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New age brand strategy, the best blanks, selling a business

Ask not for whom the content bell tolls; it tolls for thee

We get asked a lot to write more about software. To talk about the same concepts of standout products, branding and content with a lens on the digital world. I used to think maybe I wasn’t qualified for this, we live so much in digital, but looking back at the PRDs, connected hardware/software products, UI and web design littered over my portfolio and you know what… let’s give it a go.

A few concepts to consider for anyone building in that space.

  • You can charge more for a premium experience. Software can learn from luxury brands by providing more human experiences, investing in more interesting design, being more useful to pros than widely useable by all. Going so large and so wide because VCs are obsessed with total available market is not always the best move for a business, we would love to see more software go narrow and obsess on every aspect of the experience.

  • Treat your software launches and updates like consumer product launches (this goes for B2B too). Launch campaigns, tutorials, concepts, rollout a theme, go oddball for social. The days of sterile software marketing are going to go by the wayside as we see companies do “world generation” with interesting visual assets via AI, and as volume of creative becomes increasing important for performance.

  • Building in public is a multi-part conversation with intertwined personalities. My favorite example is Fermat - they have more personalities than I can keep up with explaining what they do, sharing their successes, running conversations on popular topics, and dropping extensive value content.

On that note… welcome to another edition of HYPER, let’s get into it.

Selling Your Ecommerce Business

At some point, every brand builder considers selling their business. Maybe it’s more work than anticipated, too capital-intensive to scale, a new idea has emerged, or it’s a side hustle that’s outgrown its part-time status. Often, after a few years, the idea of cashing out now and planning the next phase of life becomes very appealing. 

When this scenario arises, there’s often a lack of information about what buyers look for, and who is buying these businesses. To help, I’ve created a checklist of what to consider both while building your brand and when deciding to sell.

I partnered on this content with Openstore, the largest acquirer and operator of Shopify brands. They bought a friend of mine's business a few years ago, and have guided nearly 50 founders to successful exits, paying out millions of dollars nationwide so they can start something new or move on to what’s next. 

They’re continuously in conversation with brands at various stages, helping them understand their value and identify suitable acquisition opportunities. Based on their extensive experience, here are the 6 Must-Haves Acquirers Look for in E-commerce Brands:

  • 1 - Growing revenue - your brand is seeing improvement quarter over quarter or year over year, without losing money.

  • 2 - Stable CAC - CAC stands for customer acquisition cost - your brand should show how many advertising dollars on average it takes to get a new customer.

  • 3 - Repeat customers - you have figured out the product stickiness or marketing savvy to bring customers back in a significant ratio (double-digit percentage at minimum).

  • 4 - Profitable marketing spend - ensure your marketing expenses generate more revenue than they cost. ROAS - return on ad spend should result in a positive ROI.

  • 5 - Up-to-date financials - make sure your P&L and other financial statements are accurate and most up-to-date. This starts at the beginning of your brand journey and the earlier you're on top of it the easier this process is.

  • 6 - Growing industry or TAM (total available market) - insight into your industry's growth potential and total available market (TAM) is critical for buyers.

A final pro tip:

Acquisition is an ongoing conversation, often starting years before completion. Collaborate with potential acquirers to understand the scenario, set mutual benchmarks, and adjust as market conditions change to align with your long-term business vision.

If you're doing over $400k in profitable revenue, OpenStore's  team of acquisition experts can help you determine how much you could sell it for. Even if you’re not ready to sell, they can give you a health check on your business and help you achieve the above checklist to get you closer to a sale one day.

Get your free valuation here:  open.store/acquisition-guide

This segment is in partnership with OpenStore.

Content & Strategy

We have a lot of strategy conversations—whether casual conversations with friends, conversations about our own brands, or with brands on projects, and the conversation has shift to be almost always about content.

It used to start with performance, or brand identity, or the little product details -but now the dominant factor for everyone, and the main factor in their business is what is being CREATED.

And this isn’t just about brands, its about their users and communities. How brands can enable their customers to make better content about them as more and more document their lives. How brands can make sure influencers they are seeding make content that performs better. All this on top of how people document their retail. How they can add to their organic velocity, how they test way more ad creative.

The convo comes up a lot about when does this end. The early adopter curve is talking about unwinding, stopping scrolling, their trying hardware to limit screentime.

Pro-tip, it doesn’t matter. Every hour consumed on traditional tv and streaming is available to be taken for short form networks and Youtube. The biggest enlightening factor for me beginning to work extensively on Youtube is how many DMs I get of people showing me talking on their TV. Tuning in for Sunday from a creator, getting recommended a creator friend in the video after that’s now part of their routine.

In addition to this the content people make is getting better. The explosion of people making money off TikTok Shop UGC has made probably 1/3rd of young LA savvy with Capcut. The content we’d consume otherwise is growing weaker. More repeated comic book franchises, more remakes.

If the brand strategy conversation does not center on content, its becoming antiquated.

The latest end to these convos we’ve been giving is that brands need to create a culture of content. You walk into content-forward brands and something is always being recorded, tried, edited, argued about. Leaderships is involved, their characters in the story, people have ideas, multiple personal brands are in a room. This is a big cultural shift, but the power of doing it makes getting better at media inherent. Those that don’t do it will continue to look at the ideas in their slack channels and wonder how they’ll ever pull them off, while they put up another still photo carousel that gets 178 likes.

Here’s how to change the narrative

  1. Lead from the top. If leaders within a company or just within a team know content, are making content, complimenting it, rewards those that do, encouraging it, others will.

  2. Assign learning. If someone shares an idea the team wants to do but no one knows how, or no one acts, assign someone to figure it out and report back with a procedure so everyone can learn.

  3. Take the plunge. If you see things not happening, be the change. Pick up the phone and figure it out.

  4. Decide when. If your strategy is antiquated but theres too much momentum and technical debt to stop, pick a date, work back, sign it off and make the change.

  5. Swap strategy formats. Remove big, complex planning and replace with more smaller sprints that are designed around content references

For anyone that wants to learn shortform first hand: the next CUT30 bootcamp is open for registration and starts first week of July for anyone that wants to learn in a group.


Standout Brand Blanks

This week, Oren hit an update to our top custom blanks companies. Easy access below.

If you’re new to the concept of blanks, when you’re making clothing for your company as merchandise, or personally for an event, or as a brand, you can either:

  • get normal off the shelf blank garments like Gildan, As Colour, Independent etc

  • get more specialist blanks that standout, like we call out below

  • get fully custom garments that take a lot more time, consideration, design and know-how to produce

We focus on the second category—ease of availability, with some options that will make your release feel special.

Madeblanks.com - 3 week custom wash and dye program
Creasegroup.com - Not blanks, but the best for excellent hats and activewear
Superlinewholesale.com - Excellent value, wide selection
Rovoassembly.com - Premium, made in Portugal, with embellishment, but pricey
Blanks by Thirteen - The ultra-cozy heavyweight hoodie you’ve been looking for
LA Apparel Wholesale - Go-to option for Made in USA, wide selection and more standard fits

Interview - Zach Seely

Brand Strategist, Studio Hapax and founder, Hard Pack Magazine

Tell us about yourself.

I’m the founder and editor of Hard Pack magazine, a new type of ski magazine that sits at the intersection of fashion, art, architecture, poetry and winter outdoor sports.

I also run my own creative and research studio called Studio Hapax.

I moved to NYC to DJ and throw parties, and I did that for years. That world led me to the world of design, branding and advertising pretty.

I worked in fashion advertising before I decided to go independent with my own studio and publish my own magazine.

What does the creative team composition look like on your team?

I’m a one-man team, but the studio grows depending on the project. Hard Pack has a more robust team and there’s a lot of shared resources between each entity. Hard Pack has two creative directors, my friends at SOON Services, Ken Tokunaga and Brendan Dunne.

We work with a designer out of Berlin named Christian Sant and our fashion director, Benoit Martinengo, is in Paris.

What was the most interesting project you’ve worked on in the last year? Show off a bit for us!

The most interesting project last year was JAY-Z’s The Book of Hov, an exhibition held at the Brooklyn Public Library in 2023. My friends at General Idea agency brought me on to work with Roc Nation. I helped with curating and telling JAY-Z’s story through artifacts, audio guides, and film. It was a rewarding project for a one-of-one human.

I had never worked on exhibition design before but it’s now something I’m selling to other clients. Another exhibition is already in the works, too.

What's your current toolkit for creative work? Project planning, moodboarding, presentation etc.

Because I’m involved with client services for my studio work, I tend to work with the toolkit that best fits my clients. For a current project I’m alternating between Figma for moodboarding, Keynote for presentation, and Google Sheets for project management.

How do you currently organize your projects and assets?

I’m using the new browser, Arc, to organize a lot of my work. I have multiple inboxes and the browser allows me to be logged into all of them.

I used to keep way too many tabs open to read later, but Arc allows me to organize all my inspiration into folders. Nothing gets lost. It’s great. For all my internal projects, I use iCloud to keep all my assets organized.

Where do you find yourself turning for inspiration?

I’m an obsessive reader of literature, cinephile, and music lover. Most of my inspiration comes from one of those fields. I’m a part of a few reading groups which exposes me to new types of literature. The New York Film Festival is a constant source for inspiration.

I’ll try to see as much as possible at each festival. On the music front, I’m part of a secret Slack group where a handful of tasteful music nerds share new tunes and artists.

I also enjoy heading to bookstores to browse books in person. Dashwood Books is a favorite of mine for such inspiration.

Where can people find you online?

Follow the magazine on Instagram @hardpackmagazine and online at www.hardpackmagazine.com. For my personal work I can be found at www.studiohapax.com.

Hyper Reports

Check out our market reports. We spend many hours researching markets, categories, and brands & products within the consumer space so you don’t have to.

  • How to Source Blanks 101 — HERE — a guide to finding and producing your own merch

  • Reports on Running, Golf, and Tennis — HERE — a guide to each sport, the market opportunities, and how to launch your own brand

Inquiries? Shoot us a note here: [email protected]

We’d love to chat!

Oren & Clayton ❤️ you