Today I'll be interviewing Adrian from School List Done. He has a very unique story to share.
What motivated you to start your very own business?
I absolutely love this question. We've all heard the saying "Necessity is the mother of all invention", which I believe is true. The most valuable lesson I've learned throughout this process, is that invention happens in your imagination all the time. Motivation, however, is what pushes that idea into reality. If you can accomplish that, you've got the self-motivation to keep it going.
So I'm scrolling through my Facebook page a few years ago and a friend's post caught my eye. She was commenting on how shocked she was seeing her daughters school supply list and how much it was going to cost. What really got my attention was the multiple comments piling up from other parents going through the same thing. As I read tales of parents braving weeks of countless "Black Friday style" packed stores, creating mile long online shopping carts, and doing their best to stick to their budgets, the idea formed; but I wasn't motivated to pull the trigger yet. As it turns out, my mom is a school teacher so I asked her about her experience with required school supplies for her students. She told me that every year many students unfortunately arrive on their first day of class without all of the supplies they need. There's some assistance from the school to purchase needed supplies but her allotted budget never really manages to close the gap. Shocked, I then asked if the students just had to go without. Her answer was not only what motivated me, but also it's whats kept me moving forward years later.
Me: So do the kids just have to go without?
Mom: No I just buy what they need out of my own pocket
Me: Well does the school at least reimburse you?
Mom: *Laughs* No, but it's ok, the kids appreciate it.
Heartbroken Me: Mom, I got an idea
Looking back, a huge part of it was How she said it. Very matter-of-fact off the cuff like when you know it's not fair but hey...*shrugs* it's just the way it is.
How long had you been thinking about starting?
I had been thinking of starting a business for a long time before that conversation. There were already a few ideas bouncing around my head but this was the only one I felt an emotional attachment to. I think that's important for longevity and consistent quality. This all happened right before my birthday and instead of the usual parties with friends and family, I decided to take a trip alone and plan out my next steps. I'd recently gotten into skiing and always wanted to try the Rockies so I booked a week long trip to Denver about a week later. Having lived in NYC for the past 11 years, I've come to really appreciate nature and fresh air. Does wonders for the imagination. During the day, I hit the slopes and pondered every possible angle to solving this problem. Between ski runs, I'd call friends that were teachers and parents and asked about their experiences with school supplies shopping. Then I'd head back to my hotel room and absolutely attack the internet all night pouring over trends, statistics, logistics, pricing, etc. By the time that week was over, I had a solidified my concept and secured two suppliers.
What is your business all about?
SchoolListDone.com was created by listening to teachers', parents', and students' experiences school shopping over the years. I found out a lot has changed since I was a kid. Prices have gone up, schools request more specific items, and stores have all adopted a "Casino" approach to sales. The school supply industry, as a whole, has settled into a standard of marketing and pricing across the board that's designed to create a shopping frenzy and fatigue customers out of price comparing; and it's quite effective. For the consumer, this lack in diversity results in an ever declining shopping experience by creating an annual scavenger hunt for deals that can last weeks. Honestly, it's no wonder there's so much angst associated with Back to School shopping.
So to answer your question more directly, SchoolListDone.com is all about taking the exact opposite approach to Back to School Shopping. Instead of monopolizing your time, we strive to give it all back and charge less in the process. Now, when parents get that yearly supplies shopping list, they just send it to me and I handle the rest.
Where is your business located?
Shipping nationwide, SchoolListDone.com was born and still lives in Queens, New York.
How is life now that you’re a business owner?
Exhausting yet fulfilling. Shrinking a long hectic shopping experience into just a few minutes takes a lot of work behind the scenes. It feels good changing the world around me and inspires me to keep looking for common sense ways to help others. My favorite moment by far (this literally never gets old), is when I get to introduce this service to someone who had no idea it existed and they suddenly realize that HUGE task they had been mentally dreading isn't necessary anymore because....their School List is Done!!
How have you found using Shopify?
Using Shopify has been an amazing shift in the eCommerce experience. Early obstacles convinced me to design my own website to ensure the user's experience matched my company's mission to simplify, shorten, and streamline the process into a near effortless experience. Most website template's are packed with features designed to keep customers on your page for as long as possible. Traditionally, this is a smart tactic but in this case, sticky design would defeat the purpose. With no prior web development experience I built my first store on a different platform. While it was quite functional and did make sales, it was also probably the worst looking website on the internet lol. After banging my head against endless coding I decided to take my now proven concept to a different platform and chose Shopify after reviewing a lot of others. In my experience, Shopify is much more eCommerce friendly than it's competitors and (thankfully) has a robust community of experts and other store owners eager to share ideas and help problem solve. The support and overall culture they've created is absolutely priceless.
Any advice for anyone wanting to start a business?
YES! Just do it! Inspiration and motivation can disappear if you don't feed it. I see a lot of people that get stuck in the "research" phase and never move forward. Trust me, being prepared will save you exponential time and money but the reality is it's easy to keep putting off your idea from fear of not being an expert at all things associated. The best advice I can give is the best advice I received from a buddy of mine that owns an empire of businesses and buildings.
Me: Hey Frank, how do you know when it's the right time to jump?
Frank: *laughs* You just jump. If you fall on your face, get back up and jump harder.
How can we find you ?
Visit SchoolListDone.com anytime to send us your Back to School Supplies List, ask questions, give advice, share a good joke, show a friend, join the Happy Dance, share your experience etc. etc.
You can also find us on:
Website CLICK HERE
Instagram CLICK HERE
Facebook CLICK HERE
Twitter CLICK HERE
Anything else you would like to share?
A mentor of mine once told me:
"There's no such thing as a self made millionaire. When people discover what they're passionate about, they do it with such energy and focus that it inspires and attracts like minded individuals who help you along the way. Learn to spot them, reciprocate, and keep them close". With that in mind, I'd like to end by thanking Clayton Bates for this amazing interview and opportunity to tell my story. Grateful and humbled, I wish you all the best moving at the speed of a solution and hope you found some value and insight. Thank you
Clayton's Final Thoughts
It was great to see a different type of business. Lately I have seen so many businesses that look the same and SchoolListDone.com right is something very unique. Adrian did his research asked questions and built a business that he is very passionate about. Anything is possible when you put your mind to it and I'm sure this business will sky rocket in the coming months/years. Good luck my friend.