You may have read a few articles that talk about things people wish they would’ve known before starting something.
Our take is a little different.
While starting OME Gear has been - hands-down - one of the most exciting, and potentially rewarding, things we’ve done in our lifetime, it’s also been one of the things that has almost broken each of us at different moments.
Probably like you, both of us have had some pretty low moments in life outside of our company.
You know, those gut-wrenching seasons that you’re not sure you’ll recover from.
But, there have also been a handful of times connected directly to OME Gear that have definitely rivaled those personal all-time-low moments.
Here are some of the things we’re glad we didn’t know before starting OME.
1. How long this would take.
When we hired our first design firm, the timeline they gave us was one year from design to production. Longer than we wanted to wait, but ok.
At the end of that year, we found out they didn’t design it for manufacturability (even though this was one of our main asks of them).
So we needed to find a manufacturer who could redesign it for large scale production.
Another year-long timeline from them.
At the end of that year, we found out they couldn’t figure out how to get The Wanderr over the finish line.
Oh, and COVID hit, so they went radio silent on us (we’re assuming maybe they switched to manufacturing PPE).
Another pivot to find a new manufacturer who could and would actually finish this. 6 more months.
Finally, our design is done, our tooling has been built, our product is in full production, and we’ll begin shipping within the next week or so. (yay!)
A much longer road than we anticipated that has caused significant stress.
2. How much this would cost.
As you might imagine, all those pivots weren’t cheap. The first design work cost us just shy of $300k.
The second round costs us all the time, redesign and tooling - which we didn’t use. Another $200k.
But, you don’t know what you don’t know.
We’re definitely learning to be more discerning.
3. How disappointing people can be.
We had an investor promise a $3M investment.
Only to find out 8 months in that they didn’t have the money.
Hundreds of texts and phone calls saying “money is coming.” No money.
We’ve had more people than we can count - interestingly, all men - who have said “yes, we’re definitely interested in investing.”
Then months of communication where it felt like we were headed in a great direction. Answering all their questions, getting them everything they asked for.
Only to have them go completely silent on us.
What we have learned is that a quick “no” is far better than a “yes” or a “maybe” with no follow through.4. How disappointing we would be.
One of things we said we would never do is run a Kickstarter campaign and not deliver on time.
Unfortunately, not delivering on time is the norm for many who run Kickstarter campaigns, but “we’re gonna be different”, we said.
“We’re going to show others how it should be done.”
Two years later, our incredible backers still don’t have their product.
Talk about eating a major piece of humble pie.
We value our word. What we say, we do.
With OME, we’ve not been able to fulfill promises or commitments on time, and this has caused us significant stress.5. How far too many people just don’t respond.
When people don’t respond to an email, a voice mail, or a text, it’s a little like being in a face to face conversation with them and you ask them a question, and you get… nothing. No response.
Now, I understand if it’s spammers emailing you and you don’t respond.
But, someone who you have a relationship with?
That doesn’t make sense.
And, of course there will always be the exception of missing a message, but in our opinion, that should be exactly that… an exception. Not the rule.6. How many pitches we’d have to make.
Less than 3% of all investment capital goes to women.
2.7% of that 3% goes to women in tech.
This means that we, as outdoor gear female founders, have had to spend more of our time raising funds than the average male founder might.
Since we started this back in 2017, we’ve made over 400 pitches.
And for each pitch, we tell the story like it’s our first time ever telling it with all the genuine passion we can muster.
That’s like a musician singing their most popular song every time like it’s their first.
But like the musician, each time, it takes a lot out of us.
7. How challenging it is to create a complex product.
The Wanderr has 147 parts and pieces.
Each one of those represent multiple decisions.
The hinges were an incredible feat to figure out because so much is required of them.
The product is 5 quality products in 1, so we're asking it to do a lot.
And still be of the highest quality.
We often say how we wish we would've invented the tissue, or Post-It notes.
Something a little less complex.
8. Just how many sleepless nights and how much stress there would be.
Starting a business is absolutely not for the faint of heart.
Over the last 2.5 years, we've been through things like panic attacks and hospitalization via ambulance due to stress.
These are things we never thought we'd have to experience.
So many nights we’d find ourselves wide awake at 2:30am with thoughts that felt like they just might crush us.
If you’re an entrepreneur or business owner, you probably understand this all too well.
This list represents some of the main challenges of our last 2.5 years.
It’s not been an easy road, that is for certain.
We’re convinced now that sometimes it’s better not to know what’s ahead.
Because, often, if we saw the big picture, maybe we just couldn’t handle it all at once.
Thankfully, for us, we’re still at it.
We believe in OME Gear more than ever.
We just got this email yesterday from a customer that, in the moment we read it, made the stress and sleepless nights all worth it…
"Your obvious perseverance and tenacity is paying off. Your efforts to fulfill my order has been equaled by your efforts to keep me informed. For that I’m most grateful. Thank you for sticking with it...for both of us!"
May we all find an inner strength that we didn’t know we had in the moments we need it most so that we can tell a great story and be proud of how far we’ve come!
Jules + Stace