Insider #15: Back to the Apartment… Again!

The PR continues to grow!! Check out this clip on TechNow that was aired nationally on Saturday evening and try not to laugh too hard. http://playlist.broadcast.com/makeplaylist.asp?id=897288&segment=16691And by the way, phenomenal PR doesn’t necessarily translate into increased sales…but it makes for good bar talk.

Lessons Learned

We’ve been screwed by the downturn in the economy!! We made a decision a couple of months ago to expand our horizons a bit and sublease office space from a friends technology company. The thought of being in a “real” (i.e. lots of people and a coffee machine) space as opposed to a shed seemed appealing and the idea of continuing to pay office rent on a month-by-month basis were attractive. On Thursday of last week, after spending countless hour preparing for and actually making the move, our friend called to say that he and everyone else in his company had been abruptly terminated. So, after being in our new space for all of 30 minutes, we were told that we would now have to find someplace else to squat. No problem, right, we’ll just go back to the apartment and work for a couple of weeks until we find some other space. Well, it turns out that on that same Thursday, our DSL provider, bankrupt Northpoint, officially cut off services to all of its subscribers. Now, we’re back in the apartment with no high speed internet connection, all of our office stuff is sitting in the garage, and we’re dreading the idea of doing this apartment work/live thing all over again. At least we’re virtual!

History is repeating itself here at Platinum Concepts. In an effort to finance a large inventory investment, we have once again incurred a serious amount of credit card debt. This time though, being in debt isn’t so “cool”. Last year we just figured that the credit card thing was a part of the whole learning experience. You know, pay your dues, get your battles wounds, feel the pain, etc. But now, as the inventory investments are getting bigger and bigger, it’s becoming more apparent that we’re incurring some very grave risks here. We always assumed that our bank, Wells Fargo, would come through for us and extend a line of credit that was greater than $24k. We also assumed that we would have plenty of cash in the company to be able to cover our next inventory investment. Turns out our assumptions were wrong. The good news: there’s a very important lesson to learn here. The best time to get all of your funding sources lined up is when you think you don’t need money. When we were bored out of our minds last Summer waiting for the Holiday sales to pick up, we should have been applying for SBA loans and going to local banks in an effort to raise money. Next time, we’ll know.

We have a book deal!!! Well, we’ve been told by both our publisher and our agent that we have a deal, but we haven’t actually seen a written contract yet. So, we may be retracting this information in the next Insider. But for the time being, we figured that we might as well share this news with everyone. Apparently, our book publisher is intrigued with the idea of a business book that’s not a “how-to” book (we never claim that we know what we’re doing anyway) but rather an “experience” book that chronicles the ups, downs, experiences, emotions, etc. of two guys trying to bring a product idea to market. Basically, the book would be 250 pages of the Insiders…on steroids. Here’s the issue though: the publisher supposedly wants a finished manuscript by July. Given that we need to really focus on sales (otherwise, the book won’t have a very happy ending), neither one of us can really dedicate all of our time to writing this book. So, we’re looking into bringing on a ghost-writer…someone to help us write the book. If we can’t find an affordable ghost-writer, then we’ll probably have to pass on the book this time around. Focusing on sales is just too important right now…but how sweet would it be to have a book out there!?!?

Last year, we spent most of our time and effort focusing on introducing MouseDriver to the consumer retail market. The primary reason for focusing on retail was based on the research that we had done on the Advertising Specialty Industry (ASI). It turns out that the promotional products that do really, really well in the ASI are those that have done well as consumer retail items. So, given that information, we decided to execute our retail strategy first with hopes of building MouseDriver awareness and sales. Now that we’ve had some moderate success with MouseDriver as a retail item we’re going to shift our focus somewhat and start concentrating on building sales and awareness within the ASI. We’ve always felt pretty confident that MouseDriver, branded with a company name or logo, would make a great corporate giveway/incentive/gift/tee prize. Hopefully, our patience will pay off and our “retail first” strategy will prove fruitful.

What We’ve Done

  • Did a photo shoot with entrepreneur magazine and a television shoot for a show called TechNow.
  • Developed samples for a clam-shell (plastic packaging) package that we will present to mass merchandisers such as WalMart, Target and Sam’s.
  • Put together our first book proposal. It’s basically a combination of a marketing plan (book people call it a platform) and the details of your product (chapter outlines/synopsis).
  • Began doing high-level research on what we think could be Platinum Concepts next product…and this one has much more of a “tech” focus to it.
  • Met with an editor for MBA Jungle Magazine; did an interview with Bloomberg News Radio; did a photo-shoot with Entrepreneur Magazine (much easier and less involved than the Inc. shoot with more of a product focus).
  • Initiated our first marketing campaign into the advertising specialty industry.

Priority Goals

  • Figure out what the hell we’re going to do about obtaining office space!
  • Finalize new product research and conduct a feasibility study to determine whether or not we should continue to move forward with our new idea.
  • Generate as much MouseDriver awareness as possible within the ad specialty industry.
  • Find a ghost-writer who can effectively capture our voices and make a final decision on the book deal.
  • Sales, Sales, Sales (seriously, we need to make some big sales really soon).

Mood Meter

Psyched that people are noticing us, bummed that sales aren’t higher, grateful for this incredible learning experience and scared shitless with regards to our latest credit card issues.

 

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