How I Started A $12K/Month Aftermarket Vehicle Accessories
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey everyone! My name is Mitchel Matthews and I am a 22-year-old entrepreneur. I am the owner/founder of Adrenaline Offroad which is an eCommerce store for aftermarket vehicle accessories! We mainly focus our expertise in the realm of automotive LED lighting accessories. Our products are built for a person who will endure hardcore offroading situations with their vehicle all the way to people who attend multiple shows per month in their show trucks! Some of our most popular products being our RGB+W underglow/rock light & LED wheel ring lights. In just over a year of quitting my job to pursue my passion for truck mods full time, I am so beyond proud & excited to be making 5x the amount of money that I used to make per month!
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
My passion for trucks started way before I could even drive. I always wanted to have a huge lifted truck and I loved the idea of driving a vehicle that could make it through conditions that most vehicles couldn’t such as a deep ditch full of water or 3 feet of snow! My grandfather willed me one of his trucks so when I was 16 years old I was blessed to now have his old truck as my own! It was completely bone stock with not a single modification done to it….YET! Over the years I saved pretty much every penny I made at my minimum wage jobs and invested it all into building my truck up to be the beast that it is today!
These before and after pictures below are almost 6 years apart!
As I built my truck up I enjoyed going off-roading with it and testing the limits. At the start of 2017, I decided to start filming my offroading adventures and put them on Youtube. After uploading my first truck video it had about 120 views after the first week, then suddenly the video started getting thousands of views per day and reached 100K views within a couple of weeks! Here is the first vid, its kinda cringe lol
I learned how to monetize my youtube channel and began posting videos on a weekly basis. In September 2017 I had already accumulated over 10,000 subscribers with a lot of them actually being passionate truck enthusiasts themselves so I decided it would be a good idea to start selling some decals and apparel for my audience. I registered by business Adrenaline Offroad one month later and launched my website.
At first, my eCommerce store consisted of two different decals and one t-shirt design and let me tell you, getting those first few sales for $8.12 and $23.56 was pretty damn exciting. During this time I had a seasonal windshield repair job and I had no job from November- April so with my monthly youtube pay and a very small amount of revenue from my website I was only able to maintain $150-300 in my bank account after living expenses. Luckily being so young I still lived at home and had support from my parents which was a huge help in this crucial time which I am very grateful for.
After the first year, Adrenaline Offroad did no more than a few hundred dollars in total revenue. I knew I had to get something more serious going on so if I wanted to do this full time. I started searching my mind for what kind of aftermarket truck accessories I could offer through my business. I searched through tons of suppliers and products and talked to so many companies until I finally found some products I could see myself selling. At this time at my windshield repair job, I would sit under a tent all day in a parking lot and wait for customers to drive up. Luckily this job gave me a lot of downtimes which I was able to efficiently use for developing my “side hustle” and actually making enough money to fund it.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
Considering the passion I have for building my own truck I would never put a shitty product on it so personally testing the products on my own vehicle before offering them to my customers became my validation/ quality assurance testing process! My thought process was that if it can withstand abuse when I go offroading in tons of mud/water and if it can withstand the arctic cold temperatures we get in Winnipeg, Manitoba then the product will more than likely be pretty damn reliable let alone for people who don't go offroading.
In August 2018 I finally launched my first LED lighting accessories on my site. At this time I didn't have much money saved to get the first bulk order but it was enough to get just a few of each product! I made it my goal to do everything in my business with the money I had and to not go in debt in order to get things going.
Here is our stress testing video for one of our products;
Describe the process of launching the business.
When I first launched the new line of products I used my free marketing platform aka my Youtube channel. This really helped to get me my first few sales and inform thousands of people about what Adrenaline Offroad was. After the first week, I had a handful of orders which made me more money than the whole year previously selling decals and some apparel. Then after that, the sales got very spotty which of course makes you ask yourself all of the questions like “am I going to fail?” “Was this a stupid idea?” etc.
At this time my windshield repair job season was just coming to an end so I made it my goal to be successful enough in my business before we started back to work in April so I wouldn't have to go back to work for somebody else EVER again!
I started up an Instagram account for the business and this is where things slowly started to ramp up in a different way. I invested a lot of my time into growing our Instagram page and telling as many people possible about us and even giving people big discounts on our product just to get some sales coming in because I knew the more people that had our product the more word of mouth expansion we would automatically have since people actually loved our products.
All profits made went back into buying more products over and over again and by using that strategy and refusing to borrow money, buy on credit, get a loan I was able and still have been able to start up and grow my company using nothing else but my own money and profits from the business. The best part about doing it that way is that I was under a lot less pressure, I would think to myself in the beginning “if I fail hardcore at this then I’ll just lose some money” rather than If you fail you will owe a bunch of money and not know how you’re going to pay it back.
Keep your progress and big ideas to yourself because the majority of people don't have enough guts or a nearly big enough imagination to do the things you are going to do.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since initially launching our first line of LED lighting accessories 1.5 years ago I have continued to put more and more focus on Instagram. I am very personable with all of my customers and I believe this has been a huge part of our growth on Instagram. I genuinely care about helping somebody make their vehicle look cooler and I believe that a lot of people can tell if you actually care or if you are just trying to get a sale out of them. Having good relationships with my customers has allowed me to set up and create many great partner affiliate relationships.
This involves setting my customer up with their own custom discount code for them to share with their followers and friends to use on our site, then when their code gets used we pay out a portion of the sale to that affiliate. This has been an awesome win-win situation I have implemented into the business which has helped us expand and grow with the help of others spreading the word.
Another effective way I have brought Adrenaline Offroad more attention and created more awareness has been through offering full sponsorship opportunities to social media influencers who have a larger reach. I look for accounts with 25K+ followers that have a lot of real people commenting on their posts. This factor is actually more important than the number of followers because it is very easy for people to buy followers. I simply reach out to these people with an offer for a free product in return for effectively spreading the word about us and create yet another win-win situation!
Offering our customers a very solid warranty coverage has been a very great thing for keeping our existing customers happy and willing to work with us again in the future. No matter how much testing we do we can never guarantee 100% that a product defect will never happen. What we can control is how we deal with it. If our product is defective we simply ensure that we get everything working just as it should for that customer, even if that means taking money out of our pocket to replace the product and covering shipping costs to send it to them as fast as possible.
Things like that not only increase the chances of doing further business in the future but when they tell their friends how well Adrenaline Offroad responded to their issue they are spreading the good things about us rather than deferring other people from our company. I believe that the image of your company and your reputation are what matters most and it's better to invest a little in order to keep it top-notch.
Pic of our warranty policy below
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Right now I am personally running the entire show other than recently partnering with a much-needed fulfillment company to take over packing and shipping all of my orders. We currently do all of our sales through our eCommerce platform with Shopify. I recently switched over from Weebly to Shopify and let me tell you it took A LOT of work but with the number of tools and apps that I now have access to on Shopify, it was well worth the hassle as Weebly was very limited in what I could do.
When I sold the first LED lighting kit a year and a half ago I would not have imagined that we would be this big already! Last year we did $90,000 in sales and each month this year so far is more than TRIPLE what we sold last year in the same months! We are projected to do at least 250K this year in total revenue.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Before I was an entrepreneur I had never completed a single book cover to cover. Through my journey on becoming successful in business and life, I have now read a lot of books and I really enjoy taking the gold that is shared by so many successful men and women and applying it into my business to make it better. Using books and motivational speeches of very successful people is an absolutely crucial daily practice for me to keep my creativity and focus at its peak. Our mind is no different than our muscles in the way that for them to be their best they need constant stimulation.
Through reading all of these books and listening to recordings, I have learned a lot about the power of our conscious and unconscious thoughts and the impact they have on our life. For example “You become what you think about”. If you think prosperous thoughts then you will see opportunities to grow your business and be successful. However, if you think about the lack of money and being poor all the time then again, you will become what you think about. Learning how the thoughts we have influenced the outcomes of our lives is amazing and absolutely crucial to keep in check while creating massive success. I also really believe things like that should be taught in school.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
A tool I enjoy using in my business is Privy for email marketing, it is crucial for any eCommerce business to get integrated with some kind of email marketing add on because by capturing emails and building an email list I have been able to build a platform to contact my customers with if something were to ever happen to things like Instagram.
I also really enjoy using Refersion as my affiliate marketing platform. Before my switch to Weebly, I had to manually track every single one of my affiliate referral orders down on paper. This was very time consuming and not efficient what so ever but luckily I found Refersion which automatically handles all of that for me.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Easily the most influential book is Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill. This book is amazing for way too many reasons to explain, but if you're an entrepreneur and you want to be amazing it's just a must-read period.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
For anybody just starting I would urge you to go develop your mindset as much as possible, study/listen to what the people you want to be like are doing and what they did to get to where they are today. Many people will be quick to give you advice on how to do things and tell you what is and is not a good idea but it is very important that you follow your heart and do what YOU want to do regardless. At the end of the day, you are the only person on this earth who can decide what becomes of you.
Keep your progress and big ideas to yourself because the majority of people don't have enough guts or a nearly big enough imagination to do the things you are going to do. When you tell a small-minded person your big dreams they will say it's impossible because that's strictly what they believe and what society would tell you. DON’T think like everybody else unless you want to be average like everyone else.
At the end of the day, always keep it fresh in your mind that being an entrepreneur isn't easy, that's why most people work a 9-5. So when things get difficult and you are unsure of the future just know you are on the right track and no matter how tough it gets never give up on your dreams. They will happen if you believe they will.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are interested in working with some talented content creators/ video editors as we have been slacking on our youtube game as of lately!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Adrenaline Offroad has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with Adrenaline Offroad to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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