I was inspired to write this post today after reading about the Incubator School in LA, CA on EdSurge. A school to foster mini entrepreneurs. Brilliant. And it reminded me of my own early-stage ventures at the age of 10 that I’m still amazed never received VC financing or TechCrunch coverage. I mean, clearly from the product images below, you can see the vision, passion, and effort I had for the company appropriately named “MelissaMart”.
MelissaMart produced a range of products from Calligraphy greeting cards to driftwood creatures to beaded key chains to painted rocks. But, it wasn’t the product line that was our true innovative touch. Rather, it was our go-to market strategy.
As a 10-year-old, I was quick to notice a pattern of my grandparents, aunts, uncles – family members in general – regularly sending cards. Whether it was for my birthday, my brother’s birthday, a get well card when I broke my collar bone….and well, even my parents would get cards. It seemed to me that a lot of money was being spent on these cards, and to be honest, most of them were pretty lame!! And, to top it off, next to the barcode on the back you could see how much they spent. $2.25?! Ridiculous.
So, I did the math (it was, after-all, my favorite subject), and if I could create a pack of 10-greeting cards (carefully made by my newly learned skill of calligraphy), sell them for $10, I could actually MAKE money from people having birthdays and breaking bones. And, to top it off, I would be SAVING my extended family money. A win-win-win.
With a clear market niche to fill, I went into production, carefully packaging up 10 cards, attaching a $10 invoice, and sending them off to each of my extended family members. It was obvious to me that once they received (by surprise) the hand-crafted greeting cards, they wouldn’t hesitate in paying the appended bill.
The revenue started rolling in… just enough to buy paint for our next production line: Driftwood and rock critters. I realized that my cousins were left out of the MelissaMart market. They didn’t have an income, but unfortunately MelissaMart needed to maintain a low bottom line so couldn’t afford to just give away product for no reason.
However, we could write-off product give-aways at Christmas time and so a new market niche was born. Each cousin would receive a personality-relevant driftwood painted critter thoughtfully selected based on the natural attributes of the wood pieces. For example, my Grandfather received a duck (for duck hunting), and my cousin Molly received a Ballerina (she was a dancer). While this product line wasn’t as practical as the cards, they usually added to the decor of any home, offering a natural, creative accent.
Some may wonder what happened to MelissaMart. Well, its legacy lives on within iCreate, and luckily, this time around, we have a larger market niche than my relatives 🙂