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Custom Watches for the Tech Giants, Part 2


The greatest sale I’ll ever make (custom watches or otherwise) in my life happened on a redeye flight that left SFO on December 23, 2011. I was sitting in the First Class* cabin
  • *Ashley’s (Mrs. Modify’s) mom is a flight attendant with American Airlines. Besides being a wonderful woman, tremendous cook and ideal to-be mother-in-law, she’s also generous and allows me to fly on her “passes”, meaning that I get to fly standby and only pay taxes (cheap cheap cheap).
I tried to fall asleep but wasn’t ready, so I struck up a conversation with a really cool woman sitting next to me. She’d previously worked for Google (heard of it!) and was now at a pre-tty major social networking company (it’s an Internet thing where people meet other people, but online). We started talking a bit about our jobs and it came out that I was a traveling watch salesman (I kid! But I do frequently call Modify Watches the “lowest tech startup in the Bay Area”). [caption id="attachment_157" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Well, 2nd-lowest-tech-company"][/caption] I showed her images of a custom watch we’d designed, and she mentioned that her company was about to celebrate its 7th Anniversary. In passing, she mentioned that it might be cool to give all 2,500 global employees custom Modify Watches. She then logged onto the Modify Watch website, gave some amazing feedback (“To make the website actually useful, why don’t you …;” we implemented all of her ideas).  And that was that. A week later I was back in Berkeley at Strada Café (everyone’s favorite coffee but mine… I like Philz the best) and I got a call: “Can you get us 2,500 watches by February 2nd? What’s the price?” I said “probably” then I gave a price range that was acceptable. “how did you find out about us”? “Oh, it was passed down through the ranks”. I did 3 things for the rest of the day
  • Freaked Out (click that link. do it. It's awesome)
  • Wrote one of the more sincere thank you notes I’ve ever written
  • Went online and spent 6 hours with our manufacturer teeing up the order
We’ve worked hard with our manufacturer on having fast turnaround times on customized watches and we made it happen. The social-network-company-celebrating-its-7th-anniversary had a rockstar designer named Jason (literally, check out the work he’s done, I bet within the last 24 hours you’ve used something he’s had a hand in designing). He worked with Ashil and pulled together a very minimalist design that only highlighted the “7” on the watch face and we engraved the company logo on the back. [caption id="attachment_148" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Salud! Happy Anniversary!"][/caption] This time we ordered 2,900 (nervous about the engraving…). We performed our quality control (we only had a few issues, so if we send you a blue watch with a “7” highlighted it’s not because we love you, it’s because our office doesn’t have room for the extras…). Luckily a few friends such as Dave Bend (who is both the LED Strategy director at PG&E and the brother of our general counsel, Doug Bend, the small business and startup attorney of choice for companies in the Bay Area), Bhavin Parikh (co-founder of, the site for online test prep) and others helped. And we let a 3rd-party firm (hallelujah!) perform the fulfillment. Then we crashed the 7th anniversary party by bribing the security guards with watches :) [caption id="attachment_149" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ladieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeees"][/caption]

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