Pavarotti’s C5

Now with only one week to go, it seems we are making more progress than ever. Friday was a lot of fun. One awesome part of the culture we have here at Inventables is Free Point Fridays. Every Friday, everyone is at liberty to work on what they think is most important. Sometimes it only remotely related to the business, but it is a good way to take a step back and rekindle your creative side.

So on Friday, Zach and I revisited the idea of selling samples. As a reminder, our site currently sells sales leads to materials sourcing vendors. What I found though, is that the majority of buyers that submit inquiries are looking for samples. Furthermore, vendors say they spend too much time dealing with samples request. I think there is a great opportunity to be the middle man here.

We went through and called all buyers that posted on our site that were requesting a sample of a product we have (we keep a very small inventory of samples left over from the early days of the company). Zach called the new ones, and I called buyers that posted in the past as early as January. We actually made a comparable revenue for the day comparable to what we make selling sales leads. Now we did pretty much exhaust all our leads looking for samples in the last five months, but having said that it still may prove a viable pivot for the business. This week I’m going to look into it more procedurally as see how viable a business model it actually is.

One thing that I think that is vital about the way we operate is goal setting. More important, our goals are very explicit stated. A goal is never “improve vendors response on leads” but rather “achieve a response rate over 60%.” Something concrete. Something that you can definitely say at the end of the month either “yes, we achieved this” or “no, we did not.”

Another related point is the importance of collecting the right kind of data and the perils with it. Collecting data is important. You need to know what features are being used and how well they are working. Sometimes, collecting that data can be quite expensive (time is money). In those cases, it is useful to ask yourself “If I collect this data, what actionable steps will this allow me to take?” Say you want to look at keyword density on your pages as part of your SEO campaign. The deliverables would be a profile of all the pages on your site and the keyword densities associated with each. To me, this would be fairly interesting to look at. But you have to ask if you had this data, what would you do with it? Even the most compelling data can be useless in giving you direction.

Also, a lot of business decisions are inherently low data. Especially when looking for new markets or directions to push the business in, the data is never going to suffice. Even if you have data, oftentimes it is worthless. First rule when working with data: correlation does not imply causation. That is where true leaders step in, the ones who have the intuition to pull the business where it needs to go despite the lack of supporting data.

So in short data is great, but it can really only hint at answers. In my opinion, data can never really prove anything. It can only nudge you in the right direction and bring to view some things you have never considered. Hence in the business world the “gut feeling” is always king.

Only one week left and there is still so much to see and do. I still have to get to the top of the Willis (formerly Sears) Tower. I feel like I am leaving Inventables at the most exciting time. I wish I could stay longer. I guess there is only one option for me at this point – to end on a high note and go out with a bang (hence this post’s title)!

Until next time, I’m Jeremy Schapp, ESP – wait no. Sorry. See you all next time – for my final blog post!

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