Everyone has a great business idea, but according to Michael Shenkerman, that’s just a small part of creating a business. From there, one must take their great idea and turn it into a reality — an achievement that Shenkerman has mastered with his company, SEATYLOCK.
As someone who worked directly in the manufacturing business, Shenkerman knew a thing or two about the complex process of developing products and importing goods. It was only when he was contacted by two young entrepreneurs with a great business idea that he knew he could finally take a unique concept to market.
Though he was currently involved in his own successful business, Shenkerman saw incredible potential with this new product: a hybrid bike seat-lock not only designed for protection and security, but also comfort, ease of use, and style.
So, he decided to utilize his skills and knowledge of the industry and co-founded SEATYLOCK.
Locking In the Business Idea
Though the process of designing and prototyping their first product was long and tedious, Shenkerman and his crew created SEATYLOCK, a combination of a bike lock, a bike saddle, and an adaptor that fits all types of bike seat posts.
“In retrospect, I can say that we didn’t have enough experience with designing and engineering of this type of product when we took on this challenge,” Shenkerman tells Starter Story in 2019. “The SEATYLOCK was a very innovative project as it was the first and only of its kind and this made the whole process very complicated.”
Over a planning period of four years, Shenkerman and his co-founders managed to stay agile and make gradual adjustments, which enabled them to perfect their product before bringing it to market.
“During the 4 years that we worked on the SEATYLOCK, we gained a lot of knowledge on folding locks, because the locking mechanism of the SEATYLOCK is based on folding links connected by rivets.” It was this new-found knowledge that allowed the founders to design a unique, folding version of their original bike lock, cleverly coined the FoldyLock Classic.
And seeing as folding locks were quite marginal in the bike industry, Shenkerman saw this as the perfect opportunity to manufacture the FoldyLock, even before SEATYLOCK was ready to release.
Raising Funds to Launch the Company
With both products set to release, the next challenge was figuring out the best way to bring their locks to market. Since Kickstarter offered substantial exposure for the brand, Shenkerman and his team decided to launch the FoldyLock Classic through a Kickstart campaign. After a successful run with the FoldyLock, they subsequently used the same platform to launch SEATYLOCK.
In total, the campaign helped them raise bout $140,000, but Shenkerman cites the main source of their exposure as a launch video that went viral, which showed off the innovative nature of their locks. Then, with a steady flow of organic traffic to draw from, the company launched its e-commerce website, followed shortly by a soft launch in certain retail stores.
As far as financing the business launch went, Shenkerman had to do much of it himself. “The financing of the business was mostly from my private capital. Due to the complications and duration of the whole process with the SEATYLOCK, I needed to invest a lot more than I initially planned for.”
Fortunately, this didn’t pose much of a threat to the business. SEATYLOCK quickly took off through online and in-store sales, reaching 40% year-over-year growth in under just four years.
Utilizing Various Tools to Grow the Business
Since the business’ launch in 2018, SEATYLOCK has experienced rapid growth. According to Shenkerman in a more recent interview with Starter Story, the addition of Amazon FBA selling has substantially boosted sales.
So far, all of the company’s products have received recognition as “Best Rated Bike Brand” on Amazon and achieved FoldyLock’s Bestseller status and highest-rated folding lock on Amazon.
Shenkerman attributes much of this growth and exposure to the company’s continuous efforts to improve its product. “Our goal is that our customers will enjoy the best-designed lock that is super safe, comfortable, and smooth.”
Shenkerman continues, “Regarding Amazon, a large part of our sales come from that channel, and our advice for entrepreneurs that want to start selling on Amazon will be to put effort into producing a great product — with attention to all its small details.”
In addition to Amazon FBA selling, SEATYLOCK also utilizes affiliate programs and targeted FaceBook ads, both of which are proven tools to help brands gain traffic. As of late, SEATYLOCK’s goal to bring safe, comfortable, and effective bike locks to market hasn’t stopped. Just last year, the brand launched a new FoldyLock, “FoldyLock Forever,” the only lock in the world that is Sold Secure Gold, making it the safest possible folding lock on the market.
Rolling Forward With the Brand
Shenkerman’s commitment to his goals has helped his company produce some of the highest-quality products in his industry. Built from the ground up, the company’s lasting objectives to evolve the brand, reach new audiences and destinations, and spread the word about SEATYLOCK have turned into a reality.
Unlike other companies in the business, SEATYLOCK continues to design, produce and assemble all their products in-house. While this allows them to remain flexible in the design process, keep patents exclusive, and control quality along production, it also solidifies a defining quality about the brand.
And that relates to Shenkerman’s concluding advice to beginning entrepreneurs: “Look for a competitive advantage over existing or competing products in the market.” In other words, don’t just replicate a product or make it cheaper — focus on how your product can be different from the rest of the market.