Last week the Hugh Manatee team (along with the rest of the MACE companies) experienced its first trade fair with our product HOMEBRELLA. Kingston Hill campus was home to a collection of both undergraduate & postgraduate trade stalls, all selling a unique product, either sourced or produced by the university based businesses.
HOMEBRELLA – a stylish and compact bag to house your wet umbrella, was unfortunately still only at the prototype stage, but we did manage to get some helpful feedback from the public on the product and our brand.
Without doubt, with a finished product, we would have got more from the fair, not just in sales, but we could have tested our product to get feedback about its design. A chance to continue the feedback loop – build, measure, learn!
The level of products and trade stands overall was really high, especially considering it was the first trade fair, but there is no doubting that some of the undergrad students have really nailed their stall and their branding. It is an example for us all where we need to be.
The overall winning stand on the day was by the undergrad company 7thirty, a sleek black stall, with a minimal display. It had everything it needed and nothing more. It didn’t overdo it with gimmicks or unrelated objects. It just looked intriguing and inviting.
That’s not to say the postgrads were not well represented on the podium as Facile picked up best product for their travel sim card holder, and Masterly won the best sales team award – flying the flag for MACE!
But what about Hugh Manatee? Our next step is we now need to make our minimal viable product (MVP). The reality for us is to produce an article with a design as complex as HOMEBRELLA will take someone with more skill and experience than we possess. To manufacture the product ourselves would simply take too long, so we are now on the hunt for a tailor, or company in the UK that can produce the bag for us within our budget.
While we are sourcing a manufacturer, we will also be working on our brand. We have a good idea of how we want to position ourselves, but there are some fundamental decisions still to be made. These decisions will affect our entire brand, from the website to the trade stand. We need to decide what brand colours best represent our product and our company. It all must relate.
Overall, we need more focus, we need to understand where it is we need to be so we can figure out how to get there, and looking at 7thirty’s stand, Facile’s product and Masterly’s sales pitch – we have some great milestones to aim for.
In the end, I am sorry to say we sold no umbrella bags, but the chin stays up because realistically, it’s hard to sell a product when you don’t have one ready. We did get a lot interest for pre-orders, and some great design ideas, but we really need our product! Another lesson learned.
We have less than one week until the Bright Ideas final. There is a lot to do and not much time to do it, so it’s time to work smart, not hard.
This trade fair has given us a realistic view on what we can do for this project, but just as importantly, it has also highlighted to us where we are going wrong, what things we should evaluate and what we should flat out not do! Roll on the next trade fair with a stall redesign, more coherent brand and products to sell!