No Stinkin' VCs
So how does Burmeister avoid the no-win venture capital tango of death? I'll give you a hint: It starts with "In" and ends with "ternet."
Burmeister has built himself a remarkably simple -- yet devilishly effective -- direct Web sales channel. He uses no high-tech tricks or custom laser interactive measuring. He does not rely on social media. There are no Groupon (GRPN) discounts. No behavorial sales techniques a la Amazon (AMZN). In fact, he does not discount at all. Ever.
"We had a mistake on one item, so we tried to discount them as a reward. And I realized what a mistake that was immediately," he said. Customers were not happy with just 5% off, he said. They would wait for 10%. "Those items took forever to actually sell."
Keep in mind, his clothes are not cheap. Shirts start at $98. Many clothes are north of $200. A newly released jacket -- which I am not embarrassed to admit is on my buy-list once my ethical obligations with this story expire -- runs more than $600.He simply sends out an email to about 5,000 customers and waits for them to come to his website, choose their size and plunk down their credit card. Just smart partners
Now comes the stone cold investor dis: What would Burmeister be willing to give up a piece of his lucrative action for? That's easy. The practical knowledge of what it takes to run a private company over the long haul. In other words, partners who actually do something, not just hand out cash and expect to get paid. "The Eileen Fishers of the world interest me," he said. "They retain a level of expertise in keeping control of their business. If I could create a single product with a partner like that, I would absolutely split the take." It does not need to be a fashion company. A food company that was passionate about what they did could be an excellent partner, he said. "I am not sure if you're a fan of the TV show The Wire," he said at the end of our last call. "But basically, my philosophy is like Prop Joe's: 'Buy for a dollar, sell for two.' "If you keep it that simple, things work out."