The Business Story of Speed!
Speed! has been available just over two years and I have learned so much. With the way sales/expenses are going, I'm on track to break even financially, but come out way ahead in knowledge gained. Since the main focus of this blog is hands-on learning, I wanted to share my experience.
In September 2011, 1000 units of Speed! were received at the Amazon warehouse and went up for sale on-line. Sales were steady and the feedback was excellent (4.9 out of 5 stars). Since then 5000 additional units were produced and also sent to Amazon for sale. Today, sales are continuing on a steady path and feedback is still excellent. However, business is not as rosy as it sometimes seems........
Locating a Manufacturer
Before Speed! was available at Amazon, it was necessary to find a manufacturer. After three estimates of around $120 per box of Speed! from American producers, I used the internet to look elsewhere and was surprised by how simple it was. After several exchanges via email, I sent the graphics I produced to a manufacturer who in turn produced a prototype (for a fee of course). After some modifications, a second prototype, and about four months time, Speed! was set to be produced.
Importing the shipment to the United States was the next major hurdle, which again turned out to be simpler than I anticipated. After locating an importer and filling out several forms, they did the remainder of the work (for a big fee of course). Before long, Speed! was at Amazon and ready to sell.
Having a great product is excellent, but effective marketing is even more important. This was one of the first pieces of advice I received when embarking on this journey and I have since found it to be very true. Living in Germany, selling in America makes marketing extra difficult. Personally I have found that demonstrations of Speed! result in high sales. Events like family math night and homeschool conventions are my favorites. In total, this amounts to approximately three days of face-to-face interaction with my customers per year (in Germany). The rest of my marketing is done on the computer which I also enjoy.
Specifically I have given away countless boxes of Speed! to internet bloggers for reviews, schools for use in classrooms and during family math nights, and to homeschool groups for door prizes at not back to school parties. Posts have been linked to numerous blog-hops. Advertisements have been placed on blogs, in homeschool magazines, and on educational websites. Finally, I've researched placing ads in big name magazines like Parenting, but found costs beginning in the tens of thousands of dollars way out of my league.
I often wonder how sales of Speed! would be different if the game was marketed by a big company like Milton Bradley, but instead it's being promoted by me. One busy mom of three active kids who values education. Marketing is the key to business success and becoming familiar with how important and time-consuming it is has been an eye-opening experience.
Being new to the business world led to some major mistakes on my part. My first mistake was ordering 5000 units prematurely. The initial 1000 units produced have all been sold, but the rate of sales doesn't require an inventory of 5000. In hindsight this is easy to see. At the time, it was impossible to predict how fast sales would increase.
My second mistake was having my inventory shipped directly to Amazon. Again being an American living in Germany complicated this issue. Not wanting to burden friends or family members in the states with games to store and ship, it was determined that storage at Amazon would be the best route for Speed! After all, the storage fees were expensive, but affordable.
Next, the unexpected happened. An email was received explaining that long-term storage fees would be charged by Amazon for inventory remaining in the warehouse over one year. No fees were charged on the first 1000, so I was taken aback by the email. Perhaps I missed this one when reading the multitude of on-line policies or perhaps the policy was changed? Either way, the fees of 75 cents per unit, charged every six months, are steep.
Now I can choose to have the inventory shipped to friends or family in the States and re-ship it to Amazon as sales demand, pay to have it destroyed, or pay the fees and work on marketing to increase sales. I'm still thinking this one over and hope you will help. (MARKETING, Facebook, Pinterest).
My preferred route would be to sell all units in stock at Amazon to families who value education and fun. I would like the savings to be passed on to the consumer instead of being sucked up by Amazon under the name of long-term storage. Actually, I think Amazon would prefer it that way as well. I don't have any hard feelings toward Amazon. My feelings are quite the contrary in fact. Amazon and its huge marketing base has enabled the Speed! sales to be where they are today.
I have no regrets and would create Speed! over again in a heartbeat. If I hadn't developed Speed! I would still be talking about doing it and wondering about what might have been. Whether this business succeeds or fails like so many new ventures remains to be seen. I've learned much and have so enjoyed the emails I've received from parents explaining how Speed! has worked for their children.
I'm just a mom and not a huge corporation, so I really need your help in telling friends and family about Speed! Please Like this post on Facebook and spread my story. Write about Speed! on your blog. Share your personal experience with Speed! on your homeschool group's website. Bring Speed! to your child's school. Bring it to a homeschool event. Log into Amazon and write a Speed! review. Give Speed! as a gift, stock-up for future gifts and give Speed! to every teacher you know:) Anything you can do to spread my story is greatly appreciated. Thank you and I hope you have fun playing Speed! with the kids (both big and small) in your life.
This post is linked to:
Hot Homeschool Hop
The Chicken Chick
No Time for Flash Card
Home Acre Hop
Made it Monday
Keeping it Simple
A Mama Story
Hip Homeschool Hop
Living and Learning at Home
Funky Polkadot Giraffe