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Jimmy Gould: “Keep some kid in you; We tell our children to ‘just try’, and then as adults we forget that advice.”

Keep some kid in you. We tell our children to ‘just try’, and then as adults we forget that advice. Keep trying… pursue the relationship, build the idea from the drawing on the cocktail napkin, call the biggest player in the industry… just try. I had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmy Gould, creator of SoapStandle. Thank […]


Keep some kid in you. We tell our children to ‘just try’, and then as adults we forget that advice. Keep trying… pursue the relationship, build the idea from the drawing on the cocktail napkin, call the biggest player in the industry… just try.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jimmy Gould, creator of SoapStandle.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Curiosity. I wanted to see if I could make a bar of soap not slip out of your hand. So I got some modeling clay and baked a prototype (thought I had ruined our AGA stove) — attached it to the bar — and it worked! A bar didn’t slip out of your hand… but I also noticed there was no ‘goo’ on the bar — or the counter… and that the bar seemed to last longer. Then I was curious how many people use bar soap -> turns out 200 million in the US every day! But soap has been around for so long (4,000 years) and this is so simple that I figured it was “out there”. I started looking, and it wasn’t, so I filed for a patent — and got it. Now I’m curious to see if I can build a business and communicate this to about 3 billion people.

Can you share your story of Grit and Success? First can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey?

I used to sell bonds to institutional investors — a lot of smart, skeptical people — and you might think that’s hard. An older fellow salesman grew up on a farm in Kentucky — as a kid he used to plow fields with a mule, and he’d tell us “staring at the ass-end of a mule for 10 hours is hard work — we sit in air-conditioning and talk on the phone. This isn’t too hard.” 
 
 Figuring out SoapStandles isn’t too hard, either — it’s fun! And (a lot of / most) people love the SoapStandle once they try it, but getting them to understand at first what this small acrylic oval does can be challenging.

Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

When I do question my sanity (and doesn’t every entrepreneur with a new idea question their sanity?) I think about the numbers, 200 million people in the US use bar soap every day — and this small device of designed acrylic can make every use of it better — not gooey, last longer, doesn’t slip. We know it works… we just have to communicate it.

So how did Grit lead to your eventual success? How did Grit turn things around?

The “gritty” part is just believing — in the product, in yourself, and trusting that the consumer wants solutions to problems they didn’t know could be solved.

So, how are things going today? 🙂

(on most days) Great! Relationships are developing, sales increasing. (on about one in twenty) “Are you insane?” But I talk myself down from the ledge on those days.

I was pretty excited to get on the phone with an EVP of a huge soap manufacturer and explain how effective this was at improving the soap “experience” but I didn’t realize just how unexcited he would be to learn there’s a way to make a soap bar last 30% longer. I laugh about that now.

I didn’t learn the lesson — I’m still trying to get a big soap manufacturer to be the ‘white hat’ of the industry and embrace the SoapStandle, because it provides tremendous value to their customer.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

It works — and we’re testing things like bacteria and mineral content in soap goo and developing travel accessories. That’s not a story yet, but when NASA takes SoapStandle in space — THAT will be a story.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Keep some kid in you. We tell our children to ‘just try’, and then as adults we forget that advice. Keep trying… pursue the relationship, build the idea from the drawing on the cocktail napkin, call the biggest player in the industry… just try.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My wife… she founded a very successful dance non-profit 12 years ago that is now a leader in the creative youth development space — they have a national profile and are doing great things for students in Memphis. She’s encountered a lot of those grit / success hurdles you mention, and I’ve learned a lot about developing organizations by watching her. And she was nice about not letting me see her “eye-rolling” when this was so early and it seemed pretty crazy to talk about SoapStandles and billions of people.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We have a One-for-One program that for every SoapStandle sold one is donated to a global hand washing program. We have wonderful soaps available a lot of places, but if you’re in a country where soap is a scarce resource, then something that can extend the useful life of that resource by 30% is pretty significant. A SoapStandle does that, and we’re excited to not only work with agencies that provide soaps to those areas, but also to help small hands of little children hold on to the soap!

What are your “3 things I wish someone told me before I started my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1. You have to file sales tax reports each month (why not quarterly?) — I’ve always been part of a big firm before. Now that I’m wearing all the hats some things slip by… but the State is really good at reminding me.

2. Chatting with your attorney is an expensive conversation. Again, we had firm attorneys that would chat — and the tab wasn’t running. Now… it’s a different story.

3. Choosing trade show booth real estate is best done early. Or else you get the space that has a 3 foot diameter column that prevents placing a table across the opening to display the expensive logo tablecloth you just had made three days before.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I graduated from Vanderbilt University — that’s why I’m starting there.

My idea is pretty simple: for universities to embrace the idea of the entire university community participating in the effort of “community service” — broad enough offerings that pretty much any student can find something they like — but where the school says “this is part of who we are, and if you’re a student here this is part of who you are.” I’d like to see Vanderbilt do that, and be a springboard to a lot of excellent schools throughout the US joining them.

e.g. VU: 5,000 students x 2 hrs/week x only 26 weeks/year = 260,000 hours

Think of the impact more than a quarter of a million hours from highly intelligent, motivated students would have on an area like Nashville / middle Tennessee… how many —

  • habitat homes are built
  • kids are tutored / mentored / restored
  • eyeglasses fitted
  • homeless fed
  • abandoned buildings reclaimed
  • elderly read to
  • indigent mothers received prenatal care
  • etc., etc., etc.

And that’s only 26 weeks… think about after 3 years, 5 years, 10… the #s become staggering, but the impact becomes incalculable.

And not just the impact on the surrounding community — the impact on the VU community, and the students. They discover things about themselves, each other, Nashville, people unlike themselves… and it develops a momentum not only in the community, and the campus, but in the lives of the students themselves and of those they help.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

FB: SoapStandle

twitter: @soapstandle

Instagram: soapstandle

(pretty much all soapstandle, all the time)

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