About two months ago, one of my ideas was rejected. Not by customers, investors, or even strangers. This idea was rejected by some of my closest friends.
So here was my idea…
There’s a limited edition movie poster company called MondoTees. They get local artists to redesign movie posters in a really clean way and only produce a very limited amount of them.
MondoTees tweets when a poster goes on sale and within a few minutes it is sold out. (The aftermarket on eBay is even more insane.)
So my idea: MondoTees meets Tacos!
I would find famous artists online to draw their favorite tacos and sell limited prints of them.
Of course, this was going to be easy–MondoTees was doing already doing it (minus the tacos). Plus I just knew the artists (and restaurants) would promote the posters to their fan base and within minutes everything would be sold out.
I cold emailed an artist named Will Bryant to help:
I really wanted to work with Will so I was persistent (without being too annoying). Tip: Too many people don’t use multiple channels when trying to reach someone. And they don’t use tools like followup.cc or Boomerang.
Then I added him on Facebook:
…And finally Tweeted at him:
Will loved the idea and started working on the design as I worked on the next step.
(You can probably see where this is going…)
Then I reached out to some good friends who I KNOW love tacos and pitched them the idea of a taco poster for $25. The responses I got…
“Uh… so you want me to buy a print for $25 of a taco? I’ll pass.”
“Yea, not my thing Noah.”
“No one loves tacos as much as you do.”
Obviously, I was a bit disappointed not even my close friends would buy a limited edition taco print. After all, I have a large network and every business idea I have works, right?
So I learned one thing: Taco Posters won’t sell.
At this point I had three options:
Option #1: Disregard my friends opinion/advice, tell everyone taco posters are the next big thing, and place an order for 1,000 taco posters while I set up a website and ecommerce.
Option #2: Give up on the idea entirely.
Option #3: Figure out what people really want to buy.
(Again you can probably see where this is headed.)
The idea wasn’t dead, yet.
Remember: When you get a rejection, it’s your greatest chance to learn why the person is NOT buying and what they WILL buy.
Then I remembered how when I wear a specific taco shirt around town I get an insane amount of attention from females. It’s really strange but it makes sense since tacos are an aphrodisiac, right?
Time for validation experiment numero dos. I texted some friends and called others and asked, “Yo, you know that taco shirt I wear? Would you want one?”
Here are the responses I got:
“HELL YEA. Hook it up.”
“Show me the TACOS!”
Next, I posted a picture of me in the shirt on Facebook and posted a price of $25/shirt.
After I got 15 orders via PayPal (no ecommerce, no website — people just sent me the money) I closed off sales and started looking for a manufacturer.
Did you notice I hadn’t spent ANY money up until this point?
(This happens to be the biggest breakthrough for our previous course Monthly1K. People have a blast coming up with ideas, trying to validate an idea, then trying another until they find one that they can get money for….before they’ve spent a single dollar of their own money.)
I ended up connecting with some guys from Betabrand — they make funky clothing for hipsters and people who like to be unique — and we started talking about having them manufacturing the shirt.
And the Taco Shirt was born. I paid Will for the design once orders started from Betabrand.
The shirt is on super high quality fabric, has the sexiest of tacos designed by Will Bryant, and will be on peoples bodies in the near future.
Now, I quickly learned that a high quality, button-up shirt is more expensive than a regular t-shirt. The key thing when pre-selling is setting the expectation and showing the customer the value they will get.
Remember I only charged $25/shirt to start, but every person who bought at the pre-sale price still gets it at that cost and was notified while I was talking with Betabrand.
While, it’s never been my intention to sell taco shirts I’m damn proud that other people will be wearing them all over the world.
Takeaway: Almost every business idea is guaranteed not to work out the first try. Validate, validate, validate. (Click to Tweet)