If there is food which needs to be carried for a potluck, or leftover food which needs to be refrigerated, there is always a handy plastic Tupperware box which can be used. The name Tupperware is synonymous with storage boxes for food and which moms all over the world use it daily. Millennials will remember the days when moms used to be furious if a Tupperware box is not back home from school or from relatives places. So how did a simple plastic storage box brand like Tupperware gain the trust of mothers in over a hundred countries? Read further to find the interesting story of how Tupperware found its success.
Tupperware was designed and developed by a Chemical Engineer named Earl Silas Tupper in 1946. The plastic containers were non toxic, durable, flexible and odourless and were used to store food at home. The Tupperware containers came with the patented Tupper seal or ‘burp’ seal which was named after the sound the containers made when the lid was closed. These plastic products were designed for home use in the then new era of refrigerators. But the patented Tupper seal would face hiccups as the products were not picked off the shelves by customers as they had trouble understanding the ‘burp’ seal. It was then a lady named Brownie Wise created a revolutionary sales model which catapulted Tupperware to international fame.
Growth and Popularity:
Much of Tupperware’s growth and popularity across the globe is credited to a marketing pioneer named Brownie Wise. When she joined Tupperware in the early 1950s, she quickly realised Tupperware could be marketed to the American housewives who have just been asked to return back home after working, during the Second World War while the men were out on the frontlines. Brownie Wise created a sales model which is now called the ‘Party Plan.’ In this plan, women host parties which are attended by other women and these parties contained Tupperware products for sale. This also provided an alternative work option for women who wanted to stay at home but at the same time make money.
This party plan went on to become a great success and Brownie Wise incentivised the women in the plan by organising grand Jubilee Celebrations which were themed events aimed at recognising and rewarding top selling and top recruiting individuals. Tupperware’s only mode of sales was via the party plan for a very long time.
In recent years, Tupperware in North America has moved to a new business model which includes more emphasis on direct marketing channels and eliminated its dependency on authorized distributorships. This transition included selling through Target stores in the United States and Superstores in Canada with disappointing results. However, the party model still exists and Tupperware is promoted by approximately 1.9 million people who are associated on a contractual basis with the company.
Today Tupperware still continues to rule the world in terms of home storage for food and the company has even come up with a new line of products which cater to professional chefs. However, without the out of the box thinking and success of Brownie Wise and her phenomenal Tupperware home parties, Earl Tupper and Tupperware might not have seen the fame they enjoy in the world currently.
5 Warning Signs For A Startup To Avoid Failure
A startup can go on for months without paying attention to some warning signs which indicate imminent failure. The startup journey would be smooth until suddenly problems keep popping up one after the other. Founders will scramble to plug the holes in their startup which would often lead to a diversion of their energies to the problem rather than steering the startup towards their vision. Sometimes, the problems would not even come to light until and after a startup goes bust. While the warning signs are there, they often tend to be ignored till it is too late. However, looking for these signs and making a conscious effort to address them would definitely course correct a startup for good.
Here are the five warning signs for a startup to avoid failure
1) Unable to define customer needs
A startup always needs to be aware of the needs of their customers as well as understand these needs keep changing from time to time. Clients are the key to a successful startup even more important than investors. Addressing customer complaints and listening to feedback is highly important and needs to be followed through even though some of the feedback could be highly negative.
2) Failure to pivot
A startup could be doing great things and scaling up rapidly but can still go under if it does not adapt to the changing demands and technology. A business model or a product which is working now does not mean it would work forever. This has been the hubris for many well known startups and startups which successfully pivoted have thrived. For instance Blockbuster, the video rental chain was one of the biggest companies in the United States of America before they closed shop due to the arrival of Netflix. The online streaming platform offered Blockbuster an opportunity to acquire them and adapt their model but Blockbuster declined and the rest is history.
3) Not accounting for market forces
The market is a special place which could teach a lot of things to a startup about pricing, demand and supply, sales, management and so on. While things might be sailing smoothly for the time being, startups need to have contingency plans for scenarios which might happen in the future. Forecasting needs to be done for at least a year to ensure smooth flow of operations. The recent COVID-19 pandemic is a prime example as a lot of startups were completely blindsided. While the situation could be termed as an act of god, some startups have put away some funds for use exactly for times like these. Another example would be UberEats in India, which did not account for a saturated market in food delivery which is ruled by Zomato and Swiggy. This led to them having to sell the business to Zomato.
4) Mistimed products
While a startup can come up with a game changing idea, releasing it into the market should be a calculated affair. There is a risk of the product not being accepted widely in the market even though the technology and the idea behind it is ages ahead of its time. This has led to many products to fail miserably only to have another player taste success with the same idea. Famous examples of failures and success respectively include Orkut and Facebook, Meru and Ola, Foodpanda and Zomato, Blackberry messenger and Whatsapp.
5) Running out of cash
Working capital management is the biggest focus point for any startup as it directly impacts the survivability of a startup. Running out of capital is one of the biggest reasons startups often fail apart from poor product fit and failed pivots. Take the case of Hola Chef for example, a startup which connects users with chefs who cook exotic meals. Venture capitalists loved the idea of this startup but the arrival of Zomato and Swiggy saw investors backing out of Hola Chef which ultimately led the startup to shut down and eventually be acquired by Ola backed Foodpanda.
If you can locate any of these warning signs, you could better adjust the course of your startup to navigate choppy markets and to mitigate those risks on the road to survival and growth.
What Is Organisational Development And Why Is It Important
The market is a highly competitive and a volatile place as customer needs and preferences keep changing without any warning. A startup or an organisation needs to be flexible with the ever changing demands and needs in order to adapt to sudden changes. Many high performing startups had to close shop because they simply could not account and plan for the future. Nokia had to shut shop because it could not adapt to the iOS and Android operating systems, Blockbuster closed down because Netflix disrupted their entire business model and there are many more such examples. However, some companies survived due to multiple changes in technology like Philips for instance, which realised the importance of LED and incandescent bulbs. Philips quickly adapted these new bulbs into their roster because they understood Tungsten filament bulbs would be phased out.
This is where Organisational Development (OD) comes into play and almost every startup which continuously adapted to change applied principles of organisational development.
What is organisational development
In simple terms organisational development means doing something which ensures the longevity of an organisation. OD ensures people and processes can adapt to change, innovate and be in a state of constant transformation. OD can only be successful if it is part of a company’s core goal.
Why is OD important
OD does not mean just developing skilled staff and efficient systems and the following are the reasons why OD is important.
1) Boosting emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to relieve stress, communicate effectively and empathize with others. Emotionally intelligent companies develop strategies in place to help their employees hone their skills and become more productive. A simple example would be to assign a new employee to shadow an experienced member of the team so they could learn the in and outs of the team processes. Similarly external mentors could be brought in to offer sessions on topics relevant to a team.
2) Attracting and retaining talent
Gone are the days when jobs used to be monotonous and devoid of much learning. The current workforce is highly focussed and needs to learn new skills and data quickly. The workforce has come to expect a certain kind of professional development from their employers. Having an environment of continuous learning would encourage current talent to stick to an organization and at the same time provides a huge incentive to attract new and great talent. Some of the top organizations like Salesforce, Indeed, Google and Microsoft to name a few are always in demand among job seekers and their workforce constantly keep talking about the developmental opportunities provided.
3) Product and service enhancement
One of the key importance of OD is it drastically improves the chances of innovation which leads to product enhancements. Innovation is achieved through employee development, which focuses on rewarding successes and boosting motivation and morale. Processes like Technology development, patents, manufacturing capabilities, consumer preferences, target market analysis are some of OD topics which assist in innovation. An example would be OnePlus which is deemed as a flagship killer in the mobile segment because they understand the market need for having a premium phone with flagship features for an unbeatable price. Year after year, they have exceeded expectations in terms of pricing and features because OnePlus understands the needs of their target market.
OD programs in an organization can greatly contribute to amplify a company’s ability to manage and maximise the power of change. Gone were the days when a job was an exchange of time and energy for financial gain. Today employees want a place of learning and a place where ideas are discussed freely and having an OD plan will greatly contribute to the success of an organization.
Top Five Free Communication Tools For Startups
In one of our previous articles published recently, we broached the importance of communications both internal and external, for startups. Good communication needs to be nurtured and can become a powerful tool. While communication can be done across various mediums like social media, e-mails, blog posts, newsletters, press releases and advertisements there are certain tools which a majority of startups prefer to use. This is because, some of these tools offer a lot of features, a good user interface and experience combined with value for money.
We have explored and compiled a list of top five free communication tools which will be useful for startups. Some of these tools are easily recognisable as we use them to some degree or the other in our day to day lives.
Slack is a communications platform designed specifically for businesses. Slack is a simple interface which comes in the form of chat rooms. Each of these rooms are organised by topics and can be private or public. Slack also offers private messaging and is a good bet for startups which are just scaling up as they offer a free plan as well. The free plan however allows only the 10,000 most recent messages to be viewed and searched.
Trello is another communications tool which is highly preferred because it has a Kanban style approach towards communication. Kanban is a lean method to manage and improve work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of bottlenecks. A Kanban Board is used to implement Kanban management. Users can create task boards which have columns including task statuses such as ‘To Do,’ ‘In Progress,’ ‘Done.’ For startups Trello offers a free fourteen day trial which includes unlimited boards, automation and strong privacy.
3) Microsoft Teams
This communications tool is an offering from Microsoft and offers workspace chat and video conferencing, file storage, and application integration. Users can chat in groups or privately and even send files across the platform. It also includes video and voice calling over the internet. For the free version, Microsoft Teams offers users to host unlimited rooms for 60 minutes and hosting upto hundred participants. Moreover, users get ten gigabytes of free cloud storage and unlimited chat options.
ALSO READ: Importance Of Communications For A Startup
Zoom, a video conferencing tool which shot into the limelight in 2020, in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. This tool allowed businesses to move their work online and ensured workflow was not disturbed. Zoom stepped up to the challenge effortlessly taking on all the bandwidth and usage it is currently experiencing. Zoom has also removed time limits for the conference calls and made the entire suite free of cost for schools and businesses in the affected regions across the globe, thereby further increasing its popularity. The free trial allows users to host rooms with upto 100 participants and unlimited one on one meetings, as well as group minute meetings for upto 40 minutes.
Skype is another offering from Microsoft and is one of the oldest known online communications platforms. It supports text, audio, and video chat and integrates with Microsoft Office components like powerpoint. Skype is a free to use communications platform and can be used across a variety of platforms like mobile phones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers.
This concludes the list of top five free communications platforms available in the market for startups and medium sized businesses. Let us know if you are already using any of these or plan on using them in the future in the comments below.
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