Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with Andrew Fallshaw, CEO and co-founder of Bellroy.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Bellroy exists to slim your wallet. Yes, that's a lot shorter than 128 words. But we're relentlessly focused on helping people improve the way they carry their pocket contents. Wallet design has been in deep freeze for a long time. With some narrowed insight we have been able to both reduce bulk and improve function. Everyone has a wallet. Such a frequently used item is much better off being something sleek rather than a wad of leather and receipts that looks like a hamburger.
We try and apply our "Better Ways" approach to all aspects of our business. This applies to 'carry', but also our environmental outlook, staffing structures, agile learning and all-round geeky hacks to improve the way we do things.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
Step 1: Acquire dragons.
We're not sure what comes after that, so our back-up plan is to effectively communicate the "why" of what we do and grow a community who appreciate slimming wallets and the "Better Ways" mentality.
Without giving too much away, strict brand integrity, lots of direct to consumer sales and connections, and a focus on good sales rather than any sales have all been integral to success so far.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
It sounds clichéd, but finding the right people. We like a good mix of geekery and style, fun and results. Quality web developers have been especially hard to come by. So, if you're an excellent developer (especially with skills on Ruby) feel free to get in touch. In fact, if you're an awesome human in general, reach out and say hi.
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
Quite simply, we specialise in wallets. For most brands, this category is just a sideline. Their design is often outsourced and logos are slapped on generic product. With fanatical attention to our leathers, a much stronger focus on slim, and a 3 year warranty, these characteristics can often be felt by instinct when comparing apples and lemons.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Evernote. When travelling for business there's nothing worse than receipts piling up (and bulking my wallet). It's such an easy way to stay organised and know you're not going to lose stray bits of paper that are actually pretty important. All our staff can email receipts to an Evernote account, where they're processed remotely. We then also keep images of travel documents, random ideas and business cards, and so far we've scratched about 5% of its potential.
iTorch is pretty handy as well, I'm afraid of the dark.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"There is no solution. Pay attention instead." It was from Frank Liew, a Kiwi streetwear thinker who nailed it. There are whole industries that try to convince you that their new idea is the great idea, that everything will change with this next book/convention/idea/widget. When you realise that there are no magic pills, instead you have to work hard, seek constant improvement, and consolidate thousands of "better ways", you start making the real progress.
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