032 - Success in Small Niches | Product Startup Podcast | MAKO Design + Invent

032 – Success in Small Niches

December 25, 2016

With Jill Bong of Chicken Armor

032: Success in Small Niches

Jill Bong is an entrepreneur, homesteader, and inventor of Chicken Armor – a different chicken saddle. She is also the author of over a dozen books on homesteading and self-reliant living. In this episode, we learn about

* Why Jill and her husband created their product despite established competition in the space

* Differentiating the product from competitors

* The design drivers – few components, washable, easy to manufacture, and low cost

* The process of working with material suppliers

* Keeping startup costs low – “We almost had no choice, we had to work with a shoestring budget, or almost no budget in this case”

* Why it’s rare to come up with your final product on your first try and the iterative part of product design process

* Taking a year (multiple seasons) to test the product

* Jill’s experience getting laughed out of a gardening forum – and landing her first user who was also a business owner with a similar experience

* Selling Chicken Armor on eBay to validate the market

* Handling customer objections and their perception of quality through money back guarantees and up-front education

* Why Jill and her husband abandoned pursuit of a patent

* Why they haven’t scaled up to large scale manufacturing and distribution or branched out into other designs and target markets

* When sales actually picked up and Jill’s solution to marketing and outreach (especially for unique products)

* The product sales as a result of mentions in large broad publications versus small targeted outlets

* Their most successful marketing tactic – pitching to the editors of publications and appealing to their audience worked better than influential bloggers and magazine ads

* Some of the other passive income streams that Jill has started

* How to know when you should continue validating your market, and when to quit

Links and resources mentioned in this episode

* Website

* chickenarmor.com

* byjillb.com

* Social Media

* Twitter: @chickenarmor

* Facebook: facebook.com/chickenarmor

* Instagram:

* Pinterest: pinterest.com/chickenarmor

* Google Plus: +Chickenarmorsaddles

About: MAKO Design + Invent is the original firm providing world-class consumer product development services tailored to startups, small manufacturers, and inventors. Simply put, we are the leading one-stop-shop for developing your physical product from idea to store shelves, all in a high-quality, cost-effective, and timely manner. We operate as one powerhouse 30-person product design team spread across 4 offices to serve you (Austin, Miami, San Francisco, & Toronto). We have full-stack in-house industrial designmechanical engineeringelectrical engineeringpatent referralprototyping, and manufacturing services. To assist our startup and inventor clients, in addition to above, we help with business strategy, product strategy, marketing, and sales/distribution for all consumer product categories. Also, our founder Kevin Mako hosts The Product Startup Podcast, the industry's leading hardware podcast. Check it out for tips, interviews, and best practices for hardware startups, inventors, and product developers. Click HERE to learn more about MAKO Design + Invent!