Sink or Sell Episode 9 - Smart Ways to Scale From Prototype to Selling in High Volume

13th April 2017

Amy Wenslow is an international product expert who has worked with clients from two Shark Tank sharks. Over her successful career, she’s brought hundreds of products to market, including one line which sold more than $300 million in three years on QVC, and another which earned a $1.78 million first order form Wal-Mart. Her clients consistently win awards and major sales. Amy is a major speaker, inspiring startups and founders all over the world.

The retail guru says that there are three areas that any business looking to go from a prototype to large volumes needs to look at. These include having pricing figured out ahead of time, supporting your value proposition and having a realistic timeline that you can manage effectively.

In pricing, just because someone can create something, it doesn’t mean that they can create it and earn a profit. Anyone looking to manufacture in high volume has to start thinking in volume pricing, not in prototype pricing. The end resulting consumer price will always be too high, if you’re thinking in terms of prototypes. Then, it’s important to take every cost into consideration, from shipping to duties and taxes to retail allowances.

Once pricing is nailed down, you can turn to value proposition, which is basically just a fancy term for the judgement we all make about whether or not we think the thing we’re buying is worth the money we’re paying. In order to communicate this, it takes a lot of consumer psychology. The benefits of the product have to be highlighted. An emotional connect has to be made. The aesthetic has to be right, even down to the packaging. Value proposition can also be achieved through influencers. If you can find an influencer who will promote your brand, people will then associate that product with the influencer’s own personal brand.

In regards to timelines, they’re organic and ever-changing, particularly when going from, say, creating a product with a 3D printer to mass manufacturing. Problems will arise. Start tracking all of your deadlines visually, and then communicate with your entire team of supporters and customers about your deadlines and where you are on a timeline, as well as if you don’t believe you can meet a deadline.

In closing, Amy offered two different exercises for entrepreneurs.

First, she says to grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down the five areas of business — product development, sales, marketing, admin/operations and finance. Make sure that at all times, there are tasks happening in each of these areas. A visual representation of the tasks needed is helpful, and can make sure you’re not relying too heavily on one of the five.

Secondly, take a separate piece of paper and make three columns. The first column is “hell,” the second is “work” and the third is “fun.” For a week or two, write down everything you do for your company in one of the three columns, with everything you hate an push off to the side in the hell column, everything you do just to get done in the work column and everything you actually love in the fun column. Then, when building your team around you, hire those who can take on your hell and work columns, so that you only have to build your company in the ways that you enjoy.

Amy offers a ton of other resources online at Every other Monday there’s a live question and answer call that’s free to the hardware community, and recordings of past calls are available on the website’s blog. 

Learn more tips like this at HardwareCon 2018, the Bay Area’s Premier Hardware Innovation conference on April 19th-20th.  Experience two full days of keynotes, panels and workshops focused on the most important topics around building a successful hardware company. Get your tickets here now if you want to meet the hottest startups, investors and industry leaders across the global hardware ecosystem.

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