Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thank You Seth Godin... You Inspired us to Create a Company

Recently we sent this email to Seth Godin to thank him for inspiring us to create Shoes of Prey. His book Purple Cow taught us so much and pushed to creating a business that was worth talking about.
We'd be interested to know too - were any of you similarly inspired by Purple Cow? What did you do differently in your businesses because of it?


Hi Seth

I wanted to tell you about our little company. It's called Shoes of Prey, and you helped create it.

Back in 2008 my co-founders and I were throwing around ideas for a new business. We had many ideas. A dating website. Various social networking clones. A scuba diving review site. All were pretty yawn-inducing. Our only saving grace was we had read Purple Cow and were on the hunt for something very specific: a product people wanted to talk about

This was our only criteria.

Through a process of elimination we arrived at a concept: a website where women could design their own shoes. Beautiful shoes that would be painstakingly created by hand and shipped anywhere in the world in incredible packaging.

This is what Shoes of Prey looks like today:



Using the software on our website women can change all aspects of their shoe: the toe shape, the back shape, the colours, decorations, the heel height and so on.

Our shoes are unlike anything else you could buy in a store. We make shoes from a tiny 2.5 US all the way to size 15, a truly huge range of sizes. We can make one foot bigger than the other. We can add more padding if you would like that. Our gift certificates never expire and our returns policy is amazingly generous: 365 day no-questions asked return or refund.

More fundamentally, imagine the magic of opening a shoe box to see a pair of shoes that you yourself had designed from heel to toe? That experience by itself is worth talking about. 

It wasn't easy getting to where we are today. Factories told us it wouldn't work. Everyone around us thought we were crazy, and in retrospect, we probably were! We've learned along the way that creating something worth talking about is really hard. It's hard because it's inefficient and therefore expensive. It's hard because suppliers aren't used to working that way. It's hard because there is no rule book and you don't know how things will turn out. However, if you stick with it, and hire really smart people, you can make it work.

Things are now going really well for us now. We now have 50 staff members across Australia, Japan, China, Russia and the US. Our business is booming. Crucially our growth is driven primarily by word of mouth. Our customers love telling their friends about our - or should I say, their - purple cow. Our marketing department loves that too: we don't spend that much on paid marketing. 

I wanted to thank you for being the inspiration behind our company. This level of product customisation and amazing service may seem obvious today, but it certainly wasn't obvious back in 2008. Your book guided us to the destination.

We still talk about that hypothetical cow around the office. It gives us tremendous clarity when we need to make a decision: Would you stop your car to look at this cow?

If books could have babies Seth, then Shoes of Prey is your baby! 

Thank you again.

Best

Mike Knapp

p.s. it would be fun to know what other Purple Cow businesses out there were inspired by the book. Perhaps we could all hold a conference one day!

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