Saturday, October 26, 2013

The Elephant in the Room

I'm a HUGE fan of The Shark Tank every Friday on ABC. I normally live tweet the show as I watch it and I've developed a nice group of people who participate in my conversations.

I believe that there is a lot to be learned from watching the show and the things that the entrepreneurs who enter the tank do/say. Sometimes, they have really good ideas, but they manage to talk the sharks out of all interest. Sometimes, they have not so good ideas and the sharks toy with them before sending them on their way.

Last night, a company called Elephant Chat entered the tank. They're a married couple who created a concept of a small-stuffed elephant inside a case that you would put in plain view of your partner to let them know you have something you need to discuss with them. The particular example given was that maybe your spouse left the toilet seat up. My response on twitter was that if a toilet seat becomes the elephant in the room and the need for a serious chat, your relationship probably has bigger issues.

Anyway, the product, although cute, was utterly ridiculous. They're asking people to pay $59 for a $3 elephant in a plastic case. If that's the case, why wouldn't a consumer just buy an elephant at the toy store and put it on the table - if that's the method you want to take in your relationship. But, I'm not here to diagnose relationship issues, I'm more concerned from a business standpoint.

  • The first order of business is to find a consumer need and fill it. As one of the Sharks told Jason & Amanda, there probably is a market for what they're selling, but it's not a broad market. 
  • Once you have the need and the plan to fill the need, you have to find your target market. They would probably have success selling this product to relationship counselors, as they are known for using "corny" methods to facilitate communication.
  • The third thing, which is pretty important, is to make sure you don't price yourself out of the market. $59 for a toy in a case? SERIOUSLY? It doesn't talk for you! And, if anything it's a giveaway that tells your partner to RUN if they walk in the house and see it on the table waiting for them.

Since Jason and Amanda didn't get the funding from any of the sharks, they're running a Kickstarter campaign to fund this product. At the time of this blog, 29 people have decided to invest in this product.

Don't be that person when it comes to business. Don't make these costly mistakes.