How I Built This: method: Adam Lowry & Eric Ryan

  • How did you decide to make cleaning products: I was working on a project for Colgate so I was spending a lot of time in the grocery store. The cleaning aisle was a big category but a sea of sameness. That was a clue to dig in. . .Not only are these products ugly but they are super toxic as well. (7:15) 

  • The sales pitch for method: You mean you actually pollute when you clean and you use poison to make your home healthier? (9:46) 

  • There is no such thing as low-interest categories, just low-interest brands. So our thought was how do we take boring cleaning and not make it boring? (11:38) 

  • The hardest thing with starting the company was we were really insecure about our idea. (12:32) 

  • How they tested their idea: We created a concept book which brought to life our idea, gave it to the 20 smartest people we knew, and asked them to tell us why it will fail. The only two reasons given were (1) If it’s a good idea why hasn’t someone done this before? and (2) Your competitors are big and you are small. (13:37) 

  • How did you finance the business? Out of pocket. For the first two years of the business. We each put in 45k. That was all the money we had. (17:35) 

  • The initial idea for distribution: We need to get into all the independent grocery stores in the Bay Area. The places where the manager can make the buying decision. They agree to take your product because they know you are going to keep going back until they say yes. (20:17) 

  • Dealing with rejection was hard emotionally. Sometimes I’d be taking a shower and think what am I doing? Cold selling cleaning products. We got it going before we got so demoralized that we quit. (21:42) 

  • After you ran out of your initial money how did you get more: Friends and family. The people who believe in you more than they believe in your idea. When you take money from people you really care about (roommates, grandma, siblings, etc) you don’t want to let them down. I encourage entrepreneurs to take money from friends and family because I think it’s the best motivation. No matter how hard things get you will find a path forward. (27:34) 

  • We found a niche: traditionally green products didn’t look beautiful and beautiful products weren’t necessarily green. (38:34) 

  • The press in London was skeptical about our products being nontoxic and safe. The reporter asked if it was safe enough to drink. I said yes and took a shot of toilet bowl cleaner. (41:07)

  • Full podcast here.