Interview with TJ Reid: Elite Catch Baits

Find out how this entrepreneur built his business from the ground up using Instagram.

Elite Catch Baits specializes in hand-crafted fishing lures with attention-grabbing names, including “savage stick,” “maniac minnow” and “carnage craw.” Fishermen from all over the U.S. have used the lures to secure their personal-best catches. The combination of the products’ creative designs, branding and effectiveness explain why this small startup is growing rapidly and boasts 46.4 thousand Instagram followers as of January 2018.

The company’s success may lead you to believe that the business was started by a sports fisherman, with decades of experience, working out of a massive factory. But that’s far from the truth. Elite Catch Baits is run entirely out of a residential basement, where each lure is made, packaged and shipped by the founder.

And that founder is 17-year-old TJ Reid.

“A passion for fishing inspired me to create my own fishing lures, apparel and accessories to share with the public. I differentiate my business by offering new and unique colored baits,” Reid says.

Reid’s entrepreneurial spirit flourished years ago as a young child as he set up lemonade stands, designed and sold stress balls and ran a candy business at school. As a teen, Reid decided to combine his passion for fishing with his innate business ambition, starting with just $200 and a desire to create the kinds of lures he wanted to use while enjoying his favorite pastime. He set up shop in the basement of his family home and worked diligently to design unique products while simultaneously tackling his junior year of high school.

In just a year, Reid grew that $200 to $10,000, handling every aspect of his business on his own, from designing and crafting each lure to marketing his products and personally shipping orders at his local post office.

“Without Instagram, I don’t think my business could be possible. I blew up on there; ever since, people have loved the content I put out and the products I make.” Knowing his success is largely tied to his Instagram account, Reid has been dipping his toes into other online platforms lately, including Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. His social media savvy, and his generous sponsorship policies and programs, have allowed Reid to launch, maintain and grow a successful niche business with what many startups would consider pennies.

When asked how other entrepreneurs could achieve similar success, Reid says “Have a passion for it and make sure you can talk and relate to the people you’re selling to. Also, take risks and set yourself apart. Don’t do what everyone else is doing.”

The high school junior and entrepreneur has big plans for the future, including looking into investments to buy better-quality machines and molds, attending trade shows and testing out paid advertising to expand his brand. But for now, he’s just enjoying the feedback from the fishing community, working diligently to provide customers with the best products possible, engaging with people on social platforms and reaching out to more established fishermen.

“At this time, with school, I wouldn’t have the time to do all of these things to grow the business. Dealing with school, a second job and all of the many things it takes to run my business take a lot of time; but, if I segment it out and focus on each part as needed, it all gets done and I can strive in all fields.”

Check out Reid’s popular Instagram account, follow him on Facebook and Twitter and shop his one-of-a-kind products at EliteCatchBaits.com.

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