Zero to 60, How a Slight Fear of Broken Glass (Nelophobia) Led to a $60m Growth Opportunity

January 7, 2017

Nelophobia, the abhorrence of torn glass, may accept led to an abstraction that developed into a new business that went from aught to $60 actor in just 3 years. We had a able amount business and a acceptable idea. In 3 years we had a $60m business amplification afterwards authoritative an acquisition, afterwards architecture a factory, with about aught basic investment, and a agents accession of… 3.

This series, Double-Digit Advance in a Apathetic Economy, discusses the methods that accept auspiciously been acclimated to drive advance if you aren’t able to calculation on a growing economy. We advertence absolute cases and companies that were adapted into advance engines above the accustomed airiness of bread-and-butter growth. This chapter discusses advance apprenticed by entering new categories of appurtenances as an addendum of the all-embracing advance strategy.

Growth through abreast adjacencies

Once you accept adequate your amount business and can advantage those strengths, you will acceptable accretion the bazaar is accessible to your amplification through abreast adjacencies. These are opportunities that anon advantage some or all of the elements of your amount business. Leaping too far from the amount business works for some, but it is added challenging, takes added resources, and a lot of chiefly it fails to advantage the strengths of the amount business. Leveraging those strengths and assets is beneath of a aberration if the action is a abreast adjacency. Starting a.com business may be strategically important, but may not be a abreast adjacency. If it is strategically critical, you charge to accede it a alpha up with its own absolute resources. This may aswell advice anticipate architecture in too abundant of your accepted business archetypal into what should be a absolutely new business. It is alluring to use your accepted resources, but the differences in the business advance to aberration aural your aggregation and concoction of resources. For amplification that does not accommodated the analogue of a abreast adjacency, establishing a alpha up is the adopted way to go. Once it is off the arena and has it’s own operational stability, you can accede cardinal options to expand, integrate, circuit off, etc. For this altercation it is important to ascertain a abreast adjacency.

A abreast adjacency is an amplification befalling that leverages a ample cantankerous breadth of your amount competencies. The added that can be leveraged, the easier to assassinate and body banking achievement from your amplification initiatives. A abreast adjacency is generally added financially accretive nah axiomatic if searching at artefact margins alone. Because this amplification leverages so abundant of the accepted business’s strengths, the abatement through to the EBITDA band is significant. If an amplification requires cogent basic and staffing to administer it may not accept the allotment of an amplification that can fit aural the envelope of the accepted business. Those that fit added neatly in the accepted anatomy are generally lower accident for the aforementioned reason. Defining a abreast adjacency starts with defining the amount competencies you can leverage. They accept to be accordant competencies to your barter in acclimation to actualize a amount hypothesis for expansion.

Some abeyant competencies that are generally leverage-able:

  • Key access strengths and relationships
  • Sourcing and accumulation chain
  • Design
  • Engineering
  • IP or patents
  • Logistics and account efficiency
  • Accordant brands with disinterestedness in ample categories
  • Accommodation – Physical space, processes, and people

A starting point is anecdotic able access relationships that can be leveraged or a able artefact position that can be connected into a new geography. It is aswell accessible to accept an cold scoring acclimation to accede the benefits, investment, and risks associated with a class expansion.

Customer charge is an important access point

Expansion through abreast adjacencies may be opportunistic. It is important to accept carefully to the customer’s issues. In added than one case, I accept been asked to access a new class of appurtenances by the customer. They had a affair over their accumulation alternation and saw our aggregation as a able supplier that could extend into something new. These adept amplification opportunities are the a lot of absorbing aback there is already an befalling for arresting the accepted accumulation arrangements. It is far easier to access an admirers for your angle if there is a charge on the allotment of the customer. If it is not opportunistic, it is analytical to actualize a amount hypothesis that resonates with the chump or bigger yet, with the end user as well. The simplest is an advantage in the customer’s accretion cost. Old-fashioned lower amount is generally too acceptable to canyon up. Do you accept a amount advantage? If you do, it may work, but if you do not, it is acceptable all you will accomplish is abbreviation your competitor’s margin. They can acknowledge to your action of lower price. If that is the admeasurement of your amount hypothesis it is acceptable traveling to abort to defended new business for you or worse, end up accouterment a new business that has poor margins.

The amplification by abreast adjacency should advance to a stronger amount hypothesis for the customer. It could be a accumulation of allowances that alone charge not be significant, but in absolute they are meaningful. Assuming you are affairs to a access accomplice like a distributor, dealer, or banker the amount hypothesis can be centered on active their margins. If you are affairs anon to a chump or end user, the amount hypothesis needs to action an advantage to the user. In a lot of cases we are bigger off not targeting accretion amount as a agency of access unless we accept a acceptable amount advantage in the goods.

Layering on improvements in the articles that advance to bigger sales for your access ally is an important befalling to develop. Merchandising, packaging, simpler to install or service, a new architecture or appearance advance to a acute case for the chump to switch. Hitting a aggregation of allowances creates the a lot of acute position. A artefact that sells bigger than its antecedent is a abundant start. The chump has to accept they will accept bigger business after-effects demography on your new extension. If the bounden has problems the bar is lower, but a amalgamation of acutely articulate allowances demonstrating how the customer’s business after-effects are bigger is the starting point. “New” isn’t enough. “New and improved”, you’re accepting warmer.

Zero to sixty… Million

The aggregation that had angry from a declivity to accelerated advance with a 19% anniversary advance amount apprenticed by assets in share, not an bread-and-butter gift. We had accomplished 100% of our bigger customer’s shelf in our amount category, 60% with our additional largest, and 100% with our third. We were active out of advance runway. We had congenital a far added able alignment that was advised for advance and assuming so well, we were about to run out of allotment to gain.The Sales aggregation was tasked to breed new accounts for our amount articles and amplification with abate barter breadth we had advance opportunities. We quantified our accessible targets for advance with new and absolute barter and it was bound credible we bare a new class of appurtenances to offer. We began a activity to accessory at categories we could aggrandize in that would advantage our able chump relationships, our accumulation chain, and facilities. I accustomed a administrator of new class development to focus on developing new artefact categories to facilitate connected advance at a amount abundant greater than the advance of the economy. (Shout out to Pat Boehnen)

We bare a new class that we could advantage with our arch “core” customers. They knew us best and we had believability and adequacy in confined them. Our new class aggregation created a solid account of opportunities and performed analysis about accepted suppliers, akin of innovation, estimates of bazaar admeasurement and acclimated our scoring arrangement to activity which categories would action the best opportunity. Nothing was a slam-dunk, but we accomplished plan on the top three areas to see if we could advance a new business. This is inherently connected appellation compared to accretion sales of accepted articles which are accessible to ship, against a set of appurtenances that would yield at atomic a year to advance if not longer. This emphasizes the point of accepting accompanying accomplishment to administer the aggregation achievement curve. We were growing at 19% and did not ambition to see advance apathetic to 5%. In the abreast appellation our sales aggregation could ample the gap by affairs our accepted appurtenances added auspiciously to a broader chump list. We accustomed added sales attendance in our abutting all-embracing opportunity, Canada. It was the a lot of advantageous breadth of bounded advance because our presence. This connected our advance during the class development aeon until our new categories could alpha to buck fruit.

We bare a new class that offered a acute advantage over the accepted suppliers, who by the way were acceptable years advanced in their own amount class we approved to access and exhausted them in. Yes, it is a alpine acclimation if you put it in those terms. You charge an access point. A dried class perhaps. A asleep competitor. An addition or technology you can accompany to a class first. A amount advantage you can use to actualize a amount for the customer. Bigger casework that abutment your products. These are some of the forms of advantage you can accompany over a competitor. As a start-up, you accept to accompany added account than just a abuse or two. If you cannot accompany a cogent advantage of your own, you charge an allurement from the customer. They charge to ambition a supplier change and see you as a aggregation that has assertive strengths. Conceivably the bounden is disturbing with ample rates, quality, or the a lot of acceptable acumen to activate change… they accept accomplished a amount increase.

Our new class aggregation was accomplishing a nice job anecdotic opportunities and began to architecture articles and programs to analysis with our accumulation alternation as able-bodied as with key customers. In anniversary of the three accomplished ranked opportunities there were challenges. The class you ambition to access charge not be fast growing. Generally times companies feel they charge to hunt the fast growing articulation or cartography in acclimation to grow. It is nice of course, but you abatement accepted complete acquirement that is there for the demography in beyond categories. Not to acknowledgment that fast growing categories allure added new entrants. As the new entrant, we seek to abound abundant added by allotment gain, not through accustomed class advance rate. We would rather not battle it out as we get our bearings in the class with others entering at the aforementioned time.

US based companies with analytic able allotment positions generally are absorbed into cerebration all-embracing advance is key if they accessory at markets growing at faster ante than the US. We all chased BRIC countries a few years ago and begin cogent barriers. We accessory at advance ante and anticipate that is breadth the advance is. US companies plan in the bigger abridgement on the planet. I anticipate all-embracing advance is an important strategy, but if you accept backbone in the US, you can abound even if the bazaar advance is at a apathetic rate. There is a lot added allotment to accretion breadth you accept assets and a solid compassionate of the bazaar than an beyond start-up. This emphasizes the befalling offered by class amplification over added forms if you can advantage your presence. While our class development aggregation was bashful with a agents of 3 people, they were authoritative acceptable advance on the conceptual aspects of the initiative.

Neophobia? (I didn’t apperceive what it was either)

We were allotment of a amassed and I was accessory a affair with our additional bigger chump breadth my aeon aswell attended. Halfway through the affair a chief VP from our chump looked beyond the allowance in my direction, but veered to my appropriate to addition business assemblage admiral and said, “you guys charge to get into the battery aperture business.” That business fabricated ablution accessories like bathtubs and battery units, so it fabricated prefect sense. Unfortunately, they had been in it afore and begin it was a difficult category. Bulky, simple to damage, top acknowledgment rates, too abounding combinations to banal which were apathetic moving, abundant to advance aback about afore the words were spoken. Not to acknowledgment that business was alive on a new addition in their amount bathing accessories business that was demography up a lot of of their resources. I agilely acclaimed the abstraction rather than accurate an interest. Afterwards all, our business didn’t absolutely accept the appropriate set up for battery doors. We awash adorning hardware. About 1/3 of the business was adorning ablution accouterments as I started to butt for a acumen to anticipate we could accommodated the challenge. My aboriginal thoughts were those of a accustomed animal being. What were all of the problems with this idea? Bulky packaging that would not plan in our automatic administration ability was just the aboriginal of a connected list. Managing through a chiral aces and abode action was possible. Again Nelophobia set in. The achievability of shards of torn bottle in our administration centers… That we charge to do something about, yes we could amalgamation the bottle alone so it could be protected. Solving this botheration for a absolutely egoistic acumen led to a absurd addition and a $60 actor dollar win for our company.

One affair leads to another

Protecting the bottle was the key? Not entirely. Cerebration of the artefact in a absolutely altered way than the bounden supplier was the key. Battery doors are packaged with an aluminum anatomy accessible in 4-5 colors, bottle panels were accessible in 5-6 patterns, and accouterments to install. They are not assembled, so why do the locations accept to be in one package? Our chump agitated 28 combinations in banal and inherently, not the appropriate 28. Splitting the artefact into 2-3 selectable bales that accustomed for mix-and-match affairs would change the absolute chump experience. I bound accomplished that we would accept over 100 combinations in stock. It angry out to be 115. As far as accomplishment and sourcing, we could calmly antecedent the apparatus if packaged alone by type. A bottle backpack sourced anon from a bottle supplier and an aluminum anatomy backpack from an aluminum extruder. Abundant news, I don’t charge to capitalize a bottle branch and an aluminum banishment business. At the able scale, conceivably a big basic outlay would accomplish sense, but if accessible accommodation exists, why not alpha and advantage anyone else’s bare anchored aerial first? All of this was in my addendum and the affair was still traveling on. The abstraction was drafted in as little as 20 account afterwards cerebration about the affidavit why I could not advance us into the battery aperture business and searching for a way about anniversary problem. If the affair adjourned, we had a abate arbitrary affair with the accumulation from our ancestor company. I said, “I anticipate we can yield on the advance on battery doors.” There was silence, initially. Oh my god, was this Jerry McGuire’s announcement in absolute life? It fabricated no faculty and we were just accepting our mojo aback in our amount business. Why on apple go into a business that the analytic associate aggregation wasn’t absorbed in?

We had an avant-garde idea. That’s why.

And, we had command of our core. I approved to awning it by answer my addendum on the subject. No time for PowerPoint… All I bare actuality was not to apprehend a veto. I didn’t charge to apprehend enthusiasm, just not a barrier to advance the concept. One key influencer said, “Let them yield a accessory at it.” Perfect, adored by one accessible apperception that happened to be anyone who had added acumen to our strengths. The next day I sat with our class development aggregation and advised the concept. This one had not even been on the radar. We bare to put a tad added anticipation into the befalling and the challenges. One affair for sure, the class was ripe. The bounden supplier was comatose and not beloved, but neither was the category. No one was disposed to this business as a allotment of their core. The above home centers gave it basal space. Allotment were amazingly top at 18%. Sales were flat. Inventory turns were actual low. Of course, the banker didn’t accept the appropriate combinations in stock. We had a acceptable aggregation for the task. They accomplished the amount of the invitation. There was accessible allotment to accretion even admitting the class wasn’t growing actual fast. A allotment of the acquirements of this action is that the class charge not be a advance class if it is incremental to your business and you accept a acceptable accord of allotment to gain. In this case we happened to accomplish it a advance class by convalescent the chump experience.

Within a amount of weeks we had become assertive this was a abundant befalling and we had all of the adequacy of a able entry. We had an allurement anatomy a chump that awash maybe 30% of the industry. We had a adversary that was not investing. We had a class that bare a beginning approach, and we had a abundant innovation. We began academic development in assorted prongs, engineering the product, sourcing, and merchandising. We requested a academic analysis with the chump and a date was established. We alone had a few months to prepare. Affairs development was key. We could calmly abundant architect the artefact and aboriginal signs in sourcing gave us aplomb we could appear abutting to our amount targets. However, if we could not present this in the retail alley in a acute way, it ability not sell. A lot of of our efforts were to apish up and analysis the in-store presence. We set up a 24-foot affectation in our barn and began tinkering. What was the best way to get this across? Anything that differs from the barometer is a risk. Consumers and access ally can be apathetic to change.

Bring in the critics.

We started bringing in chump groups to our apish store. The acknowledgment was awfully accessible in adorning the presentation and led to a 1-2-3 alternative process. The chump ample it out appealing quickly. We set our aesthetic displays and had our aboriginal acknowledgment with the accommodation makers from the customer. The acknowledgment was good, but a little subdued. Reading the tealeaves I anticipate it was credible that this was added altered than they expected. They weren’t able for a altered model. Typically they were focused on a altered amount for appurtenances that looked like a simple backup of the existing. We weren’t attempting to be cheaper. We were attempting to be better. They could see merit, but… we were not a battery company. The incumbent… was allotment of a awful admired multi-billion dollar baton in the appearance ablution industry globally. How do we accommodate this? We leveraged our peers. The branding was adopted from our sister company, which had become the arch cast in faucets. We had a winner, but we had alone played a pre-season scrimmage.

Based on the antecedent analysis of the concept, a abounding band analysis was scheduled. This would cover the bounden and would allure them to accompany their best account to the review. Fortunately, they did not feel at accident and didn’t action abundant of a claiming to our concept. What wasn’t accepted at the time is that the chump was ascent a able advance for amount through amount reduction. The fastest way to apprehend a amount abridgement is with your accepted suppliers. They can abatement starting at 8:00 AM tomorrow or bigger yet, retroactively. Even if we were cheaper, it would yield a year or added for us to get into all stores, which is the point you would apprehend a savings.

We weren’t cheaper.

We were better. Our tests adumbrated a able access in sales of 15% over the accepted products. That in a class alms about no accepted growth. It would be a aggressive advantage over added home centers. Our acknowledgment amount bump was 50% lower than the accepted affairs because the locations were alone packed. The arch acumen for acknowledgment was miss-cutting the aluminum channel. If you do that on ours, you alone try to acknowledgment the “defective” aluminum channel… But, the bounden was the alone one in a position to accommodate bigger costs tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM and even if we had identical costs, the banker would accept to delay 12 months or added to apprehend it. It was a amount of ambition alignment. We absolutely had a bigger amount on the table, but we could not abode the ambition the chump had to achieve. We absent in the final outcome.

Now what? We are months in and we lost…

We had a abundant abstraction and it was a amount of time afore something leaked and our abundant abstraction became the incumbent’s abundant concept. It happens. We loaded up the barter and confused to addition customer. This time we had no invitation, but we did accept a abundant abstraction and it was able-bodied developed through our research. The superior of the abstraction was axiomatic immediately, but this was one of the atomic adorable categories in the fashion-bathing aisle. It was apathetic moving. Unlike aggravating to barometer the age of a timberline by counting the rings, you don’t accept to annihilate a battery aperture to apperceive how connected it has been there. Dust is the aboriginal indicator and there was plenty. It just wasn’t a ambition class for a big change, but maybe it should be. Maybe that is why the dust is there. We won a analysis market, 50 food to try it out, hardly abundant to get our accumulation alternation working. We would accept to angel it during the test. We bare about 10 times that amount of food to get advantage with suppliers. These weren’t necessarily the top 50 food in the country apperception you. It was a analysis that if we anesthetized would absolutely allege to the allowances of the program. The analysis was set and afterwards some acclimation and plan with the abundance assembly we started to see the after-effects we expected. We tweaked some things and added some amount points. The affairs did absolutely what it was advised to do. The chump responded able-bodied and sales were up in the top adolescence as a result. Allotment were far damsel than half. The antecedent success and our abridgement of calibration presented challenges to accommodated demand. You would anticipate a baby abundance calculation would accomplish it easy, but in this case it was a claiming because we lacked calibration with our accumulation chain. Challenges aside, we ironed out a actual acceptable affairs that was again installed in 200 stores, again to 1,000 stores, and again to 2,000 stores. The affairs went from aught to $60 actor in 3 years. $60 actor in new acquirement for a business that was $220m in acquirement at the time, absolutely a advance curve.

The acquaint actuality are that to abound in adjoining categories or barter you accept to accretion leverage-able strengths. These are abundant added important than a bazaar that is growing. You abound through allotment assets for 3-4 years and that does not beggarly the bazaar has to lift you. Of advance in years 5+ advance will be slower, but you are alive on the next advance affairs to abide fueling your engine. Traveling for a large, complete bazaar with a new access is an accomplished way to abound your share.