Mbe Spotlight: Vizio's Rapid Rise To The Top In This Issue
Founder/ceo William Wang took Vizio from start-up to $2
MBE Spotlight: VIZIO's Rapid
billion in 7 years
Rise to the Top
William Wang had no proven track record 2010 Programs Take
when it came to manufacturing televisions. "University" Approach
But that didn't stop him from starting a
company focused on creating high perfor- Giving MBEs Affordable
mance flat panels with greater efficiency at Health Insurance
a lower cost. That was seven years ago,
and today, his business, VIZIO Inc., puts Marketing Your Business With
more LCD HDTVs on the market in the Social Media
U.S. than any other company.
From the beginning, the Irvine-based,
SCMBDC-certified company outsourced
manufacturing, undercut brand-name prices, held tight margins, kept Upcoming Events
overhead low and remained committed to its mission -- providing Effective cold calling
quality products at affordable prices. Jan. 28, 9 - 11:30 a.m.
"Everyone on the VIZIO team knows we're here to sell affordability and How do you make a phone call to
great quality," says Wang, company founder and CEO. "We're not someone you've never met -- and
here to sell a cheap product or have a technology that no one appreci- get business? Learn how to make
ates. The components we use in our products have to be the best. a winning sales pitch over the
We've stayed true to our slogan, 'Where Vision Meets Value,' since phone. Click here for details.
How to deliver a 2-minute
The company also put a premium on customer service, with about half company pitch
of its 170 employees in customer service and all of its call centers Feb. 18, 9 - 11:30 a.m.
located in the U.S. Wang says providing quality service is important Sometimes 2 minutes is all you
since consumers are more educated when it comes to purchasing a TV. have to get your company's
message out. Learn how to keep
"For me, a happy customer is worth more money than your pitch short and to the point.
anything else...that's how we grow." Click here for details.
- William Wang
"They know what they want in a TV before they enter a store, so the Opportunity Day
only time consumers need to interact with us is when they have a Feb. 25, 7 - 4:30 p.m.
problem, and unfortunately, electronics can't be 100% problem-free," A business opportunity exhibit fair,
says Wang, who was born in Taiwan and moved to the U.S. when he engaging seminars and work-
was 12. "Therefore, when they need to call us, we have to give them shops, and networking opportuni-
red-carpet service and that's only available in the U.S. For me, a ties to help suppliers grow and
happy customer is worth more money than anything else...that's how prosper are all part of MBOD
we grow." 2010. Click here for more details.
Wang launched the company -- then known as V -- in 2002 after he
saw a business opportunity with the U.S. government's mandated
Year In Review
conversion to digital TV. He knew the HDTV market could grow if he As 2009 comes to a close, we
made them affordable compared to established brands, such as Sony want to take this opportunity to
and Panasonic. thank you, our MBEs and
But the early days of the company were rough. "When I tried to buy a corporate members, for your
component from suppliers, I didn't have the skills of my competitors," continued support of the coun-
adds Wang, who has a degree in electrical engineering from USC. "As cil. We couldn't carry out our
a start-up, we didn't come in with millions of dollars; we didn't have any mission without it. Click on the
leverage. I had to build personal relationships." following link to see highlights
of the year.
The company received its big break providing consulting services to
Gateway Inc. as the computer company started bringing wide-screen, 2009 SCMBDC Year In Review
flat-panel televisions to market. VIZIO helped Gateway launch an
affordable HDTV. With the Gateway contract in hand, suppliers treated
By forming close partnerships with component suppliers, original
design manufacturers and retailers, as well as having the right team in
place, the brand was able to open the market to millions of Americans
and become the #1 HDTV brand four years later.
With revenues of more than $2 billion, VIZIO products are sold at
retailers nationwide, including Costco Wholesale, Sam's Club, Sears,
Walmart, Target, and BJ's Wholesale. The company says it has TVs in
10 million households.
In 2009, VIZIO, nominated by Walmart, received SCMBDC's Winner's
Circle award at the Supplier of the Year awards luncheon. Other
honors include the #1 ranking in the Inc. 500 for Top Companies in
Computers and Electronics in 2007 and 2008 and Fast Company's Top
10 Most Innovative CE Companies. Wang also received Orange
County Business Journal's Entrepreneur of the Year award.
Wang acknowledges good timing was a factor in the company's
success. When VIZIO started, its competitors weren't focused on
providing affordable electronic products. Also, the digital television
conversion was a godsend.
"Our timing was perfect," says Wang, adding, "I've been an entrepre-
neur since 1990 and I've had good timing and bad. To be successful,
good timing is a must. If we started the business today with a weak
economy, it'd be hard for any start-up to survive."
Despite the recession, VIZIO is thriving with the company posting 30%
growth in sales year over year. Looking ahead, Wang says VIZIO will
expand its products beyond HDTVs and pursue growth opportunities
outside the U.S.
"We see ourselves getting bigger...that's been the dream," he adds.
William Wang on...
Being a certified MBE: "We became certified when we were a smaller
company. Some of our retail partners and distributors have benefited
from us being a minority-certified company."
Being socially responsible: "The state's mandate to produce
energy-efficient TVs is part of our vision for the future. We must be
socially responsible for the next generation."
Tips for other MBEs: "Minority or not, a business has to have a great
story. Focus on the reason why you started your business and don't
deviate from it."
2010 Programs Take "University" Approach
More networking and communications workshops planned
2010 will feature several matchmaking events which will help minority suppliers get
in the door with corporate members.
Recognizing that education is key for both minority business enterprises
(MBEs) and corporate members to become more successful, SCMBDC's
programs next year will revolve around a "university" concept.
The programs will be more strategic and structured to help corporate
representatives and MBEs develop relationships, prepare MBEs to
capitalize on business opportunities and assist corporate members
develop "best practices" in supplier diversity.
Under the university concept, the council will take a more global view
to ensure "MBEs and corporations get the most out of their member-
ship," according to Derek Johnson, SCMBDC's programs committee
chair and vice president, sourcing and procurement, media network,
new media technologies and marketing and advertising at The Walt
For MBEs, this means strategic marketing partnerships, in which the
council develops programs in partnership with other organizations;
strategic networking, including MBE to MBE business development
receptions and MBE workshops and matchmaking events; education
and professional development, such as Communications Skills LIVE!
and Pepperdine webcast/video series; online engagement, which
takes advantage of online resources and tools, including social
For corporate members, it involves a "toolbox" comprised of a variety
of resources to allow them to better identify MBEs for potential
contracts and help MBEs become more successful in their contracts.
A survey will help determine specific program areas for corporate
members, but ideas include MBE query requests with results within
one business day and informative articles and links for corporate
members to share with minority suppliers.
"MBEs and corporate members will have an opportunity to increase
their skills by taking advantage of our coursework next year," adds
Johnson, who became programs committee chair a few months ago.
"Our goal is to help MBEs get more business by building their credibil-
ity through our programs and help corporations with their supplier
diversity programs, benchmarking, best practices, and more."
The programs committee, which includes corporate members and
MBEs as part of the MBEIC (Minority Business Enterprise Input
Committee), is responsible for overseeing council programs and
providing direction. Based on input from MBEs, programs will be
offered in "concentration" areas over the next four years. In 2010,
workshops and seminars will focus on communications, which
includes networking, sales, negotiations, persuasion, visual and
written. Subsequent years will focus on
marketing/creativity/innovation, leadership and management, and
finance and accounting.
Through its programs, "there is tremendous value the council provides
to corporate members and MBEs," adds Johnson. "The council
provides an opportunity to learn, best practice information, the devel-
opment of new skills, and access to training from experts you normally
wouldn't get on your own."
Giving MBEs Affordable Health Insurance
MBEs enjoy cost savings, high-touch service
Like many companies, KBM Facility Solutions faced rising healthcare
costs for its 500 employees. But three years ago, the company, a San
Diego-based janitorial and maintenance services provider, learned
about the council's MBE (Minority Business Enterprise) Health Insur-
Realizing the cost savings for the same level of coverage, the com-
pany decided to enroll in SCMBDC's program. "It was a no-brainer,"
according to Scott Brill, executive vice president of KBM, whose
clients include Boeing Space Center, AT&T, Northrop Grumman and
Says Brill, "The council offered us the coverage we wanted without
the limitations of other plans. We have saved thousands of dollars
and enjoy the same benefits."
KBM's cost savings are typical, according to Joy Nery, SCMBDC's
director of marketing and sales. For companies who switched from
other insurance programs to the MBE Health Insurance Program,
"we've helped them save $400,000 a year," she says, adding that one
company alone saved $30,000 annually.
The council launched the program in 2003 to provide MBEs access to
top quality, affordable insurance. The program features customized
benefits including medical (HMO & PPO) and dental benefits (DHMO
& PPO); vision; short- and long-term disability; long-term care,
employee assistance programs and life insurance. It also includes an
evaluation of benefits by trained insurance professionals and onsite
Carriers under the program include Health Net, Kaiser Permanente,
Aetna, California Choice Solutions, United Healthcare, Safeguard
Dental, CoPower, Delta Dental, Metlife, American Specialty Health,
Premier Access Dental, Vision Service of America, Vision Service
Plan and Principal Life Insurance Company.
When the program initially started, the council worked with a third-
party insurance brokerage firm, but today, the council is an insurance
brokerage firm that holds a life and health license by the California
Department of Insurance. This means SCMBDC is able to transact
medical, dental, vision, short-term and long-term disability insurance.
Nery and Michael Murray, manager of marketing and sales, who also
has his license, are able to go onsite to company facilities and evalu-
ate their benefits and costs per person, then look at other carriers with
similar benefits and compare costs. "What many companies don't
realize is they can switch to another carrier and still utilize the same
benefits and doctors at a lower cost," Nery says. "It's money in their
pocket they weren't getting before."
The program has grown to more than 1,500 policy holders. And like
KBM, the companies are pleased with saving money on healthcare
"The money we save goes back to
employees through our profit sharing
plan," says Brill, noting that after payroll,
healthcare, workers compensation and
general liability insurance are the com-
pany's largest expenses.
In addition to saving money, another big
advantage of the SCMBDC program is
the customer service. "When we ask for
reports or have questions, there's
definitely an elevated level of service.
You feel like you are the only customer
Scott Brill of
they have," Brill adds. "They want to KBM Facility Solutions
take care of you."
Adds Nery, "MBEs participating in the program appreciate the high-
touch service. I believe the quality of customer service they receive is
a huge part of why they've stayed loyal to the program."
Continue To Next Story >>
Marketing Your Business With Social Media
There's no fighting it - social media is here to stay. So how do you get
social media outlets, such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to work
for your business? That was the topic of a recent workshop on
"Demystifying Social Media: The Do's and Don'ts."
Held Nov. 18 at SCMBDC's office in Los Angeles, Tyler Quiel, interac-
tive project manager at IW Group Inc., a public relations and commu-
nications firm that specializes in reaching the growing Asian-American
community in the U.S., provided attendees with a thorough walk-
through of various social media, including how they function, how to
utilize them, and how to effectively bring them all together.
Quiel noted that a number of businesses are using social media to
find new customers, market products and services, and drive traffic
to their websites.
With 300 million people
on Facebook alone,
social media outlets are
the place to reach audi-
According to Quiel, the
"golden rules" of social
media marketing include:
keep messages simple;
create quality content
Tyler Quiel helped participants learn the ins and that people want to keep
outs of social media coming back to; utilize
different platforms for different purposes, and build tools and content
for customers, not marketing campaigns.
For Facebook, he recommends creating "fan" pages for website and
contact information, press releases, videos, blogs, Twitter updates
and customer interaction.
Twitter, which features "tweets" limited to 140 characters, can be
utilized for limited time offers, driving awareness of other campaign
profiles or platforms, announcing new products, providing coupon
codes, recruitment and dealing with PR disasters, according to Quiel.
He notes that LinkedIn, the social network with close to 500 million
users, can be used to encourage customers or vendors to give
recommendations, while company blogs can be used for in-depth
industry related content. "Think of your blog as being at the forefront
of search engine optimizations," Quiel says, "and your main website
as the final point of sale."
There are a number of monitoring sites that will provide traffic reports
on company websites and blogs, real-time feedback of conversations
about your brand in social media, and more. Overall, Quiel says
social media marketing can be an effective way to reach customers
in a cost-effective manner.
KEY SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS (next page):
Most widely used social media platform.
Leader in social media for microblogging.
Popular social media platform for professional pursuits.
Most widely used blogging platform for professional blogs.
SOCIAL MEDIA BLOGS:
The must stop for all news related to current social media technology.
Great for cutting edge technology and breakthroughs in social media.
Fast Company: http://www.fastcompany.com/
This blog outlines successful marketing case studies, new technology and
social media marketing.
Provides you with a complete survey of available social media usernames
Facebook URL: http://facebook.com/username
Allows access to register your URL username.
Provides hosting, domain registration, and automatic WordPress installation.
Provides multiple Twitter accounts, timed Tweets, multi-window interface and
Auto-follower by keyword, zip code and group, multiple account settings
PERFORMANCE MONITORING TOOLS:
Google Analytics: http://www.google.com/analytics/
Provides comprehensive traffic reports on company websites and blogs.
Google Alerts: http://www.google.com/alerts
Makes available periodic email reports on brand mentions throughout the web.
Google Trends: http://www.google.com/trends
Provides comparison of user search traffic for different keywords.
Google Ad Planner: https://www.google.com/adplanner/
Makes available user demographic information and traffic estimates on
competitor websites. Great for high traffic websites.
Social Mention: http://www.socialmention.com
Provides real-time feedback of conversations occurring about your brand in
Gives traffic estimates on competitor websites. Great for low traffic websites
Southern California Minority Business Development Council Inc.
800 W. 6th St. Los Angeles, California 90017-2711 l (213) 689-6960 l www.scmbdc.org