Looking into the Future of Tesla

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This is in fact not from Unsplash.

 
Ah, Tesla. Without a doubt the most controversial company I have seen in my young career. For each person who I’ve seen who is against Tesla, there is another that is for it. For this blog post, I wanted to go over Tesla in detail, discussing both sides of the argument and then coming to conclusions as to which endpoint seems more probable. If you’ve seen my podcast , you know that I’ve already discussed this very much in depth; however, I felt it was appropriate to sit down and compile all the pieces together.
 

The For Side

There’s no questioning that Tesla is in the hearts of a lot of people as a bastion not only for the automotive industry but for business in general. There is definitely a lot of clamors for Tesla to pull through as a company, and although that can equate to sales, it doesn’t necessarily equate to sales. That said, Tesla has recently pulled through into profitability, with their most recent fiscal report showcasing that the production of cars has finally caught up with demand. This is massive; most companies that move from the negative cash flow stage to the positive cash flow stage tend to go on to be in it for the long run. While one quarter of positive net income doesn’t mean sustainable positive cash flow, it still is definitely something to celebrate.
 
Another pro-Tesla argument I’ve been hearing has been the comparison of Tesla to early Amazon, where investors and other business-types were bearish on the company ended up being extraordinarily wrong. To be honest, I’m a bit skeptical of this argument. I have a hard time equating an electric car company with an internet e-commerce service. Certainly, both used unorthodox methods of growth, but I don’t know if that’s enough to equate the two. Still, time has yet to tell on this one, and it could easily end up becoming true.
 

The Against Side

One particularly interesting thing I’ve noticed about the demographics of the two sides of this argument is that the people who are against Tesla tend to have much more experience in finance and business. Does this make them more credible? Perhaps, but before we conclude that we should first consider what they’re saying in the first place.
The first big argument against Tesla is in its lofty goals. Tesla’s overall mission statement and process isn’t really something anyone has ever been able to accomplish before, and so far (with the exception of that recent report) it doesn’t really seem like they’re getting anywhere close to accomplishing it. If anything, its just created a lot of stress for Tesla employees, who are desperately trying to create a market while industry heavyweights like GM and Nissan can easily scoop in with their resources. Sure electric cars are a new market, but it’s not that outwardly of a new market, and veteran players won’t have much trouble in adapting to it.
The second argument is probably the biggest one that Tesla is currently facing; it’s the investigations. A few months ago the SEC began a civil probe into Tesla after Elon Musk claimed that funding was secured to take the company private at $420. This probe ended up being cut off short, as Musk took a generous civil settlement which lobbed both him and Tesla with a mild fine and kicked him off the Board of Directors for three years. This seems like the razing of a bullet if anything; depending on the board’s current disposition for Musk, they are likely just to put a stand-in in his place. Shortly after this occurred, however, an FBI criminal investigation was started which appears to have been heating up recently. As of last week, this investigation expanded past the take-private case and into the scrutiny of the production goals and numbers given in earnings reports in the past. From this, numerous former Tesla employees were questioned, as well as appear to still be being questioned. The fate of the FBI case remains uncertain.
 

Conclusions

Naturally, I hedge on the side of caution. I do believe that there is more fundamental evidence on the side opposing Tesla, but at the same time, I do find it hard to believe that such a large company could collapse solely due to missing a few production quotas. However, that belief only stays assuming that the investigations go nowhere, as there are plenty of large companies that have fallen overnight due to criminal investigations. So, I think as of now it’s a relatively 50/50 shot that changes based on that very investigation. It is one hundred percent true, I believe, that Tesla right now is at a crossroads that will decide its fate as a company; if it could make it past this then it can make it past anything, but if it can’t, then its likely that we aren’t going to be hearing too much from it anymore in a few years.
 
Have your own Tesla argument that wasn’t mentioned in this post? Feel free to post it in the comments below. Like this post? Then I encourage you to follow the blog as well as my Twitter, where you can keep up to date on all my new stuff.

Startup Challenge, Week 8 – The End (of the Beginning)

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We developed our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided to launch the week of 10/8 – 10/14

Now, for the newest updates:

 

Post Analysis

The work that we’ve been building up to for eight weeks is finally done! On Tuesday, October 9th at approximately 10:30am, the first official season of BOYS DON’T CRY LLC launched. At the end of the day I’m glad it got done – and I’m also glad that the shirts actually turned out relatively good. Anyway, since this is a pretty small launch, there’s not a lot of analysis to go over, but I did promise it and so we are going to go through a few points.

Sales and Traction

Our total number of sales for the first week of the launch is an epic, phenomenal, whopping… zero. Which, if you’ve ever launched something for the first time (like I have) more than not that’s what’s to be expected. Unless you’ve gotten previous traction (or have a budget, like I did not), more often than not you’re in it for the long game. I knew this going in, so there’s very little disappointment here – overall my prediction for December 31st is to have at least 2-3 sales.

What’s really impressive here is how much traction the BDC twitter got in such a short time. Using some simple growth strategies, BDC broke 100 followers about twice as fast as the Astukagaming twitter did. In terms of other statistics, we got about 2.4k impressions over the month (pretty standard from what I can tell) and got about a 6.6% engagement rate which is actually really nice. And yet, I still see something to be desired…

Throughout the process of BDC, I felt a little confused as to who my target audience should specifically be. I started off targeting people who were followers of Redbubble and other related shops, but these tended to be other creators and thus had much more trepidation in following and sharing BDC. So instead, I decided to go for luxury brands… people who were interested in things such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. etc. And while this gave us our current stats, I do wonder how willing these people would be to buy Redbubble designs. So… who should be the target audience of BDC?

Lessons Learned

This takes us into lessons for the next season. First of all, I think experimentation with finding perfect product fit is key here, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Luxury brands somewhat work, because the buyers are willing and designs are relatively similar, but many members of this audience buy luxury brands solely due to prestige, not design. What I’d like to target is individuals who are love good designs but at the same time wish to go cheap.

I also think doing some tests on performing discounts in the future would be interesting – the “limited time” methodology tends to have high success in fashion and so I’d like to test it for the shop. Finally, I think continuing to build traction is also very important. Staying consistent with promotion and growth is definitely something I want to do going forward.

Looking Forward

And so while Season 2 probably won’t come any time soon (I have a heaping of other projects I have to get on), I’ll continue with passively marketing BDC as well as experimenting with the things that I had mentioned. I think overall there was a lot to get out of this project even though it wasn’t tech specific, and so I’m glad it happened.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 7 – The Launch

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Photo by SpaceX on Unsplash

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We continued to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We struggled to find some time to work on the project

Now, for the newest updates:

 

It’s all done

So this is probably two weeks overdue, but the most important part is that we finally got to the point where all shirts are now finalized! Will they look good on a person? No idea, the designs are only simulated – but they appear that they’d look good, so I think it’s now time to get passed the product stage and on to our final stage: launch.

It’s clear that my window for launch is either this week or next week. I know that, personally, I won’t be available from Friday Oct. 5 to Tuesday Oct. 9. Now the question is whether I should do it before the break or after the break…

Benefits of before: I get it out fast and wake up to the results on Tuesday. Benefits of after: I can spend even more time refining and answer any questions that might arise as soon as I get them. It seems like my natural (though limited) entrepreneurial experience is telling me to go for the latter; it might be more time to wait for a launch, but at this point I think the only person who is anxious about it is me, so the further delay shouldn’t affect anything.

As you could probably tell by the dates which I won’t be available, there will be no blog post next week. Instead, the week after that, we’ll do a post-launch roundup as well as some key takeaways and next steps for the launch.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter , which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 6 – Slow Gains

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Photo by Joel Magenta Mathey on Unsplash. A tortoise, because tortoises are slow (also, what’s the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Is there one?)

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We began to prep for the Season 1 launch

Now, for the newest updates:

Slow… but Steady?

Alright, this is probably going to be a super short blogpost. Reason being is that, well… I didn’t actually get anything done this week. And I don’t mean I didn’t get anything done in general (trust me, I got a LOT done) it’s just that when it came to simple priority, the startup wasn’t high on my list… take that as you will. My reasoning for it is that right now separating attention from the startup isn’t really going to kill it; the twitter account is still gaining followers, and we don’t really have any customers or product yet to manage. Whereas when it comes to other things on my calendar, they have a much greater make or break capacity. So even though there will be a point where I’ll have to put in much longer and more consistent hours into the startup, right now it appears totally fine to keep it on the backburner for at least a little bit.

There is good news out of this, however, and it is that my schedule is finally normalized! Yup; no weird, out of place 8pm meetings anymore. Everything set on my calendar now should be like that til at least the end of the semester, which means that I can more easily devote time to BDC. Which means that (and this is TENTATIVE) hopefully the launch will be at the end of this week! Pretty much everything product wise is exactly how I left it last week; there’s just three minor edits I need to make, and then we’re ready for launch. Let’s hope things go smoothly from there.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 5 – A Bit of a Break

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Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash. I don’t make sunglasses but I’m running out of pictures so here we are.

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided that we would delay our launch from Week 4 to Weeks 5-6.

Now, for the newest updates:


Some Leeway

 I’ve made quite a few products on Redbubble in the past, and there’s always one constant; whatever you make, no matter how much you follow the steps, still doesn’t look good. A decal is always cut off on a shirt, or a line of text is way too small no matter how much you try to fix it.

However, with the launch of BDC, it looks like Life (just this once) wanted to give me a solid. For the first time in my entire history of using this site, all of the shirts in rough draft form look totally fine on the shirt, which is kind of crazy. The only real final draft edits that need to be made is in re-aligning the image to look best on the shirt, which is something that pretty much always happens, and is pretty easy to fix.

Overall, I’m thinking things look positive for a launch sometime next week. All I really need to do now is find some time to make those small adjustments. As for marketing, things are beginning to speed up, which I’m happy about; the one good thing about the constant delays is that, since we’re getting new followers on the Twitter page every day, we have just a bit more traction for launch.

Right before launch, I also just want to do a pre-test of sorts where I predict our total amount of interest and sales from the launch and see if it matches up to what is reality. I’ve done quite a few creative-based launches in the past (some much bigger than this) so I do wonder if I’ve actually learned anything by this point.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 4 – Startups are Hard

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided that we would launch at the end of the fourth week, though things are about to change…

Now, for the newest updates:


A Small Delay

As work continues on the t-shirt designs, I’ve begun to realize I might not quite hit the launch milestone we were planning on after all. In response to this, I’ve decided on three different things: a) I’m going the lower the number of shirts released in Season 1 from six to four, b) I’m going to release all the new shirts at once, and c) Season 1 will be delayed by at least one week.

My reasoning for these moves is this: first of all, I want the release to be based more on quality than quantity; this is especially true if more seasons are planned for the future. I definitely need some more time with some of these shirts to make sure the concepts translate well (they often don’t!). As for releasing all the shirts at once, this is more of a personal decision. I think it makes more sense to release all of a season at once, then allow a couple of months to pass, rather than to consistently be posting new shirts.

This is really the only update I have for now. You might have noticed that the name of this series has changed from 30DayStartupChallenge to just Startup Challenge; that’s because this will no longer be within 30 days! Whoops, sorry Ben Tossell. However, I believe good things are ahead. At the very least, I’ll get these shirts out god damn it.

 

As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

30DayStartup, Week 3 — The Ramp-up

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This is an Unsplash image by rawpixel. For some reason, it won’t let me copy the source this time.

Previously on the 30DayStartup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We decided that our marketing would be through a new twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc) and through my own instagram account.
  • We decided that we would launch at the end of the fourth week, which is now getting uncomfortably close.

Now, for the newest updates:

Design: Things are Rough

Things aren’t rough literally speaking (well, not yet at least); they’re rough as in the first few rough drafts of season 1 t-shirts are now finished! These designs still need to be optimized for Redbubble prints, but they’re successful translations from the concept art. As of now I have 3 shirts still in concept stage, 3 rough drafts, and 0 final drafts. This may or may not be good progress for launch (which is coming up now in two weeks), but I guess we’ll find out.

This has also made me wonder about how the season 1 launch should go in general. Should it be incremental, with say a new shirt arriving every week til the end of the season, or released all at once? Things to think about…

Marketing: A Slow but Steady Climb

As for Twitter, things are going… smoothly. I guess. It’s been awhile since I got my AG twitter (@astukagaming) up from 10 to 370+ followers. As far as I know, I’m following the same strategy and so we should be seeing some major boosts coming in soon. Will the boosts come in time for launch? Probably not… but I don’t think that matters. Besides, we still need to do the work of converting followers into buyers, which will be a challenge all its own.

 

So that’s about all my progress for this past week, and it’s what I’m focusing on. This next week will likely be dedicated to getting everything into rough draft form and beginning to convert to final, as well as keeping up the twitter work. As always, feel free to follow this blog if you wish to see more, or follow me on twitter (@astukari) for more updates on progress.