Online everyone wants to hangout with the cool kids, but does it really work? Take the latest Instagram by Shaq or should I say DR. SHAQUILLE O’NEAL Ed.D. Shaq has over 5 million followers and his latest post about his new F650 has over 400K views and 1000+ comments. Who knows if this a paid or a friendly node to his local Ford dealer but I bet Wade from @wadefordatlanta was hoping to get a bit of more traction from his superstar customers post, looks like he even open an account just for it.
We have been selling our product Quad Lock (iPhone mounting system) since 2012 by running a single Shopify store and selling globally in USD. This was fine for the first couple of years but as we grew we started selling through retail and with the fluctuations in currencies we had no option but to setup in multiple currencies to keep pricing consistent within our core markets.
After much consideration we decided to split our stores into region based stand alone stores selling in localised currencies with a smart IP redirect between all stores pushing the visitors to their region specific store. This was important because we knew our original .com store’s organic SEO was fairly strong worldwide and it could be years before the new localised stores outrank the .com in their intended regions. This would mean that many customers will still find the original .com store first and need to be pushed between stores to their correct regions site.
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.
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.
I’ve been using Facebook ads for a couple of years now and the truth is that the majority of our customers have been acquired from the social network. However using Facebook properly is almost a full-time job as it’s in a constant state of flux.
I think managing Facebook ads is like Fly Fishing your favourite river, you know what you’re doing and you’ve been there before but every time you return it’s a little bit different, there’s a new snag been pushed down stream, the rivers running higher/faster or the fish have seen all your flys and their not interested.
We recently had an idea to launch a new product called ‘The Holda‘, named after our first product the Opena Case (iPhone Bottle Opener). The Holda case is an iPhone case design to hold an ID, credit card, some cash and a house key. When launching our first product, the Opena case, the media attention played a huge part in the product’s success. We wanted to try and capture that same “hype” however, to be honest, a case that holds credit cards isn’t really that exciting.
So to generate some media interest, we decided to have a bit of fun with the idea and launch the product under a different name with a different function. We came up with the name ‘Playa Case’ and decided to push the fact that it holds two condoms, because as they say “sex sells”. So we made an especially awkward video using some prototypes and we released the video on April Fools Day.
One thing I’ve learnt about releasing content to the press, is that it’s better to start at the top and let it spread from there. Instead of sending the video to every site on the net (I’ve tried that), I ran the concept past Gizmodo and they loved the fact that it was a real product with a twist released on April Fools day. Gizmodo posted the video with a story and within the week 250,000 more people knew about the Playa case and Annex Products. Based on this awesome response, and 1000’s of people signing up to purchase the Playa case, we have decided to do a limited edition run. As a bonus, with the extra traffic to www.openacase.com, the Opena sales rose for about 2 weeks. We have even had new resellers and distributors contact us and the best thing is that the public have started to suggest that another use for the Playa case is the actual the function of the Holda.
In all I’d call this little publicity stunt a success because it took very little effort to organise, the cost was low and the return was high.
Shopify have announced the winners of the 2011 Build-a-Business Competiton. The competition was entered by over 3,000 entrepreneurs who created brand new online stores and sold over $12 million during the competition period. The grand prize is $100,000 cash, along with VIP trips to New York City and San Francisco to meet with Timothy Ferriss, Seth Godin, and Gary Vaynerchuk.
Congratulations to the overall winner Coffee Joulies – www.joulies.com
Dave Jackson and Dave Petrillo are two mechanical engineers from New Jersey. Similarly to us they crowd funded the capital on Kickstarter to fund the creation of Coffee Joulies. They’re one of Kickstarters most successful projects, and now one of Shopify’s fastest growing online stores. I’m now personally looking forward to meeting “The Dave’s” in New York along with all the other category winners.
We (www.openacase.com) were lucky enough to also win our category along with 5 other awesome category winners as seen in the infographic on the left, click the image for a larger view of the whole thing. Chris and I are both super stoked to have taken out the category prize for the “Other” section of the competition. The category prize is pretty awesome too with $25,000 in cash, a VIP trip to New York, a power session to Seth Godin and $7500 worth of Google AdWords credit.
It’s also worth noting that 3 out of the 8 winners were funded on Kickstarter which shows jus how may great Sartups are emerging from Kickstarter. We also love the fact that only 8% of the entrepreneurs who entered the competition were from Australia, but that 38% of the winners are Australian including Flock-stocks, My Footy Boots and us (Opena Case). Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!!!
Melbourne Geek’s Article on our success in the Shopify Comp. Melbourne Blog
Thought I’d throw together a few pointers to help others wanting to start up their own online business. The information you’ll find below is based on my experience, over the last 6 months, using these simple strategies and online tools we were able to sell 1000’s of units all over the globe in a matter of months. Both my business partner, Chris Peters,and I have now quit our day jobs and are currently launching other online stores.
UPDATE 1/03/2011 – With these strategies we were also able to win our category in the Shopify Build-a-Business Competition for 2011 with a $25,000 cash prize, all expenses trip paid to NY, power session with Seth Godin and $7,500.00 of Google AdWords credit.
I don’t want to go into details about products or business ideas, but rather the mechanics of setting up an online business and the awesome tools available to entrepreneurs today. It’s never been easier to setup an online business and start making money straight away.