We are always blown away by the success stories within the Foundr community, and we take every opportunity we can to shine the spotlight on them.
In today’s podcast, I am thrilled to present to you three of our Start & Scale ecommerce course students who are absolutely crushing it! I got to sit down with each one and ask them how they got started with their businesses, what challenges they faced, and what successes they are now enjoying.
You will hear from:
Adam is the founder of men’s personal care product line, Ball Wash. Adam started his ecommerce journey only eight short months ago and has already made more than $1 million in revenue.
Shamanth is a busy mother who created a new leggings product, and put it to the test with a pre-sale Kickstarter campaign. In a short time, she received nearly £50,000 from more than 1,500 backers. Shamanth is in the process of fulfilling those orders and putting her shop online full time.
Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano
Monique and Chevalo run Charleston Gourmet Burger, which was already a $200,000-per-month business, but had yet to reach its potential in online sales. Their goal was turn their website into an online store so they could generate more sales. In two months, they earned nearly $22,000 and attracted 9,110 visits to their website.
We couldn’t be happier for these guys and are proud to be part of their journeys. Please join me in congratulating them. Way to go!
- Go behind the scenes to learn how three ecommerce stores became successful
- Discover the two primary marketing channels Ball Wash leveraged that allowed them to scale so fast
- How Shamanth conceptualized and developed her winning product idea
- The learning curve for Chevalo and Monique as they transitioned their product to sell online
Full Transcript of Podcast with Adam Hendle, Shamanth Pereira, Monique and Chevalo Wilsondebriano
Nathan: First of all, Shamanth, like, would you be able to tell us, you know, what attracted you first of all to, I guess, Gretta’s course? And then also, you know, tell us a little bit more about your product and how you got started and why you wanted to launch a physical product.
Shamanth: Okay, so what attracted me to Gretta’s course is really I’d been following you for a while now since you started the Instagram course a while ago. And what I really liked about yourself and your delivery in terms of your courses really were always bite size, easy to follow, and you can take action immediately.
So when you had this e-commerce product come out, it was really relevant to me because I was at the crossroads of I was kind of trying two things at the same time. Like building…you know, researching and building my physical product, like just doing lots of research. And also thinking if I should be doing a bit of coaching, mentoring, which was something I did on an informal basis when I was in banking, but I thought maybe that’s something I could perhaps continue on a more, you know, paid basis.
But what I found is that I really enjoyed building products more, so this came at a really good time. And when I saw Gretta had really good…I guess, you know, she had a lot of good stats to back her up and also it’s a course that’s produced by you, I didn’t hesitate to kind of take the course, really. And I did not regret it at all.
Nathan: Amazing. So tell us about, like, your product, how you conceptualized it, what it’s called– Invisibelly. Like, I’d love to know. And you’ve done, just really done, an exceptional job with your Kickstarter campaign…sorry, Indiegogo campaign. So please.
Shamanth: Yes. I mean I started on Kickstarter and I just recently just put it on Indiegogo while I build up the Shopify page. So with the product, you know, I was just looking at all the things that I could be doing and also just following through Gretta’s course, you know, about keeping it simple. You don’t have to create something revolutionary, just changing things, you know, making something better, really.
And that’s really the route that I took. So I was looking at all the problems I had and one of the biggest challenges I had since having children was weight gain, weight loss, etc., and finding decent clothing to help me through that process. Because I didn’t want to keep buying clothes as I gained weight and also kept buying clothes as I lost weight. I thought there must be, like, something out there that that can help me still feel good, look good, you know, through this process.
And that’s how this whole thing came about. I mean I’m originally from Malaysia and they have this big thing about…this whole belly-wrapping tradition, which is largely around post-maternity. But I thought, “Why not take it a step further?” I mean the benefits of it is really what women generally use their shape.
Well, why not combine that into a legging so women don’t have to keep wearing two pair of clothing, instead they just wear one and get the same benefit? It was a really long journey to find a good manufacturer, etc. And one of the key takeaways that I took from the course, as well, it’s about finding manufacturers that are close to you. Because initially I was looking at, you know, the Far East.
I’m based in London and I was looking at the Far East. And I found it really, really hard. Even though the cost was good, but I just found it hard to translate the quality. And that’s when…you know, when Gretta shared her experience of going Far East versus going local. To start local is a lot better, you can manage the quality. That was really great advice because that’s the route eventually I went down.
I was really glad to have found a really good manufacturer eventually because that was one of the largest…or the biggest challenge for me with creating a very specific product. Because it’s compression legging, it’s seamless, so they had a very specific machine for it, as well. And just it was a process. And I almost nearly gave up, but then I just kept pushing along and I said, “I’ll just find one other person who can perhaps introduce me.”
And it just sort of all just came together and I thought, “You know what? The fact that I found a manufacturer, I’m going to keep moving on.” So in a nutshell that’s how my leggings, which is now called Invisibelly, came about. And even the name, you know, I posted different options for the naming process in the group, as well, the Start & Scale group, which I had a lot of feedback on in different groups which my target market was in.
So all in all I took away, you know, like, all the learnings that I got from Gretta’s course, put it to practice, and got the feedback out of it, and also overcame the fear of reaching out. Because one of the things I found initially was just reaching out to people and thinking, “Oh god, what are they going to say about my product? Is it going to be rubbish? Are they going to say, ‘Don’t waste your time’?”
I mean you do get lots of different feedback, it’s just you need to be able to filter through them and just take what you need to take to move forward and decide for yourself. So that’s… Yeah, that’s kind of my product in a nutshell and how it all came about.
Nathan: Amazing. And you’ve had an exceptional launch. You raised £46,000. This is pounds.
Shamanth: Pounds, yes.
Nathan: This is pounds. 500 people have bought, preordered, this product before it even exists. And that’s, I believe, one of the best forms of validation out there. And, you know, you’ve tapped into the Kickstarter platform and you didn’t have to… You know, you obviously had built a small audience of people that were interested in the product before you launched, but this is an exceptional result.
Because, you know, when I think about when I first launched Foundr on the first day, you know, we made $5. And the first month we made, you know, $100. Like it’s crazy. But this is an exceptional launch, you should be really proud of yourself. Like, you know, for no audience, to be able to do this.
Shamanth: Yes. I mean thank you so much. I guess going through the process I felt like, you know, initially I was telling myself it wasn’t a great launch because I see everyone doing a six-figure launch and maybe I didn’t hit the mark. But then again I also had to remind myself I chose to get into a start-up as to be around my young children, and therefore my time is not what I used to have.
Like when I was in banking I had all the time, I was really super optimized, you know, I got everything done ahead of schedule, etc. And I found, you know, trying to adjust, that you may not always get everything on time or done as best as you want it to be and it’s okay. Because I had a very small launch. But that was also partly because one of my sons fell ill, so I had to pause my efforts.
And when I kind of had to start again I had to decide do I just go ahead and launch it or do I kind of wait and build up the list again, and I was on this time constraint. So I just went ahead and launched anyway and I said, “You know what? Whatever happens, it would be a good validation.” So I’m really pleased with that. And that is the other thing that I took away from just talking to entrepreneurs in the group and also, you know, just learning in general that until you lunch you’re never going to know.
And it’s your first launch, you’re going to learn a lot from it. So it may not be perfect, but just be happy with what you get because then it’s really good validation as to where you can head to as your next step.
Nathan: Yeah, 100%. Like, look, I wouldn’t… You know, I wouldn’t worry about these companies that do six-figure launches or any of this other rubbish. Like there’s so much stuff out there, right? Like this is the exception.
Nathan: You know, like for you to be able to launch a new product that doesn’t even exist in the marketplace. And, you know, this is fresh, you didn’t have an audience, you didn’t have a brand. For a brand-new brand to be able to generate, you know… Like, I’m not sure what that is in U.S. dollars, but it’s probably around $70,000 U.S. dollars. And to generate that in your first month of business.
Obviously, you know, you’re going to have to produce that product now and, you know, manufacture it, and the ship it out to people.
Nathan: You know, that’s a very, very bright future for your business. Because, you know, if you can generate that amount of revenue… Because you have to remember, right? And we found this with our Kickstarter campaign. Is it’s a certain type of person that is very patient that buys something and has to wait for a long time to receive it.
Nathan: So what you’ll find is when you actually…you know, once you’ve fulfilled all your backers’ orders and you’ve set up your Shopify store and, you know, following everything Gretta says on all that front, there’s no reason that you can’t start to, you know, build the brand. Use the Instagram course, build the audience using Instagram. There’s no reason why you can’t build a really, really great, sustainable business off the back of this launch.
Because you’ve validated the product, you’ll be able to pay for, you know, a decent run of products.
Nathan: You’ll have some surplus of extra product which, you know, you can maximize profit selling over your Shopify store without even giving a commission to Kickstarter. And then you use, you know, Instagram or, you know, one of the social channels. I believe Instagram is the best out there for physical products and organic…you know, build an organic following that drives organic traffic from Instagram where you maximize profit.
You know, you’re cooking. Like you’re cooking with oil and gas, right? This is like, you know, I think you should be really excited because this is…you know, it looks like a great product and it’s got a really, really strong future.
Shamanth: Thank you, thank you so much. I mean, you know, just the support and encouragement that I’ve gotten from the group itself is so valuable that it’s helping me move forward. So thank you, as well, for your kind compliments.
Nathan: Oh, you’re welcome, you’re welcome. So talk to me about, I guess, I know the audience would be curious if they’re wanting to launch a physical product, like, why Kickstarter, why Kickstarter versus just launching it, you know, just on Shopify and building the brand from scratch and just going straight direct through Shopify?
Like, you know, with Emily, my partner’s business, you know, no Kickstarter, just launched on Shopify, produced the stock in the warehouse, and then off you go. Why Kickstarter, why crowdfunding?
Shamanth: So it was two things. One, I wanted to get validation in terms of do people actually… I mean I’ve already asked people around me and also like an extended group, on Facebook groups, etc., but I just wanted to see if people really did put their money where their mouth is. And I thought Kickstarter is a great way because they are preordering, which means they’re paying in advance, and that’s a good way for me to know.
Plus it’s also a good, I suppose, I say, validation, too, in terms of branding. Because if you can say you successfully funded in Kickstarter, you can take it to potentially retailers if you want to and say, “Hey, you know, I raised 500 orders just pre-launch and it seems like it’s going well,” etc. So I could just use it as a future validation, brand validation if you like, to kind of, if I wanted to, raise more funding to build up the line, for example, or just to kind of expand where I can sell the brand, too.
So it was really two things. And also the cost of producing my leggings were not cheap and one of the key learnings that I found is that, you know, you don’t want to launch to crickets. You know, you could preorder 600 pairs of leggings, and then realize nobody wants them. So one of the things I found useful with Kickstarter, as well, is you get a lot of these backers who will tell you what they want, who will ask you about sizing.
And what I found is there was a group of women who wanted much bigger sizing, so the plus sizing. And I realized that’s a market that I hadn’t tapped into previously and it’s a market that I should be looking into. So it also gives you insights and feedback as to what clients really want. So I find that useful because sometimes when you just launch, you know, you kind of get feedback maybe by people not buying the product or, you know, not seeing anything.
So then I felt this way they are actually really, really honest, they tell you like it is, and they also tell you why they like it. I mean I even had a guy reach out to me and ask if I was doing it for men and I said, “Not yet, but that’s something I’ll definitely think about.”
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Shamanth: So it is definitely a good research tool, as well, because now I’ve increased the sizing from just the four sizing that I had to six. And I’m just talking to my manufacturers now to see how I can work that out. So, and also, with my minimum orders, I had to go by size and color. So it was going to be a lot from…to kind of take on without knowing people would buy or not.
If the product cost was really low, then I wouldn’t have minded just getting some samples and sending it out to, say, influencers, etc. So for me it was two-pronged because I wanted to be careful with how I spent my capital, as well, and I felt this is a great way. And if for whatever reason Kickstarter didn’t work well, I had so much takeaways and learnings from it, as well.
So, I mean, I’m glad I got funded and, you know, did pretty decently, so that’s really good feedback. I mean that’s the only difference I would say between just doing it on Kickstarter versus Shopify. I guess on Shopify if you have a really big list, you’ve been nurturing them ahead of launch, there’s no reason why you wouldn’t do well. That was something I didn’t manage to do well just because of my own family, you know, admin and things that I had to manage, which I felt then maybe I could just tap into the Kickstarter crowd.
But also I had been doing a lot of research on Kickstarter to see what worked, what didn’t, what kind of…you know, how do you position your products, etc. So there’s still, you know, effort that went into it, I don’t want someone to think that Kickstarter is easier than Shopify or Shopify is easier. Both are equally…you know, you have to put in the effort if you want to get the results.
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. So, out of curiosity, I guess, when it comes to this product and everything that you’re working on, how long will it take? So you’ve got a December delivery date, so that’s…and we’re recording August, so that’s five…four months from now.
Nathan: So what’s next?
Shamanth: So what’s next is I’ve been talking to my manufacturers. And because my manufacturers is based in Europe, they all go on a very long summer holiday. So they’re currently on a summer holiday and therefore I had to, you know, kind of get an idea of pre-launch numbers, etc., ahead of time to send it over to them.
And that’s why the delivery time is also slightly delayed, because from July to September actually they are off and they only come back, I think, the second week of September, and that’s when they get production running again and etc. So I was trying to really hit that time. And this year I was actually going to hit it way before that, but, because of my timeline delays, I couldn’t hit that.
I was originally planning on delivering everything by July and, you know, launching March, etc., because that would have been a lot easier to manage to production. But things don’t always work out as you want it to be, as you would always realize with launching. So I’m just making the most, and therefore I think December is a pretty decent lead time without disappointing customers, as well.
Because I don’t want to promise something that I can’t deliver. And what I’m hoping is that I can get my production sorted by end of October, so it comes to me in November and I can start shipping it out. And it’s always nice if I could achieve it a little earlier rather than seeing…you know, fingers crossed, rather than kind of not achieving the deadline.
So that’s kind of where I am at the moment. And I’m also now just finalizing the packaging and things like that. And just keeping it simple, just so you have good customer experience, but, you know, not going overboard. Because I’m still having to manage my costs really, really tightly.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, that’s key. I think… Yeah. So I like the reason that you did the Kickstarter around, I guess, you know, risk minimization. And also, yeah, like, you know, people are essentially, because the product is… You know, this is quite a disruptive product. I think that’s important.
You know, a lot of people think that you go to crowdfunding to just raise money, but you have to have a purpose behind it. And this is quite a disruptive product and the world needs to know…you need to know if the world and the market thinks it should exist.
So, you know, part of that is, you know, people will give you the capital to bring this product to life. So, yeah, that makes sense.
Shamanth: Yes. I mean, having said that, I’ve also received a couple of messages from other start-up founders and other start-up groups who just completely slam me down saying, “You’re wasting your time and it’s a crowded market,” and etc. But then I was thinking, “It’s a crowded market for everything, you just have to, you know, find a way to differentiate yourself.” I mean people are selling…
I remember a company that was selling linens and they are doing well. And there’s so many shoe brands, and they are doing well. And shoes, I feel, is a pretty crowded market, as well. So it’s about being resilient, as well, with feedback. Because you will get people just slamming you down every step of the way saying it doesn’t work or, you know…
I mean I just take it as maybe they wanted to do it and they didn’t.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s crazy that people are doing that. Like, that’s unbelievable. Because, you know, I’ve heard it, too, right? Like with Foundr there’s plenty of business magazines, right? There’s plenty of gurus and people producing content around entrepreneurship and there’s plenty big media companies producing content around entrepreneurship.
So, yeah, I think it’s important that you don’t worry about the naysayers. I’ve been told many times back in the day, you know, what I’m working on won’t work and, you know, what I’m trying to do has tried to be done before and can’t be done and, you know, it’s a broken model and, you know, magazines are dying and all this kind of rubbish.
And, you know, funny enough some of those people have actually come back to me and been wanting to do, like, work with us or want to be associated. So, you know, it’s funny. You know, I think the key part, like you said, is you can always differentiate yourself. And that’s something that…I think that was a big, you know, when we were working with Gretta producing the course and really just understanding how she does things.
Because she… You know, when we found Gretta…or we didn’t find her, I was friends with her before any of this. And, you know, we knew that there was a demand, like similar to yourself, we knew there was a demand for teaching a course around starting an e-commerce business.
We surveyed our audience and, you know, the community had spoken and we…you know, me and Dave put our heads together. And I had met Gretta before and I said, you know, “This would be the perfect person to do this, she’s done it four times.”
Nathan: And, you know, obviously, you know, she’s doing something right. And, you know, she had no personal brand, no one knew who she was. And, you know, we had to sit down there and work through it with her and she didn’t even know herself how she did it. Like, you know, we had to come up with this framework, right? And, you know, “This is what you’ve done every time and we got to break it all down.”
And I guess where I’m going with this was a big aha, epiphany moment for me was when Gretta talks about changing the dimensions of a product. And like, you know, with The 5th Watches, right?
Nathan: Like, you know, there’s plenty of watch brands out there, but what she did was she changed one of the dimensions, which was around the scarcity around when the product is sold. So they sold it on the 5th of every month for five days. And that unique spin was just the one component that really made the product stand out.
Obviously it’s a great watch. And, you know, Gretta has exited that company now, but I think just that’s a great example. You know, that plenty…there’s so many watch brands out there, there’s plenty of people that could say, “Yeah, you’re wasting your time.” But you just… You know, you just got to not listen.
Shamanth: Yes, exactly, exactly.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, we’ll work towards wrapping up, Shamanth.
Nathan: But I was going to say was there anything that you wanted to share that you wish you knew before, you know, you started on this journey, any key pieces of advice you’d like to share with the community?
Shamanth: Sure. I think one of the biggest, biggest things that I’ve found, especially for me coming from a banking background… And I say that because, you know, you’re doing a pretty good job, and to give that up to kind of start from, you know, ground zero is hard. But I think for those of us who really want to do it, you should just go for it.
So you will feel the fear, and I want to say that I feel the fear every day, but now I harness it into excitement and say, “Okay, let’s find a way to, you know, what’s next and what’s next,” and be excited about it rather than allow it to pull me down into negativity. Because a lot of times that’s where a lot of us stop ourselves from doing what we really want or launching the product. So if I had known, like, know I’ll launch and had I known, like, I would do a decent amount, like I didn’t have to worry about all that, you know, many, many months ago.
So I would say just take that step each day. Some days will be hard, some days it will be easy, but just keep going. If you really believe that you want to do it, just keep moving each day. That’s what I would say.
Nathan: Amazing. Awesome. Well, look, we’ll work towards wrapping up there, but I just wanted to say congratulations on all of your success thus far. We’ve been cheering for you at the office. You know, we’re very familiar and we’ve been watching your journey from afar. And, yeah, we’re really excited that you’ve said you wanted to come on and share your story with our community and, yeah, I’m really excited to see how far you can take this product and what happens next.
So I think the real magic, I believe the real magic is going to happen post-Kickstarter when you can sell this product every single day. So I just wanted to say, yeah, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me and congratulations again for being just amazing inspiration. And we’ve seen you plugging away for a while and it’s just great that you get these kind of results.
You know, you’ve raised almost five times what you wanted to raise, you’ve validated your product, you’ve raised the capital to produce that product, you’re mitigating as much risk as possible. And now you’ve got 500 backers that are there to support you, give you all the feedback you need for other SKUs. And, yeah, you’re doing great, so keep up the great work.
Shamanth: Thank you so much, Nathan. And thank you so much for having me, as well, I’m…you know, I’m really honored. Thank you.
Nathan: Wow, how cool was that? I hope you guys enjoyed that interview with Shamanth. It’s just incredible what you can do with time, persistence, and just utilizing, you know, a proven framework. Incredible, I hope you guys enjoyed this one.
Now next up we have Monique and Chevalo. Now these guys, like I said, really cool couple. They had an offline business, they were doing a lot of stuff in retail selling their burger sauces around the country, and marinade. And it’s called Charleston Gourmet Burgers. And I’ve got to get some of this stuff, it sounds amazing.
But, anyways, they followed Gretta’s formula. In the first two months they grew their online operations by 5,700%following Gretta’s formula. Incredible story, this is an amazing couple, they do some really, really powerful tactics that you’re going to learn firsthand how you can grow your store. Because they already had a product, right?
But they didn’t know how to grow it. And you’re going to learn a ton here. All right, so let’s take it over to Monique and Chevalo. Can you guys kind of just tell us, like, how did you guys get started with Charleston Gourmet Burger Company? And, you know, yeah, tell us about the sauces and how did it all start.
Chevalo: Well, we call Charleston Gourmet Burger Company our accidental business. I mean one thing, I’m Chevalo Wilsondebriano and my wife is Monique Wilsondebriano and we both love burgers. And even from the time we just started dating, you know, our first date was at a burger joint and we just…burgers were just part of our life and what we enjoyed.
And we’d go around, you know, trying to find new burger places and everything. And when we ended up getting married and moving to Charleston, we decided to have a cookout and invite family and friends to come to our home. And since we love burgers, we said, “Let’s do something special.” –
Monique: Yeah, so basically we just threw a hodgepodge of ingredients together. And, you know, we weren’t really sure what it would taste like, but we knew that these were ingredients that we’d love. So we went to the farmers’ market, got a bunch of stuff, threw it together, and we just said, “You know what? The idea is to try it, let’s see if we like the way these burgers come out.”
But we got so busy, like that first party we had here we had like over 100 guests coming to our home. And before I knew it… Yeah, I mean it was a really big party. Before I knew it people were heading down our driveway, and I just looked at Chevalo and I was like, “You know what? Let’s just sell it.” “Let’s just serve it,” I mean.
I said, “We’re going to just serve it and, you know, if people hate it, we have so many other things that they could eat.” Like we had a chef doing pulled pork and we had, like, all the special things that people eat when they come to Charleston. And so we thought if they hate the burgers, they’ll eat something else. And a few minutes into the cookout, maybe like 30, 40 minutes, my mother comes and she’s like, “What did you do to the hamburgers?”
And so I kind of ignored her because I thought it meant they tasted awful, so I kind of just walked on it like I didn’t hear what she said. And so then she comes back again and she’s pulling on my shirt and she’s like, “What is going on with these burgers? Look at your grill.” And we had a line of like 30 people at the grill. My poor brother-in-law, he was supposed to be a guest, he’s on the grill like, you know, sweating, like trying to help serve burgers.
And I just laughed and I said to my husband, “Oh my gosh, we should sell these.” But, I mean, I was really just joking.
Chevalo: And I thought she was out of her mind. I mean we’re not burger salesmen. I mean I’m, you know, formerly an emergency worker with the Fire Department of New York, 9/11 survivor. Monique was in retail with Target and Lowe’s corporation. We weren’t burger salesmen. But, you know, the next year we had another cookout and people were asking for these marinated burgers, these burgers that tasted special.
And that’s when I said, “You know what? Maybe Monique’s joke is really not a joke, maybe we should go for it.” And that’s what we did.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. So, you know, before we hit record you guys said that you guys mainly sell through wholesale and also on QVC, that’s pretty impressive. Like can you tell us about that and how you started producing the sauces, and, like, are you producing it all locally?
And, yeah, tell us about how all that works.
Monique: Well, when we were at the farmers’ market serving… We started out at a farmers’ market serving burgers, that’s how we originally started when we said we’re going to start this business.
Chevalo: Yes, towing a grill behind our car, setting it up, and just sell burgers to people right then and there. The grill, all the smoke, and all the juices.
Monique: We looked absolutely ridiculous, like loading all of this stuff behind our car.
Chevalo: And towing the kids, also.
Monique: And our kids in the car. And so we would do that, but people would call us from other states and sometimes even other countries and they were like, “I can’t”…
Monique: Yeah, they were like, “I can’t stop thinking about that burger I had, it was so good. Is there any other place I can get it?Do you guys franchise?” So once we started getting these calls on a regular basis, we were like, “Man, people really love the taste of this burger, we have to figure out how everyone can enjoy the burger.” And so, you know, we started brainstorming ideas on how we could make that happen.
And so Chevalo’s idea…
Chevalo: My original idea was we were going to just grill up the burgers ourselves, and then we were going to wrap it in plastic bag, put it in the refrigerator, freezer, and we’re going to ship it in boxes across to other countries.
Monique: And then we thought we probably will kill people, so we can’t ship meat in boxes all over the world. So that’s not going to be a good idea, we can’t do that.
Monique: And so I started thinking, I’m like, “You know what? People can get their own meat anywhere, it doesn’t matter where they are. So let’s just bottle the ingredients, the marinade, what makes the burger taste so good, and that will be our product. And we can ship that all over the world.” And so that was the…that’s how our marinade came to be, we just said, “You know what? We’re going to bottle our ingredients and let them make their own Charleston Gourmet Burger wherever they are.”
Chevalo: And so we bottled it, as Monique said, but our main focus then was to get it in retail stores. And retail stores, like Whole Foods Market, and there’s a Harris Teeter here, and other stores picked us up, we’re in Walmart. But our whole social media campaign was geared towards awareness, for the customers to go into the store to be able to purchase our products.
And we had success with that if… Because we would go around and do different in-store demos or we would introduce a new market. And having that product awareness for people was important, at least to know that our product was in the store and for people to go and pick it up. So that’s where our social media campaign were geared towards, it wasn’t necessarily towards a direct-to-consumer purchase.
Monique: Yeah. So that’s what we started with. But when we started bottling the marinade, you know, Chevalo and I brought home all those boxes and we were looking at each other like, “Will this ever leave our home?” We had so many boxes of product and we were like, “Oh my gosh, like, what are we going to do with all of this stuff that we decided that, you know, we’re going to bottle it? What are we going to do with it?”
And so we actually put it in our car and we went to…I think our first store we went to, we approached, was Whole Foods. And we just worked up enough nerve to walk in the store and to ask them, you know… And we didn’t even know what to say. Like, you know, when you’re in the grocery business, when you’re in the food business, they have their own language. Like we didn’t know any of that at all, like we totally did not know what we were doing.
So we just kind of walk in and we’re like, “We think we may have a product that may work for your store,” and we just started talking. And when we finished the guy is like, “Okay. Well, when you have it, bring it back to me, I’ll try it. And if I like it, we’ll see about getting it going.” Because at that point I think we knew when it was going to come off the production line, but we hadn’t had it yet.
But so I was like, “Oh my gosh, could it really be this easy? Could you just have to ask to go in a store and they’ll really let you in?” So we were like, “This is amazing.” And so we left Whole Foods and we went out of the driveway of Whole Foods and we went to another grocery store chain which is right across the street and we did the same thing. And they were, like, so impressed with us. They were like, “Oh, well, here’s our corporate buying office and this is who you need to contact.”
And so that’s how we really started getting in retail. We just started approaching them based on our excitement about our product and, you know, we weren’t really following any rules, which we weren’t even aware there were rules at that point. We were just trying to…you know, just trying to just see what would happen.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow, that’s amazing. And so how long have you guys been selling the marinades for?
Monique: Yeah. Our first bottle came off the production line November 2013. Yeah, so.
Nathan: Oh, wow.
Chevalo: And so you’ve been doing retail, and it sounds like been doing it quite well. As you mentioned, you’ve been on QVC, it looks like you guys are in Whole Foods, Walmart. Lowe’s? I’m not familiar with that supermarket.
Chevalo: Yeah, Lowe’s Home Improvement. Lowe’s Home Improvement. You know, like Home Depot, but Lowe’s Home Improvement.
Monique: So our idea… Like a lot of people are like, “Oh my gosh, like, why are you in Lowe’s? Like, they sell, like, wood and stuff for your home. Like, why are you in there?” But our thinking was, “Why don’t you put our product right next to the grills?” Because when you buy a grill, you’re excited and the first thing you want to do is cook out. So wouldn’t it be pretty awesome just to have a sauce or a marinade right there by the grill, that way you can pick that up at the same time you pick up a grill?
So that was kind of our thinking. You know, sometimes you have to kind of think outside the box, so that was our reasoning of why we wanted to go in Lowe’s.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s really smart. Okay, yeah. Obviously, I’m not from America, so I’m not familiar 100% with retail. But, no, that sounds pretty impressive. So, like, talk to me, like you said, you guys said that you were selling online, but B2C wasn’t really, direct-to-consumer wasn’t really, a strong play. Like, you know, you guys are making, like, some really good money at the moment, as, you know, you shared with our team, and are following Gretta’s course, Start & Scale, and her method for selling product online.
But I’m curious, like, where were you at when it had come to B2C?
Monique: Well, when we… You know, our online stuff, you know, like I said, we had a shopping cart, but we really weren’t savvy with, you know, as far as, like, Gretta spoke about, you know, the abandoned shopping cart.
I didn’t even know we had an abandoned shopping cart. You know what I mean? Like stuff like that I was like, “Oh, is that there?” Like, you know, like we didn’t even know. Or, “There’s a way to get those people to come back if they leave it in a cart?” Like, you know, we didn’t…because that really wasn’t our focus. You know, we would go on TV and sell and it would sell through QVC’s website and that was fine for us.
Or people would just walk into a grocery store and pick up our product. So for us it was like maybe we may get 10 sales a month or something like that, and that to us was fine. But, and we had no, like, reports, like we weren’t doing any of that before Gretta’s course. So when I…I actually had the idea, we were in the green room at QVC and I heard some of the other reps talking about how they sell just as much product from their personal website as when they go on QVC.
And so, you know, when we were heading back home I was discussing it with Chevalo, I’m like, “Man, could that really be true?”
Chevalo: Yeah. I mean we knew people were coming to our website, we knew people were looking us up. And so it was a matter of, “Gee, how do we try to harness these people?” I mean we have done different appearances besides QVC, but we have done…
Like we did a shoot on a show with the Food Network and we’ve been on TV with The Today Show. We’ve done different media events, and so we know we would have people come to our website and put their eyes on our website. But we never really harnessed those people as customers, they would just come and look, and then would go…you know, would just go about their business.
Monique: Like we weren’t even collecting e-mails. Like I say that now, but I’m like, no, like we weren’t doing any of that at all. Like we weren’t… So we didn’t have an e-mail list, like, we weren’t sending out… Like we weren’t doing… People would come and that was it. Like we would have…
Because that just wasn’t our focus at all.
Nathan: Yeah, that makes sense. So obviously you guys enrolled in Gretta’s course and I’m curious, like, what was it about her course that you guys thought would…it would be a good move to learn from her and how she goes about things of selling physical products and starting physical products and selling them online?
Monique: Well, we were actually on our way back to Charleston after we filmed one of our QVC shows and I had a lot of time to kill so I was on Facebook. And I saw…you know, I was just scrolling through my timeline and Gretta’s course popped up. And so I was like, “You know what? This seems really interesting, let me put in my information.And I have all this time, let me just check it out.”
And so I watched the entire video and I loved how she had the case studies in there. And what really caught my eye is there was a case study where the guy didn’t have a lot of products, he had, like, some kind of beard oil or something like that.
Nathan: Oh, yes, yes, yes. Gamal, yeah.
Monique: Yeah, like he didn’t have a ton of products. Because, you know, initially I was thinking, “Oh, well, we’re probably not going to be able to sell that much online because we don’t have”… You know, we only have a few products. You know, we have a handful, we don’t have a ton. And so I was thinking, “Oh, well, those people that make a lot of money online, they have a lot of products.” And so when I saw his, I was like, “Wait a minute. He doesn’t have a lot of products and he’s killing it online.”
And so I just got so excited. So I was like, “Okay, wait.” And then I just kept listening, you know, to Gretta. And then I ended up, after I watched it… Because I was watching it by myself, I had my headphones, I think Chevalo may have been sleeping. And so once I had a chance to tell Chevalo, I was like, “You have to look at this course that I just saw and I think we should take it.” Now, Nathan, I will definitely put this disclaimer in there that I am a course junkie.
Like I take… I am a course junkie, I need, like, a 12-step program.
Nathan: That’s good.
Monique: But I’m always buying these courses and unfortunately they don’t work. And so Chevalo, you know, I was a little nervous to bring it to Chevalo because I thought he was going to be like, “Another course, Monique? Like, really?” So I was a little scared, but I…
Chevalo: But the thing with this course and what I really liked about it. You know, one, some courses are too…are basic and they just give basic repeat information that’s available on all courses or just in basic tutorials. But what I liked about this course is it brought you really from the basic step by step.
And that’s another thing, people have a course and they may gloss over something and talk about a concept, but not really teach you step by step how to do it and how to do it successfully and also have testimonials and case studies and people who have actually done it.
So that’s what attracted me to it, to say, “Well, wait a second, maybe this is worth the investment.” Because, one, there was basic information and there was some information that we already knew, but we knew that other stuff was coming up in the additional modules or after that can really be specific and take our business to the next level.
So that’s what made me get excited and say, “You know what? This is a great thing.”
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. And I think for us, like what’s important for us when… I guess because we’re, you know, fundamentally a magazine first and foremost, I think what really, I think, is important to us, because now we’re starting to produce a lot of courses, is any of our teachers that we get to teach, you know, they have to have done whatever they’re teaching with their own business at a very large scale or they’ve done it multiple times.
And it’s like, you know, obviously Gretta, she’s just amazing and, you know, she’s built four multimillion-dollar e-commerce stores selling products online. So I think that’s really important because I think you will find that a lot of, you know, courses online unfortunately, like you said, Monique, just…yeah, they’re just, you know, sometimes not as strong.
And that’s where I’m really excited because I think what we’re doing is really special. Because, you know, we can connect our audience with all these incredible founders that we, you know, have in our network and we interview for them magazine, we do the podcast, and, yeah, we ask them to teach.
Chevalo: Exactly. It makes a difference when who’s explaining the course has credibility. And not just the knowledge, but has done it before. And that’s another thing that really attracted us to it.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. So talk me through, guys. Like, so what happened next? Tell me what happened next. So you went through the course, what happened next? Like what has been some game-changers? Like what have you been doing?
Because you guys have saying…like, you’re doing well online now.
Monique: Yeah. Well, what happened, you know, we made the transition. And we were already thinking about this because we had been using WordPress for years, we had a WordPress site. And I love WordPress, I loved everything about WordPress, but I kept hearing the word “Shopify.” And I kept hearing it, kept hearing it. And so I said to Chevalo, “I think we really need to get a Shopify website.”
And, you know, we were both nervous about it because we had always had WordPress and we really didn’t know a lot about Shopify. In WordPress you use plug-ins to kind of make everything work. Shopify, you know, you use these apps, but I still really wasn’t quite sure.
So Gretta’s course did help with that because I really didn’t know a lot about the apps. And so what we did, we immediately…right before Gretta’s course, I believe, we actually got a Shopify site. But we have, like, the free, like the really, really basic Shopify site, it wasn’t live, we didn’t have any apps installed on it.
Chevalo: But we still tried to get some sales.
Monique: Yeah, we still tried. Yeah, we still tried.
Chevalo: We realized that… Because originally the idea was get a Shopify site, we’re going to get online sales and we’re going to be killing it.
Monique: Yes, it’s going to work. But, you know, there was a few things we had to realize. You know, with our site, because we were so used to using awareness, like the site really was just talking about Chevalo and I, it wasn’t really set up to sell. And so when the customer went to the site, sure, you have a ton of information about Chevalo and I and what we’re doing and where we’re going to appear next, but it really wasn’t clear to customers where to purchase.
And so what I did is I went in the community, I started clicking around, I started looking at other people’s sites, I started reading information. And I said to Chevalo, “The first thing we’re going to do is we’re going to upgrade this, our site, our Shopify store. So we’re going to buy a better upgraded one, you know, that looks really clean, that kind of, you know, has a little bit more bells and whistles.”
And so that’s what we did, we upgraded our website, we got a template. Actually, we started using a template very similar to the people that had the beard oil because I liked how clean their site looked. So we ended up switching our template, and then we ended up doing a lot of the stuff Gretta said, like the pop-up on the side to show, like, who’s buying, we did that.
One of the best things we did was we have a pop-up so when you go to our website, it invites you to be part of our grilling club and you get a coupon. And so who doesn’t like getting a coupon? And so, you know, we’re like, “Okay, we have to start collecting these people’s e-mails.” And so we went, we put that up, and we immediately started having people, you know, put in their e-mail address.
And for me it was like…when we got our first e-mail, I was like, “Oh my god, this works! Like, someone put in their e-mail!” Because we had never done that before.
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Monique: Yeah, we’d never… You know, we’ve done all of these… You know, people will look at our résumé and we’ve done all these things, but here we are having a party because we got one e-mail. But for us it was like gold. Because I was like, “If we can get 1, we can get 1,000. And if we can get 1,000″… So I felt like there was no stopping us.
So we started collecting the e-mails, that was a big deal for us. And we started, like, using the plug-ins, I started looking at the reports that Shopify has. And really doing that upgrade, that was a game changer within itself because I could see, like, where are these customers coming from, our customer return rate, I started doing things to retain them as far as, like, sending out an e-mail.
We actually ended up doing a sales funnel to where we had a freebie. And so we have, like, these little free samples now that we can actually send to people. You know, we’re doing like a Facebook ad. So it was, like, so many good ideas that Gretta was suggesting, you know, that we had never thought about, we honestly had not given it thought.
And our first month of sales after taking the course just blew us away.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. Well, that’s so cool to hear, guys. And I’m curious, as well. You said that, you know, you started collecting people’s e-mail addresses. Can you talk to us about, like, the power of e-mail marketing?
Because I think, you know, a lot of people are talking about, you know, Messenger bots and all these other things. But, you know, my businesses and Foundr, like, I still…we still see so much power in e-mail marketing. Like, you know, so you guys were doing promotional campaigns, or what exactly were you doing? Because we actually give you the templates to use to send to do, like, promo and stuff.
Monique: Yes. So one of the first e-mails that we decided we were going to do was the thank-you e-mails that Gretta suggested.
Chevalo: Yes. Yes. Makes a big difference. It’s funny because that’s something that we actually kind of slightly debated about at first because we said to ourselves, you know, we don’t like being bombarded with e-mails from different companies every day.
And we’re deleting so many different e-mails and we just don’t want to be another company that just sends out random e-mails to people. So we were a little bit kind of questioning about it at first. But when Gretta said it and we set up that thank-you e-mail, that has been such a big difference with our business.
Monique: Customers respond and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for this e-mail.” And we’re like, “What? Like, this is crazy.” Like these people, they’re like, “Oh, we’ve never gotten a thank-you e-mail.” And we just could not believe how powerful… There’s not one day that goes by that someone does not respond to that e-mail and is like, “Oh my gosh, thank you so much for being thoughtful.”
Another thing we started doing is we write thank-you notes in all of the boxes that go out now. So no matter who’s packing a box, on that packing slip you have to…you know, there’s something handwritten to each and every customer. Whoever packs, they know they have to write out, you know, something on that note. And the customers actually are like, “Oh my gosh, when I received my package I was so excited because I got a handwritten thank-you note.”
Like, that was powerful.
Chevalo: But the thank-you e-mail is really what sets it off, and people feel that they’re kind of a personal connection to us. So that’s what’s making us say, “Oh boy, we got to continue it in some way, even when we’re shipping the item.” But the thank-you e-mail has created business for us because it’s made the customer feel that they’re part of almost like a family, and I would never think that can happen with an e-mail.
Monique: Just that little e-mail. But, like, now we do, like, weekly sales and we’re, like sending out e-mails, which we’ve never done before. And we’ll track it. Like we have the discount codes, and so we can track it to see, you know, are these people just people that were coming to purchase anyway or are they purchasing because we actually sent them an e-mail. And so, you know, that’s pretty amazing, when we decide, “Okay, this week’s sale is going to be whatever and this is a coupon code,” and then I actually see people start redeeming it.
It’s just, you know, I don’t know if it will ever get old, but I’m like, “Oh my gosh, this works. Like, you can send them an e-mail and it works.” So it’s just pretty…it’s just awesome to be able to have tools and to say, “Okay, this is what you guys are going to do,” and we do it and it really works.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. And I think what’s really cool, as well, is obviously you guys are doing a really great job on the retail front, so this is just another channel for you guys. And you can, I’m going to guess, be able to maintain a little bit more profit as opposed to wholesaling?
Monique: Exactly. You know, with wholesaling, you know, you have so many…you know, you have the huge, you know, freight cost, you know, with shipping, you know, pallets and pallets of product, and then you also have the margin. You know, so there’s so many different things that you’re having to take out before you even make a profit.
And so with us with direct-to-consumer, you know, which is becoming huge for all types of companies, but, you know, it just makes more sense. You know, and it’s definitely a lot more profitable than being in retail.
Nathan: Yeah. I think it’s good to have both. Because, like, you know, someone might see you guys, you know, in a retail outlet, it builds a lot of authority, brand, and credibility for, you know, everything that you guys are doing with your sauce. And then basically, you know, people might see you guys online or they’ll go and search for you online or somewhere and they can just easily buy.
So it kind of works hand in hand.
Chevalo: Exactly. And direct-to-consumer also has benefits, we can have a little bit more control over the product then and how we present and information given to it. And, of course, with the tracking it’s a whole lot better to be able to do that than just in retail, when someone can make a purchase and we don’t know who they are, their demographics, you know, why they’re buying, you know, age group, all those sort of things that are a lot easier to track, you know, when it’s direct to consumer.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. So we have to work towards wrapping, guys. This has been an awesome conversation, I’m really pumped and excited after speaking with you both. So, I guess, what’s next for you guys?
Monique: Well, the course came right on time because we are going to be launching our frozen cheeseburger line on our website. And so that is…yeah, that’s going to be next. So you’ll actually be able to go to our website and order cheeseburgers and it’s delivered right to your front door.
So that’s what we’re working on next.
Chevalo: Yeah, so this is a real, like, exciting time. And as… You know, so we feel good following Gretta’s directions. You know, we didn’t question many things with Gretta. It’s like if, you know, Gretta said go left, we went left. If Gretta said go right, we went right. But it’s become so good that it’s making us feel like, “You know what? Maybe we could start considering a manufacturing facility even closer to where we live or something that we can have more direct control over to kind of aid in direct-to-consumer sales.”
Because it has been getting wild and crazy with how many orders we’re having to ship out. And, you know, kind of doing this ourself or outsourcing it we’re going to look to put those…put that all together and make that more efficient. So those are all future things that we have to do because of, you know, following Gretta’s course.
Nathan: That’s so cool guys, this is so great to hear. Well, look, congratulations on, you know, both of your success. Like, it’s really, really inspiring, Chevalo and Monique. Like, I know we interview a lot of, you know, founders that have billion-dollar companies and all this crazy stuff. But one thing that a lot of people request is to hear from people that are on the ground level in the trenches, just like you guys, just building your business, early days.
But you guys are absolutely killing it and it’s really inspiring and I’m glad that our work at Foundr and, you know, Gretta’s course, Start & Scale, has been able to help facilitate your growth. So I just wanted to say congratulations on all your success. If people want to find out more about Charleston Gourmet Burger’s burger sauce and marinade, you can go to charlestongourmetburger.com.
Is that right?
Monique: That’s right. Yes.
Chevalo: That is correct. Yes, on all social media, right? It’s Charleston Gourmet Burger.
Nathan: Awesome. All right. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, guys. I really, really appreciate it.
Chevalo: Thank you so much.
Monique: It was a pleasure for us. Thank you for having us.
Nathan: How awesome was that? Wow, I hope you guys enjoyed Monique and Chevalo. Incredible people, right? You know, it’s just amazing what you can do with a simple idea and putting it out into the world. Just a great story and, yeah, these guys are living the dream.
Amazing story. I had such a pleasure meeting those guys and chatting with them and just hearing everything they’ve got going on, they’re killing it. All right, so last we have Adam Hendle from ballwash.com. Now this guy has followed…once again, someone that’s followed Gretta’s formula. He’s grown a seven-figure business in only seven months.
And he has followed Gretta’s framework to a tee, he started an incredible company called Ball Wash. And the branding is so on point, the execution, the marketing. You guys got to hear how he’s done it with a very, very unique product. A product even, to be honest, shooting straight, I didn’t…
Like, you know, if I saw it on face value, I’d be like, “Yeah, wow, interesting.” But, yeah, wow, this guy is an absolute superstar and you’re going to learn, you know, how he went from zero to over seven figures in seven months. All right, we saved the best to last. Well, they’re all awesome, but, wow. All right, guys, you’re in for a treat. Now let’s take it over to Adam.
Well, the first question that I just wanted to ask is, yeah, can you tell us about your product, man? Like talk to us about what you’re working on right now. And, yeah, so obviously you’re absolutely killing it. You built like, you know, a million-dollar-plus business in I think it was nine months, following Start & Scale, Gretta’s formula.
We’d love hear, like…yeah, tell us about that.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it’s been a ride, that’s for sure. So we launched in December, or just the end of November, last year. So been in business now, I guess it’s the end of July, sort of August, about eight, nine months, like you said.
And honestly the idea came to me, like all great ideas, in the shower. So I was kind of looking around at all the products that my wife has and there are just so many different personal care products for females. I thought, “I have a face wash, I have a body wash, I wonder if anyone has ever created a ball wash before.” So I literally jumped on Google…jumped out of the shower, jumped on Google, searched “ball wash,” and to my surprise no one had ever created something called “ball wash.”
And, like, “This is interesting.” And this is right around the time when I was really starting to get into more high-quality men’s personal care products. So just natural products free of parabens, sulfates. Things that are good for you skin, not just, you know, the cheapest thing available. So like these two things right at the same time kind of came together, like this idea for this product and just getting more into the space in general and my own buying habits.
And then my wife and I decided, “All right, if we’re going to launch a soap business, or a wash business, we should try and do this ourselves.Right? We have to make our own wash.” So we went to the lab trying to figured out how to make wash, quickly realized we’re better marketers than manufacturers of body wash.
But it was fun just to, you know, try and, you know, get your hands dirty and, you know, see how the product is made. So we did that, and then we spent the next year trying to find a good manufacturing partner. Which was interesting, you know, trying to find somebody that got the vision and didn’t have a minimum quantity of, you know, 10,000-plus units.
Because I had, you know, really no idea how well it was going to do and I wanted to validate the idea. So I called around to a bunch of different manufacturers, got a bunch of, you know, noes. Or, actually, I said “no” to them because I couldn’t afford, you know, the minimum product spend. And my wife remembered that she had an old colleague that started a beard oil company, so we reached out to him and he put us in contact with this small, family-run natural products business.
And I got her on the phone and three words in I was like, “Yeah, we want to start this company called Ball Wash.” And she’s like, “I’m in.” I’m like, “What do you mean you’re in?” She’s like, “I don’t really need to hear any more.” She’s like, “I want to be a part of this, I think this is going to be great.” And so I was like, “Well, I don’t really, like, have a huge, you know, amount of money to start this.” She’s like, “Whatever you need to do, we’re going to be behind you.”
And that was really, like, the first kind of key falling into place for us. So we spent the next six months doing a bunch of product testing and sampling, making sure that we really plowed the product we were creating. Which is really important because obviously with the name “Ball Wash” I wanted something that was going to stop people on their feet, something that was going to have people tag their friends or their husbands, wives for when they got the product and really wanted to see that high-quality, just awesome experience, not just something that’s, you know, a gimmick or a gag.
So we spent six months really getting to that. And then, like I said, we launched..We launched in basically Black Friday. And I had 500 units and that was my goal. Like, pretty small. And we sold out in like two days. You know, like, “Oh no, what do we do now?”
Adam: So, yeah. And then it was really kind of wildfire. We did some Facebook and Instagram ads. And, like I said, yeah, a lot of husbands and wives and friends tagging each other. So I was on the phone frantically calling, you know, our manufacturing partner and I was like, “All right, I need 2,000.” And the next day I had sold basically half of that. So I was so nervous, like, to place the next PO and just kept doubling it and doubling it.
And within a week I went from ordering 500 to ordering 15,000.
Adam: Yeah. I mean I was just so nervous every time I, you know, placed that PO. You know, I was, like, hoping that the wave would keep going, but as nerve-wracking as it was, if we could have made more, we would have sold more around that time. So that really just propelled the business into, you know, the first of the year.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. So tell us around, I guess… Because you’ve got tremendous growth right now. And, I guess, can you take us back to kind of the early days? Because some people listening to this might be in the early stage of wanting to start a business, or launch a physical product.
Like, you know, what did you learn and where were you at when you went through Start & Scale and Gretta’s formula?
Adam: Yeah, so I initially found Start & Scale right…maybe two weeks after I had launched. So, like, things were really starting to pick up, and then, you know, I kind of powered through that, like, course at the same time. And jumped in the Facebook group, it’s just absolutely, you know, just an amazing resource with all the incredible entrepreneurs in there. And just, you know, like I said, ripped through…
Every time you guys released a new module, I was, you know, tearing through it and just, you know, kind of trying to check as many boxes as we could at the same time as trying to scale the business in a very small amount of time. And it was really just a lifesaver to kind of have a blueprint. And that’s the one thing I’ll say, is, you know, I’ve read a lot of blogs and articles and, you know, e-books on e-commerce and scaling business and validating product ideas.
And the thing that I was, you know, most impressed with with Start & Scale is it really is super actionable. Like, you know, you guys lay out the blueprints, Gretta did a fantastic job of, like, “Here’s the boxes to check.” And even, you know, if I wasn’t following them at the time because I was, you know, too busy, I went back and I was like, “All right, cool.Like, I need to make sure I did all of these things.”
So it was just an amazing blueprint and resource and, you know, I can’t speak enough to it.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. And what would you say kind of your biggest learning would be from the course and around, like, kind of the way Gretta scales, starts and scales, e-commerce brands? Because it is quite unique. Like a lot of people are into drop-shipping. That’s one thing that you’ve done tremendously well, you’ve built an exceptional brand.
But I’m just really curious, like, what was probably the biggest takeaway you had?
Adam: Yeah. I mean I think the whole thing for me is brand. Right? And I think she really leans into that and provides a lot of great examples. I mean for us being called “Ball Wash” we kind of dance along this line where people think it’s a joke or a gimmick. And for me it was about building this whole brand around it that made people take it seriously. So, you know, making sure that the product packaging looked really good and making sure that the shipping…
You know, she talks about making sure that your packaging materials are also on point. And there’s, you know, maybe [Inaudible] the owner inside there. So it’s like doing all those little extra things to paint the story of this brand as not just a gimmick, but it’s actual, you know, there’s a very seriousness behind this that really believes in the product name. And we were putting that human kind of touch to it, and to me that’s everything. And we’re starting to lean even more into that. It was around the same time I came up with this phrase called “live balls out.” And that’s the lifestyle that we want to, like, portray. Like people that live on the edge, thrill seekers, athletes.
Or, you know, just everyday people that just, you know, like to live their life the way that they do it. So for me it was really the whole piece around branding that just resonated the most. And I really don’t think we’d have what we have right now if we didn’t pay that early attention to the brand and took that into consideration.
Nathan: Yeah, amazing. And I’m sure it hasn’t been all, like, you know, gravy, man. Can you tell us around the hard times? And, like, yeah. Because, like you said, this product that you created is one of a kind, right?
Adam: Yeah, so it’s funny you mention that. So my wife has been kind of documenting, you know, the ups and downs. And she jokes, and maybe we will one day, put out our own book called “It Takes Balls.” Because, yeah, I mean when you’re scaling that quickly, you really hit a lot of hurdles that you might over the course of a year, but we were hitting them in the course of, you know, a few weeks.
So some of my favorite ones were we shipped out… It was right before Christmas and we must have shipped out, you know, 3,000 or 4,000 orders in one week and they all had gone missing. So they went…you would go onto USPS Tracking, you would look, and it said that it was shipped but it would never update.
Nathan: Oh wow.
Adam: So we have all these people, obviously, you know, e-mailing us by the hundreds like, “Hey.” You know, we’re a small business, we’re trying to, like…we’re trying to do right by that they just automatically think, “I bought this thing off of Facebook, you’re scamming me.” So we really need to do a lot of damage control. But what happened was one of the USPS distribution facilities that was located in the state of Michigan, it was so cold that the power went out there, I guess their generators or whatever froze, and they lost power for about three or four days and they did not relay that information to, you know, like, our local…where we drop our products off.
So it was just this, like, black hole. So meanwhile we kept sending out products to all these people being like, “I don’t know what’s happening.” So we send out, you know, a lot more products, a lot of people got two bottles instead of one just because we wanted to do right by our customer and they had no idea it was going to happen. So Mother Nature, you know, really took us for a loop there.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s crazy.
Adam: Yeah, I mean there’s a bunch, I don’t know how many you want me to go into here. But what I can say is where you’re scaling fast, you know, everything that can go wrong will go wrong and you just got to kind of take the punches as they were. And I think the one thing that we did really well and I would recommend to everyone is just putting yourself out there to your customers and trying to get ahead of it. You know, so we sent out an e-mail with, like, a fun GIF of, like, Jon Snow, like, freezing in the cold.
And, you know, just like, “We’re really sorry that this happened,” and, you know, trying to make light of it and, you know, make sure that your customers know that you empathize with them and that you’re doing everything you can. And we’ve done that a few time, you know, throughout the course of the business. When we were, you know, scaling up around Valentine’s Day, we came up with this box. So my wife came up with this slogan called “I’m nuts about you” because we wanted wives and girlfriends to buy the ball wash for their significant other.
So we bought these boxes, or we got these boxes made, that say “I’m nuts about you.” And unfortunately we ordered them a little too late. And when we got the actual box, we were less than pleased with the quality. So we ended up just proactively refunding everyone the cost of the box, because we were charging at just a few dollars on an upcharge. So instead of waiting for people to respond and say that they were happy, we refunded everybody and we just kind of bit the bullet on that.
So sometimes it’s cost us extra money, but, you know, we’re hoping in the long term… You know, I like to say we’re in this for the long term, not just a short-term game. So those are a few of them, but we could make this a whole, you know, hour out of the things that can wrong. But, yeah, you know, it’s been a roller coaster, that’s for sure.
You know, the highs are high, the lows are low.
Nathan: And, look, it’s definitely not easy, man, so I appreciate you sharing kind of some of the hard time. Can you tell us around, like, what is working? Obviously I think you’ve got exceptional branding, you know, copy. Like, everything is on point, man, the design. Even the design of the product, you’ve done a really good job there.
I guess, you know, what is working? Like what’s your best acquisition channel? Like in terms of marketing, what’s working?
Adam: Yeah. Facebook and Instagram, you know, have really killed it for us in terms of acquiring new customers. Can’t say enough about that. And, like you said, we touched a lot of fun copy, you know, to come up with all these ball puns, it’s pretty fun. And it really resonates. We always try and find something, well, one, from the image that we use, two, to the copy that we use, that somebody would tag a friend.
You know, that they also thinks it’s funny, they bring it in, or, “Hey, you could use this.” So anything that’s going to kind of help us drive down our acquisition cost by increasing the virality and the way that people share it has done really well for us. And then there are some other things that we’re starting to kind of lean into more. And like I said, we have this whole “live balls out” movement that we want. So we’re working with more athletes, we just started sponsoring a few MMA fighters.
So we’re putting “Ball Wash” on their fight shorts when they, you know, fight. that whole aspect of the brand. So working with, you know, athletes of all different verticals. And I’m really excited about that.
Nathan: Yeah. And when you say, like, working with athletes and finding ambassadors for the brand, how does that work?
Adam: Yeah, so we’ve been lucky enough that, you know, the brand has attracted a lot of really great people that have, you know, kind of come to us and say, “Hey, like, you know, I bought the product, this really resonates with me. You know, would you like to work on a deal?” So a lot of it has been inbound to this point, is sort of, you know, the bandwidth that I have.
But basically, we just make sure that both people are bought-in, you know, the ambassador that is behind it really enjoys the product and is excited to share it. I mean these new MMA guys that we work with right now, like, I literally just send them product, I just trust them to do what they’re going to do with it. And, you know, they post frequently, and they do a really good job kind of to their audience in a way that their audience will resonate.
So right now, you know, I don’t try and give too much direction to the people that come to me because they’re coming to me, they’re really excited about the product and I want their excitement to kind of translate to the way that they post content. So moving forward we want to be a little more proactive and, you know, we’ve identified some niches and verticals that we want to, you know, get more product ambassadors in.
We’re about to launch a referral and rewards program coming up here in the next few weeks, which I’m really excited about. We have launched an affiliate program, as well. So we’re dabbling in a lot of different things right now. But, you know, I’m still running this in my part-time and, you know, burning the midnight oil every night trying to test different marketing channels and seeing what’s going to work and lean into those channels that are.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s amazing, man. Because, man, I really commend you for the growth of your business, how you’re doing all this while working a day job still, man. Like, yeah, dude, that’s crazy, man.
Adam: It’s amazing.
You know, my wife helps me out with a lot of what we’re doing and I actually have my sister helping out on customer support, then I have two other friends that help with some of, you know, the design and creative. So it definitely takes the time, but, you know, it’s something that I just love to do every night when I put my daughter down, you know, to bed and just hammer on the business. And so I basically fall asleep with the laptop, and then, you know, go to work and do it again.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Those are the days, I remember those days. Wow. It was good, man.
Adam: You have to, right?
Adam: You got to put in that time up front, you know?
Adam: If you’re not going to do it then, than when are you going to do it?
Nathan: Yeah, I agree. And, look, I think, like, man, at the scale that you’ve grown your business and at the speed and at the size and at the amount of, like, you know, sales you’ve generated and then units sold, dude, it’s very, very impressive what you’ve done. So I just wanted to say, like, congratulations on all of your success.
We have to work towards wrapping up, but there was a few questions I wanted to ask around, I guess, influencers. Have you been doing much influencer marketing? Have you had much success with that?
Adam: Yeah, that’s a great question, because that was the sort of space that I’d come to in terms of marketing. But to be honest I haven’t put a lot of eggs in that basket right now, aside from kind of the brand ambassadors that I’ve been working with. Just because, due to my limited bandwidth, I feel like influencer marketing, to get it done right and build those proper relationships and making sure that, you know, posts are going up on time, they’re using everything properly, you know,
and coupon codes. It just takes a lot of time and I want to make sure that when we do it, we’re doing it right. So that is definitely on the horizon. Because, you know, there is obviously a lot of value to kind of be tapped there. And that’s what’s exciting to me, is we’ve done a lot of this, scale up this business, without tapping all the marketing channels, you know, we have available.
So that’s the next big thing for us.
Nathan: Yeah. When you say… Because I think there’s a lot of potential, as well, with influencer marketing. When you say, you know, “tapping into that and doing it right,” what did you mean by that?
Adam: Well, I think, you know, there’s two different approaches, right? You can just blast e-mails out to a million different people, hope that you get somebody that’s going to bite. Or you can take more of a slow and methodical approach to make sure that you’re getting the right influencers and nurturing those relationships.
I like to look at influencer marketing as a long-term relationship, not a one-off. And I see a lot of brands that just, you know, whether they give the product away for free or pay that influencer to post it, it’s just a one-time thing. And I want to work with an influencer that we build this relationship where they’re actually bought into the brand and we’re working together throughout the year.
And that, to me, takes a lot of time, but I think that’s time well spent in building a relationship. Because there are things, like it’s not just the relationship that you have with that creator, it’s the creator’s relationship with the audience they have. And with more and more brands doing influencer marketing, it’s…to me I’m worried that it’s becoming a little bit of noise when you just do one-offs, right?
Because it’s like, “Okay, here’s this influencer doing another, you know, branded content post that they got paid for.” But when you’re working with somebody more long-term in building that relationship out, I think it just resonates differently and they’re like, “Oh, this is actually integrated into that influencer’s life and they really believe in this, they’re not just doing this, you know, as a paid promotion.”
Nathan: Do you think there’s diminishing returns though on how many times an influencer would post?
Adam: Sure. I mean there’s diminishing returns on, you know, all forms of marketing, I think. But I believe that those diminishing returns, depending on the audience size, you know, should be spread out at least over six months, you know, to a year, depending on how often you’re posting. But I think that the upside of seeing, you know, on influencer working with the same brand over and over outweighs that diminishing return.
Nathan: Yeah. Look, I think it’s one of those things, as well, where you kind of have to test out. You know?
Adam: Oh, absolutely.
Nathan: Yeah. Like, because I think…
Adam: Yeah. I’m not saying that one-offs don’t work either, because they definitely do. But for me I’m looking at this as more of a long-term program where I want to build, you know, like I said, brand ambassadors that really are, you know, with me along with the journey and they’re the ones living this balls-out lifestyle and they’re bought into more than just, you know, the product post, they’re built into, you know, the brand’s [Inaudible]. But, yeah, I mean, regardless, you have to test.
You know, if you don’t test, you’re never going to know. And different brands may resonate differently with different creators than others.
Nathan: Yeah. That’s right. Awesome. Well, look, we have to work towards wrapping, man. But, I guess, for anybody that either wants to start an e-commerce business or selling a physical product or wants to grow or scale, kind of, you know, from your journey and then also following Start & Scale and following how Gretta does things and her formula and process, like, what would you say to anyone that’s listening right now?
Adam: I mean honestly I think it’s going to be the most cliché thing, but just start and do it. I almost did not do this. Like I was very close to not, you know, pushing past when I got a bunch of noes, I couldn’t find the right manufacturer. Or, you know, when I did find the manufacturer, you know, it took us six months to kind of get there. And within that six months, you know, life happens, things happen that take your attention, and then, you know, sometimes the priority maybe isn’t.
So you really got to push past. And, like I said, there was a couple times where maybe…I was at the point where I wasn’t going to do this. And, man, you know, that would have been a huge, huge mistake. So if you really have an idea and feel passionate about it, you really just got to take the first step and get it out there because you never know. I mean I wish I could say that I knew that, you know, we would do a million dollars in business in six months.
I didn’t. You know, but if I didn’t put it out there, I would have never known, you know, and I could have missed a huge opportunity. So just get out there. You know, take the course. If you’re afraid or you’re feeling overwhelmed, like I said, the Start & Scale course and what Gretta puts together, it’s really just that, it’s a formula and a blueprint. And it really takes you from, you know, start to scale, as the cover name says.
So get out there and do it. There’s nothing to be lost.
Nathan: Amazing, man. And where can people find out more about yourself and Ball Wash?
Adam: Yeah, so ballwash.com is our website, and then I can be reach at firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone has any questions, I’d be more than happy to connect. I love meeting fellow entrepreneurs and I’m also in the Facebook Start & Scale group.
Nathan: Amazing, man. Well, look, thank you so much for your time, Adam. And congratulations, again, on all your success, you’re absolutely killing it. Dude, I thought you’d left your job, to be honest. I didn’t know you were still working. Like, it’s just unbelievable what you’re doing and it’s just, like, super inspiring, so well done, man.
Adam: I really appreciate it. That means a lot, Nathan, just to have this opportunity, thank you.
Nathan: You’re welcome.
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