We had an interesting chat with Mr. “Andrew Fry”, Founder of the startup based in Campbell – United States “Narwall”
Below is the interview we conducted with him:
1. What is it exactly that you do and what your start-up is all about?
Narwall specializes in personalized designs for toys, apparel, and decor for kids. Our platform also encourages kids and parents to share their ideas to make learning more fun and improve artistic creativity.
2. When has your startup been founded? And what stage is your startup currently at?
We were founded in July 2014 and have been operating for almost 1 year. We are now an early stage startup with a Beta product in the market. We also have 2 founders and are looking to expand our team.
3. What is your startup’s business model and how does it work?
Our business model is direct sales through our e-commerce site. We make direct margin from the sale of custom personalize designs. Our unique designs allow us to differentiate and achieve a competitive advantage.
4. How did your team meet? And who in your team does what?
We have worked together for over 4 years. We starting by working together at a startup then have developing project together after we both left that company. I lead engineering and marketing and Eduardo leads design and product.
5. What, exactly, makes you different from existing options, what will make your product and/or service stand out in the marketplace? In other words what’s unique about you and what’s new about what you make?
We use our designs to create personalized and fun products for kids. Our designs are unique and initial beta testing has shown they resonate with kids. We know our designs get kids talking, and we also know they spark fun conversations between kids and parents. Products that create great experiences with parents and kids will win.
6. What is your growth like? And what milestones has your startup achieved so far?
So far we just launched our beta site and product. We are on track to release our next line of products by June. We also will target an international market launch by end of 2015.
7. Who are your competitors? And what is your start-up’s competitive advantage over them?
Our competition are established brands like Pottery Barn or Serena and Lily. We do not believe the voice of these brands will continue to resonate with new and more progressive parents. We have a new perspective with gender neutral styles and vivid artwork.
8. What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them?
The largest obstacle we faced so far was establishing reliable supply. We had to switch suppliers and continue to work on operational improvements. We also had some challenges in building an e-commerce site that allowed users to personalize designs, but we custom developed the personalized design sections of our site.
9. What are the key things about your field that outsiders don’t understand?
It is tough to build products that resonate with kids. From initial beta testing, we know our designs get kids talking, and we also know they spark fun conversations between kids and parents.
10. Why are you going to succeed?
Eduardo and I are both parents and we know how to connect with our target demographic. We have unique designs and are developing new products. We know that kids love our designs and that will ensure our products succeed.
11. If your startup succeeds, what additional areas might you be able to expand into?
We are now releasing monster letter designs, but have new design series in progress. We also have new products under development including custom 3D printed toys, more apparel products, and new interior decor products.
12. Why did you choose this idea and concept to build your start-up based on?
Eduardo and I are both parents and we know how to connect with kids. We have unique designs and are developing new products. Our initial design series started with Eduardo sketching custom drawings for kids on the San Francisco pier. The designs generated so much interest and excitement with kids that we decided to expand this business broadly.
13. What have you learned so far from launching your idea?
We have learned how to resolve many of the challenges when launching an e-commerce store. Those challenges include selecting a supplier, establishing a payment gateway, and building an effective user interface to merchandise products.
14. Six months from now, what’s going to be your biggest problem?
Our biggest problem will be establishing scale with our suppliers. However, we have started working with new suppliers that have better production capabilities to allow us to scale.
15. What’s the benefit for the customer/user?
We developed wall art designs and a site to personalize the art for your kids name or other letters. We also print personalized clothing (shirts, bibs, onsies). We are developing 3d printed sculptures/blocks, toys, and we have new designs in progress.
16. How did customers / users find out about you?
We rely on word of mouth primarily from parents. We also have established some great partnerships with blogs and parenting TV networks that have helped us promote our products.
17. Who are your current customers / users? Who are your target customers / users?
Our target audience is primarily gen X and millennial that have kids and want to create gender neutral decor and appreciate vivid artwork and designs.
18. Where do new customers / users come from and what makes new customers/users try you?
Our new customers primarily come from new parents. It is customary for new parents to design their kids room and they want designs that help encourage creativity and learning. Our designs provide a great option.
19. What do your customers / users say about your product and/or service?
We have gotten great feedback from our customers. Kids love using our designs and can’t stop talking about them. A couple of our testimonials are: ‘The monster wall letters are fantastic! ” “These designs are sooo cute”
20. How are you going to scale?
We will scale by expanding the capabilities of our suppliers. We will ensure that our suppliers can produce inventory with quicker cycles and larger batches and also ensure that we can forecast and plan inventory needs long term.
21. What’s the biggest missing feature? The one thing customers/users keep asking for?
Our customers keep asking for physical toys that kids can play and interact with. Our designs are also well suited for toys and can also be used for 3 dimensional sculptures.
22. Are you going to internationalize? And if yes how are you planning to expand your start-up’s operations accordingly?
We think we will have demand for our designs in many international markets. Our site can be easily localized with other languages, and our operations will also expand within each region locally.
23. How big do you think you can get? Why? And how you are planning to achieve your goals?
We believe we can expand to a multi-national brand since our designs can work in so many markets. We will achieve our goals by continued execution of new products and designs.
24. Are you looking to hire a new workforce? And if yes, what job vacancies do you currently offer and where can potential applicants contact you at?
َYes, we have an opening for lead engineer. We are looking for someone to help us build mobile apps to bring our designs to life with kids. We are also looking for a marketing lead to help build social and online connections with our customers.
25. Are you looking for partnership opportunities or funding from Venture Capitals (VC) or other funding sources? Or your business is self-sustainable? And if the first option applies where can potential partners / investors contact you at?
Right now we are self sustainable, but will be looking for funding soon to support new products. Our toy designs will need some investment in tooling and manufacturing. Investors can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org
26. What advice do you have for fresh entrepreneurs?
Many entrepreneurs can find it very difficult to get the initial product to market quickly. I encourage new entrepreneurs to focus and simplify their initial release to get a product into market as soon as possible. This will allow them to get critical customer feedback much quicker.