MF 102 : “If It Ain’t Broke, There’s Probably Still a Better Way,” with Kristin Wald
Kristin Wald is the founder of Cotidea, a company specializing in innovative products for women, including its flagship product, the Shower Sidekick. Today, Kristin will share what it takes to persevere as an inventor and entrepreneur.
Successes at a glance:
CEO and Founder of Cotidea, a company specializing in brilliant products that solve everyday problems
Inventor of its flagship product, Shower Sidekick
Learn Kristin’s mission w/ Cotidea:
Former Manager of Training and Development, ICM Partners
Former Consultant at Accenture
Actress, Writer, and Model
Check out Kristin’s hilarious spoof video on “what do consultants do”
Setback failure or time when things fell apart:
Kristin’s journey has been anything but typical. In college, Kristin studied medical immunology and microbiology. Kristin was also in a sorority, worked in a part-time job and was an actress, performing in musicals. It was during this busy time that the Shower Sidekick was born. They say that necessity is the mother of invention. In Kristin’s case, the need to shave her legs in the dorm showers which were not exactly conducive to this need. When Kristin came home for winter break, an idea popped into her head and in what could only be called an inventor’s homage to JK Rowling
Shower Sidekick. As an inventor, turned entrepreneur, Kristin has had many setbacks along the way. First, she had two prototypes made, the first of which snapped in half. Undaunted, Kristin took the second prototype back to her sorority, where she had a secret market study w/ her sisters. Although the product was a hit in the sorority, at 19, Kristin had no financial resources to patent the product, much less take it to market. At that point, Kristin hid it under her bed and decided to move on. After college, Kristin went into strategy consulting w/ one of the most prestigious firms in the world, specializing in mid-sized business processes for Japanese pharma companies. However, as Kristin shares, she has entrepreneur blood in her and felt her “soul was starving.” Kristin had raised by parents who are both entrepreneurs and encouraged her to pursue her passion. That’s when Kristin took a leave of absence to revisit her college spark, the Shower Sidekick. This time, Kristin gave it her all but as she shares on this week’s episode, starting from the beginning was a lot of frustration and hard work. Although there was strong interest from places like QVC, one of Kristin’s earliest hurdles was finding a manufacturer, especially as a first-time, solo female inventor. The biggest issue was only a few manufacturers would talk to Kristin, and only on condition of large first-time orders. Kristin recalls one company that would only agree to manufacture the product if she placed an order for 30,000 units, which translated into $100k that Kristin didn’t have. At that point, the venture started to fall apart or as Kristin so poignantly describes, “it’s been a 12-year journey” that has “broken my heart more than once.” But one characteristic about Kristin that really stands out is that she is really, really scrappy. An interesting sideways to the Shower Sidekick story, Kristin went to a tradeshow in Chicago, having been hired as a model for an espresso company. While there, Kristin would spend hours being a spokeswoman for hire, then switch badges during her breaks and take her product out of her purse; scouting around to see if she could land a licensing deal!
Kristin eventually signed a licensing deal w/ a company, after three months of intense negotiation. Unfortunately, 2 years in, Kristin had to cancel the agreement bc nothing was happening w/ the product. On top of that, Kristin faced multiple rejections on the patent application. In fact, it was only two years that Kristin finally got the patent on the Shower Sidekick.
The “aha” moment that sparked a pivot:
So what kept Kristin going in the face of multiple hurdles, setbacks, and failures? Kristin shares that it was her belief in divine inspiration. Kristin talks about the moments where things “just click” and how she tries to harness those as much as possible thru meditation. But at the heart of it, what drives Kristin and keeps her moving forward is a vision, one so clear that it has stuck w/ her since age 19. Moreover, Kristin says w/ absolute conviction that the primary purpose of this venture and her mission is to help women. Kristin’s core belief is that women should help women and it’s a philosophy that she embodies to the core. Kristin believes that this divine inspiration has led to divine inspiration. Notably, every time when Kristin is ready to give up and quit, something shows up that tells Kristin to keep moving forward: everything from a professor wanting to showcase the product as a “patent of the semester,” to the people in her life who continue to encourage and believe in Kristin, even when she stops believing in herself. Moving Forward listeners, do you have a conviction, an inspiration that is so clear that it keeps you on course, no matter what obstacles you face? Whether you’re in a job, running a business, or maybe thinking about making the entrepreneurial leap, Kristin’s story is illustrative that it’s not just a great idea but the core values that you identify with that will allow you to persevere in the face of adversity. That’s how you’ll be able to make those pivots and keep moving forward when the going gets tough.
Resource or cultural experience that inspired Kristin to move forward:
On Beyond Zebra by Dr. Seuss (Hardcover | Kindle): as a child, this book inspired Kristin to go beyond what we’re often told as children. Kristin cites this as the source of her drive to take an idea from napkin drawing to reality. It also gave Kristin an inventor’s mindset of “if it ain’t broke, there’s probably still a better way.” As an example: while most kids had lemonade stands, Kristin saw market saturation w/ lemonade so she opened a candy cane stand during the holidays. Kristin shares w/ Moving Forward listeners, “if there’s another idea, go try it! Worst case scenario is it doesn’t work which is very upsetting but at the same time … you gotta go out there and do it!”
Favorite app/website/resource or productivity hack:
How Kristin recharges when facing a roadblock or challenge:
Kristin has a team which is her everything and encompasses everything from a hypnotherapist to soul-led friendships to an incredibly wise mother, plus a new puppy that keeps her present and fulfilled!
Kristin has a prayer chair in the corner of her living room w/ inspiration boards behind it. Kristin carves out time for meditation, journaling, and conversations w/ the universe.
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Advice to past self while going thru a difficult time:
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As noted above, Kristin is very scrappy, fierce, and independent. While those qualities have allowed her to defy the odds, they also caused her to try to do everything on her own. This led to a lonely period where all of the joys of success and the heartbreak of setbacks, were on her shoulders and hers alone. As shared during the knowledge burst section, Kristin’s team is her everything. Kristin wishes she had embraced this philosophy back then.
Parting wisdom (in a few words):
“It’s hard, keep going!”
Connect with Kristin: