What It's About
A traveler helps backpackers pack it in.
Words of Wisdom
Scott says the key to starting a brand in a competitive space like luggage is to find your little sliver of the market and go all in on serving your customers. He says that this will help you to build a brand that attracts the right type of customer who will become an evangelist for what you create.
Notes from Chris
Episode 758Digital Strategist Scott Bright was burned out and frustrated by the nine-to-five grind. He’d been hired straight out of college and couldn’t help but feel that he wanted to be his own boss. His friends from business school were running their own companies, selling their own products, and exploring the world. And Scott felt it was about time he got a piece of that action too. Scott started by looking for business models which would help him leave his job, but he could also run while traveling. A friend recommended he look at Amazon’s FBA service, after starting a successful business importing and selling outdoor goods. If you’re not familiar, FBA stands for Fulfillment By Amazon, which helps people start and manage an e-commerce business. Amazon keeps the stock of a product in warehouses all over the country, taking care of the processing, handling, shipping, and returns of your items. In return, they take a 30-40% cut of your revenue. This seemed like a great solution to Scott, so he devised a test to see how it worked. He created a simple political satire product, namely a pencil holder, called Dump-A-Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election. I’ll let you search for yourself to see how it looks, but let’s just say it doesn’t feature a flattering angle of the current occupant of the White House. This initial product saw a ridiculous amount of success and taught him a few lessons about selling on Amazon. Specifically, he learned a great rule of thumb for pricing. You should aim to charge four times the amount the product took to manufacture and ship. So, if your product costs you $4.00 to make and $2.00 to ship, you would want to charge at least four times $6.00. With the income generated from the product, Scott was able to quit his job in December 2017 and book a one-way ticket to Vietnam. He figured he’d come back when he was good and ready, or when he had his next great business idea. The longer and further he traveled, the more he wanted to keep going, and he began to look for opportunities to tie his passion for business and exploration together. He began following travelers on social media, and interacting with them in person and noticed some common trends. One which really stood out to him was the gear people brought traveling with them, specifically the bags and rucksacks and suitcases people used. The most aesthetically pleasing and functional pieces were phenomenally expensive; the more reasonably priced ones were ugly and far less functional. Realizing this, Scott began thinking of alternatives for lightweight budget backpackers; he felt there had to be a way to create affordable gear which was functional and looked good. With the knowledge he already had of Amazon FBA, he set out to research products he could make and sell. The only product that met Scott's criteria were these packing cubes, which he was able to have affordably made and shipped from suppliers on Alibaba. Scott reached out to a few friends from his old job and created some mock-up designs for his packing cubes; a sunrise, a sunset, and an icy mountain scene. You could call it the Instagram trifecta of packing cubes. He then sent these onto his manufacturers to get samples, judge quality and eventually order his first batch. Scott also gave the business a name, Well Traveled Gear. That was back in 2016, and Well Traveled Gear had sold around 2,000 units per month since starting—which works out at around roughly $6,000 in revenue a month. Going forward, Scott wants to focus less on Amazon and bring more people into his website. Even in the year since Scott founded the business, he’s seen the luggage market change a lot, and he wants to be sure he has more control and isn’t at the whim of Amazon’s algorithm. He’s packing his bags with ideas and income.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Well Traveled Gear: Learn more about Scott's travel gear brand over on his website!
- The Dump-A-Trump Pen Holder: And while you're at it, you should seriously check out this pen holder...
- Alibaba: The marketplace Scott used to source his travel gear
- Shopify: Scott used Shopify to set up his site for Well Traveled Gear, and they're offering a 21-day trial and exclusive discount for all Side Hustle School listeners!
- The Verge | Prime and Punishment: A true story about dirty dealing in the $175 billion Amazon marketplace
- Adventurous Couple Designs & Sells Fashionable Backpacks: Backpacks that bring fashion to the mountains earn a Colorado couple an additional $2,500 a month while also feeding the homeless
- Getting Charged Up: Man Creates One Adaptor to Rule Them All: Tired of a road warrior’s tangle of cables and plugs, a Hong-Kong-based entrepreneur makes chargers and adapters truly current
- Nomadic Designer Profits from Writing About Life in a Bag: When a designer quits his job at Apple to travel the world, he realizes that his nomadic lifestyle hacks are a hot topic—and a profitable one, too
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