What does your business do?
Eelsnot is an ecofriendly protective coatings to keep boats clean and fast. Eelsnot is an inexpensive solution to keeping all watercraft fast and clean without damaging the environment. By keeping boats clean, eelsnot also reduces fuel usage and engine wear. We are globally recognized as the newest successful marine innovation for hull coatings
When and why did you start the biz?
I started the eelsnot project in winter of 2006 with the first formula. I wanted my surfboard / skimboard to go faster. After several months of testing and trials i came up with the first eelsnot formula. I had no idea the side effects would be life changing and a marine innovation to change the world. Eelsnot derived its name because it was really slippery. Eelsnot is so slippery that growth has a very difficult time sticking to it, and if it does, it comes off incredibly easier than ever before. Eelsnot was designed with the environment as its first concern. Eelsnot is fully ecofriendly, it does no harm! The next largest side effect was found that by applying eelsnot OVER bottom paint on boats, that paint stayed ON THE BOAT and not in the water which reduces that chemical products from entering our ocean signifigantly.
How Many People are in your Company?
There is ONE person in my company currently.
Where's your office?
I lease a 4300 Sqft warehouse in williamsburg, Va. I come from a building and construction background so i built offices, bathroom, painted and decorated this space to look and feel state of the art. I have designed and hand built all my work stations including custom conveyor belts from parts of other machines and items from my shop. I have had built vibration tables and labeling stations to speed up the manufacturing process so i can product all of the 6 eelsnot product lines with little help or by myself. i have laboratory grade epoxy floors and a black, white, Gray and bright green color palette through the building with an 8' waterfall display in the center to show what eelsnot does at a glance. I have designed inventory control stations that calculate product entering the building, which goes through a process back to the same door as final product out for delivery next to the shipping desk. 90% of my process is re purposed or redesigned machines or machine parts modified to accomplish this task with value engineering in mind. All is 100% paid for within the first 6 months of opening.
What's the toughest part of running your biz?
The toughest part of running my business is sales. Eelsnot is such a different product and to many people in the marine industry very hard to believe it works, especially at a fraction of the cost of the leading anti-foul paint. So its not selling, its educating. Without a huge advertising budget, this has been a slow process.
What's the most fun part?
The entire process is fun. One of our company motto's are, "I keep doing this as long as its fun". The most motivating part is the creation. I have created the product and reinvented many of the ways to make and product this. I love that its my creation that people are using which is creating a better world, a better environment and a better attitude toward efficiency in the marine industry which is being neglected because all the news and information to the public is about auto emissions. There is more damage to the ocean than people realize. I have created an alternative.
Anything you would have done differently?
I was single when i started this, over time i got married. I blended my business with that marriage and unfortunately it was costly for me to keep in during the divorce. I would have kept personal and business separate. I would have also allowed one of the three investors that were interested in helping push this forward when i started. I didn't want to share equity, but now i realize that equity would have been a small price to pay to speed up the "teaching the public" part of the business.
What's next on the horizon for your biz?
2017 is going to be strong. I am proactively searching many opportunities to grow and expand the reach of eelsnot. I have new distributors abroad as well as fairly local, (east coast). I have had many people testing the product and the reviews are coming back strong, whom are potential players in the marine industry. I have attracted much attention because we are still making product and it is still being sent all over the world. I believe this year will be the year we land the first big "box" store which will get eelsnot the national exposure I have been looking for, which will validate the demand we believe is out there.
What advice do you have for others?
Stay Broke. Struggle. Fight for what you believe in. Being cash constrained has caused me to build, create, fight, plan, organize, network, link, learn. more than anything else could. Money changes the way one thinks. I believe if i had a business loan or an investor before now, i would have made different decisions and quite possibly just gone in debt and not been any further. IF an investor is knocking on your door, remember two things, They want SOMETHING... and you NEED more than just MONEY. There are more surprises than you can ever imagine. GET A MENTOR! A real one, not a friend. (friends love you, they will tell you want you want to hear) a mentor will tell you what you don't want to hear... the truth. YOU WILL KNOW WHEN YOU ARE READY for financial help... (after two year at the earliest). Its like getting married... take your time. Make sure the fit is perfect.
How do you use Idea Cafe to help your biz?
I have previewed idea cafe for a few years off and on. I often look at other profiles to see what trend of new businesses are out there. and i look for new information on what it seems the world wants, by what information is trending. i have looked at the grants and the links to them, which has honestly thrown me into the rabbit hole of information on technological advantages. I have not utilized idea cafe nearly as well as i should, but that has changed over the past week. I have much to learn. I believe i can harness whats available on IC and inject that content into what i have already studied to really broaden my reach and learning base. I also have just started reaching out to other entrepreneurs on IC to share ideas directly and to ask questions to overcome certain obstacles i have now. I believe the IC resource is massive, so ask me again in 3-6 months!
School (where, still in school, degree)?
I never finished college. I couldn't afford it honestly. I started at Milligan College in TN.
Prior jobs or business?
I have been in construction my entire life, (other than one or two jobs at a young age). I started my construction business in Maryland at 23 and passed the highest equivalent of license requirements. I lived there for three years, until i moved to Virginia, due to work and business advancement into hotel renovation. I have had a class A contractor license here for 17 years with an impeccable reputation and fantastic career. I still do some construction because i love it. I also am mentoring a small, new construction firm with a soft partnership so he can grow and i can focus on eelsnot. I believe in win win relationships, this is one of those.
Hmmm.. I grew up in hawaii, so favorite food is ALL Hawaiian food. to pic one item i would say a Manapua. (search that one haha)
What are your pets' names?
I have one dog and 17 fish. Dogs name is Belle. My stepdaughter, (10yrs) has named the fish but i will save you all their names. LOL
Do any of these pets help with your biz?
Belle, my dog actually has given me purpose to keep going on the hardest days during strife and the fish were purchased to help me relax, (i love the water and surf as often as i can). The fish relax me and it has built a connection between my step daughter and myself during the separation of her mother an myself. so yes. they are very important to me and my mental health, therefore my business needs them.
Is there any one person or event in your life that led
you to go into business for yourself?
The first business i started was because i worked for a construction company and the owner of the company was trying to land a job for two retired sisters in Maryland. The issue was the land requirements changed and the property they owned was not large enough to put two houses on for these two sisters. So he decided he was going to apply for the permits separately and overlap the land so he could land the job. Not only was this dishonest, but when i asked him how this was going to effect the sisters when one passed away and the family had to sell her house it would not be able to be sold he didn't care, he was going to be gone by them. I realized i didn't want to work with or for someone without actual integrity. I decided at 22 the only one i knew would do the "right thing" was me. SO i did and have ever since.
Anyone you publicly want to thank?
I want to thank Jay Bullington for his help and support. I also want to specifically thank Von Jose Roberts, Chuck and Kim Crisp and Brice Roughton, for directly helping me with certain components of the business. I want also thank ALL my friends for their support and love as i have traveled this path. (you know who you are)
7521 Richmond Rd.
Williamsburg, VA 23188