Who Are We? Venture Team 1 Edit
We are Team 1: Andrew Erdos, Tyler Bavis, and Joe Barletta. We are all Business Management majors at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. We are studying in the concentration of Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship (TIE). In our current entrepreneurship class we are designing a product(s) that are novel and innovative to our specific college market. In addition to creating these products we will be donating all proceeds/profits to Breast Cancer Awareness and/or the Wounded Warriors Foundation. Our first ideas were to create koozies to sell at football tailgates. This idea had initial promise but, we realized that it was too generic and they were too expensive to get them in on time and at a competiviee price. Our next idea, that ended up being our final venture, was to sell customized JMU condoms. Yes, you read this correctly, condoms! We have had initial success with an original goal of raising $750 in profits to benefit Safer Society Foundation.
Why Condoms? Edit
Many people have asked us, "Why condoms?" and "How are we even allowed to sell those?" Well, “College age women between the ages of 20-24 have one of the highest rates of unintended pregnancies due to lack of contraceptive use and unsafe sexual practices. Since 80% of college females are sexually active and not seeking to become pregnant, it is important to provide these women with effective contraceptive options.” (Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19278182)
So to support awareness and concern for the beautiful 60% of our campus, we want to design condom wrappers with quality condoms to sell at a cheap rate to this market. This original target audience proved to be the wrong audience.
Innovation Questionstorming Edit
During the course of the semester, we updated and recorded our findings in a weekly blog. Through many of our posts, we were required to ask our customer base innovative questions to help develop our product. The main question that drove our thought process in finding a product to sell was: "What product will we be able to produce and sell cheaply and easily, that we can sell to the college market (JMU setting specifically)?"
List of Innovative Questions Asked Edit
- Packaging and Design Options:
- When asking consumers if they would purchase our condoms for $2 a piece or bundled at a better price they said:
21 people said they would purchase at least one at $2.
13 people said they would buy a bundle of some kind around $5.
7 people said they wouldn’t purchase this product.
When responses came back as No’s it was because of price. Those seven people didn’t want to spend the $2.
- For our next question we asked about design preferences below:
9 people preferred design 1
32 people preferred design 2
- Why do the vast majority only associate the duke dog to JMU? So, to innovate:
What if we used the gold crown symbol instead of using the duke dog, would you still associate it with JMU and still purchase this product? 32 responded Yes and 8 responded No.
- Why do people feel more inclined to buy packaged or bundled deals? Will our margins/demand suffer because of these thoughts? What are you willing to buy? Bundled deal or single item? And, Why?
So, to innovate:
What if we packaged our product as a bundle of three (for $5) or five (for $9), which would you purchase and feel good about?
Respondents who have shown interest in product:
26 people responded to the preference of bundle of three.
3 people responded to the preference of bundle of five.
- What if you were able to purchase them more discretely through another avenue? Would you buy them?
- 18 responded YES
5 responded MAYBE if it isn’t out of the way.
3 responded NO because of the inconvenience.
Reasons These Questions Helped Our Venture Edit
For our product, the bundling question and the later bundling question were key in order to decide how many to purchase (due to how people would purchase the product). We also wanted to accurately weigh our possible margins that we could achieve to be most profitable. People are always more inclined to buy a bundle of something to feel like they received a good deal and saved some money. Also, when asking those about this question, they did not seem likely to spend $2 on just one condom. That seems like an awful lot for just one condom. Our next question we asked was due to having to pay royalites if we used the JMU Duke Dog logo. People like to purchase things that they can associate with. This question was key to the deign process becuase we wanted to relate it to the JMU market. We found that people would still associate the gold crown with JMU with also incorporating Dog in the slogan (Do it DoggyStyle). Finally, throguh initial sales, we saw that people were slightly embarrassed or nervous about purchasing condoms in public. This final innovation question led us to the idea to begin talks with the Health Center. We are still in the process of speaking with them. We hope this final innovation attempt will allow us to continues sales into next semester.
Big Idea Hypothesis Edit
"Our condoms are intended to provide laughter and enjoyment to our customer base. However, our goal is to provide a safer avenue for sexual activity for the college population, specifically at JMU. Our condoms are reputable quality (Durex) and give our students an outlet for association to a product not usually customizable. Instead of trying to prevent an unpreventable situation at the college scene, we provide a safe and secure outlet for young adults."
Early Adopters Edit
Our original target audeince was the women at JMU (as seen to the right). This proved to be a secondary target audinece for our group. Early adopters of our products were immediate friends and classmates. These friends were primarily males in Greek life organziations. We were wrong in original target audeince. The male population at JMU really caught on with this product. They thought it was extremely novel and funny. Again, the original idea of this product was and still is to promote safe sexual activity, however, the JMU population saw it as a novelty item that they would probably not use. Through word of mouth, advertisement on social media by our group and as well as others. In retrospect, we should have strictly targeted the male population and developed thr product to more suit their preferences.
Our resources were simple:
- We created the design through picture editors on our computers.
- We purchased our condoms through http://www.sayitwithacondom.com.
- Finally we packaged and sold our products through using indiviudal zip lock bags.
Key Innovations Edit
When you are talking about condoms and innovation, not much comes to mind, right? Wrong. We found many innovations through our bsinesss model that helped us reach more success bith in profitability and efficiency. We feel that our idea was extremely novel and creative. Putting a design on a condom to make it more fun to purchase, while helping advocate for safe sex is pretty innovative. Also, being able to tailor it to such a massive population was key for us. We believe that we have successfully innovated our packaging and means of delivery. We innovated with our customers, reviewing multiple designs with them and then choosing the most popular form. This helped us develop a product that we knew customers would be interested in. In addition to design and tailoring it to the JMU population, we were able to get around any sort of royalties or fees by choosing to associate JMU with the gold crown. When it comes to channel of distribution, we told the customers that we would come to them when ordered, instead of setting up a table and having them come to us. We eased their process of pick-up. We also innovated our pacakging and model of selling. We realized that some people may not be so comfortable with purchasing condoms in front of others, so we are talking to the Health Center regarding getting them stocked there. We also engaged in the innovative processes of advertising. We posted on many of the JMU Class websites to begin our advertising. After a sale, we would ask the buyer to help advertise for us through SnapChat (as seen in the picture to the left). As many people caught glimpse of our product they wanted to show their friends and social media, even if they were not buying it themselves. This caused a huge wave of sales for us by not having to do any of the work. It is pretty cool to hear people talking about our condoms when they haven't even seen them yet. One innovation that failed was purchasing them through a supplier. We think that if we just bought plain condoms and put a quality sticker on ourselves, we could have saved time and money. Going through a supplier negatively affected our delivery and when we could start selling. Another poor innovative attempt was our target market. We got it all wrong. We should have been targeting guys the entire time, instead of girls.
Minimum Viable Product Evolution Edit
You can see the evolution of our product/design on the right side of this page with the beginning of the Duke Dog to the ending product with the gold crown.
Final Business Model Edit
You can access the final model through this link:
- Successful (Green)
- Failure (Red)
- In Progress (Blue)
Lessons Learned and Advice for Future Entrepreneurial Students Edit
Team 1 learned some very valuable lessons along the long course of the semester. We all learned how tough it is to be an entrepreneur and to find something that people will ACTUALLY spend their money on. It is extremely easy to find products that people like, but it is so hard to develop a product or idea that people will fork out money for. There are many things to consider, and you can never fully stop innovating and adapting to the market/customers. Another big lesson we learned is the importance of deadlines. They are crucial to establish and hold your group accountable for. There is a false realty we all see, and that is that the customer will sell our product for us. Not very often is that the case. We had a clear unanticipated setback regarding time. Our supplier originally did not complete our order how we had wanted and it was late. Because of these two setbacks, we lost valuable time as we just waited for our products to arrive. Therefore, plan as far in advance as you can and no deadline is ever too early when it comes to ordering from suppliers. Finally, it is important to fully understand your customer base. You may think you know what they want or need, but you need to make sure you fully know and adapt your product to their needs, not yours.
Photo Feed Edit
For more photos, please see our blog for our updates and more pictures! All pictures are posted promptly on this page.