A friend of mine here in Austin is a really interesting guy named Mike Beal. He started a company, Beal Solutions, which provides packaging, just-in-time-delivery, and logistics services to big companies like Dell. Mike's products and services eliminate waste, reduce freight cost, and are environmentally friendly. He does a lot of international work and has even set up transportation and services networks in the Pacific Rim, Mexico, and the USA for Fortune 100 companies. Pretty cool for one guy to set all that up don't you think?
But what is even more interesting is an idea that Mike had for a baggage "lock" which he sells to consumers. It's called a Tamper Tell and the story behind it is really interesting. Apparently there was an Australian woman who traveled to Thailand (or maybe Singapore, I can't recall her exact Asian destination) on vacation. She checked her baggage in Australia before boarding her plane. When she got to Thailand and started through customs a drug-sniffing dog targeted her bag. The next thing she knows she is doing 20 to life in a Thai prison. What happened? Was she a drug smuggler?
No, this poor woman wasn't a drug smuggler. What happened was that actual drug smugglers in that part of the world often work through baggage handlers who stash drugs in random bags and tell the recipient on the other end which bags to look for. In other words, had this woman successfully made it through customs someone would have stolen her bag to get the drugs that she had unknowingly brought to the country. Pretty scary.
So, Mike created the Tamper Tell product, a plastic strip that has little grooves in it. You place the ends through the holes in your zipper pulls on your luggage and the Tamper Tell stays on unless it is tampered with. Each one also has a unique serial number. Before you check your bags you attach the Tamper Tell to your zipper and you pull off one of the serial number tags so that if your bag is tampered with you can show Customs the little tag to prove it. I don't know if that holds up in a court of law but it sure is a better scenario than not having such a product in place at all.
I seldom check my bags because of the cavalier attitude that most airlines have toward them. However when I do I use the Tamper Tell product and it really gives me peace of mind. I have a theory that people who want to steal from bags probably go for the low hanging fruit, the bags that are easy to get into. I think if you put any kind of impediment in place you probably increase your chances of not being burgled.
This post isn't really intended to be an ad for Tamper Tell but more to talk about the clever idea that Mike Beal had and that he turned into a successful business. Apparently Tamper Tell is a super-popular product in Australia and Asia and he just started selling it more aggressively in the U.S. Mike saw a problem and he came up with a clever solution. And, what's even more impressive is that he is successfully selling the solution.
Many people come up with great ideas but they don't know how to sell them. Successful entrepreneurs are able to conceive of an idea, make it come to life, and sell it to customers. Mike sells his product through SkyMall magazine, travel stores, travel catalogs, and online. He launched the product in Australia in response to the drug smuggling problems and is gradually marketing the product worldwide. That is one key to success for any entrepreneur: start with a manageable market segment.
If you are a small company, don't try to do a huge worldwide launch of a new product. Launch your product in a smaller area and, as you become successful, increase your radius and sell through more channels over a larger geographic area. Or, if you have an online business, start selling through your website and maybe a couple of others and gradually increase the number of channels over time. But don't try to market your product through every website on the net before you see what works when you sell through just a few sites.
Mike Beal is a successful entrepreneur whom I really admire...check out his websites and get inspired to create your own successful business! Beal Solutions Tamper Tell
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