Main website: http://www.kurufootwear.com
Other places to follow Kuru:
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/Kuru_Footwear
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/iheartkuru
- YouTube Channel: http://www.youtube.com/kurufootwear
What motivated you to start Kuru? In 5th Grade, I wanted to start the business.
When did you actually start your business?Kuru was launched the end of 2009.
Do you do this full-time or part-time? Full-time. I spend way too much time on this company. But, when you do something you love, it’s hard to pull yourself away, because it doesn’t feel like work. That’s why it’s so critical to pursue what you know you’ll enjoy, not what you think will generate the biggest payday.
When did you first start selling shoes on your Website? We started selling in November 2008. However, for e-commerce it was somewhat cumbersome and not user-friendly. We did a redesign in July 2009 to enhance the e-commerce functionality of the site.
Why do you only sell them on your Website, vs. other retailers? Kuru shoes are available exclusively at www.kurufootwear.com. We want to offer Ridiculously Amazing Customer Experiences and we feel the best way to do this is to have control over the learning and buying process. In addition, by selling direct, we are able to offer a significantly higher value product compared to what you’d pay in a retail store. These combine to offer a better experience for the customer. In addition, we offer Free Exchanges which eliminates concerns of fit, sizing, style, color, etc. We make it hassle-free to exchange your purchase to get the right shoe for you.
How did you find the China manufacturer?As the founder, I did a lot of networking and travelling both Stateside and in China. We initially hired a footwear consulting/development group who helped us develop our product and technology. When it came time for mass production, this development group introduced us to the factory.
What was the process from design to finished product (prototypes, creation of lasts, etc.)? First, we developed the concept of the product and the technology. Because of the incredible promise of our technology, we went through multiple rounds of prototypes to ensure the technology was going to perform as desired. Given the uniqueness and performance of our technology, we were able to file for patent protection. In addition, we have new technologies in development that we are in process of patenting. We have really high standards, so the prototyping and refinement process took a couple years. Once the prototypes were performing as expected, we finalized the designs and moved towards commercialization. Commercialization is when we purchased mass production molds, tools and lasts. This process was really fun, albeit expensive, as we learned a lot about how to dial in our technology.
Tell us more about the KuruSole technology?Our patent-pending technology combines the proven support of a medical grade orthotic built into the shoe. We thought it was a pretty straightforward and simple concept, but we were amazed when we couldn’t find anyone else who had made this kind of product. What makes our technology so supportive is that with each step, the breakthrough design of our sole makes it flex inward, cupping the heel. This cupping action keeps the fat pad of the heel under your heel bone, cushioning your entire body. Our customers absolutely love how supportive and stable this makes our shoes. Note: Check out this page on the website to see how the tech works – http://www.kurufootwear.com/technology and this helpful training demo on YouTube.
What would you tell someone just starting out? Network like crazy and trust your gut. In addition, you really have to know your stuff. Some of the best innovations come from people from outside the industry in which they create the innovation. But, they had a steep learning curve and learned quickly. It’s critical that you learn about the industry and what’s happening. In addition, talk to others in the space. Get to know your competitors. And, ultimately, you must trust your gut. No matter what your brain says, if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it.
Any moment you want to share from interacting with customers?Once we had a customer call and say, “I absolutely love your shoes. They are so wonderful. I’ve told everyone about them. I’ve told friends, my doctor, people at the gym, and the lady at the checkout line in the grocery store”. To which I responded, “That’s wonderful, which Kuru shoe do you own”. To which she replied, “Actually, that’s why I’m calling, I haven’t bought a pair. I had a few more questions before I buy”. I then asked her why she recommended our shoes to so many people if she hadn’t purchased a pair for herself yet. She said, “Well, I’ve done a bunch of research about your shoes and if even half of what I’ve read is true, then I know these shoes are going to be incredible!” She bought a pair and loves them.
How do you market your business? We leverage social media such as Facebook and Twitter to engage in conversations. We also do Pay Per Click and Search Engine Marketing. Another part of our marketing is on PR and product reviews. In addition, we’ve found that a ton of our current customers love their shoes so much, that they will market Kuru for us. I can’t tell you how many phone calls I’ve fielded where the customer told me they heard about us through their friends.
Can we come back and interview you again in a few months to find out what “next steps” you’ve taken in your business adventures? Sure.
Welcome to Nudge Village Bret and Kuru Footwear!