SalesTech QnA with Mike Nemeroff: Growing an Online Retail Company
Mike Nemeroff, Founder of RushOrderTees, a custom apparel company known to be the official t-shirt supplier for the Philadelphia Eagles, partner of the Philadelphia 76ers, and one of Inc’s 5000 fastest growing private companies joins us in this quick QnA to share his thoughts and tips on Growing an Online Retail Company.
Tell us a little about the idea behind RushOrderTees and your future plans for it?
RushOrderTees was not originally meant to be an online store. My father was working with a friend selling t-shirts the old-fashioned way, and was losing accounts to competitors that undercut him. At the time, I was obsessed with computers, and suggested that we bring the business to the online market. We had no clue just how much that decision would impact the company, and make us the business we are today. As for the future of RushOrderTees, we will continue to focus on expanding the business to new areas and new partnerships. Our online advertising campaigns are flourishing, and we will look to the internet for new ways to get our products in the hands of customers.
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What were some of your initial challenges when setting up / scaling up? What key learnings did you come away with, given those experiences?
As with most companies, the biggest problem with scaling our business was the capital we had to work with. Through networking and product research, we found suppliers that fit our needs and could provide the same quality materials we needed at a lower price point. I think it is important to weigh your options when it comes to choosing a supplier, as a lower price does not always mean the supplier is better for your business. You should never sacrifice the quality of your product just to save a few bucks.
What would you tell future entrepreneurs hoping to build an online store / e-tail empire?
Learn anything and everything you can about online sales. Take free analytics courses, learn how to do your own advertising, and research your own social media strategies. There is a wealth of knowledge you can find on the internet today, so take advantage! When you are trying to get your business off the ground, you don’t have the funds to pay specialists for these tasks. Learning how to do these things effectively on your own can save you a ton of money, which you can put towards scaling.
Tell us about some of your biggest milestones
I think the purchase of our first warehouse was one of the biggest goals we accomplished at ROT. That purchase was the moment it really hit me that we were becoming a successful business. Another defining moment in the history of ROT was the printing of our 1 millionth shirt. It was a milestone that seemed like a fantasy when I first started RushOrderTees, so it was extremely humbling to cross that one off the list.
With 80% of the company’s staff being millennials, what workplace advice do you have when it comes to building work cultures / engaging employees / etc?
Our workplace culture is one of our biggest assets. Since the start of the company, I have strived to make RushOrderTees a place where employees enjoy coming to work every day. We do this by treating our employees with respect, compensating them fairly, and being flexible. At the end of the day, your employees are your biggest asset, so keeping them happy should be your top priority.
Your favorite B2C sales quote / e-tail quote / entrepreneur quote.
“Stay hungry. Stay foolish.” – Steve Jobs
This quote resonates with me because it really embodies the entrepreneurial spirit. As an entrepreneur, you have to constantly move forward and look for the next opportunity (stay hungry). The minute that you think you have it all figured out and your business is fine the way it is, you will be passed up by someone adapting to the changes (stay foolish).
5 tips you’d give upcoming startup founders
– Success does not happen overnight
– Build a great team as early as possible
– Business decisions should be made with the customer in mind
– Network like crazy
– Hire people you could see yourself working with for the rest of your life
Two things you’d have done differently in this journey
Honestly, there is not much I would change about my journey. It isn’t so much about doing things differently, because the lessons learned through failures along the way shaped RushOrderTees into the company it is today. Rather, I’m intrigued by the hypothetical of having done certain things sooner.
Finding a second location sooner would have been helpful. We are currently exploring options for our second location. The potential for growth it presents is something I wish we had considered more seriously earlier on.
The other is becoming a world-class customer service organization sooner. We’ve always printed great T-shirts, and thought having an end product of that caliber would be enough for us to reach our goals. A few years ago, though, I started thinking bigger, and began to rededicate our effort toward building a second-to-none customer service experience. Now we pride ourselves equally on printing and customer service.
Still, all of this is hindsight. If everything had gone exactly how I planned, I don’t think we would be as successful as we are today.