MixedMade is a business that stems from a unique combination of two people, intent on bringing products made of unique combinations to the masses. Our first product, Bees Knees Spicy Honey, is the result of many late night sessions of pizza, beer and whiskey shared between an entrepreneur and a gourmet hipster.
MixedMade began as a learning project to test and prove that it has never been easier to start and launch your own business than it is today. Given today’s light and fast tools – Shopify, Shipping Easy, Xero, etc. – there is no longer a good excuse for taking no action when it comes to one’s entrepreneurial aspirations. Further, we wanted to dispel some of the creation myth and secrecy around the startup process to inspire others to finally give it a shot. So, we have blogged with complete transparency – margins, equity, mistakes, etc. – to create a reference guide for others considering embarking on their very first venture.
Oh, and by the way, we decided to go from zero to launched in just 30 days to increase the intensity, learning, and inspiration!
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We almost got our first sale from a Shopify support person who was helping answer questions while setting up our site. However, they were shortly beat by a few friends of friends, who came flocking to place pre-orders based on just one post to my personal Facebook page. This was a great proof point in the power of social media and scalable word of mouth that exists today.
Now, a few months later, our reach has expanded beyond direct connections. After we got Bees Knees Spicy Honey into the hands of some food bloggers and food stylists, we have seen orders coming from all over the country, and even from other countries!
Given so much local demand around Brooklyn and New York, we have also started working with a few small retailers who are providing good scale and volume sales. Not wanting to invest into another platform, we serve some of these retailers with a unique discount code so they can place their wholesale orders through our Shopify site.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Since part of our mission was to prove the possibility to go light and fast, we have prioritized testing how much of the heavy lifting could be done by apps and services. One key end goal is to get as much of our operations as possible on auto-pilot.
Our website / ecommerce was built on and is hosted on Shopify – it looks great given that we have never coded or built a website before. We use Carry The One to pull a greater amount of financial and customer info into our accounting system, Xero. We set rules in Xero so the vast majority of our accounting is hands-off. Our shipping management is done with a 1-2 combo of Shipping Easy and a Dymo 4XL label printer (if you don’t have one, stop reading this and get one now!). We integrated Yotpo with our website for automated customer reviews, integrated Disqus with our blog for easy interactive commenting, communicate with our customers and followers via MailChimp and manage to keep our social media organized with Buffer.
We love Canva for designing pretty things (without having to know Illustrator) and Hemingway as our very own personal editor for writing blog posts. Of course, we use Google Apps for our company email, internal shared drives and analytics. The best part is that ALL of these tools are available for FREE – $30/month!
We will soon be testing the affordability of outsourcing our fulfillment entirely by using either Fulfillment by Amazon or Shipwire.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
1. Inaction leads to failure more often than wrong action. You should have a plan, but you MUST begin taking action ASAP. The faster you can get into the real world and begin getting feedback and honest reaction from real customers, the faster you can adjust and build something meaningful.
2. Time spent doesn’t equal value created. As a new business owner, it is natural to want to perfect every decision. But you must continually ask yourself “Is the time I’m spending on this necessary for creating impact and getting me closer to success?” If the answer isn’t a strong yes, then make an immediate decision based on the information at hand, and move on to the critical tasks.
3. The big secret of entrepreneurship is that every successful entrepreneur is, or was at some point in time, just figuring it out as they went. Don’t be afraid when you don’t know all the answers. Instead, try something and see how it works. When you make a mistake figure out what went wrong, make an adjustment, and try again.