Mercedes S550

The S550 has a 5.5-litre V8 engine that comes alive to 382 horsepower at 6000 rpm, with torque rated at 391 pound-feet at 2800 rpm. The 5.5-liter biturbo V12 that powers the S600 is rated at 510 horsepower at 5000 rpm and 612 pound-feet of torque at 1900 rpm.

Make: Mercedes
Model: Mercedes S550
Year: 2015
Price: $19,000
Mileage:
382 Horsepower

How MySignature Rakes in $700K Annually with a Killer SEO Strategy

Volodymyr Zastavnyy the founder of MySignature embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in 2015, taking a daring leap from the comfort of his job to dive headfirst into the unpredictable waters of the startup world. Armed with determination and a bold idea, he founded Newoldstamp, a company that would eventually pave the way for the creation of MySignature.

The genesis of this venture traced back to Vol’s days at a TV manufacturing company. Faced with the tedious task of manually recreating email signatures on each computer, an idea took root. The absence of a centralized solution sparked the notion of an email signature generator. Despite skeptics doubting the viability of such an endeavor, Vol pressed on, fueled by the belief that he could turn this seemingly crazy idea into a thriving business.

email_signature_generator

With minimal SaaS experience, Vol embarked on extensive research, identifying a niche with few competitors offering paid features. The core of the email signature generator would be a design with a creative touch, breaking free from the limitations of traditional methods like using Word and tables. A friend joined the cause, developing the initial version, but a freelance designer was enlisted to bring the design to life for $300.

The journey, however, wasn’t all smooth sailing. The team encountered challenges, including the complexities of maintaining a Chrome extension, prompting a shift to a simpler copy-and-paste installation method. This version launched as an MVP, and offered free service to early users, laying the foundation for the future.

In the early stages, financial constraints limited Vol’s ability to run paid ads. Instead, he embraced SEO as a key channel, hiring an SEO freelancer and a part-time marketer for unpaid internship roles. The free version gained traction, and as traffic increased, live chat was introduced to gather real-time feedback. The turning point came when users started asking where they could pay, signaling the need to transition to a paid version.

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The journey to monetization continued, with the paid version officially launched on New Year’s Day in 2016. Revenue gradually climbed, reaching $5K per month by the end of 2016. The startup gained organic mentions in reputable publications, instilling confidence in Vol’s vision and SEO strategy.

The story took an unexpected turn in 2019 when participating in a 500 Startups acceleration program, Vol decided to acquire a rising competitor. The strategic move allowed them to differentiate their audience and accelerate growth. Negotiations ensued, highlighting a crucial lesson—there are no strict rules for negotiating prices; it’s a sales process.

As the journey unfolded, Vol learned valuable lessons. The pivotal role of the initial hires became evident, emphasizing the need to avoid toxic team members. Reflecting on the stress of venturing into entrepreneurship without prior experience, Vol emphasized the importance of seeking advice from fellow entrepreneurs and building a supportive network.

Through it all, MySignature emerged as a profitable venture, contributing significantly to Solva’s revenue. Key metrics like monthly traffic, user count, LTV, and churn rate underscored its success. Looking ahead, the strategic decision to transform MySignature into more than just an email signature generator points toward a future of innovation and growth.

Vol’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to trust their instincts, start today, and prioritize SEO for sustainable growth. The story of MySignature is not just a business narrative; it’s a testament to the resilience, adaptability, and unwavering belief that propels entrepreneurs forward in the face of challenges.

How Rory Adams Created A $30K/Year Platform To Book Magicians

Rory has spent nearly a decade crafting magic tricks for TV shows globally. This year, he unveiled his magical creation – Book A Magician, an online directory that aspires to become a comprehensive booking platform for professional magicians.

The genesis of this venture came to Rory during the pandemic while writing a newsletter for magicians called “One Ahead.” As a TV writer for comedy and entertainment shows like “Magic For Humans” on Netflix, Rory’s familiarity with magicians grew, leading him to discover a gap in the industry.

At a convention earlier this year, the poor quality of magician websites became a topic of discussion among Rory’s friends. Determined to bridge this gap, Rory impulsively bought the domain bookamagician.com at 2 AM. Armed with a $1,500 investment and a vision, he embarked on a journey to create a platform that would not only help magicians showcase their talents but also make it easier for event organizers to find and hire them.

The process of building the first version of Book A Magician was an exercise in resourcefulness. Rory started with a cheap Webflow template for real estate websites, adapting it to fit the needs of his magical venture. The result was a minimal viable product (MVP) with a simple sitemap featuring magician profiles, backlinks, and contact buttons.

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With an annual fee of $299 and a commitment to take zero commission on gigs, Rory’s platform attracted 103 magicians from around the world within just three months of its launch. The journey, however, wasn’t without its challenges. Rory acknowledges the importance of valuing your product, a lesson he learned when getting people to sign up for free proved challenging, but convincing them to pay for the platform was surprisingly easy.

The launch strategy involved a gradual approach, with Rory promoting the platform in his newsletter for four months while it climbed the search rankings. A soft launch with a limited-time lifetime fee of $99 for early adopters yielded 50 paying members, showcasing the perceived value of the service.

The key to attracting and retaining customers in the early stages revolves around emphasizing the value of backlinks. Magicians joining the platform receive a backlink on their profile, boosting their website’s search rankings. Rory also leverages backlinking between his various projects to organically grow the platform’s backlink profile.

As Rory navigates the challenges of growing the business, his focus remains on enhancing the website’s SEO and features. Intending to create a platform that can automate the booking process for magicians in the future, Rory dreams big and advises fellow entrepreneurs to trust their instincts, make small affordable bets, and focus on scalable business projects.

Today, Book A Magician stands as the number one result for the search term “book a magician” in the USA, marking a promising start to Rory’s magical journey. As he continues to refine and expand his platform, the future looks bright for both magicians and those seeking to add a touch of magic to their events.

Founder_Story

How Zilingo Crumbled: A Tale of an E-commerce Giant

Zilingo, founded in 2015 by Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor, began as an ambitious e-commerce platform aiming to connect small South-East Asian businesses with a global audience. Ankiti Bose, an ex-McKinsey and ex-Sequoia employee, envisioned leveraging technology to empower local businesses to reach beyond their market stalls. Zilingo started as an online marketplace for Southeast Asian shops, offering a range of products from clothing to artwork.

Over the years, Zilingo evolved its business model to address two critical challenges faced by small businesses: expanding customer reach and improving operational efficiency. In addition to being an e-commerce platform, Zilingo ventured into B2B services, providing operational, sourcing, and financial solutions for merchants. The platform offered capital loans, insurance, stock management tools, and supply chain solutions.

The company gained substantial traction and investor interest, securing significant funding in various rounds. By 2019, Zilingo reached a valuation of $970 million and was on the verge of becoming a unicorn. The expansion involved onboarding thousands of merchants and brands and creating a vast network of suppliers and factories.

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However, the success on paper concealed the underlying challenges that ultimately led to Zilingo’s downfall:

  1. E-commerce Cash-Burn: Zilingo’s core, despite the B2B aspirations, remained rooted in B2C e-commerce. The company adopted aggressive cash-burn strategies, discounts, and heavy marketing spending to compete with e-commerce giants like Lazada and Shopee. The e-commerce wing became a financial sinkhole with low margins, draining resources from the B2B side.
  2. Buggy Tech and Operational Inefficiency: Zilingo lacked internal software to efficiently manage its diverse e-commerce marketplace and B2B solutions. The absence of adequate technology resulted in operational inefficiencies, with manual processes and a lack of essential features for client onboarding during the early years.
  3. US Expansion and Pandemic Impact: Zilingo’s move to expand into the US market in 2019 faced setbacks, and the subsequent global lockdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic further disrupted the company’s growth plans.
  4. Scandal and Leadership Crisis: In 2022, Zilingo faced a severe blow when accusations of financial irregularities led to the suspension of CEO Ankiti Bose. Ankiti, in turn, accused the company of sexual harassment. The leadership crisis, coupled with the departure of key figures, intensified Zilingo’s challenges.

The cumulative effect of these factors plunged Zilingo into a dire financial situation, with losses surpassing revenue. In a surprising turn of events, the board suspended Ankiti Bose, and the investors pushed for the liquidation of Zilingo’s assets. Ankiti and Dhruv, despite the tumultuous situation, expressed faith in Zilingo’s B2B vertical and offered to buy the company at half its previous valuation.

Ultimately, Zilingo’s journey serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of e-commerce cash-burn, the importance of robust technology, the impact of external crises, and the significance of leadership in navigating challenges.

Despite having a promising B2B vertical, Zilingo’s financial troubles and leadership crisis led to its untimely demise in 2022

QuizUp Story: From Million-Dollar Funding to Shutdown

QuizUp, a mobile trivia app, was developed by Plain Vanilla Games and later acquired by Glu Mobile. Founded by Thor Fridriksson in 2013, the app allowed users to compete in timed multiplayer, multiple-choice trivia matches. With over 1200 topics, players could challenge friends or random opponents.

Gameplay and Rise:

Users signed in via social media accounts and answered questions for scores. Each match consisted of seven rounds, including a bonus round, scoring points based on accuracy and time. QuizUp quickly gained popularity, launching on iOS in 2013 and Android in 2014. Within weeks, it amassed millions of users, securing venture capital investments and reaching 20 million users by May 2014.

Business Model and Growth Hacks:

Rather than active advertising, QuizUp adopted native advertising. Partnerships with companies led to questions related to their offerings. For example, Google collaborated on geography-related questions to promote Google Maps. The app’s growth hacks included socializing the application, encouraging users to share achievements on social media, and allowing volunteers to submit questions, fostering user engagement.

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Challenges and Monetization Struggles:

Monetization was a persistent challenge. While QuizUp focused on word-of-mouth publicity, the absence of active advertising, premium memberships, or in-game purchases impacted revenue generation. The inability to monetize led to difficulties in maintaining the game’s user experience.

Downfall and Acquisition:

After NBC canceled the planned television game show in 2016, Plain Vanilla Games sought buyers for QuizUp. Glu Mobile acquired Plain Vanilla Games in 2016 for $7.5M. Despite various attempts to make the game profitable, maintaining a user base of 80 million proved unprofitable. In January 2021, QuizUp was removed from app stores, and its servers were shut down on March 24, 2021.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Monetization is Crucial: QuizUp’s failure emphasizes the importance of finding viable revenue streams to sustain user experience. Relying solely on word-of-mouth without effective monetization can lead to downfall.
  2. Balancing Growth and Revenue: Growth without a parallel focus on revenue can be unsustainable. Burning through venture capital funds to scale must be accompanied by efforts to establish profitable models.
  3. Adaptation is Key: QuizUp’s reluctance to adopt active advertising limited revenue opportunities. Startups should remain adaptable and explore various monetization strategies.
  4. Customer Acquisition vs. Retention: While QuizUp excelled in customer acquisition, maintaining profitability with a large user base proved challenging. Balancing acquisition and retention strategies is essential for sustained success.
  5. Experimentation and Innovation: QuizUp struggled to innovate ways to monetize its product effectively. Experimentation with different revenue models is crucial for startups to find what works best for their audience.
  6. Initial Revenue Generation: Closing the first sale and establishing initial revenue sources can be vital for startups. It provides a foundation for sustained growth and operations.

The QuizUp story serves as a reminder for startups to prioritize sustainable monetization, adapt to changing circumstances, and strike a balance between user growth and financial viability.

Rise and Fall of Myspace: A Pioneering Social Media Platform

Myspace, a pioneering social media platform, allowed users to create personalized pages, and blogs, share content, and connect with others. Born in 2003, it became a hub for music lovers, offering legal music streaming through contracts with record labels. Myspace’s success was built on the ashes of Friendster, with eUniverse employees crafting it in just 10 days.

Acquisition and Peak Era:

Acquired by News Corporation (Fox) in 2005 for $580M, Myspace quickly became a revenue giant. By 2007, it had a valuation of $12B, boasting $800M in revenue and 22M users. Myspace’s unique selling points were its no-cost content generation, self-propagating user acquisition, and endless advertising potential.

Facebook vs. Myspace:

In 2007, Myspace held an 80% market share, with Facebook trailing far behind. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg offered to sell Facebook to Myspace for $75M, but Myspace declined. However, by 2008, Facebook surpassed Myspace in users, signaling a turning point.

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Reasons for Myspace’s Decline:

  1. Excessive Advertising: Myspace flooded the platform with ads, even entering a $900 million advertising deal with Google. Ad-heavy UI and intrusive ad strategies alienated users.
  2. Feature Overload: Myspace’s attempt to encompass numerous features (books, forums, movies, etc.) led to a cluttered and confusing platform. It aimed to be Spotify, Netflix, and LinkedIn simultaneously, spreading itself thin.
  3. Poor Website Design and UI/UX: Customizable but chaotic, Myspace pages lacked a standardized look. The user interface suffered from sensory overload, contributing to a subpar user experience.
  4. Technological Challenges: Originally built on Adobe ColdFusion, Myspace struggled to scale. Its move to a new platform resulted in a buggy product, undermining user trust.
  5. Offshoring Development: Myspace opted for in-house feature development instead of opening up to external developers like Facebook did. This decision drained resources and hindered user engagement.
  6. Bad Reputation: Cases of inappropriate content exposure, cyberbullying, and harassment tarnished Myspace’s image. The absence of effective regulations exacerbated these issues.
  7. Prioritizing Website Over Core Service: Losing sight of its core service (socialization), Myspace focused on adding website features without understanding user needs, leading to a disjointed platform.
  8. Founders Leaving: As News Corporation imposed corporate guidelines, Myspace’s founders, disillusioned by the decline, left. The shift from a startup mindset to corporate decision-making impacted Myspace’s agility.

Aftermath and Lessons Learned:

Myspace’s rapid decline saw it lose $40M in unique visitors monthly. In 2011, it was sold to a media group and Justin Timberlake for $35M. Subsequent sales and transfers occurred, but Myspace lost its cultural relevance.

💡 Key Lessons:

  1. Not All Acquisitions Are Beneficial: Million-dollar acquisitions don’t guarantee success. Myspace’s core monetization strategy contributed to its downfall.
  2. Success Takes Time: Startups don’t need to fail fast; they can succeed slowly. Persistence often outpaces speed in startup battles.
  3. Learning and Unlearning: Successful startups require unlearning popular media myths about building them. Continuous learning and adaptation are crucial.
  4. Problem Prioritization: Solve critical problems first; iterate and solve others in later versions. Don’t try to solve all problems simultaneously.
  5. Software’s Finite Lifespan: Software doesn’t last forever; expect upgrades, feature deprecation, and maintenance issues.
  6. Avoid Feature Bloat: Unless a feature directly impacts business outcomes, consider it unnecessary. Start simple and iterate.
  7. Consistency Wins: Startups are built through consistent, “boring” actions over extended periods. Simplicity and consistency are keys to success in the startup world.

Myspace’s story serves as a cautionary tale for social media platforms, emphasizing the importance of user experience, adaptability, and understanding core business objectives.

Adobe Flash: Birth, Rise, Problems, and Demise

Adobe Flash was a popular animation tool in the 2000s, enabling users to create and view multimedia content, animations, and games. Its vector-based graphics facilitated quick downloads, crucial in an era of slow internet speeds. Flash supported various formats like GIF, PNG, and FLV, becoming a favorite for web developers.

The Birth of Adobe Flash:

In 1996, FutureSplash Animator, launched by Jonathan Gay and Charlie Jackson, evolved into Macromedia Flash 1.0 after Macromedia’s acquisition. Later, Adobe Flash Player emerged post-Adobe’s acquisition of Macromedia in 2005.

The Peak Era of Adobe Flash:

Flash gained immense popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s, becoming an essential tool for web developers. Its multimedia content and interactivity capabilities made it a versatile choice, notably in the gaming realm. Platforms like NewGrounds, hosting Flash games, flourished, highlighting the impact of Flash on online entertainment.

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The Problems with Adobe Flash:

Despite its success, Flash faced critical issues:

  1. Accessibility: Installing new Flash versions was cumbersome, and HTML integration was problematic.
  2. Privacy Concerns: Flash’s use of local data storage raised privacy issues, containing sensitive information.
  3. Security Problems: Flash had persistent security issues, leading users to disable it due to potential risks.
  4. Performance Criticisms: Flash was criticized for being slow and resource-intensive.
  5. Lack of Mobile Support: Flash wasn’t supported on most mobile devices, limiting its usage.

Did Steve Jobs Kill Flash?

Steve Jobs, Apple’s co-founder, openly criticized Flash in 2010, citing concerns about its closed nature, proprietary design, separate browser plugins, and poor performance. Jobs’ disapproval and Apple’s refusal to support Flash on iOS devices contributed to its decline.

The Downfall of Adobe Flash:

Post-2010, Flash faced increasing backlash due to performance, security, and privacy issues. Rising competitors like HTML5 and CSS3 also played a role. Google reported a significant drop in Flash website visits. Adobe officially announced the discontinuation of Flash in 2017, and it was shut down on December 31, 2020.

Google reported that the number of people visiting Flash websites fell from 80% to 17%. In 2017, Adobe announced that it would be shutting down Flash, and it was officially discontinued on December 31, 2020.

Flash’s Legacy:

Flash Player, the browser plugin, is defunct, but the Flash authoring tool still sees use in specialized business settings and among animators. Notably, platforms like NewGrounds continue to support Flash content through open-source, in-browser emulation. While Flash, as we knew it, has ended, its impact on the digital landscape remains part of internet history.

The Rise and Fall of Friendster: A Social Networking Startup

Background:

Friendster, founded by Jonathan Abrams in 2003, was an early social networking site with a unique blend of social interaction, gaming, and events. With a peak user base of 115 million, it dominated Asian markets like the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.

How Friendster Worked:

Friendster aimed to facilitate social interactions, gaming, and content sharing. It embraced Asian languages early on and even ventured into the payment platform space with “Friendster Wallet.” The company introduced offline cybercafes and free wifi infrastructure, showcasing innovation beyond its core features.

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Business Model:

Advertisements were Friendster’s primary revenue source, along with selling access to APIs for developers. The in-app purchase model using Friendster Wallet added another stream. It was a pioneer in creating an open, non-proprietary platform with an open revenue model for developers.

Rise of Friendster:

Launching in 2003, Friendster quickly reached 3 million users, facing early competition from Facebook, Yahoo!, and Microsoft 360. Despite a $30 million offer from Google, Friendster pressed on, gaining backing from renowned venture firms. By 2008, it had over 115 million registered users.

What Happened:

In 2011, Friendster pivoted to a social gaming site, discontinuing its social network accounts. The move aimed to complement Facebook rather than compete. However, due to user experience issues, CEO changes, and a delayed fix for loading speed, users migrated to Myspace and, ultimately, Facebook. Friendster officially shut down in June 2018.

Lessons Learned:

  1. Timing Matters: Friendster faced challenges despite being an early mover. It’s not about being the first but learning from predecessors and avoiding their mistakes.
  2. Venture Capital Pitfalls: Raising funds can be detrimental if not managed properly. Too many board members can limit flexibility and prioritize growth over everything else.
  3. Customer-Centric Growth: Pursuing growth at any cost, especially at the expense of current customers, can lead to failure. Friendster failed to capitalize on its early success.

Key Takeaway:

Friendster’s downfall teaches us that success is not guaranteed by being a pioneer; it requires continuous adaptation, customer focus, and strategic decisions that prioritize long-term sustainability over rapid growth.

From Zero to $4B: The BrowserStack Journey

Many founders envision raising VC money as their first step, but not Ritesh and Nakul. They built BrowserStack to a $50 million revenue powerhouse before seeking funding.

Their journey started at IIT-Bombay, driven by a shared passion for technology. Despite early setbacks with two failed startups, they remained undeterred, learning crucial lessons:

  1. Customer-Driven Startups: Prioritize being customer-driven over idea-driven.
  2. Solve Real Problems: Focus on solving real problems rather than chasing tech trends.

Shifting gears, they launched a consultancy to sustain their entrepreneurial dream. A pivotal moment arrived when frustrated with testing a website, they conceived BrowserStack.

Validating their idea before diving in, they released a free version that quickly gained traction. Within a year, they hit $1 million in revenue with 1,000 paying customers. Their mantra: work fast, fail fast, iterate.

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In 2018, with $50 million in revenue, they sought VC funding. Today, BrowserStack boasts $204 million in revenue and a $4 billion valuation.

Key takeaways from their journey:

  1. Keep Shipping: Perfect is the enemy of good.
  2. Tech for Problem Solving: Use technology to solve business problems, not the other way around.

Ritesh and Nakul’s story is a testament to resilience and problem-solving. It underscores that success is defined not by failures but by the lessons learned and the ability to bounce back. It’s about solving problems, not chasing trends, proving that how you finish the race matters more than how you start it.

Meet the man behind 3 unicorns

Meet Supam Maheshwari, the visionary behind FirstCry ($4 billion), XpressBees ($1.2 billion), and GlobalBees ($1.12 billion).

Starting his journey fresh out of IIM Ahmedabad, Supam launched Brainvisa Technologies in 2000. This e-learning platform catered to over 500,000 students, laying the groundwork for his future billion-dollar ventures. Which also led to long-lasting bonds with his co-founders, Nitin Agarwal and Amitava Saha.

In 2010, Supam identified a gap in the Indian baby product market, giving rise to FirstCry. The hybrid retail model, blending online shopping with 400+ physical stores, thrived with innovative strategies like hospital sampling and private labels like BabyHug.

Undeterred, Supam addressed logistics challenges in 2015, founding XpressBees. Today, it’s a logistics giant with operations in 3,000+ cities, handling 3 million deliveries daily for clients like PayTM and Xiaomi.

In 2021, GlobalBees emerged, co-founded by Supam and Nitin, swiftly achieving unicorn status by acquiring and scaling niche e-commerce brands.

Worth Reading: SurveyMonkey’s Journey: From Zero to $3 Billion

Supam’s journey unveils key insights:

  1. Identify overlooked consumer needs and gaps in the market.
  2. Adopt fiscal prudence for lean yet high-growth models.
  3. Innovate ahead of the curve.
  4. Partner with reliable co-founders for the long term.

Based in Pune, Supam defies the notion that startups must thrive in traditional hubs. His story epitomizes how innovation and strategic execution can yield extraordinary success, making disruption seem effortless.

SurveyMonkey’s Journey: From Zero to $3 Billion

Meet Ryan and Chris Finley, the brains behind SurveyMonkey, who took a unique path. Instead of chasing VC funding from the start, they bootstrapped for 11 years, reaching a remarkable $28 million in annual revenue before seeking external investment.

Starting in a Wisconsin music production company, they had a simple idea — reinventing online surveys. Without venture capital, they focused on organic growth, pouring every earned dollar back into the business. Their strategy included a straightforward product, free and premium options, strong branding, and customer-focused efforts.

SurveyMonkey thrived for a decade without external funds, proving that bootstrapping a tech company works. In 2009, they decided to accelerate growth by securing investment from Spectrum Equity and Bain Capital. This move skyrocketed their valuation to over $1 billion within a few years, now standing at an impressive $3 billion.

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Takeaways from SurveyMonkey’s journey:

  1. Bootstrapping Success: SurveyMonkey shows that starting profitable and staying lean can sustain a tech venture without external funding.
  2. Quality Over Hype: SurveyMonkey thrived quietly, emphasizing great service over flashy ads or big spending.

Their story teaches us that success isn’t just about how you fund your journey; it’s about how well you navigate it

Pebble (Formerly T2): The Rise and Fall of a Twitter Challenger

The echoes of Twitter, now rebranded as X, resound louder than expected, claiming its first casualty in the realm of Twitter alternatives. Pebble, previously known as T2, is calling it quits. Despite growing a small, engaged community on its microblogging service, Pebble faced an uphill battle against its mighty competitor. The startup aimed to emulate Twitter’s features, including verification systems and DM functionality.

Unfortunately, Pebble ran out of time to realize its vision. With a maximum of 3,000 daily active users out of 20,000 registered users, the platform struggled to gain significant traction. Even following a rebranding from T2, daily user figures plummeted to 1,000 users.

Gabor Cselle, Pebble’s Co-founder and CEO, pointed to the swift evolution of the competitive landscape as a primary factor in their demise. The market for Twitter alternatives is now saturated with platforms like Mastodon, Bluesky, Spill, Spoutible, Post, and even Meta’s Instagram Threads.

Despite initial positive signs, such as decent retention and a successful invite system, Pebble faced challenges standing out in a crowded market. The founders believed in prioritizing trust, safety, and moderation, even if these values didn’t translate into substantial growth.

However, Pebble’s commitment to creating a safer space may have inadvertently positioned it too far into the “kindness” territory. The founders acknowledge that perhaps allowing more space for disagreement while maintaining a strong stance on moderation could have been a better approach.

Several factors, including the absence of a native mobile app, the rebranding from T2 to Pebble, and competition from Twitter’s enduring network effect, contributed to Pebble’s struggle. Reflecting on their experience, the founders express gratitude for the journey, despite its unexpected end.

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They hint at the possibility of staying together to work on something new, armed with valuable lessons from the Pebble experience. As Pebble winds down, early adopters can export their archives, showcasing the platform’s journey before it officially shuts down on November 1st. The founders, while facing uncertainty about their next move, don’t regret attempting to carve a new path in the evolving landscape of social media.

How Convoy’s Ambitious Journey Hit the Brakes

Convoy, the once-promising disruptor of the trucking industry, is now navigating a different kind of journey — one marked by unexpected hurdles and a screeching halt.

In a candid admission from CEO Dan Lewis, Convoy’s plan to revolutionize freight logistics crumbled under the weight of an “unprecedented freight market collapse” and “dramatic monetary tightening.” The unexpected shutdown of operations sent shockwaves through both the Seattle tech scene and the broader trucking sector. The memo to employees painted a vivid picture of Convoy’s struggle, stating that the company spent the past four months exploring strategic options, but none proved substantial enough to keep the ship afloat. What went wrong? Convoy, once valued at $3.8 billion after raising an impressive $260 million just 18 months ago, faced challenges reflective of a turbulent industry. With freight demand dropping, revenue per truckload shrinking, and an oversupply of trucking companies, the odds were stacked against the startup.

As the company grappled with layoffs and a shrinking workforce, reports suggest that laid-off employees didn’t receive severance, adding a bitter note to the already somber situation. What’s clear is that Convoy’s ambitious vision, backed by industry giants like Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, stumbled in execution. The company’s focus on creating an Uber-like system for truckers and shippers failed to establish the expected technological edge. Internal tensions regarding Convoy’s identity — a tech or logistics company — added complexity to its challenges.

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While Convoy’s closure might have seemed imminent with reports of a potential sale, the abrupt end still caught many off guard. The tale of Convoy’s rise and fall serves as a cautionary note in an industry undergoing seismic shifts, where even well-funded and high-profile startups face the unpredictable terrain of the market.

Transtura’s Journey: Learning and Growing from Failure

Hey founders! Today, let’s chat about Transtura, a ride-hailing startup that had its ups, downs, and lots of lessons for all of us.

Vincent Adeoba, who went from PwC Nigeria to leading Transtura, dreamed of fixing transportation in Lagos. Exciting, right? But, reality hit hard.

Transtura faced unexpected challenges with rules from NURTW, LASTMA, and the Lagos State Ministry. Dealing with them was tougher than expected. The real shocker? NURTW took a big chunk of the money ( over 20% of our daily revenue ), causing constant problems like bus impoundments and attacks on drivers.

Worth Reading: Worth Reading: How Convoy’s Ambitious Journey Hit the Brakes

Vincent rightly points out that for Nigeria to prosper, leaders need to support young people trying to make a difference.

Nigerian leaders need to understand that Nigeria cannot become a prosperous country by making it impossible for young people who want to contribute to succeed.

Transtura faced tough times, but the story isn’t about blame. It’s about embracing failure and learning from it. Vincent admits, “Those who said we’d fail were right, but I’m glad we gave it a shot.”

Those who said we’d fail were right, but I’m glad we gave it a shot.

After Transtura, Vincent bounced back. He applied for roles in the U.S. and landed a spot at PwC New York.

In this new year, remember Transtura’s journey. Learn from failures, turn them into stepping stones, and keep growing. Failure isn’t the end; it’s just one chapter in every founder’s story.

Hux Ventures and the Visionary Impact of Sam Ojei on African Startups: A Founder’s Story

Hux Ventures, under Sam Ojei‘s guidance, has become a pivotal force in nurturing and supporting emerging businesses across the continent. Hux Ventures is not just a venture capital firm; it’s a catalyst for innovation and growth in the African business ecosystem. Sam Ojei, with a keen eye for untapped potential, founded Hux Ventures to bridge the gap between promising startups and the resources they need to thrive. 

sam ojei

Sam Ojei brings a wealth of experience and a passion for supporting entrepreneurs. His leadership style is characterized by a hands-on approach, where he actively engages with startups, providing mentorship, strategic guidance, and access to a network of industry experts. Sami’s commitment to nurturing talent has earned him recognition as a key influencer in the African startup scene.

The launch of Founder Story Magazine is a testament to the need to recognize and celebrate the trailblazers who are transforming the African business landscape. Sam Ojei’s story and the impact of Hux Ventures serve as a cornerstone for the magazine’s mission to spotlight the journeys, challenges, and triumphs of visionary leaders in the entrepreneurial space.

Founder Story Magazine goes beyond traditional storytelling; it serves as a source of inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs. By showcasing the narratives of individuals like Sam Ojei, the magazine aims to motivate the next generation of African innovators, instilling the belief that they too can overcome challenges and contribute to the continent’s economic development.

Hux Ventures stands out for its strategic investments in a diverse range of industries, from technology and fintech to agriculture and healthcare. The firm’s portfolio reflects Sam’s foresight, identifying startups with the potential to revolutionize their respective sectors. Through strategic partnerships and funding, Hux Ventures empowers these startups to scale and make a lasting impact on their communities.

Worth Reading: Sam Ojei’s Inspirational Journey: Hux Ventures Fund’s Heartfelt Impact Unveiled at London Stock Exchange

Hux Ventures, guided by the visionary leadership of Sam Ojei, is leaving an indelible mark on African startups. Through strategic investments and a commitment to mentorship, Hux Ventures is playing a pivotal role in shaping the future of entrepreneurship on the continent. Founder Story Magazine, with its mission to celebrate and inspire, stands as a tribute to the impactful stories of leaders like Sam Ojei, fostering a culture of innovation and resilience in the African startup ecosystem.

Sam Ojei’s Inspirational Journey: Hux Ventures Fund’s Heartfelt Impact Unveiled at London Stock Exchange

In a tapestry woven with threads of financial dynamism and technological aspirations, Sam Ojei, the compassionate General Partner of Hux Ventures Fund, embarked on a soul-stirring journey that unfolded against the grandeur of the London Stock Exchange. This transformative expedition wasn’t just about financial strategies; it was a heartfelt exploration of Hux Ventures Fund’s mission and its deeply resonant impact on the dreams of African entrepreneurs.

A Symphony of Possibilities at the London Stock Exchange: Hux Ventures Fund’s Soulful Mission Echoes

Within the hallowed halls of the London Stock Exchange, Sam Ojei engaged in conversations that surpassed the rigid boundaries of investment discussions. Hux Ventures Fund’s mission, narrated with heartfelt passion by Sam, became a lyrical ode to the dreams of shaping Africa’s future through compassionate investments and unwavering support for budding entrepreneurs.

In the midst of discussions with financial maestros, Sam delicately unveiled the unique opportunities that Africa holds, not just in economic terms but as a canvas for human potential. Hux Ventures Fund’s mission became a harmonious blend of traditional financial wisdom and the untapped melodies that resonate within the diverse markets of the continent. This visit wasn’t merely a transactional exchange; it was a serenade to Hux Ventures Fund’s commitment to fostering growth and innovation within the African entrepreneurial spirit.

Hux Ventures Fund’s Embrace of Dreams in the Tapestry of Innovation

Transitioning seamlessly from the financial symphony of London,  a vibrant tableau where the heartbeat of African innovation echoed passionately. Amidst discussions on the forefront of technology, Sam’s presence became a gentle conductor of insight and inspiration. The dialogues that unfolded were not just about financial metrics but about the transformative lullaby Hux Ventures Fund was singing to the dreams of African startups.

Sam’s heartfelt representation of Hux Ventures Fund’s mission resonated deeply with thought leaders, industry enthusiasts, and aspiring founders. The fund’s commitment to holistic support, extending far beyond monetary backing to embrace hands-on mentorship and a network of compassionate industry allies, emerged as the soulful core of these discussions.

Hux Ventures Fund’s Mission: Nurturing Dreams and Creating Melodies of HopeThrough Sam Ojei’s emotive storytelling, Hux Ventures Fund’s mission emerged as a compassionate force, gently propelling positive change within African entrepreneurship. His words encapsulated more than a financial commitment – they were a promise to nurture startups grappling with challenges like a lack of access to capital, the absence of mentorship, and the scarcity of resources. Under Sam Ojei’s empathetic leadership,

Hux Ventures Fund isn’t merely an investment entity; it is a vessel for the cultivation of a flourishing and emotionally connected startup ecosystem.

Sam encapsulated the essence of Hux Ventures Fund’s mission with heartfelt words, stating, “We believe in the incredible potential of African entrepreneurs, and through Hux Ventures Fund, we are creating a platform that nurtures innovation, fosters collaboration, and drives meaningful impact.”

Dreams Unfolding: Hux Ventures Fund’s Unwavering Symphony of Support

As Sam Ojei’s emotionally resonant dialogues echoed through the storied halls of the London Stock Exchange and the vibrant tones of the, it became abundantly clear that Hux Ventures Fund, under his compassionate stewardship, is crafting a melody of African innovation. The impact extends beyond financial metrics; it is reflected in the stories of startups empowered to create not just scalable and sustainable enterprises but emotionally connected dreams.

Looking ahead, Hux Ventures Fund remains steadfast in its commitment to catalyzing transformative change within African entrepreneurship. With Sam Ojei orchestrating this symphony, the fund continues to navigate the global stage, contributing not just to the evolution of African innovation but to the harmonious tapestry of dreams and aspirations for a more vibrant and emotionally resonant future for the continent.

How Ivan Built Photopea Into $1M+ per Year Revenue with Zero Employees.

Ivan is the genius behind Photopea, a FREE Photoshop-like image editor. His project gets.

  • 13M monthly visits
  • 1.5M monthly user hours
  • $100K monthly ad revenue
  • He’s solo handled 500K daily users and scaled to $1M+ revenue

Ivan_Photopea

Here is the Full Story

Born in a small village in Western Ukraine, Ivan‘s journey began with a move to the Czech Republic in 2001. An ordinary 11-year-old boy, he discovered his passion when his eager fingers first touched a computer keyboard, unveiling the captivating world of computer graphics. By 14, he had already crafted his first website, and an insatiable hunger for coding was ignited.

But it was in 2009, during his tenure as a computer science undergrad, that the seeds of Photopea were sown. A fascination with online games led to countless creative endeavors, marking the beginning of his passionate journey into programming. At 20, Ivan delved into the realm of JavaScript and began crafting Flash games that not only fulfilled his passion but also netted him a modest income. Those early banner ads brought in a monthly pocket change of $100 to $400.

However, Ivan’s relentless ambition was anything but ordinary. At one point, he juggled a staggering 20 different ideas, all simmering simultaneously on his entrepreneurial stovetop. Yet, it was his intimate relationship with Adobe Photoshop that illuminated his path to success.

As he traversed the complex landscapes of Photoshop, two significant roadblocks emerged.

Firstly, Photoshop’s costly subscription model rendered it inaccessible to many, locking it behind a hefty $20/month paywall. Secondly, its substantial computing demands made it unwieldy for users with less powerful machines, and its features weren’t readily available on web browsers.

Ivan, ever the visionary, recognized these shortcomings as golden opportunities. In 2012, his brainchild, Photopea, was born. Initially, he offered a simple tool allowing users to open Photoshop files directly in a web browser, providing them with the ability to download individual layers. It was an impressive start, but it was just the beginning.

Worth Reading: How Leon Ifayemi Built SPCE: A Proptech Startup

Year by year, Ivan continued to pour his heart and soul into Photopea, adding features like layer creation, deletion, and saving. His mission was clear: he wanted his creation to be immediately useful to others, while he nurtured it into a full-fledged image editor. The metamorphosis was slow but undeniably cool.

Photopea

From 2012 to 2016, there was no grand plan for monetization. Graduating brought him a meager $29K, but Ivan’s commitment to Photopea never wavered. He pressed on through post-graduation studies, keeping the flickering flame of his creation alive.

In 2017, as his friends pursued high-paying jobs, Ivan made an unconventional choice. Instead of joining the rat race, he dived headfirst into Photopea, turning it into his full-time endeavor. His pursuit was not money; it was the sheer enjoyment of the craft. There were no business plans, no market validation, just the raw passion to follow his heart.

Marketing Photopea became a hurdle, especially for a one-person operation. Ivan tried reaching out to YouTubers, Reddit, and Hacker News, but self-promotion flags and financial demands thwarted his efforts.

Despite these obstacles, Ivan was a one-man army who solved over 400 user issues, created open-source libraries, and meticulously crafted Photopea into a fully-fledged image editor.

Ivan’s commitment extended to customer support, a labor of love that drove 80% of his users to join GitHub solely to request new features. Lacking a marketing degree and financial backing, he innovated by publishing blog posts with every new feature addition, nurturing a passionate user base.

Gradually, Photopea’s reputation soared. The same YouTubers who had once turned a blind eye now churned out tutorials, attracting thousands of viewers. In October 2018, Photopea hit an all-time high with 1.5 million visits, and Ivan seized the moment to embark on his first Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA). The post went viral, accumulating over 50K upvotes and 2.2K comments.

Photopea_Growth

Over the next nine months, Photopea’s traffic doubled to 3 million visits, leading to yet another successful AMA. And in 2021, Ivan made his mark on Hacker News with another viral AMA.

Photopea, a web-based marvel entirely built using Javascript, operated on a shoestring budget of $50 for hosting and $16 for the domain, amounting to just around $700 a year to maintain a multi-million-dollar venture. With zero paid marketing, Ivan and Photopea found their success through the community-driven word-of-mouth phenomenon, exemplifying a timeless principle: craft a better and free alternative to an expensive product, and users will inevitably flock to your doorstep.

Ivan Kutskir, the quiet maverick from a Ukrainian village, redefined the power of passion and perseverance, emerging as the world’s most underrated indie-hacker, with Photopea as his magnum opus, lighting up the lives of millions of creative souls around the globe. A true no-brainer offer, and a revelation to all who dare to dream. 🤯

From Intuition to Innovation: How Oghoghozino is Building Aggital Works for the Digital Age.

Tell us a bit about you

My name is Oghoghozino Otefia, I’m the founder of Aggital Works, a leading digital agency based in Lagos, Nigeria.

What motivated you to get started with Aggital Works?

 Oh well, starting Aggital was a clear leading from God, as it all started with an intuition which was basically the need to transform businesses, organizations, and humanity in general to thrive in the digital age. As we know, the digital age is coming and businesses, organizations, or even individuals who do not stay abreast with the move of the digital age will eventually become redundant.

I remember sometime in 2008, I had an Oceanic bank account now Eco bank, and whilst I go there to make a deposit or withdrawal, I see about 15 “teller guys” who take the withdrawal/deposit slip to process them. But now, on average, we have 5 “teller guys” in our banks. What exactly happened? The digital age did happen, and software replaced 5 persons. The digital age has come and anyone; businesses, organizations, and individuals who do not embrace the digital age either gets replaced or becomes redundant.

Hence the need to help humanity thrive in the digital age. Now, what motivated me to get started after this intuition came was the bigger picture, I saw which also forms part of my call in life.

Oghoghozino Otefia

What specific problem are you solving with your startup and how are you solving it?

Aggital Works is solving problems related to digital presence, marketing, technology adaptation, branding, and business growth. All our products and services are designed to help businesses thrive and gain a competitive advantage in the digital age.

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

Honestly, the rich quality of our delivery. We never compromise on our standard of delivery, regardless of the kind of project. These have made our clients return thereby enabling great referrals.

Describe what makes your business unique.

Our uniqueness is attributed to our core values which are; Creative Innovation, Intelligent Design, and Timely Project Delivery. Every single project must answer to our core. Have we creatively innovated this client’s idea? Is the project design intelligent enough to compete globally? Is the delivery timely? We make sure all our projects fulfill these cores and that’s what has made us unique.

Oghoghozino Otefia

How did you fund your startup?
I say all the time that money is fuel. Funding can bootstrap your business a great deal. While starting Aggital, I clearly followed God’s leading and He made provisions when due. I applied for a CBN YEDP loan, which I was approved for 7 million Naira, but I eventually didn’t take the loan after the whole loan process because God told me He never instructed me to take the loan, so basically it has been savings and God’s provision that funds the business.


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

For books, nah, I don’t read books like everyone else does. What I do is research thoroughly. When I discover I need enlightenment in a particular area, be it personal growth, business, or leadership, I research the subject or topic thoroughly and read various resources by great industry masters or key players in that subject. I have not read a book completely ever.

But I probably have read the concept or idea talked about in that book during my research.

What were the biggest challenges you faced and the obstacles you overcame?

Biggest challenge? I cannot think of one, as every single day, challenges come and my duty is to overcome those challenges, I practically see challenges as a growth path, so I have built ferocity and grit for challenges, so I’m halfway solving a challenge before I realize that was actually a challenge.

What is your greatest business achievement to date?

One I’d like to share is the acquisition of our own office space which has taken out the rent challenge for now, till we look to expand. More so, the fact that I can travel and the business will operate optimally is a great achievement as well.

Where would you like your startup to be in five years?

In the next 5 years, one of our goals is to have a physical presence in the western part of the world. Also, to have served a minimum of 100,000 businesses with our new digital product “Ushoppen – A digital storefront that equips you with the necessary tools to flawlessly grow and manage your business. Simplifying store creation, management, and expansion. With Ushoppen, you have the luxury of selling your products not only online but offline as well.

Hence, bridging the gap between the digital and physical retail worlds”

What software or technology has made the biggest difference to your business?

I’d say Microsoft and Google, as these giants have played and constantly play significant roles in our business.

What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you started on your business journey?

Very tricky question, but if I were told the “business world” isn’t a family affair, no friends, no family, no one has your interest at heart, all are competing to become industry leaders and are ready to kill some other businesses to achieve that goal, I’d probably have taken more grounds and moved way farther than where we currently at.

If you had the chance to do things differently, what would you do?

Get funding at every level, and hire the best of the best from inception as opposed to hiring friends and family due to poor financing.


Have you had any failed business?

Yes, a number of businesses have failed; Gospofy, Uwoeki, Instahandler, etc. These are some of my businesses that barely survived a year.

What are some sources for learning you would recommend for entrepreneurs who are just starting?

A great source of learning is finding a mentor in your industry who has walked the path you’re trying to thread. I tell you, in business, it is better to learn from other people’s experience than to learn from your own experience. It saves you time and money.


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

Very candid advice from me to you:
One, serve in the same industry you look to have your business first before you launch out as that will help you understand the nitty-gritty of that industry as well as learn the possible ways to mitigate any supposed risks you might face.

Two, money is fuel, yeah, it’s what it is, get money as much as you can, you will need it.

Three; Never forget a quote from Oghoghozino Otefia – Work is not a curse; work has been instituted before the fall of man. God didn’t curse us to work because our first parent sinned against Him, No. Work has been done even before the fall.

Therefore, I beseech you, to please make “work” a lifestyle. When you have to get something done, get it done! You need to understand a concept or an idea or whatever and do the work required to understand that concept or idea. Never forget that Work is not a curse, work has been instituted before the fall of man.

One business app and one personal app you can’t do without?

Google!!!!


Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

Not at the moment. When we have openings, we share on our social media pages which is @aggital on all social media platforms, while I’m @oghoghozino_ on  Instagram.

From Coding Enthusiast to Digital Marketing Dynamo: Damola Oyekunle’s Inspiring Journey

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

I am Damola Oyekunle, a digital marketing consultant and the Founder of Dptrax, a Digital Marketing agency.

Fantastic. What motivated you to go into digital marketing?

It’s an interesting story. I studied computer engineering because I love computers and games, and I ended up falling in love with coding. I started learning how to build applications, websites, and the like. After building my first website, I realized that was just the first part of the equation. The second part was learning how to promote this newly acquired skill. In my research, I found that there are various ways to acquire clients. I opted for inbound marketing, which includes social media marketing, search engine optimization, and the like.

I started with SEO and grew curious about other marketing avenues. I learned about conversion rate optimization, paid ads, etc., and just kept going. My first job was search engine optimization-related, and my next role was at Jobberman, where I was also involved in search engine optimization before being promoted to Head of Digital Marketing. That’s how I landed in digital marketing.

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This is absolutely incredible.

Yes 😄. Not everyone can excel in tech, and not everyone can excel in digital marketing. Pick something, focus on it, and give it your best. If it doesn’t work, choose something else.

What challenges did you face while learning new skills, and how did you navigate them?

To be honest, I personally did not face any challenges when it came to learning, largely due to my mindset. I approach things from a logical perspective.

I started this journey in university. The closest thing to a challenge was limited internet access, as I wasn’t born with a silver spoon. In school at Unilag, there was a place called the Botanical Garden where they sold internet access very cheaply. Most people didn’t use up their time, so my friends and I would collect unused time from the ground and use it. This was fueled by a hunger for knowledge (and we also needed the data to download games 😄).

Another challenge was optimizing my learning process while balancing school commitments, especially since digital marketing is a broad field. I took a course called “Learning How to Learn” on Coursera, which helped me understand how to learn more effectively. I invested every spare change I had in courses and tools, often borrowing money from my sister to pay for them.

In terms of entrepreneurship, hiring and managing burnout or mental strain are challenges. Building systems and processes can help with hiring, while a strong social circle can help manage the emotional toll.

This is incredible. Do you have any advice for aspiring or existing entrepreneurs?

The first important thing is to have money in your bank account 😄. Financial stress can lead to poor decision-making. Keep a 9-5 job and start small. Prepare for failures and understand that marketing is crucial for your business.

I usually recommend having at least six months’ salary in your bank account before quitting your job to focus on entrepreneurship. While there are outliers who can succeed quickly, it’s generally a good idea to have a safety net.

This is absolutely incredible. Thank you for sharing your story with Founder Story

How Cory Is Making $3.5 Million Per Year With Woodies Sunglasses With One Employee

Cory Stout, the founder of Woodies, shared an insightful journey of starting and growing his wood sunglasses brand. Here’s a breakdown of his story and key takeaways:

Background and Idea Generation: Cory’s entrepreneurial journey started with scalping football tickets while studying Economics at the University of Florida. He learned important lessons about dealing with people and persistence during this time.

He then had the opportunity to visit China, where he observed how products were made and got the idea for an interchangeable watch brand called TIKKR.

Prototyping and Manufacturing: Cory found suppliers on Alibaba in China for his wood sunglasses. He emphasized the importance of choosing suppliers based on trust and their overall presentation, not just price. He also recommended checking the condition of the factory’s facilities as an indicator of their professionalism.

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Launching the Business: Cory initially launched his wood sunglasses on Groupon and later transitioned to selling on Amazon. He adapted his product by switching to wood temple glasses with a plastic frame to reduce returns. This decision also allowed his customer service to provide better support.

Marketing and Growth: Cory focused on Amazon as his primary sales platform and emphasized its effectiveness in bringing in new customers. He mentioned that while he had basic knowledge of various marketing methods like Facebook ads, email marketing, and SEO, Amazon’s built-in customer base was highly valuable.

Challenges and Future Plans: Cory revealed that despite the impressive revenue figures, the profit margins in his business were lower than expected. He mentioned getting sued by Luxottica for trademark infringement, which posed a significant threat to his business.

He also started a new venture involving classic cars. Cory emphasized the importance of believing in oneself and staying committed to the business, as many of his peers who started businesses around the same time also succeeded.

Tools and Resources: Cory shared a Reddit post detailing the tools and platforms he used in his business. He mentioned listening to the EcomCrew podcast for valuable insights into running an Amazon-based business.

Advice for Entrepreneurs: Cory’s key advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to choose a product or business that they are passionate about and willing to talk about nonstop. He emphasized the importance of personal branding and being the face of your company, especially in the early stages.

Cory Stout’s journey with Woodies demonstrates the importance of persistence, adaptability, and focusing on platforms that work best for your business. It also underscores the significance of believing in your vision and being prepared to overcome challenges along the way.