Today’s guest has a fascinating entrepreneurial journey that has led from tech to… well, tape.
Just a couple years ago, Andy Musliner was a Chief Technology & Innovation Officer at an award-winning mobility company. Now Andy is the Founder and CEO of InRoad Toys, an award-winning toy company. Their premiere product, PlayTape, has revolutionized how the world plays with toy vehicles.
What it takes to start a business you have no knowledge about: data, guts, and having the right people
Andy had an idea to create the perfect toy road based on a need he saw when playing with his young son over 15 years ago.
But he knew nothing about the toy industry because he spent his whole career in the tech industry. Thus began his quest to learn everything about inventing, manufacturing, distributing and selling toys. This 12-year journey to understand all facets of the toy industry provided the important data points that were crucial to developing his go to market strategy.
Yet even after years of researching, observing, and analyzing the dynamics of the toy business, it came down to having the guts to just do it.
And as InRoad Toys started to gain momentum, he knew he needed great people to help him grow his operations because, without the best people, “pretty soon you’ll be toast.”
When starting a big project or developing a new idea, it’s important to take it slow and do your homework. Because too often, people just start doing without taking a step back, synthesizing what the landscape is like, and understanding the current dynamics. Even great ideas need a solid foundation based on data and information to create that strategic momentum.
It takes a long time to become an expert at something. If you are trying to take on a whole industry or business, you have a lot of learning to do.
Building a strategy isn’t easy. In Andy’s case, determining the strategic direction of how to go to market in the most effective way was considerably challenging. It required understanding all the different paths the he could explore before narrowing in on what avenue he should take.
Ultimately, it takes guts to just go out and commit to launching your business. Andy wasn’t just creating a new product, but also a new category of toys. So having the courage and belief that his product was a viable one in a viable category, despite all the naysayers, was a key criteria.
Assembling the right team early on is critical for new businesses and new projects. Andy believes in hiring A+ people. “If you don’t hire A+ people, everything goes downhill because B people hire C people, C people hire D people,” and so on.
Even startups can attract top talent by creating an opportunity that is compelling from both a vision perspective and a professional perspective.