February 2, 2012
Entrepreneurs tend to have really interesting back stories, but I’ll go out on a limb and say it’s super rare to meet one who went from attorney to retail manager to entrepreneur.
“I started working at Best Buy because I kept asking my little brother for discounts,” said Will Fuentes, CEO and co-founder of Lemur Technologies. “He told me that since it was the holidays, if I was hired I would qualify for the discount right away – and I only needed to work Black Friday and a few other shifts. Liking electronics at a discount, I went in and applied.“
And that was all it took. Will got hooked on retail while working his first shift. He noticed that the Digital Imaging (Cameras) Department was selling product but no accessories. “I went to the manager and asked if I could create a simple sales tracker. He told me to go ahead and do it. I created it in a few minutes and had everyone in the department start using it. Sales went through the roof. Our accessory department attachment average jumped up to 2.8 units per camera (previously under 1); the company’s was below 2.”
It just so happened that the store Will was working in was one of a handful of test stores for a concept called Customer Centricity, so the CEO and COO made regular visits. During one of COO Brian Dunn’s visits, he heard firsthand from customers about the superior service Will was providing. Brian told Will that he started as a part-timer and that Will had the potential to follow the same path if he wanted to do retail full time. Two days later, Will quit his job as an attorney.
Will immediately realized that current inventory systems didn’t work – and thus the idea for Lemur Technologies was born. Lemur is an inventory management system that ensures that aged and slow-moving products are sold at the highest profit to only the most interested customers. (The platform is customized for each retailer.)
They do this with a proprietary algorithm that collects market, retail, customer and community data to optimize results for each store, then they tie that data into real-time communications to spur sales. So basically, customers get targeted personal messages informing them of sales on items they are interested in, while local retailers get to move inventory and make room for hot new items. Total win-win, which was obvious to the national big box retailers who are currently in beta with Lemur.
You can meet Will and his co-founder Cary Scott and learn more about Lemur Technologies (which by then will have transitioned to their new brand, Lemur IMS) at the Tech Cocktail DC Winter Mixer on February 16.
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