Our team includes Jenna Myers, Katie Nguyen, and Flo Sentenac. We chose to make the absorbent car coaster. Through this process we have gained valuable insight into starting a business, dealing with financial issues, developing and creating a product that customers have an interest in, and working in a team.
Florent Sentenac is a senior Business Management major from France. He came to JMU because he got recruited by the JMU Men's Tennis Team. Now as a senior, he has gained a lot of responsibilities in the tennis team as team captain. He also speaks three languages, English, French, and Spanish because he has been traveling since he was young for tennis tournaments. With his experience abroad, Flo has a vast understanding of cultures. He would love to continue his education abroad in England for his MBA.
Jenna Myers is a Senior Business Management major from Virginia. She is currently an Independent Consultant for Thirty-One Gifts. Through that experience, she has learned how to manage her time effectively and communicate well with her customers. She has the ability to manage her own website and keep financial records for all the aspects of her business. Jenna hopes to become the Branch Manager for a local bank in her hometown.
Katie Nguyen is a senior Business Management major from Winchester, Virginia. She currently works for JMG Realty as a leasing consultant at North 38 Apartments. As a leasing consultant, Katie has gained skills in communication, marketing, and sales. She hopes to continue her career in the Real Estate field upon graduation.
We really wanted to have a product that solved a problem. The problem that we decided to fix was how we had experienced getting dirty, sticky cupholders from condensation or leaks from fast food cups, etc. The most innovative aspect of our business model is creating a brand new product. Yes, there are car coasters out there, but a washable, fabric car coaster did not exist until we created our product. Our product is different than our competitors because of its washable feature. It is easy to just drop it in the laundry with your clothes. Other car coasters are ceramic, breakable, and get sticky after a few leaks or spills in your cupholder. Another aspect of our innovation is we are using all of our excess wastes.
Making Use of Our WasteEdit
We chose to have reclosable bags for our packaging so that our customers can reuse the bags for their own purposes. We also saved all of our fabric scraps and extra thread and are using them to make dog toys for our Chocolate Lab and Dalmation :)
The type of person that would be the first to buy our product would be someone experiencing the same problem we are trying to fix. If the person has this problem, then they will be interested in our product. This person is also probably the type of person that likes to have a clean, neat car. We have found that people also like to have different designs and patterns to help "decorate" their car and give it a little more personalization. Another type of person that we have seen to be interested in our product is middle-aged women. Women of this age have been purchasing our product to give as gifts or to use for themselves just as decoration in their car. Most of these customers liked patterns that matched their car's interior.
Business Model CanvasEdit
|Partners||Key Activities||Key Resources||Value Proposition||Customer Relationship||Channel||Customer Segment||Cost Structure||Revenue Model|
|Purchase materials, produce products, make social media sites, website, ||Fabric, sewing machine, thread, scissors, absorbent material, package material, ||Clean and dry cupholder, stylish cupholders with customized ||Face-to-Face on campus, ||Production Costs, |
This is our business model canvas including the changes that we had to make along the way. At first, we were going to try and partner with convenient stores to try and sell our coasters next to the register. But after a few weeks, we decided not to go with this approach. This change also affected our key activities, customer relationship, channel, customer segment, cost structure, and revenue model. In terms of our key resources, with the evolution of our MVP, we had to change a few of our product materials. We chose to stop making the coasters with the velcro and cork. We also decided not to use a square-up reader because our product is inexpensive and it would not be worth it to us in the end, this also affected our cost structure. We chose to only have a Twitter account, @North_64, and not a Facebook account.
Our MVP EvolutionEdit
Our product is substantially different than how it began. At first it was going to be made out of the "koozie" material, but we found that was going to more expensive. So then we switched to having a fabric coaster with a cork base. From showing that MVP, we found that the cork base was not very popular and decided to switch it up again. Finally, we reached our current MVP. Our product is now made with a top layer of customizable fabric with different patterns to choose from. The inside layer is Sherpa, which is what cloth baby diapers are sometimes made of and our bottom layer is a non-slip material that helps keep the coaster in place.
We have several resources helping us to get our product made. We bought our Sherpa, the inside layer to our coaster, from Ragtime Fabrics downtown. Their contact email is email@example.com. Their phone and address are 540-434-5663 and 60 West Market Street. Some of the top layer patterns we already owned, but we bought the rest of them from Wal-Marts in Harrisonburg. We bought the non-slip fabric at the Fabric Warehouse across from the Rockingham County Fairgrounds (they just opened their store here this year). We have also bought other supplies that we no longer use as an effect of our MVP evolution such as velcro (bought at Staples in Harrisonburg) and cork (bought at Lowe's in Harrisonburg). We already owned the sewing machines and thread we are using to make our products. We bought our packaging from Michael's in Harrisonburg and our package labels from Staples in Harrisonburg. Another resource we have is Susan Myers, Jenna's mom, who helped us learn some of the sewing techniques we needed.
Contact Information for other stores:
Wal-Mart - 171 Burgess Road 540-433-0808
Staples - Burgess Road 540-432- 0124
Michael's - 277 Burgess Road 540-433-1159
Lowe's - 201 Linda Lane 800-445-6937
Our only setbacks were really figuring out how to make our MVP's better and changing the design of them. Once we realized that people did not like the cork base, we immediately switched to a no-slip bottom fabric. Other setbacks we experienced was probably the time it takes to make our coasters, with having to close every one of them by hand, it can be a bit time consuming.
If asked to give advice to future groups working on a 372 project, I would tell them to get started as soon as possible and make sure you talk to alot of people for your customer discoveries to get good information. You might think that you have three or so months to work on this project, but that time goes by so fast. So, stay organized and manage your time well.
Links to VideosEdit
*We suggest you right click on the links and open them in a new window, that way you can still view this page.
Our final tally for Customer Discovery interviews was: 30. We have included a few of our videos as an example.
And our final video: