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Making Something From Nothing: Cameron and Nadene McIntyre Of Punch Gunk On How To Go From Idea To Launch

An Interview With Fotis Georgiadis

As a part of our series called “Making Something From Nothing”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Cameron and Nadene McIntyre.

Cameron and Nadene are the husband and wife team behind Punch Gunk. The McIntyres were both raised in Southern California, attended college in the southland, and call Los Angeles home. They continue to manage Punch Gunk in tandem, with Cameron leading day-to-day operations. Alongside Punch Gunk, Nadene remains a leader with a global brand in the pharmaceutical and biotech industry. Cameron and Nadene have big plans and future products in the pipeline to aid recovery for all athletes.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?

We both grew up in southern California, Nadene in Irvine and me in Torrance. We both come from modest backgrounds, small families that paved the way for us to forge out on our own and believe in ourselves.

Being Californian certainly sets you aside in California. Most people are surprised when they meet native Californians and respond with, “You grew up here?! I don’t know anyone who grew up here.” California really instills a limitless spirit. The geography alone, the sun, sea, and mountains provide a sense of wonder and expanse, a land where anything is possible.

Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?

Cameron: I am a non-fiction reader, mostly exploration and adventure. It’s not one story that inspires me, it’s stories of achievement and most have a common theme, the conquest of the impossible. I am fascinated by the Shackletons, Stanleys, Hillarys, Lewises, and Clarks of the world. Their sheer determination and endurance (no pun intended) are a testament to human accomplishment.

Nadene: I lean towards books with strong female characters; I just finished Crying in H Mart. I enjoy the shared experiences among women and find inspiration in our mutual triumphs. That said, my favorite author is Christopher Moore. His insightful humor reminds us not to take life so seriously.

Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. There is no shortage of good ideas out there. Many people have good ideas all the time. But people seem to struggle in taking a good idea and translating it into an actual business. Can you share a few ideas from your experience about how to overcome this challenge?

We have thought of this a lot. Good ideas have to be actionable. Regardless of the idea, whether it be a business idea or a plan to get rid of your kitchen ants: if it can’t be done, it’s just fun to talk about.

In launching a business idea, we believe there are a few checklist elements that need to be in place.

1) Is your good idea actionable, can it be done?

2) What is the plan to get it done?

3) Do you have or can you obtain the resources required to get it done?

4) Are you prepared for a lot of work over a long period of time?

The idea of Punch Gunk came to us from first-hand experience. Being athletic adults, we were simply not impressed with the topical pain relievers currently available. They all smelled bad, were greasy, and didn’t work well. Could there be something better? We had an idea. We asked athletes, coaches, and trainers what they used and if they liked it. The response over and over again was, “We use what is available, and, no, we don’t like it”. Now we thought we might have a good idea. Did we have the resources necessary? We explored costs, processes, regulations, and market space. Our research showed it was possible to develop, produce and bring Punch Gunk to market.

Now in our fifth year, we are just coming to understand checklist item #4.

Often when people think of a new idea, they dismiss it saying someone else must have thought of it before. How would you recommend that someone go about researching whether or not their idea has already been created?

We think it’s rare to have a truly original ‘it’s never been done before’ idea and it’s not necessary to have that idea. There are countless products and services available today. One of our competitor products was introduced in 1918. Clearly, we were not the first, but we did think we could develop a better formula than one that is 104 years old.

A better product or better service is a clear path to success.

There are two fundamentals in the early stages of development:

1) Get to know your market space

2) Get to know your customer

Ask questions. Is our product local, regional or national? How many companies do this? Who are the top producers? What is their market share? How do they sell? Who are their customers? Ask people what they think — friends, family, and, yes, strangers. To this day, we hand out product samples to people all the time. We’ve even thrown samples from car to car at a stoplight. As you find answers, more questions will inevitably follow and if the answers to these questions keep you asking more questions, you’re on a good path.

For the benefit of our readers, can you outline the steps one has to go through, from when they think of the idea, until it finally lands in a customer’s hands? In particular, we’d love to hear about how to file a patent, how to source a good manufacturer, and how to find a retailer to distribute it.

In full disclosure and in all honesty, hire an attorney to file a patent or trademark. There are attorneys who specialize in this field for a reason. We don’t have a patent, but we do have trademarks and the expertise and advice our attorney provided was worth every cent.

Sourcing a manufacturer is and was a real challenge. For us, we had two hurdles: the lab had to be FDA Registered and work with us on MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity). The secret to finding it? Contacting a lot of labs and getting a lot of no’s until there was a yes! We are lucky. We are in a big city in a big state with a lot of options.

In addition to all the technical and logistic concerns with a manufacturer, it is important they believe in your product. The early stages of manufacturing are tough and they are crucial. The process has to be perfect so the end result is perfect…just the way you imagined. There will be trial and error and together you need to have the patience to get it right.

Retail is a beast unlike any other. Brick and mortar retail is an especially tough nut to crack. Our advice is to build your brand, and to start selling online direct to consumer (D2C) if appropriate. Graduate to Amazon, Walmart, etc… There are good resources such as Range Me, a service that connects buyers to products. Get educated on the details about shipping, inventory, and sales tax. Prepare your pitch and when you are ready prepare some more. When the opportunity presents itself, carpe diem.

Let’s imagine that a reader reading this interview has an idea for a product that they would like to invent. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?

Bounce it off as many people who will take the time to listen to you. Listen to their feedback. Revise your idea, rinse and repeat.

There are many invention development consultants. Would you recommend that a person with a new idea hire such a consultant, or should they try to strike out on their own?

Personally, we would be hesitant to hire a consultant in the early stages. If your idea is technical and you need specific expertise, look for a mentor or perhaps even a partner(s) who can bring added value.

What are your thoughts about bootstrapping vs looking for venture capital? What is the best way to decide if you should do either one?

Punch Gunk is currently bootstrapped — it’s the only way we know. If and when we acquire VC, we will look at the relationship between us and the investors very closely. A strategic partnership that provides resources to help us scale is almost more important than just cash.

Ok. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. How have you used your success to make the world a better place?

Well, Punch Gunk has helped a lot of people recover from minor aches and pains, who in turn are making their world a better place! We also use our advertising dollars to sponsor up-and-coming athletes pursuing their dreams. We help out with charitable donations and support local causes not just in our community but around the nation!

You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

YOU CAN ACHIEVE. It does not matter your age, your ability, your race, gender, etc. Everyone is capable of achieving their dreams in some way. Punch Gunk is our dream to achieve, both on the business front and as older athletes. We are on our way, Nadene competing in two masters boxing competitions, Cameron taking Punch Gunk to the next level. We want to help others achieve their dreams too.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.

Dietrich Mateschitz, the co-founder of Red Bull. From day one, we have imagined Punch Gunk as the Red Bull of pain relief. The rise of Red Bull from consumer product to sports industry icon is incredible. From dominating Formula 1 to sponsoring roller derby in Portland, Oregon, Red Bull sets the standard for spreading the wealth we can all learn from.

Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.



In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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