Starting a business isn’t easy. It’s expensive, risky, and in many ways, an act of faith. A business owner has to be confident the idea will work and be worth both the investments and risks. Most businesses fail early (half are gone within the first five years of starting), but those that succeed can teach us valuable lessons about what makes ideas good and what makes businesses work. These success stories ultimately become inspirational accounts about entrepreneurs who believed in themselves and their big ideas. This was the case with Premier Glow, an e-commerce company that’s carved a spot for itself in the niche world of novelty party items such as glow sticks and confetti cannons.
A bright idea
Seventeen years ago, while students at the University of Memphis, Jeremy and Jessica Thompson conceived the idea of an e-commerce company that specialized in glowing and light-up novelties as well as other party supplies that college kids love. Their catalog included glow sticks, glow necklaces, glowing cups, and just about anything an enterprising party-thrower could ask for.
In 2001, of course, a pair of college kids like Jeremy and Jessica were more likely to be the customers of such a company than the founders. But they couldn’t find a company that truly filled the need. College kids don’t want to trek to the store for this stuff — plenty of college kids don’t have their own cars — so an online solution with delivery seemed obvious. The Thompsons knew their prices needed to be low, but the quality of the products high. After all, nobody wants a questionable glow stick around their party drink.
With no other company filling this void, Jeremy and Jessica did what seemed natural at the time: They created their own.
Rising stars in e-commerce
E-commerce isn’t an easy game to join, of course. Giants such as Amazon are already occupying most of the space. And brick-and-mortar stores aren’t giving up without a fight: with their price-matching tactics among other measures, they’re doing all they can to beat back the e-commerce competition. The local party shops around the University of Memphis wanted Jeremy and Jessica Thompson’s customers for their own — as did other party shops all around the country.
Early on, the company faced setbacks. The founders had to change the company name (it was originally called Glowlytes) after a trademark dispute. But Jeremy and Jessica built relationships with quality manufacturers in China and Taiwan and acquired warehouse space to keep their products in stock, ready to ship to customers at a moment’s notice. They kept prices low, quality high, and service top-notch in an effort to distinguish themselves from the ever-growing competition. Most importantly, they never gave up on the simple idea they had as college students.
It paid off. Today, Premier Glow is the premier source for glowing party novelties in the e-commerce space. Premier Glow sells everything from simple glow sticks to supplies for night golf. They have more than 600 unique products in stock and stored in a massive warehouse space that boasts 28,000 square feet of floor space and 560,000 cubic feet of storage room. The products don’t stay there for long, though; they’re flying off the shelves, as business is booming for the big-time company that started off as just a little idea on campus at the University of Memphis.