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Hidden Gems: Meet Chris Avolio of Huldit

Today we’d like to introduce you to Chris Avolio.

Hi Chris, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I have always had a mechanical mind and loved to take things apart to get an understanding of how they worked from the inside out. I feel like my passion for understanding how things worked drove me to look at products and problems in a solution-oriented way. In a similar way to how a writer gets an idea of a story to tell, my brain gets flooded with ideas for products. In high school, my friends and I would spend most of our free time biking. We all hated the bike lock holders that were on the market. They were cheaply made, scratched our frames, and were irritatingly noisy during a ride. Additionally, most lock holders could only be used with a lock sold by the same company and required tools to install. Since options were limited, I did end up buying a new kryptonite lock that had a lock holder, but after it literally snapped off while riding, I knew I needed to make a simple and durable lock holder. I borrowed my mom’s sewing machine, taught myself how to sew, and created the first prototype Huldit lock holder. My friends saw what I made and immediately asked me to make them one as well. I still didn’t think much of the idea at that point but I remember the exact moment where my mindset changed.

While waiting at the light of Venice Blvd & Main St., I saw one cyclist after another, with their U locks dangling dangerously off their bikes. I was filled with such a strong feeling to make this product a reality. I called over thirty manufacturers and drove all around Los Angeles until I finally found one that agreed to produce my lock holder. I didn’t have enough money to order packaging for the product and simply used printer paper and glue to make the packaging for the Huldit Lock Holders that hung in multiple bike stores. An REI employee happened to see my product in one of these bike stores and reached out to me via email. I was in awe and disbelief that a high-profile store was interested in my product! The next day I went into the REI store in Santa Monica to meet him and the manager. They both loved the product and were eager to get it into their store. But I didn’t want to stop there. I built connections with manufacturers, started selling online, improved the design, and more. I also went to CicLAVia and was unbelievably surprised when completely sold out of all products before the event was over. After all of this positive feedback, I realized that cyclists really needed the Huldit Lock Holder product. With this newfound confidence, I decided to take the leap of faith and quit my job to work on building the Huldit Brand.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
No, it really has not been a smooth road. But those challenges brought amazing opportunities. I had issues keeping up with demand – incredibly every time I get larger quantities of products, our orders also increase and we continue to sell out. I’ve even had to turn off advertising at times to focus on demand. I have pride in the products I offer and want them to be manufactured with quality materials, manufactured to last, and made with the attention to detail that goes beyond what a customer would expect. The issue is that many manufacturers don’t share this same sentiment. Figuring out how to connect, motivate and align the business goals with your manufacturers (or employees) has been extremely challenging yet rewarding. Understanding how to do this has been an immensely important lesson to learn as it overlaps into many aspects of the business.

Another challenge was getting a patent for my invention. After persisting for multiple years and using up my saving, I was ready to give up. However, I decided to file once more and was finally awarded a patent! Since I run this business entirely by myself, I have had to take on the roles of an entire organization. It has been challenging but I have learned SO much! From forming an LLC, product regulations, sustainability, accounting, industrial sewing, material manufacturing, chemical testing, carbon emissions, management, CAD design, graphic design, web design, advertising, product photography, management, future planning – as to not bore you, I’ll stop here. While this sounds like an exhaustive list of issues, it has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Everyone has had the experience of finding and using the perfect solution for a task at hand. This can happen with any number of things, the perfect towel that has just the right weight, feel, and absorbency. It can be the best screwdriver you have ever used, the one that every time you pick it up, you know it will work perfectly, and you love that. I want Huldit to be known for making innovative, high-quality, life-improving products that are the perfect solution for a consumer’s need. Bike lock holders are just the beginning.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts, blogs or other resources you think our readers should check out?
I use excel to organize all of my many tasks, breaking them up into categories and allocating times to complete them. A few books I have read over the last few years are: • Contagious By Joan Berger • Zero to One by Peter Theil • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill • Growth Hacker Marketing by Ryan Holiday • The 80/20 Principle By Richard Koch • This Is Marketing You Can’t Be Seen Until You Learn to See by Seth Godin

Pricing:

  • Huldit – Bike Lock Holder: $23.00

Contact Info:

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