Designing A Car Trash Can And Making $15k/month through Amazon FBA

The Story of Carbage Can

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

My name is Raymond Furgason, and I am the Creator and Founder of Carbage Can.

The Carbage Can is a car trash can. It’s so easy to gather common trash in your vehicle - tissues, food wrappers, receipts, coffee cups… the list is endless. We’re helping prevent our customers from stuffing their trash in their door panels, floor boards and cup holders.

I’ve recently improved the first generation Carbage Can currently running Round II of the new and improved Carbage Can. We just launched a Kickstarter!

The project has been challenging, but rewarding! I am a one man team, I’ve decided to take 100% of business to FBA, Amazon. Amazon really cuts out labor and time for me in my life.

Depending on the season, I average about $15k/month on this one product. I refer to "season" as holidays are incredibly busy on Amazon and sales can literally triple. This is only my second year. This upcoming holiday, I plan on really killing it now that I have more experience on Amazon.

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What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

I’m slightly a clean freak when it comes to my cars. After purchasing a vehicle, I told myself that I really needed a car trash can. I went Amazon to check out what was available. This is when it all happened, ha!

Every car trash can on Amazon is pretty much the same, some type of heavy duty bag with a strap, that you hang on your car seat headrest or shift knob. I literally thought to myself, "this is unacceptable!”. Why the hell does anyone want trash flopping around at their shift knob, or who wants trash hanging up high around someone’s head.

I stuck my finger in the air and said "I shall invent something to fix this problem!". Ok maybe not, but let’s pretend I did.

My background is in purchasing, specifically overseas procurements. I used to work for a yoga company and would buy over $2M in products a year. Mats, blocks, straps, clothing - anything yoga related. With my experience in sourcing, I had an idea how to proceed with this project. The main issue was that I needed about $10-15k for a mold for this product. This is when I decided to take this to Kickstarter!

After a successful Kickstarter, I brought my molds from China to the USA, directly to my home city of St. Louis. I now manufacture them here. They are producing them at the same price as the Chinese were quoting me! You can imagine the amount that I am saving on shipping car trash cans with producing them here. And most importantly, lead time! Ordering from China, I’d see my product in 90 days. Now that it’s made in the USA, lead time is only 3 weeks!

Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.

My background is procurements and sourcing. Not entirely designing, so you can imagine designing the Carbage Can was a challenge! I was completely lost as to how to make my design into a mold. Where the hell and how shall I start, and bring this idea to life?!

After some research, I learned that I needed to hire a Plastics Manufacture Engineer. This is key because it needs to be designed perfect. It needs to have durability, needs to be produced without any warpage, that being any type of distortion where the surfaces of the product do not follow the intended shape of the design.

Don’t go on Alibaba and buy the same thing everyone else is buying, you won’t have any benefit or edge and just competing each other based off who has the best looking listing or who has the most fake reviews!

How terrible would it be to spending $10k-15 on a mold, and it ends up producing a oddly shaped product? That would be pure sadness. Hiring this engineer only cost me $800 - being on the more affordable end. Some folks wanted $2k for the design. Besides the cost point, the higher end Plastics Manufacture Engineers, do have longer lead times as well.

Looking for a Plastics Manufacture Engineer? Here’s a good way to go about shopping for one:

Call around to a few plastic manufacturers in your area, when I say a few, I mean around like 10. You want them to be in your area because eventually you may want them to do your production for you.

Ask these factories who they would recommend to make your design. Some will say "Oh please reach out to X! He’s great!". “Some will say, “Oh we do that in house for ya! Let’s set up a meeting”. Either one would work, however in house work generally would cost more.

When coming upon and finding a engineer, treat him as an employee you are wanting to hire - essentially you are hiring him/her. You should Ask to see his portfolio, ask to see products he's designed, how long has he been in the industry, etc.

Feel free to reach out to me! I’d love to share the engineer that I hired, he's affordable and has large experience.

As far as manufacturing...

I’m a Redditor and subscribed to a few manufacturer subreddits. The r/manufacturing subreddit is helpful. I recommend checking them out.

I found a user on there that was a Chinese molder and checked out their history and their background. I saw they were helpful with many legitimate questions, and they weren’t necessarily there to advertise themselves.

So, I simply reached out them. I also asked them for some references. Obviously, you could go through Alibaba. That’s also a great option, but I liked to see that this user was involved in the community and helping with all questions.

After the success of my Kickstarter, it wasn’t easy wiring $12k to an unknown vendor. After confirming their legitimacy several times, it all worked out!

Finding a vendor is tough, it’s almost like trying to hire the perfect employee. Be sure to ask for references and check out how long they’ve been in business and who they work with. You can even hire someone in China to double check things on their end. I decided my own research was sufficient, but that's always a safer option!

Here is the molder that I used in China. If you would be interested in checking them out, ask for Vicky!

Describe the process of launching the Kickstarter and the business.

This being my first time launching on Kickstarter, I was totally lost.

I thought you could just put money into a good video and you start getting backers! Wrong.

I did not prep as one should. You should collect contacts, emails, fb groups, and followers on your social media, prior to launch. This will give a large boost when you first launch, catching great momentum. Even Facebook ads are excellent (which I’ll get to later)

Being successful on Kickstarter

Being a one man team, with limited resources, I did lack in social media presence, so trying to gather a following prior to a launch wasn’t easy..

The key secret to launching a great Kickstarter is preparation! Have folks lined ready to buy! Have friends and family help! This was huge! I had a lot of friends and family back and share, this will be your best help!

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I am currently on my second Kickstarter with Carbage Can II, the new and improved version. Im at 50% of my goal within a week, which I am happy with but I could have done a better job with preparation. I was able to run a second Kickstarter because of the new design and variation in color. Again, I could have been more prepared, however with a low fundraising goal, and not wanting to spam friends and family, I just let it ride organically. =)

From my first Kickstarter I immediately went to Amazon, FBA. I felt like they gave me great exposure and launch due to just having a successful Kickstarter. I simply launched it, did some PPC (Amazon’s Paid Per Click advertising) and life went on!

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads work excellent! You are able to easily target your market - targeting down to gender, age, hobbies, salary, nationalities, etc.

Now, this was my biggest question for Carbage Can - who should I market to? Well, anyone with a car… that’s everyone!

It was harder for me to narrow down my perfect target marketing because, anyone and everyone could appreciate a car trash can. You would maybe think, "Carbage Can would be great with moms, traveling salesmen, car enthusiasts or college kids...". After collecting data with Carbage Can for two years, its it massive misc group of misc people, ha! This continues to be one of my biggest challenges.

Now let’s say you have something such as a fitness product related or pet dog product related, well you could imagine how much easier that would be for target marketing.

PPC

Let me touch on PPC real quick because this important and a learning experience.

You really want to run a few campaigns when doing these. Run maybe 4-5 Keyword campaigns. I’m pretty limited with my keywords for Carbage Can, because anyone searching for a car trash can will type in "car trash can.. Or car garbage can". That’s really it.

So let’s go off another product. Let says you are selling a Baseball batting Trainer.

You should run campaigns such as this:

  1. Baseball Hitting Trainers

  2. Batting Practice

  3. Baseball trainers

  4. Baseball tee ball trainers

  5. Hitting trainers

Run these for a solid 4 weeks. Yes this could be expensive but you are collecting valuable data to see which Keywords are converting the best! Once you find your best converting keyword, delete the rest and invest your marketing in your best keyword(s).

Amazon FBA

Some may not know what Amazon FBA is, so allow me. It’s friggin sweet, is what it is!

You send your inventory to Amazon’s warehouse, and Amazon ships all your products out for you! This is huge benefit for several reasons:

  1. You don’t need to sit around burning your valuable time shipping products out to customers, or hiring staff, paying for shipping labels and boxes,

  2. Most importantly you are Amazon Prime! No other online marketplace has this opportunity.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I keep saying I went immediately went to Amazon, but really I dabbled with a few other e-commerce marketplaces, such as Walmart.com and ebay.

Honestly the volume of sales were so small, it wasn’t even close to being worth it. I always found myself quickly aborting.

Amazon worked out too perfectly, they fulfilled all my orders to customers for me and brought the volume in sales. There were no other online marketplaces that were able to achieve this for me.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Experience is everything! When first launching on Amazon, sales did catch nice momentum, but I knew there was plenty of room for improvement.

My first year there was a lot learning. Learning on how to build an optimal listing, how and what type of pictures are the best for your listing, how PPC works, and pricing. You need to find that optimal price points to where you are making profit and being competitive with others. I knew immediately I needed to find help - which I’ll talk about a little bit later.

Don’t go on Alibaba and buy the same thing everyone else is buying, you won’t have any benefit or edge and just competing each other based off who has the best looking listing or who has the most fake reviews!

Here I am on my second year and sales have easily doubled. Again, this has happened from just learning the ropes of Amazon.

One of the largest challenges of being an Amazon seller is being high in ranks for your product. You will gain ranks with a series of combinations, great reviews, converting click rates (That would be a buyer, looking at your listing and clicking out, or purchasing, customer returns and in general high sales. This is something you will have to maintain daily and keep an eye on. With everything above, and utilizing PPC, you will be doing great and will be at the top of the ranks!

Keep in mind folks, if you are considering being an Amazon Seller, PLEASE DO NOT buy any online course or class shenanigans, I’m not going to name drop any silly course out there but they’re all near scams and junk. YouTube has everything you need! There’s a few amazing podcasts as well.

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As for Carbage Can, everything is moving along well. I feel I am near maxed out of what I can do with a car trash can on Amazon. I recently had to improve the floor mat clip. My first product tipped with some floor mats.

I hope our new Kickstarter will bring more exposure to the new clip design and new color. Carbage Can now has optimal support because the clip now exceeds the width of the Carbage Can. Even without a mat, it wont tip! This did cost me about $5k to fix this and get a new mold, but I wanted to have the perfect product so it was a no brainer for me.

The margins are too nice! I plan on selling this forever! To give an idea on the profit for Carbage Can, we’ll keep it simple:

  • To manufacture, $2.50.

  • Amazon FBA fee 6.90.

  • And we’ll throw in 1.00 for Marketing PPC.

  • That’s 10.40 per unit.

I sell for 16.95.

Last year I sold at 19.99, and I really liked that price and margin, but to be competitive with Amazon sellers, I came down to try to catch the volume. So with nice profit and volume, I feel this is the perfect medium price.

Some may ask, what does the future look like for me? Honestly… to bring on more self designed products to Amazon!

Don’t go on Alibaba and buy the same thing everyone else is buying, you won’t have any benefit or edge and just competing each other based off who has the best looking listing or who has the most fake reviews!

Design your own product! Ideally, I’d like to get something reccurring, so I could get repeat customers!

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

My biggest regret so far is having to invest in a new mold for the new clip design. It was costly. I was initially so eager to launch my design, I rushed it!

I should have made sure my product was 100%. However, I really didn’t find out until like 6 months out when customers started sending in their feedback and reviews.

Ensure you are taking your time on the design.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

Amazon is a whole new beast. It takes a lot of experience to know what you are doing. I’ve located an Amazon manager that lives overseas. He receives a percentage of sales. He is awesome and we are always on the same page with thoughts and opinions, I feel I really lucked out. Earlier, I mentioned the challenges of the first year. This was on of them. I did go through 2 other managers that didn’t work out. Finally, I landed one that I am very happy with.

So, he really is the tool I use. I found him on an Amazon Seller Facebook group. My manager has experience with PPC, Photoshop, replenishment points and experience building optimal listings. If you consider a manager, these are some main skills you want them to have. And most importantly, make sure you guys have great chemistry! Feel free to reach out to me, if you would be interested in getting his contact. I give him a lot of credit to where things have gone!

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

Before I had any real Amazon experience, I landed a small gig working with an Amazon Seller in Utah. He sold a huge amount of skus. Thousands… To give you an idea of volume, he held a staff of about 6 employees, ranging from Managers, Warehouse workers, marketing and accounting.

He doesn’t know it but, he’s been my inspiration! Smart young dude, and executed several great private label items and Kickstarters. Tyler! You’re the man! Even though I smoked you in ping pong all the time, you were my inspiration!

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Do you have any idea?

Yes.

Is your idea an improvement to competitors?

Yes.

Is there a demand and is the market large enough to pursue?

Everyone has a car, thats why this was an easy yes for me.

If you get to this point, then you just need to meticulously analyze the costs of moving forward, which is the riskiest, yet most important part.

I’ve launched another product on Amazon that’s doing well. Its a baseball trainer. My product’s concept has always been out there but they were all DIY’s. So my design is affordable and you skip the whole DIY. I have to go through four different factories to make the final product, which isn’t too efficient. But who cares! I didn’t have to risk a mold cost and I knew the demand was there.

So there’s your Amazon product finding secret! Take a DIY idea to a final retail product. And remember! You don’t make money when you sell, you make money when you buy. Be sure you keep your cost down and negotiate with your vendor.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

I’m keeping things simple! It’s really refreshing to work solo and to have one manager.

Where can we go to learn more?

carbage-can.com

Email me: [email protected]

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