067 | Why success sometimes leads to failure with Don Hejny, Nerdwax

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Don Hejny is the inventor of Nerdwax, a wax based product that keeps your glasses in place. Nerdwax was launched on Kickstarter in 2014 and featured on the hit television show Shark Tank the following year. Nerdwax is handmade in Nashville, TN and shipped all over the world.

On today’s episode, we talked about managing risk, running a debt-free business and why Don strives to work smarter, not harder.


  • How Don came up with the idea for Nerdwax

  • Starting a Kickstarter campaign & what his experience was with it

  • The timeline for fulfilling orders after the Kickstarter campaign

  • The importance of planning for success

  • What the Shark Tank experience was like & what his goals were for it

  • How they handled the influx of orders after their episode aired

  • The infrastructure of Nerdwax & how they have approached scaling

  • Why Don strives to work smarter, not harder

  • Don’s priority to stay debt-free

  • How Don creates a great customer experience

  • Don’s advice for someone just starting out in a product-based business

  • The fact that many entrepreneurs over-think things, especially at the beginning

  • What’s next for Nerdwax

  • When they decided to branch out into other product categories

  • What Don has learned about himself through starting and growing Nerdwax

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“I thought if surfers use wax on their boards in the water, I bet I can make something like that for your glasses.” – Don Hejny

“That’s really the power of the internet, if you really put yourself out there, and you do it in a way where people get it, you can have that energy and it doesn’t all have to be manufactured.” – Don Hejny

“With the Kickstarter community if you tell your story, it’s a community of people like you who have ideas, who love new ideas, who love adopting new ideas, and they’re totally willing to take that risk with you, as long as it’s a manageable risk.” – Don Hejny

“The thing about Kickstarter though is, even though we pushed that deadline, if you are honest and open, and you keep people updated, and you keep people engaged, there’s so much forgiveness within that community.” – Don Hejny

“You can never mitigate risk entirely.” – Don Hejny

“That was one of the most nerve-wracking parts about Shark Tank is that you don’t know what piece of that puzzle they’re going to actually air.”– Don Hejny

“Once we aired on Shark Tank, that episode, we had like $130,000 in sales. We did that in the weekend after we aired on Shark Tank. So, it was just like rocket ship.” – Don Hejny

“One of the things that happens on Shark Tank all the time, is companies get this huge influx in orders, and then they just totally screw their people because they don’t prep for it.” – Don Hejny

“We’ve just DIYed it from the beginning, and stayed scrappy, and kept going within our means.” – Don Hejny

“You’re going to reach a point where you just can’t throw more bodies at it. You can’t throw more time at it. You can’t throw more energy at it, you’ve got to work smarter. Then there’s times where it’s like, no, you’ve just got to put your shoulder down and just dig in and do some work.” – Don Hejny

“Figure out how to create the business that allows you to have margin to grow more efficiently.” – Don Hejny

“If you don’t like it, you just let us know, we’ll shoot you a refund, super easy.” – Don Hejny

“If you can give yourself more margin, and you can assume positive intent, I think you can just treat people the way that you want to be retreated.” – Don Hejny

“If you think you’re going to make one thing and you don’t have the resources for that, think, what could I make with what I have today, and how do I transition it into that?” – Don Hejny

“Being four years into this, I’ve learned a lot to just fail quicker, don’t drag things out. If it’s not working, figure out a new path, and transition quicker.” – Don Hejny

“When you’re climbing the mountain, and all you see is the rocks in front of you, and all of you see as the challenges, and you got to turn around and look out once in a while.” – Don Hejny

“If you’re sitting out there trying to make waves in the ocean, you’re never going to get anywhere. You have to wait for the wave to come.” – Don Hejny


Website: Nerdwax | Instagram: @nerdwax | Facebook: @nerdwax | Twitter: @nerdwax | Youtube: Nerdwax

Connect with Katie Hunt

Katie Hunt is a business strategist, podcaster, mentor and mama to four. She helps product based businesses build profitable, sustainable companies through her conferences, courses and coaching programs.

Website: prooftoproduct.com  |   Instagram: @prooftoproduct

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