Wrap Buddies began with a gift that never got wrapped. “I was on the floor trying to wrap gifts for my kids,” Wrap Buddies Founder Bret Wortman says. “Working on the floor, you have to get on your knees to cut across the roll of wrapping paper. Then the paper starts to curl back, and the tape’s hiding underneath something.” Bret decided to take his wrapping project to a nearby table. “That was even worse,” he says with a laugh.
A wrapping session that was not a wrap drove Bret to his workshop. In half an hour, he put together some wooden blocks and dowels. Although he didn’t know it at the time, he’d just produced the prototype for his new business. “I came in the house and attached my blocks to the table,” Bret continues. “I added a roll of wrapping paper — and viola! The roll of paper stayed in place, and I could cut a straight line for the first time in my life.”
Bret decided his device was too good to keep to himself. His wife agreed. “She said, ‘You have to figure out how to make those for other people!’” Bret followed his wife’s advice. In 2016 he launched Wrap Buddies, and it’s been evolving ever since.
Through the Mason Enterprise Center-Fauquier, Bret made a connection with the Lord Fairfax SBDC. Bret made an appointment with SBDC Marketing Counselor Dale Maza. “At that first meeting, Dale and I talked about everything from material choice in manufacturing my product to creating a marketing plan,” Bret says. “I had been doing things fairly scattershot and needed to focus.”
Dale put Bret in contact with SBDC Marketing Counselor Jeff Nicely. “Jeff worked with me to hone my message, understand my target market, and come up with ad copy and a template,” Bret relates. “He also showed me how to focus on those most likely to buy rather than hitting everyone in the U.S.”
In addition to the one-on-one consulting, Bret benefited from an SBDC seminar on “Finding your Value.” The course focused on expressing to others the value of a product or service. “That course was pivotal for me,” Bret adds. “I’m now scheduled for two more. Getting our story told has been the big challenge for us all along.”
The course also gave Bret ideas for future growth. “You start with one idea, and it expands from that,” he adds. “I feel like I now have the tools to make my Christmas marketing campaign on Facebook as effective as possible.” Bret credits the SBDC for a “huge upswing” in Facebook hits. “I definitely attribute that to Jeff’s help,” he adds. In addition, Wrap Buddies sales have increased an impressive 250 percent from 2017 to 2018.
“With the SBDC’s help we now have a great grip on where we are,” Bret concludes. “We’ve also got some strong future goals and a way to know what to change as we reach those goals.” Bret sees the SBDC as a gift that keeps on giving — with or without wrapping.