[WARNING: If you have any of these following symptoms, then please read ahead. I hope what I say might help you]
Fear of failure, selling myself short, impostor syndrome, fear of outside judgement, if it won’t be perfect, I don’t want to post it/make it/talk about it. The list goes on. Do any of those sound familiar to you? Well, I’ve been battling this mentality my whole life.
I see lots of success within my network and I am genuinely super happy for them as some of these people are my good friends. I want them all to succeed. But then I end up comparing myself and thinking that what I’ve done isn’t as good (or noteworthy).
But you know what? I’m really proud of what I have accomplished working on my business these last 2 years.
Some of you may or may not know, I’ve failed a lot. I tried starting up a vertical farm a few years ago after getting obsessed with hydroponic growing. The project never came to fruition but I still wanted to start something in the space that I could bootstrap myself.
I started exploring the world of growing mediums and quickly saw that rockwool was the industry standard and dominated hydroponic farming. However, I wanted to create something better and different - and thus VegBed was born.
The original idea behind VegBed was to bring a new growing medium to the market that US hydroponic farms haven’t used yet. I had tried an array of different mediums but was not completely satisfied with any of them.
The first VegBed product that launched was a foam grow cube for NFT hydroponic systems. The performance of the cube was great. It didn’t turn mushy or breakdown like other growing mediums. It had mild success with farms and also universities that used it for testing in their horticulture departments.
This eventually led to the development of a foam mat for microgreen production. I spent many months getting samples made from multiple factories. Trying to find a balance between thickness and density so that water absorption would be high enough for microgreen production was difficult.
Over time however, customers started to increasingly ask me if I could offer something more sustainable. There is a key point I want to make here that I think could help others:
- Listen to your customers’ feedback and/or problems that they have. It’s OK to PIVOT your product or idea and that’s exactly what I did.
The current iteration of VegBed’s core product came from the determination to come up with a new growing medium that was sustainable, biodegradable, clean and performed well. It was definitely not an easy task, but after much trial and error I had something I was happy to take to market.
During the trials I had sourced microgreen seeds from True Leaf Market. I remember visiting their website and thinking WOW, they are the Walmart of gardening, seeds and hydroponics. I vowed one day to have my product listed on their site.
My initial attempt actually failed. I reached out to the company with a cold email soon after I had launched the bamboo fiber mats. I touted how a great sustainable alternative they were to what was on the market, sent samples and got great feedback. I thought for sure I had a chance!
But alas, I was one of thousands of other SKUs vying for valuable stock space. After weeks of back and forth discussion and waiting for a decision, nothing ever panned out.
Fast forward almost 2 years later and through a serendipitous acquaintance, I was able to connect with one of the co-owners of the company. They really liked the product. The demand for at home growing seemed to sky rocket during COVID and over the next 3 months, we discussed the possibility of them carrying it.
To see this all come full circle has been nothing short of amazing and gratifying. Like they say, this is just the beginning.
I’m hoping my story will help others to not be afraid of celebrating their accomplishments. It took me awhile to have the courage just to write about this, but I also wanted to offer these 4 tips for those that may be struggling with a similar mindset:
- Don’t give up (obvious, but seriously though, just put yourself out there in front of potential customers).
- Don’t sell yourself short - You have the ability to step back and judge what you’ve done and what you are capable of. Give yourself more credit!
- Do things that don’t scale - All the stuff you hate to do and want to automate, don’t worry about that in the beginning. I used to want to think big and figure out what step #100 looked like before I even made a sale yet. Don’t “play business”. Just see if people are willing to pay for your product/service first.
- Celebrate other people’s accomplishments - Get rid of the negativity/jealousy/hatred. Successful entrepreneurs don’t have time to hate on others, they’re too busy trying to build their thing.
I’m hoping my story can add value to anyone that has made it down this far. Until next time, keep on pushing and thanks for reading!