Chapter 3048 - Future Business Concerns
Ves officially published the Treatment Editions of his unavailable Sanctuary mech design.
Both new variants immediately sparked controversy among market watchers due to the insane prices the LMC listed for the new mech models.
A lot of people thought that the Living Mech Corporation had gone mad after trying to sell its new third-class mech models at second-class rates!
Everyone with a passing familiarity of mechs could figure out that the product margins of the Tranquility and Healing variants were insanely high.
Third-class clients thought that the new mechs were way too expensive for what they claimed to accomplish.
Second-class clients were not pleased at all to find out that the Sanctuary was completely incapable of withstanding the pressure of second-class mech combat.
Since no one liked the thought of getting scammed, initial sales of the odd new mechs were abysmally low!
Ves didn't feel concerned, though. The LMC's reputation had grown more than enough to cultivate a group of diehards who would always try out a new product regardless of its qualities.
"The Living Star Club is having quite a lot of success in marketing these Sanctuary variants." Calsie Doornbos reported to Ves during a morning briefing. "Though not many of our members have a need for the benefits offered by the two variants, they are still willing to acquire the mechs for reasons other than necessity."
"Well, as long as our fans are enthused about our new products, they can help drive up the hype."
The Living Star Club was an important tool to promote the new and odd mech models. Just like the LMC, Ves hadn't paid attention to the growing club. He initially set it up just to prevent him from paying greater compensation. Yet now that it brought together hundreds of thousands of very loyal customers, it had taken on a life of its own!
"How is the club doing in general? Do you have any concerns about the future?"
"It's doing well enough, but it will be a lot harder to keep up the enthusiasm once we leave this star cluster or the entire galaxy for that matter. Once you travel away far enough, there will be fewer and fewer people who will be able to remember that the LMC is native to the Yeina Star Cluster. Eventually there will be more people who think of the LMC as a foreign company rather than one that is native to the region."
"It's fine." Ves did not look concerned. "These matters are trivial compared to the value my mechs can bring. That won't change no matter how far I travel from this star cluster. The mainstream mechs sold by giant trans-galactic mech companies are popular here as well despite the fact that their headquarters are situated all the way in the galactic center. What matters is that my mechs continue to get used and that we keep earning money from doing so. Just do your best to convert our customers into loyal fans."
"We'll do our best, though I think we need to consider how to break into the Red Ocean's mech market instead."
"What is your business strategy for the Red Ocean?" Calsie asked.
"Uhh… I haven't thought that far yet. I know that others in my company have already viewed this issue from different angles, but the situation over at the dwarf galaxy is still in flux. Who knows if the plans we make today are still relevant in a year."
"Even if that is the case, we should still settle on an overall approach. For example, will you continue to service the third-class mech market once you reach the Red Ocean?"
Ves leaned back on his chair and thought about his answer. Lucky didn't help much as he floated down to his shoulder and patted his ears for some reason.
"You're only saying that because you want us to buy more expensive food."
"Yes, yes, I know!"
"Uhm, what is Lucky talking about?" Calsie asked.
"He thinks it's time for me to sell my mechs to the second-class mech market. I'm very hesitant about that. I think I explained the reason for that during an earlier meeting."
"You told us that you wanted to avoid encroaching on the interests of other, more powerful mech designers and mech companies."
Ves nodded. "Those reasons will still remain valid when we reach the Red Ocean. In fact, they will become even more relevant. Do you know why?"
"Because competitors in the Yeina Star Cluster must show a lot of restraint when they plan to do something for us, but business rivals in the Red Ocean can just seek us out and destroy us outright! Do you think it is possible for a bunch of pissed-off mech companies to band together and track us down in order to eliminate us entirely?"
"That sounds far-fetched, sir. I think we just have to make enough precautions to avoid getting cornered."
"You can't hide a fleet as big as ours. I would still like to be able to travel freely in the Red Ocean without needing to look over my shoulder all the time."
"We could earn vastly more money if we enter the second-class market. We'll be able to use the proceeds to rapidly increase our strength to the point where the scenarios you have painted become infeasible."
"We would have to grow huge for that to come to pass." Ves skeptically answered. "If we had a million clan members, then maybe you're right, but we simply can't grow that fast without losing control. Look, it's not that I am opposed to earning more money, but we have to guarantee our safety first before we have the capital to give in to our greed. Our strength must always be proportional to our earnings in order to avoid attracting retaliation from any rivals. This is a lesson that I have deeply carved in my bones."
"Then what do you intend to do instead? I'm not sure we will be able to fuel all of our ambitions if we sustain ourselves solely with third-class mech sales." She said. "The biggest issue is that the Red Ocean's mech market is still very rudimentary and fragmented. It won't be so easy to establish a lot of branches that can serve as reliable sales channels."
The Red Ocean was still a frontier in many senses. The Larkinsons would have to get used to operating in a region of space where they couldn't buy and sell the goods as easily as before.
Ves had a tentative plan for that, though.
"I have long been considering the idea of relying on direct sales to pay the bills." He waved across the entire compartment. "We acquired the Spirit of Bentheim for a reason, Calsie. Our factory ship can pump out a steady amount of mechs a month and probably more if we upgrade her production lines with higher-tech versions once we reach the Red Ocean. That will allow us to sell substantial batches of high-end mechs to private clients. I am sure that we can convince enough people to embrace our living mechs."
He didn't need to state that he would be inserting many safeguards into the living mechs sold to others. He didn't want his clients to turn around and use the mechs he designed against the Larkinson Clan!
Ves thought quite highly of this strategy, but Calsie did not seem in favor.
"I know something about different mech markets ever since I have become the director of the Living Star Club. I believe there is a limit to how many overpriced mechs you can sell by going from customer to customer like an ancient door-to-door salesman."
"Then what would you have us do instead?"
"I think you should really consider taking a plunge." She recommended. "If you are so worried about getting attacked or something, then try and find a backer. There are large trading alliances and other cooperatives that are meant to address these concerns. In fact, our Golden Skull Alliance could grow into such a cooperative union as well if you add in more mech companies."
"I don't trust easily, Calsie. We have a history of getting betrayed. I don't want us to depend on others to remain safe. One of the major reasons why we have unshackled ourselves from any state is because we don't want to dance to the tune of others!"
Ves was being very intractable towards one of his earliest employees. Calsie's persistent loyalty and contributions from the early days was the only reason why he was willing to be patient enough to explain his arguments.
Calsie wasn't satisfied with that. She was convinced that the Living Mech Corporation and the Larkinson Clan could do much more if it adopted a bolder business strategy!
The problem was that she wasn't clever enough to find a solution to the various issues that Ves had posed. All she could hope for was to wait until the Larkinsons rescued and integrated the Purnesse Family.
From what she heard, the Purnesses were good at making deals, including business deals. Perhaps the business-minded people of the family would be able to present much more tolerable choices to a stubborn leader like Ves.
The two eventually concluded their briefing. Calsie left his office while Ves shook his head before preparing to head to the design lab.
Before he was ready to complete another intensive but fulfilling design session, he briefly paused and allowed Blinky to appear from his mind.
The purple cat swished his black-tipped tail with great enthusiasm now that he got out again. His star-streaked purple fur rippled as Ves grabbed his latest cat and bright their faces closer together.
"I'm not going to kiss you. That would be like kissing myself! Yuck!"
Blinky didn't seem very comfortable at the moment, which was strange since the companion spirit was essentially another part of Ves.
"You've been growing and getting accustomed to your new form for a while. Have you made any substantial progress in figuring out how to control the Worclaw crystal that you've absorbed."
That did not sound like a confident answer. "Can you show anything to me that won't lead to injuries or anything?"
Blinky squirmed from his grasp and floated higher in the air. The spiritual cat adopted a pensive expression as he tried to channel something.
Ves patiently waited as a dozen seconds passed by. Soon enough, the miniaturized Worclaw crystal that was stuck on Blinky's forehead began to glow in a dazzling fashion.
The high-level energy cycle inside Ves' chest began to fluctuate, causing him to grow a little nervous.
"What are you doing?"
Blinky was concentrating too much at the moment. Fortunately, the energy cycle still remained under control. What the companion spirit did was not that drastic.
As the forehead-embedded crystal became brighter, Blinky was eventually ready to channel his newly-invented move.
A loud and violet thud echoed in his office. Ves immediately dove behind his desk as his past trauma reminded him of an attack.
"Get down, sir!" Nitaa yelled as she and a handful of bodyguards standing quietly by the sides immediately moved forward in order to cover their charge.
"It's okay! Calm down! I'm not under attack!"
Though Ves was incredibly surprised at what had happened, he knew that he wasn't the target.
Ves carefully peeked his head over the desktop and looked at a distinctly cat-sized hole in the bulkhead.
It was as if someone fired a railgun that was aimed straight at the side of his personal office.
"This attack…" Nitaa looked astonished as she put down her heavy assault rifle. "It… it looks strong enough to pierce through a mech!"
The living projectile responsible for damaging his office slowly flew out of the hole. The cat looked a lot dimmer than before. The crystal on his forehead looked faded and the star trails running through his body had also dimmed to an extent.
Evidently, this primitive but destructive attack took a lot out of the companion spirit.
"Good job, Blinky."