Exclusive Interview with Connor Gillivan about eCommetize

If you’ve been following my columns over the past week, you’ll know that we are amidst a three piece series evaluating the growth of my three ventures in Q1 of 2016. Read about the growth of ConnorGillivan.com and FreeeUp.

In this final piece of the series, I’ll answer 8 key questions about eCommetize. If you like the idea of the business and want to learn more, head over to eCommetize.com or shoot me an email at Connor@ConnorGillivan.com.

1. What is eCommetize?

eCommetize builds and manages online stores for bloggers and online influencers.

Allow me to illustrate. You love interior design and you are always reading blogs where they offer advice on designing your home in creative ways. You love the advice that they give and wish you could buy some of the products that they feature.

eCommetize partners with those bloggers to add an online store directly to their site where you can shop their favorite products and support them as online influencers. We build the store using Shopify or WooCommerce, create drop ship relationships with brands that the blogger loves, then manage all operations of the store.

eCommetize allows the blogger to offer you a shopping experience that they didn’t have before.

2. How did you found eCommetize?

The initial idea for eCommetize was founded in October of 2015 while I was traveling to Chicago with my girlfriend, Lauren. We were out to drinks with a few of her accounts and were sharing stories.

One individual, Steven Roddy, mentioned that he owned a wildly popular blog catering to over 300,000 readers. He explained how he had always wanted a shop directly on his site to sell products to his community. At the time, I hadn’t ever built an eCommerce store outside of Amazon, but I was confident that I could figure it out.

Long story short, Steven hired me to build and manage him an online store catering to his unique community. While building his store, I started to wonder…”are other bloggers and online influencers experiencing this problem?”

I began to break down the business model and speak with my group of mentors in the Orlando area. Once I had a strong understanding of what it could become, I got one of my past business partners, Zack Schwartz, involved in the brainstorming sessions. I knew he would have some good ideas.

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Similar to my relationship with Nate at FreeeUp, I knew that Zack and I had complementary skill sets that would work perfectly for the founding of eCommetize. In January of 2016, we officially founded the business and got down to work. In the past 3 months, we’ve learned a lot and are seeing positive demand from our customer market.

3. How does eCommetize solve a problem?

The problem we have identified is that bloggers and online influencers don’t have the time or expertise to build, run, and grow an eCommerce store on their site. Many influencers understand that having an online store is a great opportunity to further monetize their site, but it’s too large of an undertaking.

Their expertise lies in their ability to create niche content and market it to their community. Through our first three months of speaking with potential customers, we’ve learned that many have tried to build their own store because they see the potential as an additional revenue source. However, they have failed for a variety of reasons.

The building of the online store, creation of supplier relationships, and operations management takes too much time and is outside their scope of expertise. By working with eCommetize, both of these problems are solved.

They add eCommerce experts to their team that can make their vision of a store come true without all of the hassles.

4. What were your goals for Q1 2016?eCommetize Q1 2016 Goals

Quarter 1 of 2016 was the time for us to officially launch the business, begin building systems, and start validating our product in the target market. We very much followed the Four Pillars of Business that I have shared with you before.

It’s been a whirlwind of a quarter, but we’ve attempted to achieve almost all of our goals.

  • We have a much better understanding of our business model and the systems and processes that are required to run efficiently.
  • We have more experience building online stores and landing new clients.
  • Most importantly, we’ve found a great way to communicate our value prop to our customer market.

All things we did not have when we first started three short months ago.

5. What was most difficult?

Communicating the value proposition to the end customer.

This was by far the most difficult aspect of the first quarter. It took us a good 2 weeks to test and discover the best way to word our sales pitch so that our potential end customer would understand how we could add true value to their existing business.

We had to answer the question…”How do we tell bloggers in one sentence how we can add value to their business?”

It’s a challenge that all companies face as they first begin to develop their sales and distribution strategy. We struggled for a couple of weeks, but it was a positive struggle characterized by many conversations with mentors, potential customers, and random individuals who were willing to listen.

It pushed us to better understand our business and our target market. It also led us to a place where we better understand how to talk about our value prop without confusing others. Although we’ve made progress, there are still miles of learning ahead.

6. What was the most rewarding?

It was the most rewarding to speak with potential customers and hear about the problems that they had with building an online store in the past. The conversations affirmed that our business had real customers that understood the problem we were addressing and were seeking a solution.

Every business owner wants to know that their product is validated by a customer market. Reaching that realization in the 1st quarter motivated us to keep trucking forward.

7. What is the outlook for Q2?

In the 2nd quarter, we’re planning to focus our energy on finalizing our structure of systems and processes, signing 5 new clients, and creating strategies to optimize sales from our current clients.

We’re at a point where we can start to be more strategic with choosing our next clients. We want to work with the leaders within different content niches who have the opportunity to create the greatest opportunity for success with an online store. We want clients who see the value of the online store and want to make it an additional benefit to their readers.

Our sales strategy will be quality over quantity so that we can build a strong portfolio of clients that will solidify the foundation as a company.

We’ll also be working tirelessly to finalize the systems and processes that we started building in the first quarter. We envision a system where the processes needed to build the store, create the supplier relationships, and manage the store are as streamlined as possible with technology and intelligent people. Building a strong foundation of systems and processes early on will allow us to scale faster as the demand for our product increases.

8. What is the vision for the year?

The vision for 2016 is to establish eCommetize as a leading solution to adding an online store to your website without the hassle of building and managing it.

We want to position ourselves perfectly within the market so that bloggers and online influencers come to us for eCommerce expertise. We envision having 10 strong clients set up going into the holiday season. We envision an initial team responsible for operations of the business ranging from building the store all the way through to managing the operations.

Finally, we envision a backlog of clients that we’ll start with in 2017. At lot more will happen to make those 10 clients become a reality, but that is what we are keeping our eyes focused on.