Archive for eCommerce – Page 2

Sole Men

It’s been said you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but what one shoe company called “Greats” is doing with their new line of product is giving old dogs new kicks and everyone is loving it. CEO Ryan Babenzien set out in 2013 to create a shoe company that would break the traditional model of the shoe industry by creating something that could appeal to a broader market of customers by providing them a product unlike any other in the marketplace. Babenzien says “Let’s pick the greatest silhouettes in men’s sneakers and footwear, and design our DNA into them.” The company accomplishes this by combing old school leathers and colors with new styles for a one of a kind design.

By marketing to customers directly online, Greats lowers the cost of their product significantly. Where one leather shoe that would retail at a high-end department store for over 500 dollars, it can now retail for somewhere in the region of 100 dollars. The company really saw potential in taking tow different concepts, and combining them in a way that created something entirely new. Consumers also appreciate the product, and by 2015 the company expects to make somewhere in the region of 5 to 7 million dollars next year, proving to the industry that classic shoe styles never die, but their “soles” live forever.

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Blue Apron: A better way to cook

In 2011, investment firm associate, Matt Salzberg, and his computer programmer friend, Ilia Papas, decided that they wanted to create a business.  After quitting their jobs, they tried to establish several different start-ups, but they were all unsuccessful.  It wasn’t until they drew upon their combined love of food and cooking that they found success.  As Salzberg stated, they both “liked trying new ingredients, new recipes, new techniques, but [they] found it really inaccessible to cook at home.  It was expensive, it was time-consuming and it was difficult to find recipes that [they] trusted.”

Blue Apron

Their company, Blue Apron, named after the aprons French chef apprentices wear, was able to solve these common problems associated with cooking and trying new recipes.  Blue Apron develops delicious new gourmet recipes for its subscribers to try and creates videos on how to make the recipe.  The ingredients needed to make the meal are measured and sent to the user so there is no waste involved.  All of the food comes delivered that day in refrigerated boxes.  Some examples of recipes for this week are North African-spiced shrimp and couscous or mushroom brown butter cavatelli – food most people wouldn’t dare try to make on their own.  Check out their website and other menu options here !

Salzberg and Papas had no experience in the food industry, so they enlisted the help of a family friend, Matthew Wadiak.  Wadiak had worked as a wholesaler of truffles and avocados and was familiar with the food industry.  He became Blue Apron’s food expert and COO, while Salzberg became the CEO and Papas the chief technical officer.  This diverse founding team was key to the company’s success.  Each person had very different backgrounds and talents, which allowed the company to pursue more opportunities early in the founding process.  It also allowed them to access very different networks in which to market their idea.

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Since its start with only some family and friends as customers, Blue Apron has expanded significantly.  They now ship more than 5 million meals per month across the United States!  After being in business for only 3 years, Blue Apron is worth more than a billion dollars!  Clearly, they were able to identify a common problem and provide an easy (and delicious!) solution!

Millionaire at 16

Owens was inspired to get into the business world by the former CEO of Apple, Steve Jobs. At age seven Christian Owens received his first computer. Then at the age of ten he taught himself how to web design. By the time Owens was 14 he had created his own companies by the names of Mac Bundle Box and Branchr. Mac Bundle Box was the first venture website Owens had created.

Mac Bundle Box was created to make it cheaper for consumers to buy popular Mac applications. Owens made this possible by selling these applications in a bundle rather than the applications being sold by themselves. This new way to sell apps had great early success by pulling in $700,000 in its first two years.

Owens then used the money earned from Mac Bundle Box to launch another company named Branchr. Branchr is an advertising pay-per-click company that Owens launched only a year after Mac Bundle Box. It works as a stage for owners of websites to sell advertising, and for business owners to buy this advertising. In its first year Branchr brought in a whopping $500,000. Combining this with the success from Mac Bundle Box is what made Owens a millionaire by the age of 16.  Branchr now has over 11,000 clients and sells more than 250 million advertisements a month.

Even with the success of his two businesses Owens does not plan to stop anytime soon. Owens plans to become the top name in mobile advertising and the top name in the internet world.

She Reads Truth

She Reads Truth LogoThe idea of She Reads Truth began in 2012 with a few godly women who wanted to help girls get into God’s word daily. In 2014, She Reads Truth became more official and launched a website and an app. They wanted to help foster a community of women committed to growing closer to Jesus by reading His Word. She Reads Truth is a daily blog of devotionals that are either written on one book of the Bible or on a topic, such as Advent or Lent. She Reads Truth is also an e-commerce store selling beautiful devotional books that mirror the daily blog, creative prints and other merchandise that help bring women closer to the Bible.

She Reads Truth Prints

I discovered She Reads Truth on Instagram with their lovely images of daily Scripture verses and other truths. I was intrigued by their social media, so I visited their website and was drawn in by the clean design and by the truth they were sharing in their devotionals. She Reads Truth is the first model I have seen that merged a website, an app and social media to get women studying the Bible and interacting with each other. She Reads Truth is able to offer free devotionals because of the support they receive in their e-commerce store which supplements their blog. Each time I scroll down to the comment section, I feel like I am a part of a vast community of fellow believers.

She Reads Truth is a high touch entrepreneurial business. It is more than a website and an app, it is helping women all over the world pursue meaning and purpose in their lives. I would encourage you to check out their website and start exploring what they offer. And if you are a guy, you are in luck, they just launched He Reads Truth this past month, so go check it out!

The Beauty of Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter provide tons of help for small businesses in raising capital and getting their name into people heads. However, one idea by a young entrepreneur took this business for a spin when Indiegogo was created in 2008 by Slava Rubin. Being a graduate from Wharton University, Rubin is the Co-founder and CEO of Indiegogo- one of the first and now largest crowdfunding websites on the internet.

The site runs on a rewards-based system, meaning donors, investors, or customers who are willing to help fund a project or product can donate and receive a gift, rather than an equity stake in the company. However, Rubin has stated that the company is interested in moving towards equity funding in the future once laws around it become clearer in the U.S.

In 2014, Indiegogo launched Indiegogo Life, a service that people can use to raise money for emergencies, medical expenses, celebrations, or other life events. Since Indiegogo Life does not charge a platform fee, fundraisers keep more of the money they raise. Indiegogo Life is a great example of forward-thinking from CEO Slava Rubin and really displays the customer-satisfying and personal direction he wants to take his company, which I really admire.

By the end of this year, it is predicted that global crowdfunding sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter will double annual revenues, to $6 billion worldwide. Under Rubin, Indiegogo has become a leader in web-based crowdfunding, having raised $15M in Series A funding from Insight Venture Partners and Kohsla Ventures a year ago. Rubin has played an influential role in working with the White House and helping to finalize the rules and regulations for equity crowdfunding in the United States.

Recapping, Slava Rubin is an extremely inspirational and successful millennial entrepreneur and his company continues to grow larger day after day. I found it very interesting learning more about his story and young business. I also explored Indiegogo and found some crazy product ideas and absolutely loved seeing all of these people who invest and help kickstart other businesses. Check out the link below if you want to do some exploring too!

https://www.indiegogo.com

 

 

Freaky Fast Food

For the last decade, Amazon has claimed the title of king of the online shopping world. With the company seeing 2 billion orders from customers in the past 2014 fiscal year, they dominate the online market. While Amazon continues to announce further upgrades and innovations to their overall experience, the process of implementation and usage has been another matter, and many, smaller, smarter, and ambitious companies are hungry to accommodate customers in light of Amazon’s failures.

Putting a spin on Amazon’s concept, young millennial entrepreneur Max Mullen started Instacart in 2012 to provide customers with a simple and quick option for buying their groceries online. Mullen, who studied entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California in Los Angles, created a startup that partnered with stock grocery warehouses, and a fleet of branded vehicles  to deliver the goods to customers on an order basis. In some cases, the delivery occurred within 12 minutes of the customers order! Investors quickly took notice of Max’s success, as by 2014 he received a 2 billion dollar valuation, and had already expanded to 15 major metropolitan areas.

Grocers are recognizing the power of the application as well, as customers purchase 2.5 times more product when shopping online. The software predicts similar grocery items the shopper may want, and as such has improved impulse buying for all grocery chains involved with the app. Instacart is already looking to innovate, as in April they added Petco to their retail roster. Instacart has realized that they can be so much more than just a grocery service, and is looking to the future in hopes to provide a better and quicker service than many of the larger online shopping companies.

Max Mullen showed the world that innovation doesn’t have to be an idea that nobody else has stumbled upon, on the contrary, he saw the need to improve on something that was already good, but could be made better with some slight tweaking. Just like the grocery market, there are other industries begging to be improved by the right person. Mullen defied those who said his idea would never work, and pushed through until he could claim success.

#SophiaAmoruso

Success stories come in all shapes and sizes. For Sophia Amoruso it came in the form of vintage women’s clothing. This one time dumpster diver has managed to transform herself into a very successful, yet very down to earth, entrepreneur through sheer guts, tenacity, and innovation.

This brilliant story starts with a very common occurrence in the lives of many entrepreneurs, a side project. Sophia Amoruso managed an Ebay page named Nasty Gal that sold vintage clothing that were salvation army rejects. Eventually she dropped her day job scanning ID cards at the local community college and started to focus on Nasty Gal. Her business toke off. When the time came to move to her own site, www.shopnastygal.com, she had her Ebay page suspended for promoting the new site. Regardless of this minor hick-up she sold out of merchandise on the first day.

How did Sophia create such a demand so early in her career? She found a fabulous niche market for what she had, vintage. During her Ebay days she also discovered an interesting phenomenon in humans: they prefer to see an article of clothing on a human being rather than lying on the ground. It may sound simple to us now, however, in the day she was working it was very common for no model to be used to sell a piece of clothing. With this competitive advantage and a thoroughly fantastic niche market she was able to drive the demand that she saw on the opening day of her new site.

What has Sophia done since that first day? Simple, she has grown her company into a multimillion dollar company, one that reaped 100 million dollars in last year- profitable, and has had one of the single most explosive growth rates in the last decade. She has published #GIRLBOSS a hybrid memoir and business text. The vast majority of this text is devoted to her adolescence with common sense business lessons sown in like stitching on a sweater. Sophia Amoruso is certainly a #GIRLBOSS.#girlboss

Coinbase

Ehrsam is a 25 year old Duke graduate who worked as an asset manager and investor for Goldman Sachs before he founded his company. His company is named Coinbase, it is essentially a virtual wallet for Bitcoin. It functions the same way as Pay Pal but uses a different currency. Bitcoin for those of you who do not know, is a new form of virtual currency. It is used globally and about $1.5 Billion worth of Bitcoins are in circulation. The major problem with Bitcoin is that it is very volatile, when the new currency was introduced, it was valued at $1200, now it is down to just over $330. Ehrsam is working to help provide more security to Coinbase users by allowing the user to instantly sell the Bitcoins when they are received to avoid deflation and the varying prices. Coinbase, makes it easier for companies to make large payments more easily as well as make transactions with foreign companies and dealing with exchange rates. Coinbase is available in 19 different countries as of now and is looking to expand. Ehrsam is attempting to make Bitcoin more mainstream. He has used the same model as Pay Pal but has put his own spin on it, Coinbase

allows the user to save their Bitcoins using the vault portion of the app. The vault is set up in a way that the currency can be stored safely, as well as allowing you and your business partner, or whoever you share the account with to cosign withdrawals digitally to avoid users to make unauthorized withdrawals. There are about 37,000 business that trust and accept Bitcoin, but the problem is that there are not enough users of this new currency. I’m interested to see where this business takes Ehrsam. Coinbase has almost 2 million users so far and is the “World’s most popular Bitcoin service.” Pay Pal is very successful and Elon Musk has moved on to bigger and better things, I’m wondering if Ehrsam will do the same, and his company will keep expanding, or if Coinbase will fail because of Bitcoin’s unpopularity and constantly changing exchange value.

Kiip Them ads Coming

Brian Wong

Brian Wong CEO of Kiip

At the age of 18 Brian Wong had skipped 4 grades and graduated from college.  At 20 he was listed in Forbes 30 under 30 , named one of the top 5 young entrepreneurs by Mashables, and is one of the youngest people to have ever received money from a venture capital firm.  Wong was on the fast track and after losing his job after only 5  months after graduating Wong turned this misfortune into a multi-million dollar idea.  In 2010 Wong founded Kiip, a marketing company that gives tangible rewards for virtual success.  Wong’s brilliant plan hit him while in an airport while people watching.  What he noticed was that everyone was either “pretending to work” or playing a game on their phone.  What he realized was that ads had been appearing at the worst possible time.  As one reaches pure ecstasy as they win that baseball game or feels so smart after debunking a challenging candy crush level these ads were appearing! Its as if their prize for finally conquering the pesky boss was the opportunity to be bombarded by ads.  What Wong saw was an opportunity to turn that thrill of virtual success and capitalize off of it.  Wong’s company Kiip, (pronounced “keep’), partners with companies, such as Disney, Gatorade, and Pepsi, as well as apps and app developers to create in game achievements that allow for real world rewards.  For example a runner who just completes a 5 mile run and records it in RunKeeper may receive a free bottle of Propel.  Or maybe you finally eclipse level 1oo in candy crush and you may have just been rewarded with a free bag of sour patch kids.  In essence Wong has joined together some of our favorite things in life, winning and free stuff, and has launched the marketing and advertising business in a whole new direction.  I believe that this idea of Kiip is going to become the new way of advertising as the digital age becomes more and more prevalent.   Wong makes his money on a cost-per-engagement (CPE) basis, such as when a user submits an e-mail address to claim a reward (as 25 million have done so far). Kiip typically earns 30 cents to $3 per CPE, depending on targeting criteria, and splits the fee 50-50 with developers. The company reaches 10 million active users daily, up from 4 million last year; annual revenue is between $10 million and $20 million.   At the ripe old age of 23 Brian Wong has forever changed the way we advertise and has made a nice little chunk of change doing it.  In the mean time be on the look out for those kiip rewards who knows your mad candy crush skills may finally pay off!

Pradux-Linking You and Me to Societies’ Top Icons

Ever seen an athlete, artist, actor or any other icon and wish you could share their wardrobe with them? Alex Koblenz sure has. In fact, it happened to him just a few years ago.  Alex was at a Jay-Z concert and loved what HOVA was wearing.  Upon returning home, he spent hours pouring through the internet trying to discover what Jay-Z had on during the concert. Unfortunately, he was unable to find it.  His frustration turned into an ingenious business idea. His problem needed a solution. A thus came about the founding of Pradux.

Pradux is a website that allows users to browse products they see in their favorite magazines, on the web, on  TV, and in blogs. His site possesses a plethora of products from fashion to food, art, electronics, sports and more. The website is based of thousands of databases from popular TV shows to movies and iconic figures in pop culture.

Pradux is a very intriguing company from a business standpoint.  It allows users to submit the products that they see on TV and in the world.  In this manner, it works much like any popular social media site like Instagram or Twitter.  Every time a user engages a posted product, they receive a point.  These points add up and eventually unlock experiences with the brands on the website.  If someone buys a posted item, the user who posted that item splits the commission with Pradux 50/50. Over the course of the next five years, Alex sees Pradux being not only able to bridge the gap between, but also blend social, retail and entertainment into one ultimate experience.

In a society so caught up in current economic turmoil, Koblenz is a glimmering light of hope in the business world.  His positive attitude drives his business and innovation. “Never quit,” he insists, “always keep moving forward. Always try to find some type of positive each day, however small it is, to keep the momentum going.”

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