In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Andy Lee, co-founder of the WOD Life. The WOD Life is the home of training looking after athletes, gym goers and battlers giving it their best (ie. me) as they sweat and strive to be better. Starting with a humble order of 30 skipping ropes, the WOD Life now ship all over the world carrying leading brands such as Nike, Reebok and Under Armour as well as their own range of workout gear.
In this chat we cover how Andy and his co-founder Ben bootstrapped The Wod Life from a personal credit card. We uncover the art of building an authentic community, how to develop strong relationships with wholesale partners, how pre-orders saved their business and why Andy dives into the deep dark depths of Reddit as part of his customer research. Scary stuff!
“It’s leaning into that flow state and going with it, cause when you’re hot you’re hot“Andy Lee
The fitness supermarket
“So we started off the back of the credit card. It was my personal credit card at the time. I think the first order for those 30 ropes was about a thousand US dollars.
And we didn’t have that kind of money lying around. We didn’t set up a business plan. We didn’t walk into the bank wanting startup capital. We didn’t go to VCs or PE with, anything. We just basically ran off the back of my credit card. It was about $10,000 at the time.
So everything that I studied far too much, I basically went against that. Never sign a personal guarantee. I couldn’t tell you how many of those I’ve signed and still sign. So yeah, we started off the back of a credit card and we bought those ropes. We sold them to our friends. I think we got one each, basically that was our profit.
And then we would buy two of things. We would sell two and then buy four and so on and so on. So it was almost like we set up a supermarket with things on the shelf, but there was only one of everything on the shelf. And then as soon as we sold that one, we quickly turned around and bought two. So the shelves slowly but surely got stacked up and our range expanded.”
“Our ethos at the time we wanted to basically create a space or a community that people like minded people could come together. Yes, the product was something that we did, but we also wanted a forum where people could communicate, they could share workouts, they could learn how to do these together. We wanted them to know what sort of nutrition they needed.
So really we were learning ourselves and we were super passionate about it. And we just wanted to bring that all together under one roof. So we were entrenched in the community. We knew a lot of gym owners. We went to gyms and it really spawned from that word of mouth.”
Pre sale win
“…with the pandemic, that was pretty crazy. There was one moment where we didn’t have anything to sell. We didn’t have any equipment or any product and people wanting to buy things for their home gym. So we basically placed a six figure order for some equipment with a supplier. We didn’t have any money. That was all tied up in shoes and active wear. So we turned around to the bank and we said, Hey, are we able to get a loan for this?
And they said yeah, sure, no worries. There’s a government backed loan that can support that. It’ll be in your account on Monday. We’ll do the paperwork. No worries. So we went, okay, no sweat. Let’s place the order with the supplier there. And to this day, we still never received that money from the bank. But what we were able to do was basically put the product up online and sell it before it got here.So we’re able to do a pre-order, which is Ben’s master stroke there.
So there were a lot of hairy moments there, but that was one where we were like, okay, we can either sit and wait and hope this thing blows over. Or we can throw caution to the wind here and try and fight fire with fire. And that was really one moment, where we took a big swing and it paid off.”
Questions answered in this episode include…
- What tips do you have for building a really solid community?
- How do you choose people and events to sponsor?
- What achievement are you most proud of?
Links from the episode:
- The WOD Life
- Packleo (sponsored)Shopify Plus and Tropeaka (sponsored)
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