If Necessity is the Mother of Invention, then its father surely served in the military. Military families know what it’s like to make do. Here’s how the Maneen family turned a simple children’s clothing malfunction into a business opportunity.
Improvise, Adapt, Overcome
The story begins with a relatively simple complaint: when Leslie Maneen would dress their two infant daughters, the pretty baby headbands would slip down from their foreheads to around their necks. With some ingenuity, Leslie created a design for an adjustable baby headband. She received rave reviews from friends and family and decided to try selling them online. But Leslie was disappointed when she saw that the Etsy marketplace was overwhelmed with vendors selling children’s headbands.
Her husband, Army Captain Adam Maneen, saw her disappointment. He said, “It’s too bad you can’t highlight the fact that you are a military spouse. I bet people would want to buy from you.”
Thus, the Patriotic Online Marketplace was born.
Better than Etsy
Patriotic Online Marketplace (POMP) provides a dedicated marketplace for Service Members, First Responders, Veterans, or their immediate family members to sell their products to the public.
Sure, there’s other sites; like Amazon Marketplace and Etsy. Not only are they crowded but they cost more. POMP doesn’t charge listing fees, membership fees, and only earn 3% commission on sales compared to Etsy’s $0.20 listing fee, 3.5 % transaction fee and 3% + $0.25 payment processing fee.
Patriotic Online Marketplace enables a business owner to start an e-commerce website with unique url for free and they claim that would-be entrepreneurs can be up and running in 10 minutes.
According to Kate from Tattered Flag Designs, "... It has the simplicity of Etsy, but all the functions of an actual [ecommerce] website."
Adam and Leslie understand the value of a simple and effective product. It's their hope to use POMP as a foundation to provide an accelerator and cultivate patriotic businesses and invest in their success.
Advice for Entrepreneurs from the Founders:
When asked about the advice he would give aspiring military entrepreneurs, Adam and Leslie have these tips.
Moonlight while you can; Patriotic Online Marketplace would not have been possible without a steady income. We have been able to take risk along the way knowing our basics are covered.
Expect to sacrifice. My kids are going to eat, be clothed, and have a safe place to sleep and those are non-negotiable. My sleep is negotiable.
Ignore the white noise. Most 'friends' are indifferent to Patriotic Online Marketplace and others doubt we can become successful; the same will be true for you. We have less friends now than we did before, but the quality has gone way up.
Research. Learn as much as you possibly can about your specific market and about business in general. Find a mentor, listen, ask questions, and learn from others before making your own mistakes. Most people are pretty open about business mistakes they have made, you just have to ask.
Plan & execute. I hear so many people with 'ideas'. Having an idea and executing a plan are different; one involves risk and the other is just an idea.