Never Underestimate the Value of an Idea

Wouldn’t it be great if you could find an item that normally sells for less than $100 and find a way to sell it for prices up to $1,500 or even more?  "Impossible!", you say?  Nope, Wally Krapf of Magnatag has found a way to sell white boards for those kinds of prices.  He even sells "systems" of multiple boards, for $10,000 and up.

The Startup Journal reports that while the Macedon, NY company has a tiny share of the $2 billion white board market, it still amounts to millions of dollars.  So, how does Magnatag manage to command such high prices?  Well, first, these are some high-quality items.  They’re made from steel with a coating of "MagnaLux", a porcelain-like material, not the usual flimsy stuff that the big box store boards are  constructed with.  Second, the boards are customized for specific  applications with pre-printed lines and boxes and an array of custom magnetized accessories that work with the steel boards.  There are more than 2,300 different Magnatags which can only be ordered from the company’s web site.

The New Orleans Saints use a custom Magnatag board to track draft choices.  A Colorado sherrif’s department uses a 12 foot by 8 foot model to manage rescue operations.  That’s a mighty big board, but it also carries a mighty big price; $4,000.

The boards sport catchy names like the "Long Ranger 24-Month Strategy Planner" and the "Hot or Not Performance Tracker", which Krapf says adds to the products perceived value.

The Journal quotes our old pal, Seth Godin on Krapf’s strategy.  "When you take a generic tool, and turn it into
something that is very specifically about the need for a customer, then they
will take the time to seek you out.  What most people do when they go into business is they try to fit in, and
what he [Krapf] did was try to stand out."

Isn’t that what we’re all trying to do; stand out?  At some point in his career, Wally Krapf recognized a need and found a way to fill it.  He found a "better way".  That’s the way it happens.  And the big ideas usually don’t come from big companies.  Sure, there are exceptions, like PostIt Notes from 3M, but most of the time, it’s the Bill Gateses and Steve Jobses, working in their garages that come up with the really good ones.  Every one of us is capable of coming up with the "big idea" if we just keep our eyes, and our minds, open.


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