Peter Mann: Initially, I started with a couple of factories in China and started with those products to get the business started. These were mostly Chinese developed products that I adjusted and branded. It wasn’t really manufactured from the ground-up by us. Shortly thereafter, I started looking at air purifiers. In its simplest form, it’s a motor, fan, and a filter. My idea was to get the best filters, motors, and fans and put them together. That kicked off about a year’s worth of research into different motor manufacturers. I was looking at it as a high-end consumer product with industrial-quality components. I evaluated component after component until I settled on the components that we felt comfortable putting into the product. We built a prototype and ran it for several months. That’s how we got into the current air products at Oransi.
Sramana Mitra: Even though in the beginning you just sold some products that were manufactured by Chinese manufacturers, you were also really working on a product of your own for high-end consumers with industrial quality?
Peter Mann: Correct. We were going to transition away fairly quickly from the Chinese products and focus on the American-made products. I also wanted to get some more consumer feedback and some experience in bringing a product to market. It’s much easier to get growing more quickly when there’s a product that’s almost built.
I didn’t really want to bring in investors. I was looking more into bootstrapping it. If I can generate some cash flow, then that was a better way to go than getting outside investors.
Sramana Mitra: I imagine you were building a customer base around that product and a brand around the whole air purification product on the Internet. Correct?
Peter Mann: We’re building up the brand and getting some experience, because I knew it would take time to launch the US-made product.
Sramana Mitra: At what point in your journey with Oransi were you able to launch your own product? You started in 2009. When was the new product launched?
Peter Mann: We launched five American products in 2013. We did a lot of testing. It takes some time with research and design.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s get a little bit of the specifics of what happened between 2009 and 2013 while you were selling products from the Chinese manufacturers. How many different types of products did you have in your roster? What was the customer acquisition model?
Peter Mann: We started the company at the end of 2009. 2010 was when we started selling. We really sold just a few products. We kept it at two products of the private-labeled Chinese products. The sales channel has been online direct.
Sramana Mitra: Do you acquire customers through Google PPC? How do you acquire customers?
Peter Mann: Yes, through Google. There’s a big engine there. We do some of the other smaller search engines like Bing and some of the shopping comparison sites.