We talked to Vadim Antonov of Past Indicator on how nixie clocks are selling and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Vadim Antonov: We are fine. We mostly stay at home and don’t go anywhere as recommended. Thank God I can fully work from home.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Past Indicator.
Vadim Antonov: I started this company in 2012 and had a long way. You can read my story here: https://www.boredpanda.com/tubes-from-grandpas-attic-or-how-past-indicator-was-created/?utm_source=google&utm_medium=organic&utm_campaign=organic
Also watch the video.
How does Past Indicator innovate?
Vadim Antonov: We use old stock nixie tubes in our clocks, from tubes made in the 70-80s. We find them all over former USSR countries (Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia, etc.) and save them from being destroyed. We give these tubes a second life.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Vadim Antonov: In March and April we had more than 50% fewer sales than in the same months during other years. It wasn’t easy. I had to cut expenses. The market began to adapt, and we found out that we were ready for this new market. Almost all of our sales were online, and our marketing was 99% online. Very fast, we returned to the levels of previous years and even overcame them.
Also, we opened a TikTok account in April as an experiment, and it’s working well! It provides at least one sale a week right now, and it’s growing.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Vadim Antonov: I had to fire our head of marketing and found out that I had to do that months ago.
Our head designer and producer retired in May (he is 74 years old), and we had problems restarting the production of models he was making. It took time, we redesigned some of his models (check out our Vostok-3 and Vostok-4 nixie clocks as a rethinking of our 7-years bestseller Vostok-2), and we made them even better! Also, I hired a new producer for these cases, and he is terrific.
I learned that diversification is essential in all spheres. In marketing channels, in income sources, in products, and so on.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Vadim Antonov: I don’t have time for this. I work a lot. I’m testing new ideas all the time and learning new things. Also, my family supports me.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Vadim Antonov: During the last 2-3 years, many small companies came to this market. My main idea is not to compete with them (they mostly try to produce and sell as cheaply as possible). I concentrate on quality, good customer service, sound design (I work with professional designers), and invest a lot in new projects.
Your final thoughts?
Vadim Antonov: As a piece of advice to all startups and businesses: never stop trying, never stop in improvements, never stop learning.
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