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July 25, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

How to get Rid of Raccoons with Joe Balistreri – 877-728-7763 – Pest Control Invention

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So everybody, I'm here with Joseph Balistreri. He's an unbelievable inspiring inventor. We're going to hear about his story today some of his obstacles and the amazing product that he's brought to market. And he has a lot of the kinds of problems a lot of inventors would would hope to have. And he'll talk about that. So in what I'm referring to is demand that is outpacing his ability to supply the market. So that's that's a wonderful position to be in. But before we, well, let's do this let's or moderator Manisha, if you can play a video, we'll mute the audio, and you guys can watch along. And that'll kind of show visually the product. And Joseph, you can talk about some of the, the obstacles, so many, so you can start that at anytime. Joseph began his career about in 2010, in the pest control industry. So that's how he's, he's very aware of these problems of all kinds of wildlife. But in this case, this video talks about raccoons, so tell us Joseph about the problem you've identified.

So with a problem, what you're seeing, especially with a pool is that for instance, that's really one of the main problems I had in South Florida what why I embedded the product rack was like the defecate in pools and just like you're seeing there, they go in, they use the pauses latrines, and hide their droppings to the other predators or other competition of other males or females. So they hide those droppings, and naturally in ponds or in lakes. But once those areas become populated, pools become more convenient. And, unfortunately, in their droppings, they have raccoon roundworm, which is dedicated into the droppings is in the droppings and it's inhaled or ingested by the raccoon. And it's proven by the CDC that chlorine can't kill it. So I have a very rich demographic in South Florida where I invented a product. And the customers didn't want to see the defecation in the pool, which stain the finish of the Diamond Bright. And long story short, the cuts from the pool. And I needed to find a better way than a fake alligator had, which is not was everybody's go to. And I wanted a better way. And I understood the Achilles heel of the animal. So which led me to the direction of how to ultimately stopped up dangerous areas.

So do a lot of I mean, it's it's interesting, because your customers are essentially they're aware of the droppings in the pool. But you have to educate them that it's not just the staining there might be aware of and of course nobody wants droppings of anything in their pool, Raccoon roundworm. The fact that it's not killed by chlorine, so there's nothing your typical pool cleaners do to to address that. So it is a hazard.

Yeah, it's a fungus. And it's encapsulated and mucus. And that's what makes it imperishable from the chlorine to get to actually the egg. And once it becomes an excellent incubation the warm water. It looks for a host unfortunately, we're the ones that are playing it.

So it was this. Let's like to kind of take you back in time to when the idea first came to mind. Like were you asked to you mentioned an alligator head like is that like a deterrent? Kind of like some places will put us an owl to get rid of like is that what it is is just an artificial alligator head that floats in the pool?

Right? It's a visual deterrent. And what most consumers and most homeowners don't realize is raccoons have no depth perception, they can't see up close. So that's why they picked up the hypersense sensitivity in their hands. And with that being hypersensitive, they can go into those waters and pick up anything and know if it's edible. Before they can actually smell it taste it. So with knowing that they can't see up close, if you can't see an option of visual deterrent, it's never ever going to become an a benefit or puts it out you know, with my product, it's it's geared to make them touch it. When they go to those certain areas. They touch it they don't like it. And I've proven it not to come back. You know, I videoed the product working for two years before I was able to raise the funding for my patents and whatnot

so so the visual I mean it's it's kind of strange your visual determining obviously doesn't work if the animals can't see the deterrent so that's really what so the alligator had it might you know it might work with some consumers don't purchase it because it's Sounds like it works. Obviously, you know, like pigeons can see. So when you see an artificial owl, which is a predator for pigeons, it works on pigeons, but that's because visually they can see, but raccoons are very well. And this goes to show that a lot of times when you invent with inventions, the best products come from those in the industry, who understand the obstacles that are actually faced, it's because of your experience in the pest control industry, that you actually became aware of these things. And that hurt you in, in developing better, a better product that others haven't considered. It's very common in, for example, products for people that are handicapped. Oftentimes, it's not the able bodied inventors that are identifying the problem. It's somebody who's blind who realize it, who faces an actual need for something, and then they, they go forward, and they address that. That need we have seen, I've seen that over and over again, in my practice, as well. So this is, it's interesting. And anytime I see an inventor, that's inventing within their industry, something a problem faced by their industry, it's always the likelihood is a lot higher, that they have identified something that others have missed. So that's, that's clearly what you have. Is there competition for other than this visual deterrent? Are there competing products that are focusing on the tactile aspect to deter raccoons?

I mean, to that there is I mean, I really don't research it. But there's there is, you know, some other products that tried to compete or be like mine, but it's, you know, my product has its, you know, obviously its pads in place protected for the last four years. But, again, there's really no, there's so many different variables, I couldn't couldn't work, you know, you had some things like Tronic, you know, what's that going to do to whoever wants to use the pool? Is it going to be a benefit for that? And it's just, you can always change something and make it better was no, that again, it takes research and, you know, years of development, and, you know, I don't you know, I know my product works, you know, before I even went into it, you know, I filmed it I had to some of the videos you saw were some of my test properties through South Florida, where I you know, where I was testing it was all through Boca Raton, Boynton Beach popping off i different areas where I knew where pockets raccoons live different strip malls. So that gave me an awesome good advantage to be able to, you know, now use a customer sport actually have daytime footage of rec and coming out actually using my product, which is was a huge benefit for me.

Wow. So that just one video that shows, I think it's some kind of food item or bait and surrounded by your product. And you see two or three raccoons walk up to it. And they turn around and leave. So those were not those are not domesticated, trained raccoons, they weren't actors or an inaccuracy. Those are, those are wild raccoons. And you caught them on film being deterred, specifically by a product. Right. So Oh, go ahead.

No, that's one thing I you know, I wanted to make sure, you know, a lot of vendors, you know, they have an idea. It's good to them. But it's really the overall aspect of it, you know, if you're gonna put something, you know, I was, you know, six years younger than, but, you know, I had to make sure I was gonna move forward with this process, you know, I gotta make sure it works, you know, and get the benefit to the consumer. You know, I did you want to call me and ask me, if it works, I'm just gonna tell you just go to my YouTube channel. So you can answer the question yourself, you know, that's what I want to do different, isn't it better as well, because I want to prove its worthiness and the merit of it before going to saying it works. Just like every other product and market. Anybody can talk talk's cheap, when it comes down to the concrete proven, you know, evidence that a product works, which I don't have a product on the market that does that. And that's what I've done different is you know, I might have competing products, but I don't have a sticker or a just an image of the actual problem I got the video going along with the solution to the problem.

So the actual evidence because I mean, any any company can produce you know, like fancy ads and graphics and advertising. But you have is basically raw footage that's, you know, that showing the product working, and then Millennials from customers that have used it and, and your own experience in in the pest control industry because that has been invaluable. The Tell me a little bit about the prototype process. Your you mentioned the simplicity of your product, no electronic parts. You don't need electricity, no batteries, no power source. So this makes it a lot more very convenient, right and durable. There's not it's not as if just when you need it, the batteries are down or the power is not working or something short circuits. And there's no risk of you know, especially because of the proximity to a swimming pool and people in the water. There is a lot more involvement if you have any kind of electronic product, right? Sure, yeah, the risks that you have none of those

right now. And when you talk about everything you just named, I would have needed the EPA approval for that, which makes it very expensive, because then you're going into, you know, the EPA has put a lot of new regulations in the last, you know, two years to regulate falsi claims products, they've their claims are false to what they do. So it through making the idea of the product, I understand I don't want to go through that route, like make a, you know, electronic device to be able to, you know, spend more money in this whole new registration over the EPA. And I've completely went around that because my proxy is plastic. Which has been good.

Now, it's funny when we talk about obstacles, like right at the beginning, I spoke about, you know, a current obstacle you're facing is that you have like fluctuating demand. And sometimes it's a good problem to have, but the difficulty and just producing enough product to satisfy that demand. But tell us about some of the early obstacles you had, one of the questions that were pre submitted, asks about obtaining funding for, for the launch.

Yeah, so with me, I had a pest control company that was already in business for six years in a service all South Florida. So through that, I end up getting a lot of I was very blessed to be able to get to some big jobs that provided the funding, and I self funded and paid for my patents and manufacturing, by tooling cost, I did everything through just having my first income really support my my dream. And that's why it took me two years, you know, I understood I had to wait to get to where I had to be make whatever you everything in life is worth waiting for. And you have to weigh your risk reward and, you know, being at a younger age, and, you know, just starting a family, I really had to take precise steps. So unfortunately, that took time. And but it allowed me to not go and lead investors and 100% of my company, but then you can you come into the you know, the point where everything's done. And that's where you got to, that's really where it gets harder.

Okay, was there any ideas or concepts that you think particularly helped bring your product to the marketplace?

Well, my patent research that I did, had conflicting products, their patent literally expired the month after I actually thought of my idea. So kind of took the wind out of my sails because I'm like, Oh, can I patent it? Can I really go forward with this idea that I've proven to work in a prototype, and I made some changes to it. And I learned what I couldn't couldn't do with my particular patent, and then move forward with it, you know, getting to that, you know, understanding what I'm protecting, you know, within my product. So that's really what it came down to that.

So one of the things that obviously, you know, first being patent pending, and now it's actually patented, so nobody can buy your product anywhere else. They have to you have exclusive rights to it. And that helps with your marketing and with consumers because it consumers are it's good to see that when they see your product is patented. That tells them you have proprietary rights, and there's a unique aspect to it. But another thing that really helped get the word out and help you in marketing was your appearance on Shark Tank. Right. So tell us a little bit about that and the publicity and how you were able to harness that to grow your business.

Well, I was my episode of Shark Tank was shown the second week of shot blocked out of a Coronavirus. It was March 27 2020 was my air date And so obviously, everybody was hauled. And I think it was one of the top three ever viewed episodes, and then 11 years are spent 12 Now that they've been on, but it was, it was tough, you know, I only had a limited inventory, because I was already making moves prior to be going on air. Because you never told you're going to be shown on TV until three weeks prior to your air day. So you can't really prepare for it. So I was already doing business as usual, having an order calm, and my manufacturer shut down in January, February. Now I needed a product they opened in March when we shut down. And it took me almost till July, to fulfill the orders from the March air date. And then June came again, and they we aired it. So I was back into the same problem a lot, a lot of demand, not a lot of product. So it was very hard to harness all that exposure and bring it to you know, really to capitalize on it. Because the variables weren't there for me, you know, I didn't have the United States manufacturer yet. It's very soon it's gonna be here and manufacture United States my product. But to get it there to here, it was just time consuming. And honestly, trying to keep up with my manufacturers demand, what other products they make. So now I'm in this huge rush, I want to be in front of 16 million people. Now my sales exploded. And then it continued and continued. And it still continues that my original Are they still paying till this day, I still get calls weekly. I saw you on Shark Tank last year. And I you know, I still remember your profit. Now I need that didn't need it that but it's really still paying dividends to me, but they still require it nonstop three or four times a year. So you never know when that happens. You just wake up to, you know, a lot more sales and you went usually what happened.

And this is you say it was the third most watched episode. So the timing, you know, sometimes, you know, things that that look like lemons, you can make lemonade out of it. I mean, obviously, you launch a new product two weeks into the or have their show aired two weeks into the pandemic. But it also helped quite a bit with viewership as well and who knows, perhaps people are more aware of you know, when you're at home, you're a lot more aware of things like like poop in your pool. Otherwise, what might happen if you have a pool cleaner in common in South Florida will come come by they'll clean the visible signs. And then homeowners don't realize the parasites and the ringworm. And those things are not cleaned off. So they're still in the water. You're still there, the health risk is still there. But now you're at home. I'm sure it helped with awareness, because not just, you know, the pool guy doesn't go and clean up the mess and the homeowners don't see it. And now you're there in the pool the next morning, you

know, as you're definitely right, there's more education to it. Because now I'm like, a lot of my calls that I get are customers that are educated. And they know, you know, i The CDC says for me to drain my pool, do I really need to take those steps? I'm like, Well, I didn't write those guidelines, unfortunately, those are the people who did. And I can answer that question. You know, it's a risk. You know, I've met probably 10 people are less, or they actually ingested the roundworm and it was in their, in their skin. Couple people in their scalp because of water went through the air and the egg was in there in it. And it went through that part. But you just don't know.

Yeah. I mean, so the safest approach is what your product does is just prevents instead of having to focus on the cleanup, and how to kill the roundworm. It's like, let's just prevent it from getting in the water at all.

Yeah, because once they start, they don't stop there. Raccoons are a creature of habit. So to break that routine, don't go and in like a lot of communities I worked in over the rock Country Club. So there's 60 pools in a row, and then in a subcommittee in a community and they would hit every part 20 of those pools, and within a week's period, because that was their routine, right? Once I figured that out to the videos, you know, eventually they would just use the neighbor's pool because the one post protected and I broke up that routine of that animal. But again, you never know what's behind that there's always a litter and there's constant winners all through the year especially in South Florida.

So what I'd like to turn to now is go back to the patents for a second and the initial research you found some competing products. But what led you to pursue To the patent, were you already aware of the benefits of patenting? Or that's something you researched and became more concerned about?

Yeah, I mean, I knew there wasn't really anything in the market to my product, because I was in it for long enough, but her struggle was available to me regularly and then move forward with something, you know, if I want to obviously, I had my heart into it. So I really wanted to protect it. Now, it feels like my child, you know, I was that strong about I was obsessed with it. It was it was everything. It consumed me for a very long time, because I knew it worked. So, you know, you keep it quiet. And you know, in reality, you pads are only enforceable. You can you have enough funds to protect it. And, you know, I understood that as well. But they didn't have something in front to it would have been birth, it would have been what if? So I did it, you know, it was, Well, money spent? Or wasn't? Where would that be? Now? Would I be spending that money on lawyer fees, trying to say I want to fight for it? Because I thought of it first, and somebody stole it? Because I didn't protect it? Or do I have the patent and have a service just like yours and tech, my pen? And, you know, I'm spending money wisely to get it out, get it back? Because they fringed on the pet. So I waited out what am I going to be paying out compared to the future, and it was a lot cheaper to patent it. And to protect it now, and have to worry about it in the future. Just keep moving forward with the proper steps of bringing a product to market, you know, so that I educated myself a little bit of really, how to make sure. You know, I did things right. Because, you know, network with other inventors. I met the inventor of the X hose, the hose that Slinkys up, and after you use it, okay, yeah, place. He invented that, bro, he pitched that to Home Depot. Within that pitch meeting, that product was stolen and being produced overseas. And within months, that product was over here under five different names. And this gentleman told me he was I asked him, I should like, Oh, these are crazy. You know, you got this cool idea. And it was I hate it. I'm gonna litigation every single day in my life fighting different companies in different states, because they did me wrong. And I'm like, wow, so you'll get paid. He was getting paid. But these people have made money on my idea. Why, you know, I should be making this more or more money than I should. Because now my pies cut with 10 huge companies selling it. So I you know, I wish it was one of those things.

Yeah. So that was an expensive lesson learned of, of not patenting the patent process, you said in your case, because the product was so unique. It really went through fairly quickly.

Yeah, I had my my patent reviews, I had to have one. And within that second review, I was approved. It was pending for about six months. And then well, probably three months after the house fully patented.

Okay. Yeah, that is, it's fairly, fairly quick. Any, any obstacles in that you want to talk about like in prototyping any obstacles or generating see doesn't sound like generating sales has been the obstacle because

we're not, that's, that's what I, what I personally feel is inventing it. tooling and manufacturing is easy part, selling is the hardest part, what I did in the beginning, before I packed my product that made the site part easier. Cuz I knew that was gonna be hard, you can just you can just put a product, say, hey, you know, blah, blah, blah, here's my product. You got to, I had to do

the research and the documenting and the videos and like proving it worked, you put the time in ahead of time?

Yeah, well, because what I'm, what I had to go against is the service industry. And then other competing products like sprays, and essential oils, and whatever whatnot, that's marker. The thing about my product is, it's when you need it, you have the problem, have a record, you need the product, you're not buying my product, just to say I want it, you have to be there for that I gotta be right in front of your face in front of all the other paid advertisements, pest control companies, wildlife companies. So now I gotta go through all that. And that was an obstacle. Patenting was easiest part. The hardest part about that was just waiting, you know, constantly waiting. And then my really my biggest obstacle was probably my partnership that I had with two individuals in South Florida, who ultimately left me high and dry. And, you know, that was really what was the biggest obstacle obstacle was dealing with a partnership with somebody that did me wrong, which ended up working out for me because eight months After the partnership dissolved the shark tanks producers called me and put me on the spot interview. And obviously I did. Okay, keep moving on. So, you know, that was a blessing in disguise. So that was the, you know, I look at all those obstacles, there were bumps in the roads, but, you know, I networked, educated myself how it works. I tried to get an understanding what I needed to do to keep calm, because everybody wants to become a millionaire. Everybody wants to go on Shark Tank, but it doesn't happen every single day. You know, you know, how happens, but you got to take certain steps. So you don't actually know the collapse yourself in case something goes wrong. You know, that's what I did make steps in the right way to make sure everything was done right.

And that started with really early with with the documenting so a lot of inventors I think sometimes jump ahead to the solution. But the first thing you did is focus on the problem itself and documenting the problem. So some of those the video that we had played at the beginning to that initial raccoon that's in the pool, was that your that's not stopped? Is that stock footage? Or is that your that

was stock footage, but some of the videos online that are because these animals are nocturnal. Alright, but actually, I'm sorry, the one in the pool that was stock was but the one in the pavement products scattered. There's actually Cheetos high thing from EfficientLine in the square.

And I refer to that whatever was attractive.

So I those raccoons were urbanized what I call a lot of people say they're raccoons or have rabies when they see them during the daylight. It's not we've urbanized them, they're there. They're the planet where they're taking live with us. They every move that we're making, they're going to be left behind has to be an opportunistic situation. If it's a food and a dumpster, or, or feet, if somebody's feeding cats, they don't care, they'll go out during the day and go eat that cat food. So that was one of the things with it. Both in trying to think what else? We'll move on that for that one.

Okay, well, I think, you know, it's not a surprise, I think that, that you came to the attention of the producers of Shark Tank, because you're just you're very passionate about this idea. And this isn't like a, like a fad type item that you just happen to see and think there's a need for this is from years of running a pest control company, seeing the same problem over and over again and see nobody addressing it. We only have a minute left, I'd like to give you this minute to think of what advice do you have for our viewers here today, a lot of them have ideas, they're at different stages. They're facing obstacles themselves. Any advice for them to help them finally launch and get to where you are?

Some of the biggest things I would say is, you know, be patient, have patience. Get through the steps, educate yourself to a point where you understand what happens as your your patenting, why, when it's in the patent review, what is it doing? And then being proactive, what's the next step, if you're, if you have a good team, like you doing all the work with your clients, they need to know, you know, there's other things to move forward to be ready for, you know, if you got a big mission, big tooling cost of your mold, and it's injected molded. Now you're going to have that 15 To $20,000 to get it made. You know, I fortunately, worked through the prototyping company led me to write way that I had twin costs really done barely cheap. By my cheapest quote, United States was 40,000, I got up to six. So you know, having that services while a prototype company to give you a good company, so you don't have to go knocking on doors in China, saying, hey, who can make it and haven't worried about it getting stolen, you know, have that advantage as well. You know, have that cost in mind. And really, you know, be ready for every next step, you know, patenting and tooling and everything that became part of easiest, it's selling it is the hardest, because now you have to get on the internet, and brick and mortar, have everything set for you and understand it and just network with different groups. So you can, like, you know, meet people like me that have been through it, you know, I mean, I had one product that developed and I did first one I went to shark tank for that, you know, that's my pedophile. That's every inventors pet was good to Shark Tank. But everybody can do this is doing things the right way. And you know, anybody can really do contact me and I can answer any questions. I like to work with other mentors to give them my steps. Because my steps I went through I had some rough roads in between it will also lead me to the smoothest path forward. For my next product that I have that I know what to do, I can get it patented in tools tool and manufacture cheaper than most anybody can really say, because I've already been there. And I did those steps.

You've gotten the people already lined up. Let me give us your website and then Manisha, you can type it into the chat for anybody that wants to get that's facing this problem. And we have a Facebook group for inventors. And Melissa will post that as well. So any questions that anyone has, we'll we'll try to get them to you. And I do a summit once a year featuring successful inventors. So hopefully as we get dates finalized, we'd love to have you back. It's such an inspiration to have to have you here to see someone with that kind of passion for their product, take it all the way from what it was nothing but a thought in your mind, prototyping and now being in the position where you can't make enough to meet the demand. So that's why it's tough to be in. terrific job, Joseph. Nice. Speaking with you. Appreciate you thanks for having

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