Monday, November 16, 2009

The Startup Roller Coaster



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Working at Google was a great, steady job. There were highs, there were lows, but at the end of the month there was a nice steady pay check.

Shoes of Prey is like a crazy roller coaster where you're strapped in by your feet and flung around a crazy non-sensical track at a hundred miles an hour. There's gut wrenching, plummeting lows and fantastic, ecstatically exciting highs. And they come within days of each other.

Last week we met with our supplier who told us their workshop has too many orders and our shoes are now going to take 5 weeks to make. This is on top of some of our first orders already bordering on being late. If we can't get our first orders to customers on time, what hope do we have of encouraging people to spread the word about our business? Queue plummeting low. Fortunately we'd kept in close contact with another potential supplier and over the weekend we sent our first orders to our second supplier. 2-3 weeks is their turnaround which is much better. But now we have a raft of issues to work through around matching leathers and designs across suppliers. We can see a hard but steady rise out of the low.

This weekend was Sydney Fashion Weekend. We invested $4,000 of our not exactly large cash reserves in the event and opening night on Thursday saw pretty dismal sales. Plummeting low number 2 for the week. We tweaked our sales approach, our messaging around pricing and got all our laptops working on the stand, and Friday night and Saturday saw fantastic sales. Plus we've learnt so much from speaking to our customers directly that we've got a good idea of where to focus our energies over the coming month. An ecstatic high only 24 hours later!

It certainly isn't boring running a startup.

4 comments:

  1. Hey have you guys thought about sanitising this site to remove your brand from it? Just thinking that while it's pretty cool for me to read it as your friend, for a purchaser of luxury goods you hardly want to read about mundane supply issues in China, that the company doesn't have large cash reserves, how poor sales were one night compared to the next day, IP issues, etc..

    Don't get me wrong - this is all cool to read as a friend of yours, and I find mundane supply issues and shipping rates from different Chinese cities interesting a bizarre sort of way, but baring your sole (terrible!) online doesn't exactly scream luxury / exclusivity. How many other brands do you know of that have such open blogs? (Okay, this isn't the blog on the actual website, but it's very linked.) Also, this is the third link on a Google search for "Shoes of Prey"...

    Anyway, just a thought.

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  3. It's a very good point. The blog is most definitely not 'on brand' and the idea is that Shoes of Prey customers don't visit 22michaels - it's written for our friends and anyone else who's interested in startups. We don't link to it from the Shoes of Prey website for example.

    But like you say, when it's the third link on Google for a search for Shoes of Prey some customers are going to see the site. I just took a look at Google Analytics and we've had less than 70 visitors to 22michaels on Shoes of Prey related keywords since we launched Shoes of Prey, so that's not too bad... and hopefully that terrible click through rate means that gradually the blog drops off the search results for 'Shoes of Prey' searches as we're written about elsewhere on the web. (I'm assuming that Google looks at click through rates in determining search engine rankings, but I don't know for sure).

    Still, we should think this through a little more as branding for Shoes of Prey is critical. Thanks for pointing it out to us.

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  4. Could not disagree more with the initial comment. "Open Sourcing" your business and running it open book is the only way to go in the Internet age. The advantages outweight any potential negatives. It is open, honest and authentic.

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