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My First Million

He Turned $300/mo Into $3,750,000/mo From GARDENING

Fri May 31 2024
gardeningbusinessentrepreneurshipagriculturesmall business

Description

This episode explores the journey of Kevin Espiritu, the founder of Epic Gardening, from starting a gardening blog to building a successful business. It covers topics such as transitioning from media revenue to product sales, strategic acquisitions, challenges in the seed business, and the science of developing new plant varieties. The episode also delves into the passion and fulfillment of small product companies and discusses beekeeping as an approachable hobby.

Insights

Kevin Espiritu's Journey

Kevin Espiritu started Epic Gardening as a blog in 2016, which has now grown into a business generating around $45 million in revenue annually. He shares insights on how they acquired traffic, built the company, and purchased other companies to expand Epic Gardening.

Transitioning to Product Sales

The speaker transitioned from relying on media revenue to selling products based on audience demand and validation. They engaged with an Australian company to sell raised beds after audience interest, leading to successful sales.

Building a Successful Business

Despite initial doubts and challenges, the speaker's business grew to $7.3 million in revenue with minimal team members and no paid advertising. The decision to raise $17 million in funding was driven by the need for expansion and transitioning into a proper CEO role with increased operational complexity.

Challenges in Commerce and Financial Stability

The speaker faced complexities in the commerce side of their business, such as inventory planning and sales tax nexus across different states. They invested in a warehouse to fulfill orders and build equity in real estate, ensuring financial stability.

Strategic Acquisitions and Business Growth

The speaker discussed expanding services and staff in their business, aiming for over $100 million in revenue with acquisitions. Acquiring companies for speed and expertise, they successfully launched a durable seed starting tray product through collaboration.

Acquiring Botanical Interests

The speaker shared insights on the acquisition of Botanical Interests, a seed company known for high germination rates and well-designed seed packets. Challenges in the seed business were discussed, along with the goal of integrating an online-first approach to boost online sales significantly.

Exploring Gardening and Agriculture

Topics such as expanding product lines, privacy invasion challenges, and licensing new plant varieties were discussed. The podcast host also shared experiences of being mistaken for being gay due to his interest in gardening.

The Science of Developing New Plant Varieties

The process of developing new plant varieties was explored, including creating potatoes that can grow from actual seeds and grafting branches onto rootstock for fruit trees. The potential for steady income through high sales volume in the agriculture industry was highlighted.

Passion and Fulfillment of Small Product Companies

The episode delved into the passion and fulfillment of individuals in small product companies, their interest in buying local produce, and the positive health effects of growing and consuming fresh food. The potential of hobbies like beekeeping as fulfilling activities was also discussed.

Chapters

  1. Kevin Espiritu's Journey to Building Epic Gardening
  2. From Hobby Blog to Business Venture: The Growth of Epic Gardening
  3. Transitioning from Media Revenue to Product Sales
  4. Building a Successful Business Around a Blog
  5. Overcoming Challenges in Commerce and Ensuring Financial Stability
  6. Expanding Services and Staff for Further Growth
  7. Strategic Acquisitions to Fill Product Gaps and Boost Sales
  8. Acquiring Botanical Interests: A Strategic Move in the Seed Business
  9. Exploring Different Aspects of Gardening and Agriculture
  10. The Science and Business of Developing New Plant Varieties
  11. The Passion and Fulfillment of Small Product Companies
  12. Beekeeping as an Approachable Hobby with Minimal Effort and Cost
Summary
Transcript

Kevin Espiritu's Journey to Building Epic Gardening

00:01 - 06:08

  • Kevin Espiritu started Epic Gardening as a blog in 2016, which has now grown into a business generating around $45 million in revenue annually.
  • He shares insights on how they acquired traffic, built the company, and purchased other companies to expand Epic Gardening.
  • One of Kevin's viral videos featuring a gardening product garnered over 150 million views across platforms but faced supply issues due to high demand.
  • Kevin initially had an internet marketing background and transitioned from playing online poker to designing websites before venturing into gardening.
  • In online poker, success is attributed to understanding probability theory and reading opponents' gameplay rather than body language.

From Hobby Blog to Business Venture: The Growth of Epic Gardening

05:50 - 12:07

  • The speaker initially shifted from wanting to be an accountant to playing poker, designing websites, and getting into marketing.
  • Inspired by a blogger named Pat Flynn, the speaker created various niche websites like a gardening blog and a website on treating poison ivy.
  • The speaker also ventured into internet marketing by creating a Kendrick Lamar website with his cousin, which became successful before having to shut down due to trademark issues.
  • The gardening blog started as a hobby in 2013 but transitioned into a potential business venture in 2016 with monetization efforts through ad revenue and affiliate revenue.
  • Initially not realizing the full potential of the gardening blog, the speaker eventually understood its scalability and explored content-commerce model by selling products on the blog.

Transitioning from Media Revenue to Product Sales

11:44 - 17:26

  • Content and commerce was considered innovative at the time, transitioning from relying on ads to selling own products
  • Started with a blog and YouTube channel, initially making $450 a month before exploring product sales
  • Transitioned from media revenue to selling products based on audience demand and validation
  • Engaged with an Australian company to sell raised beds after audience interest, leading to successful sales
  • Initially struggled with logistics of buying and shipping products due to lack of experience in commerce

Building a Successful Business Around a Blog

17:01 - 22:50

  • The speaker started selling products after realizing the potential for profit, leading to significant revenue growth.
  • The idea of building a business around a blog, like Glossier did, was initially intimidating but eventually successful for the speaker.
  • Despite initial doubts and challenges, the speaker's business grew to $7.3 million in revenue with minimal team members and no paid advertising.
  • The decision to raise $17 million in funding was driven by the need for expansion and transitioning into a proper CEO role with increased operational complexity.

Overcoming Challenges in Commerce and Ensuring Financial Stability

22:27 - 28:28

  • The speaker faced complexities in the commerce side of their business, such as inventory planning and sales tax nexus across different states.
  • In 2021, the market was favorable for raising funds, leading the speaker to partner with experts in media to commerce businesses.
  • The speaker was able to take some money off the table from a deal, which was life-changing for them.
  • They invested in a warehouse to fulfill orders and build equity in real estate, ensuring financial stability.
  • Financial security brought peace of mind and allowed the speaker to focus on excelling in their industry.
  • Having a comfortable income eliminated worries about basic needs but did not necessarily lead to overwhelming happiness.

Expanding Services and Staff for Further Growth

27:59 - 33:43

  • Discussion about expanding services and staff in a business
  • Business growth from 90 to around 40-45 million in revenue, aiming for over 100 million with acquisitions
  • Acquiring companies for speed and expertise
  • Successful launch of a durable seed starting tray product through collaboration and profit-sharing arrangement

Strategic Acquisitions to Fill Product Gaps and Boost Sales

33:24 - 39:46

  • Acquisition strategy involved paying for assets, giving equity, and hiring key personnel.
  • Successful media acquisition resulted in increased traffic and revenue for the company.
  • Acquisitions were strategically planned to fill gaps in product offerings and leadership.
  • Extensive research and due diligence conducted on potential acquisitions.

Acquiring Botanical Interests: A Strategic Move in the Seed Business

39:26 - 45:40

  • The diligence process for acquiring companies involves evaluating a large number of options to find the most suitable ones.
  • The seed company Botanical Interests was acquired, known for high germination rates and well-designed seed packets.
  • Botanical Interests offers a variety of vegetable, flower, and herb seeds with a focus on quality.
  • The acquisition strategy included leveraging personal connections and utilizing branded content to build rapport with the sellers.
  • Challenges in the seed business include complexities like non-GMO certification, germination testing, and pesticide/herbicide testing.
  • Despite challenges, Botanical Interests stood out as a strong brand in the space with untapped online business potential.
  • The goal was to integrate the online-first approach of the acquiring company to boost the seed company's online sales significantly.
  • Expected payback cycle for the acquisition was estimated at around five years due to growth opportunities and existing distribution networks.

Exploring Different Aspects of Gardening and Agriculture

45:12 - 51:20

  • A company is expanding its product line and distribution network to reach more retailers.
  • There is a discussion about the success of Chip and Joanne's business model and the potential for similar success in another niche market.
  • The podcast host shares experiences of being mistaken for being gay due to his interest in gardening, which is perceived as a feminine hobby.
  • The challenges of dealing with privacy invasion and unwanted attention from fans are discussed, including incidents of trespassing on the host's property.
  • Licensing new plant varieties, like Honeycrisp apples, involves a lengthy process of breeding, branding with catchy names, and then licensing out to farmers.

The Science and Business of Developing New Plant Varieties

50:54 - 57:09

  • Developing new plant varieties can be a lengthy and challenging process, such as creating a potato that can grow from an actual seed.
  • Creating new fruit tree varieties involves grafting branches onto rootstock to ensure genetic consistency.
  • Experts in the field, like Floyd Zager, invest significant time and effort in cross-pollinating, growing, and testing trees to develop new cultivars for commercial purposes.
  • Successful cultivar developers can patent their creations and license them out for production, generating long-term income.
  • The agriculture industry requires deep knowledge of plant botany and genetics, with small profit margins but potential for steady income through high sales volume.

The Passion and Fulfillment of Small Product Companies

56:44 - 1:03:15

  • Many individuals in the space of small product companies are not driven by a desire to get rich, but rather by a passion for their work.
  • The speaker discusses their interest in buying local produce and meat from within a 20 or 50-mile radius for health reasons.
  • There is skepticism about the book 'Blue Zones' and its claims regarding longevity due to age fraud in certain regions.
  • Growing and consuming fresh food, whether from one's own backyard or farmers markets, is believed to have positive health effects.
  • Concerns about authenticity at farmers markets are raised, with suggestions on how to verify the source of products being sold.
  • Engaging in hobbies like beekeeping and potentially turning it into a business is discussed as a fulfilling and viral content-generating activity.

Beekeeping as an Approachable Hobby with Minimal Effort and Cost

1:02:49 - 1:06:39

  • Discussion about a popular YouTuber known for beekeeping content with a soft voice and large following.
  • Mention of the ease and benefits of starting beekeeping as a hobby.
  • Personal experience shared about keeping bees in San Francisco and Texas, including cost and supplier details.
  • Positive outlook on beekeeping as an approachable hobby with minimal effort and cost.
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