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July 25, 2023
John Rizvi, Esq.

Kari Warberg Block – Inventor of Stay Away® - 877-728-7763

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Happy Friday. Carrie, so wonderful to have you here.

I am so happy to be here with you to Dave. And looking forward to it.

We have, oh, gosh, a ton of viewers already coming in. I mean, there's been a lot of anticipation for this interview of yours. And in fact, we even had several questions submitted in advance. So these are prepared inventors who, I guess are inspired by you. And they have they have submitted some questions. So we'll get to those. And talking about you being an inspiration, you're actually also very intimidating to a lot of inventors who are at the early stages of their ideas, conception, and they'll read about your product being in 35,000 stores and at Lowe's and, and it is hardware, and John Deere. And to that point, you look like so many light years ahead. We have inventors that are thinking, Oh, I could never even imagine my product or my idea of getting to that stage. So what I want to start with today is really your beginning, the early days of how you first came up with the idea and your aha moment. So why don't you take us on that journey.

I'll be happy to get into it. And as I was preparing today, that was one of my goals is to just break through that wall, shatter it. Because oftentimes, those perceptions that we have, will need to change and they can change. And oftentimes, it's really, really scary. And I know, I know all of that stuff personally. So with this business, I really started with a purpose. That was a farm wife, we had problems with rodents getting into our equipment, and our tractors. We were living on 18,000 a year back. We could not afford to fix these repairs. And it was it was devastating. And there was nothing that we could use that was both safe and effective. I called all the companies, they laughed at me basically said, you know, what are you some granola crunch and Lady, you know, wake up, it's a reality, you have to use a poison or a trap. And I said, I have kids, I have pets. And besides that the rodents will die in the in our tractor cabs, and then I have to clean them up. And I didn't want to do that. And so that that really was, you know, what started the business, it was like somebody has to care about this. And I did everything I can to put it out of my mind, and then we'd get attacked again. The last straw was when I had a greenhouse, I built this lead to greenhouse on my on the on an old farm house. And I had 4000 seedlings that are just in the four leaf stage. And I was growing them for greenhouses, and it was tomato plants. And the mice came in and saw it all off. And I went in there and it was like okay, oh, ah, $10,000 of my income gone. And again, it was the mice and I just sat down and I cried and I'm like, started to pray and like, oh my gosh, I gotta I gotta figure this out.

So I mean, it's a kind of a trifecta of, they say between a rock and a hard place, but you on the one hand, it's the financial losses. So from the rodents, and the other hand, you have like a soft spot for the rodents. I mean, even though they're costing you 10s of 1000s of dollars, you didn't want something that killed them. And then the third aspect is not just the rodent itself, but the environment and will and pets and all the what they will you know collateral damage, so to speak of using chemicals and pesticides. But before we get into that, I just want to play a short segment of of your video. So many say if you're ready, let's play that now. And that will kind of give an overview of the heart of your company as well.

As kind is to preserve good and prevent the rest. We create natural proactive alternatives to protect the spaces in which we live, work and play from pests and odors are products that are safe for humans, pests, the earth and they work. I'm a mom, I have kids, I have pets. poisons are not an option. Our ingredients are grown on farms that are effective. And we believe that nature can solve problems better than chemicals. created a line of products for a variety of households, from urban to suburban for people who wish to foster a safe living environment. This time created the first natural pest prevention line makes the leap from essential oils and plant fiber. And it comes with a product guarantee it our time we take a very different approach, we educate our customers about pest behavior, to further reduce the need for chemical use in the home. Our vision that are kind of really twofold. The first part is to be responsive to our customers needs. The second part is to eliminate the need for chemicals in the home. We help you create harmony in the home with solutions that complement your outlook, giving you peace of mind.

Yeah, that was amazing. You can't build a website for major brands. Sorry, kind of gives a lot of insight into the you know, the purpose and the passion you have for what you're doing. And where we had left off right before the video was the that not just the rodents, I guess that were being killed by pesticides and chemicals. And I talked about collateral damage. And that's, it's just like, shocking, the number of pets and the pets that die. And there's a statistic, I think in some of your materials about 6000 dogs every year die because of accidental poisoning. So tell us a little bit about how that played a role in, you know, in your idea.

I've got a little tickle here. Sorry about that. But yeah, oftentimes with pest control, especially the traditional methods, you know, people use them and they think they're, you know, taking care of the problem. But there can be residual effects. For instance, with rodenticides. Before the eight most toxic baits and bars were basically taken off the market after our product became available nationally. You know, there'd be the product would be used and then the rodent eats it dies, well then the Rodin is eaten by a cat or a dog or a Eagle, what have you. And that's where that accidental exposure happens. And we had a farm dog that got into, like a fly bait from a milk barn. And he almost died. And this little fly bait was placed way up high where nobody could get to it. Right. But somehow this lab gets up there. And it's it's far more common than we think. So I just I knew there could should be a safer way.

I mean, they have and we're talking about pets, but even, you know, for example, like, you know, chicken coop, you know, rats and mice are incredibly common. And a lot of these pesticides I mean, when the the rodents ingested that are not you know, they're stumbling along inside the coop, they're just easy pickings for chickens, and they start attacking them. And before you know it, the farmer or a lot of times even homeowners because backyard chickens are really taken off across the country, finds the entire flock dead. In there, you know from something that they initially did to protect the chickens and protect your eggs from Meissen in rats.

Absolutely. One there, I realized there's this huge hole in the market because people have a pest, but you got to get rid of them. Because eroding for instance is a public health risk pass. You can carry 35 or more known diseases, so you can't have them around you. But there really was there just wasn't enough options out there to you know, create a fully integrated plan for farms and for homes. So that's really where the research started. Because I looked for, Geez, how could I get this product out there and I was so intimidated them beginning because the you know, they're all PhDs there. They'd be I'm like, I'm so stupid. I'd barely graduated from high school. How can I even begin to do this? I didn't have a background in engineering. I didn't have a background in marketing. I grew up with an entomologist. So I saw the behavior. And I realized there could be a different approach because I grew up watching my dad do these trials. And I, I learned I learned a lot from him. So that's that's really where I started. But I tell you that intimidation can totally flatten you and make you delay. Everything you do and and really it's just a shift in awareness. Because I realized, okay, well there's 98% of everything in the market is a killer product. And it's toxic for use around kids and pets. Today, it's 88% After 14 years, which is barely move, but that's huge. That's significant, right? Other players are coming in, it's starting to happen. But until one person does it, other people go, I can't do it, I there's no way I can do it. Because everybody's intimidated. Even even the big companies that are go was never going to work. No one's gonna want it, no one's gonna buy it. Well, so it always is these, it gives an inventor a very unique position to come in, and try something that nobody else tried before. And just maybe it'll take off, you know, and in my case, it did. I was extremely tenacious. And it was really the purpose that carried me through. Because I kept every time I'd get knocked down and rejected at the patent office, or rejected from a retailer or whatever, or even packagers going, you're too small, we can't help you. You're just we need a unit 50,000 units to even have a conversation. But it really helped things, you know, knock you down, obviously, but there's always like this flicker of the purpose that kept me going.

So it's funny, you mentioned, the patents being rejected. And I mean, your case, as a patent attorney, there's just nothing more, you know, a patent is kind of like catnip for us. So what I found out, you have not just one gosh, I have several I like and printed out five of them here on different products. So you have plenty of patents for possible rejections right there. It's very common for a patent to initially be rejected. But when you have five applications, you're kind of you're like it, you know, it's par for the course. So I'm sure the rejections now and current patents, you just, you know, you brush them off is no big deal. But I know from experience as a patent attorney, that first rejection feels like a kick in the gut on the first patent, because all these these hopes and dreams and everything push towards the uniqueness you believe you're bringing to the market. And then you have an examiner that comes back and says no, that's out there already. Tell us about that. So

true. And when did you

start with by the way, was it the rodent product? Because I know you have spider away and you have

Yeah, yep, with wrote a product called Fresh cab. And this was to keep rolling inside of enclosed storage areas. And it was, it comes in like a little pouch like this. And so it's made with engraved plant fibers and essential oils from a balsam fir tree, which balsam fir trees naturally repel rodents because they climb up and they try to eat the monarchs and monarch butterflies, which live in them. And so I noticed that which was novel, okay, that's, you know, a utility patent. But of course, yeah, they came back with their rejections and, you know, I pride and the attorneys carry this is totally normal, you know, and explain the whole thing to me, and, and I guess over the years, I've realized it's a lot harder than you think it is. And you just, you have to expect that. But it's, it's, it's not easy. And I know, so many patents get applied for and the laws changed over the years. As far as who owns it, before you apply for the patents, I always suggest to people for people like you to keep up on those things.

So one of the changes, you mentioned that the patent office, and this is the single biggest change of this century, is that for, for centuries, the patent office awarded patents to whoever invented first. And it makes sense, like whoever invents, first, they should have rights to the patent. And there were requirements that the inventor had to do, they couldn't just invent and then forget about the idea. They had to be diligent, they had to continue working on it after they had the concept. And even if somebody else filed a patent before them, if they could prove that they have the conception of their idea, and prove that they had not abandoned it, that they were working diligently up they could they were still entitled to own the patent. Now, all of that changed. In 2013. The US moved from a first to invent system where patent rights are awarded to whoever invents first which in my opinion is what it should be to a system based on first of file. And now whoever files that application, the earliest owns the idea and there's an element of unfairness in this as you will relate to because the individual inventor and the small business, just as not have the resources that larger corporations do to file the patent first. I mean, there's large corporations have patent attorneys employed full time working for them. As soon as somebody in the company has an idea, bam, that patent attorney can start work immediately. Now, for the individual inventor like that you were at one time, I mean, today, you're, you know, of course, you're doing phenomenal, you've got a business, you've got 35,000 stores. But there was a time when you had these limited resources. And you put that money into products, you put it into marketing, you've got all these different avenues where the money could go, or do you go have put the money into patenting. And if it was before 2013, it was okay to work on your product and work on marketing. Because this system was based on a first to invent, you just have to document that you were the first to invent, like, however you can, or laboratory notebook pictures, receipts for prototypes. But today, I would advise inventors that you'd have to move quickly and get that patent in first. But that's that's critical. So tell us about the like the difficult position you're in when you're deciding, do I use these limited funds? Do I you know, when you mentioned that 80,000 A year of income? That's not a lot. That's not a lot today, but it's certainly even 30 years ago, it wasn't that much. So tell us about that. And how those difficulties. And that's goes really Roland, if you listen to that one of his questions that he submitted in advance, was he wanted to hear about the early decisions when you had limited funding? And how do you decide where that funding gets allocated? Because that's true. A lot of inventors are in that place now where they've got this seed money, a tiny amount, and it can't cover everything, and they've got to make tough choices. So the floor is yours for that. Yeah, I'd

be sure I'd be happy to I just published a book about four months ago, I probably didn't even share this. It's called gathering around the table a story of purpose driven change their business, this one focuses on decision making. Because oftentimes, it's the way we make a decision that can make a difference of where your your trajectory is gonna go. For sure, but as far as like the limited funds, it was, it was pretty difficult. I couldn't afford a loss. I couldn't it was it was really tough. So I actually started like other side businesses to pay for it along the way. I sold organic produce from our garden, we raised calves for for slaughter, we, we did all kinds of things I went to craft shows I applied for grants, I started selling craft items at local craft fairs, which all of that stuff really just helped me get closer and to it, I sold our 1978 Pathfinder camper, I sold my packhorse, my two hobbies, which was which was hard to go. But it you know, it helped it get there. But even today, our business is still I don't know, it's all put to scale, for sure. But we still have to be really careful. Now I just got a patent last week. And I did not do one thing on that until that pattern was done, because I knew of the last change. And it's interesting, because I'm so surprised, great big company did not get this one. Because it's so big and so obvious. I'm like, how did they miss this, but we just quickly went in, and thankfully, we got it. And we can start, you know, to work on that too. But even even the big companies are being careful and wanting to partner to with smaller innovators in ways. So that's another option. An inventor can you know, find a partner in a big company that wants to commercialize an idea that can save a lot of time, I love business. So for me going into business was fun, and challenging, and, you know, get to work across all parts of society and have employees and that's incredibly rewarding.

So I mean, it's funny, you mentioned the surprise that the idea wasn't taken. I can't tell you how many times inventors in my office have expressed that. How in the world are they the first to have come up with this? Because to them? It's just it is it does seem obvious, and I use that term carefully because that's a legal term. And if your idea really is obvious, it's not patentable, the patent office can reject it, but I think a mistake inventors make is because if something is obvious to them, and they assume that it's obvious to everyone, and they forget that they they're uniquely positioned, and having given so much thought to the problem way well beyond what anybody else has given even large corporations, they don't have, you know, a company might have, you know, whatever 10,000 people working on, you know, on a product line. But for the most part, it's the management might be looking at a certain direction for solutions. And every, all 10,000 of them are going to follow that direction. So it's not surprising, like, for example, if the kill solution is what generally, you know, these pest control manufacturers are focusing on. And if the company is selling products that are focusing on that the engineers and the r&d, they're not really incentivized or rewarded for coming up with something that doesn't kill the rodent. So that's why it's so gosh, I don't have I don't have a Ken, with me, but for years that the you know, and I'm older, so when you open a can of soda, you would get this metal tab that was separated from the can. And now, you know, people didn't know what to do with it once you open your can, okay, so they just throw it away, it caused a lot of litter. People were getting their feet cut on on the beach, toddlers were swallowing that. But yet you have these bottling companies year after year after year, there wasn't an alternative, until individual inventor decided that the push in tab is it makes more sense. And you would think like this, a lot of times inventors think like who you know, the whole who B's I could tell the Coca Cola or Pepsi Bottling Company A better way to open a can than them like they've got the resources. They've got the engineers, they've got the data, they've got the labs, how could it possibly be true that I've come up with a better way to open a can then the Coca Cola Bottling Company which has been selling products and cans for hundreds of years? But it happens? Because everybody there just assumes that that separate tab is? That's it, they just take that as gospel like it just has to be that way. And it's the person that asks the why question like, why is it that way? And I'm so glad that you happen to ask that, like, you know, why do we have to kill the road with chemicals or pesticides, if there's a way to deter them, because you don't really no one really wants to kill rodents or spiders or anything, what they want is for them to leave them alone, right? Just go do your own thing, just don't do it inside my house, or in my tractor, or, you know, the farmhouse or whatever, just go do it outside.

And they don't nobody wants to clean up the dead body and risk getting exposure to you know, potential disease, they'd rather just have them stay out to start with.

They just assumed that was, you know, that's the cost the price you pay for. You know, you do that there's no other way. You just have to just have to put up with them.

Yeah. And that's where the inventor comes in. Because oftentimes, you know, the companies, they don't necessarily even use their own products or they're not right on that front line, when you know, the your fingernail breaks from pushing that camping in and you're like I've cut my finger doing that. I'm like, This is so stupid. Why does it why doesn't anybody think about us, ladies, you know, with fingernails? For me. I used to work at a perfume counter. And I went home every day with this horrible headache. And I you know, I was good at selling that stuff. But I was like, Oh, I hated that headache. And that was really the aha moment for me because I'm in our tractor cab and you know, most runs up my leg and I went, Oh, and I just I instinctively grabbed my perfume thinking, hey, maybe it's going to be like that, like raid or something, you know, and the mice ran out and all of a sudden I went, I bet that's the answer. I bet it has to do with smell. And I started to do the research and realize rodents had a fierce sense of smell and poor eyesight. And like maybe that's the way that you know this, this product can keep them out so they're not even gonna go there. And then last and I needed to get it to last two, four months at a time in those areas you don't visit every day. So the problem presents the solution.

Okay, oh, I like that. That's the problem. on presenting the solution, did you find resistance initially like, like people that were skeptical? Like Could this really could, you know, the whole thing? Like if it if it works so well, why doesn't you know what? Why was it this always done like what it like, that's the skepticism that most inventors face is that, hey, it can't possibly work because otherwise it just sounds too good to be true. So it must be too good to be true.

Yeah, you know, here's, here's the advice that I give to people that are that are in this situation, I was like, Okay, well, there's this idea in here. And this relates to some comments I saw come through on the screen about purpose and God, you know, this kind of thing. But I always think, okay, there's these ideas up there, because it benefits humanity, which is how business used to be way back when, right? It benefits humanity. And then I always think, okay, who is going to be the most committed to this, because anybody has a right to develop it. Right, and to go forward with it, make a business out of it. But those people, I think that keep going and keep overcoming those obstacles, and I think of those obstacles is actually tests like, okay, life, life gives us these tests almost before lesson.

Yeah. So the, that's what got me there. Well, now, I mean, of course, the people, a lot of times the evaluations were coming, as you said, about that intimidation factor of people with, like PhDs and, you know, in labs and all of this, that's, that's where the persistence of an inventor and the strength of their belief in what they're doing helps overcome that. And it takes a lot. So that's, you know, when we see someone like you like, go, you're really changing an entire industry, it's more than just bringing the product to market and having sales. But those percentages that you mentioned, 14 years in the grand scheme of things is not a long time for the queue based industry for, you know, rodent control to go from and I don't remember the numbers, was it 97% to 80, something or 78? To

80? Yeah. So it's, it's, it's interesting. And that's such a good time for inventors, because ours was our industry was the last one really to be disrupted by innovation. But this there's this whole thing of sustainability right now, everything we see could basically be reinvented in a more sustainable way. Right. And that's one of the reasons that I wrote my book, because I personally see inventions happening in grade school. And really good smart things happening. I think, I think we're in an era where there is going to explode. And I think that companies need to stand up. And as far as mentors to that's one thing to urge New Inventors, ask somebody to help you that's done it. Because it's rare. I don't get asked I asked my girlfriend's, you know, successful CEOs that have even built a billion dollar company, how many people asked you to mentor them? And they're like, Carrie, it never happens. I said, would you say no? And they go, no, not if somebody sent me an email once a month and asked for 15 minutes, I'd feel really good about that. So don't be afraid to ask for help. Really? Yeah. It's so

I think that that's phenomenal advice. And you're very, very open and quite welcoming to inventors into questions. So we're going to have on our have a private Facebook group, the inventors mastermind, so anyone that has questions that we're not able to get to today, please post them there, and we'll try to have them addressed by Carrie. As we're almost out of time. What I want now is if you can distill down to one piece of advice that you haven't already given us that you think would really you wish somebody had told you back when you were at the early stages with your idea.

I think the best piece of advice I could give is limit your worrywart time to 20 minutes a day and do it first thing in the morning. And it's once I started doing that it's remarkable how fast you can move.

So when you say the the worry were like about all the things that could go wrong, right, just get them out of the way in 120 minute chunk Like, absolutely,

it's amazing because 98% of them are self constructed in our brains. And we start building and building and inventors especially do this more, I've noticed more than the population because they just want to keep tinkering and make it better and make it better and solve the problem. But it really helps,

right. And there's the old joke about, like patent attorneys wearing a belt and suspenders just, you know, this out of fear. But what is that, you have to also look at the real likelihood that you're going to have something failed. So I mean, that's like overkill. But that's, I love that, that piece of advice, give the 20 get, and that makes the rest of the day more productive. Because there's a natural desire to worry. So just punch all the way together, get it done in 20 minutes. And then, and then move on, and then go do the hard work. And it is.

The brain is at the best in the morning. So it'll help you solve it quick and just kick it out of the way.

Terrific. Well, Carrie, I can't thank you enough for being here. We're out of time. But your incredible inspiration. And I think what you kind of shown today, the intimidation aspect of inventing, you've lowered that a little bit because you know, seeing where you are in your products doing in your business. And oh, my God, I didn't even get into the awards that you and your product have won the accolades from environmental groups and like across the board, partly because I think that's good, because that's just going to add to the intimidation. But for those that are listening, remember at one time, Carrie was, you know, it was just had an idea. And in the passion that she had the courage to go ahead and pursue. And she's changing in entire industry. And by no means that she fit the perfect mold to be the person that would change this industry. So if you're out there listening, and you think that to be an inventor, you've got to fit some kind of perfect mold, or everyone's got a stereotype of what they believe and inventor is, this is more, you know, to show that caring definitely proves that there is no perfect mold for being an inventor, you have to identify a problem. Have the courage to believe in the solution you've come up with and pursue it and be ready for a lot of negative feedback, because that's just a natural part of the journey just like he has all these patents just like to tell you that getting the patents rejected initially, is par for the course. But there's the rare invention and inventor that I've ever run across that says, you know, as soon as I presented my idea to the world, like everybody was raving about it. Usually that's not the case using the feedback is negative, and a lot of skepticism. So with that, thank you have a wonderful Friday. Enjoy the rest of your weekend. The same for all of our viewers. Thank you for being here today.

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