Transforming One Idea Into A $150K/Month Business

The Story of Kitchen Safe

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

Hi, my name is David Krippendorf and I am the founder and inventor of the Kitchen Safe.

In just a few short years, the Kitchen Safe went from an idea to being sold all over the world.

The Kitchen Safe is the world's first time-lock container featured on Shark Tank and designed to help people avoid junk food and other temptations. Simply place an item in the Kitchen Safe, close the lid, and set the timer. Once the timer is set, and the button is pressed, you’re locked out!

The safe remains locked and cannot be opened until the timer reaches zero. There are no overrides or secret back-doors - once it’s locked, it’s locked! The timer can be set in one minute increments for up to 10 days.

I invented the Kitchen Safe for snacking on food. What we’ve found is more than half of our customers use it for other items: cell phones, cigarettes, alcohol, cash & credit cards, etc.

image 7

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

I had put on some extra pounds from snacking on junk food before dinner, and so I wanted something to help me enjoy the occasional dessert, without allowing me to snack throughout the day.

My first solution involved my wife Jenny hiding the junk food, but in the event of a strong craving, I could find anything.

After playing hide and seek with my cookies for a few years, the idea dawned on me. If I had a container with a timed locking mechanism to store my food, I would not be able to snack, and my Wife and I could stop with the hide and seek games.

image 2

So, I went about creating the concept of the Kitchen Safe. With the Kitchen Safe, I need only muster 10 seconds of will-power, to put items in the container, in order to avoid snacking for an entire week.

I believe we developed a great product with the potential to make a meaningful difference in the lives of others. Poor diet is one of the biggest problems facing America. 69% of US adults are overweight, and more than ½ of US adults and 17%,

Also, 12.5 Million children are obese, resulting in medical conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and strokes. Medical costs associated with obesity are estimated at $147Bn.

While I’m not a health expert or dietician, I know the Kitchen Safe can help others because it has helped me. Since I started using the Kitchen Safe, I have avoided the mid-day snaking and lost 5-10 pounds thus far.

Now that I know the Kitchen Safe is effective, it has become my mission to make this great tool available for others to benefit from as well.

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

I had this great idea, but lacked any experience or knowledge of how to develop a product or bring it to market. The idea sat there as a sketch for years, until one day I realized if I didn’t commit to making it happen, I would look back and regret it.

I reached out to Ryan Tseng, a classmate with a background in design, and over the last 18+ months we worked together to develop the Kitchen Safe.

The secret is that no one knows how to start a company until they start a company. We all learn best by doing. So, if you want to start a company, then start a company!

We worked with a few US based firms that helped us design the product. The process took several months as we worked through several issues and found ways to improve the design.

For instance, we considered having an override, or allowing you to reset to zero. That sounds good in theory. However, anytime there was temptation, we would simply remove the batteries - thus a version with an override is no better than a container without a lock.

We then evaluated several factories and selected the best one. This involved flying to China, touring several factories, and getting bids.

Once we found a factory we liked, we started with a small test batch. The first batch had some issues, but overall was pretty good. We gave the factory feedback and they made improvements.

Even now, after producing thousands of units, we still give feedback and make improvements. We have adjusted the colors, the smoothness of the dial, and improved the display.

image 3

Describe the process of launching the online store/business.

Building an online store is one of the many things required to launch a business. It takes a lot of time and effort, learning by doing through trial and error, and listening to feedback from customers.

I break it down into these steps:

1. Picked a name.

Pick something easy to remember, easy to spell, easy to remember, and not easily confused with other companies.

2. Bought a domain.

We had heard too many stories where a company starts, then has to pay $50K or even $100K to buy their domain because another company owns it. So, before we committed on a name, we checked to see if the domain was free. We ended up buying a few options that we were considering.

3. Took product photos.

We hired someone off craigslist to take photos of our product. It was done all within a small budget of $500 in less than a week.

image 4

4. Designed a website.

I highly recommend Shopify.

We looked at several e-commerce websites to get best practices. Why reinvent the wheel? What pages did they have, what were their terms of service, etc. We then sketched it out and paid a developer to code it.

Shopify can then connect you with a programmer to build the site.

5. Turn it on and test it.

The best way to start is to start. What I mean by this is open for business. Our website wasn’t anything special, but it got us going. Over time, we learned what worked well and what didn’t.

We started with just pictures of the product. But by the end we had our current website - take a look at TheKitchenSafe.com.

It has pictures of people using it, shows some of the features, explains uses, answers common questions, and shows off the great press we received.

We made several improvements including a complete redesign.

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

A great product and customer experience is the best form of marketing.

Remember the last time stumbled upon a product so cool and different that you couldn’t wait to tell others? That’s viral marketing and it is the fastest and cheapest way to grow product sales.

image 6

We’ve had success doing the following:

A product that is fun, effective and simple to use and works well makes people happy.

They want to use the product. We receive emails all of the time from customers telling us how much they love the Kitchen Safe. They tell us about all the uses, how they’ve bought several more and tell all of their friends.

Design matters

People love the look of iPhones and dislike some of the other phones out there.

Who wants to show off an ugly product?

Incredible customer service

Sometimes things don’t go well. Items are lost or broken in the mail, the customer ordered the wrong version, etc. It happens. We decided to not outsource this to a call center in India, but instead handle each call or email ourselves.

Customers are impressed and we see them buy more and refer us to others.

Great press

We were fortunate to receive a lot of press as the Kitchen Safe is unique and interesting. It’s been featured on Time Magazine, USA Today, Today Show, Good Morning America, Shark Tank and a host of others.

It’s been called "brilliant", “life changing” and “a smart cookie jar”. The key to great press is to be responsive. When someone from the press reaches out, we are happy to send them a free sample and answer any questions.

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

The Kitchen Safe is doing well. We have expanded internationally with distribution into Canada, Europe, and Asia.

We are in the process of developing a suite of related products.

The first being the kSafe PRO Smart Container that has increased functionality with a tracker and iPhone app. The kSafe Pro will allow people to unlock to connect activities and rewards that matter to them: Jog 5 miles and earn a snack, pay credit card and earn spending money, drive home and then can have a beer, etc..

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

A few things...

Have passion and a higher purpose for your business

Starting a company is an emotional roller coaster. Things go great one day, then terrible the next. Will the business flourish or crash? One day you find out you you’ll be on a national TV show, the next day they call back to cancel. There were several times where we questioned if the business would be a financial success.

Knowing the product helps our customers live better lives, kept us going strong as we knew our work was important. Have passion and a higher purpose for your startup will not only increase your willingness to make it happen, but make the experience more enjoyable and fulfilling.

Work, Work, Work

Once you have a decent product, the difference between success and failure is almost all about how hard you work, or the "hussle". There are so many ways to incrementally improve a business and grow revenues by 1%, 5%, or even 10%. When you compound each of these improvements, you end up with 50%, 100%, or 500% growth over time.

A few examples of things we did include:

  • Adding markets: Going into Europe, Canada, and Hong Kong - doubled our sales

  • Facebook Ads: Increases sales by 30%+

  • Improve Product: Reduced returns, increased customer satisfaction, and higher referral rates

Focus on the customer

We learned early on that customers are more than happy to tell you what they want. They’ll tell you what they like about the product and what they don’t. In our case, we had customers telling us they wanted a larger size for iPads, and a smaller portable size for iPhones. So, we created each of these sizes and tested them.

Our sales more than doubled as a result.

However, you also need to listen to the numbers as sometimes something they want, they may not be willing to pay for. We had customers request we make a "pink" colored lid. We made it, and very few were sold and are discontinuing it. One of the great things about startups is you can listen to customers, test it, and then keep what works and move forward!

What tools do you use for your business?

Amazon, Shopify, Shipstation are the main 3. We’re a huge fan of these services as they work well together and are easy to manage.

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

I often listen to Business Radio by Wharton. They have several shows, and often feature entrepreneurs who speak frankly about how they started and grew their businesses.

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

Get off your ass and do it!

The secret is that no one knows how to start a company until they start a company. We all learn best by doing. So, if you want to start a company, then start a company!

Apple started with a couple of guys making the computers by hand (that’s true, you can look it up). So, don’t worry about every step, just start with Step #1, then once finished go to Step #2, and with hard work and luck, you’ll build a great company!

  • Figure out what product you’re going to sell, and make a prototype.

  • Then launch a kickstarter

  • Then build a website

  • Then talk to retailers

  • Then expand overseas

Where can we go to learn more?

TheKitchenSafe.com

Facebook

Want to start your own business?

Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.

We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business.

By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.

If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new interviews every Tuesday.

- pat-walls Pat Walls, Founder of Starter Story


More interviews like this:
Learn how e-commerce businesses are earning as much as $100K per month.