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7 figure business selling handkerchiefs and linens online
Even though Steve and Jennifer had six-figure salaries, their lives were stagnant and didn’t have any direction. Bored, lifeless, and slogged through the same routine every single day. (Their words!)
Why start selling handkerchiefs? For their wedding, they wanted to have nice ones, but because the manufacturer was from China they had to buy several hundreds of them. Ended up using maybe six or so and went to sell the rest on eBay. They sold like hotcakes! From there to a 7 figure business.
Steve details many interesting aspects of the business such as dealing with suppliers, getting the first customers, etc. But I wanted to show you their 6 email autoresponders that we use for our store that make money on autopilot:
1. Pre-Purchase Sequence - This sequence explains our brand story, what we sell, our value propositions and encourages customers to make their first purchase.
2. Abandoned Cart Sequence - This sequence recovers lost sales from customers who abandon the checkout.
3. Post Purchase Sequence - This sequence cross sells related products to existing customers to get them to purchase again. We also solicit reviews, feedback, and other forms of social proof that we can use in our ads.
4. Win Back Sequence - If a customer has purchased once but hasn’t purchased within 60 days, they are automatically sent a coupon to come back and shop again.
5. Anniversary Or Replenishment Sequence - Since they are in the wedding industry, these emails hit up repeat purchases for anniversary gifts. Year 2 just happens to be cotton gifts.
6. View Abandon Sequence - Any customer who has viewed a product without adding it to the cart is automatically sent an email to checkout.
In addition to the automated campaigns above, they also send out at least one weekly email. All told, email makes up 30% of their revenue. And they do all of this with Klaviyo (our longtime sponsor).
How to create an email lead magnet nurturing sequence, create a brand story email campaign and more email tactics covered in our latest Growth Database.
The Chrome extension with 1M users
GMass has had just shy of 1 million total user signups since launch. It’s one of the most popular Gmail Chrome extensions on the Chrome Web Store. Almost every major tech company you can think of has at one point been a GMass client, including Twitter, LinkedIn, Uber, Lyft, Salesforce.com, Indeed, and Snapchat.
Due to reaching this milestone, we caught up with its founder Ajay to reflect on his journey. He shared some true gems:
#1 Can’t do everything yourself
Even critical functions like leading software development. You need to get the right team (keep reading, he’s hiring).
#2 An un-incentivized employee is an average employee
Never been in a position or have felt comfortable with typical Silicon Valley perks. He’s started toying with incentive-driven approaches for performance, and so far, that seems to be the right approach.
#3 Culture is important
Having the right experience and the right culture fit together is an unbeatable combination in a team member. Hiring a superstar developer who’s a jerk, that’s not going to contribute to growth long-term. Conversely, hiring a really nice person who embraces all of our values but stinks at their role, that’s no good either.
#4 It’s okay to start something and then give up
Earlier in the year, he started a YouTube channel to strengthen both his personal brand and the company’s. Wrote down a list of ideas for videos, storyboarded them, and made an intro video to launch his Youtube career. But then, other stuff kept getting in the way. There was always something that seemed to take priority over creating my next video.
#5 Writing content that has nothing to do with the business will result in zero leads
It’s normal to get excited after researching a niche topic and then writing a detailed article about it. For example, he wrote this article about negotiating with Stripe. It’s the #1 article when people Google how to negotiate with Stripe. BUT, despite its popularity, it’s brought in exactly 0 new users.
If you want to start successfully creating content for your blog though, you need to read this.
How a non-technical founder created a $120K/mo software
Dave is the founder of Kindlepreneur, a website devoted to help and teach authors how to self-publish, and market their books on Amazon and other online stores. The next step seemed natural: a book marketing software that helps authors with their Amazon book keyword research, category selection, and advertisement.
He’s been able to successfully grow his software Publisher Rocket to $120K/mo. But not without overcoming many hurdles.
After losing a lot of money over hiring the wrong developers to work on the project, he studied, researched, and asked a lot of software developing entrepreneurs many questions. Here is a summation of the rules he has developed based on those interactions:
#1 Look for programmers who have worked on similar projects before
And ask them for links or references to those projects.
#2 Use a simple wireframing tool like Balsamiq to create the layout and functionality of your tool
This will help with developing the project scope.
#3 Try to have a simple programming test
To see their capability and willingness for the job. If you don’t know what to do, ask other programmers, programming forums, and entrepreneurs.
#4 After presenting the project scope, it’s usually a good sign if the programmers ask for a couple of days to come back to you
Many times they need to research things before they can confirm they can do it, and what is a fair price.
#5 Break up the cost of the project into parts to be paid immediately
At Beta, and upon final delivery.
#6 Think about continued maintenance and how you want to do this
To combat this, he offered a 10% profit share, but in return, they have to keep it operating.
In the past, we’ve talked to many non-technical founders. If you’re in that same position, read their stories, I’m sure that their journeys can help you a lot:
- Wilson launched a 6 figures Shopify app Karan came up with a music catalog management platform for music artists and producers Stephen created a video fitness app with downloads in 45 countries We talked to Arielle in the early days of creating her influencer platform
Quote of the week
Build your owned assets - instead of obsessing over every new social media platform, its algorithms, and chasing vanity metrics like how many followers you have, focus on building your own database of contacts that you have full control over.
Ellen Yin, Founder
Other stories worth reading
Grow by focusing on what you do best
Sidekick is an email and SMS marketing agency for direct-to-consumer e-commerce brands. Since we last spoke with them their revenue has tripled and now they make about $36,000 per month and their services generate at least a 10x ROI for their clients.
Their success can be attributed to offering a more specific set of services (they used to offer web design and paid advertising as well) and delivering both great results and great customer service to the brands they work with.
2.8x growth despite a temporarily Google ban
Alexander is the founder of Unicorn Platform, an online landing page builder tool that has grown from $2.5K/month to $7.2K/month.
It helps busy entrepreneurs to get a pretty website quickly. A great product always gets recommended. People talk about them, tweet about them, discuss it on personal blogs and share Unicorn Platform in private chats. The recommendations alone give them 3,000+ visits ≈ 300 sign-ups ≈ +$200 MRR each month.
If you want to know all about the Google ban, you need to read the full story.
Eco-conscious businesses work
Did you know that lots of people started a business while quarantined? Jess was one of them. During one of the UK’s lockdowns, she started Elysian Fields, an online shop that sells plastic-free, affordable alternatives, allowing plastic-free swaps to be made throughout the home, kitchen, bathroom, and homeware.
She launched on March 25, 2021, and is already making sales for $3K/mo. That’s market validation right there. One thing that helped her a lot is that the value proposition is so strong that at the same time clearly defines who the target customer is. And that is absolutely key.
Do you want to know more about eco-conscious ecommerce brands? Check out the Jungle Culture story, they’re making $100K/mo with a business in the same space.
GMass has just reached 1M users and the founder, Ajay is looking to hire three full-time positions: growth manager, lead developer, and product manager.
Alexander is looking for a frontend developer with experience in ReactJS (remote) to work with him on Unicorn Platform, his $7,5K/mo online page builder.
Sterling Sky is a digital marketing agency with a team of 17, and they’re always on the lookout for their next hire. Specifically, they’re now searching for people with a lot of experience with Local SEO or link building.
Redwerk is a software development agency specializing in SaaS products, they’re hoping to grow the team to 100 professionals by the end of 2021. They have many open positions, like iOS developer, Python developer, QA engineer, Sales manager, Project manager, PR manager and Senior marketing specialist.
Abb-d Choudhury is the founder of Curate Labs and is aiming to hire a mid-weight digital designer and project manager/partner relations person.
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Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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I'm Pat Walls and I created Starter Story - a website dedicated to helping people start businesses. We interview entrepreneurs from around the world about how they started and grew their businesses.