We Began a $174K/Yr Social Commerce Platform Throughout Lockdown –

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Good day! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

We’re Paige Patten & Dan Hubbard, a few duo from Auckland, New Zealand. Our enterprise is a social commerce platform referred to as FriendsWith designed for the modern-day shopper.

Our app incorporates all the mandatory options of a social media photo-sharing platform with commerce and an affiliate rewards program. FriendsWith is a one-of-a-kind platform for premium style & way of life manufacturers.

The mannequin of the app attracts customers by providing an interactive approach of purchasing with social profiles, range, and actual content material. Customers are incentivized to buy and share photograph content material of their purchases to encourage additional gross sales and rewards.

We accomplice with premium style & way of life manufacturers to deliver a singular and forward-thinking new platform. What units FriendsWith aside from an everyday on-line market is our built-in affiliate rewards program that permits all customers to grow to be paid creators simply from sharing fascinating high-quality content material.

We hook up with virtually any of the principle on-line retailer platforms, sync merchandise and orders in real-time, permitting our distributors to function as they usually would, our distributors have full management over stock, orders, and achievement. Whereas we offer two extra gross sales channels for his or her model and a brand new viewers. As a result of our distinctive enterprise mannequin, our customers are advertising our vendor’s merchandise without spending a dime and creating publicity and hype round particular merchandise by eye-catching content material.

We take a fee of simply 10% – 14% with all transaction charges inclusive.

Our product is primarily centered on the client. We give purchasing fanatics the flexibility to begin a aspect hustle with no overheads, start-up prices, inventory, or giant quantities of time. The concept is to easily submit as you’ll on different types of social media, however choose content material related to what you are attempting to advertise. We encourage customers to be inventive, daring, and insightful. We would like them to share styling suggestions, dimension guides; Something worthwhile that may construct belief with their followers and assist them throughout the road in buying the identical merchandise from this person’s hyperlink.

To grow to be a FriendsWith ‘influencer’ you merely want a telephone, an curiosity in style/running a blog, and an entrepreneurial mindset.

Since launching the app we had a 300% enhance in app customers and estimate to usher in $200,000 in income for the following monetary 12 months. We hope to extend our income and person base exponentially and grow to be the main platform in our area of interest.

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company
how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company
how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

What’s your backstory and the way did you provide you with the thought?

We reached a degree in our careers the place we have been feeling unfulfilled and underwhelmed. We’ve at all times had an entrepreneurial mindset and have each beforehand owned small companies, however this time we wished to do one thing collectively that will make the most of each of our expertise and create full-time work for us each in a satisfying and satisfying atmosphere. Quick ahead two years and that’s precisely what we’ve achieved.

We had been doing a little soul looking out when New Zealand reached our first ever degree 4 lockdown. Throughout this pandemic and compelled go away, we had much more time on our palms to guage and brainstorm what we wished for our future. That is the place the thought of friendswith App was born. The corporate has considerably advanced because the concepts stage (we’re each overachievers) nevertheless now we have managed to remain true to the preliminary idea and values behind the corporate.

You want to crunch the numbers, giant or little, they at all times add up. You want to work on a finances and make calculated selections.

Our excessive expectations and drive, led to us throwing EVERYTHING at this concept. We imagine in it 100% and have backed it with all the things now we have.

Dan’s background is in development, beforehand proudly owning a profitable development firm constructing luxurious properties. While he initially studied Science with a level majoring in Arithmetic and Statistics, he has carried these expertise by each amount surveying in addition to aiding in his now, very broad coding and growth expertise. Dan is self taught in his coding. friendswith was not his first app growth (he had beforehand labored on creating an app, which he selected to not launch resulting from {industry} laws in NZ) due to this challenge that he labored relentlessly on, and was what led to his broad expertise in XCode, he largely discovered develop the options FriendsWith App has right this moment.

Whereas engaged on this challenge, Dan had a realization that doing what you like is so vital and he wished to be spending these hours on one thing he was genuinely enthusiastic about with numerous dimensions, for each himself & Paige as a crew.

Dan has a really business-focused mindset, he can see the place the enterprise must be and the way we’re going to get there. The app is his child, he has spent numerous hours/days/nights/years creating the app singlehandedly into the product we see right this moment.

Paige has a background in Accounts, Retail, and Gross sales – all aiding in her function inside FriendsWith because the inventive director. That is the place our crew compliments each other. Paige has a inventive and ahead outlook on all points of the enterprise. She places on many hats each day together with overseeing design, the buying agent, packing and fulfilling orders, onboarding of retail companions, styling, social media administration, and extra.

The whole world is transferring in the direction of an internet-based actuality. The web has modified the world and has impacted the best way we talk with one another, the best way we devour information, and naturally the best way we store. Bodily retail has seen a large decline lately because it has grow to be overshadowed by a brand new strategy to store – Social Commerce. That’s the reason we imagine our idea can solely thrive on this present Market of social shoppers.

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how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

Take us by the method of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.

With a whole lot of time on our palms (thanks lockdown), we managed to attract all the wireframe on paper, in addition to draw plans for a way particular capabilities may go throughout the app to validate the thought of constructing an utility firstly, as a substitute of a web site.

It was then time to leap on the pc. We labored alongside a enterprise mentor who assisted in helpful instruments, the client journey, brainstorming, and recommendation as being so near the challenge we wanted an out of doors perspective.

We did a whole lot of analysis and outreach whereas nonetheless preserving our playing cards shut. We mentioned timelessly with family and friends the idea and whether or not or not they might use a platform like FriendsWith.

It was then after a whole lot of optimistic suggestions that we pulled the set off and jumped in weapons blazing. Dan was coding endlessly, unable to maintain his eyes off the display screen. If he wasn’t typing vigorously, he was researching new frameworks or strategies to verify the code was clear and the applying efficiency was optimized. It needed to be good!

As the event course of continued, new concepts would pop into our heads and we’d race to jot them down. Generally this may occur throughout the day however normally, it was late at evening whereas in mattress, we might pull out our notepads and write down pages and pages of concepts. The app was all we might take into consideration, it was consuming.

The UI has had many faces throughout growth. There’s something about shade and patterns that may grow to be a bit of unsettling once you have a look at the display screen for 12 hours a day, every single day of the week. Our design is minimalistic, clear and fashionable. With all the joy and enjoyable present in our customers’ content material and shops!

Don’t be afraid of being a failure, be afraid of being common. “You’ll at all times miss 100% of the photographs you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

By the point we have been prepared to check it, we have been ecstatic as a result of we had lastly been in a position to expertise what we had envisioned and deliberate on paper over a 12 months earlier than truly launching. This sense is unimaginable except you may have launched a enterprise your self, it looks like this extremely loopy race to the end line. It includes continuous planning, scheduling, designing, and last-minute refinements.

To then lastly, present everybody what you may have spent all this time engaged on, it’s only a surreal feeling of accomplishment, success, aid, and anxiousness. The half that didn’t even cross our minds was the minute you launch your corporation is the minute all the things you knew previous to that adjustments, you’re then formally in your subsequent section of enterprise.

We had an preliminary finances of NZD 20,000 to construct this product, but when we add up all the prices comparable to residing prices, our time, logos, subscriptions, branding, web site constructing, search engine marketing, and ASO, we might estimate we went 4 instances over finances.

Budgeting for us was extraordinarily tough. We couldn’t have anticipated the prices concerned or predicted what we actually wanted with a purpose to maximize FriendsWith till we have been proper in the midst of it. You at all times begin with the fundamentals and to an extent, you’ll be able to get a good thought of the outgoings, however startup prices are virtually at all times greater than you anticipate.

I feel with expertise and all the things altering so steadily we have been consistently chasing new updates, options and concepts previous to the launch, in addition to buying inventory and product strains. Due to this, we did push the launch date backward and in return, it value us extra.

In saying that, we do imagine it’s vital to launch your product once you actually really feel prepared, we by no means wished the execution to let down our potential prospects. You need to begin with the standard and imaginative and prescient you intend to proceed with for the way forward for your corporation.

After we look again at what now we have achieved we imagine it’s far higher than the cash spent.

Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

Our launch was an extremely in depth race to the end line, we had labored on the event for what felt like perpetually and by the launch date in August 2020, we have been SO able to lastly present everybody what we had created.

The app had already been accepted by Apple, however many different components wanted to be thought-about earlier than we launched. The launch marketing campaign was all deliberate and executed in-house, we had exhausted our finances by this level and nonetheless wanted cash for advertising so we selected to launch on fairly a low-key scale.

We deliberate a launch get together which initially was to incorporate our partnering distributors and household & pals nevertheless resulting from Covid and the restrictions on the time we thought it was greatest to do an at-home launch occasion with shut family and friends and have fun that last stage of our enterprise – to launch the app!

On the primary day of launch, we reached the highest 50 apps on the app retailer for New Zealand. This was fairly unimaginable for us and we have been thrilled with the promising begin.

It has taken fairly a while to achieve our first 1000 customers, however we nonetheless have a 5.0/5.0 ranking on the app retailer, so we’re pleased with the standard of the product and are happy realizing our prospects benefit from the app as effectively.

We had funded all the enterprise with our financial savings. No loans, No funding. We sacrificed our dwelling deposit for this enterprise and we have been lastly there.

The most important lesson we discovered from our start-up is that you might want to crunch the numbers, giant or little, they at all times add up. You want to work on a finances and make calculated selections.

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company
how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain prospects?

Since launching the FriendsWith App now we have experimented with numerous strategies to draw and retain prospects. We had began with the standard method, i.e. google adverts, Fb adverts, and e mail advertising, however we weren’t seeing a promising return on funding.

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company
how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company
how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

We discover natural movies on TikTok are nice. TikTok’s algorithm is streets forward of different social media platforms, so we are able to attain our potential prospects with out the big advert spend. Whereas we don’t have a big following but, the TikTok group is our goal demographic, assured, prepared to share, inventive, and vibrant with their content material creation.

We’ve two primary gross sales funnels being the FriendsWith Market web site and the FriendsWith App:

  • Our web site operates like a conventional market, offering a number of manufacturers for purchasers to browse and merchandise for Males, Girls, and Kids.
  • Our cell utility operates as a brand new idea of social commerce, i.e. our personal social media platform with a built-in affiliate rewards program.

Whereas social media is taking up our app incorporates all options essential to attraction to this technology of tech-savvy shoppers. The FriendsWith App gives a platform for customers to create their profiles, store our merchandise and add content material to both promote merchandise they already personal or merchandise bought throughout the app. Our affiliate rewards program rewards customers for all shared content material that conjures up one other person’s buy or engagement with the linked merchandise. Our distinctive method is what units us aside from different marketplaces.

We quickly realized it takes a whole lot of educating and strolling customers by the method to permit them to totally perceive use the applying. Due to this, we included our web site to grow to be the principle entry for our gross sales funnel and now use our cell utility as a retention device.

This has meant we get prospects and potential customers to make purchases by our common on-line retailer (which additionally opens up our viewers to everybody, quite than simply iPhone customers) we then ship them an e mail following their buy, to clarify and encourage them to hitch the FriendsWith App and earn from their purchases. We’ve additionally added particulars to our web site to clarify the app and hopefully encourage our web site guests to hitch.

The concept of a buyer with the ability to become profitable after they make a purchase order is the important thing gross sales level for our mannequin.

A person’s profile acts as a storefront, nevertheless, the person doesn’t want any stock, subscriptions, or to meet orders. They merely make a submit, hyperlink a product, after which share their FriendsWith hyperlink to any social media platform the place they’ve essentially the most engagement/following and watch their rewards develop. In our opinion, that is the best retention device.

To make the web site the principle entry level for our prospects, now we have partnered with an search engine marketing specialist firm to enhance natural search in addition to create our linktree impressed web page inside our web site to extend our general site visitors.

By chopping out companies like linktree, you chop out an entire step within the buyer’s journey. As soon as a buyer clicks your hyperlink, they’re immediately visiting your web site the place your shoppable content material is.

See instance:

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

How are you doing right this moment and what does the longer term appear like?

We’re at the moment specializing in development. With out adverts, we’re attaining roughly 100 prospects a day for our web site. Our focus is to enormously enhance this site visitors to permit our gross sales funnel to work in full drive.

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

As a result of we’re primarily a market, we owe it to our distributors to drive site visitors to reveal their manufacturers. Our imaginative and prescient is to develop into an industry-leading market/ social media platform specializing in style & way of life; a one-stop-shop for inspiration, social interplay, rewards, and an general elevated purchasing expertise unseen earlier than!

The principle purpose, which I am positive you possibly can all relate to, is to consistently rank on Google’s 1st web page.

We’ve gained over 16k followers on TikTok inside 1 – 2 months and are planning on reaching 100 ok by the top of the 12 months. We are going to proceed to make use of this as our major technique for buyer acquisition as it’s low cost and permits us to maintain our vendor fee very low.

We work carefully with our manufacturers and we are going to proceed to take action. We would like our manufacturers to develop with us. We plan to construct our software program to work in-store for our distributors with brick-and-mortar storefronts. It will work by sending transportable kiosks to every retailer to permit customers to buy from our social media feed whereas nonetheless being within the bodily retailer. This lets prospects view the objects in actual life digitally whereas modeled and styled by prospects/on a regular basis individuals.

There are MANY different thrilling developments deliberate for FriendsWith within the close to future and we can not wait to share this journey with you all.

how-the-pandemic-made-us-start-a-174k-year-company

Via beginning the enterprise, have you ever discovered something notably useful or advantageous?

We’ve discovered {that a} gradual burn in enterprise just isn’t a nasty factor. We dwell in a world with fast-evolving expertise and if your corporation depends in your expertise to maintain up, then that expertise must be optimized for scaling.

Our recommendation is that you simply should not rush to market. Just be sure you are comfortable along with your product and that your message is obvious. In case your buyer doesn’t perceive your product throughout the first 5 seconds, then they are going to go away. This unclarity can even have an effect on the long-term success of your corporation.

We use the method of repetition. We consistently repeat what we do as an organization and why we’re so totally different. A buyer must see your model and thought a number of instances earlier than they’re sufficient to look additional into it. For instance after we discuss our enterprise whether or not it’s to press, on social media, in video content material, to distributors or family and friends the phrases and message are the identical. You will note now we have key messages and wording it must be constant.

This may be achieved by creating a number of TikTok movies with comparable content material or having your promoting campaigns span over a number of promoting platforms. We stand by repeating the message time and again.

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What platform/instruments do you employ for your corporation?

We use:

What have been essentially the most influential books, podcasts, or different assets?

Our largest affect comes from Man Raz and his podcast titled How I Constructed This, the place Man interviews well-known founders. They dive into all the things from methodology to the mindsets of every founder.

This resonates with us as a result of it exhibits these profitable founders as common individuals, like us who’re simply attempting their hardest. They’ve had many setbacks, skilled imposter syndrome, and failed on many events. This simply humanizes the individuals behind these companies and allows you to know that it’s not all clean crusing for anybody.

It reassures us that we’re doing what we should be doing and that setbacks are merely hurdles for us to beat. We’ve discovered to understand the journey greater than the vacation spot.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?

Our prime tip can be to easily give it a go and have enjoyable with it! Whilst you’re at it, it doesn’t harm to do the next:

  • Calculate the danger to reward.
  • Do your analysis.
  • Begin with an MVP.
  • Validate your thought in its easiest kind.
  • Use Bubble.io to prototype.
  • Encompass your self with individuals who can encourage you and assist deliver your concepts to life.

Simply know that it will not be simple. If it was simple, then everybody would do it. However be persistent. Be accepting of suggestions of all types. It’s going to aid you refine your product or prevent from pouring hundreds of {dollars} into one thing that might not be possible.

Don’t be afraid of being a failure, be afraid of being common. “You’ll at all times miss 100% of the photographs you don’t take.” – Wayne Gretzky

Are you trying to rent for sure positions proper now?

We’re so pleased with the progress FriendsWith is making, and can’t wait to increase our crew! Whereas we’re at the moment not trying to increase our crew, there might be a chance within the close to future and we’d love to listen to from you in case you assume FriendsWith appears like a very good match for you. Please ship your resume to [email protected]

We’re at all times trying to increase and onboard new distributors. If you’re a model with style/way of life merchandise and need to be part of our platform, please use the beneath hyperlink to use!

Be part of FriendsWith Right here

The place can we go to be taught extra?

You probably have any questions or feedback, drop a remark beneath!


 

Paige & Daniel
 
Founding father of FriendsWith restricted

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