All That Glitters Isn’t Always Gold

Published: 2015-01-16

We all praise the great innovators in this industry for their ability to anticipate a need before it’s there and, in many cases, create a need where one didn’t necessarily exist. But, what if your biggest technological breakthrough turned into your worst nightmare, literally overnight?

There’s not much technology behind glitter, and sadly for Ship Your Enemies Glitter founder Matthew Carpenter, there wasn’t a lot of foresight either. Carpenter launched the company and watched it go viral within 24 hours, with more than 1.3 million visits to the company’s homepage and more than 2,300 orders from spiteful people looking to add a little permanent sparkle to their nemeses’ lives.

So, what does this have to do with AV, IT and security systems integration? It’s all about being ready for what could become the next big thing. Ship Your Enemies Glitter ultimately failed (with Carpenter now looking for someone to buy the shiny albatross around his neck) because of its immense initial success and its founder’s inability and lack of interest in meeting the demand he never anticipated.

I go to plenty of trade shows and talk to lots of manufacturers about what they tout as the next big thing, a “game-changer” that could “revolutionize the industry.” But what happens if every visitor to their trade show booth says they want one? Can the company meet the demand in a timely manner? Or will the product (if not the company) collapse under the weight of its own success?

Many large manufacturers get criticized (including by me) for showing so-called vaporware in their trade show booths, giving visitors a very early look at a product that may or not be shipping before we have a new president or the Summer Olympics come to Boston in 2024.

But, is that really worse than a company that promotes a product, takes orders for it, then has to close its doors when the demand for the product becomes too much?

Trust me, this is not to say I enjoy doing booth visits and writing about products that may or may not come out a year or so after I fist see them, but that seems preferable to getting you, our dear readers, excited about something you end up not ever being able to get because the manufacturer didn’t plan ahead and wasn’t ready for the crush of early orders. Especially in this business, that’s a fatal flaw.

You probably never thought you’d be able to learn a business lesson from a guy who create commerce based on spite, but isn’t that another lesson in itself?

By the way, while we’re talking about Ship Your Enemies Glitter, who would you mail a sparkly vial of hatred if Carpenter finds a taker for his biggest success/worst nightmare?

Posted in: Insights

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