Our first Black Friday

by Peter Keller
Comments

I always wanted to be an entrepreneur.

In high school, I sold candy to my fellow students.

In college, I telemarketed (until I couldn't stand it anymore).

And after college, I took a job selling ice makers on the internet. I thought I was in hog heaven.

But after ten years (10!) I wanted to make the world a better place through my work, and... sell something to allow me to do that.

I started Fringe out of my garage in 2010.

It was slow going at first. I wanted to quit my job and help people get stronger... but I only sold a few hundred gymnastics rings and achieved a few thousand dollars in revenue in the last few months of that year.

The next year, 2011, things ticked up. Revenue was about $100,000.

Now a quick note- revenue is NOT everything. But if you want a business that can survive... of course you need to make some revenue (and profit) numbers to keep the lights on.

And in my case, I needed to make enough revenue to convince myself (and my lovely and supportive wife) that Fringe was a "real" thing.

Back to 2011. We made $100k in revenue that year.

But, $25,000 of that $100,000 came in one weekend: Black Friday to Cyber Monday. Back then, my co-founder and I were both working normal jobs, eking out time for Fringe Sport whenever we could — on evenings, weekends, and even lunch breaks.

When Black Friday 2011 rolled around, we planned a sale online and, also locally in Austin. We didn’t really know what to expect- but we knew it was a big weekend for shopping. We set up the sale on our website and decided to extend it to our local customers, servicing them directly from our (tiny) rented warehouse.

When we showed up that Friday morning to our warehouse, we were locked out.

Our landlord had rented it to a band for the weekend to shoot a music video. He didn’t tell us!

That's Austin for you ;)

We banged on the door and got the band to stop recording for 30 minutes. We dragged as much stuff out of the warehouse as we could, and waited.

Thirty minutes after we opened, an older Volkswagen came rolling up. I think it was a Jetta. Three people stepped out. We must have looked like a swap meet, with most of our inventory strewn around the parking lot of our warehouse. But they bought ALL our bumper plates, anyway.

Those three folks (Raul, Kara, Joe) )kept coming back throughout the day, loading up the Jetta, and driving away with our plates. They cleared us out! And, eventually, we had to turn away a few other local shoppers.

But what happened that weekend finally confirmed for me that what we were building matched what consumers wanted.

Prior to that weekend, I did not feel like what we were trying to do really resonated with- YOU. But the fact that we could generate $25,000 in sales in one weekend — and because I saw and talked with our local customers — helped me to confirm the vision that what we were building was “real.”

That's when I quit my job and dedicated my life to helping you improve lives through STRENGTH.

Thank you for letting me take this journey.

Thank you for letting us build this... for you.

PK


Peter Keller
Peter Keller

Author