Passion is always important to have when starting a business. I recently had the opportunity to interview Aaron Schwartz, co-founder of Modify Watches, about his business. Being a fan of watches and small businesses, it was great to learn more about how they are building a company that revolves around customers creating their own watch.
Modify Watches are super-dope, interchangeable watches. Customers can mix-and-match faces and straps to create the version that allows them to show their colors. Modify Watches has a thriving Facebook community. Their ModiFamily does not just “like” the company; they engage and converse on what designs to produce next. Aaron and his team will not stop creating Modify Watches until customers can complete their collection.
How did your company get its start?
My classmate Gary Coover and I co-founded Modify in 2010. We started the company with the simple goal of creating a fun product that was designed by and for our customers. We wanted to take little parts of Zappos (customer service), Threadless (co-creation with customers) and Apple (magic!) and pull them together into a company that made interchangeable products.
I am not a fashionable person and couldn’t tell anyone what to wear. However, watches are worn by everyone and that style is coming back. People wear ties, socks, earrings and watches to make a statement. Our affordable price point was created so customers can refresh straps and faces and everything is limited edition so every collection is different.
What is the most interesting part of your business?
I’ve been a big follower of the customization and co-creation spaces. Zazzle and Cafepress are examples of “customizers”, while Timbuk2 and NikeID are great examples of co-creation companies. Modify tries to play in the space in a unique way, by creating interchangeable products. By allowing customers to keep updating their designs, we’re giving our fans an affordable way to refresh their look.
The quote on our packaging says “We are not craftsman, we’re just good at listening to you.” When we first started our marketing budget was $0 so social media was big for us to interact with customers. How can we do better? What could we be doing different? We are able to receive feedback from customers and engage them in our company.
What is your company’s biggest challenge?
Companies want to co-brand for re-sale, as well as customize a watch as a gift for employees or fans. A major challenge for us is getting our minimum production numbers lower so that we can partner with smaller organizations and even customize unique timepieces for individuals at the same accessible price.
What sort of goals do you have for your company in the future?
Our number one goal is to be the leading interchangeable products company. We have licenses with some major brands (MLB Players Association, Tetris, Deadmau5, Cal, etc.) and have customized for various, companies and organizations. We also want to expand retail, designs, and how to build. Our goal is to take all of the lessons we’ve learned from watches and create other interchangeable products.
What advice do you have for other future business owners?
I have two major pieces of advice. The first one is that if you’re thinking about a business, you should just start. Some planning is good, but hard-work and experience is better. The sooner you start, the sooner you can refine and learn! Second, you will run into a lot of “walls”. I bet that within your network you will have contacts that have had some of the same struggles – or at the least know someone who has. Be open about your progress and your issues; no one will ever “steal” your idea, and you will be stunned at how many great advisers come out of the woodwork to help you.
How has QuickBooks Online helped your business?
I was a finance consultant and an MBA, but until I started Modify I didn’t exactly *get* what it took to manage a business financially. We started with our financials on a complex Excel file, but quickly moved to QuickBooks Online. There are a ton of benefits, but the three that I love the most are:
1) We are able to collaborate, in real time, with our accountant. If she has any issues or I have any questions, we can immediately discuss the issue
2) We have awesome reporting at-the-ready. If you’ve ever dealt with investors, you know the value of this!
3) I can easily invoice our customers. And keep track of our invoices! Cash is the lifeblood of a startup, and the simplicity of QBO helps us get paid sooner.
Intuit is giving away three Modify Watches to lucky readers of this article. No purchase necessary. Sponsored by Intuit. Open only to legal US residents of the 50 United States and D.C., must be at least 18 years old at time of entry. Void where prohibited.
How to enter:
Each contestant must like the Intuit Network facebook page. It’s that simple. Limit 1 entry per person. Sweepstakes begins 11 a.m. Pacific time on Nov. 1, 2012 and ends at 5 p.m. Pacific time on Nov. 23, 2012.
For full Official Rules, click here.
Winners will be chosen by Intuit and notified through email, direct message or phone call. Taxes are responsibility of the winner. Employees of Intuit Inc. and Modify Watches, and their respective parents, subsidiaries, affiliates, advertising agencies, and members of their immediate family, and any persons living in the same household, are not eligible to enter or win. Prize is one Modify Watch approximately valued at $55. Tweets must contain #SPON or link to the story.