Sake Social

While at a telecommunications startup in LA, I decided to do something dramatically different and start a luxury ecomm website.

I fell in love with sake over the years by traveling to Japan to visit my brother who ran Gorilla Glass for Corning in Tokyo. I saw an opportunity where there was very limited options to buy sake other than the typical options at the local grocer or sushi restaurants.

One night, I bought the domain, launched the store, and the rest is history. I painstakingly: worked through the license to sell alcohol online and across state lines, sourced premium sake out of Japan, found an outsourced warehouse, use Shopify on the front-end and Netsuite on the back-end, and now own all things SEO relating to sake.

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How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Through content marketing and Adwords, I have built an interesting business and have double digit growth year over year dating back to 2009. By far my largest channel is organic search.

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?

I use Shopify on the front-end and Netsuite on the back-end to manage finances/inventory.

I did some custom API's to my 3rd party warehouse that picks, packs, ships every hour on the hour for sake purchases. Once a package ships (within 24 hours of placed order), they send an automated email with a UPS tracking number. Very scalable/slick system we have built. I have also integrated a number of apps via the Shopify store to increase rev/sales.

What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?

With very little risk, time, effort, you can get a store up and selling product through Shopify. All you need is a small budget to get started on Adwords and you are off and running.

I advise/invest/sit on the board of a number of companies (including being a mentor with TechStars and Capital Factory in Austin) and tell them how Shopify has killed it for me.

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