I’ve finally made the plunge, I’ve started my first online business! This is a business I’ve been wanting to have a go at for a very long time.

*This is a repost of something I wrote for an old blog Grasping Triumph. More on that here if you’re curious.

Ever since I called up a friend of mine two summers ago and said…

“Josh, I’ve got this idea for a supplement that could change both of our lives” and from that Think Better was born. The name came a bit later, at the time we fondly nicknamed it “Nootropic Project” and created a secret Facebook group where we sent each other messages with new discoveries, exciting ideas, and theoretical formulas. But as with all things done haphazardly the minute we lost our focus from school and other commitments the project fell by the wayside and we mostly forgot about it. Ever since I’ve kept this idea in my pocket to be attempted once I have the capital, drive, and time to give it my all. Recently, however, I’ve realized that time will probably never come. I’m an ambitious guy and I’ve always got something on the go, and on the off chance I don’t I’ll always have school, a job, girlfriends and various other obligations to attend to. So I’ve decided that even though I’m working four nights a week, am still in the process of building this blog, have school and exams coming up and am leaving mid-May to spend my summer with the military I may as well get started now.

That was three nights ago. Since then I’ve made some great strides in my work and these initial steps are what I want to share with you today.

At first, I started by making a list of all the things I thought I’d have to accomplish to get my nootropic in a position to be sold and scaled, and while I acknowledged that there were probably plenty of curveballs coming the way I decided in spite of that to start. I started by going through all the research my buddy and I had done and after a lot more came up with this formula…

This formula incorporates the percentages that I’ll be dealing with from my supplier Powder City i.e. the 300mg of Alpha GPC contains only 150mg of Alpha GPC and 150mg of Glutamine, which is a common non-toxic filler. Same goes for Vinpocetine being a 10% mix. I further researched the compounds toxicities, studies done on their effectiveness and whether my competition included them in their formulas. For the most part my formulas unique due to the compounds potencies and price. You see I choose to make only the best, and that often comes with a hefty price tag. So if I’d chosen to go Alpha Brains route and use mostly fillers, cheaper ingredients, and low doses I’d have a larger profit margin but a less valuable product. However, since I plan to be the only point between the consumer and their product (more on that later) I can stomach the more expensive ingredients.

So I had my formula developed and now it was time to order. This is where my friend’s invaluable research came in as he’d found the best raw health ingredients supplier in the industry – powder city, that not only shipped to Canada (where I live) but also had an amazing reputation, extensive product selection, and incredible prices. So I had my supplier and I placed my order.

Above you can see what I picked up if you’ve done the math from my formula description you can tell I have enough for roughly 600 capsules or 20 bottles at 30 “00” capsules a bottle. As well you’ll notice the discount of 10% applied. I literally did a two-second search on google using “powder city discount codes” and found that code immediately. Something I’d recommend anyone purchasing anything online to do. 30 capsules or one bottle is enough for 1 month of use, at the recommended/active doses I’ve found for each compound. This is the ideal point, especially for a new nootropic user who still needs to build a base tolerance to these compounds. Now I had my ingredients ordered but I still needed the packaging, the label and a method by which I could package the capsules. So I looked into these issues further and ordered a few more things to solve these problems. For the packaging, I looked into bottle suppliers online and found an older online company eBottles that had exactly what I was looking for. I found the proper size (100cc) of HDPE generic pharmaceutical bottles, matched them up with some heat seals for sanitation purposes (those little seals on top of bottles which say “don’t use if removed”) and hit checkout.

I couldn’t find any discount codes this time around so I had to pay full price, and man did I pay. The bottles themselves were very reasonably priced but the shipping killed me. Hopefully, these bottles are up to the standard eBottles promised. Next was the label, I researched on my web design platform of choice Fiverr (note a contractor from Fiverr designed the Grasping Triumph logo) and hired the one who seemed most promising. From his ad, it seems he slots my information into a template he has set up and for $10 will include the editable .ai files for the completed label. I plan to rehire the grasping triumph logo designer to do this logo as well (note the loyalty he built from quality work) and with these two gigs combined and a little copyrighting/editing on my part I’ll have my label ready to be printed, which from what I’ve seen VistaPrint can do quite well.

Finally, for the packing method, I found this older device, which was popular during the supplement craze a while back called “The Capsule Machine” and I picked up one of those. It seems I can produce about 24 packed capsules every 5-10 minutes. So assuming its about 8 minutes per 24 capsules and that I’ll be producing 20 bottles of 30 capsules each, it’ll take me about 200 minutes to pack all these capsules. Not an ideal solution by any means but at the scale, I’m operating at its the most effective solution (price vs. efficiency) that I can find. As you saw earlier if I can scale this business well I’ll contract a facility to do all the packaging for me and operate this business in the dropship style. However, for now, I’ll be a capsule packer and an entrepreneur, no problem.

Once all my materials have arrived I’ll have a Fiverr contractor prepare some nice seller pics and then I’ll be ready to begin selling on my platform of choice – eBay. I’ve chosen eBay as a starting point because of its ease of entry, its lack of competition in the nootropic market (I’ve checked and there’s one other multivitamin style nootropic on there called Noobrain that uses an inferior formula to mine and has pretty abysmal branding), its massive market and its relatively cheap seller fees (about 3%). I’ll use PayPal to handle the transactions and from there can shift it straight to my bank account to be used for further supply orders.

So far the net cost to me has been about $315 CAD and I’ve managed to acquire the means to produce 20 bottles with some extra materials I can use during the next production round, not accounting for the costs of the labels. So assuming I can sell these for $34.99 US each and accounting for eBays seller fees and PayPal’s cut I’ll have a net profit of about $550 CAD and assuming I put all my revenue back into the business I’ll then be able to produce 66 bottles. Which again accounting for all the costs can be sold for about $2853 CAD! Now the only thing that won’t scale here is the labor. Those 66 bottles will take me 11 hours to pack/fill assuming I can keep up an incredibly steady pace of production so its likely I’ll be hiring someone to take care of at least some of that for me, as the more bottles I sell the more time I’ll have to spend packing these capsules. As I said before its likely I’ll run into some speed bumps along the way, but as it stands this seems like a very promising business venture.

And there you have it guys, how I set up my first online business. A business I might add which was easy to start, had low start-up fees, required minimal knowledge/skill to start and can be easily replicated. Sounds pretty easy, eh?

That’s why you should start one too. Not necessarily a nootropics business albeit its a massive market to play with but a business you find interesting. You’ll learn as I did that the money/work needed to get started is actually a lot less than you think and at least for me it’s actually very fun/satisfying to finally see this thing you’ve wanted to do for a while begin to take shape.

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Andrew is a design graduate student in Toronto who writes about leadership, design, and startups. Visit his blog Lead Boldly for exclusive content. Or say hey on Quora | Instagram | FaceBook | Twitter | LinkedIn.


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