E-commerce & CPG

Get 1:1 advice on building your e-commerce company.

Mikael Makinen

Mikael Makinen

Co-Founder - Four Sigmatic
CPG Expert

Four Sigmatic
Google

Mikael Makinen is the Co-Founder of Four Sigmatic, a functional foods company especially known for its mushroom coffees. Mikael was responsible for growing Four Sigmatic's retail business from scratch to 8 figures profitable revenue and +5,000 retail doors in over 20 countries with the main focus in the United States. In the process, he hired and managed an internal team from the ground up, and sourced tens of distributors, and hundreds of external sales reps. Mikael stepped down from his operational role after 11 years and remains an active board member of the company. Mikael is an expert in B2B sales, profitability, fundraising, international business, and CPG strategy and operations. 

Ex-Google
Omni-channel
Retail sales
Profitability
International expansion
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Achelle Richards

Achelle Richards

VP of Product - Onyx Brands
Beauty & CPG Expert

LimeLife
Foundermade

Achelle Richards has over 18 years of CPG senior leadership experience. She was one of the founding five employees that grew the e.l.f. Cosmetics brand from an entrepreneurial startup to a $1.2B valued publicly traded company and top loved beauty brand amongst Gen Z’s. She has since launched PYT Beauty, a clean and sustainable beauty brand utilizing first to market bio technologies while also helping other CPG brands build their business. Achelle offers an array of advice on how to scale businesses as a trend identifier, strategist, brand builder, product innovator, marketer, and more.

Onyx Brands
Alcone
LimeLife
CTZN
Angel investor
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Billy Bosch

Billy Bosch

Founder - ICONIC Protein
CPG Marketing Expert

Iconic
Whole Foods

William (Billy) Bosch is a consumer products entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience launching products, scaling into retail and e-commerce, and raising money. He is most known for founding ICONIC – one of the largest natural protein supplement brands in the United States. Starting with a humble idea to create protein supplements free of hormones and unethical farming techniques, Billy has scaled ICONIC to more than 5,000 retailers across the US including Whole Foods, Walmart, and Macy's, and has raised millions of dollars from private equity investors.

Raised $30m+
Big retail sales
Whole Foods
Macy's
Walmart
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Lauren Gallo

Lauren Gallo

Brand Marketing - Nike
Branding Expert

Nike
Snapchat

Lauren Gallo is an award-winning, industry-leading marketing executive with expertise in global brand marketing and creative development. She has grown, defined and redefined some of the world’s most iconic brands, from Soho House to Apple to Snapchat to Nike. A proven leader, one of Lauren’s greatest skills—and greatest professional joys—is building and guiding high-performing, complex, multi-discipline teams. As a Forbes 30 under 30 Marketing & Advertising honoree, Ad Age 40 Under 40 and AdWeek Executive Mentor, Lauren is looked to as an industry thought leader.

AdAge 40 Under 40
Snapchat
Apple
Nike
Soho House
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Ben Katz

Ben Katz

Co-Founder & CEO - Happy Head
Fintech Expert

Happy Head
Card.com

Ben Katz is a serial entrepreneur in the consumer internet space based in Los Angeles. He founded a leading online bank called CARD.com, and currently runs the online leader in hair loss medicine, HappyHead.com. He earned his BS and MBA from The Wharton School at The University of Pennsylvania. Ben's specialties include data-driven marketing, discovering product-market-fit, and business development.

Scaled to $25m+ revenue
Wharton MBA
CARD.com founder
Paid media expert
Business development
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Josh Campbell

Josh Campbell

CEO - Human Improvement
Former Starbucks Executive

Human Improvement
Starbucks

Josh Campbell is the founder and CEO of protein supplement brand Human Improvement and wine brand So Gay Rosé. Formerly a Starbucks Executive and President of cannabis wellness company Dosist, Josh has founded, funded, built, and exited multiple startups in the consumer packaged goods space. He is passionate about mentoring up and coming founders and entrepreneurs, whether it be on topics like turning unconventional ideas into successful companies, finding investors, digital marketing, growth hacking, and building a team, or simply coping with the myriads of challenges and stress that comes with being founder and turning it into something positive.

Launching consumer products
Retail partnerships
Customer acquisition
Fundraising
Sales strategy
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David Laubner

David Laubner

Ex-Head of Growth - Amazon
Growth Marketing Expert

wevideo
Carro

David Laubner has a 20-year track record of driving business growth and leading brand strategies at companies from startups like Blink to large corporations like Amazon, Dassault, and Fuze. Talk to David about things like: Idea validation, business model, pricing models, market & sales channels, GTM & product launch program, marketing campaigns, ideas and budgeting, promotion ideas, marketing tech stack, management organization, growth Marketing, bootsrapping, and e-commerce.

Amazon
Blink
Dassault Systèmes
WeVideo
Carro
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Tim Chan

Tim Chan

Sr. Writer - Rolling Stone
PR Expert

Rolling Stone
Time Warner

Tim Chan is the Director of Products and Commerce at Rolling Stone Magazine. He is also a producer and consultant to a number of publications and brands across the globe. His portfolio includes work for L'Uomo Vogue, Vogue Korea, i-D Magazine, Neuehouse, Snapchat and Ahlem Eyewear, among others. In 2019, Tim was hired as the first-ever Lifestyle and Market Editor at Rolling Stone. In addition to his consulting work, Tim was the Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Corduroy Magazine - an award-winning arts and culture bi-annual. Tim got his start in television, producing the morning show for Time-Warner cable news network NY1, and working on the production team that launched the E! Network in Canada. Tim has a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University in New York City.

Writer Rolling Stone
Editor-in Chief Corduroy
Time-Warner
Columbia University
So Gay Rose Founder
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Bill Capsalis

Bill Capsalis

Board Member - Naturally Boulder
F&B Expert

Naturally Boulder
Foundermade

Bill Capsalis is a recognized expert in healthy lifestyles and go-to-market strategies in the natural product industry. He was previously the CEO of Haystack Mountain Creamery - an artisanal goat cheese company and saw the company through a sale in early 2021. Today he is the Executive Director of Naturally Boulder - a trade association in the natural products industry with over 1,000 members and 100 sponsoring companies. His in-depth industry knowledge gives him a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing today’s food and beverage brands. He has mentored, advised and coached over 250 food, beverage, personal care, vitamins and nutritional supplement brands over the past 27 years.

27+ years in supplement industry
Getting into big retail
Raising from private equity
Bootstrapping
Scaling e-commerce
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Sasha Tan

Sasha Tan

Founder - C.riously
Retail & E-commerce Expert

C.Riously
500 Startups

Sasha Tan is the founder of C.riously, a company that makes nutritious health snacks. She previously founded Favful (a personalized beauty care platform), which was backed by Segnel Ventures, Gobi Partners, and 500 Global before it was acquired by iMedia in 2022. She is a serial entrepreneur, having founded her first F&B business in Singapore at the age of 21. She is also experienced in growing internet businesses, having served as a founding team member and VP of Product at HappyFresh, Southeast Asia's leading online grocery delivery service. In addition, she was named a Forbes 30 Under 30 leader (Asia) for Retail & Ecommerce in 2017.

Forbes 30 Under 30
Founded Favful
Acq. by iMedia
500 Global
Hypergrowth
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Austin Sherman

Austin Sherman

Founder - Big Easy Bucha
CPG Expert

Big Easy Bucha
Southbound Tequila

Austin founded and was the CEO of Big Easy, a producer of healthy, refreshing, and organic functional beverages which retails at more than 4,000 locations nationwide. Austin started this business from his apartment, eventually scaling to 8 figures in annual net revenue, and selling Big Easy In 2021. Austin is currently the Co-Founder and CGO of Southbound Tequila, and has been an opinion-shaping voice in the CPG industry ever since 2014. He has successfully sold products to the Nations top retailers such as Publix Supermarkets, Whole Foods, Walmart, Kroger, Ralphs, Costco, The Fresh Market, Erewhon, and many more.

Exit founder (Big Easy)
Launching CPG products
Scaled to 4,000+ retailers
Creating an exit strategy
Retail expansion
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Davis Clute

Davis Clute

Co-Founder & CEO - Hiccapop
E-commerce Expert

Hiccapop
Forbes

Davis Clute is the Co-Founder & CEO of Hiccapop, a digitally native ecommerce baby products company. Davis started Hiccapop while at Stanford University in 2016 and has since grown the company (with the help of many others) to over $50m in revenue per year without raising any venture capital. He was named to Forbes 30 under 30 for Retail and Ecommerce in 2021. In his spare time, Davis loves teaching entrepreneurship, finance, and business to people of all ages. He has taught everywhere from middle schools to colleges.

Forbes 30 Under 30
E-commerce baby products
Bootstrapped to $50m+
BA Stanford University
Direct-to-consumer
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Trey Sisson

Trey Sisson

COO - Baboon To The Moon
E-commerce & D2C Expert

Baboon To The Moon
Wharton

Trey Sisson is the co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of Baboon To The Moon, a DTC adventure brand that sells bags and accessories. Trey began his career as a Business Analyst for Goldman Sachs, before moving to the world of startups where he led teams at Amplify and StumbleUpon. He later co-founded two startups before his current company – Stefan's Head (backed by Techstars) and Goods of Record. Trey holds a Bachelor's and Master's degree in Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA in Entrepreneurial Management from The Wharton School at University of Pennsylvania. Trey specializes in operations, digital marketing, fundraising, supply chain, product management and taking startups from 0->1.

Goldman Sachs
Techstars
E-commerce sales
Scaling from 0 - 1
Wharton
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Dan Bauer

Dan Bauer

President - Bauer & Associates Inc.
Marketing and Strategy Expert

Harvard Business School
MBA Exchange

A recognized expert in marketing and entrepreneurship, Dan Bauer founded The MBA Exchange, an education and career advisory firm ranked among the Inc. 5000. Since then, as head of Bauer & Associates, he has delivered high-impact, marketing guidance to clients ranging from Fortune 100 to startups in 30+ industries. Previously, he served as SVP of Global Marketing & Sales for MasterCard International’s global debit business and as Vice President of National Marketing for Citibank NA. His career includes account management roles with DDB Needham and Ketchum Advertising. Bauer earned an MBA from Harvard Business School focusing on general management and marketing. He ranked in the top 15% of his class in industry and competivie analysis.

SVP MasterCard
VP Citibank
Inc. 5000
Harvard MBA
Board Member MonogramGroup
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Martin Okner

Martin Okner

Former President - dpHUE
Beauty & D2C Expert

dpHUE
ACG

Martin "Marty" Okner is an experienced executive and former President and COO of dpHUE from 2017 to 2022. Under his leadership, the company grew annual net sales 10x and increased profitability through groundbreaking influencer marketing strategies, product innovation, and direct to consumer/retail channel expansion. Prior to dpHUE, Martin had extensive Fortune 500 experience with Revlon and Cadbury, and he co-founded the strategic advisory firm SHM Corporate Navigators. Martin also served as Chairman of the Board of The Association for Corporate Growth from 2020 to 2021.

Revlon
Cadbury
dpHUE
10x revenue growth
Private equity funding
See pricing & availability

What Is an E-Commerce Startup?

An e-commerce startup sells products online through digital channels like online stores or mobile apps. E-commerce startups are still in the earliest stages of business development and may not yet have much traction or revenue. 

Startup e-commerce companies seek to harness the power of digital technology to build their brands and establish themselves in the competitive world of online shopping. E-commerce startup ideas typically strive to disrupt traditional retail markets by capitalizing on the advantages of digital commerce, such as global reach, scalability, and cost-effectiveness.

The birth of e-commerce can be traced back to the 1970s, when budding technologies like EDI (electronic data interchange) and teleshopping began laying the groundwork for e-commerce as we know it today. In 1979, entrepreneur Michael Aldrich created the first e-commerce business using a modified television set, a real-time multi-user transaction processing computer, and a telephone line. The e-commerce industry truly kicked off in the mid 1990s, when the dawn of the public internet made it possible for e-commerce pioneers like Amazon to begin marketing and selling their products online.

Since the 1990s, e-commerce has exploded into one of the most popular business models, and many brands are now shifting focus away from in-store experiences altogether in favor of online ones. In 2022, e-commerce accounted for 19.3% of the global retail market, totalling $5.4 trillion in e-commerce sales worldwide — and that number is projected to continue rising steadily over the next few years. 

What Are Some Successful E-Commerce Startup Strategies?

There are many established strategies for growing an e-commerce startup. Some of the fastest-growing e-commerce companies prioritize customer retention — gaining loyal customers who return to your site again and again is crucial for gaining a foothold as an e-commerce business.

Here’s a convenient e-commerce startup checklist that includes a few of the best strategies for driving growth and customer retention in e-commerce:

1. Search Engine Optimization

One of the most essential considerations for e-commerce startups is search engine optimization (SEO). Investing in a robust SEO strategy will help you improve your website's visibility in search engine results — which is crucial for any online business. 

2. Selling on Established Marketplaces

Another common e-commerce business plan is to sell products on established e-commerce marketplaces like Amazon, Shopify, or Etsy. These platforms offer access to existing customer bases and can make it much easier for your young e-commerce business to develop brand awareness and credibility.

3. Personalized Content Marketing

By analyzing customer preferences and behaviors, you can develop targeted messaging for your e-commerce customers in the form of product recommendations, tailored offers, customized email campaigns, and more. Australian e-commerce brand Beer Cartel successfully leveraged content marketing when they used a well-crafted survey to provide their customer base with valuable insights about the craft beer industry, leading to a significant increase in website traffic and revenue.

What can an e-commerce startup mentor do for you?

E-commerce is a unique field with its own set of challenges. A mentor with industry expertise understands the nuances of online retail, including emerging e-commerce trends and the best digital marketing strategies. An experienced mentor can help you validate your e-commerce business ideas by going over your ideas with you and showing you how to conduct detailed market analysis.

Moreover, mentors who have navigated the e-commerce business industry themselves have likely encountered the same obstacles you will encounter and can offer practical solutions and guidance based on their firsthand experiences, helping you to make informed decisions and steer clear of costly mistakes. A mentor provided through Mentorcam can also help you estimate your anticipated e-commerce startup cost and aid you as you navigate the process of securing e-commerce startup funding.

Related areas of interest: VC, Fundraising