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Launching a startup is hard. Building a company while traveling full-time in an RV with your family?
It’s not for the faint of heart.
But we didn’t let that stop us.
We’re the Fromms and the Schabers. Two full-time RV families who met somewhere on the road and formed a lasting friendship. Oh, and that company.
Thinking outside the box
Living in an RV is great. It’s a lifestyle that breeds creativity. I mean, let’s be honest here. There’s always something crazy happening to force you to think outside the box and solve a problem.
And while a lot of that can be stressful, there’s plenty to be grateful for.
One of the most common issues we were having on the road was shower time.
So many times water was at a premium and a typical shower was just not going to happen.
- The week the state park shut the water off for the season without notifying us.
- A truck failure that left us stranded in a parking lot for a day and a half.
- Spontaneous boondocking opportunities.
- Dirty children after a day of hiking.
There had to be a solution!
Our combined friendship and shared values spurred us to figure out that solution.
And we came up with Venture Wipes.
Joining forces in September 2017, we began to develop a portable body wipe to get you clean while not damaging the environment.
Obstacles of a launching a startup as RVing families
In hindsight, who in their right mind decides to create a physical product startup from an RV? With their families along the way?
While I’m happy to say we are fully launched and selling our product now, it wasn’t easy growing our idea into a real product and business.
As with any startup, we had to start by looking at the big picture. This was not going to happen overnight. Of course, we really didn’t know how long it was going to take.
And a year and a half later, we can say…holy crap! That took forever to get off the ground.
Obstacle #1: Not compromising quality
It took a lot of time to find the right manufacturer for our wipes. We wanted them to biodegradable. And for the wipe itself to fit easily in a pocket.
And some suppliers just couldn’t or wouldn’t meet our demands.
But we stayed strong and weren’t willing to compromise on these details. We chose not to settle for the first “ok” prototype. But instead allowed time to go by as we dialed in all the aspects we wanted for Venture Wipes.
We knew the product could meet our expectations if we just stayed firm on our vision. So that’s what we did.
And we are so happy with the result now. We’ve truly brought our best to the market.
Obstacle #2: Family and work life balance
This obstacle isn’t unique to our story. Any one starting a new company is going to have to navigate life and work. And they’re going to find out it’s really hard!
For us in the RV though? It seemed especially obvious when we were imbalanced.
Some days were overwhelmed with business. Seemingly endless small fires that needed our attention. They pulled us in all directions, away from family and travel plans.
Other times, the business was just simply exciting! We would get caught up in the highs of the startup and forget anything else.
But at the most basic level, both of our families made the very intentional choice to live in an RV and travel. To be close to one another and experience life together.
While growing Venture Wipes, we had to keep tabs on each other to help make sure we weren’t letting it take us away from what matters the most.
Obstacle #3: Internet
I don’t think I have to go into too much detail on this one. If you’ve ever even stepped foot into a campground, you know the struggle is oh-so-real.
Obstacle #4: Remote relationships
While you usually hear of a startup team building their company together in some up and coming city, Venture Wipes was much different.
We came up with the idea in September 2017 while we were traveling together. Of course, after that we parted ways and worked on different things for the idea.
After a few months, we decided it was best to get back together. In January, we met in Texas and spent the month parked parked side-by-side.
The rest of the year was spent apart as we ramped up to make the dream a reality.
Finally, in December 2018 we got back together. We met in Florida to really brainstorm and plan out the physical launch of our wipes.
Since the project was just an idea, we have only been together a total of 8ish weeks.
To make it work, we do 1-2 business planning calls a week. We also touch base as needed via phone or email.
Working from in RV is one thing, but coordinating as a business from different states (and time-zones!) has really been a challenge.
We’ve also had to establish relationships with contractors remotely.
But we have all learned and adapted to this RV entrepreneur lifestyle. And so far it has worked well for us.
Obstacle 5: Space
RVs aren’t exactly known for their delightfully excessive storage. And because we have a physical product, that is a problem.
We’ve connected with a warehouse to sublease space and fulfillment options.
Lessons learned from launching a startup
RVers are generally adaptable, which means we are always learning something.
- Trademarks take a REALLY long time, like 12-months long!
- Try your best not to get annoyed when you’re working and the people you RV with are distracting you!
- Writing a Kickstarter campaign while driving from North Carolina to Pennsylvania can result in typos
- Sometimes you work too much. Sometimes you play too much. It’s less of a balance and more of a sway when you’re working and traveling at the same time.
By no means are we done learning, but the process so far has been a really educational roller coaster.
Which is great because…who doesn’t like roller coasters, right?
The biggest lesson we’ve learned is to master our mindset.
We’re RVers. We drag our homes all over the place and still get life done. Of course we can launch a startup!
Having this mindset has allowed us to adapt to the challenges of starting and running a new business, while still enjoying the ins-and-outs of RV life.
What’s next for Venture Wipes
It’s an exciting time for Venture Wipes right now. As hard as we have worked over the last year, it has been awesome to see the effort culminate with our wipes being delivered at the beginning of 2019.
Now the fun begins.
VentureWipes.com is up and running. We ran a launch campaign in December and received $3,000 in pre-sales from customers that were excited to see this concept become a reality.
As soon as the wipes got to the warehouse, all of the pre-orders were fulfilled while more sales started to roll in.
In the next few weeks, we are enhancing the user experience and will add more content.
We’re working to team up with other RVers and outdoor enthusiasts to help build that content and spread the word as things begin to take off.
Venture Wipes is our baby. We’ve worked tirelessly to create a product we are proud of and want to share it with everyone. Maintaining brand integrity is important. And we’ve taken the steps to ensure Venture Wipes would be ready for retail store without compromising our brand.
This decision has already proven effective as we have two stores in the northeast stocking Venture Wipes. And we are currently in talks with a national distributor.
(WOW! Is this real life?)
Having the opportunity to put our product on the shelves of the outdoor stores we actually shop at is amazing.
Everyone loves Amazon Prime. And we wanted to make sure Venture Wipes were available there too. This was another intentional decision when launching our startup and in our business model. We knew we needed our product on the #1 product search engine in the world.
The official live date was February 1st, which makes the wipes available for 2-day, Prime shipping. Check them out here!
The grassroots part of having a startup on the road is having an in-person presence.
We’re currently planning on which events we’d like to partner with in 2019-2020 and currently have a couple on the books.
Fulltime Families Reunion: Venture Wipes is a sponsor of the FTF reunion (along with The Virtual Campground!) that will take place in Madison, FL early March.
Partnering with FTF has been great, as we are full-time family members ourselves.
Balloon Fest: Every October hundreds of hot air balloons show up in the New Mexico dessert for a week-long event. This attracts thousands of RVers. We think this is going to be great as the event attracts a lot of boondockers…who will need our wipes to stay clean during the event!
Although launching a startup from our RVs has had its challenges, we wouldn’t trade it for anything. Each obstacle has been a lesson that has made us better. The friendship, partnerships, and relationships it has created are invaluable.
We are excited and proud of Venture Wipes. The positive feedback and stories from others has made this journey worth it.
Have you ever thought of launching a startup on the road? Pop in the comments your idea!