eCommerce

5 Business Tips from the Co-founder of Arrae, Nish Samantray

by Molly Pittman

Nish is the co-founder of Arrae, an ecommerce brand that sells targeted supplements for women.

In 2020, Nish bootstrapped Arrae from $0 to $1 million without launching a single ad…

Today, he spends nearly half that every month on paid advertising!

His journey over the last two years has been incredible. Not only is it inspirational, but it’s also packed with insights that can help anyone in digital — whether you work for yourself or someone else.

Here are 5 lessons Nish learned that helped make Arrae a massive success.

Products from Arrae, an ecommerce brand that sells targeted supplements for women.

1. You are never wasting time.

“I would not have been able to start Arrae successfully without having that previous experience.”

Before he co-founded Arrae, Nish spent 6 years working as a product manager for some large tech companies. It was corporate — and it definitely wasn’t glamorous. He spent long hours traveling between the US, India and Japan, and barely had any time for a personal life.

Nish couldn’t see it in the moment, but even when he felt miles away from his dream job he was still learning skills he would use later to run his own business.

This is something I like to remind people about a lot:

Whether you’re working for yourself or someone else, you are always gaining experience that will help you in your next step. You are never wasting time.

Now, when Nish looks back on 6 years of building someone else’s brand, he doesn’t see it as wasted time. It was a necessary step on his journey to build Arrae.

2. Your differences make you better.

“[I told my co-founder] I’m so different than you are — if you ever start something, we are the people who need to be on the same team.”

Nish is a right-brained analyst with years of technical experience in product management. His co-founder, Siff Haider, is a left-brained content creator and beauty influencer. They couldn’t have been any more different on paper…

But long before they ever had an idea for a business, they trusted that their differences were their biggest strength. Being from opposite worlds made it possible for them to identify market opportunities from two different points of view.

That’s how Siff recognized the opportunity to make a supplement brand that focused on beauty and routines like the cosmetics industry. And it’s how Nish was able to apply his methodical approach to develop supplements that worked faster than the competition’s.

By leveraging their differences, they literally found the two unique selling propositions that make their brand stand out.

3. Focus on product first and scale second.

“What gets you from $0 to $1 million is completely different from what gets you from $1 – $10 million.”

Arrae bootstrapped their way to their first million with organic influencer marketing. They didn’t run a single paid ad.

Their strategy was to give away as many products as they could to influencers, then listen to feedback on how to improve the product.

We don’t speak enough about this stage of building a business: whether it’s through influencers, friends, or family, you need to get your product into people’s hands so you can make sure the transformation your product provides is real.

It doesn’t just help you improve your product, it also helps you develop the sales messaging that’s going to take you from one million to ten.

Nish was excited when Arrae hit $1 million organically, but he knew it wasn’t sustainable. Now he had to level up everything in order to scale — including introducing paid ads.

4. Don’t hire an ad agency too soon.

“There’s a saying: ‘Don’t delegate the make-or-break parts of your business.’ And for most D2C brands, paid ads are make-or-break.”

This is a mistake a lot of businesses make when trying to figure out paid advertising.

They hire an ad agency very early on and tell them to make us money. The problem is agencies can never know your customers as well as you do, and without your deep understanding of your brand, the agency is just pressing buttons.

Every agency Nish hired that first year failed to scale his spend above $50,000 per month. After a year of bad results, he decided to learn Facebook ads himself and enrolled in Train My Traffic Person.

He learned how to craft hooks, identify customer avatars, write copy and immerse himself in the psychology of his customers in ways that no agency can match.

Nish did what so many successful brand builders do: he put in the work internally to discover Arrae’s core offer — he didn’t delegate it — and then he hired us at the Smart Marketer Agency to manage and scale it.

(Of course, I think we are some of the best media buyers out there — and we did scale Nish to $500k a month in spend — but no agency can replace the relationship you have with your own customers!)

5. Limit to-do list to 5 goals every month.

“There’s always going to be fires burning, and you really have to pick the most important fires and just ignore everything else.”

After two years of growth at break-neck speeds, Nish has learned the things you think are urgent probably aren’t as urgent as you think.

“It’s really important to sequence out the series of events that you want to solve, and then make sure you solve them one after another.” That’s why Nish writes down the 5 most important goals every month, and he only spends time on problems that align with those goals.

And even when you limit your to-do list to just 5 goals every month, you’ll be surprised to find that you can still get where you want to go by the end of the year.

For example: Nish has a ton of experience in website optimization from his days working in tech. And for the first year, they were using a boiler-plate Shopify template that he knew wasn’t converting as well as it could…

But CRO wasn’t the important thing to focus on in the beginning because there was barely any traffic to the store.

So instead, Nish wrote “solve paid ads” on his to-do list and kept it there for 6 months as he took classes, wrote ad copy, hired new employees and eventually solved Arrae’s biggest problem in sequence.

Want to hear the full story?

I’m so inspired by Nish’s journey over the last three years, and I’m so thankful I get to work with him every week at the Smart Marketer Agency.

Nish’s 5 lessons come from a longer conversation we had recently on the Smart Marketer Podcast.

You can listen to the full story on episode 118: From Zero to One Million in 8 Months:

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