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Jun 1, 2012
The mainstream press in recent years has given a lot of attention to entrepreneurial stars like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg. But Andrew Kitzenberg of Memory on Hand proves there are also fascinating startup stories in more behind-the-scenes venues like wholesale. Like Zuckerberg, Kitzenberg conceived and hatched his Internet-based business while still a university student in the Boston area. He was a senior at Babson College in 2010 when he got tired of losing flash drives, and all the important information saved on them. Thus, he invented the Memory on Hand (MoH) Band, a stylish bracelet that enables consumers to wear their computer memory like a wristwatch.
The MoH Bands come in multiple color patterns, designed to appeal to both female and male customers, young and old. They wholesale for $7 per unit and typically retail for $14.95. "After designing the prototype for the MoH Band, I starting using it regularly and brought it around to local schools to ask students, teachers, and parents what they thought about it," Kitzenberg explains. "I received overwhelmingly positive responses from everyone, and proceeded to try and sell it. I made the first sale by the end of the semester to a local prep school that bought 50 MoH Bands for their school bookstore. The store sold out within 48 hours. That's when I knew I had something special."
Since then, Memory on Hand (sometimes referred to simply as MoH) has been on a huge winning streak. Sales exploded last year, growing 1,000 percent, compared to the six months in business in 2010. "We project sales to continue to grow by more than 300 percent in 2012," Kitzenberg says. "We sold 25,000 units in 2011. We were operating out of an extra bedroom in my apartment, which was about 200 square feet." At the start of 2012, Memory on Hand moved into a commercial space, giving the company a sales office and product warehouse. But MoH is still clearly in a startup phase, as the team Kitzenberg relies on is small. It includes two full-timers, one dedicated to marketing and the other to sales, and a pair of part time interns. "Jeff Brayer, my friend and classmate from Babson, joined the company in 2011, bringing sales experience and, most importantly, the entrepreneurial drive to help a startup grow," Kitzenberg notes. "I am constantly learning how to run and grow a business, and each day is something new for me."
Facebook and Twitter Grow Sales
The executive's youth will likely serve him well in the social media era. MoH was quick to optimize its Facebook page when the social media giant rolled out its Timeline feature for brands earlier this year. Timeline lets companies tell their stories from a historical perspective, while at the same time highlighting how they perform on a daily basis. For instance, Peg Fisher, an online marketer, offered the following unsolicited testimony that can be read on Memory on Hand's Facebook Timeline: "Kudos to Andrew for excellent customer service! I contacted him last weekend, hoping to get an expedited wholesale order for MoH Bands I need to deliver to my retailers tomorrow. He said he could get them to me by today, and that's exactly what he did, and in the color mix we had worked out together. I am very, very pleased to work with such a dependable vendor!"
Memory on Hand has around 2,000 Facebook fans, and is approaching 1,000 followers on Twitter. For a small company, that is a significant social media presence. On Twitter, Kitzenberg's company has been running 50 percent discount codes (e.g., "Tweet500") that can be utilized by the social media followers as they check out of MemoryonHand.com. At the end of January, the company added a Facebook "storefront" to its presence there. Using a system created by social commerce provider Wishpond, MoH's Facebook visitors can click a few buttons to add items to a shopping cart at MemoryonHand.com.
Kitzenberg and his team also recently overhauled the technology and design aspects of the brand's website. They moved the ecommerce site to Shopify's self-service platform, and tweaked copy and images to produce better rank on search engines like Google and Bing. "The redesign included all new product pictures which are bigger and better, and in the world of ecommerce, the pictures sell the products," Kitzenberg says. "We upgraded our retailer inquiry process, so it is now easier for people to learn and buy our products to resell. We also added a blog and retooled all text, including product text to help search engine optimization."
Kitzenberg says his company has already built an email database of 3,000 contacts, split into retailer and consumer files. His Cambridge, MA based firm leans on advertising via trade shows, Web Wholesaler magazine, and other print publications to drive wholesale business.
The marketing team has also done a great job of creating publicity free of charge, as Memory on Hand has appeared via articles in publications like CNN Money, Time Out New York, and Wired. But as Peg Fisher's Facebook post demonstrates, the company focuses on great customer care to create positive word of mouth. The buzz, Kitzenberg suggests, is invaluable, as his startup continues to build momentum. "Our customer service is one of the best aspects of our business," he says. "We have product warranties, and guarantee the quality of each and every piece. We are also extremely available and respond to any customer service inquiries within a day."
Topic: Company Profiles
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