Our team is made up of Chris Tetrault, Eric Jenkins, and Jason Paris and we are P.J.T. Woodworks. Our group wanted to offer to our customers a quality product that we already had experienice making. We started out with two ideas: customizable corn hole sets and wooden cutting boards. We had moderate monetary success throughout the semester, raising an amount that is close to $250 in profit.
Customizable Corn Hole boards Edit
- Our first idea was to create customizable corn hole sets for our fellow students at JMU. Our plans were to work with the customer to design a board that suited them. We threw around ideas about patterns, state flags, and even greek letters. So, we set up a Facebook page as a way to raise awareness and create a channel for communication. We got a hit right away and P.J.T. Woodworks was born.
- During the breaks from class each of us were able to go home and stock up on a few blank sets of corn hole boards. With the completed sets already assembled all we had to do was paint the design. After meeting with the customer we were able to agree on a design (shown here) that was similar to what she had in mind and was easy for us to deliver. We used spray paint and painters tape to create the first design befor
- e we realized that in the long run using a roller and regular paint would work in out in our favor. We have designed two other sets throughout the semester one having a JMU Dukes sticker atop a hard pine board and another that we painted a chevron purple and gold pattern on. So far, we have two sets.
- Our second idea and the relatively more successful venture was selling hand crafted cutting boards. We tried to target the students who cook at home or who host at their house since we not only offered counter top style but a serving style cutting board as well. These cutting boards were cheap and easy to make with the right tools and materials. Jason was able to make a reasonable amount of them away from campus. He made just enough of them to keep a few around the entire semester. Early on we were able to sell these cutting boards to students in our class, friends that we knew, and to parents of friends. The MVP never changed we just had a stock of cutting boards to sell and on one occasion we were asked to make it to specifications.
- Mid-way through the semester we set up a booth in the Showker Lobby and we tried to sell the cutting boards to strangers directly. This was an unsuccessful attempt because of the lacking sales pitch. Attracting customers to even come look at your product requires some spark of attention so be sure to have a pitch down that you can use to bring in customers. In the pitch you should include what makes your product great and different that the one they currently have or could just go buy anywhere else.
- We tried to raise awareness through word of mouth and our Facebook page, but that wasn't going as successful as we had originally thought it would. We decided that the best way to raise the awareness of our group would be to host a corn hole tournament, once the weather was right, with a $5 entry fee per team. What we hoped for turned out to be way more optimistic that the actual results. The week before Eric created a flyer that we would pass out to people and hang on the bulletin boards around campus. Granted, we only advertised the days leading up to the event we were still hopeful that we would have a decent turn out. We set up a booth and five sets of corn hole boards on Hoffman Field the day of Madipoloza hoping that our presence would draw some attention as students walked to festival field. It did but the people who showed up weren't interested in participating in the tournament or winning the free set we planned to give out to the winners there just stopped to play a round or two and go on about their day. We did have food and lemonade to hand out at the booth to people who stopped in and we were able to sell a cutting board to a family that was at JMU for a tour. A few friends come by the booth to show their support and some donated money to lift our moral.
- We had a second chance to have sell the corn hole sets to spectators of the 5K color run that happened Saturday April 26th, unfortunately the same thing happened. We had plenty of people stop by our booth and play with the sets we had set up, but converting these participants into buying customers has proven to be our biggest challenge to date. We believe the timing was not in our favor. A majority of the semester was plagued with cold weather and snow storms. Once spring came around we were able to host events and bring awareness to our group but by then it was a little too late to make a sizeable difference.
Business Model Edit
- We have two ventures that we have put all of our effort towards. Below we have the business murals that show how we plan to convince people that they should use a wooden cutting board and why it's better than what they are currently using. For the corn hole board we tried to appeal to a way in which people can realize they are missing out on fun by staying indoors and there are ways to enjoy the outdoors on days when the weather is nice. These models also show the channels we used to reach our customers as well as how we were able to create value.
What we learned from our experienceEdit
Chris Tetrault : I learned how tough it is to be an entrepreneur and find a product to sell. That selling a lot of little things in the beginning is a way to narrow down your mvp and is a good road to take when starting up a business.
Eric Jenkins: You need to start deadlines for your venture or else you'll be doing all of the work at the last minute. There is a dream land effect to getting recognized by your market. It's difficult to get your name out there and you need to find different ways to capture their attention without spending a ton of money.
Jason Paris: It's important to leave your comfort zone. You'll never succeed if you don't try anything new or really reach out to the people you're trying to sell to. When setting up a booth or any kind of event it's important to have a sales pitch down. You need one that will capture their attention and hit on points that would make them think they need your product more than the money in their pocket.