We launched our current Startup (Quad Lock) at the end of 2011 when we first heard of crowdfunding through Kickstarted. For us the end of 2011 was the perfect time to launch and the good news is, now’s still just as perfect! In my opinion now’s always the perfect time, no matter when you’re reading this now’s the time.
I also truly believe that never has there been as much opportunity for Startups to bootstrap their existence and growth through access to people, access to funds, ability to transact and the ability to go global from day one.
25 years ago it would have almost been impossible to bootstrap a small Melbourne based startup like ours into a multimillion dollar business with product selling in over 100 countries. Today this is now almost common place with many small bootstrapped startup companies leveraging the internet to build self sustaining businesses while reaching a worldwide audience.
Below I’ll cover some of the reasons I think this is now possible, and the best thing is everyone that has access to the internet has access to them all. I realise most of these aren’t new ideas but I wanted to make a comparison between the past and the present.
I talk with lots of people from the startup/freelance/sme scene here in Melbourne and many people are moving from having a “on the side business” to more of a “serious” business, be it part time or full time. Many of these people have started with a WordPress blog and then ad in e-commerce latter on. This makes sense as they have grown their website and traffic over time, but the ecommerce option are limited compared to a platform like Shopify thats super easy to use and update.
This is why the new Shopify Buy Button is so cool as it can be added to an existing WordPress blog/website buy simply copying and pasting an embed code. The cool thing here is that you get to use your WordPress site to do what it does best while letting Shopify handle the ecommerce side of things.
Facebook recently reached out to Quad Lock and offered us the opportunity to tell our story. The video touches on how we started the Quad Lock business and how we’ve used Facebook Ads to bootstrap our startup from an idea into a multi million dollar business with products now sold in over 100 countries.
Note: I wrote this article back in 2012 but only just found it in my draft post of my WP blog so I figured I should publish it anyway…. Opps!
November and December are some of the most important sales months on the calendar, they are also the two main months where the Shopify Build a Business competition is either won or lost. For this reason it’s important that you get it right!
Based on our experience last year on www.openacase.com we’d like to give other online retailers and Shopify Build a Business competitors our top five recommendations for selling during the “Silly Season”.
If your product makes for a great gift anticipate that sales are going to at least double and have more stock than you need. The worst thing that can happen is that you run out of stock during this period so plan for success and be ready to sell more than ever before.
Spread the word that your products makes a great gift, don’t presume that your potential customer will make the connection. You have to tell them! This is true because often when potential gift buying customers see your advert or product they may not be personally interested, but once you remind them that have others to buy for they will see your products as a solution to their problem.
Keep in mind that the majority of products purchased during this period will be gifts so a change in marketing strategies may be necessary.
Lately I have been reminded of the importance of quiet time, I’m not the quietest type so I find I have to make an effort to get some quiet time other than sleeping. I really think your subconscious is a smarter than your conscious by a decent multiplier, not sure what it is, but it’s defiantly smarter. I think your subconscious is especial great at taking in multiple complex factor processing them and delivering the best solution. I always find that my subconscious makes the best decisions and have to remind myself to use it and more importantly give it time to work.
I believe this is the reason we always return from holidays or long weekends where we really take some time off with a few good ideas and/or better ways of doing things. I think my brain capacity (granted it’s pretty limited) spends most of it’s processing power in the present and that it needs to be released from the present to really operate at a higher subconscious level.
So things I’ve been doing lately to help include driving with the radio off, walking with nowhere to go and fishing by myself. I have also tried to use my daily tram ride to do nothing (not play with my iPhone) but this has lead me to believe that 15 minutes isn’t long enough. I think 30 mins is a minimum to get things working on a subconscious level and the longer you stay there the better it gets.
My first blog was started back in 2011 with my Co Founder of Annex Products Chris Peters. The blog was a place to throw all the useful information that we could find on the fast growing entry level and open source 3D Printer industry. A year later and a few machine reviews in we found ourselves with 3D Printers Australia the number one site for all things 3D Printer related in Australia. We made a few phone calls and filled all the advertising spaces within a day, many of which still advertise today!
We then had this great audience and ended up even selling a few entry level machines, which turned into a full time gig and a spin of business Rapid 3D. Rapid 3D has now sold to almost all the Universities and many high Schools and Design firms throughout Australia including Melbourne Uni, Swinburne, RMIT, QUT Canberra and many more…
So I guess it shows just being involved in something that you find interesting and accepting opportunity when it presents itself works, and that not every business needs to be a well defined plan with a set course.
After launching the Opena in 2011 it still amazes me the amount of media attention this product has captured. This Fathers Day after a joint PR venture with Apple Canada the Opena appeared on a number of notable TV and media publications such as The Rush and Global News Tech Talk. This has made me realise that although it’s not new to me it’s still new to others and still news worthy!
So this week I had another App idea and this time I think I’ll act on it. We have no experience, but how hard can it be? (hopefully not famous last words) Anyway I asked a mate what I could use to prototype the UI and he said Balsamic. I had no idea what he was talking about so I Googled it and found Balsamiq Mockups an awesome little piece of software that I started playing with and before I knew it, it was 3am and the first draft of the UI was ready to demo.
This is the shaky video that i filmed on my iPhone4S, sorry about the excitement levels but it was 3am in the morning.
In January as part of winning our category of the Shopify ‘Build a Business’ competition, we were rewarded with a trip to New York where we met blogger, author and all round nice guy Seth Godin. For those of you who don’t know Seth, he has written thirteen best sellers that have been translated into more than thirty languages and single handily writes one of the most read blogs on the net. He sold one of his companies, Yoyodyne, to Yahoo in 1998 for 30 million (in ’98 30 million was a lot) and has been consistently called “America’s Greatest Marketer”.
All his accomplishments aside, Seth is a really well-centred individual and I was extremely impressed by him. I wasn’t only impressed by that fact that he cooked us lunch, but how he deconstructed complicated business direction and marketing problems to make them super simple, to the point that the individual he was helping would come up with their own solution.
Having read a few of Seth’s books and being some what familiar with his way of thinking I didn’t expect to be as impressed as I was, but everything seemed to be easy for him and I left thinking that things really are only as complicated or as simple as you make them.