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U.S. Air Force Officer with a side of Entrepreneur

At The Grommet, I spend my days working to build our community and promote our partners. It’s a wonderful feeling to see a partner succeed, but I find it most rewarding when I have the chance to hear their stories firsthand.  Recently, I was lucky enough to chat with Matt Butler, founder of Rollors, the outdoor lawn game. His passion for entrepreneurship and for helping others realize their dreams was very palpable. It was inspiring listening to him describe his journey. In addition to launching and growing Rollors, he works full-time for the U.S. Air Force!

Read more of our chat below.

New Products | Rollors outdoor lawn game ---------------------------Matt Butler, creator of Rollors

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What gave you the idea for Rollors?

Matt: While I was deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, I spent my days supporting combat missions.  It was a tough, trying time and I often thought of my friends and family back in the United States. I dreamed of being on the water, sipping a refreshing drink with close friends by my side. I thought about how much we used to love playing Bocce and Horseshoes on the beach. It was then that I was struck by an "aha" moment which eventually transpired into my product, Rollors. When I returned to the U.S., it was the height of the recession and I saw many skilled veterans out of work. I decided to help by recruiting those who were interested to help me make Rollors. I provided work for those who needed it and I got my product off the ground at the same time. I saw it as a win-win situation.

Rollors outdoor lawn game ----------------------------------------------A Rollors prototype in the works.

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How do you manage your work with the Air Force, Rollors and your personal life?

Matt: Rollors is a big commitment but the key is time management. I try to balance Rollors between my family, my work in the Air Force and if I’m lucky, a little time for myself here and there. As long as I have an understanding of my priorities, I am able to juggle it all.

 

Tell us about your volunteer work with veterans and soon-to-be veterans.

Matt: After my success with Rollors and receiving some good press, I started receiving emails from soon-to-be veterans all over the country, asking if I could help them to pursue their business ideas. This isn’t something that I expected, but I love doing it.

 

What has been the biggest hurdle or challenge with Rollors?

Matt: Having an idea is the easy part but executing and creating a viable product is another story. Finding the most economical and highest quality wood for my product was a challenge. I initially wanted to have Rollors manufactured in the U.S. and I was able to do it at first, with the help of the veterans who were skilled in wood-working. Yet later on, I decided to have Rollors manufactured overseas so that I could lower the price and more people would have the ability to purchase. It wasn’t an easy decision but I decided it made the most sense. I was then frustrated by the fact that I received some negative feedback for this decision, but had to remind myself that it was the right thing to do.

 

Rollors outdoor lawn game | New Products --------------------------------------------------------------Almost ready!

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What have you found to be the most rewarding part of launching your product?

Matt: Where do I start? There have been so many rewarding moments. The first time that I walked into a big box retailer and saw Rollors on the store shelves, I was floored. I couldn't believe that was MY game on the shelf. That was one of the most amazing moments to date.

What has your partner relationship with The Grommet been like? Why do you feel specialty retailers (and online retailers like us) are often a smart choice for small business owners?

Matt: I love working with specialty retailers and I consider The Grommet to be the online version of this. Like many who have tried to pitch a big box retailer, I quickly found that they don’t like to sell product from a company with only one SKU, and they often require sales traction before they will make room on their shelves. Since my launch on The Grommet, I’ve made strong connections to at least seven other retailers that are now selling my game and dozens of influential bloggers contacted me after seeing me on The Grommet. I can’t say enough favorable things!

Any words of wisdom you'd like to offer to future, aspiring product creators?

Matt: Inventing and product development is not going to happen overnight. It's like the saying goes...how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Or in this case, how do you bring a product to market? Just take it one step at a time.

Are you our next Grommet partner? If you have a product idea, post it to our Citizens Gallery

Comments

  • Mike Says:

    I would be willing to pay more for the product made in the USA.

  • Steve Says:

    It looks like a round toit to me. I'll probably buy one when I get around to it!

  • Janice Says:

    What are rollors?

  • mark Says:

    I for one, would rather pay a bit extra then buy products of this nature manufactured "overseas". But now, I suppose Wally World will be a stockist.

  • Susan Says:

    I am deeply disappointed to hear that an American veteran would sent his product oversees for manufacture. How can you say in one breath that you're about helping fellow veterans and then betray them by sending much needed work oversee. Its never about people "more people having the ability to purchase". Its always about the bottom line. I could never in good conscience purchase this Product.

  • Matt Says:

    Hi All,
    Matt, the founder of Rollors here.

    I really appreciate the feedback you're leaving me. The two pictures above were both taken in Panama City Beach, Florida when I was helping local woodworking veterans get back on their feet during the recession. At that time the biggest piece of feedback I received was Rollors was too expensive and I had to get it to a lower price point. With that being said, I'm at a catch-22 on this. If you think there's enough demand for a higher cost/USA version I'd be happy to research future opportunities. All of my business decisions have been based off of the feedback I receive so that's why I'm happy you're bringing this to my attention.

  • Matt Says:

    Janice,

    Matt here from Rollors.

    Rollors is a fun outdoor yard game that's entertaining for the entire family. Players "roll" disks at the goal and points are awarded to the player/team that positions their disks closest to the goal. It's a great game of skill with the element of chance! Convenient carry bag allows you to bring Rollors with you wherever you go. Set-up in seconds on grass or in the sand. Now you're ready to roll your way to fun!

    Product Detail:
    -ASTM toy safety tested and approved
    -Convenient carrying and storage bag
    -Large wooden pieces feel great in your hands
    -For ages 4 yrs. and up
    -Contents Include: 2 Goals, 3 Red Disks, 3 Blue Disks, 1 Measurement Cord, 1 Carry/Storage Bag and Instructions

  • Sandi Says:

    First, Thank you & your family Matt for serving away & helping other vets. I am disappointed in some of the negative (ignorant) remarks. It seems to me Matt you have not stopped helping Veterans, it just changed. God's picture got bigger/God sized! Sounds like you are helping who you can & some others find there own success with their ideas. What have these negative people done for our vets? Also to those that don't like him going over seas: #1 What/who do you think he was serving. There are many people in this world that do not have our freedom and many have served bravely to help those with less. We have many that gave ALL for us and others around the world. If he was asking our enemies it would be different. I trust your decisions Matt. AND #2 If you would pay more go ahead and send that extra to Matt so he can continue helping veterans OR offer to do the work for less. There are not enough Americans that will work for less. We are digging our own holes not working for less. Our problems are not going to get better unless we do it right. We have only one life. We are privileged to be born in America let's share our values & teach others the importance of our values. I am sure Matt's business speaks volumes to those he employs. We can change this anytime. Matt I will buying 3 or more. I hope you make millions because I know you will use the money for good. Thank you again. Just one God trusting Marine mom

  • Jim Says:

    Matt,
    I love that you created a product for friends and family, I love that you started the business with veterans, I know there are many companies that think price over where it's made and who it's made by is important. That being said, I recommend going back to the ones that brought you to the dance the veterans, a large part of the reason people buy is emotion. People buy emotionally and justify logically. Dell found that out the hard way, when they outsourced their customer service. U.S. products built by U.S. Veterans, that's the story. Check out last year's Shark Tank, Mark C, invested in several companies for that reason alone.
    Good luck,
    Jim

  • Roy Webb Says:

    Howl can I advertise my product on the Grommet ?

    Thanks
    RoybWebb

  • Tori Says:

    Hi Roy. We are always eager to hear about new products. Please submit your idea to our Citizens' Gallery. Our Discovery team looks at every submission and will be in touch if they need more information. Thanks! https://www.thegrommet.com/citizens-gallery

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