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Bootstrapping to $35 Million: BannerBuzz CEO Nishant Shah (Part 2)

Posted on Tuesday, Apr 21st 2020

Sramana Mitra: What was the insight in terms of customer acquisition for instance? What clicked?

Nishant Shah: When you’re growing the business and you’re bootstrapping it, it always depends on how much money you have. You want to spend more on marketing because you want to grow that way, but you have to have your infrastructure in place.

At the same time, you have to have your customer experience in place. You’re always worried about the reviews and customers not coming back. In 2017, we started aggressive marketing and started growing much faster. We realized that we are more into B2C. There were similar product lines as ours, and similar customers like ours.

Sramana Mitra: When you talk about banners, my instinct was B2B. Why was your business more B2C?

Nishant Shah: I’m glad that you asked. Let me clarify. The business is more B2B, but generally within the B2B, you have some end users and you have some businesses who are buying it to resell. If you look at our customer profile, there are more B2B customers, but the type of selling is to end users.

Sramana Mitra: What happened between 2010 and 2017? How far did you get?

Nishant Shah: In 2016, we were below $5 million.

Sramana Mitra: $5 million is not insignificant revenue. What was the customer acquisition for that?

Nishant Shah: Between 2010 and 2014, the only channel we were using was SEO. We didn’t have the luxury and the funds to go after paid marketing. We did really well as far as SEO and organic is concerned. We also added more products to our website.

A business that is looking for banners also looks for window stickers, canopy tents, or banner stands. When we added other higher-value products, the average order value grew from $50 in 2011 to $130 in 2016. A combination of that allowed us to grow from less than a million in 2012 to $5 million in 2016.

Sramana Mitra: What was the secret of the SEO? Why was your SEO so effective?

Nishant Shah: You had so many updates coming in every six months or every year for Google. We kept changing the strategy. There is no secret sauce to SEO anymore, but in 2011 to 2012, there was a lot of back-linking that worked. Now it’s all about the content-based SEO where you put the right content out. 

Sramana Mitra: In 2017, you were mostly doing SEO-based marketing. You’ve already reached $5 million. What happens in 2017 that changes the pace of the business?

Nishant Shah: A few things. In 2017, the number one thing is, we have a much larger product portfolio. We expanded into Canada, Australia, and UK. That was another big change.

This segment is part 2 in the series : Bootstrapping to $35 Million: BannerBuzz CEO Nishant Shah
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