bought a condo so I wasn't able to get a loan and my dad had just passed away so I wasn't going to ask my mom for the money. I just couldn't do that to her so I did a stupid thing and I utilized my 401k because I knew that I would get the money back but I really didn't factor in the long sale cycle so I used the 401k and ultimately did get the money back but on the second order, I made my money as I went on the show so the first time, I sold out immediately.
The next order, they ordered 16,000 unit so that took about 2 years to sell through, so I would only get paid sporadically throughout the 2 years and so that means all the money that I put out initially was out of my pocket for up to 2 years post taking it out and that's when I was hit with a huge tax penalty. I knew I was going to have a penalty between I thought it was going to be about 20 or 30% because I'm obviously under 65 years old but my tax penalty was almost 50%. It was a really tough situation because guess what, the government doesn't wait for you to pay. You have to pay right away so…
Mike: Yeah, and then if you don't pay, interests and other penalties keep making it worse and then next thing you know you could have paid 150% by the time they get done with you if you let it go too far.
Kim: That's exactly right and you know, I'm all about taking risks and another thing to revert back to the women, the question you asked me earlier, I think women are not as big of a risk-taker as men and I'm certainly a risk taker but having experienced this penalty, this tax penalty, I wasn't going to gamble with my condo because that, in essence, is my retirement now that I've given away my 401k so I had to make the tough decision to go back to work and to just do Click and Carry on the side.
Plus, just to add another sad part to the story, I am actually a breast cancer survivor and I went back to work also because my out-of-pocket deductibles for having an ultrasound and an MRI each year was expensive, so I went back to work and I would just wake up super early in the morning, work nights on weekends and I kept the dream alive and I paid off all my debts with the penalty, I paid off all my debts for what I invested in Click and Carry, I recently refinanced before winning the five minute pitch and now I’m in just the perfect state of being where I can really launch this product and really get back to market but this time around, I'll do it more wisely.
I've learned from my mistakes and sometimes that’s what it takes is learning from your mistakes but now I have a lot of knowledge to share with others on the path and I'm glad to share it with them.
Mike: Yeah and I love the fact that you are willing to do that. It's rare, it's a rare quality which I think, is what gets so many more people in trouble because people are reluctant to share these types of experiences for, I guess, obvious reasons. I understand why it's not easy to put yourself out there and do that but that's how all the people learn and I feel like just by talking about this here today, there’s a stadium full of people basically listening to this, we have tens of thousands of people who listen to the podcast and some handful of people are going to be like, “Ah man that something I need to be aware of and change or do better” and hopefully, they'll pay it forward.
And that's kind of the thing and hopefully my goal is with these types of things is that we can educate people more about them so less people have to learn through the school of hard knocks like you have and I have as well. I mean I've been pretty open about some of the stupid things when I did when I was younger, I just didn’t know any better. And that's where it comes from, you think you're making the right decision but you just don't have all the pieces of information to make the best decision and the intentions are good but it's the unknown that creeps up and sneaks up and bites you on the rear end.
Kim: Absolutely and you know, it's so interesting too, I had to turn down some really big accounts because I needed to do it the right way now and I've learned from my mistakes but I remember, for example, Walmart Puerto Rico calling me and they placed an order and I was a little bit hesitant because I know that this is the type of product that needs a demonstration so I needed to have just the right point of purchase display as well but I was all excited about the sale initially and then the next day, I was like, “oh shoot how am I going to pay for this?”
So I tempered that and I asked them to reduce their initial order and I'm just smarter now and I know how to get funding I know what to do moving forward and I am glad to share that my story because it is necessary, like you said, I was very successful but how embarrassing that I made these trivial mistakes but it was just the process I needed to learn from these mistakes and perhaps, it wasn't the right time at that time but now I think it is the right time.
I think things work out when they're supposed to and how lucky that I found you on my path so I just think that the brightness is here to come in the future now and I'm glad to share any mistakes that I've made so I can help someone stay away from those mistakes that I've made.
Mike: Yeah. Let's talk about some of the bright things that I see cause I mean, I'm super excited for you, I think that you're in this amazing position and here's why. You've already sold tens of thousands of these things, people love the product, you have history and that really goes a long way with things moving forward so, on the QVC side, I think we can get you back in front of them again and you’ve obviously got history there, you did a great job for them and it'll probably be easy to get back in there. Getting that phone call back to Walmart will be easy, getting to other retailers and we have the ability just with our knowledge and our team to help with the financing. I mean there's lots of platforms out there, there’s just people that we know that are willing to help with that type of thing especially when you have a PO on hand right.
So that's when it's always a lot easier, is when you have– when you're asking for a PO financing vs Venture Captial type financing where you’re investing in a hope, in a prayer or a dream. I mean, if you’ve got a PO from QVC or from Walmart those things are relatively easy to finance and it becomes a matter of not what you know, but who you know in a lot of those situations and I think between us, we have those contacts. We have the “who you need to know” kind of thing so I'm excited for you from that perspective, I think that that will help quite a bit and I'm also excited from the perspective of just what we know in e-commerce.
I do think that and obviously until you play this out, it's hard to know how well it will do but to me, this seems like one of these like, obvious Facebook Ad type products. It's one of these things where if you have a product that you can explain visually within like three to five seconds and have people be like, “I have to have that right this minute”, just like “Aha, where has this been all my life?”
It does really well on Facebook and you have that product. It's that product where if you explain it to me like if we had just met on the street and you're explaining this to me, I would probably be like have laughed at you, that's the dumbest idea ever, what the hell would I possibly need that for because it's like hard to explain a little bit but when I saw it, when you had sent one to us to look at for the 5-Minute Pitch, it was like you didn't need to explain anything to me.
It was just like obvious right, it's just like this is obviously a great thing to have especially if you live in like an apartment or something where you're having to walk a long distance up a bunch of stairs or if you've got kids and you're like, trying to hold the kid in one arm and deal with all the groceries in the other. These types of things, it's one of these things where it's so obvious and I think that that's going to bode really well for Facebook Ads so I'm excited to see what we can create, I think the idea is for us to do some of that live while we're together. We can do some of that and again, who knows what happens?
It will be fun to listen to this back and see what happens there but I think that if we can position the product in the right way and think about– every product is different and every product you have to approach in a different way in terms of how you advertise it, how you position it, etc. and I think that there are definitely some challenges with the product because I mean people aren't looking for it so the targeting will be different, you can’t just target people who like grocery shopping or that doesn't exist on Facebook but the good news is that if it works, the audience is basically every human being that's between 18 and 90 in the US, so you get what, a 200 million person audience or something and then expand that by Canada and all of Europe and other places that would be interested in it as well.
Kim: I agree. In fact, don't count out the young ones because they've love it for their ski boot tow (sp?), or for roller blades or sports equipment so there's definitely a universal market for it and one of my favourite uses is that Click and Carry is great for people who have dexterity issues or arthritis because there is a comfy gel grip on the bottom and it makes their lives a little bit easier too.
Mike: And you could put that on your shoulder so you’re not having to like, use your old tired hands if you have arthritis or dexterity problems and also, the brilliant think about that is that when it's on your shoulder, because of balance and things of that nature, it just feels so much lighter, you got 20 pounds of stuff in your hands that you're holding out in your arms out away from your body vs having it on your shoulder, you barely feel it on your shoulder and I can tell you as I had 20 pounds on my gut for too long, you don't really feel 20 pounds on the right spot as much as you do if its like in your hand and you're carrying around.
Kim: I agree, your back is such a good support system and you're right! It feels like half the weight. It still weighs the same but it feels like half the weight because your back is better than just your extremity, so you're absolutely right.
Mike: Yeah, it's awesome and the cool thing is, I think I remember this when we talked, you improved the product a little bit from the first iteration to the second or somewhere along the way when you added the little thumb thing on it or you made it a little more curved, what was the improvements that you made there?
Kim: So the improvement was adding 4mm of the comfy gel grip and also on QVC, I received 4.7 out of 5 stars and the only negative comment that I would get was that it was difficult to open and remember that the target audience for QVC is an older female so chances are a lot of those women had dexterity issues or arthritis so I re-engineered it and I made it easier to open, #1 but in the process, I also worked with some of the Chinese engineers and this master tool builder here in the US and what we did is, we reduced the amount of ABS plastic that we put into the product so it's even more strong, but it weighs less and it cost less.
It's actually 81 cents less a unit now and it's less in weight so the taxation to bring it into the US is a lot less so by just reengineering it, it made a significant difference and now it's a much better product now and I feel a lot more confident in the product because every hand can open it now, not just people who are strong.
Mike: Yeah awesome, Kim. It's been awesome getting to know you, its been awesome talking to you today, I'm so excited to spend some time with you in Austin, at the end of July. I'm excited to see where we can take things in terms of sales, you're an awesome person and I think that it's easier and more fun when you're working with someone who's just such a great entrepreneur and such a great person. I mean you light up a room and you're easy to work with and you're eager to learn and we’re eager to take you on this ride and see where things go and hopefully, Steve Chou to doesn't run you into a brick wall on the ride.
Kim: (Laughs) I can't win until he hears that.
Mike: We’re always giving him a plug on the podcast
Kim: He’s the best
Mike: He definitely is, yeah, we love steve. I can't think of a better way to end it. Kim, thanks so much, we’ll talk soon and best of luck with everything in the meantime
Kim: Thanks Mike and enjoy your trip, have so much fun.
Mike: Thanks! Appreciate it.
Kim: Have a great day!
Mike: Alright, guys. That's going to wrap it up for the 266th edition of the Ecomcrew podcast. You can go to Ecomcrew.com/266 to get to the show notes for this episode. We love hearing your comments. If you ever have a chance to, leave us a review over on Itunes, please do that as well, it means a lot to Dave and I. Hope you guys have been enjoying the women's month on Ecomcrew. If you know a woman in your life, encourage them to get into e-commerce and into entrepreneurship. I think there is a great runway for women in e-commerce as you can probably tell from all the amazing women entrepreneurs that have been on the podcast so far this month and we have more to come for you guys so until the next one everybody, Happy Selling and we’ll talk to you soon.