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Bootstrapping an E-Commerce Startup with a Paycheck to Exit: Jay Perkins, CEO of Kettlebellkings (Part 1)

Posted on Friday, Jul 1st 2022

There are roll-ups of e-commerce brands going on right now. This case study delves into one such that has exited into a roll-up effort.

Sramana Mitra: Let’s start at the very beginning. Where are you from? Where were you born, raised, and in what kind of background?

Jay Perkins: I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. In 2004, I moved to Austin, Texas to go to college at the University of Texas. Pretty soon after arriving in Austin, I just fell in love with it. I felt like this was an incredible place to be in.

I’ve been living in Austin ever since I graduated from college. It’s been a great experience because the city has continued to grow quite a bit. I had friends who moved back to where they were from and I couldn’t understand it. It just seems to me that Austin is a place to be in.

Sramana Mitra: What did you do after UT Austin?

Jay Perkins: My major was a liberal arts major. Quite frankly, it was a fairly useless major at that time. I had to read a lot, so I got used to doing that. I just didn’t know what I wanted to do coming out of college. I thought I wanted to go into finance, so I tried to read every finance book I could find. I was not able to get into the UT Business School, unfortunately.

My first job out of college was in financial planning. That’s a really rigorous job. This was in 2007. That was extremely interesting being a first-year financial advisor and getting people to invest their money with me while the economy is collapsing. I go home on my lunch break and I’d watch Congress vote on bailouts. Then I’d have to go out there and try to convince people why now is a good time to invest.

The main thing I learned was you had to just work extremely hard to be able to make it – making hundreds of phone calls a day and establishing some form of consistency and not giving up. After six years, I looked around at some friends who were working in technology sales. They seem to be making good money and it seemed a lot more exciting. After a brief stint in Las Vegas for about 30 days trying to decide if I want to play cards for a living, I came back to Austin and started doing technology sales selling e-commerce software.

Sramana Mitra: For which company?

Jay Perkins: BigCommerce. I was there just before or after their second round of funding. I was there for about 16 months in sales. The business that I started and later sold was built on BigCommerce while working there.

Sramana Mitra: What was the time frame?

Jay Perkins: That would have been 2011 or 2012. I was there into early 2013. I was there for their third round. I loved it. That was my first time in a true startup environment. I fell in love with the long hours and felt like I was making a difference. I decided that I didn’t want to work in any other type of environment.

This segment is part 1 in the series : Bootstrapping an E-Commerce Startup with a Paycheck to Exit: Jay Perkins, CEO of Kettlebellkings
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