Putting 20Alpha.com On Pause While I Complete My MBA

I’ve been running the store 20Alpha.com on the side for the last few weeks. I learned a lot from the experience, but as I’m starting my MBA at Ivey in London, Ontario, I know I wont be able to dedicate the time that the website needs to provide a great service to my customers. For that reason, I’m putting the store on hold and no longer taking any orders. For those who are curious, here were my key take-aways:

1. It’s easy to sell, hard to profit.

It didn’t take long before I got my first sale, and I didn’t even have to spam my friend base on Facebook or Twitter. The profit margins were thin, and I imagine, unless you’re making your own clothing, it’s pretty hard to get a higher than 60% profit margin. For $20 shirts, that’s not much profit per sale.

2. One-time sales are hard

Having built my previous company with a SaaS (Software as a Service) pricing model, I can see the immediate disadvantages of running a one-time sale operation. Not only do clothing need-not regular replenishment, but they’re typically not purchased more than once in a long while. Add that to my point #1, and it’s a very big problem. Maybe there’s a market for subscription clothing? So you’d pay like $2.5/mo for 12 months for a year…. who knows…

3. Branding is Boss

All it took was thinking ‘outside of the box’ for the branding. Look at what other sites do and do it differently, how you think it should be. This allowed me to make a lasting brand pretty quickly.

4. Cater to your market. Nobody else.

I focused my marketing around the ‘Bro’ demographic that I believe is being underserved. This I feel was the reason people purchased from 20Alpha. People want to buy things from their friends (or ‘bros’ in my case).

5. You can test the waters with very little funding, however funding is needed to grow.

I didn’t invest any money into marketing, but it really limited my growth. It did validate my hypothesis  that there is a very unservered market however. Given a few thousand in financing, I believe I could have made some decent Facebook marketing and business development.

6. First customers are awesome.

My first customers were so responsive over email that I actually felt like we were becoming friends quickly through our convos. They gave me honest feedback and asked me questions about my products that shaped the store to be better for them, and as a result, better for me.   Hope this info helps anyone out there hoping to launch their own store!

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7 thoughts on “Putting 20Alpha.com On Pause While I Complete My MBA

    1. Hey George! I’m honestly not sure yet if or when I will bring it back up. It really depends on my ability to get enough financing to improve inventory and marketing. I’ll be sure to post back if I have more concrete details!

  1. hey jay,

    best of luck , i know how difficult it is to start a new clothing line, I was involved with a clothing line called Sub-Urban Clothing (White boy) a few years back, we exploded out of the gates but just couldn’t keep manufacturing prices down
    and couldn’t keep up with inventory demands, things just continued to spiral out of control and finally
    Retailers had had enough of the BS. What could have been?? We had fun with it for three good years.

    Anyway, your products were solid and If you can get some financing behind you, you will make it.

    Best of luck.
    do you still have the ability to get your v neck tees manufactured ?
    love to see those in person and see the quality of the shirts, $25.00 is low, tough to turn a profit on a price like that.

    here is little news item on our line
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20060627006013/en/Sub-Urban-Brands-Executes-Milestone-Order-Launch-WHITEBOY
    Bob

      1. Hi jay. Do you know anywhere else i can find vav brand t shirts? Iv been searching everywhere with no luck.

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