Reeling in Customers
Vaughn Holderman is a recent Penn State graduate with a degree in commercial recreation management. Vaughn grew up in Julian, a small rural town in Pennsylvania, and developed a passion for the outdoors. He was fortunate enough to live next to a small trout stream so, whenever he had a moment of spare time, he was down at the stream fishing. While attending Penn State, Vaughn had an idea to develop fishing lures that mimic the way fish look and swim. Using editing software, he was able to capture the look and color of each fish. Then he printed them, using a special printer and paper.
While looking through fishing trade show information online, Vaughn came across information on ICAST, which is one of the largest fishing trade shows in the world. He knew that if he wanted to get his product in front of the top retailers and buyers, he had to go there. In July 2015 at the ICAST trade show, he decided to put some of his lures in the new product showcase. Buyers from Cabelas, Bass Pro Shops, and Dicks Sporting Goods showed interest in Vaughn’s products. He was also interviewed a few times by the media because he had such innovative products. According to wiredtofish.com, he had one of top five best new jerk baits of the year.
Vaughn came back to campus in August and was contacted by Kevin Harrington, who is the founder of As Seen On TV and has appeared on Shark Tank. Kevin and his team were very interested in his product and wanted to endorse it for national TV on As Seen on TV. At this point, he realized he needed business assistance and found information on the Penn State Small Business Development Center (SBDC). He met with Jen Riden in October and discussed the logistics of importing inventory into the United States, and they discussed different business structures importance of making sure he sets up a business. He was also connected to Global Entrepreneurship Week and showcased his business and products at the HUB event.
In January 2016, Vaughn founded Chasing Trophy Fish. “When I first founded my business I still was toying around with the idea of making them all myself, but as time passed and people started using them, I realized I would not be able to keep up with supply and demand.” In a few months, period Vaughn was able to find a manufacturer and was able to start fulfilling his orders.
His As Seen on TV commercial started airing regionally in April 2016 and sales have increased 60 to 70%. The SBDC connected him to PennTAP for a website assessment to be completed, due to the high traffic volume. Vaughn said, “I have sold lures in so many states across the country that sometimes it is hard to believe that my product literally is now nationwide.” He would like to debut another new product at ICAST this year and win the show. Now that his pricing and supply are on track and because of his connection with Kevin Harrington, he believes that he will be able to get his products into one of the major retailers this year.