In less than two years, BaitCloud has gone from an idea concept to the retail shelves across many major outdoor retailers in North America, a feat that is quite rare. Similar to an episode of Shark Tank or Dragon's Den, Cheryl Hopkins an Oakville, Canada mother of three, took her idea from the kitchen to Bass Pro Shops, Cabela's and Dick's Sporting Goods in record time, and with no venture investment.
The story began at a gym where Cheryl overheard her future partner Carl Rudnik and his father talking about fishing. Instead of tuning them out, their conversation inspired an idea. What if she took the concept of a bath bomb, and converted into a "bait" bomb for fishing? By taking out the perfumed ingredients, and substituting scents and other elements that fish might like, would fish be attracted and easier to catch? Surely someone had thought of it already. She mentioned the idea to Carl and his father, and they were intrigued.
Motivated, Cheryl researched the idea and put together some prototypes in her kitchen (much to the distaste of her family given the potent smell of garlic and fish oil). Rudnik tested them on the water, and was surprised at how effective they were at attracting fish. And so, in February of 2015, BaitCloud was born.
Over the next year, in a small garage-like factory in Oakville (near Toronto) the recipe was fine tuned, packaging designed, a website launched and a team of Oakville Trafalgar High School students employed to produce the product. Hopkins and Rudnik traveled across Ontario pitching the new product to every bait and tackle shop, and at every charity fishing tournament. Gradually interest started to build, until their first big break.
Just before the Spring Sportsman Show of 2016 in Toronto, fishing celebrity Italo Labignan approached the team with an offer. He had tested the product, was excited about its potential, and wanted to use his highly popular TV show “Canadian Sportsfishing”on CBC to help promote BaitCloud. Another respected fishing industry veteran, Gord Pyzer, the Fishing Editor at Outdoor Canada Magazine declared the product “… may be the year’s best new hardwater bait.” Momentum continued to build and the company was able to secure industry leaders like Canada Pro as their sales agency, KTL and Big Rock as distributors, and Raymond Rumpf, Inc. as their partner in the US. At the ICAST fishing industry trade show in July 2016, the product captured the attention of many key buyers with an amazing three minute video of BaitCloud in action with underwater images and lifestyle action.
Then came the big break. In August, the company posted a 30 second video, “Bass Love BaitCloud” demonstrating the product in action. Within 72 hours the video had gone viral reaching over 20 million people, and has since been viewed over 9.4 million times! This generated a surge of consumer buying from around the globe, and allowed the company to secure orders from Cabela’s, Dick's Sporting Goods, and Bass Pro Shops. Unlike most consumer products that often have to compete for scarce shelf space, BaitCloud was offered premier retail end-cap positioning including video point-of-sale messaging. The product is now zipping off the shelves all around the world.
While every year countless products are invented, only very few entrepreneurs can pull off what Cheryl, Carl and BaitCloud have done: invent, introduce a novel product, capture the attention of a massive market, and then secure major retailer and distribution support for their product!
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