Here are three words that might ring a bell: The scientific method.
In its most basic form, the scientific method follows these steps:
First, you identify the problem or question. Then you hypothesize a solution or outcome. From there, you design and run an experiment to test this prediction. And finally, you analyze the results from your test to see if your hypothesis was correct.
The scientific method is the basis of all scientific thinking, but, even when we don’t recognize it, this process is also the basis of human thinking. Everyday we hypothesize, test our hypotheses, and draw conclusions.
It’s easy to see how this same process can be — and should be — applied to a growing business. And it’s a methodology that today’s guest has leveraged time and time again.
“[In math], you start with a problem and a solution — it’s up to you to figure out the stuff in between in the most efficient way possible. And that is entrepreneurship to the T… and leveraging the scientific method, which is just a hypothesis-based single variant test, is critically important, particularly in the world of software and technology.”
Since its founding, BottleKeeper has skyrocketed; today it is a multi-million dollar company consistently growing dramatically year over year. But it didn’t start that way. Early growth was slow, and it took careful testing and iterating again and again to achieve the success the company has seen. So what tools and mindsets did Adam and his cofounder lean into in those first couple of years that set them on the road to success? And what have they changed since launching that’s continued to allow them to grow far more than they could have imagined? Find out on this week’s episode of The Journey.
- Test, Iterate, Test Again: Throughout his entrepreneurial journey, Adam turned to the scientific method as a way to test and verify his business assumptions. But don’t forget to retest those assumptions as the business grows and changes. For example, for years, Adam had built the business with the philosophy that he would never hire anyone else, but he was forced to revisit and retest that assumption as the company grew and new opportunities presented themselves.
- Leverage Video: For many consumers, seeing is believing. Find the best way to communicate how your product works and why the consumer needs it. For Adam, this meant focusing on video. (Bonus Lesson: Don’t wait until you have big marketing dollars to spend on making the perfect materials. Instead, take a page from Adam’s book and write, shoot, and edit those first ads yourself.)
- Get a Patent… and Be Prepared to Enforce It: Copycats will inevitably come to market after they see your success. Be prepared by filing for a provisional patent as soon as possible, and then filing for the actual patent once you can afford it. More in the episode about what this process looks like and why your patent is only as good as your enforcement of it.
Early lessons that stuck with Adam: “At a young age, I got to run the gamut of being in ORs and also being in skilled nursing facilities where you’re dealing with end of life issues… It taught me that time is fleeting and life is short. And the end of it is not generally pretty… So, I got a really, really, really humbling lesson as a 16 year old that family is important and time is critical.”
The value of the scientific method: “[In math], you start with a problem and a solution — it’s up to you to figure out the stuff in between in the most efficient way possible. And that is entrepreneurship to the T… and leveraging the scientific method, which is just a hypothesis-based single variant test, is critically important, particularly in the world of software and technology.”
The power of video: “It’s not like we took off by any stretch of the imagination… We didn’t know how to market, so we fumbled along for months and months and months… And then we got really, really lucky that in that summer of 2014, Facebook launched their video ad platform and that changed everything. Our products, even through today, you have to see them in action… I shot a video on a lifeguard tower by our house in Manhattan beach, put it on Facebook and it exploded.”
The upsides, and downsides, of getting a patent: “You can’t get a patent and not enforce it… You might as well just not get it. It has no value if you don’t enforce it. And because we had had some early success, the world knew who we were and were making knockoff versions of our products and selling them by the hundreds on Amazon.”
On not hiring early on: “The intent was to build a company that we could scale without needing to have a team of people doing it. So we outsourced, we automated, we leveraged the hell out of technology every way that we could figure out how… That was in the foundation of the whole concept was if something comes up and it’s an opportunity and it’s gonna require us to hire people, we’re going to say no to it. And that happened a lot relatively early. But because of that, I also over-automated.”
On building something from scratch: “You literally get to create and start from nothing and build and mold. However you want it to be. It doesn’t have to be traditional. It doesn’t have to be the way your parents taught you. It doesn’t have to be the way your friend John down the street did his… So just make life easier and make it up as you go.”
Adam Callinan is the Co-Founder and CEO at BottleKeeper®, the fast-paced and sarcasm-infused solution to the warm beer and broken bottle epidemics that have plagued the world for centuries, maybe even decades. The koozie killing company appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank, earning a $1 Million combined offer from Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner, and has been featured by CNBC, the Today Show, Good Morning America, and many more.
BottleKeeper has grown to become one of the largest direct-to-consumer retailers of speciality beverage accessories on the market, selling over 3 products every minute and generating eight-figure revenues. Callinan has spent more than a decade as an entrepreneur, building businesses in eCommerce, consumer products, technology and medical devices. Callinan holds a B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from the University of Arizona and resides in Manhattan Beach with his exceptionally lovely wife and daughter.
This season of the Journey is produced by Mission.org and brought to you by UPS. To learn how UPS can help your small business, go to UPS.com/pivot.