Posted on Friday, Sep 27th 2019
We’ve talked about niche, proprietary e-commerce brands and how entrepreneurs are building businesses around different concepts. CEO Eric Shannon shares the story of Big Barker, a dog bed for large dogs.
Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning of your
journey. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of
background? Eric Shannon: I was born in Pennsylvania in a suburb about 45 minutes outside of Philadelphia. I went to Temple University. I was a Finance major. After school, I moved to California and took a job in banking. I hated it and was terrible at it. I had a couple of other jobs and eventually discovered the internet side of the economy. I became very attached to it. I started in that industry in 2004. Sramana Mitra: What kind of company was that? Eric Shannon: When I was still at Bank of America, I discovered Google AdWords and I started buying ads and sending them to affiliate products. That was a fun game. When I saw the first dollar coming in, that was very exciting. I was building very terrible websites and making a couple of dollars with AdWords. I just got hooked on it. I ended up getting a job at a catalog company outside of Philadelphia called Taylor Gifts working in their e-commerce department.
soon, I became in charge of their entire e-commerce department. It was a very
old company. They had started in the 50s. They were primarily direct mail and
catalog-based. It was a large company. I think they were at about $30 million
to $40 million in annual revenue at that time.
very little experience, was in charge of the whole e-commerce division. It gave
me a lot of freedom to try things and figure out what worked and what didn’t.
It was a great opportunity for me. That’s where I learned what I needed to know
before I started my own business.
Mitra: How long did you do that for? Eric Shannon: A little over two years. While I was
there, I started my first business on the side. It wasn’t really even supposed
to be a real business. I was at a conference back in 2006. I met another guy
who was in charge of e-commerce for a furniture company. We just got to
talking. We were talking about opportunities that might have been available.
We both had a big interest in the pet market. We both thought that there was an opportunity in starting a business that offered products that you couldn’t find at a pet store. This was back in 2006. There was a much higher quality of stuff that was being made, but wasn’t being sold at your Petcos, the mass-market retailers. They weren’t really carrying any upscale products. We thought that if we started a business that did offer that kind of thing, it might be somewhat successful. We only viewed it as a side business.
Within about a year, we were ranking at the top of Google for pretty much every major phrase in the dog supply industry. We were getting a ton of Google traffic for all these terms. By the end of 2007, neither one of us needed a job anymore. I left my position to focus on building that company full time. That company was called Oh My Dog Supply. I ran it from 2006 until about 2012 when I decided to start something different.
Our conversation continues
here. This segment is a part in the series : Best of Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to an Exit . Why is Bootstrapping Important? . How Can You Play this Low-Probability Game Intelligently? . Do NOT Go to VCs as Beggars - Go as Kings . Excess is NOT Required for Success . Bootstrap First and Raise Money Later . Some Bootstrapping to Exit Case Studies . The Buy Side of Bootstrapping to an Exit . Blitzscaling vs. Bootstrapping . Bootstrapping to Unicorns More »» . Cinedigm Acquires Bootstrapped 1Mby1M Company Future Today for $60 Million . Mailchimp Bootstraps to $600M Revenue . Bootstrapping from Arizona to $10 Million . Bootstrapped Basecamp Executes a No Nonsense Strategy . How Under30Experiences Bootstrapped to $5 Million . Bootstrapping with a Paycheck . How Algo.ai CEO Amjad Hussain Bootstrapped using Services from Michigan . Seed Investors Who Like Bootstrapped Businesses . How iHeartRaves CEO Bootstrapped a Niche e-Commerce Company to $20 Million . Bootstrapping with Services . 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