Mike Lindell talks with Kelly Coughlin, CPA and CEO of BankBosun. This is a great interview – especially if you are an entrepreneur, as Mike gives his history of inventing the MyPillow, building the MyPillow business, and tips for entrepreneurs!
Inventing the MyPillow
Mike has always been an entrepreneur, starting in the carpet cleaning business, and moving on to restaurants and bars. Mike decided to create the MyPillow business because he knew there was a need for a good pillow since, after years of searching, he couldn’t find a comfortable pillow.
It took Mike 2 years of trying 94 types of foam to get all the features he wanted in a pillow: supportive but soft, washable and dryable, and a pillow that would be tough enough to live up to a 10-year warranty.
MyPillow’s early years
The MyPillow business didn’t start out well. Mike took his MyPillow to the big box stores, and they just laughed at him. Then he tried selling the pillows at a kiosk, but only sold a few pillows.
Fortunately, one of the people that bought a MyPillow at the kiosk called Mike and said that the MyPillow had changed his life. He also said that he ran the Minneapolis Home and Garden Show, and offered Mike a spot at the show. Mike accepted, and the show turned out to be so successful that Mike did home shows and fairs for seven years.
During this time, Mike and his family did everything in the business, including sewing the pillows, manning the booths, doing all the manufacturing out of a little garage, taking any phone calls, and doing the package design.
Mike also faced a lot of adversity during this time. People tried to take the company, and Mike had his own demons to fight since he was a crack cocaine addict at the time.
MyPillow financing and early business analytics
Financing came from mortgaging his house and money from a business he sold. And, Mike did minimal business analytics in the early years. He just knew that throughout his life he had huge problems with pillows. And, when he asked others, he found that he wasn’t the only one with pillow problems – every single person he talked to had the same problems with pillows that he had.
The MyPillow infomercial
Mike decided to bring the MyPillow to the world by doing his own infomercial in the summer of 2011. Mike was told that he needed movie stars but decided that people were tired of that. So, he used with a real audience in the infomercial and Mike and a friend hosted the infomercial – even though he had never been on TV.
Before the infomercial launched October 7th, 2011, he had five employees. The infomercial was such a success that forty days later he had 500 employees. By December 26, 2011, the MyPillow infomercial was one of the top infomercials in the country.
Mike had to learn to advertise to the right demographics. Now he says that he “can spend $1.5 million a week on advertising and if I have an ad that doesn’t make any money, I would never do it again. If every company in this country knew where to spend their advertising dollar and knew they were actually getting a good return on it and stopped advertising the things that didn’t work, product costs in this country would go way down because you wouldn’t have all that wasted advertising out there.”
Radio is also a huge portion of MyPillow’s advertising. Mike has found that once the radio hosts are hooked on the MyPillow, it is an easy sell for them.
MyPillow – made in America
Mike takes pride in the fact that the MyPillow is made-in-America. MyPillow’s patented foam is made in Wisconsin. The MyPillows are then manufactured in Minnesota using Mike’s patented machines that make the three different foam sizes and mixes the pieces together proportionally.
Mike’s advice for entrepreneurs
“You must believe in your own product, it has to start there and it has to start with you knowing that you are not giving up if something happens.” And that when obstacles happen, “You come through it and you learn from it and you look back later on and you go ‘wow, that had to happen, that wasn’t so bad, that was meant to be.'”