Hi, Greg Amundson here. Like many entrepreneurs, I am an inventor, risk seeker, manager, creator, mad scientist, and the 10 other roles we usually have as a small business owner.
Like many can relate to, I invented InstaTrim flexible trim strips about 10 years ago while awake in the middle of the night. It happens that way for some of us who have issues turning our “brains off”. Having been a builder and contractor for over 25 years I had always been frustrated with the caulking work I saw. To be honest, my frustration was usually increased while standing in front of a urinal somewhere and the toilet caulking looked like an animal applied it in a fit of rage.
Why does caulking always look sloppy?
It is hard for most people to do and takes practice. As I saw an obvious opportunity, I often thought about different possible solutions to this problem and finally came up with what I thought was the final answer to caulking while lying in bed that fateful night.
I was then even more excited. Since I couldn’t get back to sleep, I got up and went out to my garage or “mad lab” as I now call it. My “mad lab” was nothing fancy, just an ordinary garage with some tables in it and lots and lots of tapes and adhesive products.
I found some pieces of plastic and hand-cut them to look like the vision in my head. Amazingly, right away, I knew I had the final solution. This piece of flexible plastic with some adhesive on it was my dream. Yes, it is a little boring and not very exciting, but this piece of plastic turned trim strip would grow into a $500,000 business over the next 8 years. This year, we hope to achieve a milestone of over $1,000,000 in sales. We find ourselves very busy and it’s almost like seeing your first child begin to walk and talk. Every day is extremely busy and stressful but the excitement of watching our “baby” grow is beyond anything we have experienced in our life.
Being an ignorant “Inventor” has its advantages. If I knew then what I know now, I would never have tried to pursue this dream. The time, stress and dollars required were way beyond what I could have imagined. But, as they say, ignorance is bliss, and it really was. Over the last 5 years, we spent every dollar we had, our savings, retirement and some inheritance money. This was the most challenging part of our story since my Wife and I agreed to make a go of this and were willing to risk every dollar we had to make it work. We jokingly agreed that we could build a tiny house or renovate a small trailer if we failed. There have been many times we felt like that’s where we were heading. I was lucky enough to have my Wife also be my best friend and a fantastic partner, our skills complemented each other which was great and made a dramatic impact on our success.
The next steps we’re critical and here is where “you get what you pay for”. The patent attorney, the manufacturer and the others who helped us early on are still our most important partners and are still with us to this day.
More to come next week….