Have you ever lost or misplaced something important? I bet you wished there was a little fairy that could point you right to the place you left it. Well, your wish just may be granted. A team of Armenian engineers have created a wallet that cannot be misplaced. Volterman not only has a tracking system so that you know where it is at all times, but it will alert you if you are at risk for walking out of the house without it. With over 12,000 people signed up to receive the Volterman wallet, we are believing this is pure success. Not only has the Volterman team grabbed people’s attention, but they’ve secured over $1.8 million dollars by crowdfunding. We got the scoop on how they created a successful campaign. Narek Vardanyan, who led the campaign, shares his tips.
MillionaireMatch: Where did the idea for Volterman come about?
Narek: It started when the inventor, Azat Tovmasyan, lost his wallet. His two year old hid it. He came up with this idea to create a wallet that you can never lose. We started to work on this project two years ago.
I’m a crowdfunding consultant that has helped many companies raise money. He came to us with his idea, and we started to do market research. We added some new functions which made the wallet even better than when we first started.
MM: Tell me about the features that are getting everyone’s attention.
Narek: It’s a very high quality wallet. It has a power bank, which means you can charge your phone up to 100% while on the go. It has a bluetooth alarm system. If you forget your phone behind, your wallet will alert you and vice versa. Your phone will ring if you forget your wallet.
There’s also a global GPS tracking system. In case your wallet is stolen, you will be able to track it in real time. In any corner of the world, you can see where your wallet is. It cannot be stolen. Another feature is the camera. When the wallet understands that it is in a lost spot, this tiny camera will snap a photo of the thief when it is opened and will send you the photo. The final feature is global wifi. The wallet can provide you access to the internet anywhere in the world at the cheapest rates instead of you incurring roaming charges while traveling.
MM: Why did you choose crowdfunding over getting an investor?
Narek: Crowdfunding is an interesting way to enter into the market. It’s a great place to do market research, public relations and get in front of the investors. With this big campaign, we raised over $1.8 million dollars. We became very well known and had a lot of media write about us. I think crowdfunding was the right decision.
MM: What sort of challenges came about with launching this product?
Narek: The first challenge that we faced was the financial challenge. We knew that we needed a marketing budget to be successful. We had a $1 million goal in mind, and we knew we would need at least $50k for marketing. It was challenging. We went to banks, looked for grants and we just couldn’t get the help. We managed to raise money from angel investors, which led us to start a new business. We wanted to help other crowdfunders to launch effectively, so we created a platform that connects investors to crowdfunding campaigns to assist entrepreneurs with their marketing budgets.
MM: With so many people on sites like Indiegogo, how did you gain visibility?
Narek: Many people are choosing crowdfunding, and the failure rate is about 70%. People who have raised more than $1 million on those types of platforms is less than 0.01%. I founded an agency called The Crowdfunding Formula. We have been helping campaigns to do crowdfunding for the past two years. With our experience, we know what works and what does not. We prepared over 6 months prior to the launch.
MM: Can you share 3 key tips for having a successful crowdfunding campaign?
Narek: After testing and making sure the product is solving a problem and ready to be marketed, here are 3 steps entrepreneurs should take to ensure a successful crowdfunding campaign:
1. Collect subscribers before you launch. You need to have a landing page to collect as many emails as possible.
2. Having a video. You need to create a compelling video which people will share. The video we created was watched over two million times. It was shared on Facebook and went viral, but that didn’t happen automatically. We have a team of over 35 people who were consistently pitching to media, other websites, commenting on Facebook pages and other websites.
3. Get publicity. You need to collect a database of reporters and journalists to pitch to them after you launch your crowdfunding campaign to convince them to write about you which will bring more awareness.
This will help people get off to a successful start. It’s a snowball effect. Once you start reaching out to people, you will continue to gain traffic on your Indiegogo or Kickstarter. Just remember, everything starts with a good product and budget preparation.
For more information and to keep track of the Volterman wallet, check them out here. They will be releasing a Volterman backpack for men and women by the end of 2018.
Technology has changed the way people shop today, but large stores like Neiman Marcus have ridden the wave successfully. Nancy Katz, Chief Executive Officer, has seen this change in her 30 years of being part of the company. Earlier this year, the company pulled the plug on being acquired and decided to stay independent. Certainly the new way people consume luxury goods has given the store a challenge. We were able to get the scoop on how this popular retailer balances fashion and technology.
“I’ve never been bored. I’ve always been challenged,” said Katz. A good thing she isn’t bored. She has her days filled with launching more and more email campaigns and finding ways to reach the consumer who would rather purchase the latest trendy shoes from the comfort of their laptop. For Neiman Marcus, the formula for attracting and keeping customers has remained the same. “For Neiman Marcus it comes down to two key things: beautiful products and world class sales associates,” Katz said. The challenge with online shoppers is that they miss the opportunity to connect with those notable sales associates.
“Our ecommerce business is a big business for us,” she said. “It’s one of our highest priorities. The kind of service we have become famous for over many years, how can you have a similar service experience?” asked Katz. Neiman Marcus is known for their superb, personal service inside the store with sales associates getting to know their clients well. All is not a total loss for t Neiman Marcus, as Katz said, “Our best customers like to do both.”
And Katz knows the Neiman customer very well. “At Neiman Marcus, we are focused on the most affluent consumer. That’s who we are. We are not ashamed or embarrassed by that,” she said. “Our customers can go anywhere in the world to shop, and they don’t need anything that we sell. It’s all about enticing thing with emotions and feelings and making them feel really good about shopping in our store,” Katz explained.
In order to continue the enticement online, Katz got the best on her team. She hired a technology specialist from Silicon Valley. “We needed someone with that Silicon Valley background to help us think very differently,” Katz said. “Even though I knew merchants like myself were very important, we needed someone with that technology background.” she added. That decision has continued to pay off, growing the online business exponentially while sustaining all 41 Neiman Marcus stores.
For those looking to climb the corporate ladder of fashion, Katz had one piece of advice. “I tell them that you need to learn to be flexible. That’s one of the things that has served me well in my career,” she said. As a 30 year veteran, she has worked in many roles. Some roles, she was gently pushed into and she went with it. “I thought that it would be a good stop along the way. I certainly didn’t think it would have been as long as it has been,” Katz said about her long tenure at Neiman. In addition to adding year after year of experience on her resume, Katz said, “I have an amazing collection of handbags.”
To keep up with the latest at Neiman Marcus, be sure to get on their mailing list at www.neimanmarcus.com.
There are not many businesses that can say they have been around since the 1800s especially in the fashion industry. With more and more fashion brands popping up online without a brick and mortar, it is a wonder how companies like Bloomingdale’s still attracts customers. Tony Spring, CEO of Bloomingdale’s, is very aware of the change in the fashion industry. He is also aware of the quality that his organization brings. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how this fashion staple plans to keep the doors open.
Spring, who attended Cornell School of Hotel and Restaurant Management, always had a passion for hospitality and customer service. It was the people at Bloomingdale’s that convinced him to go into retail, and he’s been part of the family for over 25 years. “There’s no doubt that the retail business has changed,” Spring said. Technology and social media have played a huge importance to that change. But Spring said that Bloomingdale’s still holds true to their identity of being dynamic, bold and ever changing.
One of the key things the brand has incorporated is content. “Sharing great content means having great content means having great content providers,” Spring expressed. Building an audience on social media became very important in the last few years for the brand. “Shopping is a hobby. We love these customers. They’re the core of our contemporary business,” he said pointing out that young and upcoming singles are one of their top demographics. “Our obligation is to make sure we are connected with the most important retailers,” Spring said on keeping up with one their core groups.
Through the years, they have had creative partnerships with popular television shows, concerts and movies. “Bloomingdale’s wants to make sure that our marketing is integrated into everything that we do,” he said. “Create a reason for people to go shopping. Create a reason for people to go to the mall,” Spring added. The goal is to make them think of Bloomingdale’s first when shopping.
As Spring works on creating this new way of shopping for a new generation, he is also aware of a few departments that also need a update: Home and Bridal. “The industry has to figure out what is next in home retailing. I think we have been too stuck in the past. I don’t think we have changed as fast as fashion or other businesses have,” he said. “We are trying to engage the bridal industry. We’re offering couples cooking classes as a part of signing up for the bridal registry. Whether we get 8 or 10 couples any given Saturday or Sunday, it’s another opportunity to showcase us. As a result, they will pick products that they love. We know as retailers, if you love it you won’t bring it back,” Spring said.
His days may be filled with putting out fires and coming up with new sales strategies, but Spring has his priorities in order. “There’s nothing more important that I do than to connect with the youngest people in our organization, and help them grow. I help them see the possibilities in retail. I’m a poster child for this brand,” he said. He also knows that the young also has much to offer. “The benefit of mentoring today is that you can be mentored up or down,” said Spring.
To keep up with the latest trends and fashion, be sure to check out www.bloomingdales.com.
Chase McNary was just a normal guy living in Denver, until his friends encouraged him to go to a casting for a popular television show. He didn’t take it too seriously, but decided to head down to the local casting with a friend. The 6’3” medical sales rep found himself talking to the casting director who told him not to get a girlfriend before the show starts shooting.
Since season 12 of The Bachelorette, McNary has launched two fitness brands. He even had a move to Los Angeles, which he described as being a tough place to date. And he should know. After dating fitness celebrity Paige Hathaway who “stomped on his heart”, he put all his energy into LeisureLetics and Left Side Lion. MillionaireMatch was able to catch up with McNary to hear about his new ventures.
MM: What was it like being on the show and having your love life be public?
Chase: I had no expectations of the show. I didn’t watch the show, and didn’t have a big idea what I was getting myself into. It was also at a time in my life when everything was just saying ‘go ahead and do it’. Nothing was holding me back. It was a little weird. I’m somewhat of a private guy. I don’t typically have those heart to heart open questions in front of people let alone America. It took me a little while to get comfortable with the cameras, and all the people around listening to these heart to heart conversations. You can tell that as the season progressed so did my comfortability with the camera and the crew.
MM: It was rumored that you were currently dating. How do you know when it is time to take a relationship to the next level?
Chase: I’m not dating anyone right now. I was kind of dating someone. What I look for is a girl that is driven, that’s got a future, going places, that’s independent and strong. I want to be more of a supportive figure for a girl, as oppose to a girl leaning on me for everything. That’s just not attractive to me. I like a girl who is emotionally stable, and can handle the ups and downs of life. Also, get through conflict management. I think that’s the biggest part of building a successful relationship.
MM: Did you learn anything different about dating by going through such a public process?
Chase: Yeah, I learned to not be afraid to ask the tough questions to get to know someone faster. Bypass the surface conversation.
MM: How has being on The Bachelorette helped your business?
Chase: After the show, I went right back to work. I was working in the medical device sales field for about three or four months as the show finished airing. I was getting paid from social media and making appearances, so I decided to step away from that [medical device sales]. That just kind of pushed me into the entrepreneurial spirit, and that’s why I started two brands. I ultimately catered to my following which is female, 18-24 years old. I’ve learned a lot about myself, business, contracts and negotiations.
MM: What will Chase be doing two years from now?
Chase: I’m currently studying to be a personal trainer, so I’ll be building my personal brand of coaching. It’s a big passion of mine. I just got my first fitness magazine cover, Modern Fitness. That was super exciting for me. I just want to be a positive influence to as many people as possible through this platform. I’ll be focused on growing both LeisureLetics and Left Side Lion, as well as myself.
MM: Will you ever head back to television?
Chase: Yes, there has been some conversation with other shows. The fit has to be right. I’m not going to do anything that would not fit me. If the right show and opportunity comes along, I’m definitely open to it.
We can’t wait to see him back on the screen. Until then, we’ll keep up with McNary at leisureletics.com.
There is a saying that the way you start is not an indication of how you will finish. Most successful entrepreneurs come from humble beginnings. From being immigrants to being raised in single parent homes, life has offered some of the biggest lessons that help founders navigate the ups and downs of starting a business. Shan Sinha is the perfect example. Sinha is CEO and co-founder of Highfive, a video conferencing hardware and cloud service that makes it easy to have virtual meetings. MillionaireMatch got the scoop on how he went from dropping out of MIT to creating a successful startup.
Sinha who grew up in Texas right outside of Dallas, was raised in a single parent household with his mother and sister after his parents split. Like many single households, it was tough financially. They lived in a two bedroom apartment, and his mom worked multiple jobs to make ends meet. It was a dream for him to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he thought he would major in physics. But something else caught his eye-computer science. It also helped that his college roommates were all working at startups. One roommate came home one day with a $20k check, compensation from his startup being bought out. “I was the oldest and felt responsible for taking care of the family,” he said. Sinha dropped out of MIT to work on his first startups.
Along with his roommate, they launched a mobile enterprise application product that unfortunately was before its time. “We had no idea what we were doing then,” said Sinha. The business failed and led Sinha back to finish school. This time clearer on what he wanted to accomplish.
“The thing that was really magical was the idea of starting from nothing, creating something, and bringing it into existence,” said Sinha on launching again. “Every big company in the world started the same with two people sitting around saying there’s an idea,” he continued. And this time, Sinha struck gold with DocVerse shortly after it went to market. Founded in 2007, DocVerse was a plug-in application for Microsoft Word, Powerpoint and Excel. Sinha was able to raise $1.3 million to get it off the ground. Google later acquired DocVerse.
As most serial entrepreneurs do, he went to the next idea- Highfive. Like many computer science majors, Sinha worked at Google and Microsoft. At both places, he worked on running enterprise apps. At Google, most meetings would happen via video. He noticed how much time was wasted to set up video conferencing for meetings, and the light bulb came on.
“Raising the initial capital wasn’t terribly challenging,” he said due to him having prior successes and coming from Google and Microsoft. They have raised over $45 million. “Highfive brings companies a way to bring easy, simple, affordable video to everyone in their organization,” he explained. It works for in-office conferences and wherever you are with a laptop. The bonus is that it only takes minutes to start your meeting. Highfive works by using a one-time purchase of hardware and monthly cloud service plan.
Sinha used the first six months of starting Highfive to get the right team, secure early investments and to get clear on the service they wanted to offer. As result, they haven’t done any major pivoting. “We had this insight for a product and we put together our initial plans in those first two to three months. Those ideas have lead to a company that’s now 70 people,” he said.
For more information on Highfive, be sure to check them out at www.highfive.com.