This is an old post. Since something came up, I had to delete it and now re-post this business profile.
Couple of years ago, Terrence Kelleman took ordinary magnets and Tyveck (a material mainly used in industrial packing and construction), and turned them into his success: He performs sleight of hand magnet tricks on YouTube and, in doing so, put millions of dollars in his own Mighty Wallet, one of the several products he sells .
Today the artist is the founder of a fast-growing $2 million global business Dynomighty Design. Kelleman’s genius is to transform ubiquitous materials into unique products, outsource manufacturing to China and illustrate them through a social media campaign including YouTube, Facebook and Google. Artists, hipsters and young people swoon.
Kelleman is a creative designer who makes bracelets from regular magnets, wallets from Tyveck. The products are so special that his Chinese manufacturer has never assembled similar products before. Kelleman is also a sophisticated businessman who can master human relations: he has established a good working relationship with Chinese manufacturer to keep costs low, as well as developed a viral relationship with his consumers via YouTube and Facebook.
This is a far cry from the days back in 1996, Terrence Kelleman, a Bachelor of Fine Art from Cleveland, Ohio, came to New York City to chase his ambition as an artist. The struggling artist divided his time between a nine-to-five job at MoMA and his own art project. One day, he found some abandoned prototypes at MoMA. Kelleman took magnets out of these prototypes and placed them on the desk. Suddenly, these magnets formed a straight line. This attraction inspired Kelleman to design magnetic bracelets.
Kelleman started working on magnetic jewelry in his compact apartment in the East Village and sold his first bracelet at MoMA Design Store. The novel magnetic bracelets quickly won a praise of the market and drove Kelleman to launch his own business Dynomighty Design in 2002, with only $300.
To draw consumers’ interest, Kelleman uploaded a video on YouTube demonstrating tricks of playing magnetic bracelets. Within a month, 4 million viewers were attracted to this magnetic magic. This viral video brought Dynomighty Design instant fame and pushed Kelleman to mull over how to further Dynomighty’s success.
“Magnet products are cool. Everyone loves magnets but not everyone needs magnets…” Kelleman recalled. He was well aware of the necessity to diversify Dynomighty’s products. “Everyone brings wallet, key and cell-phone every day. When I understood there would be an enormous opportunity in wallets, I decided to drive our focus on the one thing.” Kelleman said.
In 2005, he designed Mighty Wallet. It turns out to be a smash hit and gives Dynomighty Design even more cachet.
The wallet is made from a single sheet of Tyveck, a regular industrial material, thin yet durable. The stitch-less design offers the wallet extra strength. 100 different graphics are available to suit consumers’ personalities: you can bring a Passport Mighty Wallet when you travel or you can fill a water-resistant Cork Mighty Wallet with red wine that can keep you warm in winter…
“It is a fun product with many possibilities. My favorite is the NYC subway map, as it is highly practical: the only problem is that you really don’t want to pull out your wallet in the subway to check where you are going!” said Andrea Ruggiero, experienced designer and professor in Product Design from Parsons The New School for Design.
The slim and light graphic wallets become an expression of consumers’ spirit and personality. “I’m interested in the Mighty Wallet because my old wallet was bulky, but this wallet stays thin even though I stuff it full. I also have a brother that has one and he loves it as well! I would like to own more, so I can have a variety to choose from at my disposal.” Konner Wayson said. He has had Mighty Wallet for a month.
However, some consumers feel Dynomighty should offer more styles. “The problem is that their only product is a bi-fold design which just stacks the contents on itself with no trade-up for quality” Steve Montelli said. The wallet fetish bought Mighty Wallet to review rather than to use it, but he could not deny that “the price is low…”
When asked what goes into the $15 Tyveck wallet, Kelleman said with a laugh: “Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain.” But for a start-up, costs matter.
Kelleman is able to keep costs low by capitalizing on the strong relationship he has developed with a provider of format visuals in Shenzhen, China. Since the Chinese manufacturer has never printed and assembled similar product before, Kelleman has been working with them all the way. The camaraderie offers Dynomighty an edge on its competitors: keeping the margins that make consumers happy.
In spite of this, Kelleman is still concerned the Chinese manufacturer would give away Dynomighty’s templates. “One of the things I keep my eye on is manufacturing in China has risks. From brand stand of point, it’s something you have to be aware of…” Kelleman said.
The personalized yet affordable design cannot go far without a platform. Kelleman creates an intimate connection with consumers through social media including YouTube, Facebook and Google.
“From my first [YouTube] video in 2006, I realized that an enormous amount of people would go there to watch something cool,” Kelleman said. So far, Dynomighty’s YouTube channel includes clips from new products to company events to Kelleman’s personal life.
However, some YouTube users criticize Kelleman’s commercial exploitation of YouTube, suggesting he should buy a website to advertise his business and himself. Kelleman is comfortable with these comments: “I can understand that, because there are lots of interactions happening there…” He explained that Dynomighty Design consider YouTube as the second largest search engine in New York, as well as the first reference when they analyze visitors to Dynomighty website from other websites.
Like YouTube, Facebook is another channel to establish a close rapport with clients. On Thursdays, Dynomighty award a Mighty Wallet to a Facebook user who likes or comments on a new pattern. They also hold a testimonial on Facebook to hear consumers’ suggestions for Mighty Wallet.
“We are making expressive personal graphics. It’s kind of something like once our fans understand it, they really become brand champions.” Kelleman said. He pulled out his 6-month-old Mighty Wallet and gently touched it: “You could feel it grows on you, you develop a kind of attachment to it…”
In addition to YouTube and Facebook, Google serves as a consumer analyst. Kelleman presumes that Mighty Wallet appeals to 14-24 youth who do not have a checkbook or multiple credit cards, but have a strong desire for graphic wallets. He demonstrated Google Analytics on his Apple. The demographics revealed the major visitors to Dynomighty website are 18-34 male. This analysis accords closely with YouTube statistics. Kelleman showed a Mighty Wallet promotion video of which 60% viewers are male. The majority of the rest 40% female viewers are 13-17 teenagers.
Aside from quantitative and qualitative analyses, Google Ad service allows Mighty Wallet pop-ups to be targeted at online surfers who’ve previously visited Dynomighty.
Based on these statistics, Kelleman spots a niche in Asia. When he examined visitors to Dynomighty website, he found that Singapore tops the list in terms of the city ranking. Kelleman plans to partner with distributors in Singapore, Taiwan and other Asian cities.
The designer has nurtured Dynomighty from a home office to a global business extending to 15 countries around the world. Dynomighty’s annual revenues have quadrupled in last three years and reached $2.2 million in 2010. In 2011, Dynomighty was ranked 758 on the Inc.500︳5000 fastest growing companies list.
Kelleman is no longer the struggling artist who started his business with $300 and a box of magnets. However, the founder of the multimillion dollar company hopes that his products and his “Be Mighty” attitude can encourage people to express their personalities and realize their dreams.