- Tell us something about yourself, your background
My mother told me when I was very little, “If you want what everyone else has, then do as they do”. I figured out quite quickly that if you wanted more you simply had to do more. I grew up in rural Illinois in a log cabin with no running water. Life was difficult but extremely good for me and my family. But when you don’t have much you figure things out; you learn to multitask, to improvise, to make do, to fix things with bailing wire, to make a cart out of old bicycle parts, to bring firewood off of the hill etc
Those days are long behind me but the mindset I have to create to innovate to excel, I owe to my upbringing. A lot of insight into the merging of business to my personal life. I am still a very private person, I live in the county where I grew up next to my parents log cabin.. The true measure of success is giving back and one of the ways I do this is by rescuing animals. I have 10 wolves and a black bear that I have rescued and live in my backyard.
- How/Why did you start inventing. What set you off? Tell us about the products you invented and how you got from idea to finished product?
My mind is always scanning the horizons for opportunity – this is one advantage I have over almost everyone else.
While out of football game at my college alma mater, I met my future best friend, Rich Bailey… Rich was a sophomore in dental school and was making goofy silly redneck buck teeth dentures… He was a practical joker and was making them to just have fun… I however saw the opportunity to make millions.. Two Weeks later we signed an agreement on a napkin in my mother’s kitchen – creating the Billy Bob Teeth corporation… I put my entire net worth of $400 into the business and we were off!!
When I first began this entrepreneurial journey in 1994 I didn’t have two nickels to rub together… Neither did my business partner Rich who was a starving dental student. So Rich devised a plan that I would become a dental student at Southern Illinois University; well at least an unconventional student!!!
My friend Rich bailey give me a white lab coat and a tackle box that belonged to a former student named Steven who had graduated the semester before… I wore the lab coat and went to the dental lab at Southern Illinois University just like all the rest of the students…The dental lab was open 5 days a week, eight hours a day… Unlike the other dental students I was there on a mission to make Billy Bob teeth!!
During the spring semester of 1995, I produced about 6000 pairs of Billy Bob teeth in the dental lab at Southern Illinois University Alton campus… Most of these teeth were sold for US$20 by my friend Rich and I in bars restaurants and our favourite target used car sales lots…
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Another line of products I manufacture are in oral care…
I began manufacturing utilitarian products that people needed to buy instead of joke novelty products that they didn’t… My company made this jump about 10 years ago…
My latest product is called “the fly-lid”
- What advise do you have for inventors? How did you get to where you are?
The formula that I have been successful in using for over 25 years in my entrepreneurial life, is based around hard work…
Working hard is not just a physical term but rather an all-encompassing term. Questions like: how to produce, where to find a manufacturer, whether you can subcontract the manufacturing, who is your target group, how are you find them, what price points; all of these go through your mind at night …
My prototype for success has been
- making the product
- packaging the product
- marketing the products and
- then ultimately selling the product
- Where are you with your products?
To date Billy Bob products have sold well over 50 million units of items that either Rich or myself have invented..
The novelty division of my company is called the Billy Bob teeth company.
My oral care products are produced through the William Robert teeth company.
–End of Interview-
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