Ryan Meegan is a 31 years old from the south suburbs of Chicago. He loves sport and plays sports his entire life. He played basketball through college. He attended a small private school Benedictine University in Naperville, IL. He grew up in Homer Glen, IL.
Despite being a sport fanatic, Ryan’s main goal in life was to be an entrepreneur. He and his three other friends came up with the idea of DUDE wipes.
The founders of Dude Wipes shared an apartment in Chicago after college. While they lived there, they used baby wipes as an accompaniment with toilet paper in bathrooms. In 2010, they decided to make wipes specifically for the adult male market. They spent the next year in research and design and prepared four pallets of custom-made wipes to sell. The product was launched in early 2012 and Dude Products became the first company to introduce wipes for the adult male demographic. They used buzz marketing and Internet sharing to promote the product. Four months later, the product was available in some online stores and retail stores.
They pitched their product on Shark Tank and got a big investment from Mark Cuban.
1) How did you come up with the idea for Dude Wipes?
The idea came about between my partners and I ( Co-Founders: Sean Riley, Brian Wilkin, Jeff Klimkowski & Ryan Meegan) shortly after college in our apartment in Chicago. We were sawing through bulk packs of baby wipes from Sam’s Club in our bathroom. Since we all got addicted to wipes in our bathroom routine, it became frustrating to not have wipes on us at work and outside of the apartment. At the same time we figured we weren’t the only guys using baby wipes. So after some research on the market, we so that it was wide open and the flushable wipes industry in the U.S. was only going to grow. We figured if we could put a blunt, entertaining and masculine brand around wipes we might be on to something. We always knew we would get the ‘closet wipe guys’ (haha) to switch over to DUDE Wipes which we have, but what is also been great is that guys who never thought to use wipes in this way are getting on board too!
2) What makes it different from regular wipes?
Dude Wipes are a lot bigger than your average wipe, about 25% bigger than all other brands. Our home pack wipe is 48 sq inches and our travel wipe is 44 sq inches. Also, our product and solution are very natural. We don’t use any preservatives. It is hypoallergenic, paraben free and don’t use any ingredients that react to or will irritate your skin. We searched for a long time for a manufacturer who would make the product we wanted. Our brand is huge for getting people excited about using Dude Wipes but we also have a very quality product and we are very proud of that. Also our travel singles are very convenient for on the go.
3) How did your experience on Shark Tank help you and your business?
So far it has been GREAT! We are only about 10 days since our episode aired but sales, exposure and retail inquiries are through the roof. We are very pleased and can’t wait to keep building off of this momentum.
4) How did you get into the big box retailers?
Let me start by saying that this is NOT easy! We worked for a couple years before we could even get a meeting. We just worked out butts off to build a customer base and create buzz as much as we could so that we would get retailers attention. That started in 2014 with Bass Pro shops picking us up, we have a huge following in the outdoors thanks to an Elite Bassmaster Angler Gerald Swindle. From there we just kept hustling to find contacts and once we found the right buyers we just kept staying on them until we could get meetings. Kroger was our first mass retailer to come on board this year. We are committed to making that a success and at the same time acquire more big retailers. Others like Jewel in Chicago, Meijer (next spring), Tractory Supply are coming on board. And since the show we have had contact with other big named retail chains that are very interested.
5) How has Mark Cuban been as an investor and mentor?
Since we have NDA’s with the show you can’t really do much publicly until your episode airs but in the short time we have been working together Mark and his team have been unbelievable. They are really engaged and try to help in any way that they can. It’s a great feeling for us knowing we have that support. We are so excited to take this to another stratosphere with Mark and his team on board. With his connection to sports and other resources he probably is the best match for us as an investor in the entire world, so it’s pretty crazy that it worked out that way.
6) What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs who want to start a business?
I would tell anyone who is thinking about starting a business to first and foremost go for it! It is not easy by any means but if you truly put in the effort every day you will start to see progress and things will end up working out for you. Society has a tendency to show us the successes of people but not what they did to get there. So I would say be prepared for some long, lonely stressful days but eventually it will all pay off. Get comfortable being uncomfortable and get after your dream! One thing we learned is that everyone thinks there is some secret formula to success…sure you need a good idea and some luck along the way but the one common denominator is HARD WORK. That’s it.
We would like to thank Ryan for speaking with us.