Sramana: What was your team building process like?
Michael Dash: We started very small with just David and I and then slowly started to add additional employees. We started with a database and network engineer. Then we hired a couple of PHP engineers and Magento developers. We also hired some designers and customer service members. Within two years, we had reached $6 million in revenue and are projecting $10 million in revenue next year.
Sramana: Are you still doing the same kind of drop ship model?
Michael Dash: Yes, that is exactly how we operate. As we added employees and infrastructure, we started to add more drop shippers. We started with a catalogue of 300,000 SKUs. That catalogue is now expanding. Our second drop shipper was added at the 8 month point and brought us up to 450,000 SKUs. We just added a third drop shipper which brought us to 650,000 SKUs and we should be able to reach 1 million SKUs by the end of summer.
We add drop shippers in new auto part segments. One is for replacement parts, the next offers body parts, and the third is a performance parts drop shipper. They all have different lines and products. E-commerce online is all about having more products available to sell and having more data about those products. If you have those two pieces you can do very well.
Sramana: What is your customer acquisition strategy?
Michael Dash: We sell in a number of different ways. We started our business by bootstrapping. All of the money we raised was from my partner and me. We started out selling the easiest way possible which was by selling through marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Sears, and others. We also sell direct but it takes a lot of money to sell direct. When you use the marketplaces you are using their advertising spend. They are like a partner. They take a piece of every sell and they do a lot of the leg work for us.
While the marketplaces were our initial strategy for selling, we now do a lot more advertising and content building. We have a content building team that writes content around the clock. We write 500 pages of unique content per week which is indexed by any crawler that will scrape us. We also have people who will write blog posts for us and guest authors. We have a very large SEO presence and strategy.
We also use Google AdWords, PPC and PLA ads. We use Bing and some remarketing as well. We have tried direct market mailers as well as phone call acquisitions. We are about to take a foray into radio. If that goes well then we will try TV commercials as well.