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Bootstrapping an E-Commerce Startup with a Paycheck to Exit: Jay Perkins, Co-founder of Kettlebellkings (Part 4)

Posted on Monday, Jul 4th 2022

Sramana Mitra: How long from the point you started did it take you to get to $1 million? How long did it take you to get to $5 million?

Jay Perkins: A million would have been in our fourth year. We did $60,000 in our first year, $270,000 in our second year, and $750,000 the next year. Then $1.5 million in the fourth year. We probably could have gotten there sooner, but we were hindered by the things I mentioned. It was into our 7th or 8th year that we got to $5.5 million.

Sramana Mitra: What year was that when you reached $5 million?

Jay Perkins: That would have been last year and the year before.

Sramana Mitra: Was the pandemic a problem for the business?

Jay Perkins: It’s a mixed bag. Our product was in high demand.

Sramana Mitra: People were exercising at home.

Jay Perkins: Customers were more willing to wait for the product because no one had it. Where we would have lost business, we would still be able to sell it when it did arrive. Some people might have been more willing to pay the premium for our premium brand. In the past, they may have been more price-sensitive.

We had other things we were working on that the pandemic did hamper. We were starting to build out a live teaching course business. We had just signed up a contract with a major gym chain where we were going to be doing live days for their trainers. That got put on the site. We weren’t able to do any of that. Our target demographic was trainers. The pandemic set that business back by two years at least.

Sramana Mitra: What’s happening now?

Jay Perkins: In the last six months, we completed the sale of Kettlebellkings.

Sramana Mitra: To whom?

Jay Perkins: There are these big portfolio companies buying different brands.

Sramana Mitra: As part of an equity rollup.

Jay Perkins: Right. We sold to a company called Factory14 that is based in Madrid. In the last 60 days, they’ve been acquired by a much larger company called Razor Group out of Berlin. They’re a very large company. They own 90 plus brands. I, along with my co-founders, continue to advise the teams at Razor on the expansion of Kettlebellkings. We’re moving into India. We’re working on moving into Japan and other markets as well.

In our sub-brand, we had started Living.fit, which is pretty much all non-kettlebell equipment. That was a separate business unit we had started under Kettlebellkings. There are so many companies trying to sell digital stuff. We started to work on that four to five years ago because we were asking ourselves, “What if we have trouble importing? How can we continue to have margins?” That’s when we started the Living.fit brand.

Sramana Mitra: That’s a separate business that you’re building.

Jay Perkins: Right.

Sramana Mitra: How big did you build Kettlebellkings in terms of team size?

Jay Perkins: Kettlebelkings was never that big. I think it was 10 people at the most. That’s the beauty of e-commerce. You can run a global business without having a big team. While I still own the business, we set up distribution in Europe.

Sramana Mitra: These were third-party logistics providers who were doing the drop ship?

Jay Perkins: That’s correct. We would set up localized websites with the same ad structures. Before moving into Europe, we were running those lead-building campaigns in Europe for three to four years simply to start gathering leads and have brand awareness in Europe. We were working on $5 a day. By the time we launched, we crushed our first year compared to our first year here.

This segment is part 4 in the series : Bootstrapping an E-Commerce Startup with a Paycheck to Exit: Jay Perkins, Co-founder of Kettlebellkings
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