Join 3,416 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Mark your calendars
August 29, 2013 4:39 AM   Subscribe

Launching my first product : Brand, Make, Sell Sell, Make, Brand
posted by Gyan (31 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite

 
This was a fantastic overview of the process this guy went through. He sounds like a levelheaded and straightforward guy, and his calendar looks useful too.

Thanks for posting!
posted by Rory Marinich at 5:00 AM on August 29, 2013


I am a venture capitalism from Silicon Valley, and this is SO BACKWARDS.
posted by Mezentian at 5:03 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


You don’t need a website, a brand, or even a logo. Countless people are selling their products on ebay, amazon, etsy, craigslist, and other marketplaces. In fact you can throw up imaginary items and see if they sell just for research. If anyone orders and you can’t actually fulfill just cancel the transaction and mark the item as “I no longer have this item / it was damaged”. It’s sad and bad news for your first customers but it’s the most realistic way to test a product.

Ugh.
posted by 256 at 5:14 AM on August 29, 2013 [10 favorites]


This is a good read and I see more than a few familiar things. All of those mistakes were avoidable. The second time. He'll figure it out after a few more failures. No one is an overnight success.

and this is SO BACKWARDS.

Indeed. The moral of this story is that this guy is HAPPY he didn't receive kickstart funding which forced him to keep his ambitions small and so his (inevitable) mistakes were less costly.
posted by three blind mice at 5:18 AM on August 29, 2013


Damn it must be nice to have unlimited privilege. I'd love to have the social power to sell something that isn't even available.
posted by Yowser at 5:18 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Welcome to the future Yowser.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:47 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I knew we'd get to "privilege" eventually, but damn, I didn't think it'd be within the first 10 comments.

These calendars are cool, but dude, if you're reading this, a planner version - smaller, more portable - would sell like hotcakes and could ship in standard boxes.
posted by downing street memo at 5:51 AM on August 29, 2013 [8 favorites]


Brilliant overview, especially the chart with the order of development reversed.

Hey this isn't just for products and websites and commodities though, this is the same for art and books and movies and whatever other thing you're working on.

Just. Get. It. Done. Don't conceptualize, create and distribute.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:52 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also this:

We want people to believe in and take a risk on us when we won’t even believe in or take risks ourselves. We are pathetic. And the only way to stop is to get off of TechCrunch and HackerNews, take the thousands of dollars you worked your ass off to save, and actually risk it and pour it into something.

Damn straight.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


This guy rules for pulling a profit from paper calendars in the year 2013.
posted by oceanjesse at 6:02 AM on August 29, 2013 [5 favorites]


Succeed or fail you’re going to same place Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, your great great grandparents, and sadly Milla Jovovich are going. Into the deep black nothingness that awaits us all

As someone who is trying to start up a sort-of weird conceptual business that may or may not work RIGHT NOW, this is awesome. This guy made some classic rookie mistakes, obvs, but it's helpful to me to see where/how I'm already ahead of him, plus bonus learning (never heard of fab.com, for instance.)


These calendars are cool, but dude, if you're reading this, a planner version - smaller, more portable - would sell like hotcakes and could ship in standard boxes.


Agreed. I would love to see him pop over here and respond to comments!!
posted by polly_dactyl at 6:04 AM on August 29, 2013


Succeed or fail you’re going to same place Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, Steve Jobs, your great great grandparents, and sadly Milla Jovovich are going. Into the deep black nothingness that awaits us all

Damn straight. May as well kick back and have a beer, fuck this business crap.

Wait, what?
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 6:18 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


In fact you can throw up imaginary items and see if they sell just for research. If anyone orders and you can’t actually fulfill just cancel the transaction and mark the item as “I no longer have this item / it was damaged”. It’s sad and bad news for your first customers but it’s the most realistic way to test a product.

Huh. I feel like this could backfire, or break several terms of service.
posted by Think_Long at 6:19 AM on August 29, 2013


It's interesting to read this now, as I'm in the midst of failing through my first year of trying to launch a business. I'm learning so much, it's just frustrating that the fastest way to learn is by making mistakes that cost significant amounts of money.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:28 AM on August 29, 2013


He's 100% right about wp-ecommerce. Pure. Crap.
posted by Mick at 6:28 AM on August 29, 2013 [2 favorites]


Very cool find! Interesting and educational. I love seeing stuff like this here.
posted by sidereal at 6:52 AM on August 29, 2013


Just. Get. It. Done. Don't conceptualize, create and distribute.

There is a time and a place for pre-planning, deciding what you want to make, sorting through all your options. And that time and place is "before you know what your product is".

Once you know what you're making, you make it. But it is worth pointing out that not all ideas emerge clear and crystalline from the get-go. Many are murky and vague and take a long time to resolve themselves into some understandable shape.
posted by Rory Marinich at 6:55 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


I love this guy for talking about his mistakes! I made so many when I was starting up, and oh gods NOBODY will ever hear of them, a couple of things still make me squirm with embarrassment. I was such an idiot. Starting a small business is brutal on your self-confidence; every time you look at your empty inbox, you start to question your own worth. Then an order comes in and the clouds part and angels sing hallelujah.

E-commerce software is a nasty thicket of despair. Here's one thing I will share: before you choose your e-commerce platform, spend some time cruising around on their help forums and get a sense of how helpful and community-minded they are. These are the people you'll be turning to at 2am when you've borked your site, the backup is corrupted, and you're a hot weeping mess.
posted by Mary Ellen Carter at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


This guy rules for pulling a profit from paper calendars in the year 2013.

He only made a "profit" because he's not considering his own labor hours. I think he recognizes that, although he doesn't state it explicitly.
posted by muddgirl at 7:05 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I, er - isn't that a vertical list of days? Am I missing something revolutionary about it?
posted by cromagnon at 7:22 AM on August 29, 2013


It's a little more clever than just a vertical list: the numbers on the calendar slide sideways to show what day of the week it is by placement of the number, so the relative indent of the line for the day also tells you what day of the week you're on.

I was initially kind of unimpressed with the concept but once I looked at some of the close-up shots, I really started to like it. I think there might be an issue with it not being a concept that's necessarily easy to sell in a 200x200 px square without a bit of explanation.
posted by Shepherd at 7:26 AM on August 29, 2013


There is a time and a place for pre-planning, deciding what you want to make, sorting through all your options. And that time and place is "before you know what your product is".

Well I would argue, [as I did the other day ;)] that the user/customer is the most important decision maker about what the product is. You can spend 100 hours doing focus groups and reading market research, but if you're one person you'll have to get feedback by seeing if people buy it/use a Minimum Viable Product version of it and check out what they say about it instead.

You will have to change your product anyway after you launch. Sometimes the more you pre-plan the harder it is to allow yourself to adjust things about your original vision that need to get adjusted.

Again this is ESPECIALLY true for artistic projects. Just get up on stage and do it. Do it in the street. Put it on youtube. Fail as often as possible. Only way to get shit done. Cuz this guy's right, one year turns into 10 real quick.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:29 AM on August 29, 2013 [3 favorites]


Once you know what you're making, you make it. But it is worth pointing out that not all ideas emerge clear and crystalline from the get-go. Many are murky and vague and take a long time to resolve themselves into some understandable shape.

Yes. But the way to resolve these things is not be continual conceptualizing, but by prototyping. Running an experiment. Making something, and then figuring out how that works/doesn't work, then improving on it. Over-optimization and over-planning are often ways to keep a project from taking off, because you actually don't understand your constraints or limitations until you've embarked on the project already.
posted by suedehead at 7:40 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Lesson: The best way to sell your product is to write viral "what I did wrong" posts targeted at wantreprenuers. Include some infographics with that font from The Oatmeal for good measure.
posted by annekate at 8:06 AM on August 29, 2013 [4 favorites]


Welcome to the wonderful things that working with vendors brings you. And when I say wonderful, I mean soul crushing. And when I say vendors, I mean people who care half as much about the quality of your product that you do.
posted by Brocktoon at 8:51 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love this kind of thing. There are thousands and thousands of "business advice" books but it is very rare to see someone say "I sold this much stuff at this price and advertised this way and made this much money." Although this guy doesn't actually have a successful product yet (he made < $1000), he's certainly explaining a lot about what he's learned so far.
posted by miyabo at 9:46 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


wantreprenuers

Oh, my, what a fabulous word.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 9:53 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


I've been reading The $100 Startup, which is worth picking up if you're interested in this guy's story and others like him. The basic thesis is that for most people it makes more sense to try and put together a startup for next to nothing to begin with, rather than raising investment capital etc. It's a little self-promotional for the author, but I suppose that's to be expected in an entrepreneurial book.
posted by craven_morhead at 11:08 AM on August 29, 2013


What a great read for any aspiring designer. Also a great read for anyone who wants to know how real design actually happens. Kudos to the guy for taking time to articulate & analyze his experience. That in itself was a huge undertaking.
posted by yoga at 11:32 AM on August 29, 2013


This is pretty interesting stuff, coming from the position of someone who's wanted to sell photos more effectively for years. On the other hand, it does sort of show the daunting amount of time required. I don't mind effort, but, damn, time is hard to come by these days (weirdly, I have the most free time when I'm ostensibly at work).
posted by klangklangston at 11:52 AM on August 29, 2013 [1 favorite]


Anyone who thinks selling items that don't exist is an issue of privileged must get e-mail from a different group of Nigerians than I do.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:50 PM on September 1, 2013


« Older Over the last year and a half, I have been visitin...  |  "Generation Z will arrive brut... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments