Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Starting a Company. Questions 101.

According to the entrepreneurs conference, the first step in starting a business is consumer/market research. The message pounded home in about 8 sessions was: KNOW YOUR CUSTOMER.

As a reminder, my company is called the Curiosity Cottage. I wanted to create an educational company that would help kids learn, and eventually I narrowed this down to a story line that would incorporate history (my son's favorite topic) in a way that was fun and interactive. I thought it would be cool if kids could "play history".

So it will be a series of stories of three brothers going back in time to meet the 100 or so greatest minds. There will be a set of action figures to accompany the books. In addition, my original idea of learning products for the home will be incorporated. If the story line is about a famous mathematician, we will also have the towels, cups, plates, etc.

And so I begin. I made a list of questions that I thought would help. I gave them to a freelance writer/researcher on Monday and hope to have some answers by Friday. Since then, I have had other responses back from the Craigslist ad from students and others offering to do further research using "Qualtrics" and analyzing data using "chi square test and conjoint analysis". Needless to say, my vocabulary skills in this area need some work.

Here's my question list, really based on just my own thought processes. I'd love to hear suggestions you might have to add to the list, either in the form of questions or answers.

1. What is the size of the market - boys aged 6-12?
2. What are the most popular current boys' toys for that age?
3. What is the most effective way to market to that segment?
4. What is the closest product on the market now to this for boys?
5. What was the very, very, very early development of American Girl? Was most of their customer base people who bought multiple dolls or just one?
6. What is the current "pain" in the market for parents of boys? We were told again and again if we couldn't prove there was a problem, then we had a problem;-).
7. How much do parents spend per boy per year on toys?
8. How important is education in the toy market to parents?
9. What is the sales model for Magic Treehouse and Rescue Heroes? How many books do you need to sell to even start to make a profit?

Best wishes to those of you starting your companies. This is a fun and interesting journey. Eileen

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