We recently connected with Eric Siversen and have shared our conversation below.
Eric, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Alright, so you had your idea and then what happened? Can you walk us through the story of how you went from just an idea to executing on the idea
My most recent company is Viral Blockers and it was born from the pandemic. I was at home with my kids who were all of the sudden home schooled overnight. I had just moved my main e-commerce fulfillment business up to North Carolina. So I had no office to go to, and was looking for ideas to make money. I had a friend who showed me a plexiglass panel that people were using to block germs for covid, and asked if it’s something we could sell. I immediately started researching what the items were selling for in the market, and started looking into getting acrylic and manufacturing Sneeze guards. Luckily I had a friend locally that was able to make us some samples and give us some prototypes. With those I was able to do photography, build a website, start social media, create marketing materials, ads, packaging, and set up online accounts like Amazon, Walmart, and other online platforms. This all took place over a one month period. My kids who were home with me all day, were able to watch me go from idea to a fully operational business in 30 days. I was at my computer in my home office from morning until late at night every single night. I continued to look for other suppliers and get our prices down. I was able to locate another large manufacturer in South Carolina and get even better pricing. However while I was getting everything lined up, acrylic was getting harder and harder to come by and prices were almost doubled. We were able to get started but we’re constantly selling out which was a good and bad thing. So it created some supply issues for us, and forced us to go to China to bring in large amounts to ensure we remained stocked. This got us not only way cheaper pricing, but a steady source of product which was selling like crazy.
Eric, love having you share your insights with us. Before we ask you more questions, maybe you can take a moment to introduce yourself to our readers who might have missed our earlier conversations?
I’ve been in business for myself since I was 22. I’ve always been a hustler and hard worker. I always had a drive to be successful, and was always willing to put in the work do get it done. Most importantly I was willing to take chances. I’ve created many businesses and failed many times. However along the way there have been several great businesses that were very successful, and some that are still going and doing well. The formula I follow most is trying to solve modern day problems for people. I like to watch trends and my mind is constantly thinking of how I can monetize solutions for the masses. I don’t worry about knowing everything about a product or idea at first. I will research and learn everything I need to know to get started, and along the way I usually learn from people I end up working with who have more knowledge in those specific industries.
Now that I have been in e-commerce for about 12 years, I have learned how to sell products online successfully. Being able to create brands, and move products through my current distribution channels makes it much easier to try out selling items without having to invest too much up front. That risk/reward ratio is a huge benefit.
I Would say I was most proud of my kids watching me start my latest business from scratch. They were able to see the dedication and work ethic needed to be successful. We would talk each day about what was going on, and I would show them the success along the way. That’s knowledge they don’t teach in schools. Most people never have a chance to learn or see it happen. So I hope that resonates with them as they complete school, and decide what path they want to head down in life.
Can you share one of your favorite marketing or sales stories?
We targeted our marketing of the plexiglass sneeze guards to schools. We we fortunate to sell to a large amount of the top universities across the US. One of the universities were doing a large amount of custom panels for was Belmont University. We were going building by building and getting them ready to open back up from online classes. We later found out that they were doing the final presidential debate at their school. They were in need of some panels and some needed to be rushed as they were going to be used on stage. So we were very excited to be part of this and made sure to rush the order and deliver in time for the final debate between Trump and Biden. We got everything finished, and went home to watch our products be used on stage. The media was taking about it before the debate started, as sneeze guards were just used prior in the Vice President debate. So it was great for us to get all that attention to our products. Then the debate was getting ready to begin and they showed Trump walk out and I didn’t see any of the panels on stage. It turned out they decided against them at the last minute and we never got to see it be used. So while that was a disappointment, overall I was happy to even be a part of the process.
We’d really appreciate if you could talk to us about how you figured out the manufacturing process./
I have been manufacturing products for the last decade. I had no experience. There was lots of trial and error and finding the right factories and suppliers was crucial. I travelled to China back in 2013 and stayed there for a month. On that trip I met factories and built some relationships that have changed my life. A few of those people are like extended family to me as well as business partners to this day. Many times quality is an issue, so finding the right manufacturing partners is crucial. There are items that exist in the market you only have to make slight changes to, and then there are items you have to create from scratch which may take some back and forth to lock in the perfect design. Having the right factories, and the right partners are the key to success in manufacturing. I would travel to china every year for several weeks to keep those relationships strong and make sure they were always aligned with my vision for the items we created. Another big factor is pricing. Finding the sources to create items without a middle man, is extremely important. You need to be able to offer pricing nobody can beat, while delivering quality products.