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Dan Demsky on Business Unveiled

How to Navigate Crowdfunding for Your Business

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How to Navigate Crowdfunding for Your Business

DAN DEMSKY ON BUSINESS UNVEILED 

How to Navigate Crowdfunding for Your Business

Launching a business is no easy task, and funding it can be even harder. That's where crowdfunding comes in: by crowdfunding your business, you can pre-sell products or services to interested investors and get the startup cash you need. But before you launch your campaign, there are a few things you need to know.

I’m excited to share guest, Dan Demsky, founder of Unbound Merino, who is sharing all his tips for how to get a product off the ground using crowdfunding and how it is possible to start a hyper successful business even if you are creative at heart.

MAIN TOPICS
  • How to get a product off-the-ground using crowdfunding
  • What it’s like to start and run a company with your best friends
  • How to scale a direct to consumer (D2C) business, and more!
KEY TAKEAWAYS

It’s possible to still use crowdfunding to start, scale and gain serious traction.

It’s possible to start a hyper successful business even if you are creative at heart.

It’s possible to run a company with your friends without going insane.

MORE ABOUT OUR GUEST

Unbound Merino was created by three lifelong friends. We spent our high school days taking road trips across America to see our favorite bands. Every time we came home, all we could think about was saving enough money for the next big adventure.

It didn’t take long until we turned our sights on the rest of the world. Like many seasoned travelers, we were drawn to the incredible natural benefits of Merino wool. The fabric was perfectly suited for travel, but it was typically designed as high performance outdoor activewear, with flashy logos and unnecessary embellishments. Sure, it performed great on a hike, but we wanted something that did that and also looked great at a restaurant, in a museum, at a rock concert and out on the town.

After years of researching, designing, and prototyping - we partnered with industry leaders to create the most stylish, versatile and highest performing Merino wool clothing that’s made specifically for travel and everyday life.

Our purpose is to create simple, high performance clothing that is versatile enough for any occasion. Today, Unbound Merino is worn by countless fellow travelers all over the world. Our clothing is designed to help pack and own less so you can focus your energy on the experiences that matter most. Our promise is freedom through simplicity.

EPISODE TRANSCRIBED

Welcome to Business unveiled podcast. This is the place where we help overwhelmed, time starved entrepreneurs like you make the profitable shifts to get more done and get more out of life. I'm your host, Angela Proffitt, award winning eight figure entrepreneur and CEO. And in every episode of business unveiled, I'm bringing you conversations that will give you the expertise and strategies that will scale your team and business so you can get shit done. That's GSD in our world, so get your time back and grow a business that helps you be present in your life. Let's do this, y'all. Hyatts Angela, I'm back for another episode of business unveiled. I'm super excited to talk with our guests today. Because he is a serial entrepreneur just in chatting with him for a few minutes before we started recording. We have yo in common and I know you guys hear me talk about that a lot entrepreneur organization. And it is such an amazing educational thing that you can do. But whenever I meet somebody who's been any or who isn't, you know, I know like what I'm getting, because we're all like, our brain is potty trained the same way. And so I'm excited to dive into it. So Dan, welcome to the show today.

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Well, it's so nice to be here. Thanks for having me.
Of course, before we dive in and start talking about your company, and how you help people, can you share a little bit about your background and your journey that has gotten you to where what you're doing today?
Well, I became an entrepreneur, not because I took some big leap, you know, it's not like I had a corporate job. And I wanted to start my own thing. And I took a mortgage on my house. I was, I was in school, I was living at home with my mom's place. And I started doing some freelance video, just for, you know, to make a little bit of money on the side. And I really, really enjoyed it. Because I think my business partner who's my best friend, we just love the process of shooting, editing, just everything involved in learning, studying the manuals of how to edit video, and we started getting these gigs for a couple 100 bucks a pop to do these video projects. And what amazed us was people I mean, it was only a couple 100 bucks, but we're like, we would be doing this stuff. Anyway, we want to learn this. So it's like someone's giving us $200 Then we get to go and you know, do an edit for them meet some interesting people shoot an interview, cut it. The amount of work we did, if you broke it down to the amount we probably were getting paid at that time per hour, we might have been getting paid $1 an hour. Yeah. But it didn't matter. Because it wasn't it wasn't like we had this ambition to start a business. We really were just doing this on the side of everything else that we were doing, including vegan school. But because we were so passionate about it, because we had so much fun doing it, I think that really rubbed people the right way. They're like these guys are they care? They do such great job. And they started referring us to other people and other people. And then before you knew it, we had to start making decisions about our time, like how much time can we lock to this and we were so enthralled by it. We're like, Okay, well, the first thing I'm going to do is leave school, because I need more time. So I'm like getting busy. And then I worked in a restaurant as well. And I also interned at a radio station. The next thing I did is I left the radio station. I mean, sorry, the restaurant I wanted to stay at the radio stations was a lot of fun. And our we just started getting so busy that we started hiring people into my mom's basement just to deal with a load of work. And it wasn't until we started getting our clients are getting a little bit bigger. And you know, it wasn't weird to us, but bringing them to our little studio, my mom's basement, I remember Bria bring a client there. And he's like, are we at your mom's house? Like, yeah, we were proud. I didn't. I didn't think twice about it. But you know, I started to realize, I don't mean, we need to have a different appearance, how we're running this thing. But we sort of just traded up the chain until we started working with big, massive corporations. And you know, we had a ton of fortune 500 companies as our clients out of nowhere. And that's what we had to incorporate as a business because you know, you go to GE and ask them to give you an envelope with cash and they kind of laugh you out of the room like you need to invoice them. So that's literally how I started a business is because we needed to incorporate so we could charge our growing client base. And within two years of being in my mom's basement, we had 20 employees and we had a downtown studio and it was just as growing company and I never intended to be an entrepreneur. But at that point, I'm like, Well, I'm all in now, you know, going back to school, I have this, this team, and we ran that company for a long while. And yeah, that's, that's how it started.
That's awesome. And so, after all of that, did you exit that company and then start a new company?
Yeah, so my current company is called unbound Merino. And we're, it's an entirely different thing. So as much as I loved growing that company, and you know, once, we had all the overhead, and we had all of the employees, it became a whole different thing. And that's years and years. So there was one point where I just, I was just tired. You know, and I, the one thing I was never good at was hiring salespeople, I felt I had to go into boardrooms all the time, do a song and dance. And I always felt if I, if I didn't have at least five to seven meetings in a week, you know, pitching for new business, there'll be some kind of cashflow issues six to nine months down the road. Totally. So I, you know, I will feel guilty going on vacations, I'd want to be on the phone all the time. And I'm like, this is not the life that I want to live. So I started seeing my friends around me who had also successful businesses, but they kind of were successful in a different and more palatable way. They were product businesses, and a lot of them are ecommerce businesses. And I felt like when those businesses scaled, they scaled sort of differently. The cash register was ringing while they were sleeping, you know, yep. And I got in my head that I'm like, I can't do this forever, I need to start another business. And I want that business to be a product business, and I want to sell that product online. I have no idea what that is. But that's it. So in order to get to that, about every, let's say, one to two weeks, I meet up with my business partners who are my lifelong best friends, we'd either go to a bar, we'd be in the boardroom at our office, and we on a scrap piece of paper or on a chalkboard or whiteboard, we just try to come up with ideas of what's a product we can sell. And we had a million terrible ideas, maybe, maybe some good ones. But you know, our mind was framed around trying to figure out what is this next thing going to be? And we actually did that for probably two years, while we ran or other business. And we even tried starting a funky sock company, which sort of got off the ground a little bit, but not really, you know, and and it sort of started to get off the ground because we started doing wholesale, which is exactly what I didn't want to do in the first place I wanted to sell online. So that idea popped in my head when I was on a trip, you know, I wanted to find a way to pack light, and not bring lots of luggage on my trips. And I discovered merino wool apparel. Because it merino wool apparel kind of like what I'm wearing. It's antibacterial and odor resistant. So if you went on a trip and you pack let's say two or three T shirts instead of 14, even if you couldn't get into the laundry, it will never smell will stay clean and fresh. And I thought this is amazing. This is exactly how I want to travel. Actually the first time it was for a GLC, if I do events, I was going to Athens. And I remember being taking a little side trip out of Athens to a little town called Hydra, which is like a right and a little port. It's now a cruise town. It wasn't at the time. And there's no roads and there's no cars. And I remember with my girlfriend at the time, we had these massive suitcases and to get up to our hotel which was way at the top of the hill. We had to haul it up these big stairs and then we opened up the suitcase and just thinking like none of this stuff we're wearing. Like we don't like next time we travel it's gonna be a carry on. And that's what I'm discovered merino wool on it was a Reddit post that that explained. If you pack merino wool, you can pack light. And so I thought wow, this is amazing. I need to find this merino wool stuff. And I did I went and I found it. But there was a problem with it was it was often made as active wear or for like outdoors kind of stuff. So if you're going on a canoe trip or something like that, and because it was made for that purpose, and almost all the brands that were making it, made it for the you know, outdoors or activewear it kind of looked that way. There'll be Reflective logos, there'll be imagery on the shirts. I'm like why can't there be this incredible material used in a different in kind of like something that's a little bit more nice fitting if you put on a nice pair of pants a nice watch you feel okay going out to a nice cocktail bar, but also you can go for that hike. And I couldn't find it. I couldn't find it for the life of me. I'm like this is this fabric performs as promised, but it all makes me feel uncomfortable when I go out and I don't feel I feel out of place in a cocktail bar. And, and that was the aha moment, because I was looking for the fin. And then I feel because I went so head on with my own problem that I wanted to solve. I thought, Well,
why don't I just go start this thing? And that was it. That was it. The problem was, I didn't have extra dough to put into this business. I didn't have time, I didn't have energy. I was trying to get the SOP business and my other off the ground while I was running my other business I had no I was so tired. But I couldn't sleep at night. I'm like, I have to do this. I believe that this is the idea. This is the one I've been looking for. I have to do it. So we did a crowdfunding campaign. And that was the Hail Mary. I'm like, if if it did this didn't work. I felt like I was gonna hang up the towel and go learn how to write a resume apply for a job. But we tried to raise $30,000 is not a raise for investment, crowdfunding just pre sales. We only wanted to sell $30,000 a product. But we sold 400,000. What? Yeah. And I was like, Well, that's it. This validates the idea. This gives us the cash, we now have the inventory. I gave my other business, I just walked away. I didn't sell it. I just walked away. And I started the new company. And I we built it from there. And now we're selling in over 100 countries. And we're growing. And
it's and that's amazing. So, so going back to the whole like crowdfunding thing, because I know people listening are like, Oh, that's too hard. Or I'll never do that. Or I'll ask, I don't want to ask people for money and talk us through like that experience. I mean, to me, I'm like, like, I've set up a lot of GoFundMe, like, for my sister and like church stuff. And in basically, I mean, I was in health care for a little bit before I was an entrepreneur. And that was before GoFundMe. But now, people that mean, when you need something, you need something, and people will help if you just ask, but so many people don't want to ask for the help. Will.
So that's help. It's help. But it's also just sales. It's like if you believe if you like a product that you want to sell, because because it's not real. There's there's two waves, the first wave, you want to get your friends and family to sort of support so this campaign gets going and you know, I that is a hard thing. How do you get people, especially with our product, it's it's quite expensive for for apparel, you know, our T shirts on the crowdfunding campaign were 50 bucks. That was the cheapest that we've ever sold the T shirts. But that's not a cheap t shirt. So I'm going to, I'm going to friends and family in St. Louis spend 50 bucks on a t shirt. The way I got over that was two things. One, we worked really, really hard to develop a really good product. So I believed that it was worth the money and I was proud to sell it. If you're not proud to sell your product, you probably shouldn't be selling it anyway. So I was proud to sell it. How did I get over asking friends and family and the maybe the guilt or the shame? I just thought there's no other choice. Because this was it for me. I told you if it didn't work, I'm I'm thrown in the towel done. So I needed the support. I don't spend my life asking a lot of people for a lot of things for this. I felt like I had that ask, you know, and I just asked. But after that once your friends and family start to buy, you start to you sort of start to see a momentum grow. You know, I'll never forget, I remember seeing all the names of all the sales coming in my brother, my business partners cousin, my friend from high school, I recognize this person, that person, that person. And then there was someone named Yohannes. And I went to my two business partners said, Who's Yohannes? Do you know this guy? No, no, some guy in Berlin. That was our first customer that wasn't a friend or family. And then another one came in, and then another one. And so because we started to sell on the platform, and we had this momentum that we manufacture it through our own friends and family. People perceive this as being a hot product and they wanted a piece too. So we started selling in Germany, in UK, all over United States, all over the world. And it just kept pouring in and it's continued to grow from there.
That's awesome. So how did you decide where like, apparently you knew where this fabric came from. But then how? How did you guys you and your business partner say like okay, we're going to manufacture everything here. or do you did you shop a few different places, or you could only go to this one place to get this fabric?
Well, the fabric is all comes from Australia and New Zealand. That's where all the merino wool is sourced from. There used to be some in the States, but I think it was 7080 years ago, I think was in Vermont. But they'll they sold all the Merino sheep back to Australia, so they don't make it in the states anymore. It's just Australian and New Zealand wool. And, you know, just like crowdfunding is something that allows a person like myself to get into a new industry and be able to start their business. Another way that you can manufacture, manufacture products, that is something the Internet has created, that's democratized businesses is Alibaba. Alibaba is like looking for a diamond in the rough, there is a lot of junk. And there is a lot of people trying to sell anything. So but we had no access to other manufacturers. So we had to go we went to Alibaba. And we just dove in looking for manufacturers that specialize in merino wool. And I remember for days, I went search through every search term when I looked through every country that I could think of that would do the cut and sew of the fabric. And I created a questionnaire of a bunch of questions. And what I was looking for in this questionnaire was, can we visit the factory because it was important for us to see where we do our business, but also build that personal relationship? What are the minimum order quantities, so we know how much we need to sell on the crowdfunding campaign? Do they specialize in merino wool? Do they do other stuff? There's a bunch of questions that we were trying to figure out. But on top of that, we're also want to see how fast do they reply? So what's the communication like, if it's overseas, is the language barrier going to be an issue because we need to be able to communicate clearly. And we like them. So hundreds upon hundreds of manufacturers we reached out to and from that, we may be sort of narrowed it down to let's say, 30, to 40. And then from those 34, they got the questionnaire. And from that there was maybe 10, that sort of still seemed okay, we've continued the conversation with them, we ordered samples from five of them. And from the five, we liked three, and then from the three, we picked two, and to this day, we still work with those two, that's awesome amongst others, but like it was this huge funnel, just narrowing it down. Being able to talk to them on the phone, being able to communicate, feeling like we can trust them, but also being invited to come visit. And when our crowdfunding campaign, we ended up doing our initial runs in China. We went on a plane, we went because I have no experience in China before. You hear all sorts of stuff. Sometimes it's like, oh, I don't know if I want to do that, in some visit propaganda, is it real? Like if we're going to manufacture overseas, we're going to see with our own eyes where we're doing this, and we're going to be proud of where we're working. And we went there. And it was just a beautiful experience. And they've been unbelievable partners to us. And they to this day, help us help us grow, and probably some of the most important people in my life.
That's awesome. So you said something that that's really important. So anybody listening or watching, there's one thing that if you have this idea for this product in crowdfunding, that you ask the question, because I developed a pet products a long time ago, and I did not ask this question and nobody told me to ask this question, but it was the minimum order quantity that you had to spend when you go with this manufacturer. And so you said like that was key so you would know how much you needed to ask for on the crowdfunding so you would know how much you have to sell. You decided that based on what the first order because some manufacturers like one that I started with, you had to play so many units, which for me that was 30,000 pedicure, pause scrubs or it was a pedicure cup for dog cups. I mean, for like to stick your dog paws in Yeah. And for small dogs. There was the pop ledger for the big dogs but nothing for the small dogs that like lived in condos and apartments. And I didn't know that. So it's like I was at the mercy of Ritz Carlton and another hospitality venue that are brand that we were working with who wanted to place this large order. But I was like at the mercy of the because at this time crowd felt like none of that really existed. So that's really important. Like to know these things, is there anything else that is like really important for people listening that they would need to ask like these pre qualifying questions before jumping on the website and setting up some type of a product on crowdfunding?
I think it's good to just ask a lot of questions. Yeah, you could sort of map it out, like what's important, like, what are the time frames of manufacturing? When do we need to order? How much do we need to pay as deposit? Can we do multiple anything you can think of? You can just start mapping out a bunch of questions. But I think what's good is if you start the conversation of asking a bunch of questions, you, you just learn other things as you go. And you sort of get a feel for the communication, the thing that we were really looking for more than like the obvious, you know, how much how many pieces do we need to buy? Can we visit us? Do we like them? And do we feel like they can be trusted, and that we can have a positive relationship with them. So I think that's more than anything, what we're really going for, just that feeling of they they understand, they understand what we're going for, they're not just because what I noticed with some of the supplier, or some of the potential manufacturers is they were just trying to sell anything they weren't even listening to specifically where the focus of our brand was, which was making minimal calls, classics, you know, a stylish fitting merino wool apparel, they started showing us sport jackets with reflected load with Reflective logos, which is exactly what we're trying not to make. And like I just explained to you what our brand is brand is and it's not their fault. Sometimes it's a language barrier. But then when the suppliers we ended up working with the the Grasp they had on what we were trying to do was, was really satisfying that, you know, we found some they hear us and they can sort of help us because we had no idea how to manufacture clothing at the time. So we're getting into you know, again, not just no money, no knowledge of this industry whatsoever. We were just trying to reverse engineer other T shirts, we like you know, the sleeves on this gap shirt, and the neck on this h&m shirt we litter. That's how we manufacture shirts. Originally, we went to all these stores, we found a bunch of fits we liked and we be stapled post it notes said We like the neck on this one with the sleeves on this one. And then we mailed them all off to the manufacturers in China and then they Frankenstein together a shirt for us build out a pattern. Now, this is not the way you manufacture. Cool, this is awesome. Yeah, we learned how to do what's called the tech pack after which is actually the it's like the instruction manual on how to make your clothing when you give to the manufacturer. We now do those because we work with real product developers. But we didn't know at the time, so they got shirts with post it notes. But they were able to understand and then you know, that didn't fit right. So we said okay, look, the sleeves are a little long, you know, the shirt, the bodies a little too boxy. You know, you take this and get a new prototype so so it took us about a year and a half of building this relationship with these manufacturers, alongside building out the campaign. Now, what's amazing about crowdfunding campaigns is I think of the whole thing as like,
it's like a millennial infomercial, you have to put together the all of the value proposition of your brand and beat the viewer over the head with the benefits. It's like, you'll pack later than ever, you'll zip by the luggage carousel, all the stuff we were saying that would promote our product. It not only forced us to refine what our value proposition for a brand was all the branding, it's like we didn't need a business plan. I don't think I don't, I've never written a business plan. The crowdfunding campaign is everything. It's your brand. It's your brand name, and you've got to go develop the product to get it up there, you have to come up with all of your sales, copy, a video, photography, logo, everything. And it's your best pitch of what your product is including the product to sell itself, you price it out there too. So you throw it all up there. You do everything you can to get as much energy behind the campaign as you can as many people on it as many friends and family to get the thing started. And if it works, it works. And I felt if it didn't work, I would be totally okay with that because I tried. I gave my best effort. And if it didn't work, I wouldn't think it was my fault. I would chalk it up to the market doesn't care for this product as much as I did. That's just the reality of the world. But I think because it was so perfect for what I was looking for, I think that made me feel I had a hunch that there's a there's room in the market for this. And what the crowdfunding campaign did more so than give us the money, it gave us the validation that there was a product market fit. So I'm the biggest fan of crowdfunding campaigns as a means of not just starting your business. But validating the idea and finding your initial customer base.
Yeah, just because you have the idea, and you need it or want it doesn't mean everybody else does. But that all goes back, I think, to branding and marketing. And it's just, it's so important. I just got back yesterday from like, I'm traveling for like two weeks, I was in Cabo working, and vacationing and there were a handful of us, and we were in a big house, and it had washer and dryer. And all the girls, we were like, we didn't even touch half the shit that we put, like, next time because we go to Cabo a lot and do like these content creation classes. I think we can get by with a carry on, like a girl with a carry on for two weeks. Like, how is that even freaking possible? But I think like was what you're saying. And then also, you know, if you have a washer and dryer, like why lug a bunch of shit, I'll never forget, I was in Italy with my mom. I've never been to Venice before and we were going. And but we were going to like five or six different cities, I was speaking in a conference there. And I'm like, well, let's just go for three weeks. And she always wanted to go. And I was such an idiot, though. I'm like, here we are getting on these little janky boats with like, all of these bags, and people are staring at us like we're idiots, because we kind of work. But I'm like, there's no reason that we need to travel. But it's like the logic and the way that we think that we need to pack for three weeks as if you can't wash your clothes. But you're saying like your material, even if you can't wash it like you're so good, right? Yeah.
And the idea of how we started with our initial product line was, what few products can we put in someone's bag, that would reduce the most amount of luggage. So they mean, obviously, the t shirt is a big one. Because if you're going away for two weeks, you might think I need 14 shirts. You know what, not only can you pack less, but if you also really think about it, if you have a few core products that you can sort of work, different outfits around. You could have less that way. So let's say two or three different T shirts at different colors, a little lighter one, if it's hot outside a black shirt, you can sort of wear it at night, you can just sort of alternate through your shirts. If you had to wear that shirt many different times, well, you had a pair of shorts, you had a pair of pants, you have a nice watch. Yeah, that you know, you just sort of mix and match things. But your shirt is one of your core products. And if you have 14 of them, or you have three of them, you're only wearing one at a time. So if you have three T shirts that can replace the other 14, then you have way less stuff. So it's just a mentality of focusing now, the way I discovered how to pack lighters, I searched on Google, like how to travel overseas with just a carry on Reddit. And I found Reddit posts. So there's packing lists that are out there where you can sort of see strategies. But yeah, I think if you put a little bit in the thinking ahead of time, you don't need to haul around. You know, some people are like, I might need this, I might need this. I might need that. It's like just spend an extra five minutes. plan this out. You don't need all that stuff. And then and then and then and then you traveled better. Like a being hot, just like you're describing. I was just I haven't been to Venice, but I can picture Venice. And I'm picturing huge bags of Venice and water. Yeah, you're just like, it's like it's just have a little bag or a little rolly carry on that just makes things so much nicer and so much easier. So I mean, ever since this idea came into my head, which was six, six or seven years ago, I've never traveled with more than a carry on. And I've been, you know, overseas in Asia for a couple months. you'd ever need more.
And if you need something, I'm sure you can go buy it. Unless you're on like a little bitty private island where we used to do a lot of events on different little islands and you can't just like run to Target or Walmart or Hobby Lobby or Amazon like they don't deliver there. It's like she's got to get on barges. But most people that travel like you really don't have to think that way. And then if you did need something like they would take a boat over to the mainland and then like, bring it back. Like I needed a steamer one time because I didn't want to pack a big steamer. And like how can you be a five star luxury little island and not have a steamer? I'm confused. But like someone went and got it, you know, it took them a couple hours and brought it back. So But you said it, it's like plan ahead, let wherever you're going, knowing like, what are your needs? And usually they'll have it there for you. Yeah. So you mentioned that you work with your best friend. So how is it running a company with some of your best friends? Because I've heard horror stories, especially being through EO of like horrible divorces of best friends. And then I've heard some amazing stories like an online company with a best friend. And it works because we're so flippin different. And we value what each other bring to the table. But what is your what is your experience been working with your best friends?
My best friends have been Gorman, business partners. I've been we've been like, close since elementary school since the third or fourth grade, third and fourth grade. Wow. And I think it's amazing to work with your best friends. You know, so long as you don't let any kind of ego get in the way. If you really want the best in each other. You want the best for each other. The candor that you have between one another is, you know, it's for the greater good. You know, I could be I, I'll tell you a quick story. I remember one time my business partner was writing an email and I was over at his place. And I said, let's go out and get a beer. Okay, yeah, I'm just gonna finish writing this email. And then I was waiting around like 567 minutes. And I said, Hey, dude, are you are you wrapping up there? And he looks sort of like, you know, furiously writing an email, right? Like, really, he was really, really in it, you know, and I said, we read an email to anyway, he's like, I'm reading it to you. It's an angry one. He wanted to he was mad at something I did. I don't even remember what it was. It was a long time ago. But he was ripping into me and explaining something I did. But he was saying he just wanted to get this out of the way. Because once he sent it, and Carol, I'll I'll read it later. And then we went for a beer. It wasn't mad. Right? Like you, I was waiting for him to finish an angry email to me, which was sensible stuff. He was expressing himself, but because I know, we can still go have a beer, we're still buddies. I take that stuff more seriously. It's like, I want to be collaborative with him in a good way. I want him to like working with me, I want to do well, you know, I have days where I'm doing more than him, I have days when I'm doing less than him. But at the end of the day, we want the best for each other, we challenge each other. And working with your best friends kind of makes it feel like it's not really work. You know, like I could go out for a beer with him and talk about the company. And it's fun, you know, but with my friend, I don't feel like I'm with my, my business partner, we're talking business, I want to go home and hang with, you know, my friends or family or whatever. It feels like fun all the time. I think when it gets bad is if there's any sort of butting of heads. Because ego one person wants to run the show. And they think they're better than the other or you know, it could make another one feel small, really, we're in this together, we have different skills. And we just tried to like really hear each other and be there for each other. And it's an everyday it's just really fun.
That's awesome. I know that some of my friends that I thought were my friends, like when I worked in healthcare, and they would want to come and like work on the weekends, because I thought it was so cool, like the events and the stuff that we were doing. And then they're like, oh, no, people are really high maintenance. And I'm like, Yeah, you're not cut out for hospitality, like people can see right through you. And then I had to like, hire people and start an intern program and like, learn how to run a business. But when it came to my family, my family had a venue for 35 years. And it's like you're my family would never let me down ever. And twice to this day after doing 250 Plus events a year for almost 15 years. Twice my sister called because she would run events and once she was pregnant and she went into labor. I mean, you can't help that. And then another time she called me from the hospital. She was really sick and they didn't know what was wrong with her. And she was like so scared to tell me that she couldn't go run this event. And I'm like, you have to figure out what's wrong with you, like we'll call somebody else in I mean, we we had a large staff then. But I also hear other people and especially being around budget Iovers. Like, again, it's like, they're either in it and their family would never let them down or like, they can't work with their family at all. But there's a lot of family owned businesses out there that like want to pass on the legacy. And I do think and like listening and looking at like a service space industry versus like a product based, do you think that it's easier from a product perspective to like, pass that legacy on? Versus like, a service based industry?
Yes. Yeah, I do. I've been in the service business and the product business. Absolutely. Because there's some, you know, you're, when you, you're in the service business, you, you sell a contract, and you have to do you know, if it's this big, the equal size of what the value of what they paid you, you have to go and execute that with a product. It's like, you create the product, and then you put a marketing effort into, and this sort of, you could set up systems that things get automated. So you can, you know, you don't need to have the constant production going on, you don't have to cons it's a sort of a different beast, I think the service businesses are can be incredible. It's just a lot more, it's a lot more. It's a lot more work. And if you're passionate about it, it's it's unbelievable. What you know, you being involved in some of the things I mean, we did video shoots, and sometimes I'd be on these sets, and I just feel like this is unbelievable. I'm tying my life. Sometimes I'm like, I kind of don't like this gig. And it would change and fluctuate, right? But but with a product business, you're just sort of tinkering with the machine can keep running on its own. So it's sort of a whole different beast.
Yeah. So a lot of people talk about scale. And a lot of our listeners, they asked, they're like, How can I scale this? How can I scale that? So when you're doing direct to consumer, in the business, what would you say is the number one thing that is the most important and how you would scale that business?
What's the number one thing for scaling? A direct consumer business? Yeah, oh, it's hard to distill it down to one, I mean, three, the top three, the most important thing is, you know, if it's an E commerce business, and it's on your website, is your ability to acquire a new customer. So you know that, you know, whatever channels you use, so there's a million ways of doing it, you know, most notably, organic search, SEO, Facebook advertising, word of mouth, email marketing are sort of the big ones. If you could figure out how to acquire a customer profitably, then you can continue to scale that a lot. Because if it's profitable, right out the gate, turn it up as much as you can. Because you could create a lot, a lot more with lifetime value of those customers. But I mean, at the core, it's, I guess it's traffic on your website. Because if you have 1000s of people coming on your website every single day, and no one's buying, you know what the problem is, it's like you're something wrong with your value proposition, your website doesn't work. I think at the core, a lot of a lot of E commerce businesses, the challenge they have is just not getting enough people on the site. But when you have traffic in your site, you've learned to acquire new customers. It's just all of the little things that you could sort of tinker with like today, we were looking at some Google Analytics stuff. And we looked at the the difference in our conversion rate for different pages based on page loading time. So the conversion rate for our one of our most popular pages, which is our t shirt page, for people that the loading is 10 seconds or longer, that conversion rates abysmal. And that's a problem because that loading time, is it really bad. It's really bad. And a lot of people are getting that. For some people. It's under six seconds, and the conversion rate is pretty good. So, you know, we could start to tinker with little things, and well, what a big problem clearly is site speed for this page is the most important page So let's go to our developer and let's try to fix the PageSpeed. And that's a conversion rate thing. So once you have the traffic, you can start figuring out, well, this is working, and this isn't, you know, this piece of copy works. And this doesn't. And it's sort of just Jay putting all the pieces of the puzzle together. But at the core site traffic, that's the number one thing.
Or understanding how to keep a mayor and how to make it easy. And how to make sure, like some of the sites that we have reviewed when and when I asked you like the number one thing, like, it really does come down to like, marketing, getting the traffic there, and then converting them how to how to, and then how to get them to come back. Right. So it's like, not working it that is so important.
At the core, the the most important thing is that you're that people will come back, that you're that you're in the repeat order business, not finding the acquiring a new customer is the most important thing I can think of for building the business. I guess scaling it, but really, it's returning customers, that's the most important thing, because our email marketing depends on them, you know, releasing new products, and it's a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new one. So you have to make sure that the product is really good that people will talk about it and want to come back, because that's how you really scale.
It's so important. So super important. If you have like 1000 fans that buy everything that you have, versus people who you're not sure if they're gonna buy or not. Yeah, it browser. I mean, it's just, it's, it's so different. But looking at the site speed, we were looking at a client site recently, and the different experiences and where the traffic was going and where it was coming from. And their pictures were way too big. And then they had videos living on their site. And like why are you doing that you can pull things in from YouTube or Vimeo or, and not store them on your site. And it's sometimes it is like a simple thing that could make or break if people are going to buy or not. It's so important. So if people want to check out the clothing, where should they go?
Just type in unbound Merino M E ri no into Google, you'll find us you know, we're on Instagram and Twitter and Facebook. But you know, our websites Unbound, marino.com.
Awesome. We'll put all the show links in the show notes so that people can go and check it out. And I'm going to go check it out. Because I'm starting to travel again with the world opening back up and I want to travel with Carrie. Go. So I need to go get some Well, this is awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your story today. And every everyone that's listening and watching thank you for your time go check it out. And let me know what you think if you actually get one of the shirts or what are your other core products and they said the t shirt,
T shirts, sweatshirts button. So we just do menswear right now we're working on our women's line, which is coming out in January, January, February. But yeah, I mean, where we have shorts, and I mean, the product line has really expanded over the past few years and continues to expand. So
that's awesome. So when you do go live with women's wear, let me know and we'll put it out we'll do a blog on it so that all the ladies that are listening, we have a lot of women listeners, then they can go and check it out. So that's exciting. So thank you so much for your time and everybody that's watching and listening. Be sure to tune in next week to another episode of business unveiled by y'all. That's it for this week's episode of business unveiled. Now that you have all the tools that you need to conquer the world and GSD get shit done. Would you share this with your friends and fellow business leaders? One thing that would really really help us and help new listeners is for you to rate the show. And leave a comment and Apple podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you tune in listen to business unveiled. You can check out the show notes at Angela proffitt.com/podcast and link up with us on social media so you can share your biggest insights. And I want to know your aha moments. Until next week, remember the profitable shifts and structures you're creating in your business. help you be more present in your life. So get out there and GSD

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Published: December 16, 2021

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