TAMARA KLEINBERG heads up a fascinating company named the Shuuk – THE testing ground for the world’s coolest, newest ideas. Just so you aren’t confused, the Hebrew word shuuk describes a community marketplace, with all the vitality and energy that you’d expect.
Tamara is helping inventors and innovators by giving them a marketplace for their new products.
It’s kind of a proving ground, a test market, for all those new products which have no good way to get to a broad market. And that’s a valued assistance for someone who has a great idea, but struggles to develop a distribution channel and marketing strategy.
I had a chance to talk with Tamara this week about the story behind this company. She’s a refugee from Corporate America, like many of us, but she’s always had the bug to go out and start something on her own. This is the sixth or seventh company she’s started, so she brings a lot of experience to bear. It also helps that she has a background in marketing.
The idea started a few years ago when she was looking to buy unusual and innovative products by searching on the web, and found out that there’s no easy way to find them. Think about it: what would you type into Google to find a product that’s new and surprising?
So The Shuuk was born.
But it’s not just about helping consumers find strange products. Even more important is that they’re growing a rapidly expanding community of innovative thinkers around the world. They’ve been able to bring inventors together to share their best ideas face to face, and they mail out a daily e-letter which helps their community to stay on the leading edge.
That’s not easy to do, because, well, the leading edge is always moving. Fast.
I asked Tamara about how she measures success. “There’s the financials, of course, but there’s two more goals which are far more important:”
- To expand the community to at least 100,000 people around the world
- To help at least 500 entrepreneurs to bring the products to market by 2016
That’s ambitious. Absolutely. But it’s easy to see how this drives decisions inside the company.
For example, there’s talk in the online marketplace industry about how best to fulfill orders. I heard a report this week that Amazon is expanding their reliance upon suppliers to package and ship products, in order to reduce their need for big warehouses.
For new entrepreneurs, though, order fulfillment can be quite painful. Imagine that your passion is around inventing your next product. Do you really want to be checking your email five times a day to see if you received an order? And then package it up in a box, drive down to the post office, and ship it out yourself?
That gets old fast.
So theshuuk.com has a warehouse, and stocks their limited-supply products directly. They take care of the order processing, packaging, and shipping. In fact, Tamara was in the warehouse when I spoke with her, a place she finds joyful and energizing.
What does the future look like? As you can imagine, this company is encountering new challenges every day. They’re not looking toward explosive increase in their employees – perhaps that will just increase from four to about ten in the next few years. Growth will come from having the right community and software in place.
Right now she’s gearing up for the holiday season, which means she’s shifted away from PLANNING and is now DOING. But in January, she’s putting aside time to look at the next wave of challenges, to achieving those ambitious goals. That will likely include some serious work on their infrastructure, but for now duct tape and baling wire will probably do the job.
Tamara and this company are worth watching, because they’re out there doing leading-edge stuff. And staying out there.