Thursday, June 30, 2011

Hybrid Start Up

I came accross the term "Hybrid Start Up" today and it was definitely a 'Eureka' moment!  For over six months I have been seeking funding for a company that I started five years ago but has a product that has been successfully sold in the marketplace since 1991.

Now, I will admit that I had absolutely no idea how to raise funds; with over 22 years of experience in my industry where we established start ups and successfully financed turnarounds we always did so with our own funds.  So, the process of seeking funding kind of started off on the wrong foot; which was my fault because I was confused by the terms.

Now, I realize I am actually a hybrid start up, "...with one foot in the virtual world and one foot in the real world" which is exactly what we are attempting, we have the foot firmly planted in the real world, with over 200 retailers and 67,000 loyal consumers who shop our website regularly.  We manufacture big and tall tee shirts and we also offer various lines of  big and tall screen printed tees,  but the future belongs to those who can create a consumer centric/customization business model and we are ideally positioned to fill this opportunity in our niche market.  We can provide the plus sized consumer the same opportunities that firms such as Threadless, Cafe Press, and Custom Ink to name a few, have successfully pioneered in the regular sized market. 

After 22 years in the industry I have never seen an opportunity that excites me like this one does!  We would continue to build and expand our retailer based market but we would also be creating an all new market by bringing consumer centric/customization to the plus sized market.  This addition allows us to now expand from exclusively big and tall males into the plus sized female market.  It would allow us to create a synergy between our loyal retailers and our loyal consumer community which would then feed the growth of each other.

I do love my niche because I am tall and have been all my life;  I have spent my life shopping at my competitors like King Size Direct, Casual Male, JC Penney, and the retailers that do carry our product line.  I understand the psychology of the plus sized consumer and I can relate to it; I know what its like to see something on someone else and know you won't get it in your size.  I want to change that for the 76 million Americans who are obese and I want to do it by creating what they want created!

"A hybrid business is built entirely from scratch, to be innovative in its online technology and its real-world operations."  That is exactly what I did, when I got tired of constantly running out of inventory because I was undercapitalized, I stopped and said, "Lets quit working ourselves to death attempting to make do in a market that is overhwelming us and lets start over and create the ideal company to meet the opportunities of the plus sized market."

Now, "innovative" for us means to seek out the models created by others in the regular size market and basically duplicate it for the plus sized market; copy that in the mass market which has been the most successful and just redirect it to a niche market.

I have spent months explaining the vision, and I can go on for hours, but I never felt I was conceptualizing the vision correctly; a 20 year old start up that just wants to do what everyone else is already doing but in sizes 2X to 8X and XLT to 6XLT and build its existing retail base.

Now, I can claim to be a hybrid start up!   Once you get the terminology right you are half way home!

Oh, and I have met some really great people during this funding adventure,  I have focussed on seeking out those in the technology arena because I want to ensure that I have as mentors, the best and the brightest!  Yes, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks!  For that I thank everyone.

2 comments:

Dave W Baldwin said...

Congratulations and very well written. It is nice to see someone who knows the real and virtual worlds have melted into one.

Carl said...

David,

My 16 year old nephew came over last week and I introduced him to turntable.fm.....

I guess a few days later he introduced his virtual friends on turntable.fm to his physical friends at his house and....

His parents grounded him! :)

Can you imagine turntable.fm on a 50" monitor and surround sound?

If your Virtual Assistant is anything like Guru...let me know, I can offer some insight!