Welcome to Mad Air. Our team is comprised of Jared Shlossman, Will Mays, and Pratt Templeton. We started our entrepreneurial journey with the plan to create customized wood pens that would be less costly than purchasing a graduation ring, but represent the same idea. In order to boost the sales of the pens and create a second form of revenue we decided to pursue an additional venture. In the second venture we will be utilizing our ability to fly airplanes to take aerial photos of various parts of JMU and the surrounding area. With amazing pictures of the quad, the stadium, east campus, and even the dorm life, we will be able to sell the personlized pens and aerial photos in tandem.
As you can see on the right, our first MVP was an engraved wood pen and case with your name on the pen and your college, class and department. We were fairly pleased with this product that ordered from Personalization Mall, however there were certain features we found problems with. First, the inside case was all wood with no felt or protection for the pen. This made the pen unstable inside the case and made it shaky. Also, the hinges on the case seemed very unstable as well and did not seem like they would last long. If we continue with this venture, we will more than likely order this from another website that can offer something a little better and pleasing to our customers.
As mentioned earlier, we decided to combine our talents and resources to sell aerial photography of James Madison University along with our graduation pens.
Will had a roomate who worked for the photography department at JMU and so we asked him if he would go up with us to take some shots of the campus for us and he nervously agreed as he had never met us pilots before and had never been in such a small plane. We went up on a Saturday morning back in March and were able to get some great footage.
Once we had the photos, Jared got one of her friends to edit them and make them look nice and shape into a 12x18 photo to sell to our students. We ended up choosing 8 of our best photos to sell.
In choosing our frames, we chose Michaels because they had a large selection of frames and were decently priced.
For printing, we started at walmart for our prototypes but ended up printing at Costco because they were more reliable and cheaper for us. We also contacted Campbell Copy Center who if we were able to get 50 photos sold, would give us a decent price to print all of them. However, we did not reach that amount and ended up printing through Costco.
We decided to scratch our Graduation pen idea as it was too complicated to figure out. We wanted to have their name on the pen and James Madison University as well. Having the logo meant we had to either go through a licensed vendor or sell it through the bookstore. If we sold it through the bookstore, we wouldn't have been able to customize it with their names. Also, if we did it through a licensed vendor we would have to provide the actual wood pens and cases for them to engrave and would have been a big mess. Thus, we scratched it though it was a good idea conceptually because we found a gap for students, something cheaper than a class ring.
We were finally able to get a nice photo display thanks to "The Guy at Home Depot" after multiple setups of just having them layed flat out on the table. This display gives people walking buy a better opportunity to see our photos as they are walking by. The guy helped us pick out the cheapest and most consolodated way of displaying our photos and even built it for us for free. We just paid for the materials and we're able to pick it up the next day and head to our event for the day.
After deciding on our final MVP, we have found that sales came mostly through our Facebook page, where customers could see samples of the aerial photos that were taken of the JMU campus. In addition to the Facebook page, we also made a few sales through word-of-mouth, employing the help of friends to spread the word.
We had displays in Showker and at Festival and had no luck. It wasn't that people didn't like our product, they were just too busy to actually stop and look into it. Most of the time people are on the run in Showker or Festival anyways. So setting up was not a success for us as it was for most other teams.
We did our sales on a preorder basis where if they were interested they could get in touch with us either through phone, email, or through faceboook. Once they contacted us with what they wanted, we set up a time and place to meet so we could get the money. We had our Sales logged in a Google Doc so it was automatically updated once we entered their information.
Once we finished our preorders of Sales, we bought all the frames and made all the prints at once to save the hassle of taking time to do each order. We delivered our products the last week of the semester so the students could have something exciting in their lives during exam week.
Business Model CanvasEdit
What We Have Learned in EntrepreneurshipEdit
With the semester coming to a close, we have taken time to reflect on our entrepreneurial journey. We have found that creating a small business venture and nurturing it to become successful is possible, but not without hard work and resorting back to the "drawing board" once or twice. In addition to creating the product we wanted, we found out how challenging it can be to make sales, especially from college students. Overall, we have really enjoyed the class and learned a ton. We will no doubt take what we learned and apply it to future business ventures.