Insider #2: Distribution is Key

Let us know if you want certain issues to be discussed…we’ve encountered a bunch of ‘em.

Lessons Learned

“Earthquakes and typhoons and floods…oh my!”

The world has experienced a slew of natural disasters over the past three months. Unfortunately, when you’re manufacturing a product overseas, you’re at risk of being effected by one of these disasters. Case in point: A typhoon struck Hong Kong in mid-September, shutting down our manufacturing facility and delaying shipment of our first 2500 units by 4 days. 48 hours later, an earthquake struck Taipei, halting the production of the integrated circuits that are used in our mice and delaying shipment another 7 days. So, over the course of 48 hours, our entire supply chain was cut off and our first deliveries delayed. Luckily, we had been warned of “random” issues in Southeast Asia and had planned for potential delays. At least the ship carrying our product didn’t sink…which apparently happens more than you might think.

Distribution is key. We can’t stress how important finding the right distribution channels are going to be to the success of this venture. You may have an incredible product, but its ability to sell is totally dependent on methods of distribution. In the beginning, we were excited about personally selling MouseDriver ourselves. We very quickly realized how much of a pain-in-the-rear personal selling can be. So, on the corporate side of things, we’re looking to team up with a supplier who will purchase from us and push MouseDriver through their already existing distribution network. On the retail side, we’re utilizing independent representatives, segmented by industry, to push the product to retailers and consumers. Obviously, developing a strong relationship with the distribution network is paramount. For all of you following the next big internet trends (and who isn’t), keep an eye out on those companies who have successfully integrated bricks and mortar distribution with e-tailing.

If you’re starting a company, find a company advisor as soon as possible. The opportunity to run our initial strategies by a seasoned veteran would have saved us time, frustration, and headaches in the early stages. Advisors can comment on your direction, make important introductions and share many of their battle wounds. They can truly be of great benefit to your company. However, take the time to find the right advisor. Even though an advisor may have all the right credentials, make sure that they are willing to take time out of their schedules to address your concerns. Otherwise, they’ll add little value. We’ve been searching for an advisor for over two months now and believe that we have finally located one…we’ll keep you posted.

What We’ve Done

  • Completed our second round of fundraising to finance sales, marketing and inventory expenses.
  • Began targeting the golf industry as our first retail market and established a relationship with an independent sales representative (a former PGA Tour player!).
  • Finalized two on-line partnerships to help build MouseDriver brand awareness and to help gather market research data (check out the Sports Prize Section on the PrizeCentral.com website).
  • Started a public relations campaign within the golf industry slated to coincide with the retail buying season in January/February.
  • Introduced MouseDriver at two golf shows (Las Vegas and Orlando) in an effort to generate “buzz” and determine initial demand.
  • Designed and manufactured our corporate packaging that will also be used for initial retail sales (and by the way, packaging is just as important as the actual product).
Priority Goals
  • Identify strategic licensing opportunities within the golf market to help establish and maintain brand name.
  • Identify/finalize a supplier relationship within the corporate promotional products market.
  • Continue with our golf PR campaign and begin focusing on a more mass market campaign for early 2000.
  • Utilize feedback from golf trade shows and initial corporate and retail sales to gauge MouseDriver demand and to help us determine the size of the next inventory investment.
  • Visit manufacturer (supplier) in Hong Kong to better understand the manufacturing process/supply chain and to expedite the design process of MouseDriver II (incorporating feedback that many of you have provided us).
Mood Meter: An Emotional Roller-coaster

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