What It's About
A puzzle master makes all the right moves to sell his product.
Words of Wisdom
Don't count out the power of relationship building. Hear what Oliver has to say about the subject, "Don’t be afraid to use your personal connections. Maybe your friend has graphic design skills or photography skills. You need to leverage these personal networks, especially during the startup phase."
Oliver’s greatest marketing success was in partnering with one of his larger competitors. By taking on their brand recognition and trust for a small percentage of sales, he was able to increase his sales dramatically.
Notes from Chris
Speedcubing is a little known (but much loved) sport that involves solving 3D puzzles. The common 3-by-3 Rubix Cube is one of these puzzles, but the sport gets far more complicated. You can try 5-by-5 cubes, additional magnetic challenges for advanced players, pyramids, 12-sided puzzles, and more. Oliver Jenks, a high-school student and experienced puzzle solver in New Zealand, enjoyed competing in Speedcube competitions. He especially loved when he could save up enough money to travel to an event in another country and meet players from around the world. After graduating from high school, Oliver realized that there was no dedicated Speedcube shop in New Zealand. Most people—including himself—ordered their cubes from a shop in Australia, the U.S., or China. With more time on his hands, it stuck out to him as a problem that he could solve. He got together with another Speedcuber friend who’d done dropshipping. Learning the ropes from that friend, Oliver created a barebones Shopify store. The friend connected him with the name of a reputable cube manufacturer in China. When Oliver called them, they gave him a quote: $1,000 for an assortment of popular Speedcubes he could resell. He knew it was a trusted manufacturer, and he believed the cubes he was eyeing were likely to sell. Now he just had to commit. He wired the $1,000—all the money he’d been able to save at his job—and started listing products on his store. Within a few weeks, his products had arrived, and in July of 2016, Oliver launched Cubes4Kiwis.co.nz. He set up at speedcubing events and weekend markets across the country, talking up his new products. People slowly started visiting the website—mostly people he’d met from these events. It took four weeks, but Cubes4Kiwis finally got its first online sale. On a whim, he sent an email to Speedcube.com.au, the leading speedcubing store in Australia. The store was well known in New Zealand, and the most affordable place to shop for competitive cubes in the two countries. Oliver told them he was a fan, and that he had a business proposition. The owner of the store agreed to meet, so Oliver hopped a flight to Melbourne. When he left that meeting, he came out with a fresh vision of the future. He would disband Cubes4Kiwis and build SpeedCube.co.nz—taking on the brand name and brand recognition of his Australian counterpart. He was essentially entering a fairly loose and flexible franchise agreement. He could ship product at lower prices through his partner, get bulk discounts, and benefit from their brand recognition and reputation. All he had to do was pay a percentage of sales back to that partner. He switched the domain of his site and set up the SpeedCube branding. Thanks to his new ability to acquire more products at lower costs, he was able to lower prices, undercutting his new intra-island rival. That month, his sales doubled. Within a year, they had quadrupled. In 2019, the Speedcube shop experienced 9% growth month over month on average—generating somewhere between $1,000-2,000 in profit each month. Oliver loves running the store, especially since he’s been able to use a small share of the profits to attend competitions all over the world—Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Malaysia, and elsewhere. He’s solved the puzzle and is having a lot of fun.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- SpeedCube.co.nz: Learn more about Oliver and check out his full Speedcube lineup at his website.
- Spousal Birthday Gift Becomes $40,000 Card Game: It starts as a creative gift for his wife, but this tabletop game ends up making a lot of other people happy.
- The Great Escape! Video Game Maker Creates Real-Life Puzzle Rooms: An employee for a video game company turns a childhood love for adventure into a real-life escape room business.
- Childhood Game Master Earns $1 Million from Nerdy Kickstarter Campaigns: This Ohio man loves board games so much that he made his own—and when he tries to raise $6,000 through a Kickstarter campaign, he ends up with much more than he ever imagined.
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