Austin entrepreneur, Richard Trocino had a great product idea. And, like thousands of other innovative inventors with a new product concept, bringing that idea into a marketplace dominated by long established brands with deep links and dominance in the retail outlets is challenging. In these days of mega corporations and Walmarts, VCs and small business defined by the government in the land of opportunity, one entrepreneur with a grand idea or product may be considered by any of those groups as irrelevant and insignificant. Another challenge faced by small businesses in today’s marketplace, like in Trocino’s case, is getting an idea produced and generating sales.
In spite of impossible odds, Trocino’s invention sells almost faster today than his factories can produce and distribute all over the world. The established companies that were given the opportunity to brand and produce it, now may be wishing they had not dismissed the popular product so readily. Not when the blogosphere is broadcasting around the globe faster and with more range than a speeding bullet; comments appearing include; “OHSO gets my nod for the most stylish and futuristic toothbrush/toothpaste contraption on the market today”, “The Coolest Toothbrush Ever”, and “World’s Most Elegant Travel Toothbrush”.
Trocino received micro level funding to get the prototypes built and into limited manufacturing through friends and family after attempts to license the product to both toothpaste and toothbrush companies fell on deaf ears. Similarly, Trocino found his innovation locked out of normal channels of retailing without the benefits of an established proven brand in the marketplace.
Discouraged, but undaunted Trocino abandoned efforts to take the product to market using traditional marketing methods. Instead, like entrepreneurs who have met with unexpected success throughout business history he proceeded by seat of the pants and gut instinct. Acting on a hunch, he put it out there exclusively in the world of the internet and ignored the traditional “wisdom” of standard marketing techniques—no phones, faxes, or printed paper junk mail—nothing but net. A guerrilla marketer does not have the luxury of the corporate behemoths who can afford (since it’s investor’s and stockholders money not their own) to throw 98% of their marketing dollars away on a numbers game in a business model that justifies and covers its inherent wastefulness by overcharging those sold customers the expenses of marketing to everyone else.
Trocino decided to be a “Swamp Fox” marketer, like General Francis Marion who befuddled the British in South Carolina during the Revolutionary war, and break all the rules of modern marketing warfare. Marketing is a form of warfare and many entrepreneurs have discovered the reality of today’s business battlefields. The corporations and financiers have in today’s market reality stacked the deck against upstart competition by raising the ante into the game of commerce. One unnamed entrepreneurial internet advice columnist estimates the cost of entry to even be considered for funding by an angel or VC group at between $25,000 and $250,000. That is merely for the development of the business plan, and pre-start up consulting, general expenses and to purchase access to their secretive inner circle. Trocino decided to wander into the unknown swamp of the internet and blogsphere and see what people would do when offered his innovation directly.
Trocino, like most entrepreneurs, is a risk taker, but like most smart business persons likes to reduce risk wherever possible. He knew a good concept poorly executed had little chance of success in the market, so he took his idea to a locally based but internationally known design firm called “Design Edge” and negotiated a co-marketing partnership for assistance in ‘packaging’ his innovation. Trocino knew that people who travel a lot would naturally respond favorably to the concept of an integrated toothpaste dispensing toothbrush in a self contained case that protects clothing in suitcases as well as keeps things neat and sanitary. With the co-marketing partnership with ‘Design Edge’ the product took on a new personality within a sexy futuristic design that takes the basic utilitarian idea and wraps it in fashionability and elegance.
Then with a few well chosen words, a friend with a good photographic eye and a smattering of html code, Trocino put up a website at http://www.goOHSO.com, and invited a few friends through http://MySpace.com to look at his new line of toothbrushes. MySpace would become the testing ground and ultimate launch pad for the rollout of his product.
With its stylish modern design and elegant photography, the buzz it generated in cyberspace was somewhat unexpected. In fact, it was explosive!
Driven by the dynamics of blogosphere where coolness and fashionability become badges of personal taste and sophistication, the OHSO toothbrush rapidly found its way onto the personal blogs of graphic designers, and jet setters as the coolest thing since crystal ice. When Josh Spears, the blogger’s blogger posted his rave of the sleek product, sales and global visibility exploded. Even the legendary Steven Wozniak, the cofounder of another innovative product, Apple computer, is counted among the OHSO toothbrush users and fans.
Today the product is available in high fashion boutiques in the swanky Beverly Hills bastions of elegance and among the cappuccino makers and executive toys on the shelves of Brookstone stores around the country. Blogs have elevated the sensible, functional, practical toothbrush for harried travelers into fashion statements that provide high status and cool despite it’s less than $20 price tag.
Not a bad state of affairs for the beaming Trocino who is today expanding the line with even more designs to satisfy the market demands. OHSO is a product that owes its success to a seat of the pants approach to beat the corporate gorillas with a bit of his own guerilla marketing. He simply put it out there in the vast uncharted cyber world where the old MBA strategies have no more influence on the hip youth market than the full color fall outs in the increasing unread Sunday paper.
Today freedom of the personal press in the global Blogsville rules a small voice with a message, or product like the OHSO toothbrush, can be magnified into a global phenomena. When people like what they see, they tell their friends, who today are everywhere. Just like Richard Trocino’s classy and well designed toothbrush.