Via my pal Andrew Warner and Mixergy:
How does a bootstrapped founder who sells candles, reach a $1 million dollar run rate in his first year?
Justin Winter is the Co-founder of Diamond Candles, which sells candles that have a hidden surprise inside. After you burn down his candles you’ll find a diamond ring that you can wear or give as a gift.
How did Justin create get all the traffic and demand?
"One of the things that continually I am impressed about. When I sit and think about it for a minute. It’s the level of community that we have, on Facebook now we have close to near 225,000 fans total. Which is great, there is certainly a lot of brands that might have larger numbers, maybe smaller numbers. The thing I’m most proud about, and Josh here is kind of spearheading this all the time, kind of the day to day. It’s kind of that engagement rate. There’s other ways of to look at it, and this isn’t perfect, but kind of that talking about us number relative to that number, kind of that ratio is extremely high. Higher than most. 95th, 98th percentile type thing.
We have this extremely active community that just love us, in some senses we’ve really been able to connect with people so well. Here, for the holidays, we sat down and said, what’s something kind of fun we could do, but a way we could kind of bring the community together and try to do something kind of cool for the holiday. We put together an essay contest, where it was essentially, ‘Hey, write a short story, kind of an essay about someone in your life, a friend or a family member, who you think that, this time of the year, really could use kind of some help. You know they’ve been through a lot this year whether it’s family related, health, natural disaster or whatever it might be.
We kind of put this out there not knowing quite what to expect. Kind of the prizes were, kind of the levels were some gift cards and things, a few hundred bucks for each thing, and then just candles to make people smile. We put this out there and we had something like four or five hundred people. Actually, I take it back, it was about nine hundred people submit a story of someone else. You go through reading these things, and it’s kind of depressing. Right. There are just some crazy people.
Ten different stories, and we put that list back out there for people to vote on and say, “Hey, you pick the person you think deserves this the most.” We put that out there. A huge amount of votes. A huge amount of participation with that. It was really kind of cool to see kind of cool to see all that come together, and I think one of the really neat moments, kind of overhearing some of these calls. Calling these people and letting them know kind of who won. No one saw between when the voting cut off, and who the top winners were before we kind of announced it. We called all the people who were kind of talked about in the stories, made sure they had permission, and all that kind of good stuff. Kind of letting them know that they have this, and overhearing some of these phone conversations with these people just so excited and so just like blown away. Their candle company, right? Their friend’s candle company is going to be giving them $500 to Wal-Mart or a gift card, or whatever it might be. It was something that was super cool to kind of see all of that and kind of, of course, the fact that, yes, we’re selling candles, but we really enjoy, we really want to be a part of these people’s lives in some w way. I think we’ve been able to do that at a pretty significant level so far. It’s just been really cool."
Watch the program: