Table of Contents
- Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
- How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
- Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
- What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
- What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
- Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
Gary Darna is the founder of Micromerch - Full-service e-commerce operations management
Tell us about your product and what inspired you to start it?
I lost my job in April 2022 when the buzzy, venture-backed startup I worked for abruptly shutdown. I had a decision to make. Do I return to the security of my Fortune 500 product management role, or try to start a company again? Being entrepreneurial since a young age, I chose the latter.
As the General Manager for my former employer's online store, I oversaw the production and distribution of more than 100k units of branded merchandise in 12 months. While I had operated online stores in the past, I had never sold so many units of apparel in such a short timeframe. Through this experience, I realized firsthand how many vendors were required to operate a single online store. From manufacturing partners to product photography to order fulfillment, brands shouldn't be required to rely on so many vendors to operate an online store. It's costly and complicated, but worse, far from sustainable. I knew I wanted to start a business again someday, but ironically it was a layoff that motivated me most. What did I have to lose?
How long did it take you to acquire your first 50 customers, and what was your growth strategy?
While we have not reached 50 unique customers yet, we have earned the business of several dozen customers and have surpassed $1.2mm in revenue our first year in business. The company is bootstrapped and profitable, albeit not at the margins of a pure software company. We have done no paid advertising. I've simply shared my story via social media and how my experience can help brands looking to increase awareness. It's required a lot of writing and hundreds of phone calls with potential customers. There is no secret sauce in my opinion, just years of consistent effort and good old fashioned customer service. If I have to describe my strategy, it's providing white-glove service in an industry full of automated responses. Micromerch takes time to learn about our customers' needs and cares for their brands as if they're our own.
Which technology stack are you using and what challenges and limitations does it pose?
Micromerch is powered entirely by a modern no-code stack. Our technology stack includes Airtable for operations management and CRM; Webflow for our marketing website; Stripe for payment processing; and Shopify for customers' online stores. The major limitation we have at this moment is with Airtable, which has a limit of 50k records per base. While we have not reached this limit yet, we're aware that eventually this limit will require us to migrate to another platform such as Bubble.
What are some of the most essential tools that you use for your business?
Airtable and Stripe have been the most instrumental tools for the business.
What have been some of the biggest insights you've gained since starting your entrepreneurial journey?
This is not the first company I've started, but it is the first that's surpassed $1mm in sales. Since starting my first company at 19 years old, I've learned so much of what know I know today the hard way – through failure. I've realized that some of the most successful companies are the ones we never hear about in the mainstream media, not the venture-backed startups with high valuations but zero profit. My biggest insight with this particular venture has been how valuable recurring revenue can be especially when you're getting started. Even a small fee when paid monthly by your customers is much better than single payments for one-off projects. In that regard, I highly recommend entrepreneurs consider productized services as a business model. With the technology we have available today, the only thing preventing most people from starting a business is a lack of confidence.
Your recommended books/podcasts/newsletters etc.:
I highly recommend Justin Welsh's The Saturday Solopreneur. He shares actionable insights about how one person can build a multimillion dollar business. While I don't consider my self a solopreneur since I plan to hire employees and contractors, it's fascinating content that can be applied to many ventures.