As entrepreneurs, we are told we should expect to fail at our first, second, third or more ideas before becoming successful, and that is often true. Coming up with an idea and then profiting within the first year, however, is even more rare. But after speaking with Caleb Garrett & Alex Moreno of Hawkers Co., the two year old D2C eyewear brand poised to hit $60 Million dollars this year, I'm beginning to believe that they have somehow cracked the code so many product focused and bootstrapped start-ups have been looking for. Using social media, Facebook ads and a "reckless"attitude towards trying new things, these five young 'treps tell me how they turned $300 into $60 million.
1. Know your market
When Moreno, CEO, first decided he wanted to launch Hawkers, he knew he wanted to make it accessible, affordable and loved by a wide variety of individuals. Typically, brands must put a stake in the ground to understand their market and brand voice before casting the net as wide as possible, but according to Moreno, Hawkers is a different story largely due to the market it was infiltrating.
Hawkers entered a market monopolized by Luxxotica, the eyewear giant responsible for brands including Prada, Ray Ban and Gucci. Garrett, an Angel investor and US-based partner in the company tells me "you don't need to screw people over to have a great, well-made product,"and it seems he is right. Hawkers glasses retail from $20 – $40 where a pair of Ray Bans will run you around $200, and Hawkers eyewear is produced at the same manufacturing facility as most of Luxxotica's brands.
2. Take great risks
When Moreno used his last $300 to start the company, he had a prototype, and a simple website. Knowing he wanted pricing to stay low, he decided to sell exclusively online. According to Garrett, part of what attracted him to the company was that the team was unafraid to try everything in their power to get as many eyes on Hawkers as possible while shying away from traditional wholesale. "Because we had $300 when we started the company, we never looked at anything as a failure because no matter how big the company grows, if we were to shut down tomorrow, we only lost a few hundred dollars."Moreno tells me.
The team includes some of Moreno's close friends and family with tech backgrounds who advised him to purchase Facebook ads across many verticals. According to Moreno, at the time Facebook ads were getting a lot of negative press so testing out the algorithm as fast as they could to see what would generate the most sales seemed completely reckless. But they did it anyway. The "spray and pray" approach rarely works, but within weeks the Hawkers social media pages were exploding, sales began to skyrocket and customer acquisition was pennies on the dollar.
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