Colorwheel Toys

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First, we wanted to thank Steve Blank for generously welcoming us into his ranch and meeting us on a Thursday.

He opened our eyes and CHALLENGED US on what we were doing. As a result of the hike [that he led] around the estate, we’re now more equipped to take on the road less traveled.

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SUMMARY:

  1. Start-ups do 2 things in general:  (1) Solve a problem, and (2) Solve a wired mental need.
  2. Take on this journey and DISCOVER: We picked a hard “STEM for Girls” problem to solve so we have to make sure to test multiple series of hypothesis and do enough discovery.
  3. Cake Mixes: You throw in an egg and people feel like they’re doing something
  4. Girl Scouts of America: There are lots to learn from an organization of 100+ years that got it right with little girls
  5. Basic Human Wiring: People intrinsically need to figure out how they are doing, and for parents: how are their kids doing relative to a grade level
  6. STEM parents vs Middle America parents: These 2 market segments behave very differently and therefore needs to be served differently

TEAM TAKE-AWAYS:

  1. VISION: Colorwheels needs to understand the vision that will tie all of this together
  2. NEEDLE IN A HAYSTACK: Our team needs to filter the noise and uncover the signals we’re receiving from parents about what they want and need
  3. PRODUCT FAMILY: We need to offer products with varying Difficulty Rating Scales (from Level 1 to 20) to encompass different aptitudes and starting points
  4. PLATFORM TO DISCOVER AND CONNECT: We can create value-add aside from our product by hosting an opt-in service for our customers and users to find local Colorwheelers that they share interests with (STEM, parenting, etc)
  5. MARKET BROADENING: We need to come up with a strategy to target our different segments (STEM parent, Bay Area parents, Wealthy, Educated, Middle America, etc)
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Just when things are getting hazy or when our team loses momentum, Office Hours always seems to lead us back to the path and re-ignites our senses. That’s exactly what happened again this week at Ann’s Floodgate office.

Image Credit

Ann Miura-Ko was kind enough to fit us in her busy schedule and agreed to meet us for extra office hours on a Monday. We gave her an update of how things are and discussed some of the problems we were experiencing. After leaving her office, we finally got the “big picture” advice we’ve been seeking these past seven days.

KEY TAKE-AWAYS:

  1. STOP PLAYING IT SAFE: Go to the extreme and really “girlify” your product and see how that turns out!
  2. LACKING BUSINESS MODEL: Not yet solid; You guys need a more complete and compelling vision
  3. NEW CHANNELS: Explore the whole spectrum! Montessori, homeschooling, Gilt Children, Zulily, Parent Networks, Maker Faire, Children’s Libraries, Junior Museums, Zoos and their Gift shops.
  4. ECOSYSTEM: Design a complete experience and create value beyond just your toy
  5. MFG SUPPLIERS: Get to this now; up to the extent of negotiating with them!

Solid advice.

You know how employees at your favorite Nordstrom or Macy’s always greet you and ask if you need any help… after visiting 3 families this week, we’ve felt as if MR. PRODUCT CATALOG paid us a visit in each home and asked us how he could help!

Why on Earth did any of us not think about this earlier…

It’s like all four of us simply forgot the magical nature of those Product Catalogs…

How we (as kids) would spend countless hours entrenched by the awesomeness of these cooler and bigger toys that we wish Mom, Dad, or grandpa/ma would purchase for our birthdays or Christmas presents!

Well Mr. Product Catalog, we know exactly what you can assist us with: UPSELL OUR PRODUCTS!

“Upselling is a sales technique whereby a seller induces the customer to purchase more expensive items, upgrades, or other add-ons in an attempt to make a more profitable sale.”

Image Credit: Lego Catalogs

Over the weekend, we were able to talk (and visit) 2 more families [primarily interviewed the husband] and asked them a series of questions of how things are with their family.

GOAL:

  • Learn more about the uniqueness of each family’s parenting style
  • Discover parent purchasing behaviors towards toys and products

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT:

  • Understanding who exactly our target customers is crucial for successful demand creation

NEW FINDINGS:

  • PAREN’T BLOGS? NOPE WE DONT READ THOSE — Understandable. Parents are extremely busy, maybe this would be different for stay-at-home moms?
  • WORKSHOPS > BLOGS — From time to time, schools put together these parenting workshops and seem to be quite effective in drawing the crowd. Perhaps their credibility as a learning institution helps?
  • EARLY INTERVENTION — All of the parents we’ve spoken to value the early exposure of their children to building kits, arts and crafts, sciences, etc.
  • MOMS ARE THE BOSS — This is true for almost 90% of almost 20 families we’ve talked to now. They control the purchases, therefore controlling the entry of our Toy Kit into their homes!

We love that young kids are brutally honest most of the time [recall: “Kids say the Darndest Things” by Bill Cosby] and not afraid to hurt your feelings. We learn so much from such open [unfiltered] candid feedback.

“I don’t really care to race these cars”

 

“I’d rather play Monopoly with my friends than play this car with them”

 

“If this was an animal it would be COOL!”

 

“You know what, my favorite pets are a hamster, a turtle, and a bunny!”

Inspired by Chip Conley [former CEO, current Executive Chairman of Joie de Vivre Hotels] and his  mantra of describing any boutique hotel he has established in 5 simple adjectives, we decided to come up with our own. Chip explained in his talk that most, if not all, decisions made in a hotel: which furniture goes where, color scheme, etc — are all tied to a Hotel’s 5 Adjectives. If a product or service does not match back to any of the 5 adjectives, it is canned.

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So here is ours:

  1. Delightful

  2. Self-expressive

  3. Educational

  4. Creative

  5. (?)

[Stay tuned for our 5th one… We really couldn’t think of that one last word…]

Landing Page: beta.colorwheeltoys.com

Main Site: www.colorwheeltoys.com

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Current functionality:

  • Main idea and vision [Main Page]
  • Instructions for Car Kit [Download button]
  • PDF file where we teach young girls about Circuits and Electricity [Learning Topics]

Future functionality:

  • Need to integrate our Blog into Main Website
  • Set-up web store to start our Sales Test
  • Add Picture Galleries of completed Car Kits
  • Include testimonials given by parents about our Car Kits