We often ask ourselves where great ideas come from. The answers are many and varied but for Dan Russell of a business called Butt Be Dry, the answer was simple. Russell and his father were attending an LPGA Championship golf tournament in Rochester a few years ago. It had rained heavily the night before and although it had dried out and the ground appeared dry, when Dan sat down to watch the action, he found the seat of his pants soaked and covered with mud. He and his dad had a good laugh, but right then a great idea was formed that just needed some nurturing.
Butt Be Dry was the resulting concept, a portable accessory for sports enthusiasts who often sit in wet and/or dirty places and want to protect their bottoms. Worn around the waist in a rolled-up configuration the insulated, waterproof device unrolls to provide a dry comfortable surface to sit on.
Dan Russell is originally from the Rochester area, graduating from Webster Thomas High School, then graduating from Le Moyne College, where he was awarded a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by an MBA. After graduation, Russell was fortunate to participate in the Tech Garden’s Summer Sandbox program and the entrepreneurial bug bit him. He began a business called WriteFlick, an ingenious annotation application software that could be utilized on any web page and then sent to a colleague. Unfortunately, it was ahead of its time in market demand.
So, on to the next thing. With Butt Be Dry, Dan began his journey by developing a prototype of the Butt Be Dry product and identifying suppliers who could produce the product in quantity to meet anticipated demand, once marketing plans were developed and financing secured.
He soon made a visit to Onondaga Small Business Development Center (SBDC), where new business owners are encouraged to develop a business plan and sales projections to have a track to run on going forward as well as a basis of a presentation to funding sources to obtain working capital. The advisor recommended that Russell move ahead in that manner and advised that he would work with him to develop a bankable plan.
Russell said: “I needed help to develop my plan and a go-to-market strategy as well as my financial projections for the product’s future development and marketing approach. SBDC was the perfect place to find that assistance and support. It has continued since; in fact, I now have regular update meetings with SBDC Advisor Paul Brooks, continuing to strategize and develop plans for Butt Be Dry and follow-on products. My MBA prepared me for success in business, but this practical advice and these discussions have been invaluable.”
Dan discovered that people were soon buying Butt Be Dry for all kinds of uses. Those uses, which are now the basis of the sales approach, include: sporting events, outdoor concerts, hunting/hiking/camping, skiing/snowboarding, beach-day/boating, and even changing babies on-the-go.
Initial sales to online customers and some that were customized for schools gave Russell a head start. After securing substantial working-capital financing last summer he took his enlarged inventory of products, now in various colors, to the Dick’s Sporting Goods Open golf tournament at En-Joie Golf Club in Endicott, followed shortly thereafter with a booth at the New York State Fair Center of Progress Building. Market acceptance became readily apparent at these events, resulting in the sale of more than 1,000 Butt Be Dry bottom protectors.
The Butt Be Dry product is available directly on the website (ButtBeDry.com). Additionally, Russell focuses his marketing strategy on wholesale sales to major outlets including major ecommerce sites such as Amazon and Walmart where initial agreements have already been concluded. Additionally, Russell is actively pursuing licensing agreements for college and professional sports teams with logoed versions for sale at bookstores, stadiums, and other sporting venues.
Butt Be Dry is planned as the initial product offering of Russell’s business and if these initial successes are any indication, he is well on his way to a very prosperous business venture.
Advisor’s Business Tip: Ideas are a dime a dozen, but those that are retained and not immediately discarded but passionately pursued can often offer an entrepreneur a pathway to success through a thoroughly planned strategy and execution.
Paul Brooks is a certified business advisor with the Onondaga SBDC. Contact him at email@example.com