Saturday, January 3, 2009


Here's my latest project combining two of my biggest passions: drumming and making people laugh. Hope you guys enjoy!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


The more I research my idea, the more I realize I still have a long way to go to fully understand what I'm getting into.

By becoming immersed in web 2.0 as part of my research, I feel like I've stumbled on something so powerful, but still very young. So young, most people don't know what it is.

This has inspired me to take my efforts for this blog and re-direct them to Interwebers is a site about web 2.0 - specifically, its users: interwebers.

I have a growing curiosity and interest in how social media services are affecting our lives both socially and professionally. The rapid rate at which the industry is growing only adds to the excitement as every day seems to bring the "next big thing" in social media.

If this is something you already know about and would like to learn more, I hope you will enjoy If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then this is definitely something you should keep your eye on.

As I work to bring my idea and turn it into success, I hope you will see how all of these pieces fit together.

The world is changing...

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Market Research

Now that have my thoughts organized, I'm beginning the market research phase.

Brainstorming part is the fun and easy part. But between taking that idea scribbled on whatever piece of paper you could find and turning it into a successful business is the critical stage of researching your market.

When someone gets going with an idea and begins to build it more and more (I'm including myself), they can begin to lose objectivity. No matter what you develop, there will need to be a market for it to survive - so it's pretty important to hear what they have to say. Also, there will be competition out there - so you need to know the caliber of guys on the other side of battle field.

By getting on the internet and heading over to your local library (they still have those, right?) you start to develop a picture of who and what you'd be competing with. This can be a very exciting or a very disheartening experience - but critical nonetheless. One quick Google search could bring up a company that's already doing what you want to do - but they're already established, successful, and have figured out all the things you had yet to consider. Other times, you'll find someone who's in the general ballpark of what you're going for, but you know yours could be better and more accommodating towards your target market. And if you're really lucky, you'll discover no one is running around implementing your idea...yet.

Once you've gotten a good look competition, you need to start breaking it and down and seeing what they're all about. What are they doing well? Poorly? What have they figured out? What haven't they figured out? Where will mine compete in terms of price point? Is mine the free, cheaper, more expensive alternative? If possible, talk to those who are using the competition's product and see what they think. Are they happy with it or are you sensing some form of frustration/unfullfilment? If it's the latter, how would your product overcome these shortfalls. The main point is to analyze what your competition is doing so you can do it better. If after analyzing your competition, it turns out your idea is the one coming up short, it doesn't mean you're out-of-luck. You thought of your idea for a reason. Go back, tweak some things here and there, and see if you can make it work.

This is where I am now. I have my vision, my objective, and my target market. Now I need to see who, if anyone, is already doing it. From everything I've read and researched, I would say I fall in between the second and third possibility mentioned in the paragraph above. There are some who have the technology and implementation, but they are not marketing it the way I'm envisioning. Overall, I would call this pretty good news. Not great, but not bad. While I'm encouraged by the lack of product offering, I need to keep a close eye on these other guys because they could quickly shift their target market towards mine with already developed technology.

Some companies, new or old, perform little to no market research yet still flourish. Apple Corporation, named the Most Admired Company in 2008 by Forbes magazine, performs their market research without focus groups - one of the most popular ways of closely analyzing customers' wants and needs. "You can't ask people what they want if it's around the next corner," says Steve Jobs. Steve makes a great point as Apple has continued to innovate and shape the market while their products transcend gender, race, and age in time when "mass market" was considered dead.

Unfortunately, plenty of others - especially those companies not established like Apple - crash and burn. By performing appropriate market research, you can help avoid the 'crash and burn' category.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Innovative Percussion

First thing off the bat: I added an RSS feed option to the top right side of this blog. If you're an RSS feed kind of person, knock yourself out. If not, no worries.

Second: I've started to get some feedback on this blog - some of which is positive, other that is more "constructive criticism" in nature. I appreciate both. As I've mentioned before, this blog is about the learning experience involved in taking an idea/concept/whatever and building it into something. Some people have expressed disappointed by my lack of details exposing my concept's details. As time passes and I get deeper into the development of my concept, I'll share some of those details. So hang in there.

And now for the meat and potatoes of this post: I've made it a point to speak to as many small business owners as I can to hear about their personal experience. This week, I had the great opportunity to spend time with Erik Johnson, President and Founder of Innovative Percussion. Innovative Percussion is a manufacturer of keyboard mallets and drumsticks based in Nashville, Tenn. This was by no means a formal "interview." Instead, I casually spoke with Erik about his company, how he got Innovative off the ground and how it became what it is today.

Erik's background is in music. He is, at his root, a musician. As the conversation progressed, I noticed how this background affected the way he operates his company. It didn't take long to tell Erik's mind and my mind think differently when it comes to business. This is why I was not always getting the answers I was hoping for/expecting. I was persistent on understanding what his "vision" was for Innovative Percussion from the start. I was expecting "global reach, large product offering, best in the business, largest, etc." He explains he never really had a vision for Innovative becoming this great, big, and grand successful thing. He doesn't want to be the 'Walmart' of drumsticks. Erik says he wanted to make the Rolls Royce of mallets; opposed to the [insert mid-priced unremarkable automobile manufacturer] of mallets. He was focused on making a great product.The kind of product he, as a musician, would choose and the kind he wants his ensembles (also some of the most distinguished in the world) to use. This was his focus.

Erik's company started like many small businesses do, in a room, in a house, and on a tiny/non-existent budget. It didn't start with a light bulb over his head. Rather, it began when a friend suggested taking his skills and knowledge making mallets and turn it into a business. He developed his product line, hired a few employees, and focused on what he had to offer to the percussion world. As the company grew and became more serious, he hired someone whom he knew personally with business and percussion market experience to take Innovative's CEO position and handle the business side of Innovative. Today, they have expanded their product offering to 40+ countries around the world and are used by some of the world's most elite percussion ensembles, solo performers, and educators.

Notable Notables:

Erik is quick to dismiss taking full credit for what his company has become. He repeatedly acknowledges how much a group effort his company's success has been. It was great to hear how much credit he passed along to everyone involved.

He warned me of the dangers of the "what's in it for me"/"when do I get rich" mentality. As a business owner, you have to make serious time and financial sacrifices. You could go years without making a dime while your company sits in debt. These are the times when believing in your product and your service to your customers is vital to surviving.

Be ethical about everything. Too many people believe you can cut corners, but you can't and you shouldn't.

What I learned:

From my time speaking with Erik, I learned how business owners are as diverse as the businesses they operate and the markets they serve. No one way is right and formal education can't take the place of your passion and belief in what you can achieve.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Idea/GTD Book

Ok, so in the last post I talked about how I had ideas flooding my head one after another. "What about this?" "Oo, this would be cool" "I want to avoid doing this:______" etc. I am still a little cluttered with ideas and don't know the exact direction I want to take all of this yet, but right now I'm creating, and that's something I love to do. I was telling a close friend yesterday that I've never felt such a fire inside to do something career related. This is all very exciting stuff, but I'm quickly seeing the importance of keeping all of these ideas organized and being ready for when the next idea strikes.

One of the first things I did when my ideas began to flow was grab a standard size notebook to start writing things down. Nothing is concrete yet so I'm not holding back with any thoughts that pop into my head.

Problem I wasn't always getting ideas while sitting at my computer with my notebook by my side (sitting atop my idle midi-keyboard no less).

Time to backtrack a couple years.

My first small business experience was in the summer of 2005 working for the Sunglass Menagerie at the Jersey Shore. My position was "office manager." My desk was essentially the hub for the franchise's six stores - all located in southern New Jersey. I had logistical, marketing and general management responsibilities. The owner and his brother were always handing me new assignments anytime between 8 am to 1 am. They were sporadic and became hard to keep track of. Within my first week at the Sunglass Menagerie, the owner, Peter, grabbed a small brown box from the shelf filled with tiny notebooks, tossed it on my desk and said "here, take one and ALWAYS keep it with you. From now on, when we give you anything to do, you write it down in here so you can't forget." Because I was still in my first week, I'm assuming this was personal advice and not a reactionary measure to me screwing up. Regardless, this tip might be one of the best pieces of advice I received that entire summer (not to short change the many many other great experiences I received working there).

To this day, I always carry an idea/GTD (get-things-done) notebook wherever I go. Whether it's for a grocery list, a to-do list, or having the pen and paper ready when the next new idea strikes, your little 19th century friend could be one of the best ways to increase productivity or catch the next big thought that comes into your head and is too invaluable to lose.

Since deciding to pursue my business idea, this book has proven more valuable than ever. It helps me keep a going "to-do" list for the 9872354972645 things I need to get into motion and always welcomes me with a crisp new page for my next brainstorm.

Every person I've suggested this to has always been amazed at how convenient and well it works. If you get your kicks out of putting things to the test, give it a shot and let me know how it turns out.

Monday, March 17, 2008

First couple of days and already a few lessons learned...

These first couple days have been really exciting. If you're anything like me, the moment a great idea pops into your head, your brain takes off at 1000 mph. My mind has been racing with one idea after another, followed by another idea to build off the last one. It was after only an hour that I grabbed the nearest notebook I could find and started writing out everything I could come up with; ideas, strategies to use, strategies to avoid, critical features of my overall idea. Everything. The way I see it, this is the time to create; to envision. I feel like I opened some sort of flood gate in my brain. Ideas have been "spilling" onto the page one after another. I'm not letting myself hold back on anything. Even if it sounds like a bad idea at first, I thought of it for a reason, so it's going in the notebook. At one point, I even wrote: "The concept is larger than the product. BUILD THE CONCEPT."

The only topic I kept dismissing from my head was how this could make money. Right now, I don't care. I really don't. The vision I have in my head is for product who's success is based on its quality. I guess it would be like writing a song and asking yourself "how popular and how much money can this song make me," before you write each note. You wouldn't get anywhere. If you're someone who likes creating and knows the creative process, you'll understand that the last thing you want to do is make it stop. To take full advantage, you need to let yourself become absorbed in it. Focusing on the benefits a creation makes for you seriously derails this creative process. And without the creativity, you wouldn't be anywhere. Right?

So this is where I am: I have my original idea and I have plenty of other little ideas to go along with it. I'm constantly thinking of new things, but before my mind has had the chance to forget it, I've written it down. I'm not holding back, everything is fair game. The one topic I want to avoid is money. Now is about building the concept; build build build. Money will come later. As long as I can create a rock-solid product, there should be plenty of opportunity for the green stuff.


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Here we go!

To give you some quick background, I'm a 23 year old University graduate with a degree in Business marketing and operations. I graduated in the Spring 2007 from the University of Delaware and have spent the last 7 months living in Japan instructing and performing with one of the country's elite drum lines.

This is my first attempt at a business venture. I have experience working in the field but have never undertaken anything like this. I will use this site to share my progress, my highs, my lows, and everything in between in taking this idea and turning it into something great and successful. If it fails, then it fails. If it succeeds, then GREAT! And congratulations for being there every step of the way ;-)

I hope for a diverse following of readers - people who have done it and succeeded, people who have tried but failed, and others who want to undertake something like this on their own. Feel free to learn from all the mistakes I'm bound to make. For those who have done it, advice is always welcome.

So....what's my big idea? Well, because I'm in such early stages of this process, I don't feel comfortable sharing that yet. The life of this blog would be pretty short if someone strolled along and took my idea! There's so much to do to get this off the ground that the actual concept is only a small part of the puzzle.

So here we go.

Right now, I'm sitting in the basement of a house in Nagoya, Japan...

...and I have an idea.