From eBay to stand-alone with 1500+ weekly users and healthy sales, growing a successful online business from scratch was a blast. Highlights include perfecting in-bound marketing and engaging with customers whilst working another full-time job.
Importing/selling Radio-controlled Helicopters via AirborneRC.com.au
For a few years I ran an online store selling electric radio-controlled helicopters. At the time, nothing like them was available in normal toy-stores. As a kid, I was into radio-controlled aircraft, and could only ever afford gliders (no pricey engines or equipment needed). At the time, one of my favourite TV shows was Chopper Squad. Combine the two and the dream was born; imagine being able to fly a toy helicopter! The hobby magazines had articles about The Whisper; the first electric RC helicopter I saw. Ever since then I had kept an eye out for electric rc helicopters. Then one day, whilst chatting with a colleague at work, he mentioned that he was going to spend time with his brother trying to get their $200 rc heli off the ground that weekend. I thought; “What, some up/down only thing?”. “Nope, this goes any direction”. I jumped online that night and saw that eBay was selling heaps of cheap Chinese choppers. I bought one, crashed it before I really flew it, and saw that no local suppliers existed for the spare parts… so I started importing parts and helis and set up www.AirborneRC.com.au. At the time, I was doing my PhD, and managed to graduate in 3.5 years whilst growing the business. It got pretty big, and in the end we shut it down mainly because RC helis were going mainstream and I wasn’t in a position to compete with the big toy retailers… that, and my work as an academic was taking off too and I didn’t have time for both. It taught me a lot about customer relations, time-management, inbound marketing, logistics, SEO, and showed me just how responsive online business can be; get it right and the response is really fast. It was great fun.