If you’ve ever been frustrated with the products in your life, and thought “there’s gotta be a better way!”, this conversation is sure to hit home.
Jeremy Michael Cohen and Fred Perrotta created Tortuga Backpacks after an awesome trip to Europe — and a less-than-awesome experience with their luggage.
The shoulder strap on Jeremy’s backpack broke on the first day of the trip, and Fred, using a cylindrical backpacking pack, was annoyed by constantly having to dump everything out and repack to access stuff that was at the bottom.
They resolved to create a better travel backpack, and did it.
The fun part is Jeremy reached out to me last month when Bryn and I were on vacation in Turkey and Italy, and I was carrying around the same REI backpack I’ve had since college. It’s a little smaller than I’d like for longer trips, but the next size up is too big to carry-on so maybe I’m in the market for a Tortuga :)
As the business grew, Fred eventually left his job at Google, but Jeremy continued his full-time work as a filmmaker, supporting the business as a side hustle.
In this conversation, we dive into their idea generation process, what it takes to actually make a physical product, and how they’ve managed to market and sell the bags over the last few years.
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- How they came up with the idea for their first product.
- What it’s like to “invent” something in the 21st century.
- Their initial design and manufacturing process.
- How Fred and Jeremy raised the money for their initial development and prototype costs — and what they might do differently today.
- Why they didn’t stress too much about “validating” the market or the idea.
- Why they thought they could steal market share from the big brands like Osprey, Deuter, and REI.
- The distribution and marketing channels they found most effective.
- Fred and Jeremy’s #1 tips for Side Hustle Nation.
- Tortuga Backpacks
- Elance (now Upwork)
- Jewish Free Loan Association
What do you think? Think you’ve got a product idea that could carve out some profitable white space in the market?
I think getting back into the Amazon channel will be huge for Tortuga over the near-term and as they expand their product line.