Startup Challenge, Week 8 – The End (of the Beginning)

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We developed our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided to launch the week of 10/8 – 10/14

Now, for the newest updates:

 

Post Analysis

The work that we’ve been building up to for eight weeks is finally done! On Tuesday, October 9th at approximately 10:30am, the first official season of BOYS DON’T CRY LLC launched. At the end of the day I’m glad it got done – and I’m also glad that the shirts actually turned out relatively good. Anyway, since this is a pretty small launch, there’s not a lot of analysis to go over, but I did promise it and so we are going to go through a few points.

Sales and Traction

Our total number of sales for the first week of the launch is an epic, phenomenal, whopping… zero. Which, if you’ve ever launched something for the first time (like I have) more than not that’s what’s to be expected. Unless you’ve gotten previous traction (or have a budget, like I did not), more often than not you’re in it for the long game. I knew this going in, so there’s very little disappointment here – overall my prediction for December 31st is to have at least 2-3 sales.

What’s really impressive here is how much traction the BDC twitter got in such a short time. Using some simple growth strategies, BDC broke 100 followers about twice as fast as the Astukagaming twitter did. In terms of other statistics, we got about 2.4k impressions over the month (pretty standard from what I can tell) and got about a 6.6% engagement rate which is actually really nice. And yet, I still see something to be desired…

Throughout the process of BDC, I felt a little confused as to who my target audience should specifically be. I started off targeting people who were followers of Redbubble and other related shops, but these tended to be other creators and thus had much more trepidation in following and sharing BDC. So instead, I decided to go for luxury brands… people who were interested in things such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. etc. And while this gave us our current stats, I do wonder how willing these people would be to buy Redbubble designs. So… who should be the target audience of BDC?

Lessons Learned

This takes us into lessons for the next season. First of all, I think experimentation with finding perfect product fit is key here, and I don’t think anyone would disagree. Luxury brands somewhat work, because the buyers are willing and designs are relatively similar, but many members of this audience buy luxury brands solely due to prestige, not design. What I’d like to target is individuals who are love good designs but at the same time wish to go cheap.

I also think doing some tests on performing discounts in the future would be interesting – the “limited time” methodology tends to have high success in fashion and so I’d like to test it for the shop. Finally, I think continuing to build traction is also very important. Staying consistent with promotion and growth is definitely something I want to do going forward.

Looking Forward

And so while Season 2 probably won’t come any time soon (I have a heaping of other projects I have to get on), I’ll continue with passively marketing BDC as well as experimenting with the things that I had mentioned. I think overall there was a lot to get out of this project even though it wasn’t tech specific, and so I’m glad it happened.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 6 – Slow Gains

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Photo by Joel Magenta Mathey on Unsplash. A tortoise, because tortoises are slow (also, what’s the difference between a turtle and a tortoise? Is there one?)

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We began to prep for the Season 1 launch

Now, for the newest updates:

Slow… but Steady?

Alright, this is probably going to be a super short blogpost. Reason being is that, well… I didn’t actually get anything done this week. And I don’t mean I didn’t get anything done in general (trust me, I got a LOT done) it’s just that when it came to simple priority, the startup wasn’t high on my list… take that as you will. My reasoning for it is that right now separating attention from the startup isn’t really going to kill it; the twitter account is still gaining followers, and we don’t really have any customers or product yet to manage. Whereas when it comes to other things on my calendar, they have a much greater make or break capacity. So even though there will be a point where I’ll have to put in much longer and more consistent hours into the startup, right now it appears totally fine to keep it on the backburner for at least a little bit.

There is good news out of this, however, and it is that my schedule is finally normalized! Yup; no weird, out of place 8pm meetings anymore. Everything set on my calendar now should be like that til at least the end of the semester, which means that I can more easily devote time to BDC. Which means that (and this is TENTATIVE) hopefully the launch will be at the end of this week! Pretty much everything product wise is exactly how I left it last week; there’s just three minor edits I need to make, and then we’re ready for launch. Let’s hope things go smoothly from there.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

Startup Challenge, Week 5 – A Bit of a Break

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Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash. I don’t make sunglasses but I’m running out of pictures so here we are.

 

Previously on the Startup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We began to develop our marketing through a twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc).
  • We decided that we would delay our launch from Week 4 to Weeks 5-6.

Now, for the newest updates:


Some Leeway

 I’ve made quite a few products on Redbubble in the past, and there’s always one constant; whatever you make, no matter how much you follow the steps, still doesn’t look good. A decal is always cut off on a shirt, or a line of text is way too small no matter how much you try to fix it.

However, with the launch of BDC, it looks like Life (just this once) wanted to give me a solid. For the first time in my entire history of using this site, all of the shirts in rough draft form look totally fine on the shirt, which is kind of crazy. The only real final draft edits that need to be made is in re-aligning the image to look best on the shirt, which is something that pretty much always happens, and is pretty easy to fix.

Overall, I’m thinking things look positive for a launch sometime next week. All I really need to do now is find some time to make those small adjustments. As for marketing, things are beginning to speed up, which I’m happy about; the one good thing about the constant delays is that, since we’re getting new followers on the Twitter page every day, we have just a bit more traction for launch.

Right before launch, I also just want to do a pre-test of sorts where I predict our total amount of interest and sales from the launch and see if it matches up to what is reality. I’ve done quite a few creative-based launches in the past (some much bigger than this) so I do wonder if I’ve actually learned anything by this point.

Anyway, that’s really it for now. As always, you can continue to follow my progress by following this blog or my Twitter, which will be consistently updated to reflect new progress.

30DayStartup, Week 3 — The Ramp-up

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This is an Unsplash image by rawpixel. For some reason, it won’t let me copy the source this time.

Previously on the 30DayStartup Challenge:

  • We decided that we would make a RedBubble store dedicated specifically to t-shirts called BDC (short for BOYS DONT CRY).
  • We decided that our mission statement would be to make designs for shirts as opposed to the popular notion of making shirts for designs.
  • We decided that our marketing would be through a new twitter account dedicated to BDC (@boysdontcryllc) and through my own instagram account.
  • We decided that we would launch at the end of the fourth week, which is now getting uncomfortably close.

Now, for the newest updates:

Design: Things are Rough

Things aren’t rough literally speaking (well, not yet at least); they’re rough as in the first few rough drafts of season 1 t-shirts are now finished! These designs still need to be optimized for Redbubble prints, but they’re successful translations from the concept art. As of now I have 3 shirts still in concept stage, 3 rough drafts, and 0 final drafts. This may or may not be good progress for launch (which is coming up now in two weeks), but I guess we’ll find out.

This has also made me wonder about how the season 1 launch should go in general. Should it be incremental, with say a new shirt arriving every week til the end of the season, or released all at once? Things to think about…

Marketing: A Slow but Steady Climb

As for Twitter, things are going… smoothly. I guess. It’s been awhile since I got my AG twitter (@astukagaming) up from 10 to 370+ followers. As far as I know, I’m following the same strategy and so we should be seeing some major boosts coming in soon. Will the boosts come in time for launch? Probably not… but I don’t think that matters. Besides, we still need to do the work of converting followers into buyers, which will be a challenge all its own.

 

So that’s about all my progress for this past week, and it’s what I’m focusing on. This next week will likely be dedicated to getting everything into rough draft form and beginning to convert to final, as well as keeping up the twitter work. As always, feel free to follow this blog if you wish to see more, or follow me on twitter (@astukari) for more updates on progress.

 

30DayStartup: The Beginning

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash. Business!

As promised, here’s my first post for the 30DayStartup challenge! This whole thing is already extremely messy; I wasn’t able to post last week like I had thought I would be and I’ve also already lost my place as to what day I’m supposed to be on this challenge. Guess that serves me right for jumping the gun and starting this challenge literally as school started. Whoops!

In this case, what you might end up seeing out of this blog instead is less of a documenting of the challenge itself and more of working my way through the ideas and business model of what I plan to create. That’s essentially short for this probably won’t be a 30 day startup after all – just a normal startup.

Then again, if I count correctly, we should still have 21 days until launch. So let’s get to it!

The Ideas Stage

Most of my time this past week and some change has been dedicated to the ideas process. Spoiler alert: I’m fucking terrible with ideas. I have an idea journal that I’ve kept for about a year and there’s only five things on it. And that’s not business ideas – that’s just ideas in general. Because of this, this was definitely the hardest part of the process for me. I ended up starting with four ideas before finally settling on one, but I’m just going to go ahead and reveal all four, because they either a) already exist and I’ve already made them, b) are way too vague, or c) I just want them to exist and listen someone more competent can make it for me if I can’t make it myself.

The first idea I had was that of a dropshipping site via Shopify. This one was pretty nice because you’re work is primarily in settling the business as the actual product work is done by another company via an initial capital investment. The downside is… there’s an initial capital investment. I mean, let’s face it, I’m a college student who has never had a normal job in my entire life. If we are gonna make a startup, we are going lean with it.

The second idea (also in the vein of fashion) was a Redbubble store. This was pretty easy – I already have experience in having a Redbubble store, and the product work is yet again pretty minimal – in this case, you’re not working at all on logistics like you would be in drop-shipping, but you do have to create the designs. And although I am terrible at art, I am decent at marketing and I’ve already gotten one sale from a few eons ago. The downside with this one is purely that it’s not in the spirit of the challenge itself. When you think side project, you’re thinking more of creating your own service or product – code or no code – and then setting up all the work for that manually. Using Redbubble just… feels like cheating in a way.

So, what ideas are “in spirit”? I had a lot of trouble thinking of ideas for mobile and web apps, but I managed to get a few mediocre ones. For a mobile app, I was thinking of a mentoring system that worked locally with connecting people who are farther along in crafts they wish to follow. In case this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. This “mentor app” idea has been made about a million times in hackathons, side projects, and, yes, even full on startups. Still, if it worked for everyone else, surely it could work for me – right?

And finally, there is the web app. Even though I do know HTML and JS (Thanks 100DaysofCode!) I did want to try out the functionality of nocode editors like Bubble and Webflow. Turns out, they are… uh… in very early access. Also, my idea for a web app was a Resume Editor, in which you could simultaneously edit work experience, education, etc. on all major resume sites – LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, the works. One issue with this – although it is a great idea (someone please make it oh god), working with that many APIs (as well as trying to get advanced permissions for each one) would be an absolute fucking nightmare.

So, in conclusion…

…I chose Redbubble.

There’s a couple of difference reasons why – first of all, Redbubble has the clearest and easiest tools for the job. Since this is my first foray into really doubling hard on a startup, I want to do something that in a way eases into the process. Secondly, I couldn’t (at the time at least) find any hard cons against Redbubble besides the fact that it’s not really a startup and also I’m kind of a shitty designer. When it comes to dropshipping, I literally don’t have the capital required, and for the mobile/web apps, I literally don’t have any ideas – cons that are much worse.

 

So, now what do we call it? What shirts are we gonna sell? What marketing tools are we gonna use? All these questions, and more, answered on the next episode! Follow this blog (or my Twitter) to get updates on this process. Happy starting!