Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Michael G. Lizanich II, and I am a 24-year-old Founder of the “eHarmony” for the manufacturing industry, Manufacturefy.
Manufacturefy is an AI driven site that connects products directly with manufacturers across all industries and scales around the World -- for free. Whatever your idea or current product is, Manufacturefy can find the manufacturers that have the capability of producing your order.
Manufacturers find Manufacturefy compelling and lucrative because for only $100 per month, manufacturers are able to find the specific products for their facilities
Manufacturefy recently went live and our current stage in the process is where we expected to be a year from now. In other words, we are one year ahead of schedule. We have been invited into internationally known accelerators, been approached by Angel investors, and have formed strategic partnerships with leaders in the industry. And most importantly, we have been called a “market disruptor” for a trillion-dollar industry.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
While in college playing Division I football, I had an idea to create a product. So I searched and searched to find a manufacturer and realized that it was extremely difficult to find a manufacturer!
Therefore I found a sourcing agent to help me and they told me, “Before we are able to secure you a quote, you must place a non-refundable deposit”. Now, being in college and playing football, a non-refundable quote was not the most economical decision.
The ultimate test on determining if you should be an entrepreneur is to see how many different tasks you can handle at once.
Boom - an IDEA. I then decided to engage in the service of an International Freedom to Operate. International freedom to operate is where a firm looks like all prior art around the World to see if there is anything like your idea out there.
After significant research I jotted down the most optimal way to find a manufacturer and developed Manufacturefy. The research process was tedious and involved phone calls with people around the World, with translators in different timezones.
I was doing all of this while working full time at a $3B private equity firm and achieving my Masters at Georgetown.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
To start, I had/have no web development experience. I know how to create and operate a business, but web development is not my cup of tea. So, I found somebody else that had web development expertise and partnered with them.
We developed a pitch deck: app.slidebean.com/p/csUulGieh2/Manufacturefy-Investor-Pitch-Deck
Investors are constantly bombarded with pitches. I had to find a way to differentiate mine and get straight to the point. So, I used slidebean.com to develop the pitch deck and hired somebody to put the deck together.
When I still show the pitch deck the responses I receive are, “This is one of the best pitch decks I have ever seen”. The deck helped us raise our friends & family around. Now, no family members actually invested, it was friends or friends of friends.
These videos offered a full website demonstration. Videos also offer a 57% increase in confidence. Since I was selling an investment, I needed their confidence in me.
This also allowed to demonstrate the site without any confusion.
Manufacturefy’s process was as followed:
- Come up with the name and secure the domain (the first step of getting your business legitimate)
- Design the logo (my favorite part)
- Develop the business plan
- Discovered how we wanted the website to look and feel
- Develop the algorithm
- Create user design and interface. (This was used to raise money on just the concept)
- Pitch deck
- Fundraise - Through convertible notes
- Develop a full website
- Go live
Our original logo was recognized by a national organization and there were not too thrilled with it so we were forced to recently change it. Other than that -- everything has been fairly smooth sailing.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Bringing a technology business is much more difficult than I was expecting. The constant reliance on other parties to deliver a product on time was excruciating. But, unlike many other horror stories on Software developers, mine was only a couple weeks behind the target date. Some of the other horror stories that I’ve heard were several months of delays!
Manufacturefy was funded through angel investors across the country through the structuring of 12% simple interest convertible notes with a 20% discount. Why did I choose all of those numbers? It was the most lucrative to an investor to invest in Manufacturefy with returns of that amount. I also allowed for investors to be able to cash out or convert to equity at the next fundraising. In addition, I also invested sales proceeds from my last business into Manufacturefy to personally have significant leverage into the business as well.
Through all of the time of development, I wanted to do as much preparing for launch as possible. This included attempting to partner with organizations around the World. Unfortunately, nobody wanted to partner with just a concept at that time and stage. They all said, “Let us know when you go live”. This was an aggravating time for the team as we were trying to roll out of the gates with huge momentum and successes.
We partnered with inventor associations around the country to build up our free user database. We then leveraged the great numbers we were getting to show to Manufacturers that we have people waiting to have their products manufactured.
Our customer base still continually grows from Users all around the world.
Now, too many different organizations would like to be associated with Manufacturefy that we have to carefully select which ones would add value to our Users.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Manufacturefy has two user interfaces on the platform.
The tough part is both users have completely different marketing schemes and tactics. As the product user is an absolutely free product for all industries and scales around the World. While the manufacturer.
Products are posted for FREE and there will never be a point in time that we plan to charge for products to be posted on Manufacturefy. Our process is as followed for products:
- Meet qualified manufacturers across all industries
We made this as simple as possible for the user -- and the best part is if there is not a qualified manufacturer for your product -- Manufacturefy will go search for one -- for FREE.
The simplicity of the concept is what attracts and retains freemium users.
But, we have had significant challenges with Marketing since we are industry agnostic. We would have to go to every trade show possible, appear on every TV channel, and more! So what Manufacturefy did was to partner with Manufacturing Associations. Why? Their members are across all different industries.
Now, the marketing process was simple to the Associations. I asked: “What programs do you offer your members that correlate to increased revenue?”
A majority of the associations do not have ANY programs to increase revenue. They just offer suggestions on how to operate your business better.
When you joining Manufacturefy, manufacturers are able to accomplish the following:
- Decrease their overhead by around $60,000
- Increase their revenue by finding products all over the world that need to be manufactured
- Increase their global presence
- Only be matched with products that their factory has the equipment for
- Communicate directly with the client
President Trump's tariff discussions also help us with marketing. A simple solution to the tariff is to manufacture your product elsewhere. Now, how would you find another manufacturer so quick? MANUFACTUREFY.COM
The city where we are headquartered did a nice all-encompassing piece on myself and Manufacturefy’s international platform.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Manufacturefy is one year ahead than anticipated. We will be starting our next round of fundraising Quarter 1 of 2020 to raise at least $500,000. I am a realistic Founder that only wants to go to market when there are enough facts backing our fundraising efforts.
Our business plan was developed to introduce Manufacturefy around the World in development phases. Phase 1 (which is what we are in) includes the subscription revenue model. In future phases we will introduce various other differentiation factors for both products and manufacturers.
Our presence is international, with relationships in just about every country. No matter where you are or what you want to create -- Manufacturefy is the ONLY resource that you need. We are purposely headquartered in South Florida so we have the capabilities of flying pretty much anywhere in the World from Florida’s 3 international airports.
Currently, we are on a media frenzy, especially with the growing trade conflicts around the World. With our international industry knowledge and the only fast solution to fixing it, we are very busy.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I do not read enough as I should, but I have Bloomberg or CNBC running across my office televisions every day to monitor what is developing with our World markets.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
The ultimate test on determining if you should be an entrepreneur is to see how many different tasks you can handle at once. What else are you currently involved within your day to day lives and are you mentally capable of handling it?
Being an entrepreneur is rewarding but much more stressful than traditional jobs. Not everybody has the skill to successfully climb the entrepreneurial ladder! It’s tough, no income, no social life, no vacations, and no to a lot of things. Typically the longer you stay on course you will prevail.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
The way we are growing and how quick we are growing, we will more than likely need to hire towards the end of the year. We will need:
- Software developers
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help others get started.
If you liked this story, join our mailing list for new interviews every Tuesday.
Interested in sharing your own story? Find out how!