Last Updated on January 7, 2021
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About Tyler Macke
Hello! My name is Tyler Macke and I’m the 21-year-old founder of SendAFriend, an e-commerce brand that sells stuffed animal care packages.
I got started in the world of business when I was 13 or 14 years old and first found Photoshop. At the time, all I was trying to accomplish was some YouTube banners and profile pictures for my gaming friends. However, that quickly grew into me learning Illustrator, After Effects, and picking up more design skills every day.
By age 15, I was creating professional logos, social media branding, advertisements, videos, and more. With this, I was growing a bit of a personal Twitter network in the gaming and graphic design community. This is when my first real business came to fruition — a sticker printing business called StickerGrub created out of a desire to get some of my work printed as a physical product.
During high school, I kept up with StickerGrub and graphic design work in my free time. I partnered with different influencers and started freelancing with companies and agencies. With this, I quickly found my passion for brand development and entrepreneurship as a whole. I found how much I love the startup stage of a business and creating experiences for people. Most of all, during my senior year, I decided college was not the path for me because of these different experiences. After high school graduation, I doubled down and focused on making an entrepreneurial career for myself.
A lot of different gigs and opportunities manifested the year or so after I graduated. A few of these opportunities had me working with large e-commerce brands, and I had realized that most of my favorites lacked a philanthropic purpose. For some reason, the idea of building such a large brand with little-to-no benefit to others didn’t make sense to me. So, I set out to create something different, and that’s when SendAFriend was born.
SendAFriend is essentially a care package company, with our core product being the stuffed animals themselves. We offer about 30 different stuffed animals alongside a customizable greeting card and a few small accessory add-ons. The fluffy friends get swaddled up in blue tissue paper and packaged in our bright blue shipping box with the ‘Someone Loves You’ motif before being sent out the door.
Launching the business was quite the process! When I began, I had very little knowledge of product development and manufacturing. Because of this, I stuck with what I knew and created the logo and branding far before I started the product sourcing. From there, I sourced my products, packaging, package inserts, and started building “sample packages” to lock in our process before the business even launched.
When everything was ready, I removed the password page from my website and made a simple post to my friends on Facebook, which was followed by my aunt being my first customer 🙂
As far as why I started SendAFriend, that was mostly with the purpose of sharing something positive. The world constantly faces discouraging news, events, and negativity. I wanted to create something that shared a smile or a laugh and gave people a unique, loving experience when it arrived at their doorstep.
How Did You Get Your First Several Customers Or Users? How Many Users Or Customers Do You Have Now?
The first few customers came from family and friends. Past that, I dabbled in influencer marketing, some paid advertising, but mostly relied on word of mouth. Because this was all a a side project for the first two years of business, sales were pretty slow and it was mostly a hobby.
It wasn’t until January of this year — when I brought on a media buyer — that things started picking up. While I have a great understanding of how paid media buying works and what kind of content to use, I find working inside the accounts themselves a bit challenging and time-consuming. Outsourcing this was one of the best decisions I’ve made with the business.
As of December 2020, we have now had over 150,000 customers and shipped close to 200,000 care packages around the world.
How Does Your Company Grow And Acquire New Customers?
We have primarily used Facebook marketing to acquire new customers. We use meme-style content to drive conversions and boost the performance of our creatives. The key is getting a viewer to stop their scroll for a split second and have them watching content that they think isn’t an ad. Doing so has helped our content fit into their organic Facebook or Instagram feed and mimic the style of content they are naturally consuming.
Past that, we are generating over 25% of our revenue from email marketing and campaigns. We have about ten different automated flows firing, as well as two to three campaigns every week. Using a pop-up, we’ve grown our list to almost 500,000 subscribers, with over half of those being engaged in the last 180 days. We keep our viewers interested in cute, quirky emails and limit the amount of promotional and sales emails we are sending. This has ultimately resulted in a higher engagement rate, which in turn has resulted in a higher % of revenue generated from these efforts.
What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Founders Who Are Looking To Get Their First Thousand Users Or Dollars?
Know your numbers. Once I realized I could start trusting numbers to grow the business, my anxiousness around expenses went down. Know your margin, know your expenses, and know your break-evens. It’s incredibly helpful to study these for any operational decisions you will make as a business owner and it will ultimately help you scale your business! It will help you decide how much you can spend on advertising, employees, freelancer/agencies, and more.
What Is Something You’ve Learned That Would Not Be Obvious To Somebody Who Hasn’t Worked In Your Space Before?
I think it’s important to realize that nothing is more valuable than the experience you gain through any endeavor. From the outside, it may look like you have to know exactly what you’re doing to run a business like this. However, it’s more valuable just to get started and learn! Whether or not your business is a success, you will be able to learn invaluable knowledge that is not taught in a book or a course or a video.
What’s The Craziest Thing That’s Happened To You (Good Or Bad) On Your Founder Journey?
I think the craziest thing that has happened is the overall growth in 2020. We went from a bedroom brand with one employee (my mother) to scaling up to a 7,000 sq ft warehouse, 20+ employees, and doing last year’s revenue just about every day. It’s been a wild journey with lots of bottlenecks to fix, problems to solve, and new projects to work on, but it has been absolutely incredible.
What Are Your Favorite Books?
I’m sadly not much of a reader! I hope as I get older that I find more time to read, as it’s something I have enjoyed in the past but can’t seem to find much time to do.
Anything You’d Like To Plug?
Just check out our website! Visit sendafriend.co
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