My Entrepreneurial Journey: Improving Homes One Rain Gutter at a Time

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classic american house with new rain gutter innovation

During my 30 years in the rain gutter business, I heard countless complaints from homeowners about their gutter’s performance. They’d tell me how difficult cleaning out their gutters were because it required using a ladder, which is both dangerous and messy.

Many would point to the thousands of dollars in repairs they needed after their clogged gutters caused water and mold damage. These complaints encouraged me to think about gutter design, so I studied how water and debris traveled through gutters. I then inspected downspouts and how they fit into gutters and potential problems in their design.

The age-old issue

For decades people accepted gutter design flaws and installed countless downspouts with small outlets (component that creates the hole in all gutters at the top of the downspout) that also had overhanging lips that caught debris and caused clogs. Cleaning small outlets became an inevitable task, one accepted as routine maintenance for a home.

After a lot of thought and calculation about the problems found with small outlets, I developed a helpful solution to this silent problem. I created The SpoutOff, a wider, bigger, and more easily maintained outlet by increasing the width and design of the outlet which I named the Spout.  This resulted in a clog-free outlet design, where all water and debris that reaches the Spout (new large outlet) always falls out of the gutter, down the downspout and away from the house, just as it is supposed to do.   

Whenever an industry has a sentiment of “that’s just how it is,” there’s opportunity for entrepreneurs. Tesla pushed through the “all cars use combustion engines” mantra and built an electric car revolution. I found this type of dynamic, where I questioned established thinking and processes and built a smarter solution — The SpoutOff Outlet. There are thousands of these situations, which provide countless possibilities for innovators and thought leaders who understand the market and are willing to take the necessary steps and risks.

Multiple interconnected benefits

Great products offer a range of benefits that align with different user preferences or expectations. More than one benefit means the product is more relevant for a larger group of people.  With The SpoutOff Rain Gutter System, I’ve created a simple product that boasts several benefits.

While going up a ladder to clean gutter outlets is dangerous for people at any age, it’s especially risky for seniors. With The SpoutOff installed, homeowners can remove one, two or even three-story downspouts while standing on the ground and there is no need for a ladder or tools. The safety benefits of The SpoutOff’s Removable Downspout feature makes it easier to market because ladder falls are a universal concern.

It’s also a more convenient solution due to the easy installation, and it’s cost-effective compared to the expense of hiring a gutter cleaning company or repairing structural water damage.  I built The SpoutOff Rain Gutter System so it’s easy to retrofit to most rain gutters. Our sturdy two-story downspout only weighs about six pounds, so it’s easy to remove, check and reinstall.  I knew homeowners wouldn’t be willing to install all new gutters to improve performance, so we made The SpoutOff as simple as possible to RETROFIT to most present rain gutters ensuring an attractive value proposition.

Entrepreneurs succeed when they can create products that address real needs and can provide layers of benefits.  The SpoutOff offers safety, convenience, and money saving, three attributes that get a customer’s attention. Entrepreneurs should always keep in mind their products’ core attributes in their messaging, sales pitches, investor presentations and advertising.  And they need certainty that the product addresses a real need that’s important to potential customers.

Embrace targeted advertising

The SpoutOff is a fantastic product that addresses a real problem with a cost-effective and simple solution, but the trick for turning my product into a top seller was getting other people to agree. The best product in the world succeeds when your target market sees it frequently. This requires both advertising and a groundswell of support through referrals and word-of-mouth support.

I consider advertising as a necessary investment, one that pays off handsomely when it’s targeted and efficient.  I picked a firm with experience in the homeownership and DIY spaces because they understood the target customers’ core motivations and needs, and then align with those needs with straightforward and engaging ads.

I, of course guided the ways they described my product and provided insights, but I trusted their judgement to hit the right targets and develop great results. I tell other early-stage entrepreneurs to allocate budget for advertising because it’s a prerequisite for success. Very few products “go viral” on their own. Most need effective advertising campaigns to reach people.

I wasn’t a “serial entrepreneur” who launched a new company or product every other year. I worked for decades in what most would consider a boring industry. I wasn’t born an entrepreneur, but I became one with The SpoutOff Rain Gutter System. Creating The SpoutOff was driven by my passion and desire to improve the rain gutter industry, reduce accidents, and give homeowners a safer, easier, and cost-effective product. Entrepreneurship launched an exciting new phase for my life, and I look forward to continually refining our products and growing the business.

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