This is an archive of the Starter Story newsletter, which is read by 231K people every week.
In each issue, we share the biggest business ideas that are working today, along with case studies of founders who are making millions every month. Sign up today ➜
Check out this $110K/month Shopify app
First of all, I’d like to mention that this story comes from Kyrgyzstan, which I believe is a first...
This is worth highlighting because it shows, once again, that in the new digital economy you can start a million dollar business from literally anywhere.
You don’t need to be in San Francisco, New York, or London. That’s no longer an advantage.
Eldar and his team built a Shopify app to help brands with their marketing. In a couple of years, the business has grown to over $110K/mo, a team of 70 people and 12,000 merchants using the app worldwide. Pretty impressive.
And even more impressive is to learn how Eldar was the only one in the company for a long time and how he hustled and tried many different strategies to get the first customers.
Here are the top 5 strategies that worked::
#1: Writing answers on Quora
Going viral on Quora can result in more customers, more traffic, and more authority in your niche.
#2: Being active on Facebook groups
In order to gain some traffic and notoriety, you can just join some of the many groups that already exist, or if you want to have admin privileges and own the community, you can create and manage your own. More work in the beginning but bigger benefits on the long run.
Justin and Marshall from iHeartDogs, absolutely mastered this and built one of the largest online communities for dog lovers, with over 25 million members in our Facebook groups, pages, and email newsletters. Building that community was key to reach $15M/year in revenue.
#3: Shopify App Store
If you want to create a Shopify app, you will need to optimize your listing on their marketplace just as if it was an iOS/Android app or a Google extension. Take some time to go through some of the best practices in terms of using the right title, description, images, etc. You won’t believe how many people neglect this step.
#4: Leverage the Shopify community
Just as spending some time on Quora, this is a free resource that you can profit from. As Nicholas from ShipHero ($2.5M/mo) puts it: “The Shopify community is big. If your business is e-commerce, Shopify has a great collection of resources and people that can probably help you with your questions.”
Once they had some cash to invest, they started spending some money on paid acquisition. This is when you can start to see more clearly the relationship between money spent and conversion. Read this article if you want to make sure you don’t waste money when running Facebook ads (much of it is applicable to every ad campaign).
More about Shopify apps
If you want to dig deeper because you’re thinking about becoming a Shopify app developer, you can check our guide to know about costs, pros & cons, and success stories.
One great success story that we published in the past is Preetam’s, the co-founder of SuperLemon, a $29K/mo WhatsApp plugin for Shopify stores. They did an awesome job with this app and were kind enough to share the whole process with a lot of detail and insights that you can learn from.
Dan’s business makes $42K/mo, and $15K of that is just from 3 Shopify apps. A great takeaway from this story? If your app is useful to a Shopify business owner, they’ll probably never stop using it. A happy customer is a customer for life.
Another hidden gem on our website is this brilliant post from Ahmad, where he details his experience in some key aspects such as quitting his job, identifying a problem, finding product-market fit, generating installs and much more. An absolute must.
Can you imagine selling a $275K piece of equipment online?
In a space where people all around the world struggle to sell $20 items, Ciaran’s business is thriving with an average deal of $200K.
After some years, he started to see how unsophisticated things were across the whole industry. Companies would literally have sales guys just driving around looking for a site with machines on it in the hope of catching a lead. This seemed like a pretty obvious opportunity.
If you’re not inspired enough to find an idea to start a new business, observing your environment and identify inefficiencies is always a good strategy.
Once again, “Facebook groups were a really good source of learning, but also a great source of leads”. Next, he tested some Facebook lead campaigns which were performing incredibly well, getting good quality leads for $3-4 (remember that their average ticket is $200K!).
If you’re in the ecommerce industry that has high average tickets, you need to read the full story.
Quote of the week
Read books instead of getting an MBA.
Charlie Markland, Founder Bodega Bay Hard Seltzer
Other stories worth reading
$1M/year organizing virtual races
The first virtual race that Angela organized was to help raise money for a friend, whose son had been diagnosed with cancer and they did not have insurance. That first event raised $2,500 to help them pay their medical bills.
Eight years later, they have created a $1M/year business, hosted hundreds of virtual races and donated more than $860,000 to charities around the world. Their goal is to donate $1 million to charity and will reach that goal by the end of 2021!
The $85K/mo hot sauce brand that comes from community gardens
John’s original goal was to help these community gardens and make a commercially scalable product. And the vehicle to achieve this goal? Hot sauce. Turns out, hundred pounds of peppers become 500 pounds of sauce.
They are now 200 gardens from all over the US. To give you some context, just the 6 Bronx community gardens grew 1,500 pounds of serrano peppers, which resulted in 70,000 bottles. If you’re a hot sauce nerd you need to read this story, because it’s fire.
Making $15K/mo selling colourful map art prints
Scott’s business has gone from selling a few hundred dollars a month in prints at the end of 2018 to over $40K in prints last December. And they did this with almost no marketing whatsoever.
One of the great things about the business? A relatively low barrier to entry, it was easy to launch a product, website, and social media channels as he did not need to hold stock to get started.
If you have experience in the automotive sector or marketplaces, you might want to get in touch with Ciaran, founder of Machinery Partner. They have a pretty great team and culture and the business is growing like crazy.
DeepBench is a $45K/mo startup that helps businesses connect with expert individuals by using technology to match client requests with the best-suited advisors quickly and cost-effectively. They’re looking for candidates for the Client Associate position.
Socott from Mapply ($15K/mo map print company) is looking for someone to help with social media marketing. This would be a freelance position, working 5-10 hours a week.
Carole’s ethically made oil sales have grown 600% in the last two years thanks to Amazon and Shopify. She’s looking for someone to help with the social media.
At Small Axe Peppers ($85K/mo hot sauce) they are always looking for more community gardens to work with. Some gardens grow five pounds of peppers, others grow 500 pounds. It doesn’t matter the size if you’re willing to wield your own small axe and join and partner with them.
Thanks for reading, and don't forget to subscribe to our newsletter to get this information every week in your inbox!
Want to start your own business?
Hey! 👋I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
We interview successful business owners and share the stories behind their business. By sharing these stories, we want to help you get started.
Interested in starting your own business? Join Starter Story Premium to get the greatest companion to starting and growing your business:
- Connect + get advice from successful entrepreneurs
- Step by step guides on how to start and grow
- Exclusive and early access to the best case studies on the web
- And much more!
Did you know that brands using Klaviyo average a 95x ROI?
Email, SMS, and more — Klaviyo brings your marketing all together, fueling growth without burning through time and resources.
Deliver more relevant email and text messages — powered by your data. Klaviyo helps you turn one-time buyers into repeat customers with all the power of an enterprise solution and none of the complexity.