‘Work It Richmond’ interview with Mike Bucci

An interview of Mike done on October 30, 2011

Link to site article:
http://www.workitrichmond.com/2011/10/conversation-serial-entrepreneur/

Transcript:

Lessons from a serial entrepreneur

(October 30, 2011)

by Adam Foldenauer

Sometimes entrepreneurs can get buried by work. But Mike Bucci, shown here with his painter’s pyramid, has managed to successfully bring four products, all in the hardware and home improvement fields, to market.
Sometimes entrepreneurs can get buried by work. But Mike Bucci, shown here with his painter’s pyramid, has managed to successfully bring four products, all in the hardware and home improvement fields, to market.

The world is full of entrepreneurs and inventors. But for every bright idea that makes it into the commercial market, there are several more that never get off the drawing board or out of the basement workshop. Mike Bucci, President, K&M of Virginia here in Richmond, has managed to get some of his products out of the workshop and on to shelves – lots of shelves. Work It sat down with him to learn more about his business and about his success in getting new products to market.

Work It: Tell us about your business.

Bucci: My business has two areas of focus. There’s the side of the business that’s been in place for four years, which is taking unique product ideas, developing these ideas and bringing them to market. I’ve launched four products.

The other side of my business is helping others commercialize their product ideas and bring them to market. This is more of a services focus. I also speak at colleges and to inventor groups.

What are your products?

All of my products are in hardware and home improvement, things like woodworking or arts and crafts. Three of the products are ones I came up with. The most successful, maybe due to time in market, is the first product, Painter’s Pyramid. It’s in 10,000 retail locations, including Lowe’s and Home Depot, and 20-plus countries. The fourth is a patent that I licensed from the inventor, Slide-n-Pump. It’s a combination siphon and hand pump. It pulls water out and sends it wherever you want it to go.

The success rate for new products is low. How do you explain your quick success with your first product?

I hear that people say in entrepreneurship, “The key to success is failure first.” I’ve chosen to go with, “The key to success is succeeding.” But to be clear, I didn’t go forward with the first product until I had some very positive market reads. I very much hedged my bets. I kept my job at an area corporation and worked nights and weekends on the Painter’s Pyramid. That’s what I tell people. Don’t quit your day job just yet. You want to keep that day job going at least until you have some positive market reads on your product.

The market read you ultimately need is that the product resonates with customers, meaning they are willing to open their wallets, at a price that has sufficient margins to be successful.

Why add consulting services in addition to product development and management?

I was repeatedly approached by people who had these product ideas. A lot of the ideas were good, and a lot of the people were very capable. The biggest stumbling block people often had was not knowing what to do. Over time in launching multiple products, I’ve learned it’s a very consistent process you go through. Once you point people in the direction, they get it; they just didn’t know where to start beforehand.

What’s your growth strategy?

Two things I’ve learned in my journey. One, you need to continue creating options for yourself. Plant seeds. I’m not smart enough to know what’s going to work. With services, I’m standing up a whole option for me to move in that direction. The second thing is to be flexible. I’m not sure which part of my business is going to grow faster. I think I can grow both but I’m not sure if one or both will succeed.

What’s the most vital skill to have as an entrepreneur?

My core skill set is the ability to wear a lot of different hats on different days. Also, being very disciplined on cash management and managing financials. A third is the ability to know when to make a decision and the ability to know when you need to work some more before making that decision.

What surprised you about being a small business owner?

I literally spend 70 percent of my time doing sales and marketing and customer relationship management for my business. That was a surprise to me. My first priority every day is taking care of my customers.

Bucci has also written a book called “Start Living the American Dream.”

Mike Bucci is president of K&M of VA Inc., a Richmond, Virginia company that exists to turn clever, useful and unique ideas into commercially successful products. He is also the author of the new book: “Start Living the American Dream: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Your IDEA into your FUTURE”, now available on Amazon.com.

Contact him at mike@kandmofva.com

With over 15 years of experience in corporate America including several fortune 100 companies and top tier management consulting firms, Mike learned many lessons but had always dreamed of pursuing his own business. Despite lacking previous experience in several critical areas, Mike has been able to successfully transform his idea for the Painter’s Pyramid into what some industry experts have called “one of the hottest products in years”. Mike has utilized his experience and refined his approach to launch into new markets and expand with additional products.

Since launching the Painter’s Pyramid, Mike’s business has successfully launched multiple successful products including VersaSpin 360, Slide-N-Pump and Grabbers. All of these products have demonstrated commercial success.

Most recently, Mike has published a book which is a guide for entrepreneurs looking to turn their ideas into commercial products called “Start Living The American Dream: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Turning Your Idea Into Your Future”. There are multiple additional services offered to help turn inventors into successful entrepreneurs. More information on all these services is available <Here>

Mike’s education includes a Bachelor of Science in Manufacturing Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and two Masters Degrees from the University of Virginia: Masters in Business Administration and Masters in Management of Information Technology.

Mike is an active advocate for entrepreneurship and small businesses. He currently serves on the U.S. Chamber of Commerce- Council on Small Business and the Virginia Leadership Council for the National Federation of Independent Business.

For Mike, the greatest benefit of becoming an entrepreneur has little to do with the freedom and exhilaration of his career. When asking Mike’s young daughter what she wants to be when she grows up, she doesn’t talk about jobs. She talks about becoming an inventor and being the president of her own company… How great is that for a six year old!!!

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