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.
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.
So I’ve told a few people about this over the last few months and most people didn’t know so I think it’s worth a post.
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.
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!
After successfully testing the Quad Lock bar mount PRO and lifting over 80KG in the static lift test we thought we’d better put the Quad Lock Wall mounts through their paces. What better way to test out a wall mount than trying to climb a wall with them!
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.
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.
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.