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INTRO Physical product business owner from the ground up!

RossW

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www.conquestmaps.com
Hey guys, excited to be here!

My name is Ross. I'm an industrial designer (by education and career until last year) and live in Columbus, OH.

In 2012 I found myself digging into the world of entrepreneurship based on some inspiration from the notorious Tim Ferris. That was just the first domino to fall though. I started consuming as much info as I could and eventually kicked off my business in 2013.

My business is called Conquest Maps. Simply put and without getting "pitchy" on you, we make high quality pinable travel maps so people can keep track of where they've been and where they want to go. I tapped into a niche that wasn't being satisfied at that time. Ask me if you want more on that :)

Anyway, I came across @MJ DeMarco 's Millionaire Fastlane probably around 2015 and needless to say, I couldn't put it down. Metaphorically I guess, as I was listening to it the first couple times through. Not only was it informative, but it confirmed so much of what I was forming into my opinions and deductions about the business world and lifestyle after having digested lots of other business books and podcasts. I felt validated and even more inspired than ever. Unsurprisingly, I felt like the rest of the world had their heads in the sand, and that I'd been lied to for far too long! I guess that's a side effect.

It put a lot of extra fuel on the fire under my a$$, to say the least. It made everything seem a lot closer and attainable than I had ever thought. So I went for it even harder. Long story short, I quite my job in 2016 that was operating in my basement at the time. We now have a 4800 sq. ft. facility where we manufacture everything under one roof. Commandment of Control as much as possible!

I'm certainly not "there" yet, but one small reward of the fruits of the last 5 years' labor is we just bought a travel trailer, paid cash! and are taking a 1 month trip. Sure I'll be working from the road, but it's a big step in the right direction. I won't have to physically be here since I've got some great people on the team.

Where are we going? I want to grow this into a $5 million business within the next 2.5 years. I've got a pretty in depth vision plan for that too if you find yourself curious. But this goal is extremely possible. I'll admit I'll need help though, so I'm looking forward to meeting some smart people here to share ideas with!

Anyway, that's a little bit about me, I could go on about specifics all day, but I guess that's what the rest of the forum is for!

Thanks, see ya out there.

Ross
 

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samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
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Hey guys, excited to be here!

My name is Ross. I'm an industrial designer (by education and career until last year) and live in Columbus, OH.

In 2012 I found myself digging into the world of entrepreneurship based on some inspiration from the notorious Tim Ferris. That was just the first domino to fall though. I started consuming as much info as I could and eventually kicked off my business in 2013.

My business is called Conquest Maps. Simply put and without getting "pitchy" on you, we make high quality pinable travel maps so people can keep track of where they've been and where they want to go. I tapped into a niche that wasn't being satisfied at that time. Ask me if you want more on that :)

Anyway, I came across @MJ DeMarco 's Millionaire Fastlane probably around 2015 and needless to say, I couldn't put it down. Metaphorically I guess, as I was listening to it the first couple times through. Not only was it informative, but it confirmed so much of what I was forming into my opinions and deductions about the business world and lifestyle after having digested lots of other business books and podcasts. I felt validated and even more inspired than ever. Unsurprisingly, I felt like the rest of the world had their heads in the sand, and that I'd been lied to for far too long! I guess that's a side effect.

It put a lot of extra fuel on the fire under my a$$, to say the least. It made everything seem a lot closer and attainable than I had ever thought. So I went for it even harder. Long story short, I quite my job in 2016 that was operating in my basement at the time. We now have a 4800 sq. ft. facility where we manufacture everything under one roof. Commandment of Control as much as possible!

I'm certainly not "there" yet, but one small reward of the fruits of the last 5 years' labor is we just bought a travel trailer, paid cash! and are taking a 1 month trip. Sure I'll be working from the road, but it's a big step in the right direction. I won't have to physically be here since I've got some great people on the team.

Where are we going? I want to grow this into a $5 million business within the next 2.5 years. I've got a pretty in depth vision plan for that too if you find yourself curious. But this goal is extremely possible. I'll admit I'll need help though, so I'm looking forward to meeting some smart people here to share ideas with!

Anyway, that's a little bit about me, I could go on about specifics all day, but I guess that's what the rest of the forum is for!

Thanks, see ya out there.

Ross
Following. I am in the process of building a physical product business. It is a product that I invented and I use almost everyday. Been slowly gaining traction building a following, doing user research and finding a manufacturer in the US. I currently make the product by hand, but one day hope to do as you are doing and build under one rood under my control. Cheers!
 
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RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
Following. I am in the process of building a physical product business. It is a product that I invented and I use almost everyday. Been slowly gaining traction building a following, doing user research and finding a manufacturer in the US. I currently make the product by hand, but one day hope to do as you are doing and build under one rood under my control. Cheers!
Very cool! Yeah I've been there. While we still make pretty much everything by hand, equipment and systems help a lot! Not the easy route, but that's why not many people reap the rewards I suppose. I'm still learning the rules here, but if you can share your product/site, I'd love to check it out.
 

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Welcome aboard @RossW . Always exciting to see another physical products guy on here. You too for that matter, @samsig03 ;)

That's a cool product by the way - the type of product not many entrepreneurs think about going after. Beautiful designs may I add, and a great looking website, congrats!
 

Almantas

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Welcome to the family!

Inspiring intro of a hustler that is bound for greatness. We'll do our best to point you to the right direction, but leave driving to you!
 

MJ DeMarco

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Impressive introduction and story of progress. Going on a month long trip (and squeaking in some work) screams Unscripted!

Great to have you.
 

Philip Marlowe

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I've always wanted one of these....and you just reminded me of that. Your Amazon page looks good with great reviews.

I'll make you a deal, for all to see.

I want one of these maps, and also want to support a forum member but I'm moving next spring and don't want another thing to carry (and have no space, at the moment). I also want us both to be on this forum next year as I'd love to see your progress.

If you can hit me in this thread or a new thread next May 1st, I'll buy a map and post the confirmation here (I'll buy the big 36x24 version!).

-PM
 

timmy

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Hey guys, excited to be here!

My name is Ross. I'm an industrial designer (by education and career until last year) and live in Columbus, OH.

In 2012 I found myself digging into the world of entrepreneurship based on some inspiration from the notorious Tim Ferris. That was just the first domino to fall though. I started consuming as much info as I could and eventually kicked off my business in 2013.

My business is called Conquest Maps. Simply put and without getting "pitchy" on you, we make high quality pinable travel maps so people can keep track of where they've been and where they want to go. I tapped into a niche that wasn't being satisfied at that time. Ask me if you want more on that :)

Anyway, I came across @MJ DeMarco 's Millionaire Fastlane probably around 2015 and needless to say, I couldn't put it down. Metaphorically I guess, as I was listening to it the first couple times through. Not only was it informative, but it confirmed so much of what I was forming into my opinions and deductions about the business world and lifestyle after having digested lots of other business books and podcasts. I felt validated and even more inspired than ever. Unsurprisingly, I felt like the rest of the world had their heads in the sand, and that I'd been lied to for far too long! I guess that's a side effect.

It put a lot of extra fuel on the fire under my a$$, to say the least. It made everything seem a lot closer and attainable than I had ever thought. So I went for it even harder. Long story short, I quite my job in 2016 that was operating in my basement at the time. We now have a 4800 sq. ft. facility where we manufacture everything under one roof. Commandment of Control as much as possible!

I'm certainly not "there" yet, but one small reward of the fruits of the last 5 years' labor is we just bought a travel trailer, paid cash! and are taking a 1 month trip. Sure I'll be working from the road, but it's a big step in the right direction. I won't have to physically be here since I've got some great people on the team.

Where are we going? I want to grow this into a $5 million business within the next 2.5 years. I've got a pretty in depth vision plan for that too if you find yourself curious. But this goal is extremely possible. I'll admit I'll need help though, so I'm looking forward to meeting some smart people here to share ideas with!

Anyway, that's a little bit about me, I could go on about specifics all day, but I guess that's what the rest of the forum is for!

Thanks, see ya out there.

Ross
----- BINGO ----- Brilliant Concept , Superb Execution, Congrats...PM sent
 

Philip Marlowe

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P.S. - People are asking all the time for specifics in this forum. What industry are you in? Share a little bit about your product? How did you improve upon it? Can I see your website/copy,etc.?

It's ALL HERE folks.

The niche, the product, the improvement, everything.

I say this only because he appears to be dominating the category with only a few others around him (and the competition has fewer reviews and, I think, a less interesting product). This is the blueprint.

-PM
 
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RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
Welcome aboard @RossW . Always exciting to see another physical products guy on here. You too for that matter, @samsig03 ;)

That's a cool product by the way - the type of product not many entrepreneurs think about going after. Beautiful designs may I add, and a great looking website, congrats!
Thank you sir! It's definitely fraught with hardship haha. I know why nobody else is doing it :) Which is a good thing. I appreciate the compliments. I feel great about where we are, but as I'm sure you can relate, it's never quite done!
 

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RossW

RossW

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Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
Impressive introduction and story of progress. Going on a month long trip (and squeaking in some work) screams Unscripted!

Great to have you.
Doing my best! Thanks MJ, I appreciate the hard work you've put into this and your books. Definitely excited to be here.
 
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RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
I've always wanted one of these....and you just reminded me of that. Your Amazon page looks good with great reviews.

I'll make you a deal, for all to see.

I want one of these maps, and also want to support a forum member but I'm moving next spring and don't want another thing to carry (and have no space, at the moment). I also want us both to be on this forum next year as I'd love to see your progress.

If you can hit me in this thread or a new thread next May 1st, I'll buy a map and post the confirmation here (I'll buy the big 36x24 version!).

-PM
Haha deal. I'll set a calendar reminder. (we also have 48" and 54" options, nudge nudge ;) )
 
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OP
RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
P.S. - People are asking all the time for specifics in this forum. What industry are you in? Share a little bit about your product? How did you improve upon it? Can I see your website/copy,etc.?

It's ALL HERE folks.

The niche, the product, the improvement, everything.

I say this only because he appears to be dominating the category with only a few others around him (and the competition has fewer reviews and, I think, a less interesting product). This is the blueprint.

-PM
Well the industry is a little hard to put a finger on, but I suppose you might label it as Travel Decor. Function artwork. You can see our website at www.conquestmaps.com. We actually started on Etsy and still operate there, as well as on Amazon. We sell only retail right now, cutting out all middle men, which keeps profits and growth potential high.

I came across this niche simply by realizing it wasn't being addressed in the market when I wanted to get something like it for my wife and myself. As you mention, there are some options out there, but everything is mediocre or simply cheap crap. While it's not necessarily easy to attack the higher end market, that's where the opportunity existed. I defy you to find a better product than ours! We don't compromise on price, but I've optimized the systems so much that honestly, we're not even that expensive compared to the competition, or are even cheaper in some cases. Instead of simply improving upon a product, I rebuilt it from the ground up. Quite literally. We design our maps using open source data (or purchase it), create our own artwork, own and maintain all our equipment to manufacture our products (so that we only have to purchase raw goods to break down), and are our own fulfillment center. It's a lot to get one's head wrapped around, but that's why it's taken about 5 years to reach this point. A fun process! (if you're into that sort of thing, haha).
 

samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
58
95
126
Houston, TX
Very cool! Yeah I've been there. While we still make pretty much everything by hand, equipment and systems help a lot! Not the easy route, but that's why not many people reap the rewards I suppose. I'm still learning the rules here, but if you can share your product/site, I'd love to check it out.

Well I won't share all the details yet. Not from fear of someone stealing my idea, but it is not at a mature enough stage. It is in the fitness industry and is a niche product. Nothing like it on the market and fulfills a need. It is a small product (great for shipping) and inexpensive, but great margins. Trying to land a licensing deal as well as build out my own online store. In a few months I will probably share with you.

BTW your website is great and I am probably purchasing a map in the near future for my office. It is a great idea to pin the places you have been and plan to visit. Love it man. Execution is superb. Cheers from Texas.
 
Last edited:

Philip Marlowe

Every Day On, No Days Off
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Apr 28, 2017
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Haha deal. I'll set a calendar reminder. (we also have 48" and 54" options, nudge nudge ;) )
Oh man. I've done quite a bit of traveling. If I've got the right space, I'll get the biggest one possible.
 

Philip Marlowe

Every Day On, No Days Off
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Summit Attendee
Speedway Pass
Apr 28, 2017
279
881
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NE
Well the industry is a little hard to put a finger on, but I suppose you might label it as Travel Decor. Function artwork. You can see our website at www.conquestmaps.com. We actually started on Etsy and still operate there, as well as on Amazon. We sell only retail right now, cutting out all middle men, which keeps profits and growth potential high.

I came across this niche simply by realizing it wasn't being addressed in the market when I wanted to get something like it for my wife and myself. As you mention, there are some options out there, but everything is mediocre or simply cheap crap. While it's not necessarily easy to attack the higher end market, that's where the opportunity existed. I defy you to find a better product than ours! We don't compromise on price, but I've optimized the systems so much that honestly, we're not even that expensive compared to the competition, or are even cheaper in some cases. Instead of simply improving upon a product, I rebuilt it from the ground up. Quite literally. We design our maps using open source data (or purchase it), create our own artwork, own and maintain all our equipment to manufacture our products (so that we only have to purchase raw goods to break down), and are our own fulfillment center. It's a lot to get one's head wrapped around, but that's why it's taken about 5 years to reach this point. A fun process! (if you're into that sort of thing, haha).
Could you expand upon this? Not the nuts and bolts, but the philosophy. I'm definitely guilty of immediately going to Alibaba or GlobalSource.

What was the process that led you to this? And not that you would, but please don't give away the "secret sauce" of your system. Just how you came to the conclusion that you could be competitive and not outsource everything.
 
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RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
Could you expand upon this? Not the nuts and bolts, but the philosophy. I'm definitely guilty of immediately going to Alibaba or GlobalSource.

What was the process that led you to this? And not that you would, but please don't give away the "secret sauce" of your system. Just how you came to the conclusion that you could be competitive and not outsource everything.
Hey!

Well it was not really any clever insight at first, but born more out of necessity. I first became interested in starting a business simply to work down debt more quickly. I had basically no money to invest into a mass produced product, so one of the requirements was that it had to be something I could make personally with tools and processes that I had access to or do very cheaply at low volume, be that digital or physical. Originally I had wanted to do digital because that can be far more passive, but I ended up going the physical route anyway :) it's kind of a cool stat at the end of the day now because of that though. I started a 7 figure business with a $500 startup cost! But I took it in small pieces and slow steady growth had been the name of the game. I've always been a hands on guy, and figuring out how to make it myself was part of the fun to be honest. Designing and fine tuning your processes can be very rewarding when it results in a cool product. So (in hindsight) I think when you're looking for a new thing, even though I would have loved a silver bullet product that I could just buy and sell on Amazon or something, considering what you're providing to the world and why, and what makes the whole thing satisfying to you about even being a business owner are important. It can't just be about the Benjamin's I guess haha. Even though a lot of times it is. JUST is the keyword there I suppose.
 

samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
58
95
126
Houston, TX
Hey!

Well it was not really any clever insight at first, but born more out of necessity. I first became interested in starting a business simply to work down debt more quickly. I had basically no money to invest into a mass produced product, so one of the requirements was that it had to be something I could make personally with tools and processes that I had access to or do very cheaply at low volume, be that digital or physical. Originally I had wanted to do digital because that can be far more passive, but I ended up going the physical route anyway :) it's kind of a cool stat at the end of the day now because of that though. I started a 7 figure business with a $500 startup cost! But I took it in small pieces and slow steady growth had been the name of the game. I've always been a hands on guy, and figuring out how to make it myself was part of the fun to be honest. Designing and fine tuning your processes can be very rewarding when it results in a cool product. So (in hindsight) I think when you're looking for a new thing, even though I would have loved a silver bullet product that I could just buy and sell on Amazon or something, considering what you're providing to the world and why, and what makes the whole thing satisfying to you about even being a business owner are important. It can't just be about the Benjamin's I guess haha. Even though a lot of times it is. JUST is the keyword there I suppose.

Exactly this! This is the startup costs/ROI I am striving towards. The process is a grind, but I do enjoy creating the product by hand and being in complete control of the features etc.
 

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samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
58
95
126
Houston, TX
Hey!

Well it was not really any clever insight at first, but born more out of necessity. I first became interested in starting a business simply to work down debt more quickly. I had basically no money to invest into a mass produced product, so one of the requirements was that it had to be something I could make personally with tools and processes that I had access to or do very cheaply at low volume, be that digital or physical. Originally I had wanted to do digital because that can be far more passive, but I ended up going the physical route anyway :) it's kind of a cool stat at the end of the day now because of that though. I started a 7 figure business with a $500 startup cost! But I took it in small pieces and slow steady growth had been the name of the game. I've always been a hands on guy, and figuring out how to make it myself was part of the fun to be honest. Designing and fine tuning your processes can be very rewarding when it results in a cool product. So (in hindsight) I think when you're looking for a new thing, even though I would have loved a silver bullet product that I could just buy and sell on Amazon or something, considering what you're providing to the world and why, and what makes the whole thing satisfying to you about even being a business owner are important. It can't just be about the Benjamin's I guess haha. Even though a lot of times it is. JUST is the keyword there I suppose.

Marketing wise what has been the "best bang for your buck"? Any surprises while marketing your niche? What would your advice me to yourself knowing what you know now? Thanks
 
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OP
RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
Marketing wise what has been the "best bang for your buck"? Any surprises while marketing your niche? What would your advice me to yourself knowing what you know now? Thanks
Well a couple of things have been really important from a marketing perspective. As my story alludes to, I didn't have much money to be spending on marketing and advertising. Probably a big factor for why it's been a long slow growth curve. But it has been a snowball that started small with quite a few of the right moves that have really created a much larger impact as momentum picks up. Those 2 things are
  1. Top customer service and quality. It's easy for people to say this, and it's repeated all over the place. But you need to really do it. Taking care of every single customer as if they are your only customer really is the only way. Making every single customer happy when they have a problem or complaint, and making them feel heard and appreciated has made a huge difference (I believe). This leads to other customers telling other people about their fantastic experiences. This is compounded by the fact that our products are essentially their own ads. They are hung in a prominent spot in peoples' homes and offices where it's an automatic conversation starter. When people have a ton of pride and excitement about their map and the experience they had, they're going to point their guests right to us with total confidence. Word of mouth! MJ dedicated a section to this in his new book.
  2. Figuring out the SEO and algorithms to the platforms on which you are operating, then executing to the best of your ability so that you rank. This is not something that a business should be built around, but is essential if you want to turn up in search results. People count on this way too much on platforms like Amazon, and it becomes the end all, be all for their businesses, which could fold at any moment because of a simple change (MJ talks plenty about this too). But in the beginning, it is still a very important factor when you have little money to spend on ads, etc. While I don't worry about it nearly as much any more, it was a massive reason for our success in the beginning. Once I took the time to really figure out Etsy (our only channel at that time), our sales went from around 10k/yr to about 40k/yr. That year I believe that was the only major factor to that difference in revenue.
So as bang for your buck goes, these things are FREE :) It doesn't get any better than that. Most important here is make every single customer happy. It doesn't matter if you lose money on that transaction. If you make that person happy, you have another salesman in the field. If you have an unhappy customer out there with loose ends, you have a real problem. You don't want that kind of negativity impacting your young brand. You can't please everyone and it's ok to say no to things that aren't within the 80/20 of your business, but at least remedy situations and always deliver on what you promise.

Hope that helps!
 

samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
58
95
126
Houston, TX
Well a couple of things have been really important from a marketing perspective. As my story alludes to, I didn't have much money to be spending on marketing and advertising. Probably a big factor for why it's been a long slow growth curve. But it has been a snowball that started small with quite a few of the right moves that have really created a much larger impact as momentum picks up. Those 2 things are
  1. Top customer service and quality. It's easy for people to say this, and it's repeated all over the place. But you need to really do it. Taking care of every single customer as if they are your only customer really is the only way. Making every single customer happy when they have a problem or complaint, and making them feel heard and appreciated has made a huge difference (I believe). This leads to other customers telling other people about their fantastic experiences. This is compounded by the fact that our products are essentially their own ads. They are hung in a prominent spot in peoples' homes and offices where it's an automatic conversation starter. When people have a ton of pride and excitement about their map and the experience they had, they're going to point their guests right to us with total confidence. Word of mouth! MJ dedicated a section to this in his new book.
  2. Figuring out the SEO and algorithms to the platforms on which you are operating, then executing to the best of your ability so that you rank. This is not something that a business should be built around, but is essential if you want to turn up in search results. People count on this way too much on platforms like Amazon, and it becomes the end all, be all for their businesses, which could fold at any moment because of a simple change (MJ talks plenty about this too). But in the beginning, it is still a very important factor when you have little money to spend on ads, etc. While I don't worry about it nearly as much any more, it was a massive reason for our success in the beginning. Once I took the time to really figure out Etsy (our only channel at that time), our sales went from around 10k/yr to about 40k/yr. That year I believe that was the only major factor to that difference in revenue.
So as bang for your buck goes, these things are FREE :) It doesn't get any better than that. Most important here is make every single customer happy. It doesn't matter if you lose money on that transaction. If you make that person happy, you have another salesman in the field. If you have an unhappy customer out there with loose ends, you have a real problem. You don't want that kind of negativity impacting your young brand. You can't please everyone and it's ok to say no to things that aren't within the 80/20 of your business, but at least remedy situations and always deliver on what you promise.

Hope that helps!
This helps and solidifies what I thought works. I like the part about having "one more salesman in the field". I think that really puts perspective on what you are doing when giving great customer service and outstanding product. It takes a awhile but is a snowball. Much appreciated.

Rep Transferred.
 
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RossW

RossW

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Sep 14, 2017
28
46
25
32
Columbus, OH
www.conquestmaps.com
This helps and solidifies what I thought works. I like the part about having "one more salesman in the field". I think that really puts perspective on what you are doing when giving great customer service and outstanding product. It takes a awhile but is a snowball. Much appreciated.

Rep Transferred.
Happy to help! I'll look forward to hearing how things go when you reach the point of sharing. Cheers!
 

samsig03

Contributor
Speedway Pass
Jun 8, 2016
58
95
126
Houston, TX
Small update here: I have been reaching out to mid size athletic wear/accessory companies to land either a big order or a licensing deal. I was able to get a phone call setup with the a VP and they are interested in a licensing deal. I sent them a working prototype they will evaluate with the CEO and see if we take the next step.

Stay tuned, hopefully I have good news next time.
 

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