Chris Meade (00:01): There's no better way to learn than just by doing it. And you're going to take some bumps. Like we didn't put the right label on a box and they got hit with a $5,000 fine. I'll never get, find that again. Cause I'll never do that again. You don't learn and study it.
Intro (00:14): Choose not to live in a world of filters, realize your mistakes, set the foundation for your success. Get some wins knucklehead podcast.
Stephen Colon (00:28): Well, welcome to another edition of Knucklehead podcast, you got with you today, the Knucklehead Steven. So in the SAS world, especially if you talk with VCs and you understand how those things function, they're always looking for this mystic figure called a unicorn and it never exists. It's always elusive. It's constantly just, you hear tales and stories, but you never really see one. You don't get an opportunity to talk with somebody who operates outside of the SAS space and they may not necessarily view themselves in that way, but you don't get a chance to talk with somebody who's invented a game, created lines of distribution, licensed their product for all the things that Chris has been able to do. And I'm going to butcher all the backstory. So he's probably going to correct me about everything that I just got done saying, but I've got the owner of a really cool what I call game Chris made with me.
Stephen Colon (01:14): So Chris, the developer of Crossnet, right? That's the name of the game and by jacking that up. Okay. Alright, fantastic. So Crossnet, I'm going to butcher the story, but that's where you're here to correct me. So it's a four person volleyball game. Is that right? Or is that incorrect? That's correct. Volleyball net. So, all right. So I didn't know how it worked. It was like Kleenex and tissue. Like, I didn't know if I was violating some type of like trademark policy by using volleyball as the term in describing your game. Now it's a new game, right? Absolutely. Yeah. We created the world's first four way volleyball net back in 2017. So it's four players, it's four square and volleyball put together a brand new sport game. Two 11 win by two. The whole goal is to serve the ball across the net. And then from there, it's an absolute free for all.
Chris Meade (01:59): So if you stay alive, when you started the ball and you get 1.3 points accumulate. So I appreciate you jumping right into the rules, but before we tell people what the differences, let's talk about this for a second. So for those of you who are listening to knucklehead, everybody has this affinity towards Barstool sports and Dave Partnoy. He had a, almost like a shark tank type series on his show that was sponsored by cash app. And if you look at the amount of people that went on to that particular show, I think people are quick to dismiss the validity of what it is that you did building a system of play, you know, putting a product in there, creating marketing collateral, having it be highly engaged in the market opportunity that exists there. So when it comes to you evaluating that particular business model that you create it by accident, or was this a preplanned intentional process? Now, man, we literally just invented it. And it's just the reaction kind of spoke for itself. We knew it was going to be big, but we didn't think it was going to be this big this quick. And I think Cobas definitely accelerated things with people's mindset changing from
Chris Meade (03:00): It's nice to be outside. I need to be outside to get my own sanity. So yeah, we definitely got a little bit of a blessing.
Stephen Colon (03:06): So when you talk to people who ask you these types of questions, investors, is there a series of questions that you almost don't even like answering where you're just like, all right, listen, I've been asked that question 15 times by 27 people. They want to know what my unit economics are. They want to know what attrition and they want to know all the suppliers like is there some things where you just, you roll your eyes, just almost start rolling. As the questions start to come out of the people who are asking you
Chris Meade (03:28): To be honest. No, I appreciate the most of the time it gets pretty thoughtful questions, but I do really appreciate the fact that people respect us for being self-funded. We never took a dollar VC money. We never gave a dollar to anybody. It's certainly been times where we had our back to the walls and we're like, how are we going to ever afford this inventory? How are we going to fund this purchase order on every single time, we just find a way to be scrappy and get it together. And things get more and more difficult as we're talking 500 units compared to 30,000 units that we're now creating. But, uh, he always find a way to make it work. Maybe there'll be a time where we need VC funding or investors or banks or whatever, but for now we've just been doing it ourselves.
Stephen Colon (04:06): Good for you. Good for you. Well, this is, this is knucklehead podcast, Chris, this is not you preplanned 15 steps and all 15 of them went off without a hitch because that just does not happen. So this is what you're screwed up along the way. And this isn't your first four years in entrepreneurship though, right? That mean give us some background in terms of how you've developed this skillset for identifying an opportunity and executing.
Chris Meade (04:27): So this is our first big, big one, right? Like it was never at scale. Uh, I ran a photography company actually, before I went to school for film school, just try to make ends meet, right? And then like doing photography and videography and had my own little production company. It went well, but it wasn't anything to the scale of this, but it kind of helps me. I had my own eBay store where I was like drop shipping products and listing products from Walmart and selling it on eBay for marked up values and fulfilling customer orders and having virtual assistants answer like questions overnight. So just learning to be scrappy and kind of get the most bang for your buck with a dollar. But when we had this invention that night, it was like, this is what we need to quit our jobs for and really invest our time into. So
Stephen Colon (05:05): I've heard you say we, a couple of times it gives some context into, cause I mean, what you just described before is I think what Tim Ferriss talks about in his four hour work week about leverage, right? Leveraging geo arbitrage and identifying opportunities where you can exploit gaps in the value chain to create margin for your business. So the, the idea of what you're talking about for this, you had some training working with a team of VAs and other folks as you still had to go buy the product and do fulfillment. I'm curious, what's been the difference between what you're doing now with a physical product versus what you had done before.
Chris Meade (05:39): Yeah. I mean, for us, it's having the whole ability of having to import product rights to the country. There's always that drop ship model put in my credit card, I buy something from Walmart. I sent it to the customer. Now I have to send money to China, manufacture the product, make sure the product is actually good cause it's not making it right. It's not Walmart. It's magically perfect. Uh, science, uh, makes sure the product's actually up to standards. Customers love it. Then I'm shipping it. Then I have to worry about the customer service side. So when I talk about we and the virtual assistants, we have over 20 VA's right now, whether they're in the Philippines, China spread out, we have one bulk area, but they're simply working on the customer service side. Most of the time, she wants to be responsive to all the customers that we've acquired over the last six months.
Stephen Colon (06:24): Would you say that COVID as expedited, that particular need or would you say that it's negatively impacted your training?
Chris Meade (06:31): It's a, COVID has a hundred percent, a Washington 500% increased our sales, which has led to a more than a 500% increase in customer questions. People want to know when their product's coming. They want to know, Hey, I ordered it 11 minutes ago. I haven't got a tracking number yet. Like yeah, you ordered it 11 minutes ago, but people don't understand that. So you need to have customer service. And now we have it around the clock, 24 seven. So we have this chat box up at all times. We have a bunch of VA's logged into answer specific questions. Yeah. It's been great. So it's definitely been a need and something we've been able to address during COVID.
Stephen Colon (07:04): So throwing in some personal here, Chris, with the context of increasing your business, 500%, a global pandemic, why not move? Why not just, you know, just go ahead and personally decide to up and go from one end of the country to the other, to throw in another stressful thing for you to have to navigate here. So what has been, you think one of the biggest pile on the face moments for you personally, having to deal with all of that change, which quite frankly, as humans, we were just not pre-wired to deal with a chaotic situation very well, unless we ever were exposed to it quite a bit. And we, you know, we optimize how to deal with those things personally. What has been one of the biggest challenges that you've had to overcome really with all this change being constant over the last few months? Yeah.
Chris Meade (07:45): I mean the biggest thing, right. Has been, we had enough inventory in stock for about two or three months. Nobody plans for it. Global bandanas there's no perfect solution, but we had enough inventory that we thought we were going to be okay for a few months. But what ended up happening is we sold that inventory within two weeks at COVID. So what it led to happen was we were back ordered for over four months as of last week is the first week we've been back in stock and had inventory to ship for the next 72 hours. So what we've had to do is we've had to manage cost for expectation to come onto the site. Thanks for your order. Your order will not be shipped until August 12th. So having to manage the customer service side of that was really, really difficult.
Stephen Colon (08:25): Have you ever asked yourself why you haven't started a podcast? Well, I already know the reason. So to you, you don't feel like you're tech savvy. You don't feel like you got your message wired site. And quite frankly, it's just, it's all this mystification going on. Quite frankly, our process helps to demystify that we're pushed button for podcast. We're not going ahead. Why knucklehead? Well, we lead with the fact that you don't know what you're doing. We do. We've been there. We've actually been in your shoes. We take your spoken voice. We literally give a human voice to your website. You want to dead leads to life.
Speaker 4 (08:56): Well then you need to talk to knucklehead. Essentially what we're going to do is we're going to take you through our process and we're going to help take your human voice and increase the process for you going from dead leads to life. How do I, how do I do that? Well, you essentially just take your human voice, put it in a directory and let people consume more of you. Give your audience the ability to Netflix on you. They want to binge watch you. They want to binge listen, give them the ability to take your voice along on that commute with them. So you can get in touch with us, Steven at knucklehead podcasts, or if you've got a really cool story stories at knucklehead podcasts, you can find us on LinkedIn and on Facebook and not go out promotions LLC, and get in touch with us. Don't be a beta about the process. Don't let the fact that you don't know, prevent you from getting some wins. So don't be a beta, get some wins and contact us today. I see it,
Chris Meade (09:45): That entire interaction. There's probably about three or four friction points that you probably examine. What is it that you measure? What's been the most predominant thing that's most important that surprised you that you're like, I couldn't have imagined we'd be dealing with this problem. Yeah. So it was twofold. One, you measure your conversion rate, right? So as we're moving the back order, the back order moves based on how many units we've sold. We know we have a container coming with 2,500 units. We sell through that. We moved the back order dates. The next one it's happened about nine times. So as the date pushes more and more back with the seasonality of summer coming to a close you measure conversion rate. That's the biggest thing. When I moved this date from July 31st to August 2nd, how much does that drop? And how much does that correlate to my net profit?
Chris Meade (10:31): Then I now have money to put back to my business. That's been a stressful thing, but it's also men very humbling to know that people are still willing to buy the game, knowing that they're not going to get it for 75 days. So I'm super pumped now that we're back in stock finally, and people can order it and get it by the weekend. But it took a lot of patients over the last four or five months together. That's very cool. That's very cool. Well, I think in, in that time, it also forces you to be creative, right? When I say creative, Chris, I'm talking about creative for marketing collateral. And for those of you who are listening, who enjoy some entertainment, we'll put in the show notes. One of Chris's favorite micro content pieces about the large men. And I'll just leave it at that.
Chris Meade (11:08): The large folks that actually were playing across that, how'd you coordinate that? That was fantastic. By the way, we have a marketing team that it's literally all there. The whole job is just to create content as much as possible to reach out to as many influencers as possible. Like the seven to 10 fairs work week. My whole goal is to try to step away as much as possible from the business. If the people that we're paying show us a return. So if we could pay our marketing teams say 5,000 bucks and they bring us back 10,000, that's a no brainer. I'm gonna take it off my plate. So that's kind of how we operate. And now we're seeing a lot of content come in organically as well, which is amazing. So very fortunate that we could use those pieces wisely to make more money. That's the idea behind content at scale, right? So as long as it drives back to a product where you control some aspects of the supply chain that helps your business. So whenever you're going out and finding opportunities out there in the
Stephen Colon (11:54): Marketplace groups for expertise, how are you finding time to go find mentors to work with you or getting you into, you know, box retailers or that type of thing? How are you doing that right now?
Chris Meade (12:05): Um, so fortunately for us, one thing I'm working on right now is a huge retail store can announce which one yet, but, uh, come may of next year, we'll be in about 800 doors. One of the world's biggest retail stores really excited about, I have like my high priority items. And then I have for the rest of the team, we kind of always are evaluating what's our weakest point. And what way can we address this immediately to fix the bleeding? So like right now, graphic design, we have graphic designers, but we don't have that one amazing person that could like really kill it. So that's what we're hiring for right now to have somebody on a retainer to create as much content as possible. Cause before this, I was scrambling, I need a piece of content for our Instagram story, like something so little, but it's driving a huge headache right now. So being able to find somebody to create content like that is huge, that in an account is what we're looking for right now.
Stephen Colon (12:55): Well, it's interesting the way that you, whenever you go out and talk to different businesses, there's obviously niche. I mean, how many people are actually playing for way crossing that right now? How many people would just would you estimate are actually playing the game? Yeah.
Chris Meade (13:08): I mean, there's over a hundred thousand nets out in the world right now, uh, which is a crazy feeling. And the nice thing is when they go play and it's a snowball effect, they are going and they're playing. And I know when I bring this to the beach, right, I can go do it right now. I don't have 40 people staring at it, jumping in line, asking me questions. If I know I have a hundred thousand people and let's just say, 1% of them are playing. They're still creating that effect for us, which is great. So my biggest thing as a founder of the company is how do I get those people to go out and play more? Because if they go out and play more and have a better time, the sport grows, but also sales grow organically because they're going out and being our champion
Stephen Colon (13:44): Was about ready to ask that. So, you know, in terms of distribution, are you working with a, how are you distributing it right now? It's just direct to consumers through influencer agencies.
Chris Meade (13:54): No. So we have a warehouse in California, but where has it Connecticut, which we're about to shut down. We move the whole business out to California. Uh, so we have new warehouse in California. That's like state of arc and hit fit so many units. And then we have one out in Toronto as well for our Canadian customers direct to consumer. So from cross net game.com, it's about 65% of our business where retail is about 35%. And we're nationwide with Dick's sporting goods, Academy, sports shields, and about 1500 other stores.
Stephen Colon (14:23): Congratulations, that's exciting. We've had other, we just want to call them war games there. It's more of a rollers. That's the name of the company? I wish I couldn't think of the name of the company, but Matt, Matt Butler is actually from Florida, spent some time going through the unit economics of wholesale versus retail distribution, and essentially mapping out what the expectation is versus what the reality is and how big of a challenge that can be sometimes when it comes to keeping everything together. How is it that you're managing your day? And have you felt like you've stepped on it from a time management standpoint?
Chris Meade (14:54): Yeah, it's super tough because you have these vendors who are giving you guaranteed revenue, but they are also are guaranteeing that they're not going to pay you for 60 or 90 days. And then you have your direct to consumer model where you're getting pretty much guaranteed revenue, but it's variable based on the ad spend that you put in that day. And it's also variable on the net profit that you're making off of that. Cause sometimes your cost per acquisition could be 20. Sometimes it could be 70. So what, when are you gonna roll the dice with the predictable revenue that probably less than the DTC, but you don't get paid for 60 or 90 days. So it's finding the fine balance, which is really tough. There's never a perfect answer to it, but if she could stop both customers, that's the dream situation.
Stephen Colon (15:35): As the units continue to grow as sales continue to have that uptick. I mean, what do you see? The biggest challenge is going to be for you and the business over the next six to 12 months, given that we're coming out of it, that there's some seasonality to it. And we're going into the winter months here at the U S
Chris Meade (15:49): Absolutely. So our biggest challenges right now, although there is seasonality to it, people do really buy this game a lot in November and December. It's $150 price point. So a lot of people have it on their Christmas list because it's not a impulse buy for them. So our biggest challenge right now is we have places like Dick's sporting goods and Academy sports. They're wanting to order 10, 20,000 units at a time. I have to front the cash for China to make that and then get it shipped here, get it out to the store and then not get paid for 90 days while I still need money to create inventory for my direct to consumer people who want it the next day. So it's that big juggling act while planning for stuff for spring 21 already, not for retail stores. So it's a huge headache and a huge juggling act. And I think as the team expands and we get more people with finance gaps, hopefully it makes it a little bit easier.
Stephen Colon (16:42): Well, I mean, you're speaking the language of somebody who's been through this process, not just once before, but it had some adequate training in the background in terms of beat your head up against the wall, dealing with the unit economics and the time it's the challenges you run into. And you probably see this a lot is people in order to gain that experience, it's almost as if they're not willing to go work for somebody else. Would you say that you set your own training program or did you have a model that you followed whenever you were doing the drop shipping and VH?
Chris Meade (17:11): I kind of just paved my own way, I guess like there's no better way to learn than just by doing it. And you're going to take some bumps like the other day, for example, I won't say the vendor call them out, but we didn't put the right label on a box. It's very obvious what our product is, but we didn't put the right little micro label this small and they got hit with a $5,000 fine. I'll never get, find that again. Cause I'll never do that again, but it's just like, I didn't, I printed the other 37 labels they wanted, but I didn't put this one. So I got a fine, but you never know, like you don't learn until you go through it. So yeah, you just got, and especially when you're going to hire, right, like you're going to hire for a job the majority of time. You need to know what goes into that job before you just for somebody, otherwise they're not gonna be successful. So trying to learn as much as possible for delegating.
Stephen Colon (17:54): Yeah. Couldn't agree more in terms of what your last 12 months has been. Like, we spent a lot of time on this particular pod talking about the unit economics talked about, you know, some of the statistics behind your growth, Chris, but we haven't talked a lot about what you've enjoyed, what has been the most fun and where do you see yourself wanting to double down and replicate? What's worked over the last 12.
Chris Meade (18:15): Yeah. I mean, fun is just the idea that we have, if not the biggest, one of the biggest outdoor game products in the world, that's really humbling and increasingly know that we're actually able to make our dreams come true there. So that's cool. Um, on other fronts is we're starting to partner more with professional volleyball players. So we have a, a guy named Ryan malar who is, uh, an Olympic gold medalist, one, the one, the USA, the gold medal in the Beijing Olympics in 2004. And he runs the cross state volleyball podcast actually. So, uh, he has guests on actually today. Kerri Walsh Jennings was the number one bike, most famous volleyball player of all time. Uh, it was on our podcast. So being able to create more relationships with people, we can only dream of talking to three years ago. Uh that's really cool.
Stephen Colon (19:02): Wow. That is incredible. So you actually have someone as well known within that particular vertical who's hosting the podcast for you essentially rallying the troops with their friends, getting them to come on board. When you take those pieces of micro content that you're producing. I'm curious, how can people find that? Like, what's the name of the show?
Chris Meade (19:20): Yeah, it's called the cross net volleyball podcast with Ryan malar. So Apple, YouTube, Spotify, you name it. So their updates every, uh, every Monday morning at five. Yeah.
Stephen Colon (19:30): So for those of you who are listening to the knucklehead, this is Chris meet that we're on knucklehead podcast with, he just told you that you need to go over. And if you're not subscribed to his podcast, by the end of this podcast, you're wrong. Stop driving for a second, pull over and go subscribe to the cross net volleyball podcast with Ryan malar. So very cool. That's exciting. So whenever it comes to that particular channel, when you were evaluating Ryan, like, did he reach out to you and say, Hey, listen, I really enjoy what you're doing or cause you're, you're disrupting what he does professionally to a certain extent by having a, you know, a Ford volleyball net. So what was it about him that, you know, attracted to him to what you're doing?
Chris Meade (20:04): He actually has a podcast of his own. We actually got him to stop doing, but I was a guest on his show and we had kind of a great rapport and the biggest thing for us res we're not taking away from volleyball or adding to the sport. And like right now we're in over 7,500 classes like gym classes, tea, people are learning how to play volleyball on a cross net. Uh, so he really sees it as we're getting back to the volleyball community. We're helping people who may not normally want to play volleyball, get introduced to the sport. And we're kind of leveraging his expertise and conduct his fame and connections to grow the sport. So that's good,
Stephen Colon (20:39): Chris, I don't know if I'm wrong in saying this and we'll wrap kinda here after this. And I would love to kind of give you the last word, tell people exactly what to do, where go, how to follow you. What's the best way they can consume those things. But for some reason, three on three basketball continues to come up in my mind. When I think about folks who like playing basketball, who aren't necessarily going to go that professional route now three on three basketball back whenever you and I were growing up, that that was a thing that kids were able to play before. Whenever they weren't in basketball season. Now there's actually a professional organization that has three on three basketball that's out there. So, I mean, do you see professional athletics being a thing they cross net we'll do eventually? Absolutely. Yeah. We just released our doubles net actually.
Stephen Colon (21:21): So it makes it a team sport rather than a solo sport. So I think, uh, pushing the game as a team sport, rather than solo, we'll help teams travel across the country compete and just make it that much more popular. So look out for that when we can start going outside and really touching that very cool. We'll tell people how can they support you and where can they find you? And what's the best way to get in touch with Chris. Of course, yet crossing that game.com is the best place to get it. And if you want to reach out, I'm happy to help any entrepreneur that just kind of trying to start is firstname.lastname@example.org or Chris meet on LinkedIn. Very cool. I appreciate that. Chris, anything else that you want to leave these folks with? Cause I know you got some boxes behind you that are staring at you, telling you to hurry up.
Stephen Colon (22:06): If you have a good idea, go for it. You never know what's going to happen. You definitely might hit a wall and say, damn, I can't do this anymore, but just keep going. Like you never know what's going to happen. I always say we're selling the same product we've been selling since 2017. It just took three full years for people to kind of wake up and pay attention to it. So just keep going. Very cool. Well, we call that process, get some wins, Chris. And so we appreciate you reminding folks, but that you can't be a beta about the process. You're going to get a bloody nose or two or three, and you're going to stop your toes. And it may take three years for people to catch on. However, the reality is is as you gain those lessons along the way you end up with one of the fastest growing consumer sports, that's fun. People just go outside and hit a volleyball remedy. That's awesome. So appreciate you guys. Those of you like listen, knucklehead, we've got new episodes coming at you every Tuesday with that. Chris, anything else you wouldn't leave these folks with? Thank you so much. Appreciate you having me on. We will talk to you soon. Have a great rest of the week. Go out and get some wins this week. We'll see.
Speaker 5 (23:01): Yeah.
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Since the outbreak of COVID 19, travel restrictions and stay-at-home measures of the government immobilized people’s activities, shutdown bricks and mortar businesses, and disrupted the events industry. While the majority of other sectors declined significantly or even collapsed, eCommerce skyrocketed its sales within the first weeks.
In this episode of the Knucklehead Podcast, Chris will talk about his entrepreneurial journey, the statistics behind his growth, and the impact of COVID 19 on his business.
From trying to meet ends doing his photography and videography in his little production company, Chris is now growing their business from 2.5 million in revenue in 2019 and projected revenue of $10+million in 2020.
Chris Meade is the co-Founder of the Chief Marketing Officer at CROSSNET.
He assisted and helped design the patented CROSSNET game, creates and manages wholesale relationships with retail and e-commerce vendors, and
establishes relationships with over one thousand schools throughout the US & Canada.
Out of just wanting to have fun, together with his brother and childhood friend, they invented CROSSNET -the world’s first four-way volleyball game.
“There’s no better way to learn than just by doing it. And you’re going to take some bumps like we didn’t put the right label on a box and they got hit with a $5,000 fine. I’ll never get fine that again. Cause I’ll never do that again. You don’t learn and study it, you go through it.’
– Chris Meade
In this Episode
1:14 – Get familiar with CROSSNET and how it started
3:06 – How Chris handled inventory and fundings for their business
4:18 – Brief story of his entrepreneurial journey
5:32 – The difference between his process before and his business operations now
6:24 – How COVID impacted his business
7:39 – What’s the biggest challenge their business had to overcome during the pandemic
9:52 – The most predominant part of managing their e-commerce
11:13 – His thought process of dealing with marketing strategies
13:54 – CROSSNET distribution channels
15:35 – What major challenge his company needs to overcome going through the winter season
17:04 – His mindset of creating a model or best practices in drop shipping
18:08 – What’s next for CROSSNET
Engage with Chris Meade
Connect with Knucklehead Media Group
- Knucklehead Media Group is your “push button” for podcasts. We help companies and organizations tell their story using podcasts and best practices for content distribution. Home to some of the top podcasts across multiple categories, captivating coursework on gaining traction with your show, and consulting to those companies BOLD enough to get some wins. We believe your mistakes set the foundation for your success, those stories help customers beat a pathway to your doorstep, and the myths from bringing business online shouldn’t hold you back from getting yours.