How our community built a $33M brand
A year ago today, we launched 82 Labs, Inc. after our first product, Morning Recovery hit 1000% of our Indiegogo goal. We knew we built a product that would help people be more productive and energized, but we could never have anticipated what the next year would have in store for us. 80,000 community members, 1.5 million bottles sold, and Series A financing later, we want to share our journey.
Here’s how our community helped us grow from an idea to one of the fastest growing beverage brands in 1 year:
No Product? No Problem.
The startup world celebrates MVP. What this really boils down to is communicating with your prospective customers early on, and learning what matters. It’s about getting your idea and prototype in front of them, and listening. We knew we needed to get early feedback on our product before it was available for purchase.
As we were getting our beta version of Morning Recovery ready with Dr. Liang at USC, we announced it on Product Hunt — a community of early adopters eager to provide feedback on new products. We were quickly flooded with feedback and inquiries from excited consumers, journalists, and potential investors who wanted to learn more and join the ride. We knew we hit a sweet spot with our idea when we garnered over 10,000 emails to seed our community.
This is how we grew our community beyond friends and family early on. We built a community to test the demand of our product quickly before we had fully launched.
The Beta Testers
By this time, our community was engaged and awaiting V.1 of Morning Recovery. When it was ready, we created a closed Facebook group to engage with them directly and send out free samples in exchange for feedback. In the first month, our beta group grew to 1,000 members.
We received a tremendous amount of feedback on how to improve our product, including packaging, flavoring, and naming — all of which we incorporated into our first version of Morning Recovery. We also validated our product’s efficacy as we received over 90% in positive feedback. Over 50% indicated that they would buy immediately once Morning Recovery hit the market. This gave us the green light to continue pushing forward.
Even today, we continue our culture of listening to our customers. Every comment in our closed group helps shape our future product direction. We encourage you to join!
We validated early market interest and the efficacy of our product, so we were confident in launching V1 of Morning Recovery to the public. However, we had a challenge. Unlike consumer internet companies, there were significant costs associated with putting our formulation into full production. With an enthusiastic community cheering us on, the solution was clear.
We turned to Indiegogo to launch our pre-order campaign on July 5, 2017. We announced our campaign to everyone on our email list that we garnered. We had a goal of raising $25K to kick-off our first production. We hit that goal in one hour. Within three weeks, we received $250K in pre-orders from customers all over the world and hit 1000% of our goal.
Instead of putting resources into producing something without clear demand, we were able to work directly with our community to launch Morning Recovery with minimized risk.
When I was a Product Manager at Facebook, I learned that retention was the single most important metric in growth. Without retention, a customer funnel is not sustainable. You can outpace churn by acquiring new customers early on, but you hit rock bottom fast because they don’t stick around. You simply can’t grow.
When we shipped our first batch of Morning Recovery in late September, we were a tiny brand. Growing our brand awareness organically was a challenge. Paid acquisition was also a challenge as we were low on cash.
We were able to grow from day 1 because of our community’s high retention. Our customers came back after their first purchase to place repeat orders. In November, 20% of our revenue came from repeat purchasers. Today, it makes up for 50% of our revenue.
Growth through retention helped our startup tremendously beyond the early days. Customers coming back repeatedly increased our LTV. We could start to advertise aggressively and afford to lose money on first-purchase, because we knew our product would keep customers coming back, and we’d make profit in subsequent orders.
Not only did our community drive business through repeat purchases, they were also a viral growth engine for acquiring new customers. Our survey showed that a third of our customers decided to buy Morning Recovery, because they heard about it through friends and family.
No artificial growth engines can beat strong word of mouth in consumer brands. Word of mouth also compounds with every successive customer, and we’re seeing bigger wins every month.
We’re also grateful when customers choose to share their most special life moments with us. To show our appreciation, we offer our community members free Morning Recovery for their weddings. In return, our customers have provided the best authentic sampling and marketing experience possible.
V2 and Beyond
We built V.2 of Morning Recovery based entirely off customer feedback in V.1. We reduced calories, doubled down on efficacy, and made instructions clear on packaging. We’re still engaging deeply with our community through social media and focus groups. All team members are encouraged to hop on calls with customers every week. It’s always amazing what customers will share with you when you ask.
As we reflect on the past 365 days and the growth of our brand, we are deeply grateful for our community’s support and engagement. We couldn’t have done this without our customers.
We’re now working on V3 and would love to hear your feedback. Reach us directly at email@example.com.
We look forward to helping you celebrate your best moments, without compromise.
And… If you haven’t tried Morning Recovery yet, get your free sample while quantities last!
The party doesn’t stop here — in fact, we’re just getting started. Our goal at 82 Labs is to use science to help people feel more energized, productive, and be the best versions of themselves. Stay tuned for new product launches!
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