$15K/Month Helping Video Creators Grow Their Business

The Story of Snackable Studios

Hello! Who are you and what are you working on?

Hi! My name is Kiran and I am one of the founders of Snackable, OverHead Pro, and Snackable Studios. We help video creators, create, grow and monetize their content.

We started with an e-commerce store 2 years ago which earned $1000 within the first month.

I spoke (and continue to speak) with my customers to understand their challenges, and offered additional services to help them.

The e-commerce store has evolved over the last year to include video editing, video production, blogger sharing groups and influencer marketing. Since launching the e-commerce store just over 2 years ago, we are currently making $15K CAD/month.

snackable-studios

What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

This is the second venture my partner and have co-founded. Our previous business, GrowWell, was a patient sentiment analytics tool for dentists. Ultimately, we decided to shelve it after 1.5 years (even though we were post-revenue) as we realized we actually didn’t like working with dentists!

A bit of history of how Snackable came to be: After we shelved GrowWell, I decided to take some downtime while thinking of the next startup idea.

I think one of the smartest things I did was to validate my idea and pre-sell before making a large shipment. Because of this, I haven’t lost any money or ended up with sitting on product for too long.

To fill my time, I worked on my food blog, which had been a fun side project and personal hobby for the past few years. At that point, I was getting a few hundred visitors per month. I decided to try to grow my following. I learned a bunch of growth stuff -- including SEO, social sharing, and video production. I grew it to 20,000 unique visitors per month within 3-4 months.

One of the strategies that seemed to work best to increase traffic was "Tasty"-style recipe videos. However, figuring out how to actually film from an overhead angle wasn't as easy as I'd thought. I wanted to film overhead videos with my smartphone and, at that time, a tripod rig for this was not an easy find.

snackable-studios

I eventually figured out how to do it, by cobbling together 3 different pieces. I decided to sell it to other food bloggers. To validate my idea, I emailed a few food bloggers to see if this was something they’d be interested in. After receiving enough positive interest, I also pre-sold enough products to cover my first shipment costs.

Describe the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing the product.

I knew the product I needed: I wanted an overhead tripod rig that I could use to film overhead recipe videos with my smartphone. I just now had to find how to do this.

There were a few youtube videos I found of how people were creating this themselves DIY way but I didn’t want to do that (ain’t nobody got time for that :P).

I went on Amazon to see if such a product existed and couldn’t find one. I googled other places and stores where such a thing could exist and couldn’t find any either.

I think the fact that I was/am my customer is a huge asset. Though I still do customer development regularly, I feel that I know my customer so well - their deepest fears, anxieties, goals - as I lived it myself.

I ended up physically going to a number of camera stores to see if they could help. Most of them said that such a thing didn’t exist but then I visited a 3rd store where the attendant was very helpful. I described what I wanted to do and we brainstormed together of how this could be done. After trying out a few different products in the store and assembling them together, we figured it out!

It was basically 3 separate pieces that I assembled into a kit. After putting together this prototype I decided to find a manufacturer on Alibaba. I basically read 2 Shopify articles of how to do this. Here was one of them: How I Imported Gaming Glasses With Alibaba and Made $2,416.51 in 5 Weeks.

After testing out a few samples and a few manufacturers I settled on a manufacturer that had the sweet spot combination of: good quality + best price + low(no) minimum order quantity.

A few words of advice:

Don’t always trust your sample.

My samples were always great but noticed a lack of quality in the actual shipment. Wait for a 2 or 3 shipments to determine the actual quality of product from the factory.

Have a backup manufacturer.

Things can go wrong: You’re manufacturer may increase their MOQ (minimum order quantity), they may be out of stock or you simply get frustrated enough with their quality that you look elsewhere. All of these things have happened with me. You will thank yourself for having a backup.

Be firm when you get screwed over.

A number of my shipments had significant quality issues. When I brought up it up with the factory, they tried to pass the blame to the customs broker, shipper or anyone else they could think of. When I asked for documentation of claims they were making and made it sound like I knew what I was talking about (luckily, I had friends who had similar experiences and helped me use the correct language), I had less issues.

Always do quality control.

Either do it yourself or get someone else to. Upset customers = No customers.

Visit the factory if you can.

I actually ended up visiting the factory in China and am so glad I did! All of a sudden I was no longer an annoying email from Canada but I was a nice person from Toronto. And likewise! Personal relationship is really helpful.

Make a friend.

Similar to the point above, I know my point people at the company and I treat them with respect and kindness and speak to them as I would speak with other colleaques. I ask about their kids, how they’re vacation was, etc. Friends help friend.

Other than the product cost + shipping + customs, the only other costs I paid was for the Shopify platform (USD$29/month), incorporate my business (CAD$200).

Describe the process of launching the online store/business.

I joined Shopify and created the store in about a day using on of their free themes. I financed the business with my own money. As mentioned I didn’t pay much startup costs and I pre-sold my products before I ordered a shipment of them.

Once I created my store to a point that I thought it was “good enough” (which took about a day), I emailed the food bloggers who said they were interested and told them that I launched. I gave them a 50% discount code and a deadline to purchase it by. I received my first 3 orders within a couple of days of sending that email.

I think one of the smartest things I did was to validate my idea and pre-sell before making a large shipment. Because of this, I haven’t lost any money or ended up with sitting on product for too long.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

I’m a bit unique in the sense that I have never spend any money on ads, Facebook or otherwise. I had a the benefit of being part of my target market, in that I am a food blogger/video creator myself and so I knew where to reach out to the community.

I got my first few sales by emailing other food bloggers. I then reached out to a couple of large food blogger organizations and asked them if they wanted to partner. Two of them said yes and that’s how I managed to further bump my sales.

I also know a little bit about SEO so I made my store SEO friendly, as well. I used a few tools to determine which long-tail keywords would be good to use:

I think used a few competitor analysis tools to determine my the words with the least competition, see:

Basically I was looking for multiple long keyword phrases, with low competition and high search volume.

At this point, for the ecommerce store I put zero effort into marketing it and minimal effort into maintaining it. I make $2000-3000/month and most of my traffic comes from the partnerships I’ve made with the food blogger organizations and Google. When I first started the store, I reached out a large food blogger group and asked if they’d be interested in my product. They bought a product from me and ended up promoting it their community (and continue to do so) of 3000+ food bloggers. I provide them with a discount for their community.

The store is one part of my business, a part that I’m currently not focusing on right now. I’m not on Amazon at this point but is something that I will look into when I decide to put more effort into the store.

The store now acts as a lead gen for my other subscription services: video editing and video production (see Snackable and Snackable Studios). I am putting most of my energy into these offerings as subscriptions are quite valuable for me.

How does your subscription service work?

After launching the store and getting the first few sales I quickly learned that this would likely be a one-time purchase and that I’d rather have long-term customers purchasing multiple products at regular intervals (who wouldn’t?!). I decided to offer an editing service as I knew that was a pain for me when I first started creating recipe videos. I offered the service to folks who bought my product and also other bloggers that I knew where creating videos (but didn’t necessarily buy my product).

The editing service was going well and I kept thinking about what else I could offer. I had a number of customers who would buy my product and had every intention of creating recipe videos but would never even open the box! Their pain? They didn’t have the time or, ultimately, the desire to film video (even though they paid USD$159 for the product). I then decided to offer recipe video production services.

How are you doing today and what does the future look like?

Snackable's revenue currently comes from:

  • An e-commerce store selling videography equipment - 30%
  • Subscription-based services: video editing, video production and (soon!) virtual assistants; - 60%
  • Influencer marketing commissions: 10%

Our costs include:

  • Manufacturing, import and fulfilment costs for the e-commerce store;
  • Staff (full-time and contract);
  • Admin (services and tool subscriptions, coworking rent)

We see Snackable becoming a blogger platform and marketplace. We see ourselves growing by:

  • Unifying our products and services into a single platform;
  • Increasing community members (and starting to invest in paid acquisition);
  • Adding more value-add tools and services for video bloggers;
  • Introducing a marketplace of freelance contractors to scale our creative and administrative service offerings

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

Good things I did:

I was/am my customer

I think the fact that I was/am my customer is a huge asset. Though I still do customer development regularly, I feel that I know my customer so well - their deepest fears, anxieties, goals - as I lived it myself.

Just ahead of the curve

Because I was in the video space, I knew where it was going. Food (video) bloggers would have to switch or at least heavily incorporate video into their blog. I knew they would need help and I found out how I could help.

Partnerships

My partnerships have been the greatest driver of my traffic and sales and, best of all, didn’t require any budget. :)

Customer service

My training in the retail business has probably helped me more than I realize. My goal is to provide “wow” customer service. I go out of my way to make customers happy. Referrals are your best and cheapest forms of marketing.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

  • Gsuite - business email, drive, calendar
  • Trello - project management
  • Slack - team communication
  • Frame.io - collaborative video editing
  • Wordpress - website for our platform. I’m familiar with website and knew that their plugins would come in handy.
  • Strikingly - website for brands - I needed something to set up that was one page, it fit the bill.
  • Shopify - obviously. I think the best platform for e-commerce. See my favourite apps below:
  • Tawk.to - to live chat with customers
  • Yakit - to display international shipping
  • Wizmo - cheap shipping from Canada to the US
  • Product Review - to display reviews on my store
  • Privy - to collect email address
  • Currency converter - to display currencies in both US and CAD
  • Raven - to call customers who visit the store.
  • Scout - to help better customer experience

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I try to do 20 minutes of reading a day, whether it’s books or blogs. I’m usually most interested in reading about sales and marketing and am always reading about my industry (video/creator/food) to keep up to date.

The latest books I read were:

  • The Sales Acceleration Formula by Mark Roberge
  • The Sales Development Playbook by Trish Bertuzzi
  • From Impossible to Inevitable by Aaron Ross, Jason Lemkin

My current blog post reading includes this list.

When I first got into the startup space, my mentor recommended this reading list (though it may be outdated, this was in 2012):

Self-development:

  • Think & Grow Rich - Napoleon Hill
  • How to Win Friends & Influence People - Dale Carnegie
  • As A Man Thinketh - James Allen
  • Get Smarter - Seymour Schulich
  • Outrageous Optimism - Jack Roseman
  • The Magic of Thinking Big - David Schwartz
  • The Law of Success - Napoleon Hill
  • The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho (Fiction - but very relevant)

Productivity:

  • Getting Things Done - David Allen
  • The Effective Executive - Peter Drucker

Entrepreneurship:

  • The Millionaire Fastlane – MJ DeMarco
  • Four Steps to the Epiphany - Steve Blank (very powerful material here - his blog/site, www.steveblank.com is amazing)
  • The 4 Hour Work Week - Tim Ferriss (a very fun read!)
  • The Art of the start - Guy Kawasaki
  • Rich Dad, Poor Dad - Robert Kiyosaki

Sales:

  • The Little Red Book of Selling - Jeffrey Gitomer
  • The Psychology of Selling - Brian Tracy
  • SPIN Selling - Neil Rackham
  • Running Lean - Ash Maurya

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Read, find a mentor(s) and a community. The hardest part is getting in the mindset which takes some training. Training in the form of learning, discussing and thinking. Once you get in the mindstate, there is not turning back. :)

Then do, test out your idea, talk to potential customers, find people who are smarter than you - either they are where you want to be or are slightly ahead of you (I like to have both) and learn from them. Buy them coffee, ask them specific questions, be humble and have humility.

Fail and then try again. It’s not easy but it can be done. Many people are doing it. The mental rollercoaster is the toughest part. Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Work smart, not long or ideally just not long.

Oh and meditate, that’s what I do. :)

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Currently I’m not looking for any full-time hires but I’m always looking to expand our creative team which includes:

  • Videographers (ideally comfortable with food)
  • Video editors
  • Copywriters

Where can we go to learn more?

I’m so bad with my “online image” but I can be found at:

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