I've been meaning to write this for months, but felt a bit hesitant to pen down.
I started Candy Japan, our Japanese candy subscription service in July 2011. It was supposed to be business experiment to see what it would it be like to sell something on a subscription basis. It started with just a hacker news post and a trip to the convenience store to pick up some sweets to send.
The idea was that besides actually sending the candy, I would blog about everything I learned while doing it. Treating it as just an experiment, I figured I wouldn't need to be too secretive even with usually sensitive things such as marketing experiments or revenue reports.
Wow, it's been running for 4 years now
Based on what I learned from the "experiment", I expected to have other businesses going by now. The "real ones" based on the information gained from the candy experiment.
I surely didn't expect to be just sending candy for this long! When you have a decent subscriber base, it keeps you going.
Candy Japan keeps occupying this huge space in my head and eats up a ton of my energy. On top of the twice-monthly activity of handling shipping and curation, there's always something that needs to be done or something that could to be tweaked or done better. Kind of like the game Civilization, "just one more turn". Always one more thing to do.
As the years and work I've put into this silly project have piled on, I've gradually started feeling more protective. I don't want to feel this way, but I guess it's human nature.
Being such an extremely niche thing, I thought at most someone reading my posts would think "hmm, I guess this kind of subscription business is pretty neat, I will apply this information to start my own crocodile leather underwear of the month club". But out of so many different things you could be sending in boxes, I thought it was pretty unlikely that anyone would also bother sending specifically Japanese candy.
But actually over the years many others have also started Japanese candy of the month businesses. Possibly just coincidentally (despite the provocative title of this post), although I'd like to think I inspired at least some of them.
Japanese candy boxes
Did you just promote your competitors?
Yep, by mentioning them above, I just sent them some nice quality traffic and Google juice. Why would I do that?
Because from the "business experiment" perspective it's dishonest for me to continue to pretend that they do not exist, when actually I could learn a lot by seeing what they are doing differently. And if I do learn, will I just pretend I magically came up with those ideas? Doesn't feel right.
I also want to lower my feeling of protectiveness and the stubborn "sunk cost fallacyish" emotion of having worked on Candy Japan for so long. I'll try to force myself not to get too attached, and write from a bit more objective point of view to truly continue learning.
So with this out of the way, stay tuned for the next post on how this competition has impacted Candy Japan.
Update: Wow, this really exploded, thanks to all the people currently reading this page :-) We even got some orders since this post went live.