105: Success Secrets from a 20 Year-Old Who Created a Million Dollar Business in Two Years with Matt Schroeder

Episode of: Dave Lukas, The Misfit Entrepreneur_Breakthrough Entrepreneurship

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Aug 8, 201848m | se3 : e105
105: Success Secrets from a 20 Year-Old Who Created a Million Dollar Business in Two Years with Matt Schroeder
Aug 8 '1848m | se3e105
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This week’s Misfit Entrepreneur is Matt Schroeder. Matt is just your regular 20 something college student, who started a T-shirt company, Shelly Cove, with no business experience, did $12,000 in sales in its first week and over million in just about year.

Even more impressive is the fact that Matt not only wanted to create a great product, but also wanted to make a difference with it. The company donates 10% of its gross sales to sea turtle rescue.

In talking with Matt, I was blown away by the simple, yet genius ways in which he has grown the business and continues to expand its reach – especially using social media. So, I had to have him on to share his story and these success hacks with you.


Matt started Shelly Cove in college with his parents. They were his business partners. Matt has always had an interest in entrepreneurship, but had never started anything. When he came up with the idea for Shelly Cove came up, he decided to “just go for it.”

When the idea came to him, he was in the middle of engineering internship and one day, he was thinking deeply about if he really wanted to do it. He was talking to his parents and decided he wanted to do something on the side. They got to brainstorming together and came up with the idea. They spent the summer coming up with design ideas and getting things up and running…and when they launched, Matt could quickly see that it was not going to be a side business, but more of a full time business almost right away.

At the 7 min mark, Matt talks about the inspiration that really put him on the entrepreneurial path. Hint: It was a failure and his grades tanked – but it was all he needed to get the entrepreneur spirit.

The original idea for Shelly Cove was to create some T-shirts and sell them on Etsy, but changed to the business it is today. How did that all come together?

  • Matt and his family would go to Topsail Island a few times a year and there is Sea Turtle hospital there
  • His family used to visit and it became part of his childhood memories
  • When starting Shelly Cove, it fell into place. They wanted to do apparel and give back to a charity and it made sense since they were close to that group.

You started giving back from the beginning, what made you start out that way?

  • It was a combination of things
  • Tom’s shoes and others were an inspiration
  • Being a business that can be a hugely profitable venture that can give back can do more than an individual from a donations standpoint, but in helping to create awareness.
  • A company with a non-profit is a more efficient way to do business. People get great value and give back at the same time.

You chose to focus on women and children for your products and niche. Why did you do that?

  • They started out with the logo thinking it could work for both men and women, but when the first colors/patterns were done for the first 5 products, it was very much more focused to women.
  • They tried separate designs to market to men, but they didn’t sell very well.
  • In the beginning, Matt says they really didn’t know they were doing and things just came to be that way by what sold.
  • It is OK to focus on a niche and for them it worked very well.

How did you sell $12,000 in shirts in your first week?

  • Matt read a piece on Reddit about the benefits of using “Micro influencers” – people with 10-100,000 followers that could do things in exchange for product.
  • He reached out to 50 and got 5-6 to respond and send them shirts to wear and promote.
  • The 5-6 had about 500k in followers and they helped post around Shelly Cove’s launch day which did very well for them.
  • Initially, the influencers were only on Instagram
  • The other thing they did was giveaways for follows, likes, tags, re-shares and comments on social media

At the 24 min mark, Matt talks about the marketing strategies he uses today…

  • Still working with Micro Influencers
  • Still doing a giveaway every week Limited Facebook advertising 25% of their sales are from email marketing – list building and then nurturing and selling to that list
    • He promotes weekly to the list and has a nurturing sequence for new signups
  • Has a popup on the site to collect their information for a chance to win a $500 shopping spree.
  • Matt uses www.Klaviyo.com for his email marketing and management
  • He uses flows for all types of scenarios from abandoned cart to 30 days after purchase, new sign ups, etc.

Tell us about the “Rep” program you created…

  • They have a “Become a Rep” Ambassador program and anyone can apply. It is focused on the US
  • They get a unique discount code and tracking number for orders
  • They pay a commission on sales
  • They have 1200 or so and 400-500 stay active
  • It has created a mini-army consistently telling their friends and social media about the company and it’s products.

At the 33 min mark, Matt talks about how important the packaging of the products were.

  • They wanted it to be an experience, like opening a present
  • They want the package to be so cool that clients post it to social
  • They hand wrap every shirt and put a sea turtle special charm on it
  • This is a big separator

What advice would you give about making the leap to entrepreneurship?

  • You learn the most by doing
  • You can sit around and say “what if” all day and that will just let your mind time to give reasons not to do it
  • Have a support system to help you
  • You must be driven
  • If you are truly driven and are “all in” then there is no reason you should fail

At the 37 min mark, Matt talks about the most important thing he has learned about himself from this journey…

He learned to find his confidence


Best Quote: “It doesn’t matter how old you are, it matters how driven you are and how willing you are to learn…”


Matt's Misfit 3:

  1. Follow your passion and stop saying “What if?” The worst thing that can happen is that you fail and learn from it.
  2. Think long term and not short term…
  3. Always be innovating

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