Dwelling on March 2018 - March 2019

I’m writing this quick, it’s MURO’s birthday tomorrow and everyone’s very excitedly getting things ready for the big day.  So much has happened to get us here, and here is a very exciting place to be. It’s exciting and I’m very happy to have my sights firmly fixed, clear and present.

However, I think it’s right to take a look back over your shoulder as you walk away. One last glance to cement the lessons, to remember how managing everything single-handedly felt and be reminded to keep my hands loose on the reins.

After fulfilling our Kickstarter backers, MURO started trading in March, and actually had a very decent first month of sales.  But then things went quiet, and stayed quiet as soon as the line of waiting customers had been served. It turns out that organic conversions are zero, and it was more than 3 months until more regular sales started to happen with the launch of the new MUROsets (The infamous ‘Everything Set’ was game changer!) and an updated website.

July posted the first decent sales and I watched an increasing trend over the next couple of months.  Behind these sales, the fulfilment process evolved from a cold self-storage unit to a cosy 3rd party distribution centre in Walthamstow. It later turned out that, although lovely, they were flakey, always late and sometimes missed the party all together, however their flakiness meant flexibility for me, and they were close by if MURO needed me.  Luckily this was a short phase and when we sold out in October we said our goodbyes.

November saw the launch of a website update to coincide with our next batch of stock starting the last leg of its voyage from Thailand, and critically past Singapore where it was due to be transferred between ships.  From the start I knew I was cutting it close with this production run and a best-case arrival in the UK of 25th November.

The 4 week buffer may sound like plenty of time but global shipping is not an exact science, however once the shipment was transferred for it’s final leg I felt confident enough that I would deliver for Christmas that I could start selling MUROs.  After all, 70% of toys are sold at Christmas, and I did not want to miss out of the festivities.

I was blown away.

Sales started racking up, awards are great but I see a functioning business model as an actual component of a product, and so with this is mind any award felt a little superficial and undeserved if I’m completely honest.  But now the back-slapping, the sound of one hand clapping, had given way to real action and for the first time I started to feel like MURO was going somewhere.

It had been a long time since I’d cried, but the phone call I received on the 22nd November, cut me deep enough to stir those dogs, if only lightly.  The container had never made it’s transfer in Singapore and now wasn’t due until the 18th December, this had only discovered when it was supposed to be unloaded and found a missing block (I’m guessing) in the floating logistical Jenga game that is a container ship.

Which, on a side note, must be a nightmare of a game and kudos on these companies just for playing, we have a lot to be grateful for even if it’s sometimes easy to put out of mind what is out of sight.

Most of you have heard what happened next and I’ve already spent way more time dwelling here than I intended, so if you would like a blow-by-blow account of what happened next I will be publishing the emails sent out to our expectant customers soon.  Long story short; no one received MUROs for Christmas in 2018 and I apologised so many times the words lost their meaning.

2019 started quickly, with our stock arriving on the 3rd January, and thanks to some incredible Elves who stuck around after the music had stopped playing, the majority of orders were shipped in 2 days from our warehouse.  January saw more strong sales that kept me busy and led to selling out of all our MUROsets much more quickly than expected; good problem, but still a problem!

In the fallow period that has followed since then I’ve been to 2 great trade fairs; London and Nuremberg (the big one), launched MURObyTSS, a collaborative product with TTS specifically for education and, and this is the really big one, won a Red Dots Design award!  I also took some much needed time off to revive the overcooked turkey that once resembled a brain.

Now, back to the celebrations!