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.