During the Bold Talks at last week’s Inbound conference, we were lucky enough to hear Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle and Gerard Vroomen speak on the importance of building a company on the passion of its customers. Brand advocates of Johnny Cupcakes and Cervélo have both companies thriving. Here are some notes on how they got there.
JOHNNY EARLE “I realized i could do something that makes me happy, that makes other people happy, and i could figure out a way to get paid for this”
Johnny “Cupcakes” Earle started out as a one man t-shirt shop in Hull and has grown into a global company with a flourishing E-commerce site and five brick and mortar retail locations. It’s evident that Earle truly takes joy in delighting his customers, focusing on releasing an experience with every t-shirt from the packaging to the partnerships down to the release parties for new products. Johnny Cupcakes takes great care to consistently surprise its best customers by giving it them experiences they can’t find anywhere else. It makes paying $35 for a t-shirt feel like a bargain.
“What are 12+ things that make you unique. People have so many options, why would they take a risk with you?”
Need further proof Johnny Cupcakes inspires advocacy brands twice its size should envy?
GERARD VROOMEN “Revenue is vanity.”
Vroomen was one of the original founders of luxury cycling brand Cervélo. Having grown much larger than he felt capable of successfully running, Vroomen sold the brand in 2012 and opened a new venture called opencycle. Founded on the idea of “Relentless Simplicity,” the goal of the new company is to put a focus on the customers with limited models and only two employees.
Gerard Vroomen’s 7 steps to achieving the relentless simplicity:
- Keep it small
- Be visible
- Be “You”nique – in a world of boxes, make a ball
- Be global
- Promote the power of no
- Great customers service
Vroomen’s concept is all about freeing up as much time as possible for him and his partner to focus on the customers they’re building bikes for — and not the advertising and sponsorships that many other companies get weighed down by. It’s a model that will rely entirely on word-of-mouth to grow the business and is designed to truly succeed or fail based on the advocacy of its customers. With a quality product and company values that inspire loyalty, Vroomen may just be onto something.
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