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Murphy’s Naturals and The Loading Dock Story with Philip Freeman

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Philip Freeman started his entrepreneurship journey at six years old, selling used bottle caps farm-to-farm for 50 cents a piece. The business wasn’t exactly scalable, but the entrepreneurial spirit it instilled in him was.

He didn’t follow that spirit right away. Instead, he spent 8 years in the Navy and 23 years in corporate America before he decided it was finally time to start his business, and the lessons he learned in those 31 years prepared him to do it right.

“I realized you have to have the right team,” Philip said. “Everyone has to be in sync, performing their mission and that makes all the difference in the world.”

Murphy's Naturals: A Natural Repellent

Murphy’s Naturals, named after Philip’s Brown Standard Poodle, is a certified B corp that creates natural mosquito repellents and skin-soothing products.

“My wife, Pam, is a mosquito magnet,” Philip said. “She pretty much can't go to the mailbox without getting a mosquito bite, but we really didn't care for deet products. They work of course, but we didn't feel good about them.”

And, like many entrepreneurs, Philip couldn’t find the eco-friendly products he was searching for, so he made it himself—in his garage. He needed his products to look distinctive from what was on the market, so he created bright, eye-catching packaging and took $20,000 worth to a trade show in Atlanta.

 

He knew it was a risk, but he still had a full time job and planned to give the product to family and friends as gifts if it was, well, a flop.

“I remember the first couple buyers that came up and showed an interest, and then one placed an order, and I was like, ‘Oh, this is fantastic,’” Philip said.

After the great reception at the trade show, the next challenge was finding a way to make it available to everyone else while Philip was still working his full-time job.

They started selling their product on Amazon, with Amazon doing the fulfillment. They racked up some good reviews, and they were ready to put it into stores, keeping a key piece of advice in mind.

“When you're selling your product, and you're putting it on the shelves at retailers, make sure that that retailer is helping to build your brand equity,” Philip said. “So if you go and you sell your product at a discount store from the very beginning, you're always going to be identified with that retailer. But if you go in and you sell it at higher branded retailers, ones where it builds your brand equity to be on their shelves, it makes a big difference.”

That approach caused the brand to grow a little more slowly, but steadily. Before he knew it, it was too big for the garage.

The Loading Dock: A CoWorking Space

“I thought, ‘I need more space.’” Philip said. “I want to secure more space than we actually need. And I thought, well, ‘How do I do that?’ Why don't I launch a coworking space and share it?”

That’s when he founded The Loading Dock, too, a coworking space for the Triangle’s manufacturing entrepreneurs.

So, after many years serving companies and our country, Philip finally became a founder—twice.

“I waited till late in my career before I became an entrepreneur,” Philip said, “and I thought, ‘What if I hadn't? What if I never did anything, and I kept filing the ideas away?’ There would have been regret in later years.”

To hear what’s next for Philip, check out his episode of Founder Shares below, or wherever you listen to podcasts.

 

The blog content should not be construed as legal advice.

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