This is a follow up story for Origen RV Accessories LTD.. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 2 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
We make RV SnapPad, the world’s only permanent jack pad, a new product category in the RV accessory space.
We began with a handful of SKUs aimed at the luxury end of the RV market (Fifth Wheels and Class A Motorhomes), but have since iterated to over 40 SKUs that cover a majority of RVing options (with a few more on the way!).
We spent two years in the pandemic solidifying a shaky supply chain before finally getting back on our feet at the start of this year.
Once we had finally fulfilled all of the outstanding back orders and moved our B2B order fulfillment time from 3-6 months to 2-4 weeks, we were able to start actively marketing and selling across all our channels again.
As a result, our top-line run rate is approaching USD 5M in 2022.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
SnapPad is on pace for roughly 50% YoY growth, even with our B2B/retail sales slowing considerably in the face of high inflation and gas prices this year. Nevertheless, we have seen our Amazon sales grow by over 200% over 2021 and were recently onboarded by the largest distributor in the industry (NTP Stag).
The business also crossed the USD 10M total revenue threshold this year, and we grew the team to 18 people (on top of the three manufacturers and two distribution centers we work with now).
The business crossed the USD 10M total revenue threshold this year, and we grew the team to 18 people.
With our supply chain in a much better state, we were able to turn DTC and marketing back on consistently for the first time since 2019. This has led to a surge in both direct, and online sales as well as monthly cash flow.
With a steady stream of sales and traffic flowing to our site again, we were able to enact a full re-design, which was launched in June with the help of a Shopify development partner (Fuel Made).
Over the next six months, we are focusing on building and optimizing owned channels - including email, SMS, chat, and customer service - on top of site CRO to make our CX as efficient and cohesive as possible.
So far due to our efforts, we have experienced an 80% bump in conversion rate over the same period last year.
We have begun to expand efforts on Google and Youtube, while Meta (Facebook/Instagram) remains our primary acquisition channel. Post-IoS 14 impacts have made understanding attribution a lot more difficult, so we are currently researching both 3rd party attribution platforms (Northbeam.io and Triple Whale are the front runners) as well as eCommerce growth party agencies to help us more effectively scale ad spend.
Finally, we are developing five new product lines, two of which could potentially be new “tentpole” revenue generators that open big sections of the market to us and drive much higher LTV and AOV down the road. We expect these to launch within the next six months.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Aside from trying to scale ad spend, our new major unlock will be to solve retail merchandising and user experience. Our permanent jack pad product has significant compatibility friction (you need to know what kind of SnapPads work with your particular RV), and most dealers don’t have the time or patience to learn a complex compatibility matrix.
We can solve these problems on our digital channels and customer service processes but are learning how to extend those solutions outside of our walled garden with user education, QR codes, packaging, and PoP materials.
We are also running into the challenges of growing a team beyond the initial founder set as we approach 20+ people. HR compliance, cash flow management, and adequate funding have begun to take up more and more of the executive group’s time.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
We’ve had to learn a lot about the financial side of managing a growing business - cash conversion cycles, APR calculations of different loan offerings, revenue-based financing, personal loan guarantees, etc.
It took us over a year to secure an operating line of credit and consolidation loan from our (traditional) bank. In the meantime, we spent a lot of time researching Neo Banks and nontraditional funding sources like Clearco, Wayflyer, and Shopify Capital.
Part of the delay with the bank was we had to vastly improve our internal books and accounting standards. None of the original executive team had this background in our skillset, and we didn’t realize how complicated and time-consuming it could become, especially without a solid foundation in place.
This is especially important for an omnichannel consumer brand like ours which has to deal with multiple vendors, dozens of B2B accounts, as well as direct sales from consumer daily sales. The dance of accounts receivable and accounts payable as you juggle advertising, freight, shipping, COGS, and accounts receivable is significant once you get over $100k per month in revenue.
In a future business, I will ensure that we have rock-solid financial standards and practices in place from day 1.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
On top of launching the five new product lines mentioned above, we plan to push further into Canada (the second largest RV market in the world), as well as continue to normalize permanent jack pads as a “no brainer” must-have accessory for every RV on the road.
As the category creator and leader, even just a small percentage of the North American market is worth 10’s millions of dollars per year. Our global TAM is over USD 2 billion.
The five-year plan is to grow from a brand focused on our hero product (SnapPads) to one that is the recognized leader of premium RV leveling accessories, period. Our internal roadmap targets achieving $25M per year of annual sales by 2027.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh. The ex-Zappos CEO (who died tragically in 2020) wasn’t an overly compelling writer, but his story is fascinating and in no need of embellishment.
His drive to gamble everything on Zappos for it to succeed is both inspirational and educational for other founders and entrepreneurs.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
To some degree, summarizing stories like this are deceptive because they compress the day-to-day and week-to-week struggles of starting a business into a few sentences.
It is difficult to adequately communicate the strain and anxiety low times, and unforeseen obstacles can cause as you dance on the knife’s edge between success and ruin. But if you truly believe you have something, stick with it.
For almost two years during the pandemic, we faced what seemed like insurmountable odds - no cash flow, uncertain labor and manufacturing capacity, rising costs, supply chain and trucking outages, and COVID-related travel restrictions.
At one point in June 2020, we had no idea how much inventory our manufacturer had on hand or was going to be able to make. We couldn’t ship our tools anywhere else and we couldn’t visit our supplier or prospective manufacturers to try to increase capacity.
We were already significantly back-ordered, had turned all of our marketing and DTC sales off, and were panicking any time another PO would arrive from a B2B account because we couldn’t even give them any sort of delivery date or timeline.
We had real brand momentum heading into 2020, but the summer and subsequent year plus after that were easily some of the most difficult in our company’s history. There we some long days we spent merely waiting for an email or call - any news that we were going to get a shipment of the product or the new manufacturer we’d found would be able to take us on.
Luckily we had already established product market fit by then and as the lone purveyor of permanent jack pads, it meant our customers and B2B accounts were willing to wait through our supply chain challenges. A unique value proposition, a strong brand, and sterling customer service can get you through some really tough spots.
In addition, times of difficulty and doubt will teach you the most about yourself and your business. Our pandemic struggles revealed to us now little understanding or control over our manufacturing, supply chain logistics, and finance, to our great detriment.
The existential threat provoked us to completely re-evaluate how we were running our business and forced us to create much more robust systems that will ultimately help us to scale in a much smoother fashion.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Nothing right now, but plan to bolster our internal marketing and customer service teams with chat agents, phone agents, and designers in the near future. We are also actively interviewing DTC growth agencies.
Where can we go to learn more?
Origen RV Accessories LTD. has provided an update on their business!
About 1 year ago, we followed up with Origen RV Accessories LTD. 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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