Despair, Inc. is a direct-to-consumer, internet based consumer products & online media company. Despair is best known for its popular Demotivator® products which were instrumental in creating the motivational poster parody industry. We began by selling calendars, note cards, and lithographs, and over the years we have expanded our product mix to include clothing, books, glassware, candy, awards, software, audio, video, and giftware.
Despair has been a pioneer in the use of online marketing, including audio and video podcasting, social media, and email marketing. This has enabled us to extend our brand and create a community of followers that we have begun to enlist in the co-creation and promotion of new products. By creating a community of advocates, we have been able to extend our reach with minimal costs. We were able to drive more traffic to our website with a single video podcast than we were with a catalog that was sent to 2 million addresses.
Despair has also leveraged new technologies to develop a mass customization approach the creation of many of its products. This has enabled us to develop new products both quickly and with very little risk, reduce waste, improve cash management, and retain product margins.
- Co-developed a direct-to-consumer e-commerce company to successfully target and market unique online content to a wide audience. The company ships products around the globe and has been profiled in (or on) The Harvard Business Review, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Dallas Morning News, London Times, Financial Times, Australian Financial Review, Newsweek Japan, Fast Company, NPR, BBC, CNN, Fox News, Nightline, and many others.
- Led the transformation of the operation to a "mass customization" production process. This improved cash management by enabling the company to save money on inventory, improved cash flow, and eliminated over 80% annual waste. It also enabled the company to engage in rapid product development and test the market’s receptiveness to new products at a fraction of the cost required for traditional printing production.
- Led the effort to increase customer engagement with the brand by facilitating user generated, customized products. This transformed the company’s products from simple, functional novelty items to highly personalized gifts that command a premium price.
- Created several of Despair’s most successful products, including The Art of Demotivation, a book that was widely praised, sold out through two printings, and drove media attention for Despair, Inc.
- Reduced fees by 28% and improved service by renegotiating the contract and service level agreement with a key service provider.
- Created international sales channel with UK reseller.