WIN 3 Curo Homes vs Poolside Creations
Welcome to the third week of the first season of Go Pitch Win! Each week Greg is joined by a guest judge to hear 2 entrepreneurs pitch their business or product. After hearing the two pitches they will pick the weekly winner to move on to the final 6. At the end of the 6 weeks, Greg will select the top 3 and then we need you to help us pick the winner! Once the 3 finalists are announced we will open the voting for you #FreedomBuilders to choose our $10,000 winner!
Greg Mercer, Jungle Scout Founder
Greg is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, a suite of tools that empowers freedom builders. As a successful entrepreneur, Greg leads a team of 65+ employees. He is also an influential educator, offering free and inspirational content that has helped thousands of people build their own businesses and freedom.
Laura Roeder, Meet Edgar
Laura Roeder is the founder of Edgar, a social media automation tool designed to prevent status updates from going to waste. Laura has given talks at conferences like BlogHer and South by Southwest, and has spoken about the value of independent entrepreneurship at the White House. She’s also appeared in Forbes, Fast Company, Mashable, CNET, and other major publications.
Win - Week 3 Winner!
Greg and Laura have heard 2 great pitches this week. Now it's time to pick the winner!
Greg : Laura and I just listened to two different pitches. One was from Cory and Eric at CURO Homes, and the other one was from Stephanie and Michael from Poolside Creations. Laura, to get started, why don't you give us a quick recap on CURO Homes.
Laura: CURO is a pretty new business. They only have a handful of clients, and they provide concierge services for vacation rentals and actually vacation homeowners in the Lake Tahoe area. They do stuff like when you're away for the winter, check on your home, make sure the pipes haven't burst. When you're there, pick you up from the airport, get your groceries. They compared it to a hotel concierge and being able to have that experience in your own vacation home.
Greg: Yeah. Cory and Eric did a nice job pitching CURO Homes to us. If you didn't listen to that, look back at Tuesday's episode, and you can listen to their entire pitch. In this particular one, Laura and I are choosing one winner. Before we do, Laura, tell us a little bit more about Stephanie and Michael's business, Poolside Creations.
Laura: Poolside Creations sells these ... If you're watching on video, you can see the stemless wine glasses that are plastic, shatter-proof, break-proof. Poolside as in you might use them by the pool. They have really gone for quality in their differentiation. Michael is a sommelier, so he figured out the perfect thickness and the perfect weight and angle of the wine glass. Their business is a little more established. They've been around for about a year. They've done about six figures of revenue. They have amazing reviews on Amazon.
Greg : To cap it all off, they put on quite the show for us.
Laura : They did.
Greg : Wearing pool shirts and sitting in their lounge chairs.
Laura : Then they said they were in Oregon. I thought they were in Florida or something, because they pretended it was really hot there.
Greg : Yeah. That was great. They brought a lot of energy and were very fun to watch. They didn't even have a pitch deck. Instead, they just had sheets of paper, which was unpractical, actually, but kind of fun to watch.
Laura : We couldn't read them.
Greg : We couldn't read them.
Laura : No.
Greg : They told us, and they hated on slide decks from the corporate background, which I have to agree. So that was a nice little addition.
Laura : I think my favorite thing about CURO is just that it's a solid real world business, where here's the service we provide. Here's what we charge for it. Even though I run a software start up, I am so not a fan of these like, "We're going to just attract a community, and then we may or may not monetize that community." This was just like, "Here's what we're going to do for you."
Greg : It's a very real business, right?
Laura : Yeah.
Greg : It's been proven. A lot of people have done this before. You're providing a very tangible service, I guess. It's a service that people easily associate value with.
Laura : Yeah. They're not trying to reinvent the wheel. They're being innovative in opening the door for something that's a must have when you have a vacation home, but they're providing services that a lot of people are hodgepodging together anyway through various personal assistants or hiring someone on Craigslist or whatever. The business just makes a lot of sense. I think they're going to be able to find clients. I think they're going to be able to do well with it.
Greg : Yeah, I do, too. One of the critiques that I had for them was throughout the pitch, and really to be honest, all the way up til the end, I still wasn't like quite exactly sure what the main value prop for this company is, like the main thing that they do and exactly who they're targeting. I think we see this a lot, like in young entrepreneurs that are very gung ho about, "Hey, let's just do whatever for whoever." Maybe that's actually not that bad of a thing in the early days to decide what sticks the most, but yeah. When they were first pitching it to me, I was like, "Wait a second. Is this like a rental property management company or a concierge service or a little bit of both?" I wasn't quite sure about that.
They talked about using the $10,000 for marketing spend. I think one of the things that I would like to see out of them would be to really refine how they describe the services that they can provide for people before they're going out there and spending the marketing dollars on that.
Laura : Yeah. They talked so much about how it was request based as though that was a feature. So I was like that sounds harder. You should just do packages for people. They were like, "Oh, we do packages for people." I said, "Oh. Cool. Good idea." They didn't lead with that. They also ... We didn't even dig into this. They talked about building an app. Me and Greg were both, "No."
Greg : We were both jotting down the notes about that.
Laura : Yeah. Really expensive and unnecessary. I also would just like to see ... This is an assumption, but they're doing things like sponsoring realtor conventions. I'm like have you just literally gone door to door and talked to homeowners? It seems like they're going around people who know their target client, but I'm like literally just knock on the door of the vacation homes or leave a flier. You're offering something I think people will be interested in. The guys are very likable and they're young, so you want to help them out. I think a lot of people that are there on vacation would totally give them 10 minutes to give a little pitch and see if they're interested. I just want to see them pounding the pavement more than doing these sponsorships or making cute videos and stuff like that.
Greg : Right. That is a good point. They showed us a few of the videos, and I was like these are actually pretty cool, cute videos, but I don't quite think they're going to move the needle right now, because it's like where do you get the audience to actually watch these little videos? I give you an A for the production quality, probably even like a low budget, but I was thinking that same thing. Like, "Man, I know this sounds old school, but just go around with fliers, like just get this thing off the ground." I bet it would probably have some good success.
Laura : Right, because yeah. They were talking about newspaper ads. Also, they did mention that their clientele is older, which makes a lot of sense. There's probably a lot of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s even who own these really expensive vacation homes. Yeah. Those people do not mind a knock on the door and a conversation. They might not be seeing this cool video on YouTube.
Greg : Right. That makes sense. Overall, I'm confident that Cory and Eric are going to make it in this business. These guys are hustlers. I guarantee you, they're way smarter than most people running either property rental businesses. This is a very ... A lot of this is a very archaic industry. They're putting a modern twist on it with more like a concierge service as opposed to ... I guess I'm still not quite sure about-
Laura : What they do.
Greg : But very gung ho, very enthusiastic about this. They're going to make it happen. I'm confident of that, which is cool.
Laura : Yeah. I think the place they could go wrong is getting distracted, like this mention of the app or focusing too much on the technology. I think if this business were to die, I would guess that's what would kill it would be pursuing these avenues that aren't just like I am selling you a service making money. I guess that's my main advice to Eric and Cory. Just focus your service, and focus on selling it to get that revenue up.
Greg : I did like how they said that their main focus is on the marketing and the sales aspect of it, because that's exactly what this business needs right now. It doesn't need an app to make it easier to book this stuff. They just need to sell the old school services to people, even if they have to send a text message or whatever else to start generating revenue. Down the road, if you really get 500 homes and then it's 1,000 homes and then it's more, it's like then you have this revenue that you can think about potentially building an app or an easier solution of how people book stuff. But in the meantime, me and you both were like okay. We know software pretty well. It is expensive.
Laura : It's expensive.
Greg : It's expensive to create. It's expensive to maintain. It's not quite as easy as I think what most people think to make a legitimate product to use.
Laura : Man, so they are just hustlers, especially Stephanie. She was talking about how she was up at 1:00 a.m. with her translator. She had these secret deals she hadn't told her husband about yet, which I loved. She's just like she defines the word entrepreneur when she's like, "And then I looked up ad words, and then I figured that out, and then I did it wrong, and then I did it right." That's what stood out to me more than anything. I was just like, man, I would just give Stephanie a business, and I feel like she can just figure it out, whatever it is. I loved that.
Greg : I agree. Right? Just like you said. Just like again, I guess both the contestants were this, but just like hustlers. Stephanie, I forget how she even said she got started on this. Oh. She was on [inaudible 00:11:29] and read [inaudible 00:11:30] case study on how to launch products. [inaudible 00:11:33] does it. This product now is very successful. It's a cool product. She sent us some samples, and it is like for a plastic wine glass, which is the intent of it, to be unbreakable, non-glass, it's nice. It's definitely much nicer. They did their homework. It's nice that Michael's a somm, so this guy knows wine glasses. Yeah. That was a very fun one to listen to.
Laura : Yeah, yeah. They have such a great track record already. If we had more time to talk to them, I'd be curious to dive into your advice more, where you talked about bringing on a larger partner. I assume maybe that's something they might be nervous about, but that's just an assumption. I'd like to know if that's something they've tried. Hopefully it will be great exposure to be on the podcast. Maybe they'll get approached by some people. That's kind of the biggest thing I want to see them continue to do which they're already doing is just go all in in the business and take it really seriously, because I think they have a great thing here. The next level is taking on even more of that risk to grow the business. Stephanie just lost her job. I think they're going to look back and think, "Thank you that I lost this job and I was able to focus on Poolside Creations." I want to see them go all in.
Greg : It's funny. My dad, who is now a very successful entrepreneur, he was doing these e-comm store things on the side a little bit, and he lost his job. That's when he was like, "Okay. I either have to go all in or go look for another job." He decided to go all in for a little while, and it was like ... He always tells that story like that. Losing his job was the best thing that ever happened to him. Hopefully, that's the same story with Stephanie, which I feel like it will be.
Laura : Yeah. The only part where we had to be like ... When Greg was like, "Is this ..." I'm holding up the box, in case you're listening on audio. Greg was like, "Is this the Fiverr designer that designed this box?" She might need some outside input. Maybe graphic design. Stephanie is good at lots of things. Maybe she needs a little help on the visuals. She's like, "I charged $25 and people bought it." I don't know. I'm just a fan of be the expensive one. Be the high end one. I think that might be something where they need to be pushed out of their comfort zone a little bit with the whole branding and the look and perhaps the pricing as well.
Greg : Yeah. I think overall, the packaging ... I was looking at it. It has pretty nice content on it. It calls out the differentiating factors. The advice I gave to them was one. When we were talking to them, we both felt kind of bad, so we beat around it a little, but the packaging, to me, looks a little bit ... Just the overall branding looks a little bit maybe childish or fun, when in the inside of it, it's this nice high end wine glass.
Laura : Yeah.
Greg : The packaging or the brandling itself I wouldn't say is that bad, but it just doesn't fit what's inside the box. I would go for more ... I told them I would go for more of a high end look on the packaging. I think I would also personally, I think I would probably ditch trying to market this just for poolside, because she had talked about also having another brand that was like the ... I don't know ... the slope side or whatever the winter one was. It was like you could probably maybe if you did the branding more so just like the unbreakable wine glass. Then say, "Hey, great by the pool. Great." Whatever. The ski slopes or whatever else. I think that would be a potential win for them.
Laura : And wholesale. I was really excited about the wholesale stuff, especially when it's like, "Oh, yeah. Michael has all these connections, all these huge companies." Millions of food products, because yeah. Because the product is so great, this is something that you could present to a resort for them to use outdoors. It has the look and feel of being that quality. That just seems like an opportunity to take their sales really huge is get those bigger contracts. They don't last forever. They do get scratched up and stuff, so if you can get a contract with a business or a hotel or whatever, I think you could just replacing these things every few years.
Greg : For most people, I think that would be like is a very difficult path to go down, trying to go down the wholesale path, but it seems like Michael is a unique case, because he already has these connections. I guess he already landed a wholesale deal yesterday. He's in the food and beverage industry already. It sounds like he's a pretty deal in there. The guy's a somm. He's probably worked a bunch of restaurants and everything else. So for their particular scenario that I was getting excited about that, too. I was like, "Man. Maybe you guys need to be exploring more of these wholesale opportunities, which could be a great channel."
Greg : Sometimes there's kind of a clear winner, and I wouldn't say today's the case. Cory and Eric with CURO Homes. They're doing a fantastic job. They did a really nice job laying out their pitch. They showed up in their CURO Homes polo shirts, a little bit of swag. It was pretty cool. Stephanie and Michael really put on a great show, as well. They had their Poolside shirts on. They were in their garage with the sweet set up. Both of them are solid businesses that I'm confident actually will succeed, whether or not they receive this $10,000 cash prize. But only one can go on to the final round. Laura, you are going to be the one to choose. Who do you pick to go on to the final round to be eligible for the $10,000 prize?
Laura : It's a lot of pressure. Okay. What Eric and Cory have going for them is on the one hand, being so early is great, because they're running super lean. They said they've invested $7,000 of their own money, so $10,000 to them is a lot of money.
Greg : Yeah, totally.
Laura : A lot more than they have had to work with before. In that sense, I think they're going to be able to do a lot with the money. I think the downside with them is I wish they had as we mentioned a bit more of a focused plan. The plan for what to do with the money is like, "We're going to do this six different marketing and advertising channels," which like we said, I think that's the right mindset to be in. We need to spread the word about this, but yeah. I wish they were more focused with like, "Here's our core service offering. We're going to go out and sell that."
Talking about Poolside Creations, they're the opposite, where like the $10,000 for them ... I'm sure they'd be thrilled to have it, but it's almost like you guys need 50. You guys need 100, because they have serious cash constraints in their business. But on the other hand, they know exactly what to do with it. I think she held it up on a piece of paper we couldn't read. I don't know. But she's like, "Here is the launch plan. We have these products that we're coming out with." They had the top secret product that they couldn't tell us about. For all those reasons, I am going to choose Poolside Creations, because I love the focus with ... I just have 100% confidence they're going to be able to put that money to great use. Of course, she also buttered us up with how much she loves the JungleScout community. You could just tell how genuine that is that she would really feel like she wants to give back and help others. So that was pretty cool, too.
Greg : Yeah. I agree with you here. Like you said, it was a tough pick between the two, but I would choose Poolside Creations as well. We're on the same page there. You're right. I don't think it affected my opinion at all, but it was a little nice cherry on top for her to be like, "If we win this thing, we're going to give the $10,000 back in a few years to sponsor one of the next Go, Pitch, Win contestants." They're donating part of it to charity or whatever else. They're hustling. They're pulling out all the stops here to win this thing.
Laura : It worked. It worked.
Greg : It worked. Stephanie and Michael, congratulations. You are moving on to the final round.
Laura : We should do a cheer for them.
Greg : Cheers. Cheers them with their wine glasses, unbreakable wine glasses. Stephanie and Michael, congratulations. You guys now are eligible for the $10,000 prize. However, there are a lot of other strong business ideas in the final round. Laura, thank you very much for joining me. Thank you for listening to these two pitches and helping to choose the winner.
Winner for Week 3 - Poolside Creations with Stephanie and Michael Minshull!! Congrats!
Join us next Tuesday for Week 4 of Go Pitch Win!