How to Generate 8-Figure Revenue at Age 21 (Or Any Age) — Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies (#354)

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“I think the role of the entrepreneur in the world is to find ways to do things better or more efficiently and then try to do that as many times over with the help of other people.” — Santiago Nestares

Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares of Benitago Group, both 21, met as computer science students at Dartmouth College. Both worked very long hours in the library and suffered from back pain. They began collaborating on a prototype for a product that ended up being called the Supportiback, gathering feedback from members of the Dartmouth community, including a local hospital president and professors and students studying engineering and medicine.

They launched the product on Amazon in the UK, and when it seemed their first small order was in danger of selling out quickly, they arranged financing from their supplier and were off and running. Since then, they’ve entered the US market on Amazon, and are on track for nine-figure revenue in 2019. They have introduced 120 consumer products, and are trying to become an alternative to big consumer products companies through a strategy of applying their successful scale-up strategies to brands they acquire.

Also joining us in this special episode is Elaine Pofeldt (@elainepofeldt), an independent journalist and speaker who specializes in careers and entrepreneurship. She is the author of The Million-Dollar, One-Person Business: Make Great Money. Work the Way You Like. Have the Life You Want, in which she looks at how entrepreneurs are scaling to $1 million in revenue prior to hiring employees.

Please enjoy!

Listen to the episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Overcast, or on your favorite podcast platform. 

#354: Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — How to Generate 8-Figure Revenue at Age 21 (Or Any Age)
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Want to hear another case study episode? — Listen to my conversation with SpyGuy’s Allen Walton and learn how he made the switch from overworked and under-appreciated employee to seven-figure entrepreneur. (Stream below or right-click here to download):

#351: Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies — Allen Walton and SpyGuy, The Path to Seven Figures
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QUESTION(S) OF THE DAY: What was your favorite quote or lesson from this episode? Please let me know in the comments.

Scroll below for links and show notes…

SELECTED LINKS FROM THE EPISODE

  • Connect with Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares:

Benitago Group | Benedict at LinkedIn | Santiago at LinkedIn

  • Connect with Elaine Pofeldt:

Website | Twitter

SHOW NOTES

  • How did Benedict Dohmen and Santiago Nestares become a team? [09:24]
  • At what point did Ben and Santi go from complaining about the common problem they were experiencing to creating a business centered around relieving it? [11:20]
  • Getting started in the world of manufacturing with a budget of (just under) $2,000. [14:10]
  • Entrepreneurship and copywriting preparations Ben and Santi made during the 30 days they waited for their first shipment to arrive. [16:09]
  • How did Ben and Santi divide their skills and labor to optimize the time spent on getting the business off the ground? [20:27]
  • Ben and Santi describe what happened when the product finally arrived — and they sold a quarter of their inventory on day one. [23:33]
  • How did Ben and Santi adapt to the situation once it became clear they were going to sell out of the product on hand? What did they do right — and wrong? [25:05]
  • Using the MVP (Minimum Viable Product) method to turn otherwise disheartening and often business-killing failure into feedback. [27:38]
  • Third-party tools Ben and Santi have used to gauge metrics, track sales, and split test while selling on Amazon. [30:59]
  • Why did Ben and Santi choose Amazon as their first entrepreneurial platform? [34:13]
  • Aside from MVP, how else do Ben and Santi generate actionable feedback from an online audience resistant to interaction? [36:14]
  • Have Ben and Santi found the information gathered in the European market (where they began) directly relevant to the US market? Looking back, would it have been easier to start in the US? [41:20]
  • Santi says he and Ben went into business with the “mentality of removing obstacles rather than coming up with obstacles” — how has this translated into solving real problems? [46:01]
  • Santi talks about negotiating credit terms when it was time to place the bigger second order. [46:57]
  • Where did Ben and Santi learn how to negotiate? [50:51]
  • The important decisions — both good and bad — that shaped how business was done after this first success. [51:34]
  • How do the lessons of Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger inform Ben and Santi’s partnership? [54:41]
  • Rewinding the story a bit, how did Ben and Santi evaluate the feedback they got from Supportiback prototype users at Dartmouth — and how did this feedback modify the development of what became their three key products? [59:36]
  • How did Ben and Santi vet their manufacturer? [1:04:58]
  • As full-time college students at the time, how did Ben and Santi find the time to do all of this research and development? [1:09:08]
  • What catalyzed Ben and Santi’s development of products beyond their initial offerings? How did they decide on the number of products they planned on launching? [1:16:34]
  • Does emotion ever intervene in Ben and Santi’s business decisions? [1:18:08]
  • Where do Ben and Santi hire help when they can’t do everything on their own, how do they coordinate their efforts, and how do they vet this help? [1:19:41]
  • The process of scaling up by taking cues from the Austin Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) community. [1:31:23]
  • Weighing the pros and cons of acquiring profitable products and building new ones from scratch — and points in between. [1:35:43]
  • What motivates Ben and Santi’s entrepreneurial ambitions, and what do they hope to see their company doing in the future? [1:38:22]
  • Personal entrepreneurial heroes. [1:42:58]
  • Books and resources currently in rotation. [1:44:56]
  • What advice would Ben and Santi give listeners who want to follow their lead but don’t have a similar background in mathematics or computer science? [1:49:17]
  • Parting thoughts. [1:50:57]

PEOPLE MENTIONED

Posted on: December 27, 2018.

Please check out Tribe of Mentors, my newest book, which shares short, tactical life advice from 100+ world-class performers. Many of the world's most famous entrepreneurs, athletes, investors, poker players, and artists are part of the book. The tips and strategies in Tribe of Mentors have already changed my life, and I hope the same for you. Click here for a sample chapter and full details. Roughly 90% of the guests have never appeared on my podcast.

Who was interviewed? Here's a very partial list: tech icons (founders of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Craigslist, Pinterest, Spotify, Salesforce, Dropbox, and more), Jimmy Fallon, Arianna Huffington, Brandon Stanton (Humans of New York), Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Stiller, Maurice Ashley (first African-American Grandmaster of chess), Brené Brown (researcher and bestselling author), Rick Rubin (legendary music producer), Temple Grandin (animal behavior expert and autism activist), Franklin Leonard (The Black List), Dara Torres (12-time Olympic medalist in swimming), David Lynch (director), Kelly Slater (surfing legend), Bozoma Saint John (Beats/Apple/Uber), Lewis Cantley (famed cancer researcher), Maria Sharapova, Chris Anderson (curator of TED), Terry Crews, Greg Norman (golf icon), Vitalik Buterin (creator of Ethereum), and nearly 100 more. Check it all out by clicking here.

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38 comments on “How to Generate 8-Figure Revenue at Age 21 (Or Any Age) — Real 4-Hour Workweek Case Studies (#354)

  1. Black hat amazon listings with fake reviews included from different products and from 2010 on a product you just launched. Part of the growing notorious trend Amazon is trying to crack down on.

    “I have been taking detox for 1 month and it is amazing it has helped me in going more often to the bathroom. I used to be really constipated all the time and now I go more times than ever. This is a great product!!!!!!”

    “Dawn has beautiful illustrations and the simple story brings the reader to a lovely ending. This is why I first bought this book when I was a teen and again as a grandparent.”

    Just go to reviews and click to last review page to see how they changed the color to supportiback 77, 88 etc.

    Good luck with Amazon taking listings down quick over this

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Enjoyed this episode and feel inspired by this young, energetic, smart duo. Also will be checking out there product to help with my sore back! The one less than awesome comment I have (and I thought the same on the last episode in which she participated) is I don’t understand what real value Elaine brings to the podcast, Seems like this is simply a way for her to plug her book.

    Like

  3. Tim – so happy you did a podcast on amazon FBA

    I got into Amazon in 2013 when moved to New York from Australia to scale a Muse idea that came from the 4 hour work week. (I’ve read your book once per year for the first 5 years)

    Your book and selling on Amazon has changed my life and the quality of my families life, plus this year cracked 7 figures online via Amazon.

    The podcast was fantastic and strongly recommend any entrepreneur to look into the Amazon platform to scale their business

    [Moderator: kind offer removed.]

    Keep up the amazing work.

    Peter and family at Coach AMZ

    Liked by 1 person

    • Peter —

      Thanks for bringing this up. In the last few weeks, our registered barcodes have been unduly used by what we believe are Chinese sellers. Some of their reviews have been attached to our product listings, generating distrust from our buyers and significantly hurting our sales. We are working hard with Amazon to filter those reviews our of our listings.

      If you have any tips or ideas on how to crack down on these reviews, please reach out to us directly via LinkedIn.

      — Santi

      Like

  4. Tim – Great case study!
    I would like to know more about going from concept to prototype to production. All the steps involved in between from a concept and converting it to a product.
    – What are the steps involved in getting a prototype made?
    – Do you need an engineer? if yes, what kind? where do you find them?
    – Do you need a CAD design made? if yes who, what etc.?
    – Do you need a patent? if yes, what, how, who etc.

    Any way to expand on this? that would be great.
    Thanks, Richy.

    Like

  5. Great interview and notes! What about Intellectual property? Ben and Santi mention tweaking and improving on what’s already out there. What IP did they file for and how did others’ IP factor in?

    Like

    • Peter —

      Thanks for bringing this up. In the last few weeks, our registered barcodes have been unduly used by what we believe are Chinese sellers. Some of their reviews have been attached to our product listings, generating distrust from our buyers and significantly hurting our sales. We are working hard with Amazon to filter those reviews our of our listings.

      If you have any tips or ideas on how to crack down on these reviews, please reach out to us directly via LinkedIn.

      — Santi

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Tim, I am getting the feeling from the direction of these Case Study podcasts that you and Elaine are potentially going to (or already have) team up for a revised 4-Hour Workweek with a bunk of these sorts of case studies? If not, please do. I would read it. Twice.

    Like

  7. Potential Case study?
    Great to hear the stories of people who got inspired by your book and did something about it. I’m one of them.
    Came here as an Illegal emigrant, started driving semi trucks and now a founder of a Inc. 500 company. You’re book started all the passion for success and value creation. I will be always greatful. Thank you Tim!

    Like

  8. I clicked the Supportiback link on Amazon and read some of the comments. Most comments do not seem to be related to the Supportiback at all, something must be off/wrong?!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Marco,

      Thanks for pointing this out. We believe there has been a cross feed of reviews between our listings and other products using our barcodes. For the last few days I’ve been working closely with Amazon to get this sorted out.

      Thanks,
      Santi 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  9. This was one of my favorite episodes ever. My friend and I are trying to start our own FBA business while in college and everything discussed was super relatable. I’m even a computer science major. We are going to try and use their method of improving products based on comments. Whether or not we are successful, it will be a fun adventure.

    Like

  10. I don’t have anything to add to Troy and gbell12’s comments, but I did want to take a moment to also voice my concern about the tactics being used in the Amazon store by the Supportiback team.

    There’s a big difference in my mind between ‘outworking/outsmarting the competition’ and what appears to be disingenuous algorithmic manipulation of Amazon’s tools.

    It just so happens that I was literally in the market for a lumbar support device, and after hearing this podcast, I thought for sure I would support these guys, but a cursory examination of their pages made it pretty clear something strange was going on. In the end, I couldn’t purchase one of their products, as the incoherent and non-sensical reviews and Q&A gave me no confidence in their company or their products.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Ryan,

      I appreciate you pointing this out. We’ve recently noticed a crossing of reviews between our listing and other products using our same registers barcodes. We’ve contacted Amazon and are trying to resolve this as promptly as possible, as it is currently hurting our sales.

      Hopefully, you’ll be able to read our hundreds of verified purchases’ comments pointing our both the good and bad of our products.

      If you have further info or tips that can help us filter/clean out our listings, we would love to get in touch with you via LinkedIn

      Best,
      Santi

      Liked by 1 person

      • HI Santi,
        It would be great if you guys could do a follow up on how you guys managed to sort this out and ways you plan on combating this in the future and also how helpful Amazon are in dealing with your problem.

        thanks Ciaran

        Like

  11. I hope I’m still being cool like Fonzie, but it’s important to document what we’re finding. I’m irritated that these guys are probably going to make a lot of money on the “Ferriss bounce” with products that seem to be copies of products that have been around for decades. I don’t see much innovation here. I’m surprised there haven’t been patent “issues” yet.

    Found two more of their products with fake reviews, including a gem about how the product helped a buyer’s beard:

    https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07L4XZ9HF/
    https://www.amazon.com//dp/B07L6RVQVB/

    Like

  12. I tried using the coupon code TIM to make a purchase on Charlotte’s Web but there were exclusions. Particularly on the product Tim recommended. I emailed them and they said there was nothing they could do. Did anyone else run into this? I don’t recall Tim mentioning any excluded products but maybe I missed it?

    Like

    • Thank you. The exclusions notice appeared on the Charlotte’s Web website. Please note that the promotion is expired, as of 12/31/18.
      —Moderator

      Like

  13. I Love Case Study Episodes! Thank you. After pondering a few questions about what to do next, I almost always get direction from one of these episodes.

    Like

  14. Great to hear someone praising the book Cashvertising by Free Eric Whitman. Fantastic book, packed full of practical tips to improve your adverts, both online and offline.

    Like

  15. Ben and Santiago – I just finished checking out your product reviews on Amazon. Thanks for making me laugh!

    You have combined some of the most exotic – and unrelated – product reviews with your Supportiback listings

    I have a question though: How come that your “color field” descriptions for some of your most exotic fake-reviews are named Supportiback-55 / Supportiback-74 / etc ?

    You claim that Chinese sellers have been manipulating your product listings?

    Then there is the part within the podcast where you openly rave about your Computer Science skills and leveraging web-crawl programs that you coded to boost your sales…

    … and 8-figure sales? Outsch …

    Warren Buffet once said that
    “it takes a lifetime to built a reputation, but seconds to loose it all”…

    Time to cleanup your reviews… I won’t be surprised if your brand has already been flagged by Amazon

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s pretty bad luck that the alleged “crossing of reviews” crossed to products with fake reviews! I don’t think the review “great” was found helpful by 70 people!

      Like

  16. Really great episode showing the 4HWW theory in practice. Would love to hear more case study episodes. Preferably from a greater variety of products that include digital products such as ebooks, online classes etc.

    Keep rocking on, Tim.

    Like

  17. I was a little disappointed. Seems like these two are willing to stretch ethical bounds and I was bummed Tim didn’t call them out. For example when they explained how they misled their suppliers regarding their financials to get better terms Tim just laughed.

    Like

    • To your comment, I am reiterating the title of the podcast: “How to Generate 8-Figure Revenue at Age 21″…

      I would be curious if Ben and Santi can proof their claims…

      Like

  18. I just came back into your world and remember your generosity. and you have remained fresh which can only mean you are authentic! I enjoy you – thank you.

    Like