PenaltyBox Networks With Bloggers to Grow
“I launched the subscription box company two days before Black Friday in 2016 without any logistics, sourcing, or packaging ready. Within two weeks, I had to ship out more than 250 boxes to customers,” Laine told Startup Savant in an interview.
PenaltyBox found an early audience quickly by reaching out to hockey-focused blogs.
“Once we launched, I reached out to every single hockey blog that I could find and asked if they would like to try a test subscription box. I had no idea what was going into these test boxes, but I figured if I could get a decent product in front of people with an audience, it would be a win. One of them called us “The Gift For Hockey Players” for Christmas of 2016,” said Laine.
Once the subscription box business started to generate early interest, PenaltyBox had to overcome a new challenge: sourcing and shipping a box in the two weeks before Christmas.
Highlighting Hockey Products With an Interesting Story
Like other sports industries, the hockey business supports large business brands like Bauer and CCM. PenaltyBox has found great success by highlighting lesser-known brands with an interesting story.
“The most popular items that are in our boxes come from small companies or manufacturers that have a story that resonates with our like-minded consumers. For instance, one month, there was a training accessory that a hockey dad made for his son’s hockey team,” said Laine.
In addition to its research, the subscription box company also seeks out product suggestions from its customer base. “We are always on the hunt for new products and rely on our subscriber base as our eyes and ears. Once or twice a quarter, we will send an email campaign asking for suggestions,” he commented.
Making the Business Transition to Manufacturing
The subscription box business model usually focuses on curation. The company selects products from third parties for their box. PenaltyBox started with this model but has started to develop its products as well. “We decided to start manufacturing our own products when we saw the mark-ups that a lot of the bigger brands were pushing onto consumers,” the CEO added.
The hockey-themed subscription box business works with manufacturers in the United States and abroad.
How PenaltyBox Adapted to the Pandemic
The National Hockey League (NHL) suspended their season in March 2020 and resumed play by August 2020. The shutdown was not limited to the NHL either. Many hockey facilities around the world closed to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a scary time as the sport of hockey completely shut down across the globe. With rinks closed, the question became how are we going to survive? We decided as a company to focus on at-home training, access to fun activities, and live interviews with well-known people in the hockey world,” Lane shared during the interview.
About the Author
Bruce Harpham is an author and marketing consultant based in Canada. His first book, "Project Managers At Work," shared real-world success lessons from NASA, Google, and other organizations. His articles have been published in CIO.com, InfoWorld, Canadian Business, and other organizations. Visit BruceHarpham.com for articles, interviews with tech leaders, and updates on future books.