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Our team is made up of Danny Ho, Hao Song, and Jay Schwab. We are a diversified team with Danny being from Vietnam, Hao from China, and Jay from the U.S. We are all seniors in Business Management with a concentration in Technology, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. Our diversified backgrounds give us the ability to ultilize our ideas, skills and resources effectively to achieve our goals.
Our most successful product is the Bobbi which is a magnetic bobby pin organizer that can be attatched to any wall or surface. It was the perfect solution for all of those misplaced bobby pins.
Key Innovations - Little BetsEdit
For us, this venture has been a journey that has tought us many valuable lessons. We have failed, we have learned and we have succeeded.
At the begining of our venture, we came up with 2 initial ideas: a graduation pin, and JMU styled socks. We were unable to capitalize on these ideas, but with a resilient attitude we were able to innovate our magnetic bobby pin organizer - The Bobbi.
1. Graduation PinWhen we came up with Graduation pin idea, we thought it was amazing. We assumed that a graduation pin would be a substitute product for a graduation ring, with a cheaper price. We invisioned students would love to buy one as a keep-sake of their college memory. When we did a survey, the percentage of people who wanted to buy our product was 52%, the rest of them did not want it. Some other challanges we faced included: problems controlling the quality of our product, and a minimum order quantity of 100 units.The bargaining power of the buyer was too great, and the initial investment too large for us to be successful with this product. Another issue with this product was the licensing from JMU, it was hard to find a supplier with JMU license. After evaluating all different aspects, we decided not to continue! 2. JMU Athletic Socks
We came up with the idea of selling athletic socks with the JMU logo because one of our team members was on the JMU Club Tennis Team. As a JMU athlete, he believed in the need to show school spirit. We also found out that the bookstore only sold one kind of JMU sock and the price was very high. After going through the whole process, we also faced the the same problem of JMU licensing, and very high cost per socks leading to low profit margins. It was also difficult to come up with the design that most customers wanted and the market cap was very small and limited. Therefore, we decided to not continue as well!
3. The Magnetic Bobby Pin Holder
After few trials of unsuccessful products, we finally came up a brand new idea, which was our magnetic bobby pin organizer. We did a survey that 72% of girls are using bobby pins in the school. Since bobby pins are very small and easy to lose, we figured out that a magnetic bobby pin organizer would solve a common problem in a girls daily life. We are trying to use different designs to attract not only JMU students, but also other women who use bobby pins and experience the problem of losing them. With this product, we now have control of producing the product and we can avoid licensing issues with JMU. Therefore, we decided to contribute our time and money for this product.
Getting Started With Our New Product - The Magnetic Bobby Pin Holder
After introducing our idea to our professor and classmantes, we figured we should try to sell them! With a relatively small initial investment (what we felt to be an affordable loss) we bought all the material from Wal-Mart, and spent one evening making our product. We made 37 units in one night! After that, we made a reservation with JMU and reserved a booth in festival. We spent three hours in the booth and sold all of our products. We did direct selling and used it as a way to identify our market. After innovating our business model further, we were able to optimize our booth process and sold $90 in one evening at the booth. We thought it was a good idea to set up a booth every week in order to gain customers and cash flow. Although it sounds like everything went perfectly, it was not easy, mistakes were made and lessons were learned. For instance:
- 1. Selling product during the lunch time is not a good choice - people are going to eat, are in a rush to get back to class, and don’t want to be bothered.
- 2. Even though we have square to accept credit card and cash, we didn’t know most of people only brought their JAC card with them.
- 3. If you can get the product physically in a customers hand, the chances of them buying it dramatically improve.
Because we received lots of positive feedbacks from our customers, we decided to expand the market. At first, each of us tried to sell the Bobbi to our friends. After that, we set up the booth to sell the Bobbi at different locations like Festival Hall, Shower Hall, ISAT. Most of our sales happened very quickly, within 2 hours selling at the booth, our average units sold was 28.
At this point, we were doing pretty well, but we believed that we could even do better, and we wanted to bring our awesome product to as many customers as possible. We decided to expand our distribution. We capitalized on the opportunity to sell through the bookstore. After persuading the Director of the bookstore to accept our product, and negotiating the profit ratio with him, we officially had the Bobbi being sold through the bookstore!
The opportunity did not stop there. We also learned that April 11 and April 14, 2014 would be JMU’s choices days. Those days held major events where high school students that got accepted to JMU, came to visit the school. At that day, it was estimated around 2500 to 3000 people would be at the bookstore. We capitalized on the opportunity by bringing in the bookstore more designs. As we predicted, the Bobbi sold very well at the bookstore, selling 100 units in the month of April.
The Bobbi - A New Brand that is becoming a trend
People are starting to hear about our product! We can tell there is a buz going around when we hear people say, "Oh I've herd of that!" or "My roommate would love this!"
Advice For Future TeamsEdit' 'Danny Ho:
1. Sometimes, the difficult problems that you are trying to solve have already been solved by others. Instead of wasting your time trying to solve the problem yourself, you can come out and ask people who have already solved it! You will be amazed about what others know, you will also save time and learn a lot!
2. Donald Trump once said "Sometimes by losing a battle you find a new way to win a war." Don't hesitate to try, there is no problem with failing. As long as you learned the lessions and try to do better everytime, you will win a big war, success will come to you!
1. After you have a new idea, it is better to do a survey and start to pitch the ideas to your friend
2. Find out what ideas are really can solve people’s needs is very important whether this idea would work or not in the future.
Jay Schwab & Elise Lord:
1. People may like your product, but still not want to buy it. You have to figure out how to get them to buy it.
2. More people are willing to pay if its for a charity - Many people walk up to a booth and say, "whats this for?"
3. Try to attract customers to your booth, we found that the more people that were standing at our booth (either paying or checking it out) the more new people would want to check it out. I guess if there are others at the booth, new customers think it may be more interesting or popular.
4. Interact with as many people as possible! Even if you dont think they will buy it, still introduce your product to them and they may suprise you (we asked guys and some suprised us and bought one!)
We sold 197 units, with over $600 in revenue, and over $400 in profit! Our inexpensive product allowed us to reach a huge customer base, and therefore rapidly learn and experiment!