This is a follow up story for CROSSNET. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hey again! My name’s Chris Meade and I’m the Co-Founder and now CMO of CROSSNET. At the time of our last article back in February 2020, I was the Chief Revenue Officer. We’ve invented & patented the world’s first four-way volleyball game and are currently being sold at over 2500 retail stores and played at 10,000 physical education classrooms.
We are 100% self-funded and now profitably earning over eight figures in revenue annually.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Since the last time, we chatted CROSSNET has scaled from 2.5 million and 4 employees to over 10 million in revenue and 14 employees. We’ve built nationwide partnerships with DICK’S Sporting Goods, Scheels, Dillard’s, Academy Sports and recently rolled out to over 1000 Walmart locations. Our goal for 2021 is to establish CROSSNET as a legitimate global sport in schools, leagues, and communities across the world.
Once you start to see positive results with your advertising, start internalizing and see what other areas of your business can you improve upon.
To grow the sport we have partnered with over 10,000 physical education classrooms and 100 college universities for their intramural programs. Young children are now learning the fundamentals of volleyball while using a CROSSNET, while older students are competing for CROSSNET intramural championships at major colleges like UNC. Additionally, we have created our own roster of CROSSNET Athletes who are current or former Olympians or AVP professionals. The roster that includes stars such as Trevor & Taylor Crabb, Casey Patterson, Emily Stockman, and Kelley Kolinske allows for us to further connect with the volleyball community and leads to some amazing content.
Over the past eight months, we’ve released three brand new SKUs: CROSSNET H2O, CROSSNET Doubles, and our CROSSNET x Wilson OPTX Replica Ball. The H2O takes all the same great fun of CROSSNET and puts it in your favorite pool. CROSSNET Doubles allows us to grow the sport as a team sport and you can now have eight players compete against one another. Finally, we were able to make an incredible partnership with Wilson, who is now creating a co-branded ball for us to help legitimize our game.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
You can’t do it alone! When you start your business you want to be in charge of everything, because nobody could ever grow your vision better than you could. As you scale, relinquishing controlling and hiring for your weaknesses is one of the most important things for a business owner to do. Find yourself doing the same task for 5 hours a day, hire for it. Struggling to create compelling graphics & videos, because you’re not a designer? Go here for. There’s no weakness in pointing out your flaws and it will be the fastest way to grow.
This year alone we hired ahead of the global supply chain, head of sales, director of paid media, brand communications specialist, and head of social. All of these positions were formerly filled by the founders juggling a million different hats. We now have the time to actually focus and grow the business in the best way we can.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
As we continue to grow CROSSNET into a household name there are tons of exciting opportunities over the next year and five years. We’ve just officially launched CROSSNET H2O, the world’s first four-way volleyball game in the pool! The game is incredibly fun, fast-paced, and will be a hit at every pool party. We’re launching this on our website and also our trusted partners over at Scheels, Dillard’s, and Academy Sports. As headcount continues to scale, the founding team has been able to find more time to hit the drawing board and create more innovative products. Stay tuned on those!
Hiring a global sales director allows us to finally focus on strategic growth and will force us to smartly scale. Everyone dreams about getting their product into retail stores, but nobody thinks about the consequences of what happens if the product doesn’t move. What if you destroy your relationship before you even got off the ground? We never want that situation to happen, so having the manpower on the sales & marketing side to work closely with the buying and marketing team at stores like Walmart & DICK’s will allow CROSSNET to be set up for success in these massive big-box stores for years to come.
Outside of product innovation and sales domination, our team’s the most excited about turning CROSSNET into a global sport. Olympics? ESPN? School teams? We’re planning on them all! We all know basketball, soccer, and football will stand the test of time. Why not our four-way volleyball game? We’ll soon have a leaderboard and be ranking the best players across the globe. The fun stuff is just about to begin.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I find that the majority of my “great” business ideas happen when I’m actually offline, disconnecting, and reading works by other entrepreneurs. Lately, two books that have truly resonated with me are Double Your Profits by Bob Fifer and Onward by Howard Schultz. Both books discuss the hardships of growing a business and finding ways to trim spending in order to scale margins.
As a self-funded founder, I pride myself on running a profitable business and being able to keep the lights on for not only myself but my employees. Check them both out.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Test, test, test. What might work for others may not be right for your business. There is no one right way to run and grow a business. Invest in small tests on different platforms (eg. Facebook, Snapchat, Pinterest, Youtube, etc.) and set a goal based on your spending. If you see one ad avenue performing well, double down on that and see if the results stay consistent.
Once you start to see positive results with your advertising, start internalizing and see what other areas of your business can you improve upon. Where are you losing money? Where are you spending too much? The goal should be to reach profitability as soon as possible and by taking a look inward you should be able to find areas for improvement. Places I suggest looking at to improve margins are packaging fees, shipping, agency fees, subscription signups, etc. After trimming the fat around your business (which I suggest you evaluate monthly or at least quarterly) begin outsourcing some of the tasks that are preventing you from growing.
As a founder, your entire day should be spent growing your business, turning the next page, and accelerating the brand. If you are spending 2-4 hours a day on mindless tasks (invoicing, spreadsheets, prospecting) do your best to outsource this position to a virtual assistant. Using networks like Freeeup & Fivver to find talented work at an affordable cost was so vital to CROSSNET’s success in the early days. Hire & fire often. Three years into business we still use over 10 virtual assistants to handle everything from customer service, graphic design, sales prospecting, and public relation outreach. Imagine all the projects you can work on if your time was freed up from the busywork.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’ve recently just hired a brand new events & partnerships person to help grow CROSSNET into a global sport. We will be hiring shortly to build out our sales and marketing teams in other countries, specifically Australia & Europe.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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