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Execution: Building a Novelty toy business

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df1992

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Hey Guys,

I'm new the forum, I've recently started a new Novelty toy product business. Being honest, it's a business I do not think will take me to the Fastlane, but I've been using it as a vehicle to reduce my fear factor and start learning through doing. Essentially I love coming up with fun ideas with the sole aim to make people smile and laugh (the world needs some of that right now and who knows, by doing I might get my creative juices following enough to find a product with huge scale).

Story so far:
  • Around 1.5 years ago, I had a funny idea for a Novelty adult toy (based on a children's toy)
  • I did nothing with it for a year whilst talking about it a lot but with no action
  • I got a bonus with work, and with the money thought now is the time to take a gamble to see if it will work.
  • Through Alibaba, I found a number of factories that created this children's toy
  • I got the designs from the factories and went about modifying and designing an Adult take on it
  • The minimum order quantity was 2000, but luckily the unit cost wasn't very high. So once I had finalised my design, I went and ordered 2000 units from a factory in China
  • 1 month later, my toys turnt up (literally on my birthday, it was amazing). I jumped up and down in the air, and holding a product that I had thought off, designed and had manufactured was one of the proudest moments I've ever had. Then it was time to sell.
  • I searched LinkedIn for all of the buyers at multiple retailers that I thought would be suitable, found their office address, created a funny cartoon which summarised my product, printed the cartoon on a card and I wrote a handwritten message in the card and sent it along with the product to multiple buyers
  • Out of the 25 retailers I contacted, 20 ignored me, 4 said no and 1 said yes.
  • The one that said yes ordered 450 units as a trial across their 45 stores. The trial sold out in 3 weeks. They then put in a new order for 700 units.
  • At this point I have broken with a total profit off 10% (and 800 units remaining)
  • I continued to send out more cards, samples and was lining up an order for 5000 units with the retailer and then BANG. COVID.
  • So the business is on pause at the moment
People might ask why don't I pivot to e-commerce. For the time being it's for the below reasons:
  1. Selling to the retailer made me a 138% net profit margin (not including my time) and it took about very, very little time to fulfil.
  2. The unit price is very low, so with the cost of postage, packaging + driving traffic, it led me to think it wasn't worth my time. My strategy is for big customers, low maintenance, low time whilst still making a good margin
After reading MLF, I thought about whether my business really satisfied CENTS, and I thought NO WAY is there a need for it, but then again I've sold 1100 units, so maybe people just need something to make them and others smile?

Shops in the UK opened today, so hopefully this will breathe some life back into the business. Whilst the lockdown has continued I've been working on:
  1. Developing a book
  2. Developing a board/card game
Writing this thread to update you on my progress and to make me accountable!

Feel free to ask any questions!
 

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Last edited:

MrTrash757

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I for one am really curious about what this toy is. :rofl:


Being honest, it's a business I do not think will take me to the Fastlane, but I've been using it as a vehicle to reduce my fear factor and start learning through doing. Essentially I love coming up with fun ideas with the sole aim to make people smile and laugh (the world needs some of that right now and who knows, by doing I might get my creative juices following enough to find a product with huge scale).

I love this to be honest. I feel the same about my Salesforce training business, its stepping stone.

Sometimes the best ideas are the fun ones ;)

After reading MLF, I thought about whether my business really satisfied CENTS, and I thought NO WAY is there a need for it, but then again I've sold 1100 units, so maybe people just need something to make them and others smile?

My gf is working on something similar for the weed industry. Curious to see what your hesitations with your business satisfying CENTS are, we are having the same discussion over here.
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
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May 26, 2020
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I for one am really curious about what this toy is. :rofl:

Haha one day I will show!.. I've got to keep the suspense somehow!

I love this to be honest. I feel the same about my Salesforce training business, its stepping stone.

Sometimes the best ideas are the fun ones ;)

For sure, I just had to DO. I spent far too much time dreaming before.

My gf is working on something similar for the weed industry. Curious to see what your hesitations with your business satisfying CENTS are, we are having the same discussion over here.

C - I have good control on the business (minus Covid situation)
E - People of course can enter, but it's has medium barriers.
N - I mean people for sure don't NEED this product. It's just a silly thing to make them laugh, it doesn't satisfy a painful problem or need.
T - It's pretty good, once the product is with me and I've got my sellers, the actual time to fulfil a potential lucrative order is roughly 1-2 hours.
S - Limited due to the adult nature of it (I've learnt this as a lesson for my book and game idea). A lot of retailers found my toy funny, but simply too risky to sell.
 

Sean P

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Jul 4, 2014
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Replicate the fidget spinner's success.

Invent a toy that will be cheap, addicting, fun and small enough to carry around. It has to be something new and unique, never seen before, and you can easily become a billionaire.
 

df1992

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May 26, 2020
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Update on my toy business. My retail sales are struggling as shops are barely open and very cautious.

If the end I've decided to take my toy online to sell it on Etsy. So far 6 sales in 2 weeks lol.

I'm starting to trial paying meme instagram accounts to post it to test how many sales. So far it's been a very poor and loss making ROI, difficult as the product is low value.

Anyway, I'm learning lots by testing different things, playing with SEO etc.


This isn't going to get me to the Fastlane, but I'm learning some nice skills which I hope to transfer over to an idea that will!
 

Kid

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Record video with this script:

(Guy enters the room)
Guy:Boss, its impossible!
Boss: I don't give this (boss rises your toy in a hand )
Guy: What is that?!
Boss: A Flying F*ck
(Guy leaves a room. mumbling something while barely holding his anger)

The end.

Edit: forgot to say, the concept for toy is cool, witty and to the point. Congrats.
 
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df1992

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May 26, 2020
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London
Update on my Novelty toy business... so retail sales are going very very poorly. Haven't had any since Feb (largely covid related).

I'm speaking to a big online retailer, the margins might not work but it could result in a significant volume sale.

My Etsy store has had an usual spike of traffic over the last two days, which has seen me have about 600 visits, 19 orders generating £180 revenue (until then I've been averaging 5-10 visits a day and 2-3 orders a week). I literally have no idea what's driven this but I think someone in the USA has shared it as all the orders were US based.

Etsy is quite poor on showing where the traffic source is and I've tried searching for the image on google, looking through reddit, FB, Twitter, insta etc. but cannot see where it's been shared.

I really want to find out how it got so much traffic, as then i'd like to give the person who shared it loads of free product!
 

df1992

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May 26, 2020
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I really want to find out how it got so much traffic, as then i'd like to give the person who shared it loads of free product!

For those that are interested, turns out my product was featured on https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/uk/the-flying-f*ck-plane/

No idea how this happened, but it's resulted in 1000 visits, 25 orders and sold over 110 units in the last week now. I've reached out to the owners of the site to give them some free product for free as a thanks.

It's really given me some renewed energy that more people could buy this product, so I want to start thinking about how I can get it featured on more websites, blogs, content creators etc.. It's clear that no one searches for a product like mine, but could buy it when put in front of them. So I think I need to be more creative in ways to put the product in front of people.

I'm at about 20% stock level (having started from 2100 units), so will be ordering another large order from my factory in China as I want to be ready for the run up for Christmas... hopefully it's a winner for a stocking filler.
 

sparechange

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For those that are interested, turns out my product was featured on https://www.thisiswhyimbroke.com/uk/the-flying-F*ck-plane/

No idea how this happened, but it's resulted in 1000 visits, 25 orders and sold over 110 units in the last week now. I've reached out to the owners of the site to give them some free product for free as a thanks.

It's really given me some renewed energy that more people could buy this product, so I want to start thinking about how I can get it featured on more websites, blogs, content creators etc.. It's clear that no one searches for a product like mine, but could buy it when put in front of them. So I think I need to be more creative in ways to put the product in front of people.

I'm at about 20% stock level (having started from 2100 units), so will be ordering another large order from my factory in China as I want to be ready for the run up for Christmas... hopefully it's a winner for a stocking filler.

Easy as hell mate. Setup on a busy street corner and showcase your toy to the tens of thousands walking by, hand out a little card with your info on it and refer them to your website to order.

Done deal. Good luck!
 

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Walter Hay

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The minimum order quantity was 2000, but luckily the unit cost wasn't very high. So once I had finalised my design, I went and ordered 2000 units from a factory in China
Through Alibaba, I found a number of factories that created this children's toy

I am back from a very relaxing touring holiday and realized that I had not commented on this point, so here it is for the benefit of both the OP and other readers.

1. Never feel obliged to order the MOQ quoted by suppliers on Alibaba. MOQ's are only for newbies who don't know how to negotiate smaller orders. This case was not such a risk because of low unit cost, but for higher value goods, the first order should always be small.

2. Never believe everything you read on Alibaba. Just because they say they are manufacturers means nothing, and just because Alibaba say their inspection proves that they are manufacturers means almost nothing.

3. If you find a number of "manufacturers" supplying the same product it is almost certain that most or all are traders, not manufacturers.

Walter
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
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May 26, 2020
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154
133
London
Easy as hell mate. Setup on a busy street corner and showcase your toy to the tens of thousands walking by, hand out a little card with your info on it and refer them to your website to order.

Done deal. Good luck!

haha love that.

I was actually thinking of trying to see if I could set up christmas market stands... just would have to hope no kids walk past lolololol
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
May 26, 2020
83
154
133
London
I am back from a very relaxing touring holiday and realized that I had not commented on this point, so here it is for the benefit of both the OP and other readers.

1. Never feel obliged to order the MOQ quoted by suppliers on Alibaba. MOQ's are only for newbies who don't know how to negotiate smaller orders. This case was not such a risk because of low unit cost, but for higher value goods, the first order should always be small.

2. Never believe everything you read on Alibaba. Just because they say they are manufacturers means nothing, and just because Alibaba say their inspection proves that they are manufacturers means almost nothing.

3. If you find a number of "manufacturers" supplying the same product it is almost certain that most or all are traders, not manufacturers.

Walter

got to say I'm jealous of your relaxing touring holiday.

100% - I would say that I've actually built a really nice relationship with my contact. I've used him for a couple of other things and feel like I can trust him (to a reasonable extent) which reduces some of the Alibaba headache.

Thanks for your tips :)
 

df1992

Bronze Contributor
Speedway Pass
May 26, 2020
83
154
133
London
Today I reached a nice milestone on my Etsy store... I reached over £1k revenue over the last 30 days. The holiday season is where my product really comes into it's own as people are buying it as a stocking filler and I've managed to reach the first page on Etsy for stocking fillers in the UK, so the traffic has been completely organic and free.

From the original 2,100 units I got manufactured, I have about 150 units left and will probably sell out by next week so It was a mad rush trying to get the factory in China to send me some more units in time for Christmas (hopefully I won't be sold out for too long).

After unit cost, Etsy Fees and postage and packaging I'm making between 62-75% margin (depending on whether it's an international sale or not).

This isn't really a Fastlane idea, but I enjoy doing it and it's pretty easy to keep it ticking along. All profits are going into a new business idea I'm launching by next week (I have a separate thread on that).

It's pretty liberating to have profits on one business idea to spend on another, as it makes me think a lot differently on the risk vs if it was my own money.. it makes me braver!

1606043949026.png
 

Kid

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Mar 1, 2016
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Today I reached a nice milestone on my Etsy store... I reached over £1k revenue over the last 30 days. The holiday season is where my product really comes into it's own as people are buying it as a stocking filler and I've managed to reach the first page on Etsy for stocking fillers in the UK, so the traffic has been completely organic and free.

From the original 2,100 units I got manufactured, I have about 150 units left and will probably sell out by next week so It was a mad rush trying to get the factory in China to send me some more units in time for Christmas (hopefully I won't be sold out for too long).

After unit cost, Etsy Fees and postage and packaging I'm making between 62-75% margin (depending on whether it's an international sale or not).

This isn't really a Fastlane idea, but I enjoy doing it and it's pretty easy to keep it ticking along. All profits are going into a new business idea I'm launching by next week (I have a separate thread on that).

It's pretty liberating to have profits on one business idea to spend on another, as it makes me think a lot differently on the risk vs if it was my own money.. it makes me braver!

View attachment 35721
Congrats! Reading your other thread.
 

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