Episode #51

With Father Daughter Duo (Nadia & Leexan Hong)

8 Year Old Entrepreneur Builds an App To Solve Her Own Itch

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I first met Leexan Hong from Trends.co, an amazing community of forward thinkers! The best part of Trends is that there is no spam. It is behind a paywall, $299/year and what that does is that it gets rid of all the tire kickers and people who are looking to get stuff just for themselves.

Leexan has been operating as an entrepreneur for over 15 years and has dabbled in several different businesses, from food and beverage to drop shipping, to tech start ups.

This episode has 2 parts, the first is with Nadia Hong, Xan’s 8 year old daughter is has developed an app so she never misses the ice cream truck.

Part 2 is with Leexan Hong and his story!

As always, don’t forget to leave a review on iTunes and hit the “Subscribe” button.

Part 1: With Nadia Hong

Nadia is not your typical guest. Nadia is 8 years old and she loves ice cream! She is in 2nd grade and is creating an app called, TruckZilla.

TruckZilla is an app where you can track the ice cream truck and other food trucks in your area. Nadia says if you’re like her, it will make your life easier and better! When she hears the ice cream truck at home, she has to run to her dad and they have to go outside to try and get it. Sometimes they get the truck, sometimes they miss it. She wants to make it so she doesn’t miss it again!

Nadia plans on making money from it by charging the ice cream trucks and food trucks a monthly fee.

When she makes money, she plans on using it to pay her parents to get her a dog! Talk about a driven 8 year old!

Nadia plans on getting food trucks on the app by emailing them. She goes on the food trucks websites and finds the email, and then she emails them to download TruckZilla to help them find more customers.

Nadia plans on getting the public to download the app by handing out flyers, asking food trucks to promote it, and showing up on podcasts like this.

The next steps for Nadia is to launch the app and get it out there!

When Nadia is older she wants to be a dog groomer or pastry chef, on the side of a full-time app owner!

Nadia’s tip for other 8 year olds wanting to make an app is to find something you love and then ask some people if they like the same thing, and if they don’t, try again. Do it until you find something that people have the same problems as you.

Nadia wants to give a special thank you to her mom and dad for helping her to create the app!

Part 2: With Leexan Hong

Xan has had his own business for the past 15 years. He dabbled in a bunch of different entrepreneurial ventures, but in the past few years, he is focused on his tech app and drop shipping.

Although most of his time right now is dedicated to his tech app, most of his income is from drop shipping.

How can someone get started with a niche site?

  • The hardest part is finding the idea!
  • Historically, Xan has used suppliers from AlieExpress
  • The first drop shipping site he did was custom golf bags

Xan uses his “gut” to see an interesting product before he does keyword research and going deeper. If you can find the right niche, you will be successful.

The winning formula = niche without tons of competition but has enough demand.

Right now, Xan is making tons of money in the paint by numbers category and he found it by trying to purchase a site on a marketplace.

Where can someone go to find an idea?

  • Look for problems in the world!
  • Can you scratch your own itch?
  • Is someone around you complaining about a problem they have?

Ultimately, there is no one play Xan gets ideas from. You have to keep your eyes open and jot down ideas as they arise.

After you have the idea, you need to validate the niche by reviewing the numbers.

How do you review the numbers?

  • Xan is Google AdWords certified so he relies on Google AdWords to see if the niche is profitable.

He is looking for:

  • What is the search volume?
    • You want something at the minimum with over 200 searches per month.
  • What is the estimated cost per click?
    • Typically there is a low end and a high end, Xan recommends you look at the low end

Estimate a 2% conversion rate on that cost per click.

If the cost per click is $0.50, divide that by 2%, and that gives you your cost per acquisition of $50.

From there, you can see what the item would sell for and reflect on the profitability of the product.

What is the golden rule?

  • Xan loves to find “niches within the niches”. Those are what is usually the most profitable and what converts the highest.
  • With paint by numbers, he went into the custom paint by numbers niche which increased his conversion rates tremendously.

What’s next?

Setting up the domain! Xan purchases his domain and sets up a Shopify site.

How do you get traffic to the site?

  • Search Engine Marketing! In other words, Google AdWords!
  • He will slowly dial into what keywords are converting for him, and then try to create content around those so he eventually ranks organically for the words that he is converting best.
  • On his site right now, 60% of the traffic is organic and that is when he truly made the site profitable.

This is not a get rich quick scheme!!!

If you are looking into getting into drop shipping because you want to get rich quick, you better think twice because this is not the business model for you.

Exact match phrases vs general domains?

  • It doesn’t really matter at the end of the day, but at the end of the day, he is not trying to build a brand, he is just trying to make money.
  • Because of that, he is just looking for something with the product in the title.
  • If there was absolutely no domains available, he would choose something general

How do you screen suppliers?

  • Order a sample from them to see the quality
  • The reality is, Xan moves fasts and breaks things. When you launch fast, you are breaking things that and will have to fix them fast.
  • He isn’t the “slow and methodical” type, rather, “get it up and see what happens”.
  • Xan’s other approach is to find USA based suppliers, as that can ease on shipping times and create a better quality product. Obviously, your prices have to go up or the profitability will go down.

Conversion Rates?

  • Do you see a lower conversion rate as the price raises?
  • No! When you focus on a niche within a niche, people feel compelled to purchase your product. If you are targeting a more general product, then someone may be more inclined to do research elsewhere

Some Brainstormed Niches:

  • Custom Wine Labels:
    • Not a high priced item, probably lower margins
    • If the item is $10-$20 in price, it would be difficult to return a 50% on that
    • If you have an existing audience, then it is good
  • Custom cycling gear:
    • The PRO is that it is a higher price item
    • Relatively niche product, which is great
    • The volume was low on this one when we did the keyword research
    • The CON here is that a lot of people are brand specific when it comes to cycling, so that could be a drawback
  • Custom Jeep Tire Covers:
    • Similar to custom cycling gear, it came down to volume

Building the Website:

What are you doing exactly before launching the website?

  • Move fast and break things!
  • You don’t need to launch pretty. Of course, conversion rates will go up if it looks better or if the experience is better for the customer.
  • Xan understands that, but he is all about converting visitors first to see if the niche is viable before spending time.
  • If there is potential in a product, you will get conversions very quickly. You may not be profitable right away, but you will definitely get conversions right away.

How many products do you need to launch?

  • Depends on the category, but you can easily launch with less than 50 products!
  • Launch with 1 category, put “coming soon” on the other categories, and run ads to the one category
  • As time goes, you can continue to add more
  • The custom golf bag site launched with 5 products and he did $60,000 with that site in the first year!
  • Get the data, get the validation, and then continue from there!

Which theme do you use?

  • The Shopify free themes, Brooklyn and Debut are Xan’s go-to themes
  • The paid ones are nice to haves, and you can always switch later, but to start it doesn’t make sense.

Are you doing organic social or just paid advertising?

  • Xan uses Zapier a lot, and he automates a new product post!
  • When a customer approves a proof, the video will be submitted to social media!
  • This does huge organic posting for him!

Virtual Assistants

How do you find, qualify and make sure they can do the work?

  • Xan has tried many different attempts at hiring a VA
  • The first was Upwork, where he went 0 for 2, meaning that he did not find one good one after hiring 2.
  • A friend of his recommended a virtual assistant firm. The difference is that it is a firm, not a person.
    • The downside: you pay a little bit more because you are getting a whole company and you have to commit to full-time.
    • The upside: you always have someone, no matter what. If something happens to the VA, they make sure the work gets done regardless. They created a professional operations manual that you get to keep, and you can give it to someone else down the road. Each VA has a supervisor above them, making it more difficult for them to cut corners and avoid doing the work.

Getting the Family Involved

Xan is getting his wife involved in drop shipping now! She is currently selling on Etsy and is looking to make a transition to drop shipping in 2021.

One thing Xan’s wife realized is how little time and effort he puts into drop shipping before he doubles down on the niche. The go fast and break it approach is making her realize this whole other method to getting into entrepreneurship.

The only reason I wanted to reiterate this is because the one asset you have a limited amount of is time and I’ve seen way too many side hustlers take way too long to launch their next product or project.

What’s next?

Xan is looking to launch another site! His current site funds his living expenses, so now he can go after other things.

Two things are real estate and his tech app, where he close to getting venture capital funds.

Resources:

What is your word of advice for people starting out?

Do the research and just get something up! There is no reason to waste time, just get something up!

Hosts & Guest

Matthew Alexander

Leexan Hong

Nadia Hong

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