First things first – how do you stay motivated?
As an entrepreneur I have a burning desire to see what’s over the next hill. I know something is there (something is always there) and I just have to see what it is. Every day I wake up and ask myself what I can do today to move my brand, ChordBuddy, to next level.
So of all the business ideas, why ChordBuddy?
My business was created because of one of the most powerful forces in the universe–love. My daughter desperately wanted to play guitar like her daddy. Like most new guitar students, she was having trouble learning to play. It pained her to quit but she was frustrated and was going to give up. My daughter came to me and said, “Daddy, can’t you do anything to help me play guitar?” I invented the ChordBuddy because I love my daughter and now, she plays and teaches guitar just like her daddy.
I love that you built a business because of a need you saw from your daughter! What are your three key takeaways from the Shark Tank experience?
- Be ready for, and open to, anything, both in and out of the tank, even if it means completely changing your primary direction.
- Surround yourself with smart people. You don’t want to always be the smartest guy in the room. We’ve not only learned from Robert, we have partnered with industry experts, a top digital marketing company, process consultants, and others. You can’t get there alone.
- Don’t expect Shark Tank to be more than a stepping stone. Shark Tank brings a burst of notoriety and web traffic (be ready for that) but you still have to have a great company when the dust settles.
I agree – Shark Tank only gets you do far! How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
Playing and teaching music is all I have ever wanted to do. When it’s right, you know it, you feel it deep inside. ChordBuddy is an extension of me, it is me, and it fits me like a glove.
Travis, that passion is one of the reasons I partnered with you! How do you define success?
To be able to wake up each day and know that I have the ability to impact someone’s life. When I see the line on the chart go in an upward trajectory, I know people are better for having come in contact with my product. I can’t think of a better metric for success than that.
Speaking of success, how do you measure it?
Measuring success is a subjective thing. I find it hard to get excited over inches. As an entrepreneur, I need to see jumps. Strides, bounding leaps forward to measure success. Not one step at a time but two, three, maybe four steps at once. When I see that type of progress, I see something worth measuring.
Did you find that there’s a price for success? If so, what is yours?
There is a price to everything in life. I’ve learned that the road to success is a toll road and I’m paying my fair share of tolls these days. You’ve got to be ready to pay your dues if you want to roll with the big guys. You will make mistakes, some costly, but you have to keep on rolling. There is no HOV lane on the road to success.
On your toll road, what sacrifices have you made to achieve your success?
The ultimate sacrifice for me is the time away for my family. Being away from home is the worst thing about what I do.
Let’s switch the gears and talk about failure. Can you give me a time where you’ve failed and what you learned from that experience?
In 2007, I lost my real estate business due to the mortgage down fall. Although my business closing was due to no bad decisions on my part, it taught me that nothing is bulletproof and I will never again not have a “plan B”.
Absolutely – always have a plan B. In terms of sales, have you struggled much? How did you overcome the sales hurdles to reach the next level?
Selling to sales people is tough. When I walk into a retail music store and speak to the sales people about ChordBuddy, they scoff… at first. In their heads they have a preconceived notion of what my product is and what it does. They see it as a valueless “cheat” and maybe even a threat to their way of doing things. What they don’t expect is me to be prepared for any objection they can throw at me. I rehearse in the mirror, I practice, I come up with reasons not to buy my product they haven’t even thought of. I am so prepared to swat away objections like flies when I walk into a store, they can’t help but buy from me. Retailers are better equipped to sell my product because a wonderful byproduct of my objection swatting, is that they are now better equipped to sell the product.
Excellent – preparation is what separates a good sales pitch from a successful one! Last question: what’s next for ChordBuddy?
That’s simple—getting ChordBuddy into every public and private school in the US. I want to single handedly change how the world learns to play guitar.