This is a follow up story for Batch. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
I’m Sam Davidson, co-founder, and CEO of Batch, which provides local gifts nationwide. What sets us apart as a gift company are:
- Small business supply chain - we exclusively source our products from small businesses all across America.
- Customization - we allow our corporate gift buyers to fully customize their gifts, whether it’s their logo on the gift box, a uniquely branded product, or a personalized message.
- Sense of place - we can source gifts from any city in the US, for those who may want to send an authentic “taste” of their hometown.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since we closed our brick-and-mortar retail store (which accounted for over $750k in revenue annually), we haven’t missed a beat. In fact, in 2020, we grew top-line revenue over 25% to just shy of $2M.
The biggest shift was moving to a fully functional eCommerce and corporate gift brand, which required an operational change to accommodate our high volume of shipped orders (vs. previously when many had been delivered locally or bought in person). In 2019 we mailed around 8,700 gifts. Last year that number jumped to over 33k!
During the pandemic, we expanded our product line and customer reach. As more and more business buyers were requesting items made near them (and not in Nashville) we started sourcing from cities like Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, and Boston. To date, we now offer themed gifts from 20+ American cities and can add more on demand. 52% of our new corporate clients in 2020 requested items made in other cities.
How did we find these new clients? Quite simply, many found us. Through a strategic search marketing plan, we built dozens of new landing pages to capitalize on the changing business landscape, namely the need for Working from Home employee gifts and Virtual Conference gifts. We furthered our focus by creating actionable landing pages on our website based on specific target cities, where we thought we could gain the newest customers. We backed that up with dedicated advertising budgets and saw some lasting success.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Three things can help any business grow during a pandemic (and now, hopefully, successfully emerge from one):
- Build your network before you need it. Many people were left scrambling last year. To keep things afloat, we merely leveraged existing client and customer relationships to maintain and then grow sales volume. It helps to have a network in place before emergencies happen, so stop reading this and start meeting new people!
- Go all in on your cause. Many of our relationships with local and national charities helped us keep growth steady last year. For every box we sell at Batch, we make a donation to Make-A-Wish. As such, they happily share our story with their constituents in need of gifts. And, when other causes like BLM or small businesses closing came to the forefront last year, we also partnered with meaningful charities doing great work.
- Invest in people first and then technology. Awesome tech isn’t much good if no one wants to work for you. And, a good human will mend a fractured customer relationship better than any robot. So, make sure you take care of your people in traditional ways like compensation and culture, but also check in with them, offer a listening ear and a place to belong.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We think it’s possible for us to nearly double this year and within 3 years we’d like to cross the $10M threshold for revenue. We’ll get there the same way we always have: awesome products, great service, and the hardest working team on the planet.
Remind yourself of why you started. If you’re no longer in love with the mission, name that, close up shop, and move on. Or, fall back in love with the bigger picture and use that as motivation to keep grinding.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I love to read and have finished 14 books this year so far. The best:
- The Checklist Manifesto (about systems and processes and error prevention)
- A World Without Email (how to not be chained to your inbox)
- Hot, Hot Chicken (the comprehensive history of my hometown’s most famous dish)
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Three questions to ask yourself when the struggle is real:
- What can I eliminate? - What habit, behavior, or process is holding you back. Sometimes all we need to climb out of a rut is to drop the weight that is stopping us from getting a leg up.
- Who can I add? - What person, group, or contact do you need in your network right now? Who could help you take things to the next level? Identify them and then start building a relationship.
- Why am I doing this? - Remind yourself of why you started. If you’re no longer in love with the mission, name that, close up shop, and move on. Or, fall back in love with the bigger picture and use that as motivation to keep grinding.
Where can we go to learn more?
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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