We interviewed Alon Tamir, of Studio Proper, to talk about how he created an impressive range of iPhone and iPad accessories
What’s your name, your background and what business do you run?
I’m Alon Tamir, Founder & CEO at Studio Proper.
Studio Proper was borne out of the desire to find a way to mount an iPad (Gen 1) to the wall, as a way of improving the experience for activities like music and movies. The initial solution comprised of a protective iPad case that connected to a small puck-shaped wall mount disk. This initial system has grown into a range of accessories for iPad and iPhone used by people and businesses globally.
Is there anything in your past that led to opening the business?
Just an idea, and a healthy dose of embracing risk to launch the idea, with zero knowledge in any field related to its success.
What was the process of designing, manufacturing and bringing your first product or service to market?
That was a massive learning curve considering I was starting everything from scratch. The entire process included turning an experience into a physical product concept, the technical process of designing it for manufacture, manufacturing the initial run, and then ultimately setting up global logistics for delivery to over 60 countries.
I designed the top level concept and then engaged with Industrial Design contractors to get me from concept to CAD. The process included a number of iterations on the visual design using photo realistic render software. Then we leveraged rapid prototyping to test the functionality.
Discoveries from the physical prototype testing phase informed some visual design adjustments towards a valid, resolved solution to both form and function.
I took a very lean ‘dive-in’ approach. I searched Alibaba and google to find manufacturers that ‘looked right’ and lined up phone calls with each over one week.
Two weeks later I was on the ground in Shenzhen touring 10 factories. Ultimately, I chose a partner based on gut feel for trustworthiness and ability to output a quality product at an initially small scale.
My strategy was to focus on smaller, family run manufacturing businesses where the relationship and desire for shared successful outcomes was central.
” Two weeks later I was on the ground in Shenzhen touring 10 factories. Ultimately, I chose a partner based on gut feel for trustworthiness and ability to output a quality product at an initially small scale.”
In terms of logistics, we didn’t have the luxury of time to consider many options initially, a week after launching the website we had thousands of pre orders that needed to deliver to customers in over 60 countries on day one.
Considering this, we took delivery of the entire first production run in Australia and shipped globally from my parents dining room table.
This quickly proved unsustainable and from the second product run we moved to a global 3PL strategy for pick/pack/ship fulfilment.
My advice is to find a solution that integrates seamlessly with your eCom platform to ensure it’s a low touch/no touch process. Also, make sure there’s a person you can call, any time, to resolve any issues that arise. Logistics is complex, and your customer satisfaction is at stake with each delivery problem.
Each step is extremely complex and involved a lot of trial and error. 6 years later and we’re still endlessly fine tuning each phase of the process.
“My advice is to find a solution that integrates seamlessly with your eCom platform to ensure it’s a low touch/no touch process. “
What strategies or marketing channels do you most rely on?
We rely primarily on digital marketing, and strong partnerships with distributors and resellers who are crucial for the success of our range designed for business owners.
Google primarily, and instagram for organic audience/community building.
My preference is to focus on the most measurable marketing channels, and for that you cannot beat the Google platform.
The challenges are ongoing in that these strategies cannot be set and forget, and require constant tweaking to respond to algorithm changes and ensure continued growth in ROAS.
What platform, tools or software do you use for your business?
Our eCommerce is built upon Shopify. We rely internally on tools like slack and trello for communications and project management. The google suite allows us to be an entirely cloud based, paperless operation.
(Editor – if you’re looking for more great Ecommerce resources, then check this out)
What does the next 12 months look like for your business, and for yourself, professionally?
We’re entering a phase of massive scale-up. We’ve refined our range and offering over the past few years to remove as many ‘unknowns’ as we can. We have formalised global partnerships that are aligned with our brand ethos. The key objective now for us as a company is to scale and grow in every direction.
Scale up for us is growing customer reach through strategic partnerships.
Whilst we don’t have immediate motivations to grow the range count, we are constantly evolving existing solutions to ensure they continuously add value.
The more enjoyable design and innovation challenge is fine tuning existing solutions instead of adding new bolt on products.
“We’ve refined our range and offering over the past few years to remove as many ‘unknowns’ as we can…The key objective now for us as a company is to scale and grow in every direction.”
What have you learned through this process that you didn’t know or think was important beforehand?
Everything. Quite literally – coming from a place of healthy blissful ignorance has meant that every stage involved massive amounts of discovery and learning. Crucial to this has been trusted partners and a close ear to what the market tells us every day.
If we had to pick one resource to rely on, it would be people. Talk to everyone you can reach as early as possible in the process.
Ignore opinion, but listen for top level ideas/themes that you hadn’t considered important or considered relevant.
Integrate what you hear into your thought process moving forward and continuously build awareness through context.
“If we had to pick one resource to rely on, it would be people. Talk to everyone you can reach as early as possible in the process. “
What do you wish you knew before starting?
Studying industrial design would have been a benefit in the early years, and would have saved us some costly mistakes.
We have a highly skilled in house industrial design team now, and they ensure our product invention, refinement and commercialisation processes are robust.
What resources would you recommend for others looking to start a business?
My go-to podcasts are Masters of Scale, How I Built This, and The Pitch
Do you have any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own ecommerce business?
Do it and ignore 99% of the advice you get. Learn to hone trust in your ‘gut’ on as many decisions as possible.
Where can we go to learn more about you and your business?
- Visit our site at: Studioproper.com.au