A Strong Network Means Pursecase Has Big-Time Sales in the Bag

by Taylor Sisk, Staples® Contributing Writer

What a fabulous idea: A smartphone case that doubles as a handbag, allowing you to have your cash, credit card and ID, and the full functionality of your phone, right at your fingertips.

Kelley Weaver thought so, as did her family and friends — and fashion-minded consumers now do as well. Pursecase scores big with those in the know. A Shark Tank appearance certainly didn’t hurt. And the company’s product line continues to grow.

We caught up with Weaver and her business partner Kelsey Berryhill to learn more about the company’s success.

Who did you first pitch Pursecase to?

Kelley: I first pitched the idea to family and colleagues. People were immediately very excited about it, so I thought that there must be something to it.

We then got the wheels in motion to protect the intellectual property, talking with a patent attorney, getting all the papers filed, the trademarks nailed down, securing the website and the social media handles — making sure that we owned everything that was Pursecase before we talked too much about it. That was definitely a step in the right direction; we protected ourselves and our idea.

Then I wanted to confirm that there really was a market for it. I started researching whether it was something that people actually would use, and found that it was.

How did you raise money in the early stages?

Kelley: We put together a Kickstarter campaign to raise the initial funding and test the market. That was very successful. We didn’t need a whole lot of money to get started, and we were able to move into production with what we brought in.

Actually, we met our manufacturing team through Kickstarter. They found us and offered us a partnership where they would manufacture and import for us. They offered us a line of credit for production and came in as an equity partner — all through Kickstarter. That became a game changer, in that we didn't have to put so much money down for production.

I had a PR firm, and still do, so I had experience in putting together an LLC and a website and all that. I brought Kelsey in about a year and a half ago, and she’s really helped us to ramp up sales, amp up our goals and streamline the whole process.

Kelsey: I came on right after college. It’s been such a great experience and a fun company to be a part of. And things have grown so fast.

How long was it before you knew you were on to something big?

Kelley: It all happened really fast. We came up with the idea in October of 2012, the Kickstarter campaign started in February of 2013 and finished in March, and then we taped Shark Tank in July of that year. It was all pretty quick.

We had a huge number of preorders right off the bat. And we generated a number of articles and press pieces through the PR company. Every time we got a press hit, the orders just came pouring in. So we knew we had something that people really wanted. It was right about that time that we taped Shark Tank. That was good timing, because it was right at the beginning of our journey.

Tell us about that experience.

Kelley: We were very nervous, but very prepared. We’d watched all the shows to make sure we were prepared for any possible question, who would answer which questions and what we wanted to get out of the opportunity. We had a clear strategy walking in. And we nailed it. It was an incredibly rewarding experience — life changing.

What’s been your most effective marketing tool?

Kelley: We’ve gotten a lot of press coverage from traditional media. But we’ve also had a lot of success through Facebook and other social media. We interact with our customers that way, and it produces a lot of sales.

Kelsey: We also have a monthly newsletter, and that’s brought spikes in our sales.

What’s the best advice you’ve received?

Kelley: That you really have to drive your own business. You have to make it happen for yourself. You can’t sit back; you’ve got to go after it. It’s still a daily grind for us to reach our goals. But every day we make steps toward those goals.

There have been some opportunities that didn’t come through, and that’s been OK; they were still learning experiences. Everything is. You just never know what you’re going to learn or what you’re going to get out of an experience. That’s how this product has evolved, just by listening to people and growing from the experience.

What’s the best thing about owning your own business?

Kelley: Seeing people use our product. I’ll bump into people on the street who are using it, and I’ll compliment them on it. Then they’ll be excited about it and tell me all about the features. It happens to me at the grocery store a lot. People want to tell me all about it. That’s the most rewarding thing for me. It’s so cool to see someone loving something that you brought to market.

Kelsey: I love the grind and the hustle. I believe in this product and I’ve put a lot of hard work and passion into it, and it’s been so rewarding. I get to see people really enjoying Pursecase and making good use of it.

My father is very business savvy, and he’s always worked really hard and followed his dreams. So I had this business hero. He encouraged me to get involved with a small company because it’s more hands on and you get to see the return on your hard work. I really appreciate that he encouraged me, and I’m glad I can make him proud.

So what does the future hold for your business?

Kelley: So much. We have lots of things in the works. We’ve made our product better since we launched it and we now have accessories that have been hugely popular. Even though we have a large customer base, we feel there’s an enormous untapped market that we’d like to reach. We want to put a Pursecase into every fashionista’s hands.

Watch Shark Tank Fridays 9|8c on ABC.

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