Insider #20: We’re Still Here

If you want a good laugh and a great read, check out our book (which is based on The Insiders). You can purchase it at all major bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and Borders and online at Amazon. Also, keep checking our website for updates on book reviews, interviews, photos and the book tour.

Lessons Learned

Well, the holiday numbers have finally come in and they were marginal, at best. I think our biggest beef here is not necessarily the actual numbers (we weren’t expecting a stellar holiday season) but in the way that the department stores (aka “the big boys”) treated us. Now, after speaking to a number of people who have dealt with the big boys before, we knew that selling to the likes of May Company was probably going to be a somewhat frustrating experience. But damn, we never expected that dealing with the big boys was going to be this much of a hassle. Thank goodness our sales rep has been able to negotiate on our behalf, otherwise, we could have been looking at a dismal end to 2001. Here’s the bottom line: The big boys ultimately have all the power because they’re the ones who interact with the consumer. Because they have this power, they can set up a relationship with a small manufacturer such as ourselves that guarantees that they never incur any risk whatsoever. If they don’t sell your product, they’ll eventually (we’re still trying to collect) pay you for what they sold and then send the rest of it back. It’s the risk-free way of selling on consignment. Was it worth it? Absolutely. No question. We have the experience now, we saw how MouseDriver did in the department stores and we did make some money off of May. But there is a lesson learned here: If you’re a small company and you have the opportunity to sell to the big boys, make sure that you have enough cash on hand to deal with returns, chargebacks and missed projections. The last thing you want to happen is to end up losing money on the deal.

We’ve officially been knocked-off! Seriously. Kyle actually ordered the knock-off product on the web. Now at first, we were a little pissed off, but after awhile, the whole thing felt kind of cool. I mean, here’s a 50-year-old, multi-million dollar company copying your idea and bringing it to market themselves. Imitation is flattery, right? So what do we do here? Well, let’s preface all of this by saying that the knock-off product is essentially the same as MouseDriver. There’s absolutely no improvement (which is odd since you would think that the company knocking us off would have tried to make improvements to the product) and the packaging, albeit very nicely done, is bulky and positions their product as a shelf item rather than a counter-top impulse boy. Maybe they know something we don’t. Anyway, we’re still in the wait and see mode. We’re pretty sure we could go after them from a legal perspective, but is it really worth it? If we thought that dealing with the big boys was frustrating and expensive, dealing with a big company in a court of law would be about as much fun as us doing your taxes. We’re still trying to figure this one out, but in the meantime, John sent the COO of the company a signed copy of the book along with a personal note highlighting our experiences, the book and the book/media tour that we’re about to go on. You think the COO will notice the original patent drawing of MouseDriver on the book cover?

In case you’ve missed the barrage of “book” emails that we’ve sent out over the past couple of months, we’ll let you know one more time. Our book, The MouseDriver Chronicles is now officially published! You can walk into any major booksstore, online and offline, and find it. Are we excited? Yes. Are we a little nervous? Of course. Despite all of the great advance reviews, etc., we’re still basically putting the last 2.5 years of our lives on shelves for everybody to read about. Some people have told us that we have a lot of courage, that we’re risk-takers for putting a book out there, that the criticism (if any J) might be hard to take. Yeah, we realize all of this. But you know, we’ve been sharing our experiences, our mistakes, our emotions and our triumphs from day one and that has been the most rewarding part of this whole gig. Why stop now? As long as the story continues and the experiences are meaningful, we’ll continue to share them with anybody who’s interested. And hopefully, hopefully, hopefully, people who read the book will appreciate the insights and the honesty.

Speaking of the book, we do have one really big fear. And this is a fear that, unfortunately, we can’t really do a whole lot to quell. There is a good chance that the awareness that the book brings to MouseDriver is fairly substantial. If there is ever a time that MouseDriver is going to be known on a national (and even international) scale, it’s going to be over the next few months. And that’s great. Phenomenal even. And, if we’re lucky, the MouseDriver awareness will lead to a huge increase in MouseDriver sales. But, if there is a huge increase in MouseDriver demand within the next few months, the chances of us having any inventory to fulfill this demand are going to be pretty slim. We know what you’re saying, “why not just invest in a bunch of inventory now so that you have it on hand in case demand increases?” Well, we’ve played that game before in the past and we’ve ended up over-investing in inventory. Despite the great publicity that MouseDriver might receive, we’re just not willing to risk another large inventory investment at this time…not one that will act only as buffer inventory at least. We’re sticking to our strategy and that strategy is to focus on landing volume sales with the large mass-merchandisers and discounters. Bottom line: We’re not investing in more inventory unless we have a purchase order in hand. So what’s the fear? That we were patient, stayed the course and executed our strategy only to find that, because of timing, we miss the one really big chance to sell a ton of MouseDrivers.

What We’ve Done

  • Found a much cheaper warehouse and fulfillment center in Los Angeles.
  • Wrote a by-lined article for BookSense…search for it on
  • Spoke with some individuals who are interested in purchasing the rights to sell MouseDriver through their mass distribution channels (i.e. they want to purchase the company).
  • Did a book interview with Sky Radio, the in-flight radio magazine that can be heard on United and American Airlines. If you fly either of those airlines, let us know if you hear the interview.
  • Updated the website with all of the book information, reviews, photos, book tour details, etc.

Priority Goals

  • Erase the very little bit of company debt that exists within the next month.
  • Rest and relax so that we’ll be fully prepared for the book/media tour that’s going to take place over the next five weeks or so.
  • Figure out how we’re going to take advantage of all of this great publicity. Again, and we’ve said this before, we have to find a way of capitalizing on all of this great stuff.
  • Utilize the increased MouseDriver awareness to close a large volume sale with one of the mass merchandisers that we’re currently speaking with…cross your fingers.
  • Take a long vacation where we have absolutely no responsibilities!

Mood Meter

Man, describing our mood right now is tough. We’ve got so many thoughts going through our mind that there’s really no description for the amalgam of feelings that we’re both experiencing. The economy sucks, the instability of entrepreneurship is starting to wear on us and this whole “work out of your apartment” gig is getting really, really old. But…never in our lives has either one of us been this excited about the potential opportunities and experiences that lie ahead.


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