I’ve always believed that when it comes to business, you’re either ‘making’ or ‘selling’. You’re either building a product or service, fixing it, or making it better for customers. Or you’re selling a product or service, driving awareness, acquiring customers or closing distribution deals. If you’re somehow caught between or don’t directly support one of those areas, then you’ll ultimately find it very hard to justify the value you bring to your company. (and if you’re smart, you’ll figure out how to make a case for why your job supports either ‘making’ or ‘selling’).
When you’re in start-up mode, making the shift from ‘making’ to ‘selling’ is sometimes difficult. With MouseDriver, Kyle and I got so caught up in designing, developing and manufacturing our product, we pretty much forgot that we needed to figure out how to get our product into customer’s hands. It’s not that we didn’t want to address the ‘selling’ component, it’s just that the initial excitement of bringing our product to market consumed all of our time. Once we did launch, and the celebratory beers were downed, we realized that we needed to quickly turn into salesmen.
My experience with Rivet & Sway is no different than my experience bringing MouseDriver to market. For the better part of 9 months, we were focused on putting together the best eyewear shopping experience that a woman could ask for. Our efforts went into designing frames, building out our supply chain, creating our brand architecture, refining all of the details in our packaging, developing a site, etc. And when we launched in August, there was a collective sigh of relief, a full-day of excitement and numerous high-fives throughout this office. But this time around, our Team is prepared to tackle the selling challenge. I’ve realized just how hard it is to build out distribution and sales channels, to acquire customers and to get product into customers hands. Bottom line: I’ve realized that selling is hard…and customers don’t just magically buy your product. And the entire Team is now focused on getting our frames into customers hands as quickly, and as efficiently, as possible.
So now the Rivet & Sway Team is tackling the challenge of marketing and selling our designer eyeglasses. While we’re still building product, so to speak, our focus is squarely on getting our frames into customers hands as quickly, and as efficiently, as possible.. We’re doing tons of testing, lots of optimizing and a tremendous amount of iterating as we go. And we continue to learn what works and what doesn’t. The biggest difference between 2012 and 1999? I’m not as naive as we were coming out of Wharton in 1999…and yeah, we were naive.
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