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The Story of N95 Pod: a walk through what it is like to launch with Adi Soozin

Key-Takeaways from Week 1:

Start with asking yourself these questions

  1. Do I personally know 10 people who would be eager to buy this product or service from me today?
  2. Is this something I am passionate about? Is this a product or service that I afind interesting and enjoy studying, talking about and socializing over?
  3. Do I have the skills, connections and / or financial resources to make this happen right now?
  4. If running this became my full-time job for the next 5-40 years, would I look back and consider that a life well lived?

Suppliers

  1. Have multiple backup suppliers
  2. If your suppliers are in another country learn your incoterms, prioritize suppliers who can offer DDP shipping terms if possible.
  3. Read the fine print. Some will hope you don’t notice that they agreed to DDP, but the contract reads EXW (meaning you need to hire someone to pick up the goods from the factory and ship them to you).
  4. Always. Always. Always. Work with platforms that offer buyer protection.

Follow the BetaLaunch Process

  1. I created a process for startups to launch successfully, we didn’t follow it with version one of our website & ended up with zero sales.
  2. We followed it with version two of the website and have seen sales daily.
  3. Start small, refine your processes, iterate, iterate, iterate. Before aiming to scale to the mass market.

What happened in week 1?

  • I built a BetaLaunch website (here is the how-to guide)
  • We interviewed and vetted a handful of suppliers.
  • My co-founder and I changed the website (screenshot below) and launched it without doing any market research or developing a brand identity. The website looked like this and received zero sales.
  • I spent a lot of time on the phone with personal contacts asking for feedback on the inventory and ease of use they experienced with the website. I rebuilt the website several times to make it easier and easier for people to “just buy a mask”. The final website looks like this (for now).
  • We ordered inventory based on feedback from conversations with prospective buyers. Shortly after we signed with a contract with the manufacturers of the PiTek PureAir™ Pro Series and the PiTek PoweredAir™ Elite Series N95 Mask we had orders for both.
  • We had issues with N95 disposable masks fluctuating SO MUCH in price and availability that we decided to remove them from the site. Which neither of us objected to since they are low quality, the size isn’t super customizable to each face and they are not reusable (not great for the planet).

Week 2

Shared this post to LinkedIn:

Last week one of my best friends asked if I’d launch a startup with him. This is something we had been discussing doing for a few years and in lieu of everything that happened in March, his idea could not have been more perfect.

He wanted to sell masks, I wanted to get masks on everyone of my relatives so they could stay safe during this pandemic.

In my research I found some of the coolest tech since the invention of face masks. We decided to focus on selling these and raising awareness on a key fact that only a few APAC countries remembered from the SARS pandemic > “Once 80% of the population wears a mask, a virus pandemic can be stopped almost immediately.” – Study Published in the United States National Library of Medicine

The value proposition resonated with our friends & family. The mission of the startup resonated with us at a personal level.

Within one week this idea was an LLC with an EIN and fully functioning e-commerce website. The day we launched we had two sales and they’ve been growing ever since. Many have asked how I grow a startup so quickly, you can follow the story in real time at 9apple.co/story-of-n95pod, via LinkedIn or my instagram @Adi_Pineapple

Shared a recap of week 1 & April 13th to my Instagram stories, you can view the highlight here.

In our startup’s first week, I was invited to give a talk on how to do a Beta Launch. This week I updated the presentation based on N95 Pod’s real life example & published it… click play & watch the video below:

Shared this post to LinkedIn.

Last week I was invited to give a talk on how to do a Beta Launch. This week I updated the presentation based on N95 Pod’s real life example & published it to MD9.co/Beta-Launch.

Why?

A long standing question I receive consistently is “how do you grow startups so quickly?!?”

Traditionally I am an outside consultant and therefore unable to walk you step by step through what we are doing to grow a company. But in this case, I own half of it and my co-founder is cool with us publicly sharing our journey in this format, so here we are.

We started with a beta launch which I outline how to do at : MD9.co/Beta-Launch
In addition to the beta launch we followed the path outlined at https://lnkd.in/enfShuq

Shared a quick update inviting people to view this page and the Beta Launch page, via Instagram stories (save to my N95Pod highlights).

In week 2 I also posted daily updates about N95Pod, to Instagram Stories. We saw huge spikes in traffic when I posted to LinkedIn & a total of 8 visitors from Facebook after I posted 300 stories to Instagram & Facebook stories.

Key-Takeaways from Week 2:

(this list will grow until April 20th)

  1. Plan for the worst, hope for the best.
  2. LinkedIn is currently the highest referring social media platform driving traffic to our site.
  3. Always have 4-5 backup suppliers.
  4. Be prepared for people who have well paying corporate jobs to tell you that you should work for free.

In my experience everyone who tells you to work for free is one or more of the following:

  1. Delusional
  2. Has yet to leave the comfort of living off of their parents
  3. Inherited a massive amount of money
  4. Is testing you to see if they can get free work

Either way, when you ask them how to achieve what they are proposing you do for free they typically provide an answer that helps everyone in the audience to realize they do not live in the real world where companies need this crazy thing called “money” to survive.

If you have a paying job at a real company, this may surprise you but at some point that company was a startup. At some point in history it was a startup looking to make a profit so the founders could hire more people to help grow the startup into a real company. Today that company makes money and pays people to do jobs that. This idea that everything in the startup space should be free for ever is probably one of the leading reasons behind why

90% of startups fail.

In this week I realized that if we really wanted to get people to be passionate about wearing masks we would need to tie this to something they want. So we began developing the latest version of the brand, you can signup to get a notification when it launches, by going to https://PiTek.co.

Week 3 :

I was asked to speak at a Women in Marketing Summit earlier this year. It was supposed to take place in the Balkan Region the last week of April, and moved online in lieu of Covid-19.

In the third week of our company’s life, I recorded my talk for the event and sent it to the host. She immediately uploaded it to YouTube and sent it out to all of the speakers to hype them up for the event 🙏#humbled & #superGrateful to have this type of exposure for N95Pod so soon.

This week I was also contacted by quite a few people looking for wholesale relationships. It was not something I expected, but we are doing our best to accommodate.

April 21st I was locked out of Instagram, which I guess is for the best since that was my highest maintenance and lowest converting channel anyways.

This week I watched this video by Noah Kagan, one of my favorite marketers. I found it super helpful and thought you might too, which is why it’s embedded below:

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