We are three JMU students (Zain, David and Zack) who are majoring in business managment with T.I.E concentration. As we pivoted from our original idea we stumbled onto a new technology of iron-on pockets for compression shorts and yoga pants. After doing numerous customer discoveries however, we found a better market for womens yoga pants. We then decided to customize the yoga pants based on our customer discoveries. This takes us to where we are now, with our prototype, and taking our first dozzen or so preorders, and all the revenue coming in is in the form of profit due to our JIT ordering process.
Our Innovation:EditOur innovation was something that did not come quickly or easily. After our first idea fell through relatively early on, we started looking for another idea. Considering the fall/winter weather was coming, we threw around the idea of selling women's yoga pants with custom printing on them. After deciding on this idea, we wanted to find a way to make it more radical and innovative. This is where Zack came up with the idea that transformed into our current product- yoga pants with a pocket. While researching for yoga pants pockets, we stumbled upon the website http://www.kickstarter.com/, where people try to sell their ideas to potential investors on the site. The Underfuse pocket is an iron-on pocket that adheres to fabric through heat. After figuring out the innovation, we created our supplier/distributor relations and sought a lower price using economies of scale. And thus, the Yoga Pocket Pants were born.
Once we decided to incorporate the Underfuse pocket into our product, the next question was how. Seeing as the underfuse irons on to most workout materials, allowing hands-free running or working out, we decided to focus on workout clothes. The two most obvious choices were men's compression shorts and women's yoga pants. We then set out to ask potential customers what their preferences were and if they would be interested. In doing so, it became clear that our major market existed with selling women's yoga pants with the pocket incorporated. After acquiring more and more customer discoveries, we decided to narrow our focus for the first round of orders for our product. We decided to seek out bulk orders by targets groups, clubs, and organizations on campus. This led us to our early adopters:
- JMU student
- 18-23 years old
- Works out 2-5 times per week
- Owns an iPod or smart phone with music capabilities
- Member of an organization on campus
- Wears yoga pants while working out
- Casually wears yoga pants 1-3 times per week
We decided to go with a just in time business process. This means that we do not have to invest in any stock of our materials, with the exception of the Underfuse pockets, which we achieve lower costs through economies of scale. Our only stock on hand is our prototype, which we use to make sales with. Once an order is placed, we report the information such as size, color, pocket location, and graphic
to SOS Advertising and they take care of the rest. The resources required to make the product are as follows:
- Yoga Pants
- Underfuse Pocket
- Custom Graphics
- Screen Printer (SOS)
The one resource that we have on hand at any given time are the Underfuse pockets.
We have run into a few obstacles along the way throughout our project. Apart from the most obvious major pivot of products in the beginning, a few more obstacles have come up with our current product. One of these problems is the turnaround time, from when an order is placed with us until we deliver the final product to the customer. Currently, we find ourselves dependent on an outside source, SOS Advertising, in order to complete all of our orders. SOS, run by Ryan Sacco, has been a extremely succesful start-up company within the JMU community, so much so that the high volume of orders received makes quick turnaround time difficult. For now however, SOS gives us the best chance to succeed in our product delivery and we will have to keep going headstrong in the current direction. Ryan has been a tremendous asset to our team throughout the whole process, from helping us create our MVPS, using his supplies, staff and knowledge.
Minimum Viable Product:Edit
MVP Step by Step
Our first MVP was made using a couple of free samples of Boxercraft yoga pants that we were given from Moxie. To test out the Underfuse pockets before deciding on using for the final product, we purchased a 3 pack from the website. We then went to SOS advertising and used vinyl cut letters screen pressed onto the pocket and pants and produced out first minimum viable product. Our suppliers and materials have changed a little from our first MVP, as we have altered the brands of our pants to fit customer needs and quality concerns.
Step 1: Words to Action
Step one consisted of not only thinking of the idea, but putting it into action. We went to Moxie and got a couple of pairs of boxercraft yoga pants free as samples. These two pairs of pants would become our MVPs.
Step 2: Customized Letters
Because Moxie doesn’t have the right screen press needed for the iron-on pocket, we had to then look into other options and go to SOS advertising. Ryan was very helpful and helped us by giving us a few options of different ways to press the customized letters and different types of material. After deciding on using vinyl letters, we cut the vinyl screen print letter to go on our MVP.
Step 3: Preparing the Pockets
After cutting the vinyl letters out and prepping them for production, we had to prepare the pockets. To insert our customization, we needed to first peel off a screen print that came with the pocket, which proved to be very difficult and time consuming.
Step 4: Creating a Masterpiece
After the pockets and customized letters were ready, we would make the pants. Ryan from SOS allowed us to use his equipment and we pressed them ourselves by carefully pressing the machine on the pants for 12-15 seconds.
Step 5: Delivery, Feedback, and Improvement
After product delivery, it was essential that we made sure that our customers were happy. After delivery, we would routinely ask the customers if they had any problems with the MVP and how they could be improved. After collecting this feedback, we went back to the drawing board to implement the changes. The customer feedback changes resulted in us using a different brand of higher quality pants as well as better pocket placement.
Our Entreprenurial Journey:Edit
Going into this class we did not know what to expect but as the first couple of weeks progressed it gave us a chance to do individually assess everyone and select who would be a good fit for each team based on each persons strengths and weaknesses. Based on this we decided to form a team that complemented each others strengths and weaknesses. We started off with the vision of producing madison girl calendars but we soon discovered there was a lot of obstacles and red tape, soon there after we had to do like most entreprenuers and pivot our product from one that did not prove practical nor worth the high risk it entalied with one that would have a product market fit.
As weeks went by we came up with another idea. This was a pivot from our original calendar and had a more seasonal market fit than a swinsuit calendar in winter time. Being as we had to pivot well into the semster we really had to come together as a group and expedite our entreprenurial process with our new product Yoga Pocket Pants. Since we were short on time we really had to get behind this project and work hard to get it to market fast. Many hours, beers, phone calls and yelling matches later we created our first MVP. To much of our surprise our target customers really liked it, although there were some fixes to be made. After addressing these issues, negotiating further with suppliers and many product demonstrations later, we have been able to become a successfull group with a successful product. We have already sold over 60 pairs of Yoga Pocket Pants with many more on the horizon.
Words of WisdomEdit
Pick not only smart and motivated group members, but ones that you could enjoy spending time with as well. This project will take up a lot of time and you will spend many hours with your group member. Whether it’s thinking of a product, interviewing potential customers, making an MVP or video, it is all time intensive- so make sure you can notonly produce high quality work but you won’t be miserable doing it. I feel like my team did a good job of this and we spent many nights just hanging out working on our product and it made the whole process much easier and lessstressful. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Our first idea was one that we thought would be a great one, but due to a few external factors it never came to be. The best decision we made was to not hesitate in dropping the first idea and going headstrong towards another. This second idea turned out to be our successful Yoga Pocket Pants and we are glad that we did not hold on to a dying idea.
Don’t under estimate the class! Start early on your project; it’s much easier to do it as you go along than trying to
play catch up at the end. Our group didn’t slack off or anything, but we did have a major pivot mid way through thesemester which cut our time basically in half for all aspects of the project. While this shortened timetable was certainly a challenge, it just forced us to be more proactive and on the ball when it came to deliverables and keeping up with the work.
- Everything takes longer than originally expected...plan for it ahead of time or you'll run into problems
- Pick your group members wisely. Make sure they compliment your skill-set and that you can trust them to perform.
- Delegation of tasks is crucial. Do not try and take everything on individually
- Use as many free resources as possible. Take advantage of being a student at JMU and havin
- g so many terrific Professors and mentors who are willing and able to help you along your journey
- Strive for perfection. If you are not proud of your work, no one else will be.
- Enjoy the experience!
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