Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Johnathan Price, Owner of Down4soundshop.com, we distribute car audio products worldwide to fellow car audio fanatics. Mostly which consists of doing it yourself people that enjoy building their own systems with their friends.
This is my 4th year in business doing this full time and we are projecting to break 10 million dollars in sales.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve always been into car audio since I was 13-14. The older I got, the more obsessed with it I became. The very first system I had was 2 -12s on a 900-watt amp. Now the system in my Tahoe that’s known all across the world has over 78 speakers and 100,000 watts!
The bigger my system would get over the years, the more crazy reactions I would get from it every time I took it to car shows. The more it impressed people the more they started asking “Man where do you get your equipment from?”. Then one day, the light bulb went off in my head! I COULD BE SELLING THESE PEOPLE THIS STUFF! And from there the idea of down4sound was born! But, it was just an idea! I had no idea how to start a business, run a business… or anything about business really. I thought maybe I could figure it out but that was about it. All I could do is give it my best!
At the time I was pumping gas at an airport in the city of Greenville, Making I think $12 an hour and was super broke. I pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck even while living with my parents. It’s where I was born and raised. I did that full time while I cut grass on the side for some extra cash. My dad taught me how to cut the grass when I was younger as a way to make money to buy toys/candy or whatever else I wanted at that age. I kept cutting grass up until the time I decided to move to Las Vegas where I now don’t need to and also don’t have time to.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The very first “product” I came out with other than Down4sound t-shirts was Certified Basshead “bassbudz”. The reason for this was no matter what earbuds I got my hands on at the time, there never seemed to be enough bass. So I knew there had to be more people like this in the world thinking the same thing.
I flew to Las Vegas to attend the CES show (consumer electronics show). I had heard there would be manufacturers of products like these there so I could possibly meet with them and come up with something. After locating some companies and sitting down with them and listening to dozens of samples of headphones they had on display, none of them excited me on what I was looking for. I told them I would need more bass while maintaining clarity. So the sales rep told me it would have to be something custom tooled/designed to be exactly what I needed.
We agreed that they would return to China and tool a prototype just for me and they would send it to me for testing. A few weeks later I received it in the mail. It sounded HORRIBLE. I thought to myself, it took them that long to come up with something this bad? This is going to be a long journey. I emailed them on what needed to be changed, and did this back and forth for the next 2-3 months until I received the perfect pair!
I think I ordered around $5,000 worth but can't remember how many that was for off the top of my head. That was all the money that I had at the time. Well, it wasn’t all my money technically, I maxed out my credit card and then paid the rest with some cash I had. I would guess a $4,000 on the card and $1,000 out of my bank. They told me it would take around 6 weeks to complete the order and then a couple of weeks for shipping to me. I wondered how I could speed up my paying the money back. So what I did was open up a “Pre-order”.
I started selling them at a lower price than what the “Normal” price would be to persuade buyers to take advantage of the deal to save some money in turn for having to wait a month or so. I told people about it on my Youtube channel, Facebook, and whatever other social media pages I could. Before I knew it I had presold enough to cover my entire initial investment. So many of them I sold from there forward was pure profit! I felt amazing everytime I sold one =D
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching the business wasn’t even an “official” day or thing for me. I just kind of rolled with the punches and gradually added more products.
Creating the website was something I never wanted to do and if it wasn’t for my first fan/supporter/now friend, I may not have ever started a website LOL. Mark Vanderzwagg (Australia) had been watching my youtube videos for a while and had heard about me starting to sell t-shirts. I was at this time doing each sale manually by getting the customer to just PayPal me the total and I would write it down and…. It was horrible. He was wanting to buy the shirts and was asking me if I was going to get them added to a webstore so he could purchase them. I told him I would look into it. So I did.
I managed to get one shirt added but had no idea to make it where you could select sizes and colors. It was super frustrating to me so I just gave up and convinced myself It wouldn't be anything I would need anyways…. I could always just do it manually right? Mark messages me a couple of weeks later and he tells me he sees one shirt on the store but its not the size or color he wants. I tell him it’s very difficult and I’m trying to figure it out. He said man it’s not that hard. I said oh really? If it’s not that hard why don’t you do it? And in about an hour he had downloaded a trial version of the store, added all the shirts, sizes, etc. (Little did I know he is pretty much a computer wizard) I sat there in amazement lol.
Get a mentor if possible. Anybody that you can connect with that has possibly already been there and done that. You just can’t put a price on it.
It was at that time I learned a very valuable lesson in business. I understood not one person can be amazing at every single thing there is. So that’s why you add people to your team that is great at things you aren’t great at so you use their strengths to grow your business. At this time I was using some type of t-shirt printing service (I can’t recall the name). So there was no investment really required because each order I received I would just forward it to that service and they would handle it from there. It would cost me like $12-$14 per t-shirt but I would charge $20. Not a crazy amount of money but I was about to make a little bit and not really have to do anything besides copy and paste and address. I thought it was amazing!
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
After getting the website up and running, which consisted of a few t-shirts, stickers, and bassbudz, we needed to get more people to the site. I remember when I would get excited if a single person would visit my site on a given day. I would check it every night to see if anybody had visited. If there was one person I was like cool if there was 5 I was ecstatic!
I thought, what is making these people come here? I have to do more of whatever is making this happen. Come to find out it was from my personal Facebook page. Then from my Youtube channel THELIFEOFPRICE. So I started telling people about it almost every single day on my pages.
If I happened to do a Youtube video I always said “If you’d like to support me, you can head over to down4soundshop.com“. I must have said this over a million times to this current day.
I never did any email marketing or paid for any advertising anywhere until really the end of the year 2019. I just did word of mouth and posting on every media outlet I could. I now have a social media and SEO guy that is killing it in that space. Ads, SEO, etc. Here are a couple of his current pictures
We haven’t currently moved onto selling on Amazon or eBay to this day solely because we have been growing so fast on our store on its own. I know a lot of people do use Amazon and eBay but there is a hefty fulfillment fee for that. So until we get our own store under control, we won’t use them. Different people have different visions for their business. Some will give up huge percentages in order to lay in bed all day and only clear 2-5% by having all of their stuff fulfilled by Amazon. That just isn’t my style.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today Down4sound has reached levels I could have only dreamed of. It just finished up its 3rd consecutive month with over 1 million revenue. 5 or 6 years ago I remember telling Mark, my web guy, man If we ever hit $100k in sales in A YEAR I’ll pay for you to come to visit from Australia and we will be good!
That’s the thing about business and goals. You have to constantly be setting new goals. If I would have given up or “settled“ when I hit that $100k year, I would have never known I would be capable of a million-dollar year… MUCH LESS A MILLION DOLLAR MONTH!
Treat people well. It will never hurt you to treat people like you want to be treated.
Last year we hit 7.16 million and have no doubt we will cruise past the 10 million marks this year. We have pretty consistently doubled revenue year after year after going full time with it. In the beginning years, its easier to double or triple revenue because going from say $10k a year in sales to $30-$40k is a whole lot easier than going from say $3M to $6M.
Distributions today are primarily out of our main warehouse in Las Vegas, NV. We are in the process of finishing up another location in North Carolina to decrease shipping times to our customers on the east coast.
Short term goals are to get the whole business as streamlined as possible. Where when I’m away attending events I know things will be running at 110% with no questions. Long term goals include me and my team members being able to spend more time with our families. Pushing the business to 25/50/100m.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
I think so far in my business journey a couple of mistakes would be underestimating myself and what Is possible and what you are capable of. But you have to be willing to put in the work! Also being too slow to fire when you see something isn’t working out or the person just isn’t the right fit, it’s okay to let them go. You are doing the person and the business a disservice by keeping them somewhere they really don’t want to be.
Good decisions have been building a strong foundation and not being afraid to put in the work. When I say foundation I mean team members. It’s critical you build a team that eats, sleeps, and bleeds your mission alongside you. If they don’t, they’re out there. Find people that do and don’t settle.
A lot of people talk about luck and it can play a role but you will find out the harder you work and the more time you put in that you start getting “Lucky” more and more often.
Helpful habits such as task lists and making sure everybody is on the same page along with standards. Be on time. Don’t let the phone ring more than twice. Treat people like you want to be treated. Keep a clean workplace, etc.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I currently have my store hosted by BigCommerce and have it attached to ShippingEasy for the shipping platform. This seems to work pretty well for us and we have gotten used to it. We use Omnisend for email and text message marketing.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
As far as personal development books and podcasts, I enjoy following Patrick Bet David at VALUETAINEMENT on Instagram and Youtube.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
My advice would be to get a mentor if possible. Anybody that you can connect with that has possibly already been there and done that when It comes to the path you may possibly be taking can provide you with so much help and knowledge. You just can’t put a price on it.
Also, be willing to go in early and stay late. Be willing to do the work that everybody may think they are too good to do. This gives you a good head start.
Treat people well. It will never hurt you to treat people like you want to be treated. Nourish good relationships and keep them that way from team members to your vendors you work with. If you’re ever in a pickle they will more than likely go above and beyond to help you out.
Where can we go to learn more?
- Facebook Down4SoundShop
- Instagram Johnathan Price
- Instagram Down4SoundShop
- Facebook Johnathan Price
- Twitter Johnathan Price - [email protected]
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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