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Innovation vs Marketing: The Two Sides of the Ecommerce Coin | EP. #138

June 19, 2024 | Author: Andrew Maff
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Thousands of cutting-edge products that solve immense pain points are on the market today…but that doesn’t mean everyone knows about them. Why? On this 138th episode of the E-Comm Show, Andrew Maff interviews Ryan Angott, CEO and President and Co-Founder of TechLok Solutions. 

 

While innovation can take you far, a strong marketing strategy will get you to the finish line. In this episode, Ryan Angott dives into Techloks marketing roadmap and two of the top 2 lessons he learnt: The power building credibility within reviews, and a strong CRO strategy. You don’t want to miss this one.

Watch the full episode below, or visit TheEcommShow.com for more.

 

If you enjoyed the show, please rate, review, and SUBSCRIBE!


Have an e-commerce marketing question you'd like Andrew to cover in an upcoming episode? Email: hello@theecommshow.com

 

 


 



 

 

 

Innovation vs Marketing: The Two Sides of the Ecommerce Coin

 
SPEAKER

Andrew Maff and Ryan Angott

CONNECT WITH OUR HOST: AndrewMaff.com  |  Twitter: @AndrewMaff | LinkedIn: @AndrewMaff 

 

 

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  8. Ryan Angott

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    I'm a visionary entrepreneur who's had the privilege of learning alongside my dad and from a world-class entrepreneur with 42 patents. This has given me a significant advantage in my career, allowing me to launch successful products and companies, such as TechLok Solutions which will soon have its flagship product, LapLok, available on the market. I'm passionate about sharing my knowledge with emerging entrepreneurs and have a unique ability to double profitability for startups and small businesses by leveraging ultra low-cost virtual staffing in the Philippines. My true northstar is my three beautiful girls: Jenna (wife), Emerson, and Isabel. They keep my engine running at max RPM's. When not with them, you'll find me at Red Run Golf Club, Skiing on Schuss Mtn, or traveling with my favorite people.

    00:03

    And we had a vision to provide a new locking solution for laptops bags and devices that were left unattended.

     

    01:00

    Hello everyone, and welcome to another episode of The E-Comm Show. I'm your host, Andrew Maff, and today I am joined with Ryan Angott, who is the president of TechLok Solutions. Ryan, how you doing? You ready for a good show? Hi.

     

    01:14

    Good morning. Yeah. Thanks for having me.

     

    01:16

    I appreciate you being on the show. I always like to start these off in a very kind of stereotypical manner, and just let you will pretend no one knows who you are, no one did any research, and they're just tuning in. And that's it. So tell us a little bit about, you know, your background, where you've been, and then obviously we'll get into tech lock.

     

    01:32

    Well, most people really don't know where I am, so that's very authentic. So no problem there. Andrew, yeah. So I'm the son of a serial entrepreneur. My dad has 44 patents, and we started off on our journey to I have one, he has 44 so I have a little ways to catch up on dad. But we joined our journey together as partners, starting tech lock, really right before covid, about five years ago, and we had a vision to provide a new locking solution for laptops, bags and devices that were left unattended, I discovered the problem. My background has been in cybersecurity for about the last decade, and one day, I got a memo from my company that said, if your laptop is stolen and you're held negligible. It's a fireball offense, and Bing. That's when the light bulb went off, five years ago, and here we are finally launching our company, tech lock, with our flagship product, lap lock, as the world's first retrofitting physical laptop and bag device catered to the work from anywhere world. So little bit about my background. Cool, yeah, it's

     

    02:42

    interesting. My, my wife, works at a very large health tech company, and they have the same rule, and so like, even if we go on vacation, like she's got it in her bag because she's worried like someone's going to steal it in the hotel or something, and she's going to get in trouble for it. So tell me, tell me a little bit about that product, or has the product itself actually

     

    03:03

    work? Sure, yeah, so it's good. She's a security steward. There's 16 our laptops stolen every day in the US, and it causes a whole ripple effect of crime, identity theft, etc. So we're out setting a pretty trying to solve a pretty big problem. So traditionally, if you want to secure a laptop, there's been a little lock slot on the side of a laptop called a K slot, and that would be almost like a bike lock cable, locking that device down. Well, that got eliminated on three quarters of the laptops in the world the last five years, the OEMs just took away the lock slot. So our product actually retrofits the to any laptop or tablet, and it can be used in other applications. I've used lab lock for ski bags, speakers, other things, but laptops are our primary use case. So to show you, Andrew on the bottom of your device. There's a one time semi permanent mounted arm that's, you know, super thin, you know, doesn't impede the user experience. And when you want to use your device, you know, that stays on the bottom of your laptop. And when you want to use your lap lock, that arm swings out like so, and then the product actually clamps to the table with the arm. So you can still use your laptop, and, you know, use it with free motion, but you're locked to the table. And you could also lock your bag, purse, whatever. So you can really get kind of a two for one. When using lap lock, you clamp a dot, you cinch it to the table, hit your code, 212, whatever it is, and you're locked in. Really can't remove it. If somebody's even tries tampering with it, there's an 80 decibel alarm that goes off. So it's a pretty slick little gadget.

     

    04:50

    Geez. Is this one of your Pat is this your your single pattern? Is this your father's? Yeah,

     

    04:56

    it was my idea. We're co inventors on the product. He's. Really the brains on the patent side. But you know, together, we've invested 300 grand to our business. We've raised 1,000,007 it's been a hell of a five year journey. We just launched at CES and we're really starting to take traction. We've put up some big logos with Best Buy Canada and sharper image and staples. So I mean, for just coming out a few months ago, we're really getting a lot of good track. Good traction. Wow.

     

    05:24

    And where are you, obviously, outside of the places you just referenced, where, where are you selling? I know, obviously, of your own website and stuff, but anything, are you exploring marketplaces and things like that? What's the go to market strategy?

     

    05:35

    Yeah, we've inked a couple deals with some conglomerate websites that resell all over the world as a worldwide product. But, yeah, we're open to, you know, any e commerce channel that makes good business sense for us, that is willing to sign our MAP policy. Sometimes that's a hiccup for ecom resellers, but, you know, it's Amazon. We've got a storefront. We've got our own website. We've identified, actually, about 10 channels total, that we're selling to. We just had a B to B show last week where you could brand, you know, our text, our tech products. We've got about 12 products with lab lock being kind of our hero, million dollar idea differentiator that you can brand them, Nike, coke, whatever, Ford. And we got over $100,000 of inquiries just from that show. So lot on the B to B, lot online. And also the college market is a really big one for us too.

     

    06:36

    No, yeah, that makes a ton of sense. Yeah. So inventing a new product like this, right? Like it's wildly differentiated. You don't have really anything out there that's even kind of close to this. What's your approach on how you plan to, like, continue to market this and really get it out there? Because you know you there's no search volume for something that no one knows exists. However, you're solving a problem that some people don't even know there's a solution for. So what's what's the plan there?

     

    07:07

    Mm, hmm, yeah. So before I was in cyber doing major account sales, I actually was a marketing corporate marketing director for a food service company for about 10 years, and we did 100 million so I've got a now, I'm a dinosaur that was 12 years ago, so a lot of marketing has changed, but I know the fundamentals, and it's tough as a new brand, new product that people don't know exist. Very tough, expensive, you know, we hired a really great agency in first quarter that's just putting our foot in the water on how to, you know, they run our meta, Google, etc. There is a fair amount of people, you know, maybe I would say a couple 1000 a week, that are Google searching laptop security, lock or physical laptop security. That is a fairly popular key search term that we are playing in. We're getting some sales from. But you know, if you look online, there might be 50 competitors with all that old cable style lock that sell for 30 to 50 bucks. 20 to 50 we are so different and such a high. We know we're 100 bucks, but it's like apples and oranges, and we can retrofit anything. So there is some searching going on. Obviously we're playing in that space. We will be playing in the space with Amazon when our new gen two comes in next month, but we already have our store with our other SKUs up and running, so we are doing some paid search with Amazon. And you know, we're just we're just figuring out as we go, my lesson learned, and for anybody else that's an entrepreneur starting a new product. We launched our brand about two months ago online, and we had a pretty painful learning lesson. You know, we hired this great new agency. We We spent money on this beautiful new website that's really that esthetically looks great, and we spent 15 to 20 grand in ad dollars, and we got very little sales, maybe five, six grand. And, you know, but as our first month, brand new, new brand new product. No one knows us. We had no reviews. We had no our kind of Shopify. User experience was very poor. And, you know, being the owner, I thought, new website, great new ads that are going all over that's targeted. I trust our agency. You know, we're playing in the right sandboxes, but our conversion sucks. So what's up? And you know, we had a hard look and go, no one's going to buy a new product without any reviews. Number one. So let's manufacture and get some reviews. Let's ask friends, family, our network, provide a special discount code to get reviews. Now we have about 100 reviews in the last six weeks that so that was mistake number one, sorry, I'm about to sneeze. And then number two was our Shopify experience was really poor. Even though the site looked good, our site speed was. Bad, we hired a Shopify consultant, an excellent woman out of the Philippines, for a very low amount, who all she does is optimize your Shopify website, you know, from a conversion standpoint. And man, what a difference that's made. So, you know, we did a new a new checkout cart, we bought a new review widget. We move things around. We change this, that new buttons, and, you know, I had no idea that that detail really can make or break the whole metrics on how to online market itself. And that's the pain point. That's the what we've learned the first quarter, second quarter, we've changing a tune, and hopefully we'll have much better results on our ROAs,

     

    10:42

    yeah, and you're lucky, you've learned kind of early, like the the CRO side of things is a constant thorn in my side of trying to work with brands and explain to them, like, you know, you're going to spend an arm and a leg on Google and meta and tick tock and SEO and retention and all these different things driving traffic back to a website that doesn't convert as well as it should. And so the it never ceases to amaze me, the lack of brands that are, you know, consistently A B, testing and tweaking things and monitoring their site with like heat maps and scroll tracking and all that kind of stuff. Like we did, we did, we just did an audit. We didn't do any AB testing, we didn't audit for this brand. Found a bunch of stuff. And we're like, yeah, we think you should go ahead and just implement this stuff. And within like, two weeks, like, their conversion rate almost tripled. And it's amazing that, like, you know, you some of these Shopify themes, they come pre loaded in a certain way, but they're really meant to be manipulated more based on the product line. And then you got to think about your audience like, you know, the theme was built in a certain direction based on what that person thinks mass market would like. However, your brand, your product line, you know, the way you do business can be very different. So it's it, even though it sucks that you spent 20k like, right out the gate and really didn't get much for it, it's good that you found the holes and, you know, you fix it, and that's part of what just launching the business is the reviews side is interesting. That's definitely that's a very common issue when you're first starting stuff off. Have you thought about going the influencer route and letting people start to kind of spread the message for you?

     

    12:26

    Yeah, I definitely believe that an affiliate and influencer program is on a roadmap of something we want to launch in q3 truthfully, you know, we're a small, 12 man team. I'm doing the sales and marketing, and I just, I'm actually in the process right now, before we have our call, I'm reviewing Senior Marketing Manager that would help, because, yeah, you can run a great influencer program, and I think it can boost a lot of reviews credibility, you know, and UGC, and it's something I I think we need, but I think you got to manage it the right way. You got to give people the right time, the right boundaries, the right parameters, but I have heavily looked into influencer programs. We just have not turned the key in running it yet for our business.

     

    13:10

    Yeah, yeah, that tends to be when you're limited on reviews all it sounds like you've got them now. Sometimes that helps, because then it comes off. You know, a lot of brands, they'll launch ads and it's like, oh, you know, buy this. It's awesome. We're great. Do this, do that, and it comes off. Like, Yeah, but you're obviously biased. So letting even though influencers, there's an argument to say that they're falling off too. But I digress.

     

    13:35

    The influencer model. Do you think influencers still has a the whole and I have heard mixed reviews. What are your what's your take on that as

     

    13:45

    part of I definitely still believe in it. However, I think that the initially working with influencers and paying them like an arm and a leg to post stuff is not justifiable for really any brand doing under like 30, 40 million a year, like too many of these influencers, you know, they get a couple posts do really well. All of a sudden, they're charging you 1000s or 10s of 1000s of dollars for a handful of posts. And it's just obscene. When, in reality, if you do, if you do seeding, you run a significantly lower risk. You can get more people to start posting about it. You can get, you know, you can get review and more to UGC at a bunch of different people. So, like, I find seating works a lot better then if you give them, and if give them the opportunity, have an affiliate link, and if things start to do well, then you start to pay them. So building that relationship from the beginning, as opposed to just go into the big guy, like right away, because sometimes, like, brand awareness is great, but unless you're up to a point where, like, Okay, now we just need more and more. Top of funnel traffic, then it makes sense, but in the beginning there, it's just it's not logical. It's so expensive and the influencers job is to get you eyeballs, not to get you sales. They have no control over once someone gets to your website, whether they actually purchase or not, their goal is to get you eyeballs and hopefully get you clicks to your site. But that's why most influencers don't really lean into the affiliate side, because they don't want to be held responsible for the way that your site converts and what happens once they actually get there. So, you know, it always kind of depends. I love it for a product launch strategy, like we'll usually send out product to a bunch of influencers that either we've already worked with, or ones that we can tell will do well, we'll just do seating. We'll have them hold on to the product, make some content, etc, and then more ready to do, like an announcement. We have them all post like, that same month. And so it kind of gives like, this feeling of like, wow, this new thing is, like, everywhere. And so all of a sudden it kind of develops that snowball effect, and then that's how you kind of decide if you continue to work with influencers or not. Yeah,

     

    16:08

    we'll get there one day. We're not We're not quite there yet in our in our marketing roadmap, but yeah,

     

    16:14

    there's it. There's so many different channels and approaches that you can do. It's all about just testing it and then pivoting as soon as you realize that it's working or not working. But the influencer side can be it can be daunting sometimes, plus, dealing with influencers is a job in itself. But so let's go back to the inventor side, because it's not incredibly common that you have someone that invented something, took it all the way to manufacturing, went through the tooling, process, actually brought to market. Like, that whole beginning process is a chore. Can you tell me a little bit about that? Like, how, where'd you start off with, like, prototypes? How'd you figure out, like, manufacturing? Like, what was the beginning steps there?

     

    17:01

    Yeah, chores and understatement, it's more like, I mean, truthfully, well, I've never been through and now keep in mind, I've got a all star in my corner, my dad. He's a 50 year entrepreneur. He's patented and sold $100 million of products that He's invented. So we've had a pretty good guideline. What was unique, Andrew, about our engagement and coming up with an idea is that was right before covid, and covid killed us. Covid, you guys probably remember the supply chain crisis and we couldn't go overseas and yada yada yada. Well, when you have an idea, you start small and you tinker. Is this feasible? Can we get patents on it? Let's sketch it up. What's it going to cost? You know, anybody, lot of people have ideas. Very few people take action on them, and even fewer people make money on them. I think the statistics are 5% of inventors actually bring out a product to market and make money. And, you know, hopefully we're in that where that 5% looks really good right now. But, yeah, you know, you gotta, you know, my, my big thing is try to keep things simple. You know, the croc shoe, great example. New shoe sold, Bill, I don't know, billions a ton. It's a piece of rubber that's a little of a different form factor that everyone has, ugly as hell, but everyone has a croc. Well, that's relatively straightforward and simple. That's a design rubber. I'm not taking anything away from them. But you know, if you're starting with an idea, you're not going to be Elon and build a rocket, you know? And our product was very challenging, because we have mechanics, electronics and software, and so you got to really think what is within your wheelhouse that you can produce. You know, fortunately, I've been able to stomach and raise a couple million dollars, and I have a great team of board members and a lot of guidance and firepower, and I'm a pretty savvy business guy that I could pull it off. But you know, when you're coming up with something new, you got to be practical in what you can achieve as an inventor or entrepreneur. So you start with an idea, you start doing market research, is, can we get a cost down reasonable? Will people like this? Is there a problem that we're solving? Yes, laptops are stolen all over, you know, yes, there's, it's a huge, you know, billions of dollars of loss. And now we're in a remote world where people shouldn't leave their devices up, but they do because they want to run to the bathroom or get a coffee or take a call, and that's the problem that we solved. So you got to start with a problem, feasibility. Practicality, do your market research and then take a real a real world approach. And I would strongly suggest talking to another entrepreneur, inventor that's walked in their shoes. Hey, what is it going to look like to actually execute and pull this off? You know, I mean, I thought this would take half as much time and cost a four. Action them out. It is what it is. I will say for us, we were a bit unique, where covid set us back two years and it cost us a million dollars because we had the idea. We made one locally. I'm in Detroit area. We proved the concept. We did marketing research, we got the patent, or patent, patent patent pending. Filed the patent, which is low cost, and then we go, okay, now we built one. Let's copy it overseas. We tried in the US, but the cost for consumer electronic is not feasible here. So we went overseas. Boom, covid hit, and basically everything shut down. So we're kind of in a holding pattern. We ended up hiring a consulting agency to, you know, match make us with the right factory. Spent 50 grand with them. We shopped 44 factories around the world. We chose the wrong factory. We physically could not go there as a company because of covid, which my dad would go camp out for two, three weeks, and make sure, you know, can these guys pull us off? And that didn't happen, and we chose the wrong factory and or what a mistake that was. We finally fired them a year ago. We now have new product coming in with our new factory, and it's truly been hell building a new consumer electronic product through covid.

     

    21:20

    Yeah. Oh man, yeah, yeah. I mean, the timing of that was so interesting for so many different reasons, so many people, like, I love pointing at like, peloton of like, oh, they thought this was the best thing to ever happen to them, so they bought up a company that did the manufacturing form, and they had a ton of inventory, and now they are not doing very well. So like you get, like, all the people that did great during that time, then you get the the opposite of like your scenario, where, like you didn't do that great during that time, but it actually has put you in a better position now, because you've learned a lot of stuff faster than most people would. So it's a it was a very interesting just from an E commerce perspective, it was a very interesting time. One of the things you had mentioned just triggered a thought, Have you have you thought about developing, like, a sales department and going B to B? Because this is, I mean, for like, like, I mentioned my wife's company, at these big health tech companies like they, I would assume that they would just want to, like, put that onto every employee's laptop and send it out. Because while, like, to your point, while it's a fireable offense, I'm sure they'd prefer that it didn't happen at all, of course,

     

    22:27

    and employees don't want to fire good people, you know, that's the last thing they want to do. But if that's policy, and you know what's happened is there's just a huge compliance crackdown, laws, regulations are all getting stricter on corporate data security, private data health. Except, I mean, that was my background in cyber, and that was kind of like, we've got a problem here. That's, it's getting worse, not better, petty crime. And now we're in a hybrid working world. So covid sucked, but it kind of built like, Okay, we now have a real hybrid work from anywhere, lifestyle, and that's really how we built the brand is, was work from anywhere world. So, yeah, the B to B. I mean, it's it you go in phases as a startup, you know, q1 we launched at CES in Las Vegas, Consumer Electronics Show. That's how we got the best buys and targets. And, you know, sharper image, some of those deals came out of that, where you got corporate buyers going there at a retail resale level, which obviously we're doing, also on our own, in phase two, which we're now getting into, is B to B. So it's like a lot of those come out of shows. So we are now, I'm hiring a super guru sales consultant to stand up our B to B side of the house in the promo branded industry, where people can brand their lap locks or our other devices. We do these. We just did a show last week. We had phenomenal response where, in a companies like your wives or insurance companies, higher compliance industries that really give a damn about security are our sweet spot. It's not for ABC construction or Joe's plumbing. It's, it's companies like your wife's, you know, Blue Blue Cross, Blue Shield insurance, or, you know, General Motors, bigger companies that the more they're sensitive on their corporate data. So yeah, we are absolutely going into that market, and we're putting up some logos and getting a lot of traction. Awesome.

     

    24:31

    It's got to be a fun ride looking. It's very interesting, man, you've learned some early lessons that I wish I had learned that early on. You've got, it's, it's a very cool concept that's coming in. Obviously, you know, don't want to take up too much your time on your slam. So Ryan, appreciate you having on the show. I would love to give the opportunity let everyone know where they can find out more about you, and, of course, more about tech

     

    24:54

    lock. Sure, yeah. Techlok.com and it's spelled T, E, C, H. L, O, k.com, check us out. You can also find us on Amazon, our store, TechLok and you know, like our socials, buy something, check us out and give us a great review.

     

    25:12

    Beautiful Ryan, thank you so much for being on the show. Everyone who tuned in, of course, thank you as well. Please make sure you do the usual rate review, subscribe all that fun stuff on whichever podcast platform you prefer, or head over to theecommshow.com to check out all of our previous episodes as usual. Thank you all for being here. See you all next time.

     

    25:33

    Thank you for tuning in to The E-Comm Show head over to theecommshow.com to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform or on the BlueTuskr YouTube channel. The E-Comm Show is brought to you by BlueTuskr, a full service digital marketing company specifically for e-commerce sellers looking to accelerate their growth. Go to bluetuskr.com Now for more information. Make sure to tune in next week for another amazing episode of The E-Comm Show.

     

     

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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