For the past decade, journalists and analysts alike have been talking about the potential in the world of ecommerce.
In 2019, the ecommerce ecosystem is fully ripe—it’s time to stop talking about the opportunities, and recognize the reality. It has been estimated that this year that the ecommerce industry will generate $3.45 trillion in sales (yes, that’s trillion with a big T).
Facts and figures aside, we know this to be true, because we’ve see it in action constantly over the past few years, in the lives of our readers, followers, and online course students.
Take, for example, the participants of our flagship course, Start & Scale. Thanks to their seizing of this opportunity, some impressive ingenuity, and awe-inspiring dedication, our Start & Scale students have been successfully riding the ecommerce wave since 2017.
To date, over 5,000 entrepreneurs have taken this course, and each new class impresses us even more!
So today, we want to share the stories of 11 of our latest students who took chances, implemented what they learned, and followed their dreams. Congratulations to all!
Store: Keto Weight Loss Tips
Product: Ketogenic diet weight loss plans
In June 2018, Jennifer had been laid off from her job. Like most people in such a dire situation, she didn’t know what to do. Start & Scale helped her get to the next chapter in her career, in a big way.
One of the first decisions she made after enrolling was to focus her store on the world of keto dieting, a diet where you avoid eating carbs altogether and focus on protein and fats alone.
Before she launched her business, she started to develop a social following of keto fans like her. This would help her develop an audience for when she decided to launch her store. What’s more, this audience helped her validate her ideas.
In six months, she managed to get over 280,000 followers on Instagram, something that would pay off handsomely by the time of her launch.
With her Instagram following, she started to validate potential products to sell on her store. She had many options available, but didn’t know which one to pick.
I knew I had an engaged audience that followed me, that asked me for advice, that trusted in me. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.
By January 2019, she had made the decision to launch personalized diet plans and coaching, and launched her new store Keto Weight Loss Tips.
In two hours, she put together a Shopify page with her meal plans and coaching options. By 7 p.m., she opened the doors to her store, and in three hours, she had generated $3,000 in revenue. By the end of the first month, she had generated $8,000 in sales.
“The fact that I went from unemployed to an audience of 411,000 followers on Instagram in less than nine months and now I’m making more than $8,000 a month is just crazy to me. And it’s all because I followed the blueprint.”
Product: Long-lasting, custom temporary tattoos
Programmers are currently some of the most sought-after professionals. Their skills are highly valued in the marketplace, as is the income they generate. But money doesn’t motivate everyone, and Sam was one of those people who wanted to do something else with his life.
Having worked at MySpace before it disappeared into oblivion, Sam wanted to tap into his creative spirit that his job didn’t help him foster. Among his many creative interests, Sam had always wanted to get a tattoo. The pain of getting one wasn’t a problem; it was the indecision about what tattoo to get.
If there was only a way he could try a tattoo before getting a permanent one, he could ultimately follow through. There are temporary tattoos, of course, but when Sam looked to try one out, he couldn’t find anything he liked.
So he decided to launch Tattapic, an ecommerce store that sells realistic, long-lasting, high-quality tattoos designed by artists or rendered from customer photos.
At first, his business grew slowly. In 2017, Tattapic generated only $12,000-$15,000, hardly a sum that would help Sam focus on his store full time. That drove Sam into looking for a course to help him take his store to the next level.
Start & Scale was the course he decided to take, and it was exactly the launchpad he needed to take Tattapic to higher ground.
Despite the fact some of the lessons weren’t new to him—being a programmer meant he was familiar with some of the technical concepts explained in the course—he found the details taught in the course highly useful.
The course helped speed him through the trial-and-error process he would have struggled with on his own, saving him time and helping him propel his business forward rapidly.
After finishing Start & Scale, Sam was able to more than double Tattapic’s revenues to hit $35,000 in 2018.
Our traffic is increasing, our feedback is getting more and more positive, and things are just growing.
Store: Kavala Collective
Product: Activewear for yoga
Climbing the corporate ladder is the yuppie dream of the 1980s. Millennials were told such a path is a great way to succeed professionally, but often learn otherwise when they start to walk it.
By the time they get a real taste of the corporate world, millennials find themselves surrounded by everything their generation hopes to avoid: bureaucracy, routine without purpose, and a lack of autonomy.
Kelsey was one of the many such millennials who came to this realization. After working an 80-hour-a-week internship at a Wall Street firm, she decided there was a better way to work and live.
Her true passion was yoga. After traveling to Bali to fulfill her longtime dream of becoming a yoga teacher, she realized she could do something with that passion that could sustain her.
When she went looking for activewear that reflected the tropical life she now lived, she couldn’t find anything. She either found high-quality clothes in plain colors or bright colors on cheap materials.
Like any good entrepreneur at heart, Kelsey decided to launch her own store. Despite having no experience in fashion design, she launched Kavala Collective.
One of her first moves was to grow an Instagram following around the world of yoga. But when she tried to convert those people into customers, she barely made any money.
That’s when she decided to enroll in Start & Scale. The course delivered almost immediate results. Before Start & Scale, Kavala Collective generated about 80 sales over the course of an entire year. After implementing everything she had learned, she made nearly 120 sales in a single month, bringing in A$18,000.
I wish that I discovered this before I started the branding and everything. It would have been so much more efficient and I feel like I would have saved thousands and thousands of dollars.
Store: Original Human
It’s rare to launch an ecommerce store and succeed right away. More often than not, first-time ecommerce entrepreneurs pick the wrong product or the wrong audience. That wasn’t the case for Sasha.
She’s the founder Original Human, a company that sells facial serums. Before enrolling in Start & Scale, she knew her product was great—she had many returning customers who liked her product. She simply needed to figure out a way to break through her plateau and start growing her sales.
“Once we could get in front of somebody I could sell them on the product, but it was really about making that instant connection,” Sasha said about her time before Start & Scale.
Soon after she signed up for the course, she started to see the results. With the help of instructor Gretta van Riel’s system and the Facebook community, she increased her store’s traffic numbers and revenue.
The results she got were the fuel to inspire Sasha to continue working on her business and give it the much-needed growth boost.
I knew it was going to be a success when we had somebody follow us, and within minutes had made a purchase. That was the first time that had happened. It hadn’t happened before. Usually, it was a much longer process.
Store: Some Things in Life
Product: Reusable straws
Just a year ago, Ffion was between jobs, thinking about where her life might head next. As a digital nomad, Ffion followed a minimalist lifestyle of few possessions, while focusing on sustainability and ethical manufacturing. What if she combined all of these things into a company?
That’s when she came up with the idea of starting Some Things in Life, which would sell expandable, reusable straws.
She knew what she wanted to produce; she just didn’t know how to actually get it into her customers’ hands.
In Start & Scale, she learned about branding, audience development, and social media. By the third month, she quadrupled her existing Instagram account from 2,000 followers to 8,000. With that small but loyal following, her store brought in over £1,000 in sales—all within 30 days of launching.
The best thing is not even the course—the course is great, but it’s not the course that I think sells it. It’s the fact that there are thousands and thousands of people on the Facebook group doing exactly the same thing.
Store: Theo & Brom
Product: Belgian chocolate
Tableya is a traditional Filipino beverage made from 100% cacao, formed into a round disk that’s later dissolved for drinking.
If you didn’t know such delicacy existed, that’s exactly the problem Myey discovered. She knew people in the Western world would love to drink a cup of tableya; the problem was that all of the existing products were made purely for Filipinos.
Myey had the idea of manufacturing tableya disks and selling them to a Western audience, but her lack of experience in the manufacturing process was keeping her from launching her business.
Start & Scale helped her overcome this challenge and start Theo & Brom, a company that manufactures Belgian-made tableya disks.
With the help of the course, she developed product, branding, and marketing messaging that she used to launch a Kickstarter campaign. In just three months and without investing in paid ads, her Kickstarter campaign raised a bit over $10,000.
By the time of her official launch, she was using about 10 kilos of cacao a week to make about 200-300 units of the Belgian Tableya, eventually reaching 100 kilos.
The community was one of the guiding pillars of her success, while the structure of the course helped her navigate through the hard first months of operations.
The key, according to Myey, is to be “passionate about learning and passionate about giving life to great ideas.”
Product: Yoga apparel
One of the common denominators most Start & Scale students have is a lack of passion for their day jobs. Such was the case for Jennifer, who felt she needed to do something new with her life after working for five years as a designer.
She explained to us that before enrolling in Start & Scale, she “was at a major crossroads. I had just left my dream job and I wasn’t sure what to do next, because what do you do after you have your dream job?”
A lover of yoga, she knew she wanted to do something in that space. While she had a lot of experience in fashion design, she was clueless about ecommerce and business in general.
The encouragement she found in the Start & Scale Facebook community helped her launch zenbody, her own yoga clothing line.
Right after the launch of the course, she made over $1,000. By the end of the week, she had raked in over $2,000.
For me, the true value of the course has been the online community because I’ve been able to soundboard a lot of my ideas, and I’ve been able to learn a lot of things just from following the threads that are on the Facebook group.
Store: Axcess Athletics
A fashion designer at heart, Jennifer had a prototype for flexible leggings unlike anything the fitness market had ever seen. She simply lacked a strategy to bring her idea to life.
By the time she enrolled in Start & Scale, she had already learned a lot from the trailer and the pre-launch videos Gretta recorded. Thanks to the support and knowledge she gained from the course, she launched Axcess Athletics, a company that sells zip-off leggings.
To raise funds for her business idea, she developed a Kickstarter campaign.
In only 30 days after completing the course, she had an email list of over 400 people. This list was the foundation that helped her fund her entire campaign in only five days. Despite her goal was to raise $6,500, she ended up generating $10,000.
I would definitely recommend to a friend or foe and tell them just to make sure that they’re going through every single module step-by-step and really taking time to implement everything, because if you don’t you’re missing steps that could get you to that finish line.
Store: Taken Care Of
Product: Gift boxes
Launching to the sound of crickets is one of the most dreaded situations any first-time ecommerce entrepreneur can face. That’s exactly what happened to Olivia, who launched her gift boxing store Taken Care Of to a nonexistent audience.
But that didn’t stop Olivia; like most successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, that invigorated her into finding a way to succeed.
At first, she had a few corporate clients that helped her keep the business alive. But she wanted to sell her gift boxes to the masses.
In the process of looking for a solution, she found Start & Scale. By using her customers’ feedback to improve her business, Olivia fine-tuned her branding and manufacturing.
By the holiday season, Taken Care Of had made about $13,000 in revenue. By the end of the holiday season, it had generated $51,000 in sales, shattering the $20,000 goal she had set.
Going through each phase, it was quite amazing validating what we had done right…and then maybe what areas we had missed a step and we could go back and go, “Oh well, we didn’t even think about doing that.” And there was also that whole hindsight of, “I wish I had done this before I launched!”
Store: Zea Relief
Product: Essential oils
Starting a family business is always a unique challenge, bringing the members together while testing the resilience of their relationships.
When Hayden decided to start a business, he realized he could mix his entrepreneurial skills with his mother’s naturopathic experience. With both elements in place, he knew he had a potentially successful business in his hands.
The mother and son decided to produce an aromatic oil based on a plant exclusive to New Zealand, something that was unlike anything on the market. Together, they called their business Zea Relief.
For the past three years, they’ve been making a small but still promising number of sales. By the time they got everything in place—the right product, the right brand, the right messaging—Hayden knew it was time to scale.
With the help of Gretta and the community of Start & Scale, Hayden found exactly what he was looking for: a blueprint for success.
One of the first changes Hayden made was to migrate it to Shopify, Gretta’s recommended ecommerce platform. Then, he prepared the store for a relaunch.
One of the key lessons Hayden learned was to leverage Facebook ads to attract more customers, an investment that paid off handsomely. “Once we implemented that and started scaling it through Facebook advertising, last year we saw sales increases of 400-500% throughout our store.”
What was really good about getting involved with Start & Scale was that it allowed us to basically tighten up the loose ends and get things ready for taking it to the next level.
Tash & Amanda
Store: Hope Bottles
Product: Essential oils
Tash and Amanda are two close friends who have been working in the wedding industry for many years. But as they talked over their career paths together, they discovered they weren’t passionate about their work. They wanted to do something different; something that would fulfill them.
That’s when Amanda started to look into the world of aromatics. After becoming a passionate user of essential oils, she started to sell her own on the side.
In the meantime, Tash began Start & Scale intending to launch her own ecommerce store. When Amanda shared the news about her new business venture, Tash decided to introduce her to the course.
Together, they worked to turn Amanda’s side business into a profitable venture.
Amanda decided to sell her handmade essential oil products in gorgeous containers that looked as if they’d just been pulled off a high-end shop shelf. She wanted to create something clients were proud to showcase in their homes.
Despite the fact they wanted to go faster and start selling right away, they decided to follow the course outline—something that would prove to be a smart decision.
Soon enough, they had a prototype, 250 Instagram followers, and an email list with 40 subscribers, which they used to launch their business. Hope Bottles, ended up generating five sales out of the gate, bringing in $700 in revenue.
The community support, the process Gretta laid out in the course, and the work they did ended up being the catalysis for their strong start.
Not everyone’s a unicorn straight out of the gates, and we felt good not only having that community and getting that kind of affirmation…but then seeing people who have taken those steps who are a little bit in front of us, going, “Okay, it is achievable. They were in our shoes. It’s all good. We will get there.”
Store: Tendance Wear
Product: Backpacks and apparel
Africa has a long history of developing beautiful fabric patterns, introducing bolder colors into everyday life than we see in some Western cultures. Born and raised in Mali, Tiemoko was shocked to realize this when he traveled to study and work in the United States. He set out to do something that would bring together the fashion trends of Americans and Africans.
“I always had this idea somewhere in my mind, but there was nothing that I could do with it up until about 12 months ago when I came across Start & Scale,” Tiemoko said. “So that was probably the best thing that happened to me.”
With the help of the course, Tiemoko defined his business idea and developed his brand. He even traveled to meet with manufacturers. By the time he finished the course he had launched Tendance Wear, a line of bags made in fabrics reminiscent of those from Mali.
As he went through the course, he launched an Instagram account to develop a following. In a few months, he amassed over 63,000 highly engaged followers.
So far, Tendance Wear has already made over $1,000, a promising start for a first-time ecommerce entrepreneur.
Not only you do get the knowledge you learn from Gretta herself, who did so great in so many companies, but now you are also in the middle of this network with so many thousands of people who…have all those ideas that can help you. It is really priceless and I would recommend this to anybody.
Congratulations Start & Scale Grads
The entrepreneurs featured here have found that the world of ecommerce is full of wonderful and profitable opportunities.
They each had an idea and were willing to test it with the help of the blueprint shown in Start & Scale, while connecting with the rich network of other students and alumni. It takes hard work, for sure, but that’s the only way any entrepreneur can find success.
Now it’s time to hear from you: Are you thinking about starting an ecommerce store? What are your biggest obstacles or concerns? Any questions about the course?
Let us know in the comments below!