Once again I highlight that the world is full of surprises. Take one look at Eleven James and you’ll agree. One man, Randy Brandoff, has made a dream a reality out of the object of his passion; the timepiece. I recently had the privilege of having him on the phone for an interview, and, I must say I was doubly impressed by his charisma.
Honestly, I thought someone from the executive echelon of exclusive networks like NetJets and Blueprint Summit, might come with a bit of pretense. I could not have been more wrong. The man I spoke to was warm, candid, and, full of humor. He talked often of his loving wife and vibrant child. When I asked him about watches, he spoke with a passion I found myself envying.
For those who don’t know, Eleven James is, essentially, a fractional ownership company that deals specifically in luxury timepieces. Members pay a monthly fee, currently ranging from $299 to $1349, for access to a collection of high end watches. Included in the membership are member rewards, access to executive events, a highly rated concierge service and other partnership offers.
After reading about the New York based startup I just had to know more. Here is a bit of how the conversation went:
Randy, first of all I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to speak with me, but I do have to ask, what’s with the name ‘Eleven James’?
“That actually has to do with James Bond. You see, I learned that with each new release of an iconic James Bond character, he also came with eleven new watches and gadgets in his repertoire. I loved the idea so much I ran with it.”
So, why luxury watches?
“That takes me all the way back to high school. Though, I’ve always had a love for watches. They’re literally like a functional work of art. The complexity, the operation, the care that goes into crafting them. I remember a friend of mine had received a high end watch when I was sixteen. The watch I had was nothing special. I fell in love. From that moment on I was sold. There’s also the classic element. Wearing a watch, a good watch, demonstrates a sense of style.”
How has the response been for your company then? How are you feeling about the company in relation to the original vision?
“The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, everything is entirely in line with my original vision. 2014 was our first full year as a company and we experienced great growth. All of our members are satisfied and we even have some upgrades in the works.”
What kind of challenges have you had to face?
“Well, one of the biggest challenges I face is when I’m with my family. When you create a company you find quickly that you’re always working. Now, some weeks are better than others but the greatest challenge is finding the time to just ‘shut it off.’ One of my greatest assets in that regard is my wife. She’s amazing. If you really want to launch a dream and be successful you must see your wife not only as a spouse but also as a partner. For that I’m very fortunate.”
So why ‘renting’ watches then?
“Shared asset business models aren’t anything new. Not even with luxury goods. People buy yachts, jets, fancy cars, you name it. Goods are goods. It is said that the best two days you have with it is the day that you buy it and the day that you sell it. Luxury goods are just like any other goods. They can depreciate in value, they have upkeep costs, and they can break and require maintenance. I wanted all the hassles to be taken away from the customer. This left more time to enjoy the experience of wearing the watch. When our members rotate their selection, they get to enjoy a new experience with the new watch. To me it’s a win-win.”
I know nothing of the watch market, but it seems like luxury watches are a very tight niche, how are you getting the name out there?
“First of all we have a world class sales team. We also have a few ambassadors, friends of the program and colleagues, who are helping us get our name out there. One of the parts of our program that also seems to be helping is our robust rewards program.”
Well it certainly seems like you’re doing well, what are your plans for the future?
“Currently we’re looking at a few things. We’ve got a plan to procure more funding in the works. That’ll help us expand our collection and pick up another name. We’re also looking at expanding into the international market. Either way we’re growing. It’s been a great journey.”
As to that, if you’ll forgive the play on words, it certainly seems like the time for Eleven James is now.