Insider #14: The Story Gets Better

We’ve finally decided to add an entrepreneurial discussion forum to the website. So, if you have any questions you want answered or topics you want discussed, post ‘em in the forum…just go to www.mousedriver.com and enter from there. We have no idea if this thing will take off…but thought it the best way to share information with others. Let us know what you think.

Lessons Learned

Finally!! Through a friend of a friends Mom, we’ve developed a relationship with a sales rep who has the contacts and experience needed to bring MouseDriver to the mass merchandisers. It’s wild…we spent so much time trying to locate a sales rep via trade shows, industry contacts, online resources, etc. and it turns out that all we needed to do was grab a couple of beers and talk “business” with a couple of skiing buddies. Amazing the contacts that you can find in your own backyard…so to speak. Unfortunately, finding a good sales rep is only half the battle. We’ve now discovered that the mass merchandisers don’t want to have anything to do with a single-product company. Why?…Paperwork!! The big buyers just don’t want to deal with all of the time, headache, and paperwork involved with setting up a new vendor in their system, especially if it’s only for one product. So our sales rep and all of his buying buddies are telling us that we need to go through distributors…which is good since that’s been our preferred strategy all along. Funny how things work out sometimes…still, this distribution BS seems like a never-ending battle.

We pride ourselves on customer service. We’re small enough (and currently have the time) to focus on making sure that our customers are satisfied. That means we respond to all emails and phone calls on an extremely timely basis and do whatever we can to distinguish our company from the slew of other consumer product manufacturers out there. So, when we realized a couple of weeks ago that none of our info@mousedriver.com emails were being forwarded to our email accounts, we totally freaked. We had over 75 emails dating back to December 4th, 2000 from people inquiring about MouseDriver, our company, etc. Most of the emails were from customers who, for one reason or another, weren’t completely satisfied with the MouseDriver that they had received as a gift over the Holidays. (And this whole time we just assumed that we had somehow made it through the Holiday Season completely unscathed…seriously!) We ended up responding to all of the emails and offering free MouseDrivers and promotional mousepads to many of our customers who had been waiting over 6 weeks for a response. Still, we were pretty embarrassed and bummed about the whole thing…especially by the customers that totally ripped on us for not initially responding (i.e. some guy basically told us that are product was a sham, our company was a joke and we didn’t have the balls to respond to his email…it’s that whole ego crushing thing repeating itself).

If you haven’t heard by now, we made the cover of a major business publication (Inc. Magazine). We’re not exactly sure how we pulled this one off, but we’re obviously psyched that the “story” is being pushed to bookstores, newsstands and over 600,000 subscribers around the country. So does having your picture appear on the cover a magazine change anything?…ABSOLUTELY! Other than the slew of phone calls that we’re receiving on a daily basis, our workday now primarily consists of answering the 150 emails that we individually download each morning. Many of the emails are from other entrepreneurs who were inspired and motivated by the article while others are simply people sending us their kudos and signing up for The Insider. We’ve also received inquiries from other business publications interested in “the story”, potential customers interested in the product, entrepreneurs wanting advice, admirers wanting to give us their insights, literary agents/publishing companies who think book opportunities might actually exist and high school acquaintances that we haven’t spoken to in over 15 years. It’s crazy! Our guess is that all of this will be a “Flavor of the month” sort of thing and will die down over the next few weeks…but hey, if the media wants to keep supporting us, we’ll certainly support them!

With the addition of our sales reps and the running of the article, this whole venture has taken on a much different feel. We no longer feel as if we’re just the two guys trying our best to sell MouseDriver out of the massage parlor, but that we’re two moderately successful entrepreneurs who might have the opportunity to make some really big things happen (Note: this may or may not be true, but it’s kinda how we feel at the moment). A lot of doors have been opened for us over the past month and the business article has only helped to reinforce the fact that we’re a legitimate company. We’re now in a position where we can take the company in a number of different strategic directions and we really need to sit down and think about our goals…not only from a company perspective but also from a personal perspective. Regardless of what we end up doing, one thing’s for certain: We’ve got to stay focused and make sure that we can convert all of this positive press and door-opening opportunities into MouseDriver sales…otherwise, we’re doing the company, ourselves and most importantly, our investors a disservice. It’s a challenge, but something that we think we’ll be able to handle…let’s hope.

What We’ve Done

  • Added a major golf distributor whose accounts include department and sporting goods stores.
  • Met with a literary agent and four major book-publishing companies about the possibilities of turning the Insiders into some sort of book opportunity (alright, we’re a little clueless on this whole process, so let us know if you have any thoughts).
  • Guest lectured at Pepperdine (phenomenal campus), USC, Wharton and Columbia.
  • Met with a number of promising entrepreneurs including a 15-year NFL Veteran and 8 time pro-bowler (the cool part about this deal was that we actually remember watching this guy play).
  • 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).
  • Added an entrepreneur discussion forum to our website…we’ll see how long this actually lasts.

Priority Goals

  • Convert all of this positive PR into really BIG sales (aka: Cash!)
  • Extend our line of credit at Wells Fargo Bank so that our next inventory investment is a little less stressful than the last one.
  • Determine the strategic direction of the company. (i.e. Do we introduce more products or let MouseDriver run its course?).
  • Personally respond to all of the emails currently sitting in our in-boxes.

Mood Meter

“Oh, how I feel like I’m alive for the very first time. Sit up high I’m strong enough to take these dreams and make them mine. Can you take me higher…” (“Higher” From Creed’s Human Clay Album).

 

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