Insider #9: Our Friend “Ed”

Again, please feel free to send us your comments/questions/suggestions/criticisms or let us know if you want us to discuss certain topics. We’ll always respond.

Lessons Learned

We’ve made a ton of changes to the website lately, including the addition of zip code search functionality, the Insider Online and back-end marketing analysis. We’d like to say that as former IT consultants, we had no problems implementing these changes ourselves. Truth is…we don’t know crap about web development and we don’t have the budget to spend $300/hr on a college level html programmer. So, in an effort to save time and money, we enlisted the help of a very tech savvy, knowledgeable friend…let’s call him “Ed”. “Ed’s” been an invaluable technical resource and someone that we’ve been able to go to with all of our technical questions. “Ed” helps us do research, identifies cheap shareware, modifies our html code, and provides sound technical advice. He’s also a “friends and family” investor. Our point here: if you’re bootstrapping a company, make sure that you have very, very cheap access to a good technical person like “Ed”…it will make things a helluva lot easier.

Our distribution networks are finally kicking in. It’s amazing…these guys are able to close large sales with retail buyers who refused to take our phone calls a month ago. One thing that we’ve done to help cultivate the distributor relationship; kept our wholesale price higher than our distributors. Not only does this signal to your distributor that you don’t want to compete with them, but it also pretty much forces retailers to buy from distributors (who can give them better pricing). We know that our distributors have been around for awhile and have a ton of great retail relationships. We want to do whatever we can to incent them to push MouseDriver. In the long run, it’s these guys who will bring us the volume sales. One thing that we’ve found strange in this industry though: Retailers who contact us directly are shocked (and some actually get a little testy with us) when we tell them that they can get better pricing by going through a distributor. Any clues on what we’re missing here?

Entrepreneurship is a great thing. You have the personal freedom to do whatever you want whenever you want. If it dumps 8 inches of snow in Tahoe on a Tuesday night, you have the choice of heading up to the mountains the next day. This option and ability to “get up and go” is absolutely priceless. However, this freedom doesn’t come without sacrifice. Over the past 10 months we have had no income, spent most of our personal savings, maxed out a couple of credit cards each, performed very menial and unchallenging administrative tasks, been turned down for office space (b/c of too much personal debt), had our egos completely crushed, and lastly, been told that we have no vision and no idea what we’re doing. All of this for the price of personal (and hopefully financial) freedom. Is it worth it…absolutely. Since the last quote seemed to be pretty popular, we’ll leave you with another one from Mitch Albom’s Tuesday’s With Morrie (a great read by the way):

“Life without freedom to get up and go – mountain bike beneath you, breeze in your face, down the streets of Paris, into the mountains of Tibet – is not a good life at all.”

What We’ve Done

  • Completely outsourced most of the operational aspects of the business so that we’re now focused on sales, marketing and PR.
  • Spent an hour with a customer who wants us to design and develop The Ear Mouse…yeah right!
  • Developed and submitted our first two print ads. One is targeted towards golf retailers and the other is targeted to consumers.
  • Signed an agreement with a movie studio to use MouseDriver as a prop in some scenes. It’s a golf movie…the principle from Ferris Bueller’s Day off is one of the stars.
  • Sold MouseDriver to the defense crisis department at The Pentagon.

Priority Goals

  • Find for 3 or 4 more large gift distributors in different regions of the country (i.e. Northeast, Midwest, West Coast, Southeast).
  • Begin brainstorming on the possibilities of introducing a MouseDriver bundle package. Basically means identifying the bundle, researching the numbers and designing new packaging.
  • Develop some very creative ways of marketing and promoting MouseDriver without spending a ton of cash. Any ideas that you might have are welcome!
  • Pay ourselves!

Mood Meter

Remember the last scene in The Breakfast Club when Jud Nelson is walking through the football field? He opens up his hand, sees the diamond earring that Molly Ringwald gave him and raises both hands in triumph…he’s (a.k.a. MouseDriver) finally made a connection with a “social society” that was always so foreign to him. That’s kinda how we feel.


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