DISPUTES PUT HOVERBOARD FUTURE IN DOUBT [PART 4: A DOWNWARD SPIRAL] Published on Silicon.NYC

When you spend $1,500 on something, you typically expect to receive a great deal of value from the purchase. Whether it be a new computer, or a new piece of jewelry, as a consumer you don’t usually invest those kinds of funds without being prepared for serious and (usually) instant gratification. One product that unfortunately wasn’t able to provide this serious and instant gratification to many customers was the Hoverboard. 

When my Hoverboard company started to experience four week delays in the arrival of our inventory from China, it resulted in a series of processes breaking down, the major ones being influencer gifting, customer fulfillment, inventory management, and customer service. They all very quickly started suffering from the negative ripple effects of a broken supply chain.

However there was one other and arguably way more important problem that had arisen for us during this period: customer disputes. When our early adopter Hoverboard customers began purchasing our $1,500 product, these people wanted their Hoverboard now! Early adopter customers consider themselves “early adopters” for good reason. That’s because they want to begin using a new product before the majority of the general public has the chance to. They value and crave receiving products first and don’t mind paying a premium in order to do so. 

We experienced two different types of early adopter customers who started disputing their Hoverboard payments with their credit card companies:

  1. Real honest paying early adopters.
  2. Fake fraudulent scammer early adopters.

Our real, honest, paying customers had a story that went something like this:

Joe Smith decides he wants a Hoverboard and goes on our website on June 1, 2015 to make his purchase. A few days go by and then on June 10, Joe still hasn’t received his Hoverboard. He decides to call our office inquiring where his product is, and our customer service team informs him that there is a delay in our shipment of Hoverboards.

We ask Joe to wait patiently and inform him that he’ll be receiving his product hopefully within the next week. A few more days go by and by the time it’s June 17, Joe decides to call our office again because the Hoverboard still hasn’t arrived. At this point, Joe is a little concerned because his $1,500 purchase has yet to arrive and he’s anxiously awaiting to use his Hoverboard. 

Meanwhile, our customer service team still has no idea when our Hoverboards are scheduled to arrive because our shipment is already 2 weeks late from its originally scheduled delivery date and our factory isn’t giving us any clarity on the actual arrival date of our inventory. Our customer service team responds to Joe’s phone call by assuring him that our company is not a scam and that he is absolutely going to receive his product. However, we are still suffering from this delay in shipment. 

By this point, Joe is not hearing the answer he wants to and he starts to (understandably) get angry. Joe starts to threaten our company, saying that he is going to dispute the payment if he doesn’t receive his Hoverboard within the next week, and guess what happens? Another week goes by Joe calls our office just to confirm that the Hoverboard hasn’t shipped and once he receives that confirmation, he calls up his credit card company immediately and disputes the payment. 

At that point, our company gets a notification from our payment processor stating that there has been a dispute made and that the money will be deducted from our account unless we can show evidence that the customer is in the wrong. Since we had no inventory to ship Joe and have no evidence of a FedEx tracking number showing proof of delivery, we ended up having to accept the loss and see the funds deducted from our account immediately.

Pretty harsh right? Well, unfortunately, it only gets worse.

See, we also had many fake, fraudulent customers and their story went something like this:

An online scammer would plug in all sorts of different credit card combinations in an attempt to make a purchase of a Hoverboard with a credit card. Whenever these scammers were successful purchasing a Hoverboard via our website with one of these honest peoples’ credit cards, we as a company would ship one of our units to this fake customer at their fake address. 

Then, in four weeks at the end of the month when the honest customer gets their credit card bill in the mail and they see a $1,500 Hoverboard purchase, they say “what the hell is that?,” and they call up their credit card company to dispute the payment.

Once this happened we would get the same notification from our processor stating that unless we provided evidence of having shipped the product they would deduct the funds from our account. This time, we actually had proof of a FedEx tracking number showing delivery of the unit. However, we had shipped the unit to a fraudster and, as a result, the address we had shipped the unit to didn’t match the address on the credit card and it would be deemed fraudulent and the dispute would hold.

We had hundreds of fraudulent orders go through our website and this resulted in hundreds of additional disputes, on top of the ones from our legitimate customers.

Each day, we would see our bank account fluctuating drastically because the credit card processors would deduct tens of thousands of dollars out of the account at once when there was a bulk of fraudulent orders that needed to be paid back. The processor also had the right to suspend and/or freeze our funds in our account which they did on multiple occasions when fraudulent orders would build up. One day we would have $500,000 of liquid sales revenue sitting in a bank account and the next day it would be frozen, and the processor wouldn’t allow us to touch the money for up to 6 months. 

With all of this happening at once, different credit card processing platforms stopped doing business with our company, and it wasn’t just our company. The industry as a whole got tainted so quickly with fraud that credit card processors stopped wanting to accept credit card payments from any Hoverboard companies, because the industry was deemed to be too risky. 

As these fraudulent orders kept building and building, it ended up putting our young startup in a very precarious position. We were not only struggling to fulfill orders and retain the funds in our bank account, but also had massive credit card processing issues lingering over our heads and, as a eCommerce company, if you can’t process funds you’re more of less out of business. That is, of course, until orders start ramping up dramatically during the Christmas 2015 Holiday season.

Stay tuned for Part 5, on Why Going Viral Sucks…

Big thanks to the team over a Silicon.NYC for allowing me to begin contributing to their publication. This was my 4th article published on their site and you can definitely check out this story and plenty more other exciting technology oriented stories over at Silicon.NYC.

THE BROKEN HOVERBOARD SUPPLY CHAIN [PART 3: HOW IT TURNED SOUR] Published by Silicon.NYC

By summer 2015, it became evident that our company was in a mad-dash to stay atop the Hoverboard industry as the market leader. Everyone and their grandmother were looking for the “segway” hoverboard as cheap as possible. Demand for the product was sky-rocketing and in order to stay ahead of the pack we needed an abundance of inventory to be continuously selling.

We figured, okay well other companies are now competing with us, so all we have to do is sell more product than them. This was our second horrible decision since the company went viral, as we soon found out and learned the hard way.

Back in late 2014, we had the opportunity to personally meet the Chinese factory owners we were purchasing our units from. This factory had developed a Chinese patent around their device and so, as a reseller here in the United States, our company felt confident that we were purchasing and re-selling the highest quality Hoverboard on the market.

When we first ordered our 20–30 Hoverboard units from this factory, we experienced zero delays in shipment. In fact, ordering Hoverboard units at this time was no big deal, primarily because the world (on a mass scale) wasn’t aware that the product even existed.

This seamless ordering process changed dramatically however, by the time May 2015 came. By the end of May, millions of people had become aware of our Hoverboard product because of the massive reach celebrities like Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber had on social media when they would promote our company. The general public was becoming mesmerized by the Hoverboard, day by day. People even started seeing an opportunity to make a quick buck by re-selling the product themselves.

Suddenly, there was a massive number of people in the States demanding Hoverboards. But these Hoverboards weren’t just being purchased for personal use but rather for re-selling. New companies each day were popping up on the internet such as Buzzwheel, Monorover, Uniwheel, Skywalker, along with so many others by the time June 2015 came around.

These companies were being started by one or two individuals who would order 10–30 units from China in order to flip them for a profit here in the States. This saturation of the Hoverboard marketplace suddenly resulted in a significant jump in demand, which then put major pressure on Chinese factories to produce and ship Hoverboards by the millions.

The Chinese factories weren’t the only ones feeling the pressure. We were feeling intense pressure of our own. We were getting hundreds of orders per week, but we didn’t have adequate inventory to fulfill the demand we were receiving.

When delays in shipment started taking place, we would contact our factory usually between 12 – 4 AM EST due to the 12 hour time zone difference, trying to find out the status of our shipment. We would get in contact with our factory having to deal with incredibly difficult language barriers and we would continuously hear some of the following responses from our factory:

1. "Sorry for the delay, we will get your shipment out tomorrow."

2. "We're finishing up production very soon, don't worry."

3. "There was a delay with the shipping company, but we're fixing the issue."

These responses from our factory were excuses. Oftentimes, they were simply lies. Our factory was clearly not in a position to ship us our Hoverboards, but they were denying this fact by coming up with various excuses for the delay in our shipment. They were so inundated with other companies ordering their Hoverboards that they couldn’t keep up with the rise in demand that had taken place.

Once our shipment would finally arrive, there would frequently be issues. Oftentimes, we would only receive partial shipments of our order to the office. For example, we would have a 500 piece order scheduled for delivery and only receive 200 pieces. Then it would take another two full weeks before we received the remaining 300 Hoverboards.

Other times, we would receive our shipment of Hoverboards, but the keys wouldn’t be in the boxes accompanying the Hoverboards. Our keys were shipped separately and our small team would have to manually match up the keys for each Hoverboard individually by serial numbers on each of the Hoverboard boxes. It was a big pain that could only be solved through sheer force of will (and manual labor).

Our company took a big hit due to these problems that we simply didn’t have the ability to fix. This lack of consistency really damaged our reputation, as our company was on a high following the viral success of not only Hoverboards, but our company as the place to go for them.

The four week delay in shipment started creating miserable experiences for our young startup. It resulted in our customers calling our office, yelling and screaming at us trying to find out why their Hoverboard, which they had just spent $1,500 on, still hadn’t arrived.

Most importantly, the problems we had with our Chinese manufacturer made the simple task of fulfilling orders very difficult. This four week delay gave consumers the impression that our company was a scam, which a young business simply can’t afford. When customers didn’t receive their Hoverboards anywhere close to when we told them they would, they logically started concluding that our company had stolen money from them. It was at this point where things started to take a massive turn for the worse. These customers started calling their credit card companies complaining, and the results of these complaints resulted in one thing, disputes!

Stay tuned for Part 4, on Why Going Viral Sucks…

Big thanks to the team over a Silicon.NYC for allowing me to begin contributing to their publication. This was my first article published on their site and you can definitely check out this story and plenty more other exciting technology oriented stories over at Silicon.NYC.

COPYCAT HOVERBOARD STARTUPS POSE MAJOR THREAT [PART 2: A CAUTIONARY TALE] Published by Silicon.NYC

With the viral explosion of the hoverboard, thanks in large part to celebrity promoters, our original hoverboard startup was on cloud nine. We continued full steam ahead with our promotional strategy, which in hindsight, was the first in a series of problems we would experience.

So when we had the opportunity to work with the famous rapper Soulja Boy, we quickly grabbed at the chance. After he rode Chris Brown’s, he realized he just had to have one.
Having just gifted Chris Brown three hoverboards a week earlier, we also decided to give three hoverboards to Soulja Boy in exchange for his promotion. We figured that we would see the return on this investment quickly, especially considering how our most recent influencer posts performed.

It was a hastily made decision that would come back to haunt us.

As we got more media coverage, we noticed a threatening problem developing: identical looking, but lower quality hoverboards started to appear on e-commerce sites like Amazon and Alibaba, selling at half the price of our’s.

 

These cheaper hoverboards were so shodily made that we feared they would affect our own product’s reputation, as they later would when government regulations would begin cracking down….

To thwart competition, we decided to heavily push our celebrity marketing strategy, such as collaborating with Justin Beiber and Soulja Boy.

So when a week later, our team received a notification from Soulja Boy, assuming that he came through with his social media post promoting us and our product, we clicked the notification excitedly only to discover it was thrilling in the worst possible way.

It turned out that Soulja Boy liked our hoverboard technology so much that he decided to start his own company called “Soulja BOARDS.” Just like that, Soulja Boy officially joined the ranks of the 50+ other competitors selling hoverboards at the time.

For any early-stage startup, witnessing identical companies popping up shortly after you just launched virally is debilitating to say the least. Those same companies were tail-riding on the massive wave of popularity that our company started, just at a lower price and lower quality level, adding intensive pressure to your own startup to grow.

Not only were our influencers informing the world of our product, but they also were demonstrating to the world how simple it is to start a hoverboard company. 

How do you compete under those circumstances?

The competitive landscape for hoverboards was heating up. Millions of people worldwide witnessing the opportunities available in the market were trying to get in the game. This massive saturation about to occur meant only one thing: our company had to stay equally as competitive against our hoverboard by having higher hoverboard sales.

The only way to do that was to have inventory to resell, which is where our next big problem came into play, and why ultimately, our company was suffering from the very early decision to use celebrities to go viral.

The drawbacks of going viral were about to become all too apparent. Find out how in the next article in this series, coming soon!

Stay tuned for Part 3, on Why Going Viral Sucks…

Big thanks to the team over a Silicon.NYC for allowing me to begin contributing to their publication. This was my first article published on their site and you can definitely check out this story and plenty more other exciting technology oriented stories over at Silicon.NYC.

POPULARITY EXPLOSION OF THE HOVERBOARD [PART 1: HOW IT WENT VIRAL] - Published by Silicon.NYC

Viral marketing is a daring strategy that can yield extremely potent results for a company that produces something revolutionary. As a serial entrepreneur, I’ve had success with viral marketing, and have faced the challenges that it can bring.

HOW WE WENT VIRAL

Back in Fall 2014 our team had discovered an interesting new product in China and at this point in time no one was really even sure what to call the device. When we initially brought some units back from China into the United States it was apparent early on that this device was going to be a hit as people’s jaws dropped when they would see us riding one.

Initially we planned on selling the units wholesale to various larger retail stores throughout 2015 and especially for the holiday season. We were under the expectations that we would be one of a handful of other companies re-selling this device since we were lucky enough to discover it very early on. But our strategy changed rather quickly once we started to see the mass appeal of the product for celebrities.

During the course of 2015, there was one product, the Hoverboard, that captivated the entire world on a daily basis. This once innocent (eventually notorious) two wheeled device was appearing in every media publication, news outlet, and government press release for all sorts of positive and negative reasons. One of the initial massive forums where the viral success of the Hoverboard can be attributed to was The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon.

The Tonight Show has always been famous for its curtain call introductions, which introduces the special guests featured on each episode while they are standing behind the massive blue curtain while the live band plays the different jingles and tunes as the crowd gets hyped for the celebrity to appear. In May 2015, one of these curtain call introductions was just a little more special than the standard “wave hello to the audience and sit in your seat next to Jimmy Fallon.”

Many of you probably know who Jamie Foxx is and, let’s be honest, that guy has always known how to make a grand entrance. In his most recent appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, his curtain call introduction was epic. In front of a crowd full of America’s finest Marines, Jamie rode onto the stage on a Hoverboard. At the time of the show in early spring 2015, no one in the audience (including Jimmy) even knew what the hell a Hoverboard even was or even seen one before.

First it was Jimmy asking Jamie,  "Hey Jamie what are you doing, and what the hell is that?"

That was then was followed by Jamie name dropping our company on national television. Finally, Jimmy went ahead and got on the Hoverboard and tried it out for himself!

Millions of people around the world saw the skit that night and plenty of other celebrities did as well. The following morning our email inboxes were stuffed and phone lines were ringing off the hook. Hundreds of customers and more big name celebrities were reaching out to our company asking to promote our product similarly to what Jamie Foxx did.

Seeing this kind of demand, direct outreach, and real desperation for our product proved to our team two things.

  1. Our viral marketing strategy was working.

  2. Continuing to work with Hollywood celebrities was the right path to continue down.

When people like Chris Brown, Justin Bieber, Wiz Khalifa started asking for our product, we decided to give them one for free. We did this in exchange for their support and promotion across all their major social media channels so that our brand name could continue to lead the Hoverboard market forward. We knew that competitors wanted our market share, so keeping our brand name relevant was a must.

This worked out brilliantly for us. Soon, these new celebrities along with at least 30 others were regularly promoting or product and, specifically, our brand. All of a sudden we were just two months in from our launch and we had already eclipsed 7 figures in sales, had all the major mass media publications reaching out to us for a story, and had powerhouse programs like Shark Tank asking us to apply for their show with our product. Even Kendall Jenner, who has been widely successful by promoting brands, used our Hoverboard on her Instagram video.

With all this promotion we felt like we were on top of the startup world. We had viral marketing buzz, tens of thousands in daily sales, and A-list celebrity endorsements. What could wrong?

Well, shortly after our viral launch we started to notice some other competitor Hoverboard companies sporadically popping up on the web. Recognizing this, but understanding that we had to stay focused on our own viral company, we decided to continue moving as quickly as we could in order to stay ahead of the competition. As a result we continued to work with A-list celebrities who could generate maximum exposure for us.

GOING VIRAL HAS ITS DRAWBACKS…

Going full steam ahead with this strategy turned out to be one of the first major mistakes we could’ve made. We started noticing very quickly that this maximum exposure was creating massive catch 22s for our business. It also resulted in serious and complex problems arising for the industry as a whole to have to solve, but yet had no real control in actually solving.

Viral marketing made us, and our great success can be attributed to it. But, we learned that it wasn’t necessarily the correct strategy for sustained growth. If you believe that viral marketing may be the correct strategy for your business, knowing the positives and negatives of the strategy are critical. Use it for as long as it is reasonable to do so, then shift your marketing priorities towards long-term and sustained growth.

Stay tuned for Part 2, on Why Going Viral Sucks…

Big thanks to the team over a Silicon.NYC for allowing me to begin contributing to their publication. This was my first article published on their site and you can definitely check out this story and plenty more other exciting technology oriented stories over at Silicon.NYC.

 

HUGE “When Going Viral Sucks” Weekend For Trump

Over this weekend some videos of Donald Trump were released by the Washington Post from 10 years ago that truly defined a “When Going Viral Sucks moment,” in relation to politicians. 

Donald Trump was video taped on an Access Hollywood bus saying some extremely vulgar, rude, and demeaning comments about women to then former Access Hollywood co-host Billy Bush. Since the videos release the mass media has been eating the story up. Over the last few months Trump has been receiving the title of a “Women hater,” and this video only fueled those allegations.

I don’t want to go into the specifics on the political impact this will have on Trump’s presidential candidacy other than saying it looks damaging. However instead I’m going to examine why this is truly a “When Going Viral Sucks,” moment for Donald. 

When I saw this story break I knew the video was going to go viral in a “bigly” manner as Mr. Trump often likes to say. It was evident that this was going to be the only thing the general public, and the media talked about for the following week, and presumably the remaining 4 weeks until the election. There was no doubt the video was going to be shared millions of times on social media and be replayed on a loop hundreds of times by each of the major Television networks. It was going to have Trump being portrayed in the media for ALL the wrong reasons and that’s exactly what happened.

Below are some of the reasons I’ve recognized as to why this video went as viral as it did. I would love to hear from readers if they agree! :) 

1. Women vote struggles — Over the last 3 months or so Hillary Clinton and the media have been hammering Trump on his treatment and respect for women. Although plenty of the rhetoric I’m sure is stretching the truth, there certainly have been comments made by Trump (prior to this video’s release) that definitely were not politically correct and also displayed forms of sexism by the presidential candidate. With the election less than 4 weeks away and the numbers mattering more and more each day this video just provided more evidence that the proof is in the pudding, with what will be Trump’s struggle to win the women’s vote. The video doesn’t help Trump AT ALL in re-claiming any portion of the women population vote in this year’s election and from a polling, forecasting, and prediction standpoint it fueled the Nostradamus’ of the world to continue to feel this way.

2. “We’ve been right all along” — News pundits who have been accusing Trump of being sexist against women had their time to shine this weekend. These talking heads were brought in to speak on all the major Television stations to continue their ripping of Donald Trump and to make the general public aware that, “They were right all along.” Whenever talking heads get the chance to prove that they were right in their claims they are going to seize that moment. With a story this important, at such a critical time in the election cycle, you knew that egos were going to soar in a viral manner as each of these news pundits had their chance to claim victory.

3. Star power — The people featured having a conversation in the video are not only Donald Trump but also Television star Billy Bush who is the nephew of the former 41st president of the United States George H.W. Bush. Billy has had a successful Television career over the last 15 years being a guest correspondent and then main co-host of various shows like Access Hollywood, and The Today Show. He also has been seen doing some of the main interviews at the largest red carpet events in the world such as the Golden Globes, Grammys, and Academy Awards. When you have two stars in this case partaking in the lewd commentary seen in the video as opposed to simply just Trump, it allows for the story to receive double the amount of coverage it would normally receive. 

 

 

Top 3 Viral Predictions For Each Candidate Before Tonight's Debate

With tonight's debate set to take place less than 12 hours from now, one of the million dollar questions many pundits are pondering is, “What are the news headlines going to read tomorrow?” There is no doubt, going to be at least one if not multiple moments that characterize tonight's debate and either candidate could be liable for sparking that moment. 

In today’s post we’re going to try predicting three viral moments that we’ll end up hearing about non-stop tomorrow in the media. Two of these viral predictions will be a negative outcome for the candidate (sucks moment) and one will be a positive outcome for the candidate (works moment).

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton:

1. Email Interrogation — there is no way that the email scandal that has haunted Hillary over the last year of campaigning isn’t brought up. If Hillary finds herself getting caught up in a 3–5 question interrogation tonight it could mean big trouble. For instance we could have not only the moderator Lester Holt questioning her on this subject, but Donald Trump getting in his own personal email jabs. If this ends up happening, I get the sense Hillary will have a difficult time escaping the debate with a real victory neither in the eyes of voters or the press. (When Going Viral Sucks Moment)

2. Extra Aggressive “Comebacks” —To date I have yet to see Hillary look slick or sharp in her verbal attacks of Donald Trump. I just don’t think this is a strength of hers and nor does it need to be. This weakness (in my opinion) however can turn into a viral nightmare for her if she decides to try and excel in this department and continuously try attacking Trump. Taking this approach I believe would irritate Trump enough to whip out some of his own aggressive “comebacks” which we’ve heard to date and some new attacks in his “bag of tricks” such as going down the Monica Lewinsky path. If this takes place it just gives Clinton one more miserable topic/scandal she needs to focus on, and one that surely the press will be covering in full swarm tomorrow. (When Going Viral Sucks Moment)

3. Depth Versus Width On Policy — Hillary has a “Deeper” understanding of governmental functions, checks and balances, U.S. history, and many other subjects that future Presidents need to have real foundational knowledgeable on. If she sticks to this strength of hers and is able to clearly communicate the depth of this knowledge over Trump she can set herself up to look amazing tomorrow in the news headlines. If she can take it one step further and while communicating her knowledge, simultaneously demonstrate the lack of depth/knowledge Trump has on some of these mandatory presidential subjects it could turn into an embarrassing moment for Trump. This embarrassing moment for Trump could then be one that scares voters away from him and into Hillary’s corner and she’ll be labeled as the clear winner of the debate. (When Going Viral Works Moment)

And of course we can’t forget about Donald Trump:

1. Crosses The Line — if Donald decides to push the envelope a bit further than it should be with hundreds of millions of people watching him it could turn out disastrous. The Republican nominee has become super popular with his base and notorious amongst the general public for his various sound-bites which many times have been ethnically, or racially driven and have negative contexts associated with them. These sound bites are a large reason for why Trump has gotten as far as he has. However if he crosses the line in one of his statements there will be no way in which the media can ignore it and all the post debate press coverage will be zooming in on this one potentially derogatory statement. (When Going Viral Sucks Moment)

2. Tries To Play Moderator — This is the first time Trump will be partaking in a debate with only one other prospective candidate. As a result that might get very uncomfortable for him. We all know that Trump likes to have control over everything he does and therefore as a way to divert attention away from him, we could easily see Trump try and grill Hillary with his own questions and ignore those which Lester Holt asks of him. He might also try and flip questions back on Lester that he is uncomfortable answering. This flip flopping might be the worse way for things to come full circle for Donald and bite him in the butt. This because over the last year he has consistently been labeled as a flip flopper candidate on important issues. Showcasing his unease with answering questions directed at him and probing Hillary or Lester with his own questions will turn into all the wrong reasons for him to be receiving attention in tomorrow’s headlines. (When Going Viral Sucks Moment)

3. Specifics Over Soundbites — One of the main criticisms of Trump over the last year of his campaign has been his lack of specific details on different issues. If he embraces tonight's opportunity to reveal legitimate details on his plans in front of millions of Americans, he could give himself the most realistic chance yet to take down this election. With under six weeks left until the election, people could embrace him for his planned tactic of “Saving the best for last.” If he can communicate real details, and real specifics, to the real problems facing America, it will give the American public a new reason to respect him and it would allow Donald Trump to flourish all the way up until election day. (When Going Viral Works Moment)

 

Mental Toughness: A Few Keys To Handling Viral Growth

When you launch a company and its goes viral so many different decisions end up coming your way, and those decisions all feel like they need to be made at once. Your business is getting so much attention in such a limited amount of time that the risk of getting pulled in SO many different directions is sky high. So it begs the question. What can you do to prepare yourself mentally for launching a viral growth company?

This is an interesting question because in my opinion having rock solid mental toughness plays a major factor in launching and sustaining any successful business. Entrepreneurs are constantly faced with various circumstances and decisions that require proper mental balance and thinking in order to make as many correct decisions as you can.

Of course it’s subjective based on where you are in your company’s lifecycle, but certain questions entrepreneurs are regularly pondering, or in some cases have rattling in their heads are:

1. Is it the proper time to finally launch my company?

2. Should I meet with person “X” in order to achieve outcome “Y” or person “A” to achieve outcome “B?”

3. Is it the optimal time for my company to try raising outside funding?

4. Is person “C” the best fit to perform task “D,” or is it time to hire someone to complete this task?

All of these SUPER important decisions require an entrepreneur to be thinking properly. If not you can end up witnessing a couple weeks go by, and you can make a few bad decisions, which results in your mental judgment feeling impaired, which then leads to self doubt, and confusion.

I think there are a few important things that all entrepreneurs need to be cognizant of and mentally prepared for when launching a company, especially one that goes viral. I’ve listed them below and would love to hear reader’s thoughts and feedback on them!

1. Just because you’ve gone viral doesn’t mean you’re made: Too often when an entrepreneur and their startup experiences viral growth they think the startup game is over and they’ve won. Boys and girls at that point the game has just begun. Only then when your company, brand, or product has gone viral is EVERY single other company and person in your space now aware of what you’re doing, and trying everything possible to disrupt your growth. If mentally you decide to take a break because you think you’ve made it, and you don’t recognize the new fiercely competitive landscape you’ve created, then your business is destined for failure.

2. Top level management needs to be mental brick walls: The people who are in charge at your company need to have mental toughness like no other. There’s no room for any panic attacks from your leaders, otherwise it will trickle down to confusion, questioning, and panic from your other team-members. When viral growth is peaking and you feel like there’s a million things to do, it’s at that point you need your leaders helping you determine what are the most important things to spend your time on. When your viral growth slows down and your company is faced with questions like “What do we do next?” Your leaders must be the ones setting the tone in terms of upcoming work so that you don’t feel clueless when you enter the office.

3. Don’t let mirages cloud your head: When your business goes viral certain mirages start to become created in your head. Maybe it’s a mirage of your retirement in Hawaii due to the millions of dollars in sales that are coming in. Perhaps it’s the mirage of you maybe one day getting the chance to meet Justin Bieber because he just endorsed your product. Either way these mirages need to be deleted from your head because they’re not happening unless your team continues to stay focused and execute where it needs to be executing. Too many times with my company Flow Wheel I personally saw, witnessed, and experienced these mirages that ultimately never came true and as a result they mentally clouded both mine and my team’s heads and impaired our ability to execute.

4. Meditate: If you have a startup and you don’t already meditate each day I would strongly suggest you begin doing so. Meditating for 10 minutes in the morning each day can help you clear your mind. By clearing your mind before the start of your business day it allows you to stay mentally clear throughout the course of it. During my time at Flow Wheel I believe I was able to recognize some of the red flags we experienced because I meditated on these problems each day. I recognized many of the problems our business and Hoverboards as a whole were experiencing during these meditations, and it allowed me to remove myself from the business earlier rather than later. Although at times I experienced certain mirages I think one of the ways I was able to see clearly through some of these mirages was because of meditating. I personally would suggest mobile app’s like HeadSpace and Calm for beginners who don’t know where to begin, or simply going on Youtube and trying out a couple 10 minute guided meditations.

Keeping Up With Kendall Jenner: AKA Tips For Working With Influencers

Kendall Jenner's First Video Riding A Hoverboard

Kendall Jenner's First Video Riding A Hoverboard

Launching products is fun but creating a movement, as I learned, is an exhilarating and invaluable experience. In 2015 I played a prominent role in introducing the world to the hoverboard giving me the opportunity to work alongside a range of celebrities, athletes, and musicians. I also had the chance to work with an emerging breed of social media influencers who are easily just as effective at producing results for companies. In fact it was predominantly a result of these different influencer promotional campaigns why our company and our Hoverboard became the number one selling holiday gift of 2015.

Influencer marketing has become a hot button topic in the world of how to conduct viral marketing campaigns. Not only does everyone want to work with influencers but the market has become flooded with people trying to become their own influencer in the space or craft they specialize in. Considering how crowded the the influencer landscape has gotten can make things quite confusing to navigate.

In my experience working with celebrities & influencers there were plenty of lessons to be learned. Below I’ll share a few tips on how your company can work with influencers effectively and gain some traction with their help.

  1. Plan ahead: You and your team should have a allocation of how much product you are willing to gift to influencers. This number varies depending on a variety of factors but ultimately it comes down to how much you’re able to produce and invest in this type of marketing. It is imperative that you create an allocation plan and stick to it. Otherwise you could run the risk of running out of inventory quicker than you expected. All of a sudden Bieber’s asking you for not one hoverboard but five. And you’re retrofitting the entire Kardashian family with hoverboards.

  2. Expect the unexpected: Going somewhat in tandem with number one would be making sure your company has enough inventory on hand prior to working with celebrities. Since many of the celebrities live, party, and co-exist within the same circles it's very easy to have one celebrity endorsement of your product lead to multiple others. As a result if your company isn't prepared to handle that rush of influencers asking for your product, while simultaneously fulfilling all the orders that are coming from average customers who are purchasing your device, you are doomed!

  3. Negotiate your engagement: We found that one post from a celebrity with a large following is not likely going to generate a huge sales spike for your business. Of course there are exceptions to this statement such as your product being perfectly in line with this celebrities audience. Therefore establishing a partnership with depth that requires multiple posts from this celebrity will help you obtain awareness, as opposed to just one. Consistency can lead to authenticity which makes an audience more likely to become interested in the product.

  4. Free product goes a long way: When you have a hot “NEED TO HAVE” product simply gifting to celebrities can oftentimes get you whatever kind of promotion you desire. With the Hoverboard it was a must have item for every celebrity. Therefore we were able to go a long way simply gifting away product in exchange for promotion as opposed to having to pay them thousands of dollars while also gifting them product.

  5. Treat them like people: Although Kendall Jenner and Justin Bieber are superstars believe it or not they are more down to earth than you could imagine. They are normal humans just like you and I. They like the same activities and things that ordinary people enjoy, they just have millions more people watching them do these activities. The quicker you realize this when trying to work with influencers and as a result communicate with them in the same manner you would communicate with your own business partners and friends the more authentic you will look in their eyes and the more willing they will be to work with you.


Ultimately I'm a big proponent of working with influencers and, if it makes sense for your company, you’ll want to make it a part of your marketing plan. Hopefully some of these tips can allow your company to conduct influencer marketing in the most mutually beneficial manner for you and the influencer. 

Touch People's Hearts - One Way To Go Viral For All The Right Reasons

Travis Rudolph eating lunch with autistic middle schooler Bo Paske

Travis Rudolph eating lunch with autistic middle schooler Bo Paske

Too often the corporate mass media promotes senseless stories that not only go viral but literally take up the airwaves for weeks. You know, those absurd stories that make your head want to explode like the infamous Balloon Boy and Octomom from a few years ago that you might remember? These absurd stories clog the airwaves so frequently that it’s such a relief when you finally get to see the mainstream media report on a positive, and heartwarming story that deservedly so, causes viral disruption around the world. 

This past Thursday I became inspired by one of these stories and in my opinion this story was a “When Going Viral Works” moment. This was a story that was being communicated to millions of people overnight for all the right reasons. It wasn’t just the end result of this heartfelt story that inspired me, but as some readers might be able to guess it was the different reasons why the story went viral that motivated me to write today’s post. As this story showed sometimes the reasons for virality are so subtle, simple, and literally elementary that you would never think these kind of simplistic moves could make so much positive noise in the world. However sometimes it is these characteristics of ones actions that are the most effective and influential means for creating viral disruption. 

The story I’m referring to happened last Tuesday with a collegiate athlete from Florida State University. Star football player and Wide Receiver Travis Rudolph made an autistic child’s dream come true in the most spontaneous unplanned manner possible. Travis decided to join local middle schooler named “Bo Paske” for lunch in the cafeteria after seeing first hand and learning that the autistic youngster was frequently left sitting alone with no friends by his side to talk to. 

Even Travis didn’t realize how this simple and kind gesture of his (for one of his youngest fans) would have virally materialized. Travis was quoted by the Washington Post saying, “I didn’t even recognize that it would be this big, It just became really viral, and I just wanted it to become aware that everyone is the same, and one man can make a difference.”

Pretty understandable to see where Travis is coming from. I mean why would anyone think that such a small simple action could produce such pronounced results? Let’s take a closer look and try understanding the reasons for why this story went as viral as it did!:

  1. Simplicity: how often do you hear the phrase “the more simple the better?” I imagine plenty of times and when it comes to making something go viral this statement surely applies. When you want to see something resonate and grow with the public from a viral marketing standpoint you can’t have this “something” be confusing for people to understand. The public has to “get it” instantly and in this case the action of having lunch with a lonely autistic child was something that people instantly understood and appreciated. 
  2. Everyone Can Relate To It: a majority of people on the planet grew up and went to some sort of elementary school. This same majority of people also had lunch time in the cafeteria while attending elementary school. This 60 minute period which was usually combined with recess, holds a special place in people’s hearts even as you enter adulthood. When you have a story that everyone can relate to personally, the odds of the story going viral increases dramatically. As a result exponentially more people are able to relate to the story and think back to their own childhood days of eating lunch in the cafeteria, and this gives you a much larger population of people to have the story resonate with.
  3. Feel Good: this kind of story makes people feel very good inside and it also makes the public as a whole feel hopeful. See when people’s emotions get involved for the better, the chances of there being a viral effect increases. If you feel good about a story the odds of you wanting to share this story with your friends and family increases so that they can experience this same heartfelt feeling as you did. Positive stories usually have a much greater chance of gaining traction and going viral, over negative stories and this example clearly displays that.
  4. Local Star Player: this entire unplanned event took place at a local middle school near Florida State University. Travis Rudolph is a superstar in that geographic area of Florida near the state capital Tallahassee. Although Travis wasn’t a nationally recognized figure last week, the fact that this event took place near Florida State University, gave the story a larger foundation for viral traction to be catapulted off of. 
  5. Authenticity: this action by Travis was unscripted and as he even said himself he had no idea people were taking pictures of him eating lunch with Bo. When it’s easy recognizable how organic ones actions are as opposed to looking completely scripted the chances of this action going viral increases because people can see that authenticity. Usually scripted actions can easily be depicted and as a result people will usually be less willing to want to share a story or piece of content that seems fake.

Many of the reasons this story went viral as explained above I experienced first hand with my former Hoverboard company. For example when it came to authenticity, it was very apparent how organic the love for the Hoverboard product was when people rode one. There was no scripting the smiles, joy, and fun millions of people were having when they rode a Hoverboard and as a result millions of other people wanted to experience that same feeling. 

I think this story in particular can demonstrate to entrepreneurs that oftentimes creating more simple marketing campaigns for your company can end up producing the largest results. If young entrepreneurs can keep in mind some of the concepts and strategies above they should be able to see some of their own companies go viral, but for all the right reasons! 

 

 

Colin Kaepernick — When Going Viral Sucks OR…WORKS?

Over the last two months professional athletes have been making a new kind of name for themselves in the mainstream media for things outside of their profession. One prominent example of this was back in mid July during the 2016 ESPY Awards. During this sports awards show, my favorite basketball player NY Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony and his other NBA buddies Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Paul decided to take a 3.5 minute stance against topics such as gun violence, and unarmed black people being killed by police in predominantly black communities around the United States. 

This action in particular sparked a national conversation and debate around the topic of gun violence. Now six weeks later these athletes are still looked at favorably for sharing the words they did. However as we all know from our parents growing up, “Actions speak louder than words,” and in time we will see what kind of net impact the words these athletes spoke that night has on our country.

This weekend however another star athlete in the NFL decided to do the reverse. He performed a very simple action without speaking any words. This athlete rather sat silently on a bench during our national anthem before the start of a pre-season football game. I’m referring to San Francisco 49'ers starting Quarterback Colin Kaepernick. His action over the weekend sparked national controversy over what I initially considered to be the most impactful “When Going Viral Sucks,” moment of the weekend, or was it really…?

See no one in the mass media seemed to know ahead of time, of Colin’s plan to sit down on the bench during the singing of the national anthem. As a result when the media found out what he did they started to interpret and skew his initial “purpose/mission” of performing the action he did.

Fireworks rang from ESPN, FOX, MSNBC, CNN and plenty of other media outlets calling for:

  1. The 49er’s to bench Colin during the next game
  2. The NFL to suspend Colin for his action
  3. The 49er’s to cut Colin from the team roster
  4. Colin to apologize to the millions of Americans disrespected by this move
  5. And much, much more….

It felt like it was, “Off with his head,” messages, and rhetoric coming from the media outlets, and the public for Colin making this silent, simple, and yet powerful statement. Previous fans were burning his jersey and everyone seemed to be casting this negative light on Colin for being this horrible, and disrespectful human being. 

But why did he get slammed like this? I mean when you listen to Colin’s interviews and statements after performing this action, he simply informs the public that he was standing up for the black families who have lost loved ones during recent shootings involving local police. The quarterback hasn’t been happy to date with gun violence, and is disappointed in what he’s seen recently as many unarmed black people continue to be gunned down in their respective communities.

It’s interesting because this certainly can be looked at as a “When Going Viral Sucks,” moment for Colin. He’s getting ripped apart all weekend for being this awful person who shows no respect for his country. That part of this story clearly sucks for Colin! Lets be honest who would ever want to get painted in this kind of manner amongst millions of people around the world?

However now a couple days after the action was performed, you see various people coming out and supporting Colin. Other people from all types of races and ethnicities understanding Colin’s point of view. So maybe it begs the question. Was this more of a “When Going Viral WORKS,” moment as opposed to sucks?

Colin raised a ton of awareness around gun violence, 2nd amendment rights, racial profiling, police violence, oppression in black communities, and plenty more subjects. He’s re-starting a national debate that comes and goes over the air waves as other news headlines need to get covered. He is using his prominent platform, klout, and audience to shed light on important topics that matter to him. By doing this he is also allowing important conversations to take place amongst the general public and those who are both directly and indirectly involved in these topics.

Of course he had to take some punches to the gut “mentally” for doing what he did, but someone like Colin has thick skin, and is one mentally tough dude. After all you don’t make it to the NFL as a starting quarterback and play in the Super Bowl without being one mentally tough warrior. 

Although I may not agree with the way in which Colin handled this, and I think there could have been other ways for him to express his opinion, I’m not going to bash him for doing what he did. I mean honestly the public shouldn’t be so quick to forget the HUNDREDS, of other football games this man has participated in where before each game started, he stood up for the national anthem as sign of respect for his country. It’s not like this guy is some anti-american, criminally minded individual who should be immediately banned from the craft at which he put decades of blood, sweat and tears into just because he shared his opinion in a unique manner.

It goes to show you that although your actions can be as simple as sitting, and words can literally be mute, in today’s world you still can generate viral tidal waves within minutes. It also demonstrates that individuals can make something go viral by disrupting the status quo. By doing something unusual that people aren’t accustomed to, that it disturbs them so much (whether negatively or positively) that they have to talk about it, and talk about it to the masses.

It definitely proves that actions do speak louder than words, and although on the surface this might look like a really sucky moment for Colin, his initial “purpose/mission” for doing what he did, only a couple days later seems to be resonating and WORKING!

 

Is Pokemon Go A Fad Product?

Over the last few weeks the resurfacing of Pokemon has emerged in full strength. The once viral Nintendo Game Boy "game," and viral trading card, has now reawakened. This time in the form of augmented reality on people's mobile phones! 

Millions of people are searching and catching Pokemon left and right, but this time in the most realistic fashion to date using their cell phones. Pokemon figures are coming to life through the new mobile augmented reality approach.  This new approach is allowing people to discover Pokemon in places like their living room, kitchen, local parks, super-markets and more. 

So is the hype real? I mean is this new innovation from the popular game-maker truly the next big thing? Will millions of users turn into a billion one day?  Or will "Pokemon GO" taper off with hardly anyone speaking about it 6 months from now?

Below we will analyze certain reasons why this new form of Pokemon engagement can be considered a fad and reasons why it could be the new sustainable and successful game of the future. Let us know what you think and if you agree with the conclusion at the end!?

WHY IT IS A FAD:

1. Quick Game Phenomenons Happen All The Time:  Look at things like Pogs, Homies, Ferbies, or the once famed gaming system Dreamcast.  You'll notice they all have one thing in common. They came and they went. This especially for the children demographic. Kids over a 12-24 month time period found new more entertaining, and innovative ways to consume their time with other fun games, characters and consoles. They simply moved on once their levels of enjoyment with each of these examples started to fall off.

2. Pokemon Was A Fad Once Before - Look no further than the company we are talking about today. Pokemon for the two decades it's been around has become notorious for creating things that shoot up in viral popularity and then level off. Whether it be their trading cards, or Game Boy game series these things dwindled after about 24 months. That's not to discount the level of popularity these games once achieved and the prominence this brand has created. In fact big time kudos to the company as a whole and their ability to stick around in relevancy over such a long time period.  However we have to be realistic and remember that literally no one was talking about Pokemon in an obsessive capacity 2 months ago.

3. Limited Population Of Users - Back in the 1990's and still today kids are obsessed with Pokemon. However it's applicability isn't there for anyone over 35 years old. Pokemon has always stayed a kids oriented game and continues to cater to them. As mentioned above kids will easily find a new form of entertainment in due time. 

4. Not Enough Mainstream Value Proposition - What tangible or intangible value are 30, 40, 50 and 60 year olds receiving by playing Pokemon Go?  I just don't see the value equating to the amount of time dedication someone needs to commit to playing this game in a competitive manner. For older demographics who have less spare time on their hands, I believe that the value needs to be there in order for older populations to gravitate towards it.

5. Consumer Confusion  - "I don't get it?" This is what many people around the world are simply saying to themselves. Unfortunately for Pokemon's sake these people questioning themselves they don't have the time or energy to invest right now to figure out the answer to this question. They'd rather just carry on with their lives Pokemonless.

WHY IT ISN'T A FAD:

1. They Own Their IP - Pokemon owns the intellectual property associated with their technology in an out. Therefore they aren't reliant on anyone else to dictate their terms for growing their business concept. As a result considering they've grown their business model and creative concept into a dominant force over the last 15 years I would suspect they can continue growing drastically. 

2. Established Brand With Millions Of Followers And Fans - in the late 90's Pokemon built a following of loyal fans in the hundreds of millions (including myself). In their new current endeavor they have the ability to leverage all those fans and followers to help grow out their new concept even further. I was a huge fan of the Game Boy game and the trading cards when I was 10 years old. I have zero ties to Pokemon these days. However if their new game can find a way to resonate with me today I'm one of millions of others who can help spread the word about the value the new Pokemon offers. 

3. They've Outlasted The Competition For Years - DragonBall Z, Kirby, Sonic, and Digimon all have one thing in common. They never became as popular as Pokemon. Therefore Pokemon has continued to stay at the top the pack in terms of animated video game characters and episodic series. The fact that it has stayed at the top for so long gives me reason to believe that it will continue to stay this way due to their promising new game innovation.

4. They're Proven And Credible - Do you have any credibility concerns when you think of Pokemon? Do you get concerned if their games will work? The answer to each of these for a majority of consumers is no. Pokemon delivers grade A products for consumers and there isn't any doubt on performance when using their different forms of entertainment.  This lack of questions and hesitations gives consumers no reason at all to at least give this new game a try and see if they like it. 

5. Augmented reality is the future. - Pokemon's use of augmented reality is perfect timing. This industry is emerging and people are steadily beginning to recognize the power this technology industry offers. Pokemon recognizes the future of this technology and the place it will have in society. They are simply tapping augmented reality early on knowing that the future is promising, and so that they can be considered a market leader in the space.

6. They're tech savvy - With its latest capturing of the augmented reality trend, Pokemon is demonstrating again how their continued use and leveraging of advanced technology will continue to keep them at the top. They were one of the first massively popular games for Game Boy Color when it came out and saw the potential of this early innovation from Nintendo. Now they're doing the same thing with augmented reality. The best part is that they have all the tech resources and manpower in the world to expand their capabilities so that they can keep pace with demand or market changes that come with this emerging industry. 

My conclusion - Not a fad!  :-)

Why Was The Hoverboard A Fad Product?

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Every year there is always a product that becomes the hottest thing everyone needs to have. And then for some reason after 12-24 months no one is talking about this so called "need to have" product or service.

Why so? What is it about these fad products that brings about their immediate rise to the top, followed by sudden disappearance in the marketplace? How could something get so popular and in such a short time period become almost non-existent?

There are many reasons why this happens to products like the Snuggie, Silly Bandz, and Beanie Babies but the most recent product I witnessed this happen to was the Hoverboard.  In my opinion you know you potentially have a fad product when the item is something that no one has ever seen before. A product that offers a unique and clever way of doing something different than we've ever seen before.

Snuggies provided a new, fashionable, comfortable and efficient blanket.   Silly Bandz took your standard bracelet and your favorite object and simply combined the two into a malleable bracelet. Beanies Babies had their own stories and poems associated with each tag, made funny "bean" sounds when you played with them, and looked more adorable than your standard stuffed animal.  All of a sudden the centuries old blanket, bracelet, and stuffed animal had been re-invented in a clever new way. 

With the Hoverboard we were re-inventing personal transportation.  We were making walking and biking much cooler and efficient and accelerating the concept of personal transportation into the 21st century.

In the case of the Hoverboard like each of the examples above it became very popular very quickly and then dwindled in popularity.   So why did this happen to the Hoverboard? Lets analyze a couple reasons below:

1. Confusion Of The Marketplace: Consumers after just a couple months were being offered hundreds of Hoverboard options to choose from. The overwhelming number of options simply confused consumers into not knowing which device to purchase. Every single Hoverboard looked identical. For many consumers this completely turned them off from the product because it raised many questions. Which one is best? Which one is safest? What are the differences between Flow Wheel, Sky Walker, IO Hawk and various other brands? These questions I believe ultimately resulted in many consumers purchasing a different kind of personal transportation device altogether. Why risk $1,500 or $300 on a product that has all these question marks? Alternatively consumers could find a product that had been in the marketplace longer, looked equally as fun, and had been vetted by past consumers allowing you to make an educated buying decision.

2. Injuries:  There were over 70 different hospital reports of someone hurting themselves using a Hoverboard by the time December 2015 rolled around. When consumers started seeing these reports in the news media it became a huge turnoff.  Parents became concerned over purchasing the product for their kids and parents who had initially purchased the device decided to return it deeming it to be unsafe.

3. Fires: By the time Christmas 2015 had rolled around it felt like for every positive story that was coming out about Hoverboards being the most popular shopping gift, there was another story talking about a recent fire that was caused due to a Hoverboard. You'd hear about a burnt down house in California, a destroyed kitchen in Michigan, or a viral video on social media showing a consumers Hoverboard in Florida on fire outside their home.  These stories continued to pop up week after week.  Similar to our injury note above parents became concerned over purchasing the product for their kids and parents who had initially purchased the device decided to return it deeming it to be unsafe.

4. Low quality boards breaking:  For those consumers who took a chance on purchasing a Hoverboard on sites like Amazon and AliBaba for approximately $400 well lets just put it this way, a large chunk of them decided to never buy a Hoverboard again.  At our company Flow Wheel we would constantly hear of stories from people who would call our office telling us that their Hoverboard they had ordered off of Alibaba had come in multiple pieces, or was broken from the second they started riding the device.  Most of these people decided not to take a second chance on a Hoverboard purchase.

5. Novelty item:   Very often fad products can be directly correlated as being a "Novelty item." A novelty item is defined as an object which is specifically designed to serve no practical purpose, and is sold for its uniqueness, humor, or simply as something new. Although I believe Hoverboards have a practical purpose in certain environments, for many consumers they would look at the device and immediately label the product in their heads as a novelty.  Novelty items unfortunately don't correlate with sustainable high growth businesses.

6. Local Governments Not Ready:  Local governments, cities, and municipalities simply weren't ready to see the Hoverboard dominate their city streets and sidewalks.  Many urban cities weren't equipped to handle a Hoverboard surge on their streets and feared the casualties that might come with unsafe riding.  As a result cities like New York City and London banned these products.  When consumers would hear about these bans they hesitated with their purchase and under most circumstances decided not to buy one. I believe there was a major concern similar to the above in that their product purchase might simply turn into a novelty that they wouldn't be able to use.

Believe it or not there were dozens of more reasons why the Hoverboard turned into a fad product.  Many of these other reasons will be covered in upcoming blog posts. What can definitely be stated though is that launching a fad product business can really suck especially when it goes viral. This is because during the viral growth stage you feel like you have the best thing since sliced bread and it creates a mirage. This viral mirage feels so good that you mentally ignore many of the signs, warnings and red flags pointed out above.  When that mirage starts to clear out 6 months later you end up realizing many of the points above were out of your control and if you knew of them ahead of time you probably wouldn't have started the business in the first place.  

We're Set Mark Cuban Is Getting Involved - NOT!

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When Mark Cuban wants to get involved in something you automatically assume these days that it’s a homerun if not a grand slam. For many businesses that’s a correct assumption considering Cuban has helped build up successful businesses all around the globe.

However when it came to the Hoverboard space I can tell you it was the complete opposite. The only homerun hit was by Mr. Cuban, and his masterful business decision to NOT get involved.  

Mark's money can buy him anything and in the Hoverboard space that meant almost buying the rights to the “Hovertraxx” patent (in the US), the “Chic” patent (in China) and having complete global control over a market that was blowing up both literally and figuratively.

Early incidents of fires and injuries had just started to pop up around August/September 2015. Right around the same time period various other issues had risen to the surface such as false patent claims, exclusive licensing claims, litigation, cease and desist letters, varying celebrity endorsements, and severe price differentiation and price discrimination.

In my eyes Mark made an extremely educated, and savvy business decision to stay away from this firestorm (pun intended) of an industry.  While on the inside at Flow Wheel it seemed like we had the best thing since sliced bread, for someone like Mark this industry had “Fad” and “Headaches” written all over it.  

Mark clearly saw the rising tidal wave of issues that were emerging with this extremely "Hot" product (sorry for all the puns but its too difficult to avoid using them!!).  No matter how exciting a product might be, if enough logical reasons keep popping up telling you "NOT" to get involved, than it is on the individual to listen to their inner psychology and make an educated decision to not get involved. Mark did this in exemplary fashion. 

In retrospect its easy to talk about these things and see how brilliant Mark was in making this decision. However when you’re living and breathing your startup and during this exact time period direct discussions around a partnership between you and Mark Cuban are taking place, entrepreneurs can tend to dream, and this happened at our company Flow Wheel. You don’t seem to realize that a lot of what is going on in front of you is a mirage. With all the momentum and viral marketing behind your brand you have strong feelings that this deal will get done, Mark Cuban is going to be your partner and we're going to make it.

However then it all went downhill! All of a sudden Mark Cuban decides not to get involved in the industry and partnership talks with your brand break down. It was the perfect example of a seasoned entrepreneur taking a calculated risk, dipping his toes into the water, but by NO MEANS jumping head first into the deep end.

Once the Cuban deal fell apart it would have been equally as savvy on my end to have removed myself from the Hoverboard space but unfortunately I’m not Mark Cuban….yet! ; )

Stay tuned for more insight into the issues described above and plenty more detail into our discussions with Mark Cuban and his involvement in the Hoverboard space during our upcoming postings. 

Who Am I And What's This Blog All About?

I like to sum this up in one sentence. I'm a passionate, seasoned, successful and of course as many many others before me failed entrepreneur. 

I graduated the University At Buffalo with a Bachelors Degree in Business Management. At 26 years old I've been fortunate enough to have had the opportunity to bootstrap some of my own companies, and both help launch and grow many others. 

Having 5 years of experience in the NYC startup community and working on extremely young tech startups (15 employees or less) I've been exposed to so many incredibly valuable experiences. The stories are mind-blowing when you hear them and that's an understatement.  Everything from my company source code getting stolen, to winning business plan competitions, to launching viral brands and literally everything in between. 

Unfortunately I can't say I've seen everything yet but I can promise you I'm moving at a fast enough pace to get to that point a lot sooner than many others. 

My most recent startup was helping co-launch the most popular "Hoverboard" company and literally spearheading the recently acclaimed "Hoverboard Movement" over the last 12 months (April 2015 - April 2016) with a company called Flow Wheel.

I also launched a video conferencing company straight out of college called Vonvo.com (August 2011 - January 2015) and was a super productive part-time SDR (sales development representative) for an ad-tech startup called ListenLoop. 

First and most importantly this blog's number one intention is absolutely education!  I want people who read this blog to not make the same miserable entrepreneurial mistakes I made. I've made plenty of mistakes and have all these learning experiences bottled up inside of me. It was only recently where I  finally said to myself I need to start sharing these experiences with other ambitious entrepreneurs who are reaching for the stars like I have. 

Most of the posts to begin will focus around Flow Wheel as this company went viral overnight, is most relevant to readers (current events wise) and is both a fun, educational, and surely entertaining ride for readers to embark on.  I got a first hand perspective witnessing the "Hoverboard Industry" blow up in popularity both literally and figuratively. I had a front row seat to witnessing our brand in particular go viral, and lastly I received a crash course on when going viral can absolutely suck!  I want other entrepreneurs to be educated on the cautions, concerns, and warnings, associated with your brand or product going viral. 

I feel like so many other writers are talking about the "positives of going viral" or "what it takes to go viral" and they're beating a dead horse on this subject. I want to help analyze this subject from a negative point of view primarily because I've witnessed it and it's really interesting. 

We will also cover plenty of other general entrepreneurial lessons and topics that people need to be aware of when it comes to starting a business that not only took place at Flow Wheel but Vonvo, and ListenLoop.

I'm looking forward to this journey and I hope anyone who visits this blog enjoys the content. I strongly encourage any feedback you have to offer (both positive and negative) because I want this to be the best educational, entertaining, and entrepreneurial resource out there for people to enjoy!

Thank You,

Max Ringelheim