Inspiration can often come from the most unlikely of sources. Debbie Sterling was a young, mechanically-minded woman from a small town in Rhode Island when she entered the engineering program at Stanford. Four years later, Debbie graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering/product design and a lot of pent-up frustrations. During her time at Stanford, Debbie was upset by how few women were in the engineering program. She concluded that the root of the problem stems from the segregation of childhood toys. Young girls are given dolls and easy-bake ovens while boys get tiny hammers and a lifetime of problem-solving skills. Debbie thought that if someone could create a line of engineering toys that catered to young girls, universities might receive more female engineers in the future. Debbie saw an opportunity to make a name for herself while inspiring others, and she took it.
Debbie spent the next several months raising over $285,000 on kickstarter to fund a collection of engineering toys for girls. These toys featured an innovative protagonist, Goldie Blox, who uses her mechanical skills to construct things like a dunk-tank, a parade float, and a exercise machine for her dog. Once Debbie’s toys were ready, she needed to find a way to sell them without investing in a brick-and-mortar establishment. Debbie took to the net and built herself a webpage using Shopify’s web-design program. Since then, Debbie has achieved international success and her toys have been praised by Forbes Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Guardian, and The Huffington Post. In 2013, Debbie and four other entrepreneurs each won $50,000, a VIP mentor trip to New York City, a feature in Fast Company, and $20,000 in online marketing credit by selling the highest volume of products in a two-month period on Shopify. Most importantly, Debbie has inspired many young girls to consider a future in mechanical engineering. There is no doubt about it; Debbie has achieved success. Wouldn’t you like to do the same?
Starting your own online company is not as hard as you might think. Once you get going, expanding your business can be relatively straightforward. The trickiest part, building a web-page from which to sell your products, is simplified with help from websites like Shopify and Etsy. These sources can teach you how to build a completely customized store, appear on the first page of google searches, and advertise on social media sites. You can also peruse hundreds of successful online businesses to find inspiration. To learn more about ecommerce, read Shopify’s easy-to-follow tutorial and launch your brand today!
Once you’ve designed a page that caters to both your product and your clientele, it’s time to build your empire. The number one mistake that online business owners make is underestimating the power of social media. The internet is a powerful, recession-proof machine that relies on visual stimulation and group mentality. If you spend time photographing your product and promoting it on sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest, you could amass a fan base that will propel your business forward. An enthusiastic online following can provide free publicity that will help you get noticed by magazines, blogs and reputable enthusiasts. And if you are lucky enough to receive national attention for your designs, success is almost guaranteed. So get out your camera! Online customers are more likely to put down money for “drool-worthy” items, so take the time to capture your product’s most flattering angles. With your page up-and-running, and your fans gushing over your products, you can sit back, relax, and let the internet work for you!