Ever dream about changing careers? Or think you have an amazing idea, but never take that leap? After spending 30 years in the investment business, Jimmy Gould did just that. His days were once spent transacting millions of dollars of bonds with large institutions and one giant leap has now filled his days with bar soap. That’s right, bar soap. As the founder of SoapStandle, Jimmy has developed and patented a product that is bringing the focus back to bar soap, promoting its benefits on health and the environment. Launched in 2018, SoapStandle is a handy, eco-friendly tiny tool that sinks its “teeth” into bar soap, creating a platform that keeps the soap elevated, allowing the bar soap to shed water and dry so goo never develops. Made of recyclable material, SoapStandle provides a no-slip grip and makes bars of soap last up to 30% longer.We had a chance to interview Jimmy Gould and asked about his story, how he started his business and the future of SoapStandle.
Why did you start your business?
Once I realized I had something at the intersection of
- an idea that is simple to produce and implement
- it didn’t exist and I was able to gain a patent
- it improves something billions of people use every day
…I turned my attention away from the investment world and focused on building SoapStandle from an idea to a viable product to a legitimate company.
How did you come up with your business name?
The name sums up what it is: a combination of stand and handle for bar soap — SoapStandle. I was told by an ad exec, “that doesn’t mean anything, no one knows what it does,” but to me, that just meant we’d have to educate people. Once people are aware that there’s an entirely new way to deal with soap so it lasts longer, keeps things clean, and stays in your hand, we’ll have created a new term, and one that we own.
SoapStandle is simple—simple oval, simple spikes, simply stays in the soap. But out of that simplicity come some complex results.
By allowing all water to drain off from the bar soap, changes occur:
- The hydrophilic end of the soap molecule dries out, so no goo develops on the bar.
- Since no goo has developed, your sink counter and shower ledge are clean.
- The bar also isn’t disintegrating prematurely into goo, so it lasts about 30% longer, and
- The ergonomically designed grooves in the SoapStandle allow for a comfortable grip so the bar doesn’t slip out of your hand.
The experience is better… nicer soaps… no mess… lasts longer… and sea turtles are happy. (Sea turtles? The #1 reason people use liquid soap in their home is to avoid ‘soap goo’. Liquid soap has a pretty bad environmental record – since it’s 70% water a huge amount of fuel is required to ship it since it’s so heavy, so the carbon footprint is large, and the plastic packaging finds its way to oceans aka unhappy sea turtles.)
That’s the consumer, but we also see children around the world as ‘clients.’ With our One-for-One program, SoapStandles are donated to global hand washing initiatives where soap is a scarce resource. If we can make hand washing easier for small hands — and make soap last longer where it’s rare — then we can have an impact of lessening childhood disease.
What makes you unique? What is your unique selling proposition?
Because soap has been around for thousands of years and the SoapStandle is so simple, I was surprised when I discovered it didn’t already exist. There are a lot of soap dishes and trays, but none of them dry bar soap, eradicate goo, makes soap last longer and provide a firm grip on your soap like SoapStandle does. And after 20+ refinements, it’s a cool design that gives the perception that your bar soap is “floating” on the counter. That’s pretty unique.
Where do you see your business in the next 3-5 years?
Within five years, SoapStandle will be in use throughout the U.S. In ten, the world.
Any advice you would give to entrepreneurs and business owners?
I’m confident you’ve heard this before but ‘keep at it.’ And just try in the first place. We tell our kids ‘just try,’ and then as we get older, we don’t do it. A lot of people tell me, “I’m always thinking of things, but never do anything about it.” Try. Draw it. Make a prototype. Write the book. Send in the manuscript. And then improve it. It can always get better.
What is your favorite business quote and why?
I read a lot and my background is finance so I’ve encountered a lot of great quotes from “Buy straw hats in the winter” (B. Baruch) to “Price is what you pay, value is what you get” (W. Buffett). But my favorite is about leverage — not financial leverage, but time, people, experience. It’s John D. Rockefeller, Sr. explaining what the ‘rule’ was at Standard Oil Company:
“As soon as you can, get someone whom you can rely on, train him in the work, sit down, cock up your heels, and think out some way for the Standard Oil to make some money.”
Think. Not ‘work harder’. Not ‘negotiate tougher’. Think. And act on it.
If you know how to do it, you can teach someone how to do that. It’s what hasn’t been thought of that changes things. That’s Zero to One.
What have been some of your achievements that you have been most proud of? Why?
In the financial industry I was a salesman that most enjoyed pretty complex transactions. We had smart investment bankers creating interesting product and I had smart clients that could appreciate that value. I was able to communicate that value, helped structure and price the deals, and am glad that both the bankers and clients felt I added to the process. Our firm was great – very successful with terrific people. I was a Managing Director and served on the Benefits and Promotion Committees, so I was very involved. But we were a good-sized firm (3,000 employees) so one’s focus was pretty narrow – mine was sales, others were legal, marketing, trading, etc. There was always someone to turn to and rely on for their expertise. Now I’m wearing all those hats, and every day is a new challenge. Gaining the patent was important, and since that point it’s been manufacturing, packaging, legal, HR, design, etc. There’s a lot to do, but I had two great CEOs from whom I learned a lot. And I’d love to say our five kids, but their achievements are their own. They are all great.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
Thank you. Buy some SoapStandles. Make a sea turtle’s day… and your own.