The dream for many entrepreneurs is to come up with a great new product, find the funding to develop it and then for it to fly off the shelves.
The reality for most is different, but when this does happen it’s worth finding out how this success was achieved because the lessons we learn can help us to replicate the achievements for our own business.
Yuu is one such success, so we asked co-founders, Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes to share their story with us;
Back in 2010 we decided to invent a portable entertainment station for children travelling, or just out and about. After searching for competitors, we discovered that we had none and there was a gap in the market – from that the YUUbag was born.
Spotting a gap in the market
We both came from TV advertising backgrounds, so we knew that there was a huge opportunity to launch as an online only company, giving us the luxury of larger margins, and of course a quicker ROI. A lower risk model for a small start-up business.
The YUUbag design evolved into an ergonomic backpack with multiple pockets and a fold down desk, for children to store and organise their kit and caboodle.
Our invention also has a fun whistle, secret compartment and a fun pack of games and stationery. YUUbag puts the fun into functionality and gives peace to parents, but is also a toy for children – a unique product offering with dual appeal.
We decided that we had a great start up model and that we would think big to be big. We invested our money into a TV deal with a children’s channel, a container load of YUUbags – and then the hard part – a website that would convert our traffic into sales.
Website conversions crucial to online sales
Making your website convert is the challenge, and an ongoing challenge as it is an area which is ever evolving. Copy, image, real estate placement, CRM platforms – this must be constantly reviewed to improve conversion and up sale opportunities.
At launch, our first spot went out at 06.58 and we sold out first YUUbag nine minutes later and the sales just kept rolling until we had sold out of our first container after only seven weeks. We had certainly invented something children wanted, and we were successfully converting the purchasers online.
In March 2012, we went into the Dragons’ Den armed with our YUUbag invention, an already healthy revenue and a small profit therefore turning the heads of the dragons very quickly.
After choosing Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones, our show was aired in the September giving us extremely valuable exposure and brand awareness. Being successful on this show gives you a huge amount of credibility too.
Soon after we very quickly replicated the UK model in Australia and Scandinavia, plus developed new ranges to our product lines.
Investing for growth
As revenue grew, so did the ability to invest more into website reviews and therefore more into web development, changing our platform and growing our pages. We also invested in product photography with more angles to really show our product off on the web.
It has always been one of our greatest web challenges with a product that has so much to offer – to demonstrate the multitude of functions and features. During this time online retailers were starting to spend more on video demos – so we did too!
YUU were widening their brand awareness at a fast rate. With TV underpinning the awareness with children, YUUbag now had playground kudos with few children in the UK not knowing what a YUUbag was, giving us three solid peak sales seasons – summer holidays, back to school, with our biggest being Christmas! YUUbag was getting to the top of many children’s Christmas wish lists.
Boosting awareness with a competition
In 2014 we came up with a great idea to further enhance our awareness amongst children with a competition. The competition was for two lucky winners to design the next two YUUbags!
We gave the competition great exposure by tagging it onto the end of our advert. With nearly 3,000 completed entries from excited young “wanna-be designers”, we had a difficult time picking the winners as the effort made was astounding!
Our two winners were rewarded and featured in their local newspapers. The two new designs were launched Christmas 2014.
Customer research to gain more insight
We had got the attention of the children, and now we needed to be smarter with our purchaser targeting. One thing that we have successfully created was a great relationship with our customers. With 0.04 % returns rates and a fantastic customer service, we really have gained loyal customer fans.
Three years ago, we took on a huge task of telephoning a good number of our customers gaining insight to help us with our customer segmentation. Every single customer that we called were more than happy to help us, which was a real credit to YUU.
Not only did we learn who our customer was and how to better target them, but we also understood the segments which we were missing. Additionally, it helped us improve our products, website and brand image.
In 2015, we decided to renew and update our brand look and invested further into our website. During this project, we took the opportunity to improve our mobile presence too as mobile internet shopping started growing at a fast rate at this time.
A sale every 12 minutes
Where are we now? Christmas 2016 saw a YUUbag sold online every 12 minutes! This meant that our efforts were being rewarded so we were delighted. With our UK online in place we are now actively pushing for retail presentation which will grow brand awareness plus enable the touch and feel aspect of YUU.
We tested with a small retail chain just three weeks before Christmas and they said that they could not get the YUUbags out of the boxes quick enough before costumers were snatching for purchase. The retailer reordered 6 times in 10 days!
New product development
Our latest design is a YUUbag with a tracker integrated within the backpack itself – so hidden. YUUgo Brings tech play and active play together in one product, and gives parents the ability to track their children and their YUUbags.
We are crowfunding our new product and are looking for support on Indiegogo. Each YUUgo comes with a fun and educational App for kids and then a state of the art App for parents to ring fence and set alerts to their phones.
About the authors
This article has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Gill Hayward and Kellie Forbes who founded YUU in 2010. YUUbags are sold internationally with sales exceeding 75,000 YUUbags from the YUU website alone.