926
9 min 8 sec

“Home Haircut” Invention Becomes Viral Moneymaker

When this 13-year-old created a hair-grooming tool, he had no idea the success it’d have sixteen years later—but not before it nearly crashed and burned due to too much demand.
High Profit Low Startup Potential Manufacturing Product

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What It's About

A childhood invention yields fast-growing profits!

Business Model
Manufacturing
Skills Required
Product Development & Marketing
Complexity
Low
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

The Cut Buddy wasn’t based on a well-known product, so Joshua knew he had to demonstrate it—and the best way to do that was on YouTube. He made a few videos, showing people how to cut their hair in different ways using his product.

If you're working with a product that isn't common, find ways to make it easier for your customers to understand. Since a lot of people are visual, using something like YouTube videos to demonstrate your product is a great idea!

Fun Fact

Joshua struggled at first to raise money to get his product professionally designed. Then, one day, his girlfriend remembered what her father did for a living: design products for NASA. Needless to say, Joshua's product wasn't exactly rocket science.

Notes from Chris

Episode 926
As a kid, Joshua Esnard was a problem solver. Growing up in the small city of Ithaca, New York, he had to find ways to get things done when there weren’t tons of options—like getting a haircut. He couldn’t drive, his parents were at work all day at Cornell University, and the only barber was miles away. So he began cutting his own hair.

It didn’t go well at first. Lines weren’t straight. He gave himself a few bald spots. But he knew he could figure out a solution—it was just a matter of eliminating the same errors he was making over and over again.

So he grabbed some cardboard and plastic from his dad’s supplies and cut out a few curve guides that he could hold up while trimming to get a clean, straight cut. He even gave this handmade solution to a common problem a name: The Cut Buddy.

Fast forward a decade to 2014. Joshua was moving a treadmill into his garage. He had to take off the door hinges to get it in, and when he did, he just left the door sitting to the side. He was tired and figured he would do it later. But his girlfriend didn’t see it that way.

“You never finish what you start,” she complained. It was the verbal kick in the pants Joshua needed. She was right. He didn’t want to be that kind of person, especially once he had kids. So, he decided to follow through on one of his entrepreneurial ideas, and he knew just the one. The next day he took his old Cut Buddy idea to a patent attorney.

He also began making prototypes out of basic supplies from Office Depot and Home Depot and taking them to startup pitch competitions. But time and time again, he lost. Nobody believed the product really solved a huge need—and Joshua’s lack of experience running a business, of course, made it a hard sell.

Joshua invested nearly $10,000 on the full CAD design, getting a website built and a hundred boxes of Cut Buddy’s ready to sell at $14.99 a pop. It was time to launch.

After getting invited to sell on Amazon and venturing into retail, Joshua eventually licensed his product to the Andis Clipper Company, who now bundles the Cut Buddy with other grooming products and sells them in every Walmart in the country. He’s making good money from the deal, but now they get to worry about sales, inventory, and fighting counterfeits.

Joshua’s thrilled about the cash he’s made, and he’s itching to do it again. He’s working on new inventions, getting into real estate, and may even start a truffle farm with his friends. He’s also now a dad and doesn’t have to pay for his kids’ haircuts.

 
  MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • The Cut Buddy: Clip on over to Joshua's website to learn more about this fast-growing side hustle!
  • Shopify: Joshua used Shopify to set up his site for The Cut Buddy, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
  • SunTrust & PayPal: The two payment platforms Joshua used to accept orders

SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"When I started considering at what point I'd transition to The Cut Buddy full-time, I decided to set a goal. If my packages backed up taller than my height against the wall in one day of orders (they were ½" tall each), I’d quit my job and go full-time.​"
—Joshua Esnard #SideHustleSchool

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau