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Jake Munday 0:00
We are ranked in the US the likes of Amazon and Etsy for the top 100 key terms that around town zones.
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgensen has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz ninja, entrepreneur, radio.
Tyler Jorgenson 0:46
Welcome out to business or entrepreneur radio, I have a guest today that I think you’re really going to love coming to us from all the way around the world over in Australia. I guess for him, we’re on the other side of the world or wherever you’re listening. We’ve got listeners everywhere, so maybe he’s in your backyard. But we have Jake Monday, who is the founder and creator of custom neon, and who has quite the entrepreneurial journey that I’m excited to unpack here for you today. Welcome back to the show, Jake.
Jake Munday 1:15
Thanks for having me.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:16
So yeah, I guess I realized, you know, you’re, you’re down under, but we’re just all the way on the other side, too. So it’s not just us. So we’re gonna go through a little bit about your journey about how you quit school and about how you’ve done a few different things. But let’s start with now. Tell me about custom neon, what is what is custom neon
Jake Munday 1:34
CustomNeon is an LED neon business, we supply neon signs all around the world. Anything from it, you know, events, weddings, kids rooms, business restaurants, you know, you name it, there is a neon that we can put in that space.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:52
Awesome. And so it’s mostly an ecommerce store. You’ve been selling online, what since 2018, starting in 2018,
Jake Munday 1:59
and it’s purely ecommerce, we do have teams around the UK, Australia and US that are working one on one with our customers that are sending like logos. But yeah, purely online.
Tyler Jorgenson 2:13
Awesome. And so how did you get this idea?
Jake Munday 2:15
Interesting story I bought, I wanted a neon sign for my son Jack, who was three months old. And I knew it’d be something I’d probably put up and then put in the cupboard, you know, three or four months later, but I just liked the idea of a neon sign in his room and did some research and found the process quite difficult in terms of finding a neon sign somewhere to last. Some customers and companies didn’t even get back to me. Anyway, long story short, I purchased a neon sign was 350 Australian dollars. And two or three weeks later came on my front door. And it was great. I was really happy with the quality but also notice that underneath the label they sent me it was pronounced opposite. Right. So in previous business that we’ll touch on, I had the experience with, you know, online business before as well. And so anyway, we purchased suddenly at millennials Hassan’s very wedding dress, and I got married with personal mealtimes for a wedding and thought we actually went over the top, I convinced him by about eight and the answer were him. And then we use the content from the wedding to set up a new Instagram account. We approach local businesses here in julong, of throwing our cost price to get an on site and use the content from that. And you know, it’s meant to be a side hustle for my wife. And I guess we will get a lot of inquiries and will be very responsive just on Instagram. And then away we went it was better. We built a tool, an online design tool. So you could actually design your own landing on online. It was one of the first of its kind. Because we were going back and forth in fonts on like Word doc or Photoshop to our customers. Like do you like this one? Like no, I mean, I do like this one and going back and forth. So we bought it, we built a custom tool that you can type in exactly what you want. Pick the font, pick a color and check out and that’s where this business really just took off.
Tyler Jorgenson 4:07
Yeah, no, it’s amazing. Especially because it’s such a visual thing people want to be able to see it so to be able to like live preview, build it out is pretty amazing. Now this was a you order to sign for yourself. You ordered some for the wedding, you decide to do it as a side hustle. But talk to us about where you’re actually at where What are you looking to hit in revenue this year.
Jake Munday 4:28
We’re forecast 16.5 mil. So in fall short is you know a team of about 30 around the globe. So like you know everyday I pinch myself to where it is today. You know obviously it didn’t come easy. It’s a lot of hard work and a lot of learnings along the way. But yeah, to have a goal to like you know, I sell 10 neon signs a month to now you know selling 1200 Plus, you know Yeah, we couldn’t big jump.
Tyler Jorgenson 5:01
Yeah, no, it’s pretty amazing. And so you, let’s now we’re gonna dial it back right and go back to the early days of Jake Monday’s entrepreneurial career journey. So you’re in school and you realize this just wasn’t for you. What was the when was the first time you realized now maybe I’m an entrepreneur.
Jake Munday 5:18
Oh, by the way, word meant back then. Sure. But I was behind the old cell phones on eBay and, and kind of flipping them. So I was doing that. And then that was while I was at school. And also then went after quit school. My uncle had a Reims business, like a wheels business that who would buy these, these wheels, refurbish them, and then sell them pretty much as new. And I was the one that was listing on eBay and sending them and give them you know, 25%, cut and whatnot. So that was kind of always doing things on the side. And then also, my partner used to be a potato farmer. My dad used to sell some caravans and my uncle was, you know, had 3040 50 Different pubs around Australia. So I think it’s in the in the blood.
Tyler Jorgenson 6:08
Yeah. So you definitely had a little bit of like, at least awareness that you could do something different, something not traditional nine to five. And so the first one of the first big things you did is you picked up a Facebook page that you had, you know, you grew accordingly this from 440,000, which is already a lot to 4 million followers, but you monetized it. So tell us about how did you grow it? And how do you monetize it?
Jake Munday 6:31
Yes, I purchased it for 5000 us thought I’d be able to do something with it. So I actually tried to sell dog products on the page, and realized a lot of the audience was in the US, it was just costing me lots to ship, looked at other pages and then realized that I could monetize it. So basically, company reached out to a few companies and provide me links to posts on the page, and then wouldn’t get a cut, you know, in order to purchase those links or signups their email address I was getting email database is going to dollar per email address. So the page and then I was posting other than that cute dog photos. And you know, back in the day when Facebook was what it was, you know, things would go viral. And we had one we just actually just recycled a photo that it was a little girl saying if I get a million likes my my devil bombing and publish. And within 72 hours there, yeah, I mean likes and we’re growing 100,000 followers a day. And with that the revenue grew from 4k a month to 40k a month. And then in no time at all, I was basically scheduling an hour every hour like posts and getting paid for for that. One of the biggest customers was the one that I actually started the business to, which was in the US and whenever they applied again for golf was part of the deal. Sold it and then obviously set me up.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:48
So even if you lost the golf game, you still still still won that one. That’s pretty amazing. Do you think is that something you encourage people to do now is get into kind of affiliate marketing and sponsorship or that type of kind of growing pages and communities? Or is that something you think was a trend?
Jake Munday 8:06
I think it’s hard and now Facebook very much you know, pay to reach. So that that makes it very hard. And obviously, you know, we’re running the business, we’re paying on socials and whatnot to make sales. It’s definitely obviously achievable. But it’s the days where things would go viral. I mean, tick tock is where it’s at now where that can happen. But But yeah, the days are gone to this to set up a Facebook page. But there’s lots of ways obviously to, to make money just about trialing. And testing. You know, when we first started custom and well, we we did a lot of free listings, like Gumtree and Craigslist and Facebook marketplace like we just listed everywhere. Because that’s what you do when you start, you know, you strap say,
Tyler Jorgenson 8:47
what percentage of your guys’s current now on custom neon, what percentage of your revenue is from custom, even though I mean, it’s in the name, but you also have some stock items, or people just getting in and also buying stock stuff
Jake Munday 8:59
very well. Their focus is cast on that is exactly what we focused on. So less than 5% would be shop items. There is room for us to improve in that area, no doubt. But you know, our focus is the customer side of things. And 65% of our overall revenue goes through and
Tyler Jorgenson 9:15
so as you started growing from a goal of doing 10 signs a month to doing 1200 Plus orders a month. What were some of the biggest challenges that you faced and how did you overcome them?
Jake Munday 9:26
For me early on being an entrepreneur and having a business that is growing quickly? You know, we started we started in Australia and also start making sales in the US and US starts becoming the market. I was just like a hide people, you know, Hide, hide some teams, whoever whoever had some design experience and some customer service experience come on board. Let’s go. That person had a friend or a cousin. Jump on let’s go. So one of the mistakes early on is probably in the long run. They helped us scale and help us grow but in the long run, you know that they weren’t the right people for US cultural wires and things didn’t work out there. So that’s what just stepped in from an HR background, my wife and came more into the business and really brought that process and structure saying that I need there’s a there’s a book that I relate to called rocket fuel. And you know, being a visionary and integrator, you got it on your shelf.
Tyler Jorgenson 10:21
Yeah, I think I just put a book in front of it. But it’s yeah, it’s right there.
Jake Munday 10:24
Yeah, so being an integrator and visionary, and I think that’s one of the successes to our story is, you know, I’m very much a visionary. If this was just my business would have done real hard, real fast, you know, would have made some money, but it wouldn’t have the sustainability long term. And Jess has been able to bring that as well as their business partners into that mix as well. But particularly, you know, Jess, and I, obviously been a wife and working in the business with your wife. Lucky enough, it works really well. Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 10:52
yeah. I’m sure that has some unique challenges. Now, we’re kind of jumping back and forth in your story. And that’s a little bit on purpose. So you, you did this, you know, Facebook page, and that did really well, you end up selling that off. And you guys did a teeth whitening business, which has a lot of challenges on advertising, and even sometimes merchant processing, right? How did you guys get started into into pearly whites?
Jake Munday 11:18
Yeah, so that was just, I guess my one of my that was, that was me, I am a friend, at the time had an a business that that she was having a Go Go out, she sold, I think 400 units on her own. And I’ll just chatting and obviously, with my online experience, I said, you know, look, if you’re interested in in, we’re working together, I’d be happy to run some ads and see how we go. And that turned into, you know, buying into the business, but 20k down, that would also secure the first 1000 orders. And part of the deal was once once I sold them or pay myself back. And then yeah, that then scale again, that scale from I don’t know, the first month was 30k, then like 110 182 20, all the way up to about 480. And then at that, during that that cycle of six to eight months, I wanted to keep expanded into the United States that was purely just in Australia. Yeah, it’s a process. I wanted to, I wanted to expand that into the US. And we had different opinions on that. I wanted to keep reinvesting the money. And she, you know, she she had other ideas. So that’s where the relationships are broken apart.
Tyler Jorgenson 12:30
Yeah. And so talk to us just a little bit about partnerships in general, right, you’ve, you’ve got one business that you’ve had a partnership with your wife sounds like so far, it’s going okay. And you recognize the difference in the positives and the negatives of like, visionary and integrator. But then in the past, you’ve had partnerships that didn’t work out. What’s your advice to entrepreneurs, considering having a partner
Jake Munday 12:53
go and going with open minded? You know, it’s very easy, put the rose colored glasses on and think everything’s gonna be okay. Look the other day, I think it’s important to ever start to put all the terms down and be open and honest about all different expectations and go into things that are, you know, if it is successful, what does that look like? If it isn’t successful? What does that look like? And kind of have the conversations upfront, and understand, you know, even like, I’m a parent now. So like, lucky enough, Jess, and I agree on a lot of things, but it’s until you have a baby that you go, I don’t agree with the way that you’re parenting them and whatnot. So it’s a similar, you know, with business, you know, it’s so I just encourage you to have a conversation upfront and look at all possibilities. And engagement go from there.
Tyler Jorgenson 13:40
Yeah, I think that’s super important with with partnerships is being able to map out even the bad things, right? Hey, If this happens, how are we going to handle it? If we have to face like, even like you said, the victim of your own success, like you were growing to a point where one partner wanted to pull money out, and one partner wants to plow back and grow? Like, that’s a big difference, because some people, for some people getting to $100,000 in their businesses more than they’ve ever dreamed of. But if you understand like, well, we could be doing a million or 10 million, right? Like, it might be a different and not everyone’s ready to be on the same rate, or same pace or same race. Right. So. So you guys, do you guys still do that? Or is that that’s a business you guys are still involved with?
Jake Munday 14:22
Yeah, so what happened there was a trip to an ecommerce trip to Thailand, and I’ll go through this quickly. I met some great people there. But one of the guys I met there was Matt, who’s their business partner today. So he actually purchased out that business partner we weren’t seeing eye to eye. He purchased her out. And then we didn’t really wants together and then on the side, yes, and I did that customer the customer side of things and we will have success by ourselves. And I’ll say Hey, Matt, you should check this out, dude. Like, they focus on SEO. And just that’s they’ve done that before Google’s around so they’re, you know, super experienced at that once again, husband, wife, team, and you know, he looked into it goes Actually, yeah, he got he got some legs he like, especially in the US, and that’s where he did an earning him and his wife did earning customers. So that put some money down in the rest in. And that was that looks something like you know, when they got X amount of organic sales in the US then it was 5050. And it’s worked really well since then.
Tyler Jorgenson 15:20
That’s awesome. And I think, you know that way of of getting a exiting partner, I’ve had a few colleagues do transactions similar where it’s like, hey, one partner wants cash and the other wants to grow. It’s like, well, let’s have somebody more a partner with better alignment come in, and then buy that purse out. And everyone kind of gets what their goal is, right? Somebody, people, the person who wants to grow, it has the ability to have now a partner who wants that same vision. So you guys do I mean, both pearly whites and custom neon have really good visuals and aesthetic, right? Like they pop on social media. I’m sure there’s a little bit of coincidence to that. But what did you guys learned after running this much creating this much content and running ads? What have you learned about engaging content on socials that our listeners could learn from? I
Jake Munday 16:10
think it’s came in relevant and trying to, you know, you’ve got such a short period of time to grab someone’s attention these days. So look, the basic advice I would give to entrepreneurs out there is look at some businesses that you look up to look at businesses that you follow and look at what they’re doing and see what they might be doing well, and basically, replicate content off that with your own stuff. Right? There’s no point of trying to reinvent the wheel, you know, there’s businesses out there that are doing it and doing it well. So I’ll just be looking at that.
Tyler Jorgenson 16:48
I’m a big fan of modeling what’s working in, in all aspects, Hey, these are the type of ads that are converting, and this ad this client, or this business is spending, you know, 50 grand a day on ads? Well, I should probably start with that they’ve got a lot more data than I have with just my opinion. So I love the idea of starting with what’s working, making it your own making a custom, but using, you know, success leaves clues. So there’s a lot of clues out there. What was that
Jake Munday 17:13
done? Quickly, either Facebook, Facebook, our library, you can Google Facebook ad library and see what you type in any business and see what they’re what ads there are, and you can you can quickly get a taste of what’s out there, and how you can do things.
Tyler Jorgenson 17:26
Absolutely, yeah. And yeah, when we look, well, it’s a we’ll go go look at the oldest ads that are still running, because those ones are probably converting if they’re buyers decent. If you were to start custom neon completely over today, you had to like start it over today and rebuild it. What would you do differently?
Jake Munday 17:43
Good question. You know, the hard thing is to answer because we’ve, we’ve had such a great, you know, a great trajectory that, you know, I wouldn’t want to change too much. Good. I think, I think early on, obviously, hiring differently. For us, maybe updating processes and procedures early on with more automation earlier. We spent a lot of time in that 2020 2021. Early on. So I mean, obviously, there’s so many so much stuff you’d take back and start but that would be the main I’d go back and and change it
Tyler Jorgenson 18:18
makes sense. And you know, what’s interesting is, you’re the visionary, you know, you’re your wife who’s an integrator. What was if you have that balance, what do you think is the most important hire to kind of complement those two? And like, what’s the most important third piece? You told me not to ask you hard questions on me.
Jake Munday 18:41
I think I think I was like a product that sells you know, something that actually is something you can both you know, ride the wave of if, if you haven’t got something or a product or service that is, you know, then you can’t really put that yeah, I guess rocket fuel into practice.
Tyler Jorgenson 18:59
Yeah, that makes sense. And so you guys, you still enjoying custom neon still enjoy working with it and seeing the product and hasn’t gotten old?
Jake Munday 19:07
Yeah, absolutely. You know, we love what we do. We love our team love the daily grind. You know, we went to the state of CES recently, it was able to take my family there. We met USA team for the first time, you know, because of the pandemic operation manager has been there three times for three full days. But yeah, it was good. So and then you want to visit UK, but yeah, we’d love we’d love what we do. We think that we’ve still got a lot of growth left in what we’re doing. You know, we’re really just touching the sides, especially the US and Canada. So, yeah, we’re very optimistic and enjoy what we do every day.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:42
That’s really cool. That’s, you know, that doesn’t always happen. So maybe we’ll get into a business especially if it’s an early trend and then the trend may die off at that they’re like I don’t enjoy this anymore. But I think what’s neat is you guys do so many different types of designs and work with so many you guys have given me I’m gonna give you a quick chance to name drop you guys have worked at some really big names who have you guys done signs for?
Jake Munday 20:04
Really Paris Hilton’s wedding, which was which that was, that was great. You know, that was actually a voice DM you know, like, we had a we we did a sign I just did for Paris. We tagged him but yeah, he approached us like a customer, you know wanted to announce them for their wedding. Elon Musk, we we didn’t realize you purchase a Stein until he posted on Twitter and then we’re like, I just want a house.
Tyler Jorgenson 20:28
I like I like that he just bought it right instead of like DMing you can you send me it. It’s amazing. How many people just want free stuff, right? Even though they’re, they can clearly pay for it. Yeah, yeah. Who else?
Jake Munday 20:42
The janitors the aides kill 818. I don’t know which one which Jenna, but geez, yeah. And then,
Tyler Jorgenson 20:51
I mean, you guys do big companies, and you do lots of big stuff. So you do I mean, you’re not just doing like, signs for weddings and bedrooms, right? You’re also doing big logo and cool things.
Jake Munday 21:02
Correct. I think that a lot of like Facebook, tick tock and all the big brands I’ve worked with with a lot of them. I think that for us, because of the strength in SEO and rankings on our on Google, you know, we aren’t ranked in the US the likes of Amazon and Etsy for the top 100 key terms that are around, you know, on phones. So and then obviously, underneath that we’ve got our competitors. So I think a lot of these celebrities and and businesses, you know, searching for neon signs, and obviously saying that we’re legit brand, you know, and we’re the first ones that they inquire with. So,
Tyler Jorgenson 21:38
ya know, you definitely had early, early mover advantage on it, right? Like, I had a restaurant years ago that actually had old school neon and it right, and now this new, this new technology, right? It doesn’t run hot, it doesn’t glass doesn’t break, you don’t have to worry about any of that. So and it has that kind of vintage vibe, which is definitely trending for and I think we’ll for a long time. Yeah, what? What was like, What’s one of the most like, memorable signs you guys have done?
Jake Munday 22:06
For me? One that worked on early on was the Facebook thumbs head office in in Los Angeles. Yeah. So it’s like 10 to 10 minutes, that maybe four meters high and six meters wide. That’s the first time then the next one’s a bit small on the next on the smaller and smaller, smaller on it so that customers can go there can stand in front of it, they can all change colors as well. So it’s RGB. So that was that was fun. Yeah. And seeing that, any installation? Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 22:38
that’s really it’s really neat to see. I mean, it’s cool to see it on a small scale, too. It really is. I think, if you’re a creator, I think anytime you get to see your, your work in the wild is really neat. But there’s something special about big projects that were like, harder to take on harder to tackle. When cm come to life, it’s really cool. And I think super rewarding. What’s your, what’s your next big goal?
Unknown Speaker 23:00
What I’ve learned, been, I guess an entrepreneur is actually just focused on the one thing, you know, we talked about pearly whites, there was also three or four other businesses that was doing at the one time back then as well, which we have we haven’t touched on, but that’s part of the entrepreneurial journey, right? Yes, and that’s what I’ve learned is just focus on the one thing and do it well. So look, our biggest goal, I think, over the next three or four years is to is to try and double our revenue. And, and work hard at doing that as obviously opportunities, then we know what angles to what we can do to try and get there. You know, and I guess along the way, we’re chipping away and kind of achieving things. We’re doing love Island, Australia at the moment, doing all the neon signs and the fielder and then doing a partnership with them and being able to sell the neons, but also use their specific font on our tool so that we can create their own peace of love on and take it home. So that’s launching at this end of this month, you know, things like that, you know,
Tyler Jorgenson 23:59
looking for collaborations and strategic partnerships and stuff like that. That’s pretty cool. Yeah, yeah. So I mean, continued growth. And I think it’s true, I think it’s fine, in my opinion, to work on a few different businesses when they’re an idea. But the minute one has like legs, if you want it to take off, you’ve got to you got to lean in and focus. So it seems like this is the big focus is where you’re where you’re leaning in your goals of doubling business and doing some really cool stuff. You’ve got you’ve built up quite a quite a lot of act, you know, awards and stuff like that. You’re definitely getting recognized. What advice to other young entrepreneurs that maybe a few steps behind you, what would you tell them to to folk like other than focus pick one thing? How do they come up with the next idea?
Jake Munday 24:47
I think it’s about trial a trial and error. And, and let’s what I guess the Facebook page came about, that’s what this came about is coming up with an idea or a niche and testing the waters putting a little bit adspend behind it, see what see what you can do. And that’s only as for me how I found how St works, and then you scale if saying, If you making the pearly whites, I think it’s been $120 and my two, three sales from outside. Okay? So 240 See what we get with 240? You know, that’s just how it starts and all sudden, you know, you steamrolling the chasing your tail, like, that’s how I for me it started that. So I would just a lot of trial and error, you know, if don’t spend too much time on it, obviously do some research in terms of who else is doing it. Trying to find something that others aren’t like, the custom tool for us really was a game changer. Yeah. So yeah, I think just trial trial and error, and, you know, bootstrapping, using the tools around us that are that are free, you know, social medias that Craig believes that gum trees that Ebates? Yeah,
Tyler Jorgenson 25:52
you touched on something really briefly, I think it’s super important. Because you said trial and error. And then you also said, but don’t spend too much time on it. And I think for me, what I see with happens with a lot of launchprenuers, people who say they want to get into entrepreneurship, is that they’re so scared that their first project, their first idea is not going to work that they never actually published. So they’re just talking about it, they’re thinking about it, they tell people about it. They’re building the website, they’re working on it, it’s waiting for it to be perfect. And they never actually even like, test it and get it out there to the market. So I love that you said don’t spend too much time, right, you’ve got to time is like the commodity that doesn’t refresh. You can go back and make more money, you can do those things, but you’re not gonna get that time back. So I think speed of testing is super important. What? To me, Jake, like business is about life, right? Business isn’t just about business. And it’s about helping you have the lifestyle that you want. And so what is one item on your personal bucket list that you’re gonna accomplish in the next 12 months?
Jake Munday 26:52
It’s gonna be a hard question, but just due to have our third babies,
Tyler Jorgenson 26:55
that’s a pretty good one that have raised the baby. That’s great. That’s coming soon.
Jake Munday 27:05
Yeah, it’s in April. So that will be a third obviously, we’ve grown his business through through having kids so I mean, that’s a pat on the back. I’ll give us that that’s not not easy. But I think that you know, family time is very important and cause the businesses where it’s at now we can switch off at night time we can switch off on the weekend and really enjoy the family time. So for us it’s holidays and making sure that we do give the the important you know, family the time that it deserves and needs you know that is that is more important than the business that end of the day. So making sure that balance
Tyler Jorgenson 27:40
now solid. Alright, thank you so much for coming out on the show Jake and to all my biz ninjas, wherever you’re watching, listening, streaming, whatever it may be, it’s your turn to go out and do something.
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