Sramana Mitra: You used the Internet to find you and then draw traffic in and then act as an affiliate partner to these deals?
Mattias Larson: Exactly. I found all these good deals and different coupons. “Here’s the best price that you can get on this Dell computer, but hurry up it’s only good for three days.” Those are the type of things that I posted there. But again, you can have the greatest idea but if don’t have traffic on your site, nobody knows that it’s there. That’s when the advertising came in. I started bidding on specific keywords that I thought would convert well. I really mastered Google AdWords in the early days. In 2008, I decided to quit my day job and turn this into a full time business.
Sramana Mitra: I want to explore a little bit more of the period when you were still doing this while holding on to your job. Can you tell me a bit more about how much you were able to accomplish and how complicated or easy it was? The reason I’m asking is because this is a real trend right now – what we call “Bootstrapping with a Paycheck”. A lot of people are developing sites while holding on to their paychecks.
Mattias Larson: It took a while. Looking back, I regret not doing it quicker and maybe advancing faster. It took a while to get it live. I pushed it live with just the bare minimum functionality. Then, when I noticed that the traffic came in, that’s when I decided to revamp the site and make it more user-friendly.
Sramana Mitra: You were generating revenues while you were doing this as a site project.
Mattias Larson: Right. I travel quite a bit for my primary job. I would travel Monday to Friday and every evening, I had a lot of time to just sit and work on this from probably 6 pm till midnight. Then, I slept, woke up, and went to the clients for my regular job. Then, I came back to the hotel room and then worked on the site again. That was my life for quite a while actually.
Sramana Mitra: How much revenue were you generating in that period? Before you quit, what kind of revenue run rate were you able to achieve?
Mattias Larson: I would say probably $300,000 to $400,000 a year.
Sramana Mitra: That’s very good – good cushion to quit a job.
Mattias Larson: That’s the thing. I definitely wanted a good cushion before I quit.
Sramana Mitra: That’s perfectly fine because people have different levels of risk tolerance. We are very supportive of this trend of developing something without jumping in with both feet – just holding on to the job and validating the concept and starting to get traction, and quitting only when the risk level is at the level where you are feeling comfortable about it.
Mattias Larson: Yes, exactly.
Sramana Mitra: In terms of the merchandise that you were selling on this site, what was your sweet spot?
Mattias Larson: The sweet spot was probably mostly apparel and travel. When I started the site, I wanted to focus on consumer electronics but as it turned out, more and more of the users were actually females. So what did really well were apparel, fashion, travel, and sporting goods to some extent.