Once a quarter, we highlight a client of ours that is seeing success at retail. This quarter, our spotlight is on Symbodi. Symbodi makes a line of pain relief products. If you suffer from pain in your neck, shoulders, back, or legs, Symbodi’s VertiBall or VertiRoller is definitely for you!
Our team has helped get Symbodi placed with retailers in both US and Canada. We sat down recently with Aaron Turner, the COO of Symbodi, to get his thoughts on building and launching an innovative product.
How would you describe to our audience, who is Symbodi Labs? Can you tell us about Curtis Kennedy, the Founder and CEO of Symbodi and his journey as an entrepreneur on how the both of you built a successful product company?
At Symbodi, we believe the right tools that seamlessly fit into our everyday lives can increase the efficiency in which a higher level of health and wellness can be attained. Curtis has an amazing back story on his entrepreneurship journey and he started working on Vertiball during a University Project. As I was finishing my Master’s degree in Chemical Engineering studying Nuclear Reactor Corrosion, Curtis was working on Vertiball a couple doors down from my office. We had been friends since elementary school so it was always cool to see his progress on the product over the course of the year. While I was completing my thesis he asked if I was able to help out with Vertiball for a couple of months and I have never left. Looking back on all the progress that we have made to date is very rewarding but personally I am more excited on the awesome products and plans we are working on for 2023 and forward.
We heard you and Curtis were on Dragon’s Den back in 2021. How was that experience to be on national television pitching your brand to the “Dragons”?
Dragons Den was our first experience of taking Vertiball to a larger market. We left Dragon’s Den with a deal but the experience was much more challenging than the 10-minute airing would suggest. Shows like Dragons Den & Shark Tank are a great experience and even better PR to broadcast your brand to a much larger audience.
Many startups are unsure or nervous of the “unknown” variables expanding sales outside of Amazon and their websites. Did you have a similar sentiment before launching the product in retail? How did you decide the timing was right?
After raising equity financing, we determined it would be the right time to start approaching the retail market. We wanted to ensure that the business was in a position that we could fulfill the large orders that a big box retail chain would place. These channels can really expand your sales and for long term growth it is important to start creating relationships with retail chains.
Are there any specific traps to point out for a consumer product startup who is now looking to launch in retail?
Be careful of marketing companies and distributors as there are hundreds that reach out on a monthly basis. Companies can promise you the world but at the end of the day they most likely will not be able deliver. Working with Steve Powell, our retail consultant at Retailbound, has been so helpful for us to have that experience in providing meaningful relationships with sales reps, distributors, and retailers. You should always check references from companies and be worried if they cannot share that information.
What excites you the most regarding the future of Symbodi?
The two forms of growth for the business will be product development and additional retail distribution. We are nerds at heart and the product developments will be what we are most excited about moving forward. We plan to hire additional engineers in the next year to allow our team to launch new products every year.
How did you build your team as you sought to expand product sales around the world? Why did you decide on hiring Retailbound to help launch, manage, and grow your product sales with retailers in North America?
Being a company from Atlantic Canada it was important to implement the help of talented people in the US to manage and grow retail product sales in North America. Retailbound offered an innovative solution to consult for the business and to help bring in talented sales reps, distributors and other partners. Having the years of experience without having to pay a 100K salary is worth every cent and the ROI is very high with a couple of retail orders.
Any final words of wisdom for other product entrepreneurs out there trying to grow their brand in retail?
Keep grinding. There are so many days where it can be hard to get the motivation but those moments of success are so rewarding. Every time a retail chain shows interest in the product’s it gives you a new level of motivation to keep moving forward.