HOW TO VALIDATE YOUR BUSINESS AND HOW VALIDATION LEADS TO SUCCESS
Posted by Irwandy Tan | Business Growth, Learn Magazine, Sales |
When Andatech first started in 2003, I started with one product to sell. I knew that I needed to understand the public, whether they would buy this product and of course the most important part is for how much. It is easy to assume that a feedback from one person represents many, but I knew that if I needed a product, it does not usually mean my wife would need that product. This is usually what we call market research in this day and age, but my inexperience self 13 years ago just used common sense.
TRIAL AND ERROR
Failure plays an integral part to having a successful business and like many successful businesses out there, I played my part in failing and learning. Before we launched our first successful product, there was not much thought or novelty in the products we sold. Products were imported directly, and I was selling products from my garage. We set up stalls in the shopping centre without much research, hoping we are at the right spot selling to the right target. I simply chose what I heard could sell and earn me some profit, but there was no validation to the quality or market need.
The first product that went through the full development process was our DF Lamp, receiving feedback from the public was the fundamental stage of knowing whether or not it would sell. It went through blind testing to get the unbiased feedback from the public. Market research had to be done systematically so that the market audience was representative to an ideal market for this lamp. Before we even launched the product, a lot of time and money had already been spent, but this is better than making a bigger loss if the product has not been validated.
When the lamp was launched, as I expected and hoped, we sold much more than the other products we did not validate. Feedback from the customers who bought the lamp was obtained, and the validation of the product increased further. The positive feedback snowballed until today, and 13 years later, despite our extensive range in products that are no longer related to lighting, the DF Lamp still stands strong in our product portfolio.
FAILURE IS AN INEVITABLE PART OF SUCCESS
One successful product however, did not translate into many consecutive successful products. We still faced issues with introducing new products, as products of different nature have different methods of validation. Simply getting the blind public to comment on a product stopped being effective very quickly after.
Our AL-6000 Breathalyser was introduced to Andatech in 2005. As the product implied, the concept of the product is very different to the lamp we sold. It also involved much more complex processes to validate the quality and accuracy of the device, the internal technology of a breathalyser is clearly more complex than a lamp. Apart from an attractive packaging, a focused marketing campaign and a market that is willing to test a new product, we needed something else to support this breathalyser.
It was made available in the market and was selling well for about a year until we realised that we did not want to stay in line with other sellers in the industry, we wanted to exceed them. The AL6000 were certified to Australian Standards AS3547, and this is how we validated this product. We attracted large corporate chains and because of the Australian Standard certification, it also meant that we were validated to attend expos and trade shows. This was the real beginning of the success and I was very excited to duplicate this business model.
CERTIFICATION TO RECOGNITION
We continued adding breathalysers into the product portfolio, ranging from simpler and more affordable ones to industrial grade ones. Most of them now have an Australian Standard certification and we are working towards having all of them certified. We now have over 200 clients and partners including Automotive Brands, and hopefully we will continue to grow.
On top of having validation in our products, we also offer quality service to our customers. Breathalysers need to be calibrated and our processes comply with ISO 9001. This is an ongoing process and keeps our processes and ultimately the services we offer customers validated.
The business continued to grow, both in terms of product line and also physically. Our team, our office and warehouse size all expanded exponentially in the last decade. Inevitably, our internal management system would need to be automated to help us cope with the increased operational and after-sales activities in order to maintain quality and efficiency.
IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO BUY, MAKE ONE
Andatech’s production of the management system, the HUB, was an entirely in-house production of a central online platform where stock can be checked, individual pricing for resellers can be viewed, ordering, dispatching, warranty support cases, calibrations and vital information were integrated. It is an online system and is accessible by staff members in our Australia, Malaysia and Phillipines office.
As this is an entirely online system, resellers and customers can access the system too, and this automates and streamlines the overall business and improves our efficiency and productivity. This system supported us as a company but also made quality service delivery possible. It has made us independent as a business in the industry and a leader in the market.
WINING AN AWARD
Taking pride into our internally built system, we entered this creation as an initiative into the ABA100 Australian Awards this year and won 2 categories. Each year, the ABA100 winners are recognised, demonstrating transformative business and product innovation. Receiving these awards successfully validated not only our system but also our staff, products and services.
I believe that we have come a long way to what we have today, and without successful validation of our products and services, we would not have made it this far.