365 Days of Startups Interviews CelebriDucks

How Passion Made the Rubber Duck Into a Celebrity Monday, 07 March 2011 Craig Wolfe 1. What are CelebriDucks and where did the inspiration come from? Drugs…..ok, seriously, I always wanted to create my own brand. I was already the largest publisher of advertising animation artwork from television commercials having created the first ever animation art lines for Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch, M&M/Mars, Pillsbury, etc….But at the end of the day, I never created the Coke bears or Bud Frogs. So when a friend, a little drunk I do believe, had this idea of making ducks that were also celebrities, it just sounded too cool to resist. King Features was willing to give us our first shot with Betty Boop and the rest as they say is history! 2. What was your most successful marketing method you used for CelebriDucks to get them known? I think sending out press releases in the early days changed everything and here’s why. The Atlantic City Press got one and asked why they should do a story about us….I thought about it and said, “well, I’m from N.J.” which is true. They said sounds good. Their little story came out that weekend and the VP of the Philadelphia 76ers read it and got in touch. We did an Allen Iverson duck for them which was a huge hit and then all these pro teams like the Yankees, Cubs, the NBA, NHL, all came calling. We were on ESPN and all over the media and thus the company changed almost overnight. 3. You mentioned you bootstrapped your company. Do you have any suggestions for other entrepreneurs wanting to bootstrap as well? Yes, it doesn’t matter how much money you make…it’s how much you keep!!! Watch that overhead! In the beginning you can outsource so much of what you do. Don’t worry about fancy offices and big staff when starting out. Work in your garage, bedroom, wherever. What is more key is getting your idea out there and tested to see if it is viable and at the same time building a good website. As I always say, slow and steady wins the race. 4. What other advice to you have for entrepreneurs to be successful with a fun product like yours that may not be an every day necessity? If you feel a passion and love of something, there is a good chance there are a lot of other people who will feel likewise. Also, just because it’s a fun product doesn’t mean it can’t have a huge niche. Who didn’t have a rubber duck growing up?….there are millions of them in homes all over the world. So if you are creating something that is connected to something that is already known, you’re one step ahead of the game! Remember people will spend money for something unique and different. But it really does have to be done well. Another rubber duck??…there’s already tons of them…..but put a unique twist on your offering like I did and you must might have a whole new category. 5. How have you kept the business going and growing? Innovate, innovate, innovate. Don’t be a one trick pony. If you look at our website, you can see we have continued to add and retire different celebrities to make it a very fun and unique collectible that people can collect. We now do the world’s first 100% recycled duck. We now have a whole line of food themed ducks with our Canard (French for duck) line of Chocolate, Coffee, Cupcake, and Wine themed ducks in these beautiful gift boxes. Our Holy Smoker BBQ pig arrives this Spring. Also, we really do a lot of our business in the custom duck world. We do custom work for everyone from SeaWorld to Fortune 500 companies to rock bands. Our products have one of the highest retention rates in the industry with people keeping them for years after an event where they got one. They are just too cool to throw away!  We are always doing custom work for someone somewhere as you can see from looking at the custom duck section on our website. 6. What’s up next for you? Well, expanding the business, that’s for sure. We know that virtually every college in the country would love us to do their mascot so the challenge for us is to get a stronger distribution network in place. That, and really make sure people understand the uniqueness we bring to the table in terms of successful promotions. Of course we are always looking for the right licenses to expand the line so choosing carefully is important. I also have other interests in my life that I’m working on such as recording my first album and that’s all a fun and important part of my life. Bottom line, the key for me is to find what makes me and other people happy and build on that….if I can do that, then that’s a life well lived in my opinion. Craig Wolfe graduated from Hobart College and went on to become the largest publisher in the country of artwork from television commercials. After selling that business, he then went on to start a company that created the first ever line of celebrity rubber ducks of the greatest icons of film, music, history, and athletics that were voted one of the top 100 gifts by Entertainment Weekly. Contact Craig at: http://www.CelebriDucks.com or by phone at: 415-456-3452