Andrew Blackmon had a bad experience trying to rent a tuxedo for his own wedding. This is what inspired him to create The Black Tux, an online tuxedo rental service.
One day, they got their “big break.” They were mentioned in GQ Magazine, introducing millions of people to their unique brand.
That magazine article triggered a massive spike in demand, almost overnight.
This might sound like the best thing ever, but because they were dealing with physical products, they ran into a problem: their supply chain couldn't keep up.
Customers weren't getting their orders, and they weren't happy about it. As you can imagine, this could have become a PR catastrophe.
Blackmon and his partner found themselves scrambling to communicate with irritated customers and mitigate the situation.
The company survived. Here's what they ultimately did to fix the problem.
So the co-founders pulled the one ace they had in their pocket: potential investors they’d met before launching but had decided not to work with until they were further along. These investors, encouraged by the booming demand, quickly and enthusiastically filled the startup’s coffers with $2.6 million in funding, and The Black Tux bought thousands of new suits. Crisis averted.
Or so they thought. Once the inventory crisis was solved, and stellar reviews rolled in from their earliest customers, they received another wave of positive press — which, in the fall of 2014, once again wiped out their inventory. But by January 2015, Blackmon and Coyne, now flush with $10 million in Series A funding, were able to respond by tackling their core problem: the supply chain. They set out to negotiate better deals with their manufacturers and shrunk the turnaround time for new product down significantly, to a matter of a few weeks.
The big takeaway here is that sometimes, a seemingly awesome thing can have a big downside that you never would have expected. Blackmon and his partner acted fast, and were able to make it through intact. As an entrepreneur, it's essential to be able to change and adapt.
You can read the full saga about The Black Tux's inventory problems over at Entrepreneur.