Endurance Start Up
Endurance today is a little over 2.5 years.
For me those years were some of the happiest and brightest in my life, and at the same time the hardest and most important.
About 100 people have worked in Endurance during those years; about 100 students have undertaken an internship.
At the stage of the start-up foundation we had many ideas, which we’d like to prove. Most of all we wanted to develop robotic-based technologies and lasers.
Robots fell short of expectations. Lasers, on the contrary, seemed to be a successful choice.
Further on, I will tell in a few words what worked out well and why.
When we had just started developing lasers only few people believed in our success. Worse was that we had yielded to pessimism and did not do much to develop that line of business. Instead, we went on creating robots and developed a robot-waiter, a telepresence robot; wasted a year developing the SelfieBot and created a line of 3 robots: Rash 1, Rash 2, Rash 3.
Unhappily, we listened to useless and sometimes even bad pieces of advice of people who recommend us what to do and what not. Their advices misguided us. Unfortunately, all men are liable to make mistakes. And we wasted a lot of time wandering about in the dark.
We wasted over a year developing robots and trying to promote them. The reason of our failure is simple. There was no demand. We hoped it would arise. But our hopes were misplaced. Had we known it before we should have saved energy for something else.
But the man who never made a mistake, never made anything. It’s hard to foresee future. Did Jobs know he would be successful? Or was he just one of few who caught a break. You just need to trust yourself and draw lessons from your failures not to make more mistakes.
A successful entrepreneur sees at once if there is a demand for his products. To create a demand is a low and cost-based employment. It’s much harder to persuade the market that the product is absolutely necessary than to satisfy the felt-need, when the buyer knows what he needs and what for.
Our lasers and engravers seemed to make the running by their own, but actually that was the result of the hard work.
1. We made a line of lasers of various power (2.1 W- 8 W).
2. To become known to our customers and make our products recognizable and trustworthy we recorded videos with useful information about our technological solutions. It is important that videos have answers to possible questions of potential customers.
3. We studied the market demand and saw that in Russia people needed ready-made laser engravers and cutters, while in other countries lasers were preferable. For successful global sales it is advisable to write comments and hold discussions on important online forums. Potential customers get used to you, get to know you and start buying.
4. An appealing package and excellent technical support are the key to success.
5. We realized that we could compete with Chinese analogues on Ali, to do this we need to put up our products there and fight for the customer offering him better service. People appreciate that.
6. It’s obvious that much is still to be done. We still need to work over packaging, laser and electronics design.
It is most important to increase sales channels. Now only about 10 dealers sell Endurance lasers around the world, but it’s a drop in the bucket. Obviously, there is what to be out for.
If it’s not possible to increase sales independently then you need to cooperate with dealers. But it’s not as simple as it looks, there are some issues to be sold: logistics, support, and most importantly the marge to be discussed with your dealer who would want a discount. Another question arises at once: will you be able to offer him/her attractive terms.
Sending orders to customers is connected with the work of delivery services. As our experience has shown, orders sent with Russian Post often arrive to customers in crushed boxes (so say nothing of the delivery time). Therefore, in Russia we prefer to work with CDEC or «Business Lines»; as for international shipping, we trust it to SPSR or EMS. Yes, it increases the cost of delivery, but the customer receives goods on time and in apparent good order and condition.
Through experience also comes understanding of the difficulties that the client faces. Since our lasers are actually an accessory to a 3D printer or CNC machine, many customers’ problems are not immediately clear to the manufacturer. Endurance employees tend to customers’ issues and strive to do everything to make the customer happy.
It’s the main rule for me. Appreciate and love your customers. Spare their time and money. It’s not necessary to sell them your most advanced and expensive model of the laser or engraver. Speak with the customer first, learn the reason of his/her purchase and offer the product, which meets the customer’s demand to the utmost.
We sent a batch of lasers to one of the largest suppliers of CNC equipment, and received a list of comments with 10 points. We took into account all the comments and even slightly changed the process of manufacturing lasers, so that the customer was satisfied. Strangely enough, but some businessmen and employees for some reason believe that arguing with the customer and proving to him their case is a good way to gain popularity and win the market. I’m afraid this is a most harmful thing for business to do.
If the customer is not satisfied with the product refund him/her. Endurance always takes into account the customer’s opinion, whatever it is. To achieve success, it is necessary that the product meets the expectations of the consumer as much as possible.
When a person buys your product he/she becomes your customer. If the product doesn’t meet his/her demands, the buyer isn’t your customer. Don’t try to win him/her over. Over-persuasion is a donkey work, consuming time and efforts.
The customer’s impression of the product is usually formed in the first 15 minutes, later on no word will help convince the buyer to buy your goods. Sometimes I get messages that our lasers are bad and not worthwhile buying. I ignore them. Of course, you can read such epistles, correct your mistakes and improve the solutions, but most likely it will not change anything.
The person who buys your product is a customer. The one who blows your brain out is nobody. Do not waste time with them. Probably, you should listen to them, but don’t argue with them and don’t try to prove anything.
There is a widespread opinion among beginners that the product design must be necessarily no less attractive than that of the iPhone7. This is only partially true. For some people it is important, for some the price is of a more importance, for others the quality and reliability are the key parameters. It is impossible to be the best in all respects. It is more reasonable to perfect one, two or maximum 3 features from the list of the product characteristics and present them as your main advantages.
When working for the Unicredit Bank I underwent a great training for sellers. The main thing I was taught there was the CHADPR formula. Characteristics. Advantages. Profit
This is the gold standard of effective sales. Describe the characteristics of your product to the customer clearly and intelligibly, tell about its advantages over analogues. Use simple words. At the end, outline the benefits and profits. Explain why it is profitable to buy from you; why the customer should give you his money. Do not hesitate to take money for a good job. As much as you think is fair. Nobody knows better than you how much your work is worth. If the price seems too high for the customer, it means that you have not convinced him that for this money he will get something that will help him save or earn well (or to have fun).
Don’t Ever Give up Hope. Work Hard and You Will Be Rewarded.
There are hardships in any business. Nobody is fail-safe. The history of failures perhaps is even more educatory than the history of success as it helps see and understand what mistakes were made, when and why.