Monday, December 14, 2009

Customise Your Life

It was over the Christmas break last year that we had the idea for Shoes of Prey, and at that time we hadn't come across too many customisable products. We'd read that customisation was a growing trend and it made sense to us that people would want to buy customised products - with the growth of manufacturing in China consumers can now buy just about anything at very cheap prices compared with just a few decades ago, so to be unique and different, consumers want to be able to customise products to suit themselves. Coupled with this demand are improvements in manufacturing that make customisation easier to do, and big improvements in software and web development which make it possible to build something like a custom shoe designer.

And we've been amazed at how many other entrepreneurs and businesses are onto the same concept! Not only can you customise your own shoes, you can mix your own muesli create your own rug or even design your own Lego set! And there are now websites dedicated to profiling companies that allow you to customise products, like Milk or Sugar who have a quickly growing list of over 100 different customisable products.

A big lesson we've taken from this is that if you have an entrepreneurial idea, it's highly likely that whatever influenced you to have the idea has influenced 1000 other people to have the same idea at the same time. So don't overplan and waste valuable time, or worry about protecting your idea, get out there and execute on the idea well and fast. To us it looks like success is more in the execution than coming up with a new idea no-one else has ever thought of - because someone else will have.

Image Credit.


  1. Ditto with us. We had the idea for a few years.. acted reasonably slowly and then had a competitor launch around the same time..

  2. I'm getting more inspired to get my act together on a few ideas I've been throwing around every time I read your blog. It's really hard making that first step though... What was the one thing that made you think "That's it. We're starting Shoes of Prey. NOW."?

  3. Hmm, good question Magda. To be honest I'm not sure if there was a moment like that. It was the culmination of a few different things:

    1. A few years of brainstorming and testing a few ideas but never having given anything a proper go.
    2. Realising that if we didn't do it now we would probably settle down, have kids, get a mortgage then never have the time to give something a go.
    3. Coming up with a product that we liked (custom made women's shoes) in an industry we liked (online retail).
    4. Realising that it's actually not that big a risk to try out doing your own thing. As we plan to, you can give it 1-2 years and if it's not working out at that point, it shouldn't be too hard to find a job again. :)

    Those things said, we did as much as we could part time before quitting our jobs - and we wouldn't have quit except our beta testing had all gone really well, it looked like things could work, and at that point we couldn't progress much further without doing it full time.

  4. I enjoy reading your blog because, even though I'm in a whole different line of work, I feel like I'm thinking about alot of similar things to get my thing off of the ground.
    And ALOT about exactly what you just wrote about! I'm not coming up with anything that incredibly new, but I still need to just GET OUT THERE and expose it!

  5. Thanks TiffHall=Fab, glad to hear you find the blog useful. :) Another thing we did was start executing on the idea while keeping our full time jobs. We started working on Shoes of Prey in January this year. Mike didn't leave Google until May and I left in August. Jodie still works full time. So we got a lot done before we made the leap out of full time employment, and if things hadn't been looking promising we wouldn't have moved to do it full time.