CFU 106 – Using Indiegogo to Start a Monthly Subscription Service | Feat. Tim Ray of Carnivore Club

My guest today is Tim Ray. He is the founder of Carnivore Club. An E-Commerce subscription based company that offers meat from different artisans around the world.


[02:04] Stories That Drive Crowdfunding


Carnivore Club is a subscription e-commerce business launched in 2013. Tim was working a 9-5 during the time of the dollar shave club hitting the scene. Tim tells us how wine clubs are a great example of subscription e-commerce based businesses. Because of their stories and delivery, it can be very successful


The different ingredients and interpretations really interested Tim. From a business perspective, he’s in a lightweight and durable industry on e-commerce. He launched in Canada and US with a crowdfunding campaign. Being aware of the crowdfunding space before he got into it, he took an unconventional approach to his marketing video.


He finds that most crowdfunding projects go with tear-jerking stories and something deep to create an emotional connection. The unconventional video was able to get Carnivore Club past the noise. After the launch of the video, the campaign blew up overnight in the US. He spent 13 grand on the video but got back 20 from crowdfunding.


[09:00] The Meat Isn’t Your Product, It’s Your Brand


About 50% of people when they find out about how much it costs to conduct a campaign don’t realize they won’t make money on the campaign. You may break even but chances are low you will make money. You need to look at it as launching a company and not just a product. Crowdfunding is not a get rich quick scheme.


The video Tim created it creates brand awareness. It got his vendors and customers excited for what was to come. Fulfillment and costs will continue to increase for crowdfunding. As the industry begins to mature there’ll be more brands utilizing crowdfunding to launch a product. Ultimately you need to remember you’re starting a business. You can kickstart a product but not become a successful business. Think long term.


[12:20] The Search for Meat


Tim doesn’t have international shipping. Each country he services has its own club. The artisans he works with don’t have good websites or SEO. To find them he had to use guerilla tactics. He began searching Google using keywords to find his suppliers. To be successful you need to ensure you have everything lined up, before launch.


Tim was on Dragon’s Den despite the saturation of the subscription box market at the time. However, it hadn’t really hit TV yet. Tim took advantage of this and ended up increasing his sales short-term due to this. He knew the value proposition but didn’t get any box features in line at first.


From once the campaign was closed he allowed himself time to figure out what they were going to give people. It ended up being put together on the fly when it came to getting monthly boxes together. This helped when it came to multi-month subscriptions as well as he was able to provide discounts.


[18:37] Start of Crowdfunding


Tim didn’t want the pressure of only having 20 orders for his first month. His first month and a half of the business was media and PR. He created brand awareness before Christmas to be able to tap into that market. His media and PR piece was about crowdfunding in general. He’s now launching a new company in the spring without crowdfunding. He feels a more traditional business launch would pull more heartstrings, considering his tenure as an entrepreneur.


Social media marketing is huge when it comes to crowdfunding. Getting your name out there to increase your brand awareness will show you success.


[21:14] The Bugs in Your Meat


When Tim launched his website, there was a lot of bugs. He had long painful nights to figure out his processes and systems. He launched the website and crowdfunding campaign without very much thought into the little things. He taught himself by virtue of necessity how to execute and have superior customer service.


Tim was able to fulfill on time. He may have broken a few rules to get there but he learned different strategies from this. He expanded into Australia and quickly realized that more research needed to be done to get into that space. He didn’t even realize he needed a registered business number.


He began to expand into the UK and began to quickly discover some copycats. He found a company that had ripped him off in almost every way. Packaging, inserts, etc. They ended up going under a few months later because they didn’t know how to effectively run a business. This happens when you’re not knowledgeable on how to fulfill.


[26:07] Importance of Fulfillment


Tim spent approx. $25,000 on the video marketing in Australia. They exceeded their targets in the first month launching organically by 25k. Quickly they realized they’re deliveries in Australia weren’t very transparent. When Tim’s products shipped to US and Canada he was easily able to receive a tracking number. However, in Australia, it was similar to a black box. There was no identification as to where the parcels were at any point. They also were limited in terms of where they could ship to. Tim was unable to deliver in Australia during Christmas because of this.


Tim revamped his business model in Australia. He’s now using Australia Post which has found to be much more transparent in their fulfillment. If you don’t have a good 3PL it’s going to present its own problems down the line.


[30:50] Cutting the Fat, Keep The Meat


Crowdfunding was a good start for Tim and his company. His most successful decisions were around investing in prestigious packaging for their boxes. He’s paying more for this, but he wants his customers to feel regal with their subscription. He continued to do videos which continued to prove to be successful.


Tim didn’t want to penny pinch or cut corners on his branding. He believed having a unique and stand out brand would get him to where he needed to be. However, he ended up spending way too much on unprofitable ad spending during Christmas.


He began podcast advertising which didn’t turn out successful for him. He noted that ads in podcasts follow too regular of a space. This results in a lot of people just skipping over the ads. Tim found his profitable routes of marketing are social media and videos. Working with a subscription business and artisans provides that unique touch to his business. Tim is looking to be the go-to for these types of artisans to display their product.


Tim got a lot of inquiries about specific products. A lot of his artisans also didn’t like the infrequency of purchasing, however. He wants to evolve his subscription model to a more on-demand model for his customers.


Episode Outline

Introduction: Finding the Meat In Crowdfunding

[02:04] Stories That Drive Crowdfunding

[09:00] The Meat Isn’t Your Product, It’s Your Brand

[12:20] The Search for Meat

[18:37] Start of Crowdfunding

[21:14] The Bugs in Your Meat

[26:07] Importance of Fulfillment

[30:50] Cutting the Fat, Keep the Meat


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