Two MIT Graduates Started Magis Industries To Launch Viral Consumer Products
In our digital age, rapidly evolving user taste makes satisfying dynamic customer trends difficult for consumer packaged good companies. Bringing new merchandise to market in the social media era presents a unique challenge for traditional firms, but two MIT graduates are working to create a leaner, faster product development process through their new startup.
Victoria Gregory and Gabriel Alba-Rivera teamed up to start Magis Industries, the millennial consumer goods product conglomerate. Magis is focused on developing consumer products based on viral social media trends. The duo aim to produce these trendy goods through their lean, fast, and vertically integrated product development process.
Traditional consumer packaged goods firms spend anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars developing just one new product. Conventional product development processes such as the Stage-Gate or Booz Allen Hamilton models can take multiple years, assuming the new idea isn’t scrapped or changed during the process. However, the two don’t believe these traditional methods are the only way to bring a product to market.
“Rather than spending two years to develop a product that may flop in the end, we aim to launch a few products in smaller quantities as to limit risk while casting a larger net,” says Alba-Rivera.
Gregory and Alba-Rivera met during their sophomore summer working as technology analysts for JPMorgan. They enjoyed their work at the bulge bracket bank, but the two were not keen on going down the traditional path and working for a company right after graduation. The less traveled road of entrepreneurship held a greater appeal to them.
Their manufacturing experience from 2.008 (Manufacturing & Design II), gave them the skills to bring Coffee Cookie from idea to market in just forty days during winter, all while working out of their dorm rooms. In addition, the two received a $10,000 grant from the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund to develop, produce, and market their first 1,000 units of Coffee Cookie.
Initially, the two saw Coffee Cookie as a case study in developing their unique and novel product development processes. Yet, their nascent product became more than they expected. As they began giving away free Coffee Cookies to passerby in New York, they saw first hand how popular it was becoming. Digging deeper into market research, they went on to survey 300 people. They worked diligently to match surveyed people’s feedback to the engineering specs of the product. Their feedback-driven design resulted in a product that people love and has now been featured in Forbes, Reader’s Digest, and other digital publications.
The key to Magis’s success with Coffee Cookie has been their ownership of the whole supply-chain. Unlike traditional firms that may outsource manufacturing and other critical functions, Magis performs all of the work needed to develop a product in-house from start to finish. This greater level of control over the whole product development cycle allows them to pivot rapidly and respond quickly to the ever-changing consumer taste.
Their approach to product development has led them to operating a factory in the Bajio region in Mexico. The Bajio region has well-developed industrial infrastructure that Magis can utilize to their advantage, as well as having their suppliers within five miles of their production facility. The two co-founders originally planned to set up shop in China, but found a better cultural fit in Mexico. Favorable labor and infrastructure costs in Mexico allowed them to set up their supply-chain in such a way to maximize flexibility in manufacturing.
“There was a significant difference in how much it should cost to make Coffee Cookie, versus how much Chinese manufacturers were charging us,” Gregory states.
Magis Industries stand out from other groups who develop products in a traditional manner: raise money first through Kickstarter or from venture capital firms, and then build their product. Gregory and Alba-Rivera found that the opposite way to be a more cost-friendly and time-efficient manner. An average Kickstarter project for a yet-to-be-developed mass-market product could raise $100K for a team of six to seven people to come up with something in one to two years.
The two co-founders only needed a fraction of the time and cost to take Coffee Cookie from idea to market.
Going forward, the team hopes to not only just develop more products, but also continue to improve the process of product development itself. They believe there is still plenty of room for innovations in product marketing and distribution. With their most recent edition of the Coffee Cookie, they were able to reduce the assembly time. Their ability to rapidly improve on previous iterations of their products is a huge advantage. In the future, Magis Industries aims to develop more complex products based on viral trends, bringing them to market faster.
From hoverboards to fidget spinners, trendy products come and go.
But Magis Industries is here to stay.
This article was originally published on Forbes.