Life after crowdfunding: Mompreneur does $1.5 million in sales.
Mompreneur Lindsey Laurain is the inventor of the Less Mess Happy Mat, a Kickstarter campaign which raised over $70,000 to finance the initial large-scale production run.
It all came about when one day, after some frustration at dinner time, her husband exclaimed “Someone needs to create something kids can’t toss or throw at meals!” Lindsey’s search for a solution (and struggle to find a satisfying answer) inspired her to create an entire new product, the Less Mess Happy Mat.
Although she’s had a lot of success on Kickstarter, I was curious as to whether or not she would recommend crowdfunding as a financing route for other entrepreneurs looking to launch an e-commerce business. She had this to say:
“Absolutely, we used Kickstarter to raise money to fund the expensive tooling and start our first large scale production run. We had 1,568 backers pledge over $70,000 exceeding our initial goal! Backers received the Happy Mat before it was available to the general public which gave us a ready-made focus group, product testers and brand advocates lined up before we sold our first mat on ezpzfun.com!”
You can use crowdfunding to test the waters early on, without taking on too much risk. Ezpz had a lot to gain from doing a campaign. Not only did they get the funding for their initial production run, but they also are getting useful feedback from their backers.
Life after crowdfunding
The couple has now made ezpz a full-time commitment and they have done a wonderful job creating a community around their innovative new product line, which has since been expanded to include the Happy Bowl.
“We use BigCommerce as our e-commerce solution. This tool is really user friendly and has allowed us to set up an online store, sell product and manage our CRM data across both consumer and retail sectors.”
BigCommerce has three affordable plans to choose from, starting at $29.95 per month. Their Plus package (the most popular) costs $79.95 per month and includes checkout hosted on your domain.
Since their Kickstarter campaign ended, ezpz has done close to $1.5 million in sales with 10% thanks to e-commerce! In addition to being available at Nordstrom and 200+ boutiques, ezpz products are sold on their website and Amazon.
“ezpzfun.com is our website and it’s constantly evolving. Our ultimate goal for our online ‘storefront’ is to be a very content rich feeding resource for consumers. From product, to feeding tips to demonstration, live web chats, etc. Stay tuned!”
One of the things that Laurain said she wished she had done differently was take more time to develop the website before launch.
“For example, ideally we would have built a more rigorous roadmap of how our consumers engage with our site to ensure it’s as user friendly and efficient as possible. This is work we are currently undertaking during a site refresh.”
Putting in the effort to optimize your landing page can make a huge difference for your business. It is often little, unknown issues that stop your website traffic from turning into sales. The trick is to figure out what’s not working and fix it.
Useful Tools of the Trade
Ezpz has built up a very respectable 35K+ following on social media, including 20K+ likes on Facebook and 13K+ followers on Instagram.
“Social media community management is a huge part of our business. Facebook & Instagram are our lead channels for communicating with our customers and potential consumers,” Laurain shares, “They are the best new product development sounding boards and they generate a ton of word of mouth for the business. We update all channels daily if not more frequently and we use this direct access to maintain dialogue and keep the brand front of mind.”
Another tool that the ezpz team takes advantage of and highly recommends is Skype:
“Skype is also hugely important to our company. Although we are small we are based all over the world and Skype enables us to speak as many times and for as long as required at no additional cost to the business.”
When you are looking for tools to manage your e-commerce business, don’t always go for the first thing you see or pay for expensive services that are more than what your small startup needs. Taking the time to find the best tools for YOU can save a lot of money and headaches in the long run.
Entrepreneurs don’t always have much experience in customer service in the beginning, and sometimes it shows in their crowdfunding campaigns or their early interactions with customers. When it comes to customer service, this friendly and approachable team has an easy rule to remember:
“Our customer service strategy is very simple; ‘the customer is always right’. We’ve been very fortunate that a vast majority of our feedback has been positive, but on the odd occasion a customer is unhappy with their purchase we try to do everything in our power to make them happy!”
This point may seem very simple but it’s well-made. Ignoring your customers’ negative comments or refund requests doesn’t look professional. The best thing to do (especially if complaints are rare) is to give them the best service you can and show people that you are worth doing business with!
“Choose all of your systems wisely!” Lindsey recommended when asked what final advice she would give entrepreneurs looking to get into e-commerce, “If you build the right platforms, things run themselves!”
This definitely seems to be the case for ezpz, a hard working company striving for lofty goals (including $1.5 million in gross sales in the first year and distribution in 15+ countries by December 2015).
Currently, ezpz is in the top 10 out of 15,000 for the QuickBooks Small Biz Big Game contest! The winner is based entirely on votes and the prize is a free Super Bowl Commercial. If you’re interested in helping ezpz win, go to www.ezpzvote.com (it only takes 2 seconds and no email is needed).
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