Posted on Oct 29, 2019
Earlier this month, my development team and I held a google video conference with Marc and Brian. The meeting was both enlightening and informative but most of all Marc, who did most of the discussion from their side, did an interesting summary at the end of the call.  These are some notes that may be helpful for members of the Inventor’s Network who are planning to present to Marc and Brian on November 20th.
 
These suggestions are merely observational take aways and in no means meant to sway any presenter from speaking or sharing about their invention in any way that best suits them, their invention or their own personal communication style.
Having grown up in New York City myself, Marc and Brian’s personalities and communication styles hit home right away for me personally.  What do I mean by that?  Well, these guys are very “get to the point.”  They are fast paced, and no-bones-about-it interested in good ideas.  While the call was of the most professional without any business irregularities, take note that a number of “f-bombs” were used in a very common street business sort of New York City way… Made this New Yorker transplanted out here in the Midwest for the last 12 years, long for a visit back home.  But I digress…sorry.
 
Among many key points I can derive from our meeting, the one that most stands out to me is that Marc is sincere in providing feedback.  He did not cut and run.  That being said, he did spend an hour on the phone with us and toward the end, advised us that he normally doesn’t spend that much time with any new idea presenter, but he did like our product.
 
At the outset of our meeting Marc had some trouble connecting via the google platform video conference but once on, we had a good introduction to everyone on the call and then he allowed one of my team (there were 3 of us on the call with Marc and Brian) to give the pitch.
 
Marc was patient, quiet and did not interrupt.  Once my associate got to the end of the 2.5 minute pitch, Marc dove in.  He asked 3 key questions which were specific to what does this product exactly do?  How does it do it?  And What is the functional thing going on.  He said “I sort of understand this but, what it is exactly doing?  Does it do this…? Or is it doing this…”
 
He was not asking for our special sauce, wasn’t asking what exactly our patent application (already filed) was about.  But he wanted to know, of the product, most specifically, what makes this tick?  AND… why is that new, different or extraordinary?
 
Walking Marc through those details was about the 1st 25% of the call where he kept asking more questions. The next 50% of the call was a deep dive by Marc where we discussed, back and forth, some of the retail merits of the how the technology and the product requires education of the consumer, how the consumers might react to the technology, who the target market was, how the product might be sold on various channels of distribution such as Target, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond and other brick and mortar stores, as well as online with Amazon and the HSN/QVC type outlets.
 
Having an understanding of our target consumer, and understanding of what channels we want to tackle first and why that strategy made sense was well received and I strongly recommend that presenters be prepared to answer questions about their target user, the persona of the user, and in addition to the channels to sell the product, more specifically have details and an understanding of how easy or difficult it would be to convey the concept to users.  Ask yourself, how easy would it be to convince new users to change from what they may use now?  Or if it is completely new and ground-breaking, how do you communicate the key 3 questions from the start of my notes here, to consumers to get them to take cash out of their pockets and buy this product of yours?
 
Having done a lot of background research in understanding the category of our product on Amazon, the category of our product in other retailers, the persona and adoption of new products by our target consumers was huge in the conversation.  Marc reacted positively continuing to take more and more of a deep dive, because we were prepared to understand all of these issues relative to our product and the success we desire of its sale to consumers.
 
The ending 25% of the call was mostly Marc identifying how he liked our product and in keeping with his get to the point philosophy, he advised us to get more to the point and go right at the buyers who would bring our product to their channels (the buyers of Target for example) with a 60 second video that tells the whole story.  He emphasizes exuding confidence and driving to the big goal sooner than later.
 
In summary, that decision to drive to the big fish, to go for the deep end of the pool is very much Marc’s style.  This may not be for everyone, but he also noted that often you only get 4 minutes to impress someone.
 
By contrast, I am drawn to reflect on a Shark Tank episode where a Wall Street Executive, quit their lucrative job and established a non-profit fast food business that had been successful.  That person was on Shark Tank to seek funding to expand from their 1 location in Los Angeles to multiple cities in California, as a stepping-stone to their long term plan to have a location in every major city in the United States.  As a viewer of the TV program, personally I was astonished that 3 of the Sharks agreed that this individual didn’t exude passion for their business.  I thought to myself, how much more passion could someone have to give up a lucrative job on Wall Street to open a non profit business that became successful and was ready for expansion?  But after the call with Marc it is evident to me that investors like Marc or those on Shark Tank really want to see excitement and exuberance in the things we are presenting.  Now, I am not saying to bring a brass marching band and hold a parade but it is a measure of how you convey confidence that will provide an investor with the confidence to give you whatever they may be offering or you may be asking for.
 
That being said, as expected Marc asked us “so what do you want from me?”
 
I would suggest that you have a concept based upon they type of things Marc has done for products.  Do your research on Marc if you have not already.  Know what he likes in products and maybe what he shies away from.  If you are seeking money, what would you do with it?  Why did you pick the amount you suggest?  What comparative products are in the same market, and what are not in the same market but used by the same consumers, or not in the same market and not used by your target market?  Know the price points.  What is the suggested retail price you are pondering?  Do you have an idea on how much this idea may cost to manufacture in what quantity?  Why did you select that quantity?  Do you have manufacturing connections?  Have you considered domestic versus overseas manufacture?  How do tariffs affect your sell price?
 
All these questions and many more are important to think about.  If you are not familiar with even where to begin on any of these lines of questions, state that to Marc.  Let him know that you have the passion and belief in your product and know it will sell – but be prepared to answer why it will sell. 
 
There are certainly many more details that I derived from our hour with Marc and Brian but these are the high points.  These are only my point of view of what I heard, said and observed of Marc and Brian.
 
In closing I think the “get to the point” and “have passion” are key. 
Good luck and I hope for great success for you.
 
 
Fred Sklenar
Director of Design Experience
Abstrategy Design
www.abstrategydesign.com
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