Interview with Julie Austin

Product development is not easy, you make a lot of mistakes in the middle. But, being a successful entrepreneur does not mean that you will not be making mistakes. It just means that you will learn from them and not make the same one twice. Thousands of companies start every year in the US, yet so few of them carry on to become successful. Different people find different reasons for the basis of their success, but underlying it all is patience. After you have done it all, it may take some time to break through, but once you do the rewards are great. This in short is the story behind Swiggies.

So, join us, as we interview Julie Austin from about her entrepreneurial journey from a bad experience to eventually establishing her own company and marketing a solution.

When did you formally launch the business?

Swiggies was officially launched in 2001. But I’ve been growing the business very slowly since then because I’ve funded it all myself.

What was the inspiration behind it?

I passed out from dehydration while out running in the heat.

Building the first prototype can be difficult. Did it take you long?

The first prototype was made out of clay and didn’t take long at all to make. I went straight into production from that clay prototype. I was lucky that it worked that way. Sometimes you have to make a more formal prototype, but I would always start out with something very simple, like one made of clay, Popsicle sticks, Styrofoam, etc.

Establishing a supply chain is one of the most difficult things for most startups. Did you have any problems in this department?

I really learned everything as I went along and made a million mistakes. I started out trying to get them into chain stores, but found that the best way to sell large volume was as promotional products.

Networking is important for most businesses, but especially for small and medium ones. Has your experience been similar?

Networking is always important for any business. If you have a good product word will eventually get out. You just have to keep getting out there and letting people know about it.

You have stated that when you developed Swiggies there weren’t many options out there. Now people have a choice. Do you plan on improving the product design further; or, are you working on any new products?

It took years to get the design just right, so that it works, so not planning to change that part, but I do have other products to add to the line, like a drink mix.

Lastly, there are many entrepreneurs out there who are struggling to bring their products to the market. What advice do you have for them?

Don’t aim for perfection when you start out. Just get your product out there and keep improving it. My first model wasn’t that great, but I sold a lot of them before I changed the plastic, band, and packaging. Oh, yeah, half-way through I also changed the brand name!