What’s the number one reason businesses they fail? The market doesn’t buy the product. That’s the nice way of saying you failed to find out there was a NEED for the product. When you determine that the market will buy your product, you are validating it.
This is critical.
If you don’t follow what the research tells you, you are not properly validating. If you don’t ask all the questions you need, again, not doing a good job with validating.
DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP.
DO NOT SKIMP on this step.
Never, ever, take a shortcut on this step. Whatever you believe is correct, doesn’t matter. The market will teach you just how wrong you are. This becomes even more important when your first feedback is very very positive. Part of the reason I am writing these informational steps for new inventors is due to my failure to validate my product properly. I did my validation. It was wildly successful... but had a major hidden problem.
How could a product be rejected for purchase when every single person is telling you to "call them when its finished?" I've been inventing and making things for over 30 years. This invention proved every single thing I have learned about inventing products in a new and unusual (painful) way. Keep reading. When you find out why, tell me what your reaction was, ok?
If no one wants the product, has no need for it, they won’t open their wallet. What most people won't tell the inventor is just how important this step is. It sort of reminds me of Letterman asking “Will it float?” If your idea, your invention, your plan doesn’t float, it will sink, and so will you. How do you put on water wings? How do you float?
What happened with my pots had never happened before. This is my 5th company with a brand new product. I was way over confident. I knew the product worked and I knew real growers would go nuts over it. Everyone I showed it to said the same thing “This is amazing, when you make a million, will you still grow?"
Are you kidding me? If I make a million, I am going to grow the most exotic cannabis in the planet!! Anyway.. back to the story..
Parker pots is my best example of what happens when you don’t believe your research, or worse, you skimp on it. My research told me that this pot was going to be a smash hit. Of all the products I have, this one had more people saying "Omg! I want to order those!!" I didn’t even need to get to real growers because hobby gardeners were asking when it would be in Lowes or Home Depot.
So I picked the pots as my starting invention for cannabis. Good Choice!!
The funny thing about research is this. If you do it right, it tells you the future. The problem is, you MUST believe and follow what the research is telling you. You will fail if you lie to yourself in the validation period.
You WILL FAIL if you fail to conduct ALL testing in the validation period, even if every single person says.. "When this is done.. call me!"
I didn't follow what I knew to be true, because at that point, my validation was coming from people who were hobby farmers. Not only were major farmers saying they wanted my pots, but my next door neighbor did too for her house plants!
Research doesn’t lie. If you don’t follow what your research tells you, you might have a far bigger problem. With Parker Pots, I did my normal research. I made a prototype and went to a big cannabis event and asked every single person.. “What do you think of this pot?” Then I went to see a dozen growers and asked the same thing.
As agribusiness is a $400 trillion a year industry and cannabis is an $8 billion dollar a year business, so I thought I would go play with the big boys. I tested my pot in agribusiness. I asked broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, cilantro and pepper farmers.. “Will this work?” Every crop said YES.
My research came back with a terrible problem. I couldn’t have a thick pot, because it wouldn’t work in agribusiness, and if I had too thin of a pot, it wouldn’t be reusable for.. well.. forever.
Every single person in agribusiness told me “Your pot is too thick. We don’t need it to be reusable, we need it super thin, super cheap, but we MUST have the pot the exact same way. The bottom lift is what makes transplanting so fast, we need that in the field.
Cannabis growers said “This pot is perfect! Don’t change it! This won’t work. I can’t have two answers for the same product that is totally opposite. I really believe in research, so I asked broccoli, cauliflower, grapes, cilantro and pepper farmers.. “Will this work?”
In my first round of questions, I only asked 10 farmers. In the second, I went all the way to UC Davis to ask agribusiness professors, then to Del Monte to ask crop inspectors. I asked over 200 farmers in the span of 4 weeks. No matter who I asked in agribusiness, the answer was always the same. "Please call us when its made."
Research told me that agribusiness wanted a disposable pot. Cannabis and education wanted a reusable pot. I could not believe my data. This was the first invention I had ever gotten such reversed information. I had never had two groups of people wanting the same item built totally different.
The answer was staring me in the face; make two thicknesses of pots. My brain is telling me “That’s nuts! No investor will listen to me if I ask for molds of the exact same shape and size, with just different wall thicknesses.” It dawns on me that the value of my home in Louisville KY is the same value as the cost to build one of the molds. Who needs two homes when you can plant cannabis? I sold Louisville.
I chose the middle size pot to make first. It looked good and was a respectable 6 inches tall.
What am I doing wrong?
Can you figure it out?
Be the inventor.
What did I do wrong?
All the research is saying its going to fly off the shelves.
WHAT did I NOT do?
Did I do any research to determine if I should do a smaller pot? Nope.
I didn’t think size mattered.
Not only did it matter, it mattered the most after the pot was made. Because I didn’t ask about size, no one told me that it was going to be a big jump to start a plant in such a big pot, because all their lives, they had been trained to clone in a little tiny cube.
I had a 6” pot made, thinking that will be the ticket. I didn’t research it, I just did it, thinking that was all that was needed because everyone said how much they loved the pot and wanted to buy them.
Here is a case of real frustration. Everyone tells you they LOVE your product. They want to purchase your product. And when they don’t purchase it, you have to ask where your research failed you.
Do you see the problem? Did you figure out what I didn't test?TEST EVERYTHING. You must think way outside your comfort zone and look at your item as if you had never seen it before. I failed to ask people “What size pot do you start your plants?” My invention was bigger than me. At the time, I was testing it for the things I knew would be important, such as how it works and how strong it was.
So what was the reason I couldn’t make sales? It still kills me. They want the pots, but the problem is way bigger. And after I had already made the smaller pot did I find out the worst and best… reason why no one is buying.
They said.. We can't buy your pots, because we need a smaller starting pot. Here is our number, please call us when they are mfg. We start ours in a much smaller pot. I immediately spent the rest of my funds on mfg a 4" pot.
“ I was happy.. I was tickled.. and I was soon crushed.
When I went back to these big growers, they were so happy. They asked “Ok. So we want to order 25,000 four inch pots, 15,000 6 inch pots and 50,000 gallon pots.
I don’t have gallon pots. The cost for that mold is over a million dollars. I explain that the pots are in progress and should be made soon. I don’t tell them that I am planning to pay for that mold with the profits off the current pots.
Bad Plan. No research.
Every single one said.. “We need all sizes. If you don’t have that next size pot done in time for us to transplant, we could potentially lose an entire harvest. We want your product, but until you have all sizes, we can’t order.”
I feel like that kid who is locked out of the candy store. It’s gonna be good in there, but I can’t figure out how to get the golden key to open the door and get inside.
I validated my business the hard way. I knew it would work, but didn’t do enough research for all angles and information. I know this is a needed product. Not only do the pots work, they work far better than I thought they would. Am I still going to self-fund?
I am writing this series because I have never had an invention or product follow this path of being widely accepted, and then instantly rejected because I don't have enough versions of the same thing.
Put yourself in my shoes, young inventor. What would you do? Please comment.
When you don’t do enough research, no matter what you personally think, you will hurt yourself and your company. It gets more painful when you run out of funds and you have people waiting for you to mfg.
If you liked this story, please comment. If you have an idea or a solution to this wonderful terrible problem, please comment. If you have been in my shoes as an inventor, let me know.
I’m Parker MacRae and I am a cannabis product inventor and a cannabis grower. I am currently living in Las Vegas Nevada looking to work with a team of inventors and growers.