What It's About
Proof that a personalized message via mailed potato is not a half-baked idea after all.
Words of Wisdom
As simple as it is to write a message on a potato, it takes forever!
The average American eats about 124 pounds of potatoes per year while Germans eat about twice as much.
Notes from Chris
Episode 984From an early age, Texas-based Alex Craig had big entrepreneurial dreams. As a college student, he had been part of several startups with promise, but they never took off. Post-college, he did what millions of graduates do every year: he went and got a 9-5 job. Like many of us, Alex didn’t actually have his nose to the grindstone nonstop for eight hours a day. He spent a fair amount of time checking in on social media and browsing the internet. One of his daily visits was to Reddit—and on one particular day, Wednesday, May 13, 2015, the top post of the day was an image of a potato with a stamp on it. The image titled "I delivered a potato today." The post had over 2 million views in less than 4 hours. And while the vast majority of those people simply saw a potato….Alex saw an opportunity! He thought, “What if mailing potatoes to your friends through the mail could become the next internet trend?” Alex’s idea was simple: for $9.99, he would send potatoes complete with a handwritten, anonymous message to the person of the customers choice. If all went well, Potatoes by Mail could have its moment of fame and bring fortune to him. Alex didn’t disagree that it was a stupid idea but he was undeterred. He started working on his website that same evening. Twenty four hours later, Potato Parcel, was online and open for business. He immediately went back to the original Reddit post, still popular, and posted his new project. On the second day that the project was live, Alex got $2,000 in orders … maybe it wasn’t such a stupid idea after all. The orders continue to come in and Alex would leave work and spend his evenings inscribing, packing and mailing his potato parcels. Profits were growing, peaking at around $10,000 per month, but he also knew that fads could have a short shelf life. He thought that the idea had the opportunity to be a viral sensation but knew that the window was narrow. So that’s when he leveled up by sending cold-emails to all of the local TV stations. One responded, and said their correspondent would be there that evening for an interview. The local news story also caught the attention of national media and Alex and Potato Parcel were featured shows including Ellen, The Steve Harvey Show, and Good Morning America. Not surprisingly, Potato Parcel was inundated with orders. Over the next six months, Alex would sell thousands of potatoes and earn $40,000 in profit, one potato at a time. But that’s not all … he was thinking about his exit strategy and how to sell the business from the very beginning. He’s since launched a digital agency to help companies with their viral marketing and his clients include NBA teams and huge brands like Sony. He’s also written an ebook, The Potato Playbook, about creating an idea that goes viral.
MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
- Potato Parcel: Send your own potato message!
- Triple Play Studios: Check out Alex's new digital marketing agency and his book, The Potato Playbook.
- Woman Sells Hair Grips to Orthodox Jews & Drag Queens: It begins as a product for Orthodox Jewish women. It goes on to serve cancer patients, Broadway performers, and drag queens, earning “fringe benefits” and $4,000/month.
- Rent the Chicken! An Egg-Cellent Idea Clucks Into Cash: Yes, really: this Pennsylvania couple rents out 2,000 chickens to people interested in urban homesteading. It’s a side hustle worth clucking about!
- Delicious Cookies Arrive at My Door in Portland, Oregon: A late night craving evolves into a cookie delivery service in Portland spreading chocolate chip goodness throughout the land.
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