I hate rules. Especially bureaucratic rules.
That is the main reason I became an entrepreneur. I wanted to escape the bureaucracy of corporate life. I remember meetings with no purpose other than to stroke the ego of the person setting the meeting, emails with 15 CC's, documents that needed 5 people to approve them (TPS Reports anyone?), compulsory "trainings" on equity, diversity and inclusion... No thanks. They can keep all that pointless stuff. All that red tape.
At AmmoSquared, we have a small team, just 10 people. We move fast and we don't have any "red tape". Ideas come up and if we think they are good, we build them. Chris Corriveau (our CTO) and I are constantly generating new ideas and thinking up new innovative things we can do with ammunition. Sometimes that is a good thing and sometimes it has some negatives.
Over the past year we launched so many innovative features that is is hard to keep track: AMMO² Pay (P2P ammo payments), AMMO² Wallet, Ammo Price Charts, ACH integration, Social profiles, plus a whole bunch of smaller improvements and innovations.
The problem, we recently found out, was that a number of these ammunition innovations were crossing the line into areas that are regulated by various state and federal financial laws. Particularly anything related to having a "cash wallet" or sending cash (or cash like instruments) between people. These so called "money transmitter" laws require a special license and registration. In other words: RED TAPE.
Did I mention I HATE red tape?
So, after some internal discussion and outside consultation, instead of dealing with the state and federal red tape, we decided to temporarily "axe" some of these features so that we'll be in compliance with these financial regulations. We realized we could do this and it wouldn't affect our core business. We can always come back and get the proper licensing in the future if it seems worthwhile to go down that road.
So what that means is that two of our biggest recent product launches: AMMO² Pay and the AMMO² Wallet had to go. We also are in the process of winding down our ACH in the current form with the current vendor, but it will be back shortly in a slightly different form. Instead of ACH money going into your Wallet (which we're not allowed to do any longer), you'll be able to use ACH as a payment method for your ammo (one time or AutoBuy).
Selling ammo with those funds going into your wallet is technically a no-no too. Instead you can return ammo you don't need and get that added back on your card or receive a refund check. If you wanted to just buy another caliber with those funds anyway, you are better off just doing an exchange between calibers - there is no fee for exchanges.
So in a nutshell, we had to scale back some of the more financial-like innovations we recently rolled out.
But there is a silver lining...
In our internal meetings to discuss this situation, we realized that our core business remained the same and in fact, by pruning off some of those other branches, it allows us to focus more on our core: helping our customers stockpile ammo for an uncertain future.
So instead of looking at ammunition as a currency or something that can traded like a commodity, the newest innovations we focused on for the past 8 months or so, we're going to roll back the clock a little and just focus on improving all aspects of what made us great over the past 8 years... stockpiling ammo!
I don't feel like we have even scratched the surface of what we can do with this (still very innovative) topic. Since we launched our new site in Feb 2022 (moving from our old Wordpress site, yuck) we've had just under 30,000 people sign up for our service. When you think about the number of gun owners in the US, that isn't even a drop in the bucket... that is less than a drop in a bucket. That is like a grain of sand on a 5 mile long beach. That is approximately 0.00015 of the gun owning population in the US.
There is still so much more we can do in this area and so many more people we can expose to this new approach to buying ammo that I'm a little ashamed I have been distracted over the past year or so.
As an illustration, I'll share a quick conversation I had with a customer: he said that said every time he logs into the dashboard he has to re-learn how to do everything because we keep changing stuff. He wasn't mad. It was just a statement of fact.
I definitely understand.
In many ways I feel like we were getting out too far ahead of our customers and leaving them behind with the past year's new rollouts. By focusing on the new and shiny, we were neglecting the core business. Instead, we should have been better about focusing on the core business at least until we got it completely dialed and the average person was able to see it, understand it intuitively. (We're not there yet, not even close.)
So, all that said, while I can't promise we won't change some stuff (we will evolve and improve the site over time, its in our DNA) I can promise that we will stick to our core business and improve it around the edges until we feel like our customers are completely satisfied and don't get that head spinning feeling!