The simple Qld fishing invention that is now a $2m business
Ross Bain is more an ideas man than a fisherman.
And one of his best ideas - a fishing knot tying tool - has reeled in more than half a million customers.
The Sunshine Coast-based entrepreneur expects to ring up $2m in sales this year, mostly from keen anglers in the United States who discovered his Hook-Eze product in 2014 when a demonstration video went viral on YouTube.
"That's what we are looking at, however things might change," he said of the ambitious sales target. Last year his Hook-Eze business generated $1m in sales but demand for the product has exploded along with the popularity of fishing during COVID times.
He pitches his patented Hook-Eze tool as the fastest, safest and easiest way for anyone to tie tackle. A twin pack of the product sells for $12.95 in Australia, plus $2.95 for shipping.
But roughly 90 per cent of sales come from the US, mostly via Amazon.
Mr Bain was working as a house painter when he started the business in 2001 as a "side hustle".
"I was never a big fisherman but I used to like to go sailing and friends would want to fish. I noticed that people had a lot of trouble tying fishing hooks on with a proper knot ... and they would lose the fish.
"I just thought there had to be a better way to tie the hook on - and there wasn't. So I developed a tool to tie hooks on."
In the early days he sold Hook-Eze at local markets and fishing and camping shows.
"If you just put it on a shelf in a fishing shop people don't know what it is or how it could help them," he said.
"It's not until they see a video or a live demonstration that they realised ... they could use it."
So he made "a pretty rough" YouTube video to demonstrate what his knot-tying tool could do.
"From YouTube they were shared on Facebook and the videos started to go viral. That was in November of 2014."
He remembers the date because that is when he ditched his paint brush and made Hook-Eze his main gig.
"We got pulled in to the American market when the videos went viral," Mr Bain said.
"Over the last six years the two original videos would have accumulated 250 million views," he said.
The business only employs four people, including his wife Majella, with the product manufactured in South Korea. The bulk of it gets shipped directly to the anglers and fishing enthusiasts in the US.
"The idea is that not everyone goes fishing, but we all know a fisherman. So we sell a lot as gifts."
He plans to add more niche fishing products to the range.
"Basically we want products that make it easier for people when they go fishing," he said.
But after all these years he still wouldn't call himself a fishing enthusiast.
"I probably go fishing a few times a month - mostly to get footage for Facebook (and other social media).
"I am more of an ideas person."
His big tip for other entrepreneurs is to "outsource" where they can.
"I can't be good at everything. You definitely need help when you grow this fast."
He has employed Lucas Cook from digital marketing agency Co Media to help expand the company's online reach, especially with social media.
"I have never seen the type of growth some businesses are experiencing at the moment," said Mr Cook, Co Media's founder.
"For businesses that are properly harnessing the power of online marketing, they are kicking huge sales goals and redefining their growth targets.
Basically, the online environment has become a place of open warfare for retailers. It's a matter of adapt and thrive, or keep doing the same thing and die."
Originally published as The simple Qld fishing invention that is now a $2m business