This week on The EnTRUEpreneurship Podcast, Wes speaks with Lonnie Schwimmer, Founder at Nootie pet products and “Big Dog” at KOHA Super Premium Pet Food. For years, Schwimmer’s brands have been lauded by pet enthusiasts for their superior products. Just this past year, KOHA was named one of the top fifty most healthy canned dog foods on the market. And its sister brand Nootie — which is best known for its pet shampoo — has been the recipient of Editor’s Choice awards by online animal enthusiasts and has found its way onto the 2018 Inc. 5000 list, having generated over $7M in revenue in 2017.
Lonnie is a firm believer in the quality of the products that he delivers, yet his “secret sauce” lies not in a shampoo bottle or a dog food can but in the relationships he's built over time. Lonnie would be the first to tell you that — yes — the old adage that “it’s all about who you know” is true. And that, frankly, younger generations are generally bad at leveraging those relationships. On the podcast, Lonnie stressed the importance of networking through recapping his own journey and, among other things, proves that success can be found by mastering the art of the relationship.
The EnTRUEpreneurship Takeaway:
“I think the problem today with texting and emailing that people don’t understand is that they should really be picking up the phone. Meeting people for a cup of coffee. Many younger people that I know of — they don’t pick up the phone. And it’s really bad."
“You don’t want to measure yourself against what someone else is doing. You can’t say, ‘I’m inadequate,’ or even, ‘I’m doing great.’ How do you live your life? And are you happy? That’s what’s really important."
“Part of being an entrepreneur is leveraging your relationships."
“I never thought I should throw in the towel, but there were times I thought it wasn’t working like it should. Quitting was never an option to me… If you believe in something, there’s a reason it makes sense."
“I made a critical mistake when I first started my business — I overthought everything."
“[When it comes to modifying an ailing product], it’s almost like you have to know how to take a loss. And some people don’t."
“I’m never again going to sell anything that I don’t understand."
Bullet Points (w/ timestamps) - Highlighting key topics discussed:
2:32: Lonnie describes how the career paths of his extended family teed him up for a lifetime of entrepreneurship.
5:11: Lonnie reflects on his career path leading up to owning his own business and the job that first showed him that he has a future as a salesman.
10:05: Lonnie discusses the importance of not comparing yourself against others.
14:46: As someone who has relied heavily on his network to build his business, Schwimmer shares some lessons that he has learned about when and how to leverage relationships.
17:15: Schwimmer describes how he ventured into the pet products space and how and why he gave up a successful business to venture into a completely foreign industry.
19:43: Lonnie reflects on the first days of his business and mentions one critical mistake that he made initially and, thankfully, course corrected.
23:32: Lonnie discusses whether or not he ever believed his company could fail and describes a key part of entrepreneurial survival.
27:10: Schwimmer highlights the three events whereby he knew that his company was destined to scale.
31:53: Lonnie describes what he may have done differently when first starting his business, which mainly revolves around pricing structure.
Bullet List of Resources –
KOHA Super Premium Pet Food
Nootie Pet Shampoo