Coastermatic

Building and managing a web/manufacturing service that creates and distributes photo and designer stone coasters.

I was so impressed with Tash and her Coastermatic co-founder, I interviewed them on The Big Web Show.
— Jeffrey Zeldman

Role

Product Management, Design, and Development.
Business development, marketing, editorial strategy, sales outreach.
Operations, recruiting, remote team management, customer support. 
Manufacturing systems, vendor relations, and much more.

Summary

Launched in April 2012, Coastermatic began as an experiment in creative collaboration and rapid prototyping. The company was co-founded with Tom Harman while at graduate school. Together, we conceived and built every part of Coastermatic from scratch, with Tom focused on the design, and I on the development. Initially, Coastermatic was custom built with a combination of PHP, MYSQL, and Javascript, and consisted of a single product: a set of 4 custom ceramic coasters featuring Instagram images selected from a users account. 

Following Tom's departure from the company in 2013, I became the sole-proprietor, bearing responsibility for all aspects of the business - eventually building it to a team of 5.

Here are a few projects we completed in 2015

Designer Collection
Released in September 2015, the Coastermatic Designer Collection consists of 12 coaster sets featuring a range of patterns and designs. The introduction of this collection enabled Coastermatic products to be sold in stores, and offered products to customers who weren't interested in photo coasters. To create the collection, I liaised with a number of illustrators, developed a licensing contract to ensure their work would be protected, and worked with a photographer and stylist to create a collection of product images. The Collection went to a number of tradeshows, resulting in various pieces of press, and a number of stockists throughout the country.

Photo Upload
Coastermatic started out allowing people to upload images only from Instagram to create customized coasters. Over time it became clear that we needed more options, both to better cater to our customers, and to save ourselves from the customer support nightmares that would come with the odd things people would do to hide the images they were using. I assembled a team consisting of a visual designer and 2 engineers to build out a Photo Upload feature. After it's release in October 2015, it quickly became the most popular way to create coasters on Coastermatic.com.

Stolen Code
A company in Singapore stole our Instagram selection flow code and used it to start their own coaster company. Upon discovering this, I reached out to a number of friends and lawyers to determine what our options were, learning a lot about copyright law in the process. Instead of issuing a cease and desist, I decided to reach out to the company's founder to make them aware of the situation. After a fairly civil back and forth, they took down the offending code.

Holiday Outreach
The holiday season is the busiest time of year for eCommerce companies. In order to compete with the flood of holiday messaging that bombards us all, I assembled and managed a remote team of 4. We worked together to increase Coastermatic's social media presence, reach out to influencers, and do a better job of connecting with our existing customers. Over the course of 6 months, we reached out to over 700 people across Youtube, Instagram, and print, securing reviews across a number of platforms. We also grew our social media following by 100%, established a presence on Pinterest, and increased open rates for our mailing list.  

Blogging and Speaking
I believe documenting process is very important, and chose to blog regularly about the ups and downs of life as a creative entrepreneur. My work sparked the interest of Typo, an international design talk series, and I was invited to speak about my experience on the main stage of their San Francisco conference in April 2015.


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