A few years back Glenn talked about a man on the Marketplace website who had a dream and a shed. He didn’t have much money for his business idea so he worked out of his shed. After the segment aired things changed dramatically. This audience responded in a huge way - how big? So big he's now getting his product in Bed, Bath, and Beyond and other stores across the country! Glenn discussed the story on radio this morning.
Below is edited text from his monologue on the story:
I want to give you a message of hope today. I want to give you a message of success. I want to tell you about an American entrepreneur. His name is Robert Darling. Robert Darling is a creator of a ‑‑ of a handcrafted toy called Slotto. It's unfinished wood pieces that you ‑‑ that have slots in them you put them together. And it's kind of like the Lincoln Logs or the Tinkertoys of today. And in 2008 this guy's 61 years old, the market crashes, he loses his job, he's got nothing. He's got nothing. And he doesn't know what to do. He actually is out on the street after looking for a job, he'll go out and he'll get a sign and he'll go on the street with a sign that says, I need a job. He meant it.
He lived in Oregon. And then he would go back to his house and he would start to make these little toys that he was selling part time at, like, the farmers market in Portland, Oregon. These toys called Slotto. Well, he couldn't, he couldn't ‑‑ you know, he couldn't make enough of the toys to be able to, you know, feed the family, keep his house and everything else, but he really believed and he was like, this is what I really need to do, and I'm not going to be on the government dole.
Well, he found out about ‑‑ he found out about the Marketplace and he sends me a bag of these toys, Slotto. And I get them and I say, "Well, you know what, let me go take these and I'll play with them with Raphe and if, you know, we like them, I'll call you back." So we take them, I take this bag home and I dump it out in the living room, on the living room floor one Saturday or one ‑‑ I think Friday night, and we start playing with it. Well, before I know it Tania's like, "Okay, it's time for bed and it's really late." And we had made, like, I think a castle and he made a castle, I made a castle and we were playing war with it. The next morning I get up and he doesn't have the TV on and he's now making airplanes and so we make an aircraft carrier out of them and airplanes and we're having dogfights and we spend all day playing with Slotto.
So halfway through Saturday I call up Kevin and I said, this toy is great. I love this. I said, let's see if, you know, we can do the deal with the Marketplace. So Monday I get in and I'm all excited and he said, "Glenn, I called him back and he's really excited, but there's a down side to this. He's just one guy and he's only working in his shed that he built and he doesn't even have the money for a roof on this shed. He's just taken tarp and put it over for the roof so he can keep the rain out." I'm like, you've got to be kidding. I said, so we can't ‑‑ how many can he make? And he said he can only ‑‑ he can only promise that he can make, like, 263 of these. I said, we can't go on national airwaves and say only 263. And he's like, "Look, we'll just do a 48‑hour sale and in 48 hours we'll cut it off and whatever he sells, that way ‑‑ because you believe in it, right?" And I said, yeah, it's great. And he said that way he can get some seed money because he's got nothing. I said okay.
Well, here was the problem. I went on the air and I talked about it and this was 200 maybe 9 and I talked about it and I said this is the greatest toy ever. Slotto. And I said, we have a two‑day sale. By the even of the hour we couldn't shut the Internet process down fast enough. By the end of the hour, he had sold double the amount of Slotto games. They were selling Slotto games ‑‑ or Slotto sets, one set every 30 seconds and we could ‑‑ it was blowing everything out. People were ‑‑ it was Google trending. It was just all of a sudden exploded.
Well, now here we are with a guy who advertised on this program. He went through the Marketplace because he was just an entrepreneur that didn't have a lot of money but, you know, he was like, "If I could just get this in front of people, they will love it." I am so excited to tell you that Robert Darling has announced on TheBlaze that Slotto, a little idea that he had, has moved clearly out of their little shed that he couldn't even afford a roof on and moved now into a new workshop where he has his own employees. Sales have been so good that he's just signed a deal with J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Bed, Bath & Beyond.
He said this: "I started out making Slotto in a makeshift shed in my backyard. It was a constant struggle. The opportunity from the Marketplace allowed me to get a real workshop, hire employees, grow my business. I realized how many people truly loved my product. The Marketplace didn't just grow my business. It propelled my business to extraordinary heights."
This guy was out on the street with a sign. He made all of the Slottos himself. It was his idea, it was his passion, it was his sweat. It was everything that he did. And then soon he'll be demonized. Right now he's an American success story. Right now, in this economy, when nobody can ‑‑ when nobody ‑‑ everybody needs a handout, everybody needs something, no. No. You know what we need? We need great entrepreneurs. And we need a place where entrepreneurs can get together and they can show the American people their wares. There is so many great things on the Marketplace, and I know that ‑‑ I know that, you know, there's nobody more frustrated than I am at the speed at which we do things. We do things incredibly fast but not fast enough for me, and it drives me nuts. The Marketplace is going to end up being one of the most important things I ever do.
The Marketplace and the American Dream Labs are going to end up being the most important thing I think I've ever done because we're going to show you that things can be done, and we're going to give people the opportunity, like this guy. Slotto, we had nothing to do with it. We didn't come up with his plan. We didn't come up with the toy. We didn't do ‑‑ I had my part. My part is show good people a great product. Show them. And show them, get into a situation to where you don't need ‑‑ right now you need so much money. This guy was selling them at the Portland farmers market because he could just go and bring a table and show up and bring his stuff. You can't advertise on a national platform. You can't do that. You have to be J.C. Penney's or Kohl's or something like that.
I remember the first time I went to go get a car loan. I went into the bank and they said, "You don't have any credit." I said, "I know. But that's why I'm here. I want to be able to get a car loan." "Well, you don't have any credit." Well, how do I get credit ‑‑ this is before the time where everybody had a credit card. "How do I get the credit if you won't give me a loan?" It was a Catch‑22. How can I be successful if I can't tell people about my product? How can I be a big huge thing if nobody knows about me? That's what the Marketplace is. And hopefully in the next six months, hopefully by March you're going to see a new phase of what we're going to be doing for entrepreneurs and taking the next step. I don't even know how many, what do we have, 250 people in the marketplace now? And it's just because I am not growing with debt. I refuse to get into debt. We could be a lot bigger. This Marketplace could be a lot bigger and a lot more things if I took on $10 million of debt. I am not going to do that. And I'm not doing it because that's when you become beholden to somebody. And I'm not going to become beholden. I want to do the things that I believe in. I want to find the entrepreneurs that really have the same kind of mindset. I don't know Mr. Darling. I know his work. And I know he's come up and he's pulled himself up. And I know that at least for a while ‑‑ and he's 61. So I'm guessing he's going to be this way for the rest of his life. But at least for a while, he will not forget where he came from. And he will help others achieve their dreams. And he will stand up for the American entrepreneur and the American experience and the American spirit. And he'll help spread that. I'm not just taking anybody. I don't want to just take anybody. I don't want to partner with just anybody. I want to partner with people who believe the same kinds of things. We don't have to believe the same things politically but we have to believe in the entrepreneurial spirit, we have to believe in American exceptionalism, we have to believe that we can do it, we have to believe that corporations don't have to be bad. They can be good. We don't have to believe that ‑‑ we have to get together on the idea that you did build something. And you have a right to keep that when you're done and not be vilified for doing something with your life, doing something with your brain and your hands. That's a good thing.
If you bought it on the Marketplace, you might want to save that bag and that original Slotto game because that one was made by the creator, and soon you won't know the name of the person because they're hiring new employees. American employees. In this economy.
Congratulations. Slotto, America's new Tinkertoy.