We are a team of James Madison University entrepeneurship students.Our business first started out with the plan to make JMU dog collars with the same material as our bracelets. We made a decision to pivot from the dog collars due to too much variation in dog neck sizes. Our pivot led us to sell hand-made, jmu themed, paracord bracelets. Our team consists of Dylan Welsh, Andrew Tzikas, and John Reimels. We wanted to target our bracelets towards the JMU community.
Here is a link to our weebly site where we would upload our progression and customer discovery interviews.
Our ideas and concepts went through many transformations through the beginning part of this class. As we began the brainstorming process at the begining of the class we had three ideas that we felt would be something new as well as appealing to the JMU community. we came up with:
1. JMU themed dog apparel (dog collars, bowls, jerseys)
2. Reusable JMU Solo Cups
3. Survival bracelets
These were the ideas we felt would be the most profitable. We began to check out the surrounding stores in Harrisonburg to see if any of them had similiar types of products. We had come to the conclusion that the market for JMU solo cups was too saturated to really earn any money. Through the use of customer discoveries we also learned that the idea people liked the most was the JMU dog collar and the survival bracelets. From this point on we had to decided to make both collars and bracelets because we were able to make them with the same 550 cord material.
As shown below, our business model was pretty basic when we presented for board Meeting 2. We had eliminited Custom ink and SOS from our key partners because we discovered that we could manufacture the products ourselves at an extremely lower cost then outsourcing it through them. We felt the innovative aspect of our Business model was in the area of value proposition. We were bringing products to JMU that were not already in the market. The themed bracelets and collars were getting positive reviews from potential customers. Another innovative insight from our business plan was Andrews affiliation with his fraternity. Through his fraternity we were able to sell our bracelets at their events and really get easy access to a large customer base.
The early adopters of our products were the people who enjoyed the outdoors as well as JMU. One key aspect of our product is that it is made out of a very strong material, paracord. When you break the bracelet down it turns into 8 feet of rope and when you break down the dog collar it was roughly 14 feet of rope. These items were adopted by the campers, hunters, and people who enjoyed the rugged look with a little JMU flare.
Critical Success & Obstaces & AdviceEdit
As we began to do more and more customer discovers an overlapping theme seemed to become pretty obvious to us. When asking questions regarding price for both the bracelets and the dog collars, more then 90% of customers said they would pay the exact same amount for a dog collar as they would for a bracelet. Seeing as how it takes roughly an hour and a half to make a collar and it consumes about a 1/3 more material, we deicided to make a pivot and just produce bracelets. It was at this moment we were able to finaly get behind a single product and began to push it heavily.Some obstacles we had to overcome initially was how exactly to produce the collars and bracelets. We were going to outsource manufacturing to SOS advertising and Custom Ink but their prices were extremely out of ours and our customers price range. It was at this time Dylan had the idea of asking one of his friends who makes these for a living to help us figure out how to make them ourselves. By choosing to make the bracelets ourselves we saved an extremely large amount of money and it turned our production costs into cents, giving us a great profit margin. Learning to make the correct weave was very time consuming but once we got the hang of it we were able to produce 1 bracelet every twenty minutes.
Some advice I would give to future classes would be to first, not limit yourselves to the JMU community. One thing I learned from my experience as well as through some other groups in our section is that sometimes you think that your product has to be "JMU" related. Their are plenty of potential customers out there and you should not limit yourself to coming up with an idea just to sell to JMU students. Another thing i learned and would advise is to ask informative questions when conducting your customer discoveries. Asking those sorts of questions is what helped us come to the conclusion that the dog collars were not profitable and we decided to pivot. So ask questions that will help further your understanding of your market.
Dylan Welsh has had experience in making these types of bracelets before and was able to obtain help from one of his friends which allowed us to start quickly. We got our paracord and buckles from Valley Surplus located at1084 Virginia Avenue Harrisonburg, VA 22802. Their number is (540) 564-0002. They were a huge helping in giving us a great deal on supplies and allowed us to keep costs low.