My entrepreneurship career began at a young age, selling t-shirts. I was not very good at it. Sat on a lot of inventory. My second stint came at twenty-five when I launched (again with my dad) a web company. This was a year after I walked into a design shop and said that I would work for free if I could have 24/7 access to the office. I learned about web design and I launched three concept portals: one for artists (all kinds), one to help with wedding planning, and a dating site. After three years, we almost made it, but alas, I had to get a job as we failed again.
So I went to work for five years, taking my skills to a boarding school and heading up their online efforts. Some time after, I packed my bags, moved to Chicago, started a consultancy, and managed online marketing for a variety of clients. In 2010, I launched an online lobster company while still managing multiple clients. The opportunity hit me and I went after it. Today, I’m still hustling lobsters online.
How did the concept for Get Maine Lobster come about?
A friend of mine owned a fish market in Bath, Maine. He asked me if it was a good idea to start selling his lobster and seafood online. I did some research for him, said it was a great idea, and that he should do it. I shared the ins and outs of direct-to-consumer and he was too intimidated to go for it. So, I did!
How was the first year in business?
We did $1.2 million in our first year.
What was your marketing strategy?
We partnered with Groupon. I was living in Chicago and looking for ways to get free traffic…Groupon was right down the street and not selling the Maine lobster experience.
How fast did the company grow during the first few years?
Super fast. So fast we had to pull back a couple of times. We doubled the first two years.
How do you define success?
What is the key to success?
Love what you do and have gratitude for all that you have and those that enrich your life and the lives of others.
What is the greatest lesson you’ve ever learned?
Every obstacle is solvable.
What are some quotes that you live by?
“Do as onto others as you would yourself.” “Kill ’em with kindness.” “Drive fast and take chances.”
What are some of your favorite books?
The ONE Thing and How to Win Friends & Influence People.
Tell me about one of the toughest days you’ve had as an entrepreneur.
When I found out that one of my team members was embezzling. It was a substantial amount. My heart was broken.
When faced with adversity, what pushes you to keep moving forward?
Meditation. Laughter. Sometimes, you just have to laugh when it seems the universe is working against you.
What advice would you give to young entrepreneurs?
The anxiety never goes away. Embrace it. Remind yourself that you don’t know shit about what your “customer” wants; that is the only way you can get better at serving them.
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This interview was conducted for research purposes by author Jason Navallo for his upcoming book, Underdog.
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