Podcast

Learn from Fast Growing 7-8 Figure Online Retailers and eCommerce Experts

EPISODE 304 74 mins

How Brian Sloan Grew A DTC Sex Toy Company To 8-Figures



About the guests

Brian Sloan

Kunle Campbell

Brian Sloan is a sex toy inventor and entrepreneur who over the past 12 years has boostrapped his way to 8 digit yearly sales with a globally disbursed team. Working only from home and from cafes, he has used a unique blend of technology and media savvy to push his Autoblow device into the minds of millions of men and into the homes of hundreds of thousands.



On today’s episode, Kunle is joined by Brian Sloan, Founder of Autoblow. His company, Very Intelligent Ecommerce Inc., achieved 8-figure yearly sales, with only two full-time employees and an army of part-timers around the world.

 

Building a successful business is hard even at the best of times. But doing so in an industry where most avenues for marketing are closed is next level. It all comes down to constant innovation, with both your products and PR/marketing campaigns. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But today we’ll hear how Brian used these principles to upset the odds and scale his sex toy business.

 

In this episode, Kunle and Brian talk about what it takes to overcome obstacles in the market and build a 8-figure business. You will get to hear about building a sex toy business, working with a lean and remote team and creating out-of-the-box marketing programs. This is a great episode for entrepreneurs keen to scale their businesses!

 

Here is a summary of some of the most important points made,

    • Customer service emails give lot of actionable feedback
    • Trade shows are a great way to discover products and manufacturers in your niche
    • Create your marketing campaigns around themes that would appeal to global audiences
    • You don’t need to have a big team of permanent employees to do 8 figures
    • PR is a critical part of marketing in ultra niche markets
    • Media buying for sex toys has very high CPA, only works for higher cost products

 

Covered Topics:

On today’s interview Kunle and Brian discuss,

  • Selling on Marketplaces
  • Product Development & Testing
  • Living in China
  • Building with a Remote Team
  • Managing Press
  • Acquisition Channels
  • Media Buying

Timestamp:

  • 10:50 – Meet Brian:
    • Law school Grad
    • Started off as a eBay seller
    • Lived in China for 10 years
    • Broke 8-figures last year
  • 12:40 – Approach to marketplaces:
    • Seller DTC only in US
    • Resellers can sell on marketplaces in Canada and EU
  • 13:50 – Why the sex toy space?
  • 17:30 – Product Development process:
    • Generates ideas himself
    • Works with factory to refine the product
  • 21:00 – Product testing and feedback:
    • “Customers are not shy about complaining about what they don’t like”
    • Customer service emails give lot of actionable feedback
    • Tests products himself
    • Super customers give thoughtful feedback
  • 24:00 – Why they got off Amazon
  • 26:40 – Experience of living in China
    • “Living in China is like living in a business school”
    • Got exposed to a different level of scale
    • Lived in Beijing
    • “Everything is going to be made in China forever”
    • The first step for any entrepreneur should be to find the trade fair for your product in China
  • 33:00 – Managing his remote team
  • 37:00 – Doing press:
    • Started by marketing Latex suits himself
    • Never afraid of what people may think of him
    • Created contest around themes that would appeal to global audiences
    • Launched white paper for showcasing machine learning research of oral sex
  • 48:55 – Acquisition channels:
    • PR is only a small percentage
    • Run ads on porn networks
    • Advertise through some Youtubers
  • 51:30 – DTC vs Retail split:
    • Two-thirds is still DTC
    • Distributors orders have a minimum dollar value
  • 54:30 – Media buying:
    • Buy media in network that runs ads on top porn sites
    • CPA is very high, only works for higher cost products
    • Market is getting much more competitive
  • 58:15 – Retention strategy:
    • The removable sleeves need to be replaced
    • Prefer to keep few products on each category
  • 60:25 – Team set up:
    • CTO + one additional software engineer
    • 2 people doing customer service and order management
    • Other requirements are met by project-based freelancers
  • 67:00 – Lightning Round

Lightning Round:

  • Q: What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
    A: Never give or take advice, only share experiences
  • Q: What are 2 things you can’t live without?
    A: My Macbook and a swimming pool
  • Q: What book are you currently reading?
    A: Positive Discipline
  • Q: What are 3 indispensable tools for managing your business?
    A: Slack and our own platform
  • Q: What’s been your best mistake till date? A set back that’s given you the biggest feedback.
    A: Always know that you have to constantly improve products
  • Q: One piece of advice to online retailers/entrepreneurs keen to grow to 8-figures?
    A: Detach from Amazon sooner rather than later

Takeaways:

  • Trade shows are a great way to discover products and manufacturers in your niche
  • Create your marketing campaigns around themes that would appeal to global audiences
  • You don’t need to have a big team of permanent employees to do 8 figures
  • Media buying for sex toys has very high CPA, only works for higher cost products
  • DTC brands looking to establish themselves for the long run need to detach from Amazon

Links & Resources

Tweetable Quotes:

“Everything is going to be made in China forever.”

Facebook Group • Continue the Conversation

The eCommerce GrowthAccelerator Mastermind Facebook Group has just launched.
It is a community…

✔️ for founders and experts passionately involved in eCommerce
✔️ for the truly ambitious wanting to make an impact in the markets they serve
✔️ for those willing and open to help and share with other members

Here is where to apply to join the Facebook group
>>http://bit.ly/ecommercefb<<

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SPONSORS:

This episode is brought to you by:

This episode is brought to you by Klaviyo – a growth marketing platform that powers over 25,000 online businesses.
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About the host:

Kunle Campbell

An ecommerce advisor to ambitious, agile online retailers and funded ecommerce startups seeking exponentially sales growth through scalable customer acquisition, retention, conversion optimisation, product/market fit optimisation and customer referrals.

Learn from eCommerce Entrepreneurs & Marketing Experts


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