Danville Business Owner Pivots To Serve First Responders

DANVILLE, CA — As small business owners struggle and adapt to find ways to stay afloat during the coronavirus pandemic, Patch wants to spotlight local business owners to help their community get to know them better.

This week we’re introducing you to longtime Danville resident Brian Goodell, founder of San Ramon-based BibBoards, which creates bib clips for endurance races.

Goodell recently created 4Ears, which sells hooks that can be attached to hats or headbands to relieve essential workers from the ear pain that can come with wearing face masks for extended periods of time. Goodell said the creation of 4Ears allowed him to keep all of his staff and allow him to hire more workers.

How long have you been in business?

We’ve been operating BibBoards since 2017, so this will be just our third year. 4Ears has been around for 42 days.

How has your business model changed in the last month or so? What did you do before that you can’t do now? And what are you doing now that you did not do before?

It’s turned absolutely upside down since early April. Our usual market is recreational athletes. They wear our product to replace safety pins on their racing shirts, and generally express themselves. COVID-19 brought our sales down to zero (less, really, because of returns) since no one was hosting any 5k races all of a sudden. But then we were blessed to see one of our customers take a great idea and make it even better. Our existing product has another use and it is important for fighting COVID. They are face mask snaps. Used this way, they cure the problem of raw ears. And people also love them for self-expression and the fun designs, just like in the athletics channel. So, we built a website in one day, rebranded as 4Ears, and the rest is history. We started donating our product, and sales took off as well.

How are you spreading the word?

We are doing a “Buy 1 Donate 1” program, which we feel is extremely important. Our marketing is mainly through social media and word of mouth.

What are some of the challenges you’ve dealt with during the pandemic? Any silver linings?

With sales down before early April, we had to let employees go. But we were really glad that we can now help be part of the solution with 4Ears. It’s great that we were able to get our employees back to work.

Challenge: My sales were down.

Solution: Pivot.

Silver Lining/ Actionable Tip: You will weather the crisis during the pandemic and thrive as a small business owner if you stay determined and persevere with new ways to think about your business in this new world we live in.

Challenge: The product I created was negatively impacted when races were canceled.
Solution: Create and pivot with a product to meet the new needs of consumers, now.

What aspect of your work are you most looking forward to completing when restrictions are lifted?

I’d love to take the staff out to a restaurant to thank them for their diligence and dedication. I am also excited to see the endurance events to get back up and going. I am supposed to be running the Big Sur coming up in November.

Anything else you would like to add or say to customers?

Our greatest resource is our customers. Thank you for helping us make the pivot. It’s been really important for my family and all of our employees’ families too. We’ll get through this.

In terms of business advice to other residents struggling with how to pivot during this difficult time, here is my advice. If you want to know how to reinvent your product in a crisis, you must know where to look for new ideas (hint: social media). Also, remember to protect your IP in the age of social media. A great idea is only as good as the protection of the idea.

Got a business that you think should be featured? Email Patch editor Courtney Teague.

This article originally appeared on the Danville Patch

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