i coulda swore i hit the send button but forgot oops.
Dropship Attempt #1 (Kinda Fail/Incomplete)
I wanted to try and start a dropshipping store this week. I wanted to get some experience with Shopify, AliExpress, and Facebook Ads. The goal here was to learn and perhaps sell a few things :). At this point, I had watched a bunch of videos on dropshipping and wanted to try it out. First, I needed a product. I legit spent all of my Sunday on AliExpress searching for a product to sell. First I needed a niche (so I could target my ads at a specific group of people). Then, I needed a product within that niche. After literally a whole day, I settled on selling Cross bracelets and necklaces to middle-aged Christian women in the US. (Note: I am not very religious). Why? Well, Christians are usually in a higher income bracket and I knew that targeting Christians via Facebook Ads wouldn’t be too hard. I also chose them because I could buy Cross bracelets for $0.90-$1.50. I listed them for $11-$16 which is a pretty normal price for a decent bracelet :). Also, this includes shipping it to them. So, I’d be making $10-$15 per bracelet. That’s the magic of AliExpress is they also handle shipping. You just sell stuff!
Here are some images from AliExpress of bracelets I chose to sell.
Next step was to make a Shopify store! You can check mine out. Took me about 3 hours to make it good. It’s called HappyChristianFaith.com. Also, at this point, I was scared God would be mad at me for profiting off Christianity (not that it’s anything new according to history). But, you’ll notice I also say that 15% of the profits go to a Christian child in need. I did this 1) because I didn’t wanna go to hell and 2) because I felt that middle-aged Christian women would love to buy some jewelry and donate to poor Christian kids in need. You know how when you buy certain shoes or brands they donate a % back? That was the idea. I wanted to increase the chance that someone buys my thing.
Next, I needed a Facebook page. So, I made one. I even started ripping of Sermon highlights from another Christian page LOL.
Next thing I did was work on my Facebook Ads and I had zero clue what I was doing. I still don’t really know what I’m doing. Anyways, I watched some YouTube tutorials and bam I got a Facebook Ad now. Here’s what it looked like. It was just a simple little video that I made. I also hope you guys appreciate my emojis.
Okay, so I ran this ad for a few days on a $25 daily budget and set my audience to be all women in America ages 35-65+. This meant my customer acquisition cost would be way higher but my idea here was to go broad and see who was actually clicking on my ad + buying stuff. Then, I’d be able to target more people like that who were actually buying my stuff. I wanted to try and take out any guesswork from my ads.
Well, I finally sold something after 2 days. Shoutout to Christina from Illinois. She even left a comment saying she liked my store :). According to Facebook, she’s between 55-65 years old.
My cost for the conversion was $37. That means I lost $27 selling that single bracelet since I made $10 profit on it. Why was my cost so high? What gives? Well, I hit up one of my boys who does growth at Google and is a master of ads. He told me my strategy was good, but would be much more expensive in the short term. He told me instead to take some educated guesses on my audience and target people part of specific churches. This would massively bring down my conversion costs because the Facebook algorithm would have an easier time finding buyers.
I attended this meetup at Shopify’s office in SF that was super productive. Presenter #1 was a guy who went from $0 - $1M in 6 months. His basic advice was: pick a niche audience, pick a product with good margins, get good at Facebook Ads. Cool. All stuff I was working on. Presenter #2 was a guy doing $12M in ARR selling shit like hair extensions and teeth whitener. He gave the audience a crash course on Facebook Ads and how he runs experiments. Turns out, it was really similar to how I was running my experiments. But, he was putting around $2K-4K into his experiments. I was putting in $50 LOL. He also layed out a general framework around how he runs his experiments. His basic strategy is to: make a really really good ad (which I didn’t have), pick 5 different audiences, give each ad a budget of $150, let the ad run for 3 days, and learn from the results. He said my ad was garbage and was surprised I sold anything LOL.
Pakistani Tech Summit
I went to the Pakistani Tech Summit in San Jose. Basically, a bunch of cool startups flew over from Pakistan and pitched to American VCs YC Demo Day style. It was cool. I was surprised at how impressive some companies were. There is a lot of opportunity in Pakistan. You can hire a computer science grad for $980 a month (which is a good salary there) and they are smart af. I’m thinking about it myself next time I hire a contractor or a remote worker. Why pay a US contractor $4000 to write you some video decoding software when you can get it done in Pakistan for like $1500? Like shit. I can get a full mobile game made for like $2K from a top tier studio there.
My favorites were:
Eat Mubarak - DoorDash but in Pakistan. They’ve managed to get about 1,000,000 users in just 12 months by creating an open API any developer can implement to allow their users to order food from Eat Mubarak. Eat Mubarak managed to partner with some bank apps through this open API. That means people can check out their bank account and order food from within the same app, WeChat style. They don’t need Eat Muabarak’s app. I thought this was hella smart.
Ghar Par - Really cool company. It’s Uber for salon professionals. You can just chill at home, have a person come to your home, get your hair done, and be happy. They showed some crazy stat where 98% of the women in Pakistan use professional salons. The company is cool because it gives those Pakistani women who don’t really have higher education access to a job that pays well. Nice!
Sehat Kahani - A telemedicine startup that employs women in Pakistan who are trained doctors but don’t have the time to practice full time. In Pakistan, 70% of the people training to become doctors are women but only 50% ever end up actually practicing because they get married early, end up having families, and never return. This startup is dope because it gives those women a chance to make a difference and actually practice.
Airlift - Uber for buses. Airlift gives drivers a bus. The driver drives the same route everyday and picks up customers who ask for a ride that fall on that drivers route. Pretty dope idea. You get the efficiency of a bus system combined with the magic + convenience of Uber.
I hung out with my boy Furqan last week. He’s the kinda guy that makes you think really big and really different. So, he got me thinking a bit about more ideas within the realm of software. I really want to spend the majority of my time working on software and then another % of my time working on ecommerce. Selling stuff on Shopify will make me some money, but it’s not going to change the world. It’d be dope if I could make money and change the world. But, just because I don’t have some fantastic idea right now doesn’t mean I’m just going to sit around and do nothing.