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28 Comments

I've bootstrapped a DTC brand to $35K revenue in less than 6 months. AMA!

Hello fellow Indie Hackers, Abdulmohsen here.

I founded One Base (shoponebase.com) as a single-product business (tray table). We went live mid-April of this year. 200+ tables later, we're now evolving as a brand centered around downtime and slowing down. We're developing products that help you unwind, kick back and relax in your living space.

Some things you might find interesting:

  • One Base is bootstrapped, and funded entirely by my day-job.
  • I continue to juggle a day-job along with this project.
  • I've navigated product design, development, sourcing from overseas, and warehousing and logistics.
  • I'm based in Kuwait.

I'll answer your questions async throughout the day. Looking forward to chatting!

  1. 3

    Amazing and super inspiring! Thank you for doing this!

    Im looking to start a DTC business as well! If you could summarise, what advice would you give in the start to speed up the learning curve and avoid costly mistakes? And if you could, what would you say is the min amount of capital needed to get started?

    1. 1

      If I were to give a piece of advice I'd say go and find someone that has shipped something within the same product category and learn from them as much as they're willing to share with you.

      Another thing is, vet industrial designers, marketing agencies, suppliers, and everyone you plan on working with by looking at their previous work. For example, if you're making a table, ask to see previous tables that the industrial designer had designed.

      I can't say if there's a minimum amount of capital required because that will wildly differ depending on the type of product, but here's a quick breakdown of initial costs:

      • Product Design
      • Sampling
      • Mass Manufacturing (including product packaging)
      • Shipping
      • Customs
      • Product photography/ videography
      • Paid Ads

      Hope this helps!

      1. 1

        Super helpful!! Thanks a lot, I'm super grateful! Wish you continued success and hope to be able to share a story like this as well in the near future :)

        1. 1

          You’re welcome!
          We’re all figuring it out as we go — all the best :)

  2. 2

    Product and website both look very clean, great branding overall!!

    So I understand you worked with an industrial designer for this. Are they responsible for production as well? If not how does your production work and what role did you have in setting this up? Any advice on this?

    Thanks a lot, congrats again for an awesome job!

    1. 2

      Thank you!!

      Yes, I worked with an industrial designer. They weren't responsible for production though. For production, I found a manufacturing manager that I found through googling (won't mention them, because I wouldn't recommend them).

      My advice on managing manufacturing:

      • If your design is custom: You can work with a manufacturing manager, but make sure that you are allowed direct access to the manufacturer. Make sure you know how the manufacturing manager will be charging you (flat fee or percentage of production). Make sure you go through multiple rounds of sampling to ensure that you 're getting the quality you're looking for. Clarify with the manufacturing manager whether or not they will be outsourcing quality checks or if they'll be doing it themselves. Document the quality standard (what is considered a minor defect, major defect, and critical defect), and agree on the acceptable percentage for these.

      • If you're private labeling: Find manufacturers through Alibaba or Global Sources. Make an Excel sheet and contact 15+ manufacturers. Narrow them down according to response time, how well they understand what you're looking for, the minimum order quantity (MOQ) they require, and price (after contacting 15+ manufacturers, you will come to know what the market price is for what you're looking for, and eliminate the outliers). Proceed to order samples from at least 3 manufacturers. Based on samples, decide on a manufacturer that you'll be working with for mass production!

      Hope this helps, and good luck!

      1. 1

        Thanks a lot for the detailed answer!
        Your Twitter is full of good advice too, I followed!

        1. 1

          You’re welcome — glad I can help :)

  3. 1

    Congrats on the success, I am wondering what your profit margin on this kind of product.

    1. 1

      Thanks!

      Gross margin is around 6X%

  4. 1

    That's super nice! Did you do try any type of validation before hiring the designer like pre sales?

    1. 2

      That's a very interesting question. Before hiring a designer, I would go to people that I felt were part of my target market, and they'd dismiss the idea or show no interest. It was only after we had a 3D render of it that these same people got interested.

      Lesson here is definitely don't try to sell the idea by trying to explain it. You can try and get some validation for the need for it though.

      We did run pre-orders. We didn't get a crazy response, but a decent one.

      Hope this helps!

  5. 1

    $35k in 6 months and bootstrapped? That's amazing!

    1. 1

      Thank you! Bootstrapping forces you to be super disciplined with your resources.

  6. 1

    Congrats! What has been your biggest leaver in growing the site outside of paid marketing?

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      Definitely friends of friends.
      Some of my direct friends or direct family members don't need this table, but their circle of friends definitely might.

  7. 1

    Congratulations! Do you use paid media or only organic IG? Any other insights on the mkt stack? e.g. Klaviyo + FB retargeting etc? Way to go!!

    1. 1

      Thank you!

      I'm doing a lot of paid media (influencer marketing, IG ads).
      We're still in the very early stages of the business where most of our target market hasn't heard of us yet, so we're trying to get as much exposure as possible.

      Keeping it super simple with the mktg stack (IG Automatic ads). We've been getting solid Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) so it's a lot of 'keep doing what's working.'

      SMS marketing is likely our next move.

      Hope this helps!

  8. 1

    Congratulations on the success.

    What are your most profitable marketing channels so far?

    1. 1

      Thank you, Emeka!

      We’ve only been using Instagram so far for marketing — so that’s our most profitable!

      1. 1

        That's super cool.

        Do you collaborate with other businesses to share you to their audience or you just post on your account all the time?

        1. 1

          We haven’t collaborated yet, but definitely have plans to do so!

  9. 1

    Did you hire a designer to help build the product? Where did you get this idea?

    I've seen many products just like this one. What made you think this was a market worth entering?

    1. 2

      Yes, I hired an industrial designer for this. My involvement in the design is explaining to the industrial designer what functionality the table needed to have and what problem we’re aiming to solve.

      The idea cam from solving my own problem. I wanted a table that worked around my daily habits, but that also had a purpose when not being in use.

      In terms of gauging the opportunity/ market, here in Kuwait there’s ‘fast furniture’ on one end and super luxurious furniture on the other. There wasn’t any brand serving that sweet spot in the middle.

  10. 1

    Congrats on the success, but how do you make recurring revenue from a tray table?

    1. 1

      Thank you! $6k is right around the minimum revenue we’ve been making per month — not recurring from the same customer per se. I just realized that this might be confusing so I’ll be editing the title!

    2. 1

      I actually just tweeted about this yesterday. By my observation, MRR has become completely misused 50% of the time (unless somehow OP here is achieving recurring revenue from their product).

      1. 1

        You’re absolutely right — I must be misusing MRR. $6k is the minimum we’ve been making every month, not necessarily from the same customer. Apologies for the confusion ✌️

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