The Breakdown EP 26: Scaling a Product Company with Guest Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher

The Breakdown EP 26: Scaling a Product Company with Guest Eli Crane of Bottle Breacher


– Alright, I think we are live. We are 21 minutes late. – Fashionably late.
– So I apologize, fashionably late.
– Fashionably. – We’re here, this is Scott Hardesty, frequent guest of The Breakdown here. We’ll get into that in a minute. It’s Monday, February 19th. I wanna just preface that Snapchat might actually be dead now. Their servers crashed
last night, so, yeah, you know every couple
of weeks, we just like to remind people that
Snapchat’s slowly dying. And today we’re doing an awesome show. We have Eli Crane here
today, no relation to me. He’s the better Crane. Eli is a Navy SEAL, or
is a former Navy SEAL, and he’s the founder of Bottle Breacher, along with his wife. Incredible product, incredible
line, incredible stories. So stay tuned today for The Breakdown. (upbeat music) Alright, so, Scott Hardesty is here. Eli, we have Eli Skyped in, so I just wanna introduce the two of them. Scott, Eli. Eli, Scott. Why don’t you tell him about what you do. – I’m a 26-year Army
veteran, former Army Ranger, and I developed a nutritional
line called Ranger Nutrition just ’cause there’s a
bunch of stuff out there that’s junk, doesn’t taste
good, so I made all my stuff made in the USA, made in
military grade, you know, basically stuff that I
wish I could’ve taken while I was active duty. And it’s goin’ well.
– Right. That’s awesome, man. – [Scott] Thank you. – Congrats. – Yeah, so Scott, he’s been a part, he’s been around for like a
year and an half probably. – Here? – Yeah, at the Bunker.
– Yeah, I just showed up. – Exactly, so he’s like the
resident guy that just shows up. No, Scott’s great. Thank you for being here today, Scott. What’s new in your life, by the way? What’s going on with
– We’re fostering a dog. Oh, you’re talking about
with Ranger Nutrition. – Yeah yeah. (laughter) – There’s some speaking
engagements I have coming up, and we’re doing some film
footage for somethin’ that could potentially be big for us. So 2018’s gonna be a good year. Or it’s not. I mean, one of the two. – [Will] That’s a good way to look at it. – What’s been going on with you? You wearin’ rouge make-up now or? – Yeah, I got a little
half-face sunburn goin’. – Yeah, it works for you. – That’s it.
– That was bad. – And so, to Eli. (laughter) So, Eli, thank you so
much for joining us today. I just wanted to take a little bit of time for your background. I don’t wanna tell your story, so. What’s, what is your story?
– Bottle Breacher – What is Bottle Breacher? Why did you make it. – Yeah, so Bottle Breacher
is made in the USA, veteran-owned company. We started in a one-car
garage in San Diego while I was still active-duty. I was A BBSS instructor for
trade at one in San Diego, basically teaching guys
how to take down ships. And at night, I would
work on this project. Some people call it a side hustle. And basically, I would
just handle production. And my wife and my partner in crime, she would handle
marketing, and so you know, the financial side of everything. And so we teamed up, we’re basically just trying to figure out
how we’re gonna provide for our two daughters when
we got outta the military, ’cause I knew I was gettin’ out. I didn’t’ have the
intestinal fortitude to do 26 like your boy Scott did
there, so hat’s off to you, Scott, for doin’ that for 26 years, man. That’s impressive, dude. But anyway, knew that I wanted to get out, wanted to open a new chapter of my life, and so you know Bottle Breacher
quickly gained traction. Originally, I started it
to make $500 additional supplemental income every month, and quickly, within six months,
we were doin’ about $7500 a month just because the
product was just badass, and my buddies loved it,
and everybody else loved it. And then it kept growing
and growing and growing, and we went on that show The Shark Tank, at the same time I was
getting out of the military. I got out in October, our
episode aired November 7th. It was the Veteran’s Day
Special for Shark Tank, and we went from doin’ about a
projected one million dollars in our second year,
outta the one-car garage. The very next year, we did
five million dollars in gross sales, so it was phenomenal,
a phenomenal blessing for us. We got to hire about 35 Americans. We got to pump millions of
dollars back into the economy. And in a way, the service just changed. I got to serve the country in a new way. And that was by hiring Americans and supporting the national economy, and also being an advocate
for better causes, And that’s one of the reasons
we came up with this new shirt Long Live the Veteran Brotherhood just because regardless of
whether you served in the Rangers like old Scotty did or whether you served in the Marine Corps like my buddy over here Mike did, it doesn’t matter. I mean, we all come
from the same community. We all are on the same team, and we just wanna do whatever
we can to help other vets who are trying to make the
transition like we did. – Quick question, you
mentioned Shark Tank, and I find that very interesting. What was one of the things that you wish someone would’ve told you
like before you went on the Shark Tank ’cause you went
on a long time ago, right? When Shark Tank was kinda new? – Yeah, so we went on it. It wasn’t super new. It was season six, so I mean
they’d been around for a while, but there’s definitely some
things I wish I’d known prior to going on the show. I wish I would’ve known you
know how busy the sharks actually are, how many companies
they have, how much time they were able to allocate
to each of their companies. It’s that whole saying that you don’t know what you don’t know, and going
back, I wouldn’t change it. For sure, I would still go
back and make the same deal that I did, but you know the sharks are extremely busy individuals. They’ve got families, just like we do. They’ve got, and like the rest of us, they’ve only got 24 hours in
the day, so that’s somethin’ that I wish I would’ve
known you know beforehand. – That’s incredible. – [Scott] I’m just gonna keep
using his Bottle Breacher to keep openin’ up these
beers for no reason at all. I don’t think anyone’s gonna drink ’em, but it’s just fun to play with. – Hey, no beer is safe, guys! – No beer is safe, not with one of these! – I wanna talk about the
early days of Bottle Breacher, so you were, your goal
was $500 supplemental, and then that went
quick, six months later, to $7500 bucks a month
supplemental income, just passive. – Yeah, and then somethin’
real cool that I wanted to give you the short version,
but a month and a half later, we were doin’ $22,000 a month
out of that one-car garage. And the reason was is
because I sold a liability: my 2004 Big Dog Canine
Chopper, and I bought our first laser engraver, and what that
gave us the ability to do is it gave us the ability
to personalize these and get into the wedding markets. So, you know, six years ago,
while I was in the teams, if you’d have told me I was ever gonna be in the wedding market,
I would have told you you were absolutely nuts,
but that’s what it allowed us to do, and it really opened my eyes. There’s a lot of entrepreneurs
that go from the hobby phase to the no BS, this is what
I’m gonna do full-time phase, and that’s when the light
bulb came on that hey, this is gonna be a lot more
than supplemental income. We can provide for our family and grow somethin’ special outta this. – That’s like a dream situation. How do you go, so like,
alright, I’m confused. – [Scott] Well it sounds
like it grew fast. – Yeah, how did you, one,
you came up with an idea: a bottle opener out of a 50-cal round. How do you go and start making them? How many a day were you doing? And then at what point like, you know, (bottle opens) (laughter) We’re drinkin’ here today, we’re drinkin’. Pop one over. – I’m just opening these up. We’re gonna use these thing. We have ’em. – [Eli] Scott’s like, what
do I do with my hands? – I know right, yeah, you’ve
gotta give me somethin’ to do. I don’t know why they keep
letting me on the show, like really I have no idea. – So, alright, how do you,
you just made a prototype and started selling them. Who were you selling them to? Like what were the early days like? – Right, so in the silk teams, I’m sure Scott has some similar stories to this in the Rangers,
but we have a saying. It’s called crawl, walk,
run, and it’s so important, I mean, when you see like TV commercials of Navy
SEALs taking down a ship, you know, they’re fast-roping
out of a helicopter at night and goin’ and
hittin’ live targets with role-players and breach
scenes and all sorts of stuff. That stuff just doesn’t
happen day one, week one. When you start the training
block, you crawl, then you walk, then you run. The first scenario’s you run, you know, your crawl scenarios
are during the daylight. They’re not with full kit. You really slow things down so the guys can get a feel for what they’re doing. I’ve taken the same approach to business, so when I started this
Bottle Breacher thing, I was making each one by
hand with the Dremel tool. You know, I was makin’ the
cut with the Dremel tool, spray paintin’ ’em,
putting stickers on ’em. And I would only buy ten at a time. I wanted to make sure I
could sell those first ten before I went to the
walk or the run phase. Some people in the business world call that growing organically, but that’s how we’ve always done it here. We crawl, we walk, we run, and you know, we don’t really buy stuff
unless we can pay for it. – So then you did your,
with Ranger Nutrition, I’ve done it debt-free. – If you’re comin’ from active-duty. – [Will] Oh, he’s cuttin’ out there. – That’s a good way to do it. – [Will] Alright, we lost
you for ten seconds there, but the gist, I assume, was
so you’re minimizing risk. You’re still working, doing
this as a side hustle, which is like something that we at Bunker, we kind of preach is,
don’t go quit your job. Start doing something right, and hopefully if you do
it right for long enough, it’ll lead to you being
able to leave your job. (bottle opens) What are you going to do with these? – I’m gonna, I’m gonna share them. I don’t drink beer. I’m just opening them. – And so you went from that, you said you sold your motorcycle
to buy an engraver. What was like the, what were
you doing pre-Shark Tank because you know we’ve had
some previous guests come on, and then the next day they get
like 200,000 orders placed, and it was like I wasn’t
quite ready for this. How do you go from like two-car garage or one-car garage to
scaling to 35 employees? What was that like? How did you improve your process? What was that like? – What I did was actually
really difficult for us. Actually one of the Shark Tank updates that we did was based on this. We got hit with a mountain of sales. We did a million in sales the
first week after Shark Tank. We had about 60,000 the
morning we woke up after that. We had about 20,000 emails that we had to, you know, answer from our customers, and anybody that does their own stuff, their own manufacturing,
their own customer service, knows you don’t make that jump overnight. It was brutal, but you know this is why, in the military, we talk
about keeping that 30,000 foot view perspective at all times. Sometimes when you’re in a
total shit storm like that, it’s so easy to get
sucked into the problems. And in the military, we’d
say get front-sight focused, like just get so focused on production that you completely drop customer service, or get so focused on customer service that you completely drop accounting and whether or not you’re even profitable. And so the only way
that we were able to get out of that situation was
to basically in many ways forget everything we knew
and attack the problem from so many differently angles
and really continuously plan like well what if we mixed this up? No longer did we have
the luxury of saying, oh this is how we’ve always done this because how we’ve always done
it wasn’t workin’ anymore. So we had to really you
know really be creative, think outside the box,
and we had to come up with new technologies. We had to come up with new fixturing. We had to come up with new SOPs, or Standard Operating Procedures,
to figure out how the hell are we going to increase
production by 10x a day? And that’s what we did, and unfortunately, I wish I could tell you I
figured it out right off the bat, but it actually took me
about two and a half months of trying this, testing that,
trying that, changing this up, until we finally figured out the formula. So anyone’s who’s gone
through something like that will tell you that it’s
actually a blessing in disguise a lot of the times when
you get put way outside your comfort zone and get
put way out in the deep end, especially as a team unit
because you have no choice but to come through it together as a unit and when you do something like that, it just makes you a hell of a lot stronger and just so much more prepared for anything that will come at you. And so I consider it a blessing even though it was painful at the time. I’m just thankful that we
overcame it as a company. (laughter) – Yeah go for it. – I’m just opening these. – So it sounds like you’ve,
I mean, some of my questions that I have written down here,
you know, how do you apply your military experience to
starting your own business, and it sounds like that’s,
I mean you’re answering these questions before
I can even ask them. – [Scott] Actually I have one. ‘Cause you were talkin’ about
the crawl, walk, run method, and I totally, I mean that’s my thing. I totally understand that. But did you have like,
when we’re doin’ somethin’, we kind of already have
like an SOP set up. So did you have like a mentor that kinda showed you some of the ropes? Like hey, this is what we need to do? Or were you writin’
these SOPs up on the fly on what was actually workin’ for you or were you getting
mentorship from somebody else? – We were getting some
mentorship, you know, and the mentorship that
we got was pretty good, but it was just general broad strokes because our mentors had never
owned a manufacturing company. They’d never made stuff
in the USA, so you know, a lot of the stuff that
they were givin’ us was more broad stroke advice,
things to look out for, lessons learned, but a lot
of the stuff, we were really, no kidding, having to
come up with on the fly. And there weren’t a lot
of companies at the time doin’ what we were doing,
and so it really did take us being creative and thinking
outside of the box. And you know, when you’re
in a leadership position like that, the last thing
you wanna do is be prideful and be like, you know what? It’s gotta be my idea. No, man. You’ve gotta listen. You’ve gotta sit everybody
down and be like, guys, this is what we’re
dealing with, who’s got ideas? And if your idea’s better than mine, and I hope your idea’s better than mine, so that we can do this
in the most efficient, cost-effective way, and we can be the best that we can be, and
that’s what we had to do. – How do I become like you? (sheepish laughter) How do I like, I don’t know,
motivate myself, I guess? I mean it’s like reading online something. – [Scott] With these! You need more of these. – [Eli] I’d like a couple of those cold ones that Scott keeps opening. (laughter) – Oh, here we go. – Then there it goes. Do you even drink? – [Scott] No, I don’t, actually. – That’s what I thought. – [Scott] I do, but it’s frou-frou drinks. This is beer. I don’t do beer. That’s too manly. – [Eli] Scott’s gotta
keep that figure, man. – That’s true. – [Eli] I mean, come on,
look at that figure, dude. (laughter) – Oh you know, I’m only renting these with the option to purchase. – Alright, if you were to
give, what one piece of advice, I guess, for some early stage
veteran startup, what would, like what would be some good
advice that you could give somebody who’s right now going
through a program of ours and they’re right on the
cusp of starting a business? – Right, I think there’s
a couple great ones. And like every other great entrepreneur, and I’m not even a great entrepreneur. I’m probably a pretty average one, but I’ve cherry-picked from a lot of much, much better entrepreneurs. I’ve taken their advice, and I’ve tried to adopt it as my own. I would say one of the first things is follow the green not the dream, okay? Mark Cuban said that in
his book before he was ever an investor in Bottle
Breacher, and it’s so true. A lot of times, the first
business I ever started never paid the bills, and
had I kept chasing that and tried to follow the dream, I would never be here
today making the green. And in my own way now,
living my own dream. And so I think it’s important that we understand what it
takes to prove your concept, and that means, what
does it take for people to open their wallets, part
with that hard-earned green paper, that plastic, and
buy your actual product. So many entrepreneurs fail
to do this early and often, and that’s why you see a lot
of entrepreneurs goin’ under all day, every day, because
the number one thing that takes entrepreneurs out
is 95% of us run out of cash. We run out of cash. So it’s important that you
follow the green, not the dream. And this is where
resilience comes into play, which in my opinion is the
most important characteristic or trait of an entrepreneur
is you have to be resilient. You’re probably not gonna
be right your first time. You might not be right your second time, but what you’re really trying to do is you’re trying to build
your own lessons learned, and you’re trying to build
your own Rolodex of connections and people that understand marketing, people that understand accounting, people that understand manufacturing, and as you’re running your ideas to ground and fleshing them out, you can
be building up that Rolodex. So if you say, hey,
this just isn’t working. I’ve given this 24 months. It’s not working. I’m gonna roll all of this
knowledge, all of these lessons learned, and this Rolodex,
into the next idea. That’s the type of mentality
that you’re going to need to be successful as an entrepreneur. So we got, follow the
green, not the dream. And like I talked about resiliency. The other one is, you only
have to be right one time. That’s right. You only have to be right one time. Just keep that in mind because
you’re gonna realize why the attrition rate is so high
when you start a business. You’re gonna realize why it’s even higher than Navy SEAL training. It’s even higher than Ranger training. It’s 95% for a reason, because
it’s extremely difficult. And if you have that resiliency, you know, if you realize, if you look
at failure from a different lens, as in these are just
lessons that I’m learning and not, I’m a failure,
I don’t belong here. That’s gonna go a long way in helping you to become successful. – That’s incredible advice. – [Scott] Yeah. – Really good advice. That was amazing. – [Scott] So do I see a Freedom Frag in the background there? I’ve seen them. These things have been poppin’ up. Yeah. (laughter) I think I saw an ad were you said that some shipping places
don’t wanna ship ’em. – That’s true. We actually. – [Will] Put ’em in your carry on. (laughter) Travel with ’em. – [Eli] Even dealing
with some of the major shipping companies in the
US that are not too happy about that product, and you
know, we can understand why, but still at the end of the
day, it’s a bottle opener. It’s inert. It’s safe. It’s not gonna hurt anybody, but I get it. I’m gettin’ in touch
with my sensitive side. – These things are addictive. – You’re insane, man. So every week, we go around
and talk about hacks. So like things that
we, tools and resources that we use that are
like free and effective, cheap, that make starting
a business easier that make productivity
easier or more efficient. Is there anything that you
use on a day-to-day basis like a book you’re reading,
a podcast you like, a web tool, Google Chrome
extension, anything at all that you use that like other entrepreneurs can like go out and check out? – You know what? This one is gonna be like off the wall, and I doubt you’ve ever
heard it on your show before, but I actually read the
Bible every day, man. I find that there’s a lot of
solid wisdom in the Bible. Like if you read the book of Proverbs, the whole book is about proverbs. Not only does the Bible talk about wisdom, but it talks about how
to treat other people. And I feel like so much of business anyway is how you deal with other people, how you treat other people,
and you know rollin’ into one of my biggest hacks is learning to understand people and
learning what motivates people and how do I take somebody,
bring ’em onto my team, and take my weaknesses, and you know take their strengths, and
completely trump my weaknesses because they’re now part
of what I’m trying to do. Those are a couple of
things that I’m all about, and like I said, I doubt you’ve ever heard that one before, but hey if I’m gonna be real and authentic with you,
that’s definitely somethin’ that’s important to me and
somethin’ I do every day. – Awesome. Thank you for sharing that. – I couldn’t even open up a bottle while he was talkin’ about that. I mean, it just didn’t. I was just like, I’m gonna hold off. – Such a complete waste of beers, man. I mean, we’re just throwing them away. – A struggling non-profit. These were donated. – Scott what’s your hack? – My hack. Now you probably think while watching this that I am the hack, but I
would say that you know what? I actually like a small app on
my phone called Photoshop CC. Whenever you’re doing
marketing stuff like that, it makes it really easy
to put overlays on it. You can make the picture
look better because trust me, unless we edit a photo
of me, it’s not pretty. So we have to edit and use
filters, stuff like that. – [Eli] What’s it called? Scott? What’s it called? I wanna write it down. – [Scott] Oh, nice pen. It’s Photoshop CC. I know, he’s got the pen, too. – [MAIN] You got anything
to market over here? – [Scott] He has all kinds of stuff! – [Eli] What’s it called? – Ah, Photoshop CC. I have to take a look
at my phone, actually, and make sure that’s right. I might’ve just told you wrong, but we’ll put it in the. Well, I’d have to go leave to see. I don’t know where my phone is. (laughter) But we’ll put it in the links, like under the video, to make sure. – Cool. – But I find it very useful,
especially when I’m traveling. – [Will] And don’t forget to pick up your Ranger Nutrition Whey Protein when you’re using your Photoshop CC. – Now one thing you might
like is Ranger Candy. – [Will] What is this turning into? – [Scott] You know I
named it Ranger Candy. It’s a recovery drink,
and somebody opened it up, and they go, I thought this was
gonna be filled with Motrin. (laughter) ‘Cause that’s what we
called it back in the day. I don’t know. Air Force is a little different. Yeah, the Air Force would be different. – Alright, cool, my hack is, this is the last week I’m
pushin’ this out there, is Amazon web service
free servers for veterans in The Bunker Labs at work. If you want $5000 in free servers, which is two years of credits, message me on the Bunker Labs app. So download the app. My name’s Will Crane, if
you don’t know it or not. We’re not related, by the way. Look at Camera One, thanks, Kai. Download Bunker Labs App, message me, and I can hook you up with some
free servers for two years. – And that LinkedIn,
that whole professional. That’s next week! – Nope, nevermind then. – So, next week, we are gonna
have Dan Savage on here, who I actually went to
West Point with Kirby. – You never tell me anything. – So next week, Dan Savage, from LinkedIn, will be joining us to talk
about some of the benefits that LinkedIn provides veterans. So on that note, Eli, thank you so much for joining us today. Where could we find out more about Long Live the Veteran Brotherhood? – Alright, so that T-shirt is gonna launch on the 10th, I believe, of next month. We’re gettin’ together
some key influencers. Maybe we can even hit up old Scott here, see if he’d do a video for us,
basically talkin’ just about, you know what the
Brotherhood means to them and what they’re doing to support it. That’s really what we want to
do, just support one another, and quit isolating ourselves,
quit goin’ off into a corner of the Earth and doin’ our own
thing, and really look back and seeing how we can continue
to support one another. So, that’s gonna be on
www.bottlebreacher.com probably here in a week and a half or so. And you know, we hope
that the veteran community gets behind it, the product, but more importantly than
the product, the message. – Do you have that shirt in smedium? Small-medium? ‘Cause that’s the only size I wear. – We do. (laughter) – [Will] Awesome, Eli. Thank you so much for joining us. – [Eli] Alright, thanks
guys, appreciate it! – Smells like freedom. – Have a good one! – [Eli] Later. – Bye. (Skype disconnects) – Cool. – I think we’re good. – Are we totally done?

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