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How Rugby Bricks Grew From Zero To $300,000 In 18 Months
I recently heard a story about how Rugby Bricks grew from zero to $300,000 from a personal acquaintance. My dad founded a local rugby team, so with my family all being “footy heads,” this immediately captured my attention.
I reached out to Peter Breen, the founder of Rugby Bricks, to find out not only what he did it, but how he did it. I wanted to know how Rugby Bricks grew in so much in 18 months. From interviewing Breen, I discovered two compelling business lessons. Lessons that can be applied to any business, regardless of industry or business size.
Now, here’s the interesting thing, I learnt how Rugby Bricks grew without focussing on branding or paid advertising. You might be thinking, how did they do it? Well, first, it started off with the lean startup methodology.
Lean startup principles
The Lean Startup is a book authored by Eric Ries, an American entrepreneur that is popularly associated with the “lean startup movement.” In Ries’ early entrepreneurial years, he was working for There, a tech startup with millions of venture capital funding. The startup was in “stealth mode” (working on a product secretly) for five years.
When the product eventually got around to launching, it failed miserably. This left Ries feeling dumbfounded. And being the smart cookie that he is, he didn’t want to repeat the same mistakes again.
A new opportunity came about at IMVU, a “social entertainment website where members use 3D avatars to meet new people, play games and develop online communities,” Ries took to learning, experimenting and trying out new things. This set Ries on a new path that later sparked the lean movement.
Through IMVU, Ries used a different approach to that of thereby putting the product in the hands of users early in the development cycle of the product. He got feedback from users, made iterations (changes) to the product based on what people wanted.
Lean methodology is a cycle based on continuous innovation by using a “build, measure, learn model” that involves getting customer feedback within the loop. So, right now, you might be thinking, “what does this have to do with Rugby Bricks?” Well, quite a lot as there are some very valuable business lessons that you can learn from Breen.
Don’t underestimate the value of feedback
Breen is an ex-Rugby player. And he didn’t agree with some of the things that were happening in the sports industry. So, he began getting feedback for potential products on solutions that he was considering creating by using lean methodology.
Breen gained a lot of valuable insights through having 100s of conversations with friends, rugby players, and coaches. This enabled him to craft the mission of the business. He did this by closely understanding the real challenges and needs that people in the sports industry faced.
It is important to note that Breen had an added advantage. That’s because a lot of his friends are in the sports industry and not to mention, he is also an assistant coach for the Australian women’s national rugby union team, the Wallaroos.
Identify advisors and customers
Much like account-based marketing, a form of selling to large enterprise accounts strategically. Account-based marketing combines the efforts of both sales and marketing teams to identify key decision-makers (the people who make the decision), influencers (the people that influence the decision) and champions (those within an organization that champion an idea) to sell to an enterprise account on a very personal level by creating unique customer personas. This can be anywhere between a $100,000 and a $1,000,000 ARR client.
Through using the lean methodology and having a lot of conversations with people in the sporting industry, Breen gained an incredible amount of insight. Not too long after, he had one of those “aha moments”. He realised that if he were to focus on people that functioned both as an “advisor” and a “customer” that this was his true target market. And this is one of the keys to how Rugby Bricks grew in such a short amount of time.
According to Breen, he believes that a lot of businesses underestimate the importance of taking the time to do research. As well as the importance of truly working out who their target consumers are. And, as a result, many businesses are not targeting “die-hard fans.”
To illustrate, during Breen’s customer development questions and surveys, Rugby Bricks would ask people questions like:
- If no one else is watching you and you had an hour to kill time what would you watch if you only had your cell-phone on you and how would you watch it?
- If someone told you to go out and get a gift for your teammate, what would you buy them and why?
This exercise provided Breen with invaluable knowledge, allowing him to identify his true market that would propel growth. For example, Breen says, “I knew that my true fans are likely to be watching something on RugbyDump, sliding through an ESPN scrum article or buying an England Rugby jersey.”
These insights allowed Breen to chase after people that would convert on buying his products. Better this than the luke-warm social rugby player who enjoys the game but doesn’t really live and breathe it. This begs to question, how many small businesses owners, startups, or companies truly know who their real target customer is?
Breen knew exactly who his target customers were and went to great efforts to identify and connect with them. Ultimately, by knowing this, Breen was able to grow Rugby Bricks. He grew it from zero to $300,000 in 18 months without any focus on branding or paid advertising.
If you are a business owner and you don’t know who your real target customers are – then now could be a good time to invest time and discover as much information as possible about your customers. By doing this, it will help you to grow your business as Breen did.
Since this article mentions both sport and business, I thought it would be appropriate to leave you with this quote from Babe Ruth, “Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game.”
Lastly, don’t let the fear of talking to your customers limit your businesses success. Because, at the end of the day, you can achieve anything.
“The opinions expressed by Smallville Contributors are their own, not those of www.smallville.com.au"
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