Insider #12: The Paper Anniversary!

Everyone should go to Las Vegas at least once in their life. We went for the first time early last month…definately not a place to go when you’re already laced with school and credit card debt.

Lessons Learned

We can’t believe that we’ve been writing The MouseDriver Insider for over a year now. The fact that we were working out of our apartment for 13 months was pretty amazing, but knowing that we’ve been focused on selling a novelty computer mouse since we graduated in May, 1999 and able to keep people informed of our progress is even more amazing. On that note, we’ve found that we get a ton of satisfaction out of not only sharing our “bring your product to market” experience with others but also in advising people who have product ideas but are a little unclear with regards to what steps they should take next. We received a number of inquiries via email and phone over the last couple of months from people who have some pretty amazing ideas and are looking for our insights and perspectives. It’s cool. They tell us their idea and we briefly run through all the different issues that they might run into; manufacturing, operations, marketing, distribution, raising money, knock offs, etc. It ’s been very satisfying and makes us realize that we’ve actually learned something since graduation. Maybe a consulting career beckons after all!

Running into a manufacturing issue on the eve of the Holiday Selling Season is the very last thing that a company wants to see happen. That being said, we’ve run into a little issue with our manufacturer in China that has, at the least, tested our abilities to deal with stress. The major disadvantage of manufacturing overseas is a lack of control, and unfortunately, that lack of control has led to a substantial delay in the delivery of our Holiday units. The bad news: if things get any worse, we could end up missing part of the Holiday Selling Season…again. The good news: we’ve got a very good relationship with our manufacturer and are fairly certain that we will not miss the Holidays (knock on wood). Still, it kind of sucks when you’re only focus for the entire year is to get ready for the Holidays and because of something completely out of your control, you find out you may have less product to sell than you’d like.

We’ll be the first ones to admit that there’s a very good chance that the marketing strategy that surrounds MouseDriver and Platinum Concepts, Inc. may or may not be the best strategy out there. When this is all said and done, we’ll be able to look back and say “hey, we were right on” or “we totally screwed up”. But right now, all we can do is stay the course and focus on the strategy that we developed during all of those marketing classes at Wharton. So, just to remind everyone, our strategy is to focus on positioning MouseDriver as a high-end, quality, impulse gift item through the Holidays so that we can do our best to help retailers maintain a $30 price point. Keeping a higher price point helps us brand MouseDriver as a great impulse buy gift item within our target demographic (the golf market). Next year, once we feel like we’ve reached acceptance within our target market, we will focus on mass distribution. Although we could have gone mass this year (and we turned down a number of fairly la rge sales deals), we felt that by building some sort of brand awareness and staying high-end now, we could generate more sales through mass distribution next year. (Please note: “building a brand” is used very loosely here…anyone who thinks a brand can be built in a year needs to check out DrKoop.com’s stock price!)

So now we have to start thinking about what’s next for Platinum Concepts, Inc. MouseDriver is going to be around for a while, so we’re not too worried about its lifespan. However, our distributors and retailers are starting to ask us for other products…seems like they’ve taken a liking to our company and the way we do business…which is a good thing. We definitely have some other products in the pipeline, but really need to figure out if we want to expand beyond the golf and gift industries. With all of the guest lecturing and PR that we’re receiving, we’re hoping that Platinum Concepts gets “branded” as a company known for bringing very unique, quality products to market and as a company who develops very strong relationships with partners in the supply chain. The big questions: What industry do we want to focus on? What types of products do we want to manufacture? And most importantly, how are we going to source new products? If anyone has any comments, feel free to share them with us…we’re o pen to any suggestions!

What We’ve Done

  • Spent two days with a reporter from Inc. Magazine at our offices in San Francisco. It made us feel like a legitimate company/organization!
  • Attended the International PGA Show in Las Vegas. We didn’t have a booth this time (thank goodness) so we actually got to enjoy walking around the floor and meeting with people.
  • Did a “product spot” for an in-flight video that will air on Delta and British Airways in December and January. It’s called CEO Bytes…look for Kyle in the MD T-shirt!
  • Volunteered to perform a workshop seminar at the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovators Conference in Washington, D.C. next March. It’s a long shot, but could be very cool.
  • Moved into our new office space. Huge difference between the new space and the apartment.

Priority Goals

  • Be fully prepared for the onslaught of MouseDriver Holiday Sales that are about to occur.
  • Put together presentations for the different MBA programs and universities where we will be guest lecturing over the next couple of months.
  • Launch a direct mail campaign to independent gift stores. We’ll let you know how effective this one is…at least we can track it.

Mood Meter

We’ve been through all sorts of different emotions over the past 15 months. We’re not really sure what the mood is this time. If anything, it’s impatient and unknowing.

 

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