$200K/Month – How offering personalization on gift items helped this entrepreneur grow – Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild of London
INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 59:44)
Sponsors & Partners
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild of London shares how he has been able to differentiate and grow a Gift products online ecommerce business by offering custom personalization and beautiful packaging to its customers. Elliot also shares the challenges that small businesses are facing in a highly competitive market where marketing for customer acquisition is getting increasingly expensive. Elliot also shares the importance of right timing in getting into a market.
Elliot Bishton shares his entrepreneurial journey and the inspiration behind his business, Engravers Guild of London. He discusses the challenges of starting a business, including the timing and the need for patience. Bishton explains his business model, which involves sourcing and personalizing products for customers. He reflects on the future of online retail for small players and predicts its decline due to the economies of scale required. Bishton also discusses the process of engraving and packaging items, emphasizing the convenience his business offers. He shares his experiences with marketing channels, including SEO, social media, and affiliate marketing, and explains why he stopped investing in them. Bishton discusses the focus on jewelry as their main product and the challenges of competing with established brands. He expresses hope for innovative marketing and technological revolutions. Lastly, he highlights the importance of adding value to the business every day and taking action to make tangible progress.
- 00:00:00 In this section, Elliot Bishton shares his entrepreneurial journey and the inspiration behind his business, Engravers Guild of London. With a family history in manufacturing, Elliot felt a sense of loss when his father’s watchmaking company closed down in 2009. However, he saw an opportunity to create something new using the engraving machine that was left behind. After several years of working in corporate PR, Elliot decided to pursue his own business and started selling personalized items. He acknowledges the decline of manufacturing in the UK but also believes in the cyclical nature of business and the need to adapt to changing times. Elliot appreciates the skill and quality of products from countries like China and India, while also recognizing the opportunities that arise from their competitiveness.
- 00:05:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the dilemma of entrepreneurship and the timing of starting a business. He reflects on how starting his engraving business earlier would have made him a multi-millionaire by now. However, he also acknowledges that his delayed start allowed him to gain invaluable experiences working in the corporate world. He mentions that starting a business takes time and emphasizes the importance of patience. He shares his own experience in waiting for things to happen and the lengthy process of creating a website, sourcing products, and waiting for samples. He also highlights the challenges of bringing technologically advanced products to market quickly. He concludes by mentioning that most successful entrepreneurs’ stories are often the tip of the iceberg, with significant work and effort leading up to their success. The speaker also discusses his own business as a personalized retail brand, focusing on the value proposition of engraving and personalizing products.
- 00:10:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their business model, which involves sourcing products from various brands and personalizing them for customers. The advantage of this approach is the ability to quickly source products without having to develop them, but the markups can be challenging, especially with designer labels. To offset this, they also offer their own branded products, which have higher markups. They rely heavily on Google AdWords for driving traffic to their website and focus primarily on gifting as their target market. However, they acknowledge that the challenge with gifting is that the purchaser is buying for someone else, so building a branded community is difficult. Additionally, converting customers based on search terms can be challenging since the intent behind the search may vary.
- 00:15:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the challenges of catering to specific search terms, such as “Father’s Day gift,” due to the large inventory required to be cost-effective. They also mention their vision to become a gifting destination rather than just offering personalized items. The conversation then shifts to a potential market for pet-related gifts, as people are attached to their pets. The speaker acknowledges the market potential but highlights the inventory and expenditure involved. They mention the competition in the online gifting industry, with eBay, Etsy, and other platforms being significant competitors. The speaker emphasizes the difficulty of driving traffic to their website in an affordable way, considering the competition from established platforms with lower overhead costs.
- 00:20:00 In this section, the speaker discusses the future of online retail for small players and predicts that it will likely die out in the next five to six years. They believe that the economies of scale required to make online operations work will be too challenging for small companies to achieve. They anticipate that big groups will buy up small companies and create portfolios with complementary propositions that benefit from a centralized operation. One advantage small players may have is personalized products that require a great deal of labor and attention to detail. However, the speaker acknowledges the difficulty of small players competing against big brands that don’t require an immediate return on their advertising spend and can afford to focus on long-term value propositions. They also suggest that AI and targeting technology may impact the marketing world, potentially shifting to a more consumer-centric approach. The speaker then explains the process of personalizing their items, highlighting the automation and use of jigs to achieve consistent results.
- 00:25:00 In this section, Elliot Bishton explains the process of engraving and packaging the items sold on his website. He clarifies that they use traditional diamond cut engraving machines, not hand engraving, due to the volume of orders they receive. Once engraved, the items are carefully packaged and labeled for next-day delivery. Bishton emphasizes the convenience his business offers, contrasting it with his own experience of spending hours on Oxford Street to achieve the same result. He also discusses the early days of his business, where he started with only six pairs of cufflinks and initially struggled to make sales. However, after investing in Google ads, he gained confidence and eventually quit his job to pursue the business full-time.
- 00:30:00 In this section, Elliot Bishton discusses the initial lack of sales for his product, but then the excitement he felt when he finally made a sale. He comments on the validation that comes from making that first sale, even though it may not be profitable in the long run. He also talks about his channel strategy, mentioning that they sell on Etsy and Not on the High Street, as well as having an Amazon account. However, he expresses disappointment in these platforms, as they haven’t resulted in significant sales. In terms of marketing, he touches on SEO, mentioning that although they invested in optimizing their website and getting backlinks, their organic clicks continued to decline. He attributes this to the fact that people are not scrolling down to the organic listings on Google anymore due to the abundance of other content.
- 00:35:00 In this section, Elliot Bishton discusses his experiences with various marketing channels and why he ultimately decided to stop investing in them. He mentions that SEO was not driving a significant return, and the content they created for Instagram and Pinterest received no visibility or engagement unless they put a lot of money behind it. Bishton also expresses his frustration with affiliate marketing, calling it one of the biggest online scams, as he found that they were being charged for sales that were likely to happen regardless. Additionally, email marketing did not generate a good return for them, especially considering the cost of agency fees. Overall, Bishton concludes that they have stopped investing in these channels as they did not see enough value or return on their efforts.
- 00:40:00 In this section, the conversation revolves around social media marketing and the suggestion to have a sales-minded person model and talk about the products to create a more interactive experience. The small business owner mentions being uncomfortable being the face of the business, but understands the advantage of having a personality behind the brand. The topic of next day shipping is also discussed, with the owner mentioning that they offer different delivery options but charge more for next day delivery. They believe it is reasonable considering the urgency of gift giving. Additionally, the conversation touches on the business’s market, with the owner mentioning previous sales in Europe before Brexit and the challenges of selling internationally.
- 00:45:00 In this section, the speaker discusses their focus on jewelry as their main product and their lack of aspiration to broaden their product mix. They mention that their team currently consists of around nine or ten people. They also talk about their sourcing, primarily from Alibaba and their reliance on relationships with suppliers in China. The speaker admits that one mistake they made was trying to create their own branded jewelry line, underestimating the difficulty of competing with established companies and their existing customer base. This venture resulted in a loss of money, time, and effort. They emphasize the importance of understanding the drivers of success and how they have changed in the market. The speaker also acknowledges that luck and timing play a significant role in entrepreneurship.
- 00:50:00 In this section, the speaker expresses doubt about entering the market now, stating that it is too difficult. However, they believe that innovative marketing and unknown technological revolutions could offer opportunities. They mention the rising cost of creating watchable and worthy content in the future of e-commerce. The conversation also touches on the potential impact of Apple’s VR headset and the challenge of digitally rendering 3D details for small players. They hope that the upcoming changes will provide accessible opportunities for small businesses. The segment concludes with the speaker sharing a book recommendation, expressing excitement about AI and Apple’s new glasses, and suggesting a productivity tip of using only a tablet for reviewing and managing work instead of a laptop or computer.
- 00:55:00 In this section, the speaker mentions a UK men’s fashion brand called An A R NE that they admire for its ability to build a strong community and laser focus on its offerings. They also mention Ryan Reynolds as someone they look up to for his entrepreneurial ventures. The speaker then shares the best business advice they ever received, which is to focus on adding value to the business every day rather than getting caught up in big ideas. They recount a personal experience where they changed their mindset and started thinking about what they could do each day to increase their business’s value. The speaker concludes by emphasizing the importance of taking action and thinking like a hustler to make tangible progress in the business.
People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode
- Artificial Intelligence
- Apple Vision Pro
Book: Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz
What You’ll Learn
Interview with Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild of London
|[00:00:08] Introduction to Treptalks with Sushant Misra|
|[00:00:29] Introduction to Elliot Bishton and Engravers Guild|
|[00:01:05] Sushant welcomes Elliot to the show|
|[00:01:19] Elliot’s background and the inspiration behind Engravers Guild|
|[00:03:00] Reflecting on the decline of manufacturing in the UK|
|[00:05:30] The entrepreneurship dilemma and the timing of starting a business|
|[00:08:45] The journey from idea to starting the business|
|[00:09:18] The unique value proposition of Engravers Guild|
|[00:13:00] Understanding the Target Market|
|[00:13:12] The Value Proposition: Personalization|
|[00:13:17] The Challenge in Gifting|
|[00:14:00] Challenges with Advertisements|
|[00:15:00] Evolving into a Gifting Destination|
|[00:16:15] Exploring New Markets: Gifting for Pets|
|[00:18:16] Competition in the Online Retail Space|
|[00:26:57] Starting the Business with Few Products|
|[00:27:25] Getting the First Customers and Validation|
|[00:28:00] Early Marketing Strategy: Google Ads|
|[00:30:00] Dabbling in Other Marketing Channels|
|[00:32:32] Seasonality and Event-Based Marketing|
|[00:35:00] Experience with SEO and Organic Traffic|
|[00:36:00] Social Media Challenges and Results|
|[00:38:00] Issues with Affiliate Marketing|
|[00:40:16] The Importance of Social Media and Influencer Marketing|
|[00:43:00] Shipping Options and Market Focus|
|[00:45:00] Team Size and Structure|
|[00:47:47] The Pitfall of Trying to Compete in a Saturated Market|
|[00:50:18] Timing and Luck in Entrepreneurship|
|[00:51:49] The Role of AI and Technology in the Industry|
|[00:52:08] Potential Game Changers: VR and New Interfaces|
|[00:52:11] Intro: The Challenge in E-Commerce|
|[00:52:44] Great Change, Great Opportunity|
|[00:52:57] Book Recommendation: “Psycho-Cybernetics” by Maxwell Maltz|
|[00:53:26] Exciting Innovations in E-Commerce and Retail|
|[00:53:56] Productivity Tip: Using a Tablet|
|[00:55:26] Admirable Business: Arne (Menswear Fashion Brand)|
|[00:56:27] Inspirational Figure: Ryan Reynolds|
|[00:57:16] Best Business Advice: Adding Value Daily|
In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild of London
- Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Psycho-Cybernetics by Maxwell Maltz)
- An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Artificial Intelligence, Apple Vision Pro)
- A business or productivity tool that you would recommend (Response: Running a business using a Tablet)
- Another startup or business that is currently doing great things. (Response: ARNE)
- A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response: Ryan Reynolds)
- One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships
- Best business advice you ever received.
(Response: Adding Value Daily)
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to Treptalks. This is the show where I interview successful e commerce entrepreneurs, business executives, and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses.
And today I’m really excited to welcome Elliot Bishton to the show. Elliot is the founder of Engravers Guild of London. An online personalized gift retailer and that curates and finishes beautiful gifts such as engraved hip flasks, silver cufflinks, jewelry, and fragrances. And today I’m going to ask Elliot a few questions about his entrepreneur journey and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business.
So Elliot, thank you so much for joining me today. I really, really appreciate your time and thanks for the [00:01:00] opportunity.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: No problem. Thank you for inviting me. Pleasure. Pleasure to speak with you.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So, very interesting business. I believe it’s still relatively new. Um, can you share a little bit about your, uh, story?
What were you doing before starting this business and how did you really get the idea?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, sure. So, um, I guess a good place to start would be winding back almost 15 years, which is when my father had a company making watches in Birmingham, and my family actually has a bit of a heritage in manufacturing in the UK.
Um, in the Victorian times, Birmingham was known as the workshop of the world, and we sold out small kind of metalware pieces, uh, to all the four corners of the globe. And, uh, my family was sort of part of that for, for a hundred years or so. But in 2009, that kind of all came to an end. And I remember walking into, uh, Sort of this, this [00:02:00] empty factory, but still with all the machinery around.
And, uh, I thought what a shame it was that kind of, it’s all sort of for the scrap heap now. But then I thought, well, come on, Elliot, you’re meant to be sort of an enterprising sort of guy. What can you create out of the embers of what was, you know, a good business? Um, so I looked at all the machines and I didn’t know what any of them did apart from one machine, which was an engraving machine.
Um, so I kind of. Took that home and put it in the loft and kept that and thought that I could create a business that’s centered around engraving. But it kind of went on the on the back burner for a long time as I just then finished university and I moved to London and I got a job working in corporate PR.
Um, so I did that for the next sort of seven years, and then I remember on my 30th birthday, which was, uh, seven years ago, I, uh, handed in my [00:03:00] notice and thought, right, well, if I’m ever going to try it now, it’s going to be the time. So I’ll try and create my own business. And so I dusted off the engraving machine again and thought let’s try and start selling some personalized items Uh, so that was that was how it started and I literally started You know set up on the kitchen table in my mom and dad’s house And uh listed some products online and started from there.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean a little bit of uh, I guess A sad story around manufacturing, I guess, you know, I mean, do you have any thoughts on that? Like, is it really pure economics that, you know, now China and Southeast Asia are kind of, you know, their economics is better in terms of being the manufacturing, um, center for the world?
Yeah. And is it ever
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: going to come back? Yeah, I think I think there’s definitely a sadness around a decline of, you know, a vibrant of around vibrant activity. But I also think that, you know, business is cyclical, and it’s [00:04:00] always changing. And with that change comes opportunity. And, you know, if The UK was better at manufacturing some things than China, then we’d still be manufacturing it, but, but we’re not and for the, you know, the cost and the price, you know, we can’t compete on some things.
So you have to adapt and, and sort of see what else you can do. Um, And, you know, we move into sort of other services, and I don’t think anyone in the UK would really want to go back to the kind of manufacturing core and the lifestyles that it provided in the sort of 70s and 80s. So there’s not too much sadness that I have about it.
Um, but I have to say, you know, what China and what India and what those countries can produce is just unbelievable. And, you know, the skill and the quality, I think, is, you know, really fantastic, um, on something. So I have to give them credit for that. For sure.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, I know you mentioned that it took you a little bit of time from, you know, when you initially had the idea of looking [00:05:00] at your engraving machine and, you know, the time you actually got started.
Uh, actually started your business and, and that’s kind of a dilemma. That’s kind of the entrepreneurship dilemma, right? Like people, some people are entrepreneurs and they’re okay, you know, more comfortable with risk. Other people, you know, um, more risk averse, what, what kind of thought you, uh, was it really a risk that kind of prevented you from, uh, uh, acting on your idea initially?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So, so yeah, you know, I am convinced. that if I started my business, you know, the year that I came up with the idea for it, I would be a multi, multi, multimillionaire. Now, I think that there are waves that things happen and I picked up on it just, but if I was three years I’d have really kind of caught the crest of the wave and I think I’d have served, uh, you know, pretty well [00:06:00] and would have, you know, got to where I am right now, much faster, much more cheaply.
Uh, so there is disappointment around that, but equally at the same time, you know, I probably wouldn’t have had that, you know, big city corporate lifestyle, which I feel probably. a bit of a richer person for having experienced it now. Um, so it kind of comes two sides of the coin. And I think I probably learned things that I’m able to bring to the business that I’m trying to create now.
And it’s definitely a different business I’m trying to create now. Having worked in London and, you know, with great minds and great people, then should I have just left university and tried to start straight away? Um, so, but yeah, it’s always the entrepreneur’s dilemma. When, when do they go for it? I think, you know, certain things need to align.
Different people have different risk tolerances and just kind of, you know, the situation where I was at that time in my life and starting out kind of early on my career. Um, I’m, you know, I’m not too [00:07:00] disappointed that I left it a little later than perhaps would have been ideal. Um, but having said that, actually in those intervening years, I didn’t kind of neglect it entirely.
And I think, you know, everything takes longer than you think, um, when you start something. And I put in place in motion, you know, the beginnings of creating a website and sourcing product. And. It just takes time. So even if, you know, there was an intervening sort of six years for the last two years of that, though, I was still kind of looking into it and waiting for things to happen.
I can never understand myself when I read these stories of successful entrepreneurs and they say, Oh, I came up with the idea in September. And by October I’d turned over 400, 000. I just. I don’t know how they do it. Um, I mean, maybe on these old dropshipping methods, you know, people were able to do it, but it just takes a long time.
I think, you know, if you, you know, when we try and create a new product, um, [00:08:00] I’m sure other people can do it faster than us, but when you go through the iterations and the design and the waiting for samples and the first production run, and then the shipping usually from China, It’s a year. So, um, although there were six years between me finishing university and starting my business, um, there were at least a couple of years that things were sort of beginning, but it just takes so long.
Uh, and especially if you’re going towards products that are, you know, really kind of. you know, a bit more advanced and, you know, have a lot of technology in them. I don’t know how people get them off the ground so quickly, but so, you know, that’s, that was my story on, on starting. I mean,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: to be honest, like I haven’t come across any entrepreneur who Who has started business.
I mean, usually the, you know, it’s like you see the tip of the iceberg, right? So you kind of see the success, you know, it’s [00:09:00] usually a lot of work in the back end in the in the previous life or, you know, there’s a lot that that’s leading up to that success. So I think it’s, it’s I think it’s, it’s either rare or it’s almost impossible that, you know, you’re starting a business and you’re successful, uh, from the get go.
How do you, how do you see your business now? Can you talk a little bit about your product and what is really the value proposition? Is your, do you see your business really a personalization business? So you have these products and you’re kind of engraving, engraving them, personalizing them. Is that really the.
The value proposition that you’re offering. Yeah.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So I, I think we’re in quite an interesting space in terms of econ, uh, and especially branded econ because we’re actually, uh, I consider engravers guild, a retailer. Um, so where, you know, most stories that you read about successful econ players are people that have sourced the product directly from China and they’re selling it at a great markup and putting a complete branded proposition around [00:10:00] it.
Um, we’re a bit different in that we actually take products from lots of other people, like we’ve got Hugo Boss Leatherwear, we’ve got Michael Kors Watches, we’ve got Paul Smith Perfumes, um, and we try and, um, kind of put our value add. By personalizing it, doing it in a quick turnaround and presenting it really beautifully.
Um, now it has advantages in some ways in that you can source product without having to put the product developments together. Um, so that’s a bit quicker, but the disadvantage of it is that the markups are really challenging. Um, especially when you get into kind of designer labels, they barely give you any room to work with at all.
And so when you’re trying to kind of drive people to your website. It’s hard to cover the advertising and marketing to build those costs in to your sale. So we’ve got that side of the business where we do source other people’s products, but we also [00:11:00] complement it with, I’d say, like our own branded stuff, which is under Engravers Guild.
Um, under Engravers Guild and also other names that we have created to try and present, you know, a bit more of a value proposition. So, for example. We were sourcing lots of pocket watches from other brands and we were able to get a two times markup at best. And then, but then alongside it, we went to China and sourced our own pocket watches.
We didn’t call them Engravers Guild because we want Engravers Guild to be considered a retailer. We called them clearly, but you know, that’s irrelevant. It’s the fact that it’s another brand and then we’ve got like a four to five times markup on those products. And I think that’s really the only way our business works in having the two kind of operations working hand in hand.
Um, we’ll probably come onto a bit more later, but you know, the way we drive our traffic is pretty much entirely through Google AdWords. [00:12:00] So when people search for a product. And we show our results for it and pay that money to get people onto our webpage. We really have to be trying to satisfy as much of their purchase intent as possible.
So it’s, so unfortunately, you know, we can’t be incredibly niche. in the products that we offer. Um, so we have to try and be the best destination for a personalized pocket watch or hip flask or handbag or rucksack. Um, and yeah, so we, we have to offer our own brands alongside other people’s brands.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So that’s, that’s very interesting.
Um, so your target market, and as you said, you know, your primary marketing is Google ads. Um, Are they look, is this really a gifting kind of a product that they’re searching for, you know, gifts for, you know, father’s day gifts or, or, you know, mother’s day gifts or something like that. [00:13:00] And then, um, your, your ad comes up alongside other people’s or the other businesses that, but, but your value proposition is personalize it.
Um. Is that really the journey and who, who exactly is your target customer?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah. So, um, that’s exactly right. We are entirely a gifting proposition. Um, I think I would say more than 99. 8% of our sales are for gifts and we offer complimentary gift cards and we present, you know, gift packaging and stuff like that.
Um, now the challenge in gifting is that the person who is buying it is buying it for somebody else. So it’s not as though the purchaser is buying into that branded proposition. They’re thinking of what somebody else would like. So once they’ve purchased from you, they probably don’t have that much [00:14:00] interest in what you’re able to offer.
And I know marketers would disagree with me. They’d say, no, there’s still scope to build community and stuff like that. And we do try to do that, but I’ve worked with. Does a dozen or so marketers, I would say in the last four or five years, and they’ve all come to me saying, oh no, we can build this community.
We can build this proposition. And not one of ’em has really been able to move the needle on that. Um, so that, that is a challenge. Now the other thing you said is that, for example, if somebody searches for Father’s Day gift, um, your advert comes up for that. And actually at the moment, Probably not for the search term Father’s Day gift, because you don’t know what that person really is trying to search for.
They could be looking for like, you know, an eight pound key ring, or they could be looking for a 400 pound silver platter. And so for us to convert those key terms, we, we just [00:15:00] can’t do it. I think, you know, to be able to do that, you’ve got to have. You know, we’ve probably got one and a half thousand to 2, 000 different SKUs at the moment.
And I think you’d need at least three times that to be able to cost effectively cater to the search term and pay for it, father’s day gift. Now, we might be able to do a bit better on the search term personalized father’s day gift, but still we find it difficult to make those, those, those numbers work.
So actually we’re, we’re still kind of pretty much, um, kind of contains to search terms for specific item. So, uh, you know, a necklace or a ring or a pen or something like that. Um, and you know, there’s a lot of people searching for personalized items like that. Um, and. I guess our longer term vision, though, is to try and break out from being a destination for specific personalized items [00:16:00] to more of a gifting destination.
It’s a long journey, and I think we’ve made good progress in the last couple of years, but there’s still a long way to go so far. Yeah,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I’m on your website, by the way, and I see, you know, you have two main categories for him for her. I think there’s a category missing, which is, uh. Do you know what that could be?
Well, let me tell you. Let me tell you. Because, you know, right now we’re in a very political environment. Um, I think there may be a big market for gifting around pets. I think people are very attached to their pets, and I think there’s a market for people who are looking for items that have, like, engravings around the pet names.
You know, maybe they want to wear the ring with the pet name on that or have an item that has something, uh, have you ever thought?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, I [00:17:00] think I think you’re exactly right. Actually, my courier account manager came and visited us the other week and they said, you know, business is quite tough at the moment, actually.
Um, but they said that the one area of. boom for them is in pet suppliers as people are still spending on their pets. So I think you’re, you’re exactly right. And it is something that we are giving more attention to, but I can also say, I also think it’s quite a challenging market and it also involves quite a lot of expenditure on inventory.
Because we just wanted to do a basic range of dog collars, but you know, there’s a big change in, uh, big, big size difference from a Chihuahua to a Great Dane. So for every different style of collar we wanted to offer, we had to kind of get that in eight different sizes. So you’re multiplying every, every skew by eight.
So that’s, that’s quite, that’s quite a lot. And for us to be a destination to satisfy all purchaser intent. That’s [00:18:00] a lot of stock we’ve got to invest in. Um, so it’s something that we’ve got one eye on and we’re trying to work out how to kind of get a piece of the pie. Um, but we just wanted to kind of do it in a, an affordable way for us.
So I think the
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: biggest challenge probably in this business is really the competition, right? Like it’s, it’s It’s such a big market that you know, people can find gifts, um, all sorts of gifts out there. There’s no shortage of it. Even the products that you’re selling. Um, I think there’s, there’s, you know, millions or billions, even billions of items out there.
Uh, maybe a billion is a pretty big number, but, uh. Is that, is that really the big, big, big challenge that, uh, that, that you’re kind of working against?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, I think, I think the big challenge for all online players is getting people to your website in an affordable way. I mean, it is so, so hard and our biggest competitors now [00:19:00] are eBay, Etsy, which you’ll know of in the States and Canada.
Um, there’s UK ones called Not on the High Street, which, you know, turn over hundreds of millions every year. Um, And it’s really hard to compete against those Etsy. I’m pretty convinced is really built on people not really making money selling nice items from home. Um, some, you know, there are a lot of Etsy sellers that do make money.
Don’t get me wrong. But when I look at some of the prices that people are selling for, I just don’t know how they can really do that in an affordable way. I think the affordable way is that their one man operations doing it from home on their kitchen table with no overheads, no labor costs and nothing like that.
Um, but that makes it hard for, you know, players like me, who’s trying to kind of keep people employed and they’ve got the, all the overheads and things like that. Um, but it leaves, you know, a lot of businesses really struggling to work out how they can [00:20:00] get people to their, to their website competing with.
You know, the low prices on these marketplaces, um, and differentiating themselves as, as well. Um, actually my, my, my longterm view is that online retail for small players. is pretty much I think going to die in the next five to six years, five, six, seven years, because I think that you need such huge economies of scale to be able to make an operation work.
And what you’re going to see is big groups buying up lots of small companies, and now and within their portfolio, they’ll have their certain propositions, which will complement each other. And they will benefit from one huge warehouse, and one huge distribution network and one central operation. And small players will not, almost not be able to cope and compete against that.
Um, and I’m very mindful of that, you know, for, for my business. I think the [00:21:00] one advantage in a way that we have is that our stuff is personalized. It requires unbelievable amounts of labor and application. You know, if we send out 10, 000 items, each of those 10, 000 items is different. And the The attention to detail you have to give to everyone is, you know, I’d say just off the chart and for a massive company, unless they can really commoditize.
the personalization process. I don’t know if they would kind of think it’s worth it for them. So that’s one sort of small advantage that we have. But, uh, yeah, I think, I think that, you know, small players getting people to their websites cost effectively in the next five years is almost going to be unheard of.
Because I think to just summarize, you’re going to be competing against big brands that don’t really look for a return on investment on their ads at an immediate return on their advert, an immediate return on their advertising [00:22:00] spend. And they’ll be looking at it on a like a five year lifetime value proposition, which small companies can’t, you know, hope to exist on that basis for long.
Um, and I think that they’ll consider, you know, space on Facebook and Instagram as brand building, which You know, we haven’t got really the budget for brand building, but we’ve got a bit of a budget for like sales generation. And I think that invariably those platforms will not be existing for sales generation.
They’ll just be existing for brand building. And that’s going to be almost impossible for a lot of people. And
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I think the. The other thing that may have a big impact in the next five to 10 years is really the, the AI and all the marketing technology and targeting technology that’s going to come out of this.
Um, you know, maybe the marketing world is going to look very different where, you know, it becomes rather than the. [00:23:00] The retailer driving the marketing, it almost becomes consumer centric. You know, the consumer says to the ai, you know, I want this kind of a gift, um, within a, this price range. And AI kind of, um, suggests out of all these, you know, the best possible option.
Maybe, you know, the, uh, you know, there’s a local retailer that has, uh, cheapest price with the best, uh, you know, Option that meets the criteria. So, I mean, it’s definitely an interesting time to see how things are going to play out in the next 5, 10 years. Um, I’m very interested to know, given that you mentioned, you know, the whole personalization value proposition, what exactly does it.
Um, can you talk a little bit more about, you know, after you get the order, what exactly, uh, how do you, uh, engrave, how do you personalize the item, how do you package it? Can you talk me through the whole process and what kind of effort, uh, that goes into that?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, [00:24:00] sure. So somebody places the order online and that will get automatically printed and fed out in our workshop.
Um, and then it comes with all the codes on, so it will be scanned at an engraving station. And, um, I mean, the secret, I think, with personalization businesses, or the key to success with personalization businesses, is to automate as much as possible on the fulfillment of the item. So every product that we sell has been pre programmed.
on our machines. And also jigs have been made. So a jig is something that holds it in such a way so that you can achieve the same result every time. Um, so it will, so somebody will take the order, they’ll find the item off the shelf, they’ll scan it, it will tell them how to, what to do, how to engrave it.
And then the machine will sort of bring up the text that needs to be engraved in the item [00:25:00] and they’ll position it in just the right way and then they’ll press the button for the item to be engraved. We don’t hand engrave our items. Um, some people kind of think we do. But, you know, when we’re selling something, you know, an engraved glass for eight pounds or something, there’s absolutely no way on earth that you could be hand engraving that and spending all that time, you know, filling it in and stuff.
But we do do a very nice job with our sort of traditional diamond cut engraving machines. So once it’s engraved or then go to a packing station. Uh, we’ve got dozens and dozens of different packing options for all the different kind of variant variable products that we have and it will be packaged nicely and presented and put in a box scanned again for an address label, the label put on and the courier will collect it later the day later in the day.
So one thing that we do offer is a next day delivery service on all [00:26:00] personalized items. And so, you know, we’re really trying to kind of be that destination of convenience and just make the whole thing easy. I actually remember when I, you know, years ago, before I started my business, I thought I would get my then girlfriend a nice item, which was a bottle of perfume and try and elevate that gift by getting something nice engraved on it.
And then try and elevate it again by getting some nice packaging. And, uh, you know, the whole process on Oxford street on some, you know, afternoon probably took me about three and a half hours. Um, so now we’ve condensed that to the customer to, you know, a matter of minutes, um, still with the same convenience and actually for a much better price than I would have had to pay when I got all three parts done separately on Oxford street.
So, um, I think there was definitely value in that for, for a customer
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: that I think that’s a huge value. Yeah. Uh, save [00:27:00] time is a huge, huge value for sure. Um, can you talk a little bit about when you got started, um, I think I read somewhere that you got started with like only a few items. Um, and was there a certain, um, idea of validation process, you know, when you got your first customer, um, that kind of gave you the confidence to add other, other product lines.
How did you get your first customers? And, you know, can you a little bit about the beginning of the business?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So we, we started with, uh, six pairs of cufflinks when we began, which I don’t think would be possible now. Um, and I just literally put them online. I mean, thinking back, I was pretty fresh and clueless.
Um, but, uh, I had this website built, I had the products listed and I kind of just left it there. And. I was there. So you didn’t, so
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: you didn’t try it first on like [00:28:00] eBay or et like you basically created your website and put that on the website? Yeah. Which is, which is, which is there daring because you know you have to drive the traffic to your website, but
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah.
What if I’d have known that at the time? I might not have done it , but, uh, so I put those six, six pairs of couplings on, I had this website built and thi this was in the day, this would’ve been in like 2015, 2016, and. I don’t know if Shopify was around then. I mean, I’ve built websites on Shopify since, but I didn’t know Shopify existed.
So I actually paid a developer to build this website for me from scratch. Uh, and, and, and then I was sort of under the belief or the impression that. Oh, there’s billions of people floating around the internet, finding all these obscure web pages. So, you know, I’ll just sell stuff, um, which didn’t quite happen.
So I, you know, put the stuff on and I launched the website and I, you know, watched my, you know, Google analytics kind of traffic [00:29:00] counter. And it said that lots of people were coming. I’m sure that they’re all bots and things. And, uh, but no sales, uh, arose none at all. Um, and then actually a number of. Weeks later, uh, I just got a ping on an email saying, Oh, you’ve sold something, you know, it was like, what a high that it just sold something.
I’d almost kind of forgotten about it. And, uh, I don’t know what spurred me to do it, but I put some money behind some Google ads and managed to sell, you know, a few thousand pounds of stuff in the next few weeks. Um, and I guess that was what gave me the confidence to think, well, maybe there’s something there.
I’ll quit my job. Um, and give it a go. That is,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: yeah, I think only an entrepreneur can experience the joy, uh, you get when you make that first sale. I remember when I started my e commerce website way back, [00:30:00] and it was similar kind of a story. I put the product out there and, uh, Nothing happened for like two, three months.
And then all of a sudden, one night I see a sale and I was ecstatic. No, I think that was probably like one of the Highest happiness moment of my life. Uh, uh, yeah.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, that validation is amazing, isn’t it? All that work and, uh, Well, that’s what it feels like. One sale feels like a validation at that point.
Even though, uh, if that was all that came, you’d lose a lot of money. But, um, yeah, it’s certainly a great, great, great high.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Do you have a channel strategy? Are you… 100% selling out of your website. I know there’s a little bit of a complication because you need the engraving text, but are you selling on any marketplaces?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So we do sell on Etsy, and we do in the UK sell on the high street, [00:31:00] and we have set up an Amazon account. And I have to say, kind of going in, we did all these last… Maybe last in the last one to two years, as we just thought it’s something we should do, we’re giving up free sales. And I was never totally convinced in them for us when beginning.
And I have to say they’ve barely resulted in anything for us. And those that have. year on year, I think we’ve almost seen a halving of our sales on other platforms. I think we were maybe picked up on the end of the post COVID boom on, in online retail on those other platforms. And since then, we’ve just seen sales drip dwindle and trundle away.
So they’re not a big emphasis for us whatsoever. Um, and There just seems to be so much product, it’s so hard to get visibility, which is the story of e com really.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, very, very true. [00:32:00] Um.
I completely forgot the question I was going to ask, um, but, uh, in terms of marketing, can we talk a little bit more about marketing? So you’re, um, purely or primarily on Google ads. Have you tried, because, I mean, to me, it seems like this is such a, your business probably revolves. A lot around seasonality, right?
So you have, uh, you know, events like Father’s Day, mother’s Day, Valentine’s, uh, you know, Christmas and so forth. I mean, I’m, I’m sure you kind of, um, focus your marketing budget, uh, around those events. Have you also tried other marketing channels like social media, organic social media, or have you invested at all in SS e o?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So I’ve done done all those things, um, [00:33:00] which I sort, sort of touched, touched on earlier, and we invested quite a lot. We even took on a social, a, um, an seo. So I can go through almost each channel in turn and give you my experience on it. So if we take ss e o to begin with, um, when I was creating the website, I did read quite a lot around SS e o and I feel as though.
Our website was optimized as good as it could be. Um, and I got it to a certain level and I also managed to get, you know, various, um, links from other websites and stuff. And I think it, I got, you know, we got it to a domain score of 20 or 22, maybe a bit higher, maybe sort of 25 actually. Uh, and I thought, well, let’s really try and take it to the next stage.
And we brought in an SEO agency and they’re meant to get us, you know, better quality backlinks and things like that. And they got, they got one or two, but for the amount of money [00:34:00] that I thought we had to spend to get them, I thought it was a poor return, but I’m going to add alongside that. Even though we were increasing our domain score and we were appearing for more keywords, like thousands of more keywords, our organic clicks were just going down and down and down and down, even though our ranking was holding pretty true.
And we were in the top, you know, one to three for quite a few main keywords. And I just think that people are not getting down to the organic listings on Google anymore. You know, they have to scroll through loads of shopping feeds through location, you know, feeds through query answers, then through the AdWords links.
And then you get down to the organic listings. And so, you know, going from a position where we were spending, you know, a few tens of thousands of pounds a year and trying to improve our SEO position. I came, [00:35:00] I concluded it was just a complete waste of money because our clicks were going down. And so we basically don’t do any SEO anymore, which I’m sure people would.
Deride me for, but every time, I mean, I understand why some people who like, write, you know, rich blog content and are selling courses online and stuff like that, you know, would put more emphasis into their SEO now, but my, my feeling, my gut feeling was that it wasn’t, it was barely driving a pound return for us.
So I, so I stopped it. Um, and then our experience was pretty similar on, you know, Instagram and. Pinterest. We thought, right, you know, we’re going to put all this content out now. We’re going to take our business to being the next. the next level and the next stage and we’re going to create beautiful imagery and you know little videos and stuff which which we did and you know i’ll confess they [00:36:00] weren’t great they were not brilliant i think you know they were of the level of like 2015 2016 2017 you know that sort of content but i thought they were decent you know they were fair But they got no visibility at all.
And we found unless you’re putting lots of money behind it, it just got no engagement whatsoever, which in a way, it doesn’t surprise me because there’s such good stuff on now, you know, when I look on my feeds on Instagram and tick tock, you know, to look at a picture of a wallet with some initials embossed on it, that isn’t even for me.
It’s not something I’m going to engage with. So again, we almost came to the same conclusion. We don’t think we’re getting any money back for all this effort that we’re investing into it. So we’ve, we’ve almost killed it. We’ll do a post every once in a while, just to keep it ticking over. And if someone clicks on it, you know, they see that we’re not a dead or defunct business, but that is about the limit of our activity there.
Um, [00:37:00] we’ve also tried affiliate marketing and my view of affiliate marketing is that it’s one of the biggest online scams that there are. Okay. There’ll be people out there who disagree, but we found that we were selling. So we were being charged because we were being told that we’re selling thousands and thousands of pounds worth of product.
You know, I’ve actually just been reviewing my last quarter’s figures and we, we spent, you know, thousands on affiliate marketing charges. And I’m convinced that all that happened, it’s all that when you look at where these sales are coming from, that all these bogus discount codes. Uh, websites that, you know, somebody is probably going to buy from us anyway.
I think Google’s Engravers Guild discount codes comes to some sites that has got some affiliate partnership with us that they’ve signed on to. And so they’re taking 10% of the sale on top of the. you know, x percent that we’ve had to put aside for marketing costs as well. And so we’re [00:38:00] essentially just a charity of 10%
of our affiliate marketing, uh, channels as well, as we didn’t think we were deriving any value from them either. Um, so what other channels are there? Uh, email. We, we’ve given more effort on email in the last couple of years. Again, we took on an agency for that to begin with. They set up the flows for us.
Um, but then, you know, I think that it comes back to the same problem I raised earlier, in that people aren’t, unless you’ve got an occasion to buy a gift for, because we are purely a gifting destination, You’re just not gonna, you’re not gonna buy it. Okay, if you, if you’ve got like fashion accessories or something, you might always be open to a new t shirt or something.
[00:39:00] If they don’t get you today, they could get you next week or the week after. Whereas, you know, how many people do you buy a gift for every year? You know, I’d say, you know, a push six. Probably a push and unless you hit them, probably within a 72 hour window that they are considering purchasing a gift for that person.
It’s just wasted, you know, wasted emails. So we struggled on getting a good return on our, on our emails. And when you build the, um, agency fee on top of that. It just was not cost effective. So we’ve, you know, we’ve had to finish our relationship with an email agency as well. We do continue them, but we do it in house now.
And, um, you know, I would say it is, you know, an important stream of revenue for us, but it’s probably harder than might, than you might think at [00:40:00] first to make sure that even though it is generating money for you, that it is. Generating profit for you. So that’s kind of pretty much my my summary on all those channels.
Unless there’s another one that I’ve missed. If you can think of. Well,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I guess influencer marketing could be another one, but Yeah. But my, my view based on everything you’ve told me is and I looked at your social media. I think, you know, both this, your business comes across a little bit more of a luxury kind of products business.
I mean, the products are really nice and, you know, uh, it gives a more of a luxury feel to it. Um, I think social media can probably something to test would be having actually a person who was kind of, of course you need a little bit of a sales minded person who can be kind of the model and talk through the, so I think you, [00:41:00] um, what I’ve seen other brands do well is rather than just really just, you know, Putting the picture there.
It’s like you’re kind of modeling the product where you’re talking through it. And, you know, you making more of an interactive experience on the social media. So that I think that would probably give more view than I think, because this is a consumer product, um, it may connect better with the consumers.
So I just think that could be an idea to test out. And I mean, you, you, you look like a model yourself. I think maybe you want to give it, give that a try.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, I mean, being a small business, you have to multitask and do the things yourself and we have spoken about that as, uh, because I’m in business with my brother, you know, one of us being the face and I have to say.
Is not something I want to do at all. Um, so that’s kind of what has brought a stop to that. But yeah, we might look at it again, especially around, you know, in the lead up to Christmas. But yeah, it’s not something I feel particularly comfortable [00:42:00] doing. So that’s probably why we haven’t kind of explored it as much as we we should have been able to do.
But I think that’s, you know, an interesting point if there’s small businesses. If there’s people, you know, entrepreneurs who want to set up a business, I think if they can be the face of it, that is such an advantage. Um, and really that I think now is one of the only ways to try and compete against, you know, bigger players and more established players by bringing that personality to what you’re trying to sell.
So yeah, I completely take on board what you’re saying. Exactly.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, I know you mentioned that you’re, you’re offering next day shipping. Uh, which is definitely a great thing. I think a great value proposition. Um, have you tested that, uh, that actually increases your conversion rate? Um, or with a gift, I mean, with a business like this, I mean, would the consumer be okay with waiting, let’s say, three days to five [00:43:00] days?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So we offer different delivery options. We make them pay more for next day delivery. Okay. Yeah. Um, and… I mean, it doesn’t cost us any more to send out a product faster into in terms of materials, but there is definitely an, uh, you know, a hidden cost for us in terms of breaking a production flow and. You know, putting one item through on a faster service.
Um, so I think we’ve priced it about 15 pounds, which is, you know, maybe nearly 20. Um, and people go for it because, you know, if you’ve got an emergency gift you’ve got to give, probably pay anything. Um, so we think that’s reasonable.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, is your primary market right now really the UK, or are you selling, or have you explored the US or North American market at all, or Australian market?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, so before Brexit, we didn’t do any [00:44:00] activity in Europe, but we would always have a few sales every day ticking over. And you know, this is, um, and when I say before Brexit, I mean, before, um, there was the division, there was the breakup of the free trade area. So I can’t remember when that was, but what, like 2021 or something.
Um, And, uh, you know, product mix at the time was fairly limited. So we’d have definitely, we’d definitely be pushing it now. So I think that that, you know, has cost us thousands of pounds of sales every year, unfortunately. Um, and we’ve tried, you know, selling into Europe now. There’s just so, it’s just so hard.
And actually even the courier companies come to us and go, Oh, just don’t bother, don’t bother going to Europe. It’s just too much effort. Um, So we do sell some stuff to America, um, but only a very limited range because our items, you know, they range from being really small to [00:45:00] really quite large. Um, and so we’ve just kept it basically to jewelry as this, uh, standard package size and standard charge and standard weight and standard commodity code and all that sort of stuff.
Um, And at the moment we’ve got no real aspirations to kind of broaden that, um, our mix. Um, so yeah, that’s kind of where we are. So UK will definitely be our focus. How big is your theme right now? Uh, I think there’s sort of nine or ten of us. Oh, that’s still
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: pretty decent Size.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, so there’s Three of us in the office There’s five in production and there’s one sort of online who works remotely Um, and then we’ve got a you know, a few people who come in and help as and when required [00:46:00] In every
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: entrepreneur’s journey, there are always mistakes made.
Well, before I go into that, um, I wanted to quickly ask you about your sourcing. Um, are you sourcing primarily, I mean, you do sell a lot of brand products. So you have built relationships with brands and, and then for your own brand product that you are creating. Um, I’m assuming you’re working with, uh, China and Chinese, uh, for that.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah. So pretty, pretty much Alibaba, um, and, uh, yeah, I just get lots of samples made and try and establish decent relationships. Um, I mean, it is crazy how most of my, uh, interaction with China is done over WhatsApp. Uh, and, uh, I always think, you know, if that one person left that company, um, well, which has happened on a few occasions, it’s almost back to square one.
Um, yeah. [00:47:00] Um, but that’s, yeah, it seems to be the way it’s gone, um, for us.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Have you managed that completely, you know, sitting, uh, in the UK? Have you ever visited any of those factories, like, built relationships with them or something?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: No, well, especially going through COVID, no, we weren’t, we weren’t traveling.
Um, no, I’ve never, never visited any of our production facilities in the, in the Far East. No.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures. Um, since you’ve started your business, what has been, Some of the, you know, maybe a big mistake or failure or, you know, learning, um, that you could have done without and what can other entrepreneurs
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: learn from it?
Yeah, so I think that One of the things is really one of the traps that’s really easy to fall into as an entrepreneur is to look at a business that’s existing at the moment and [00:48:00] think, I could do that, but I could even maybe do that a little bit better and then attempt to try and recreate it and jostle in on the market.
And what you ignore is that the conditions of the market when that business started. were entirely different to when you’re trying to start, you know, what you’re doing now. And we made that mistake. We thought that, you know, we personalize things really nicely and we’ve got a great collection of jewelry.
Why don’t we spin out our own jewelry proposition that’s branded and, and sell that. And it was a complete disaster. Not because we so much couldn’t sell it, but, um, jewelry is. Definitely more, you know, you buy into it’s a bit more personal, I think when you’re buying it, especially for yourself and The companies that we were going to try and compete with, who started sort of five years before us, their kind of cost per acquisition, the cost [00:49:00] per acquisition now is probably 10 to 15 times higher.
And they already had a community of maybe 100, 200, 000, maybe even 250, 000 people that they were already selling to and able to hit those selling points and building in those marketing costs. And we didn’t get anywhere close. So we lost a lot of money doing that and a lot of effort and a lot of time. Um, so I think, yeah, really understand, um, what the drivers of success are and how they might’ve changed, uh, from when you’re doing a competitive analysis or something like that.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, timing, timing is huge. Yeah. Um,
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: no. And timing is often luck, you know, like when we, when I started the business, there was very little calculation about it other than, um, you know, desire and hunger to try and make something work. Um, but looking back now, I, I understand that we were fortuitous for being in a market that was, [00:50:00] you know, ready for entrants like us, where I just don’t think that.
If I tried to enter this market now, I would get anywhere. It’s just, I think it’s too, too hard, but, um, I’m sure I’ll be proved wrong by, by some, some great, great mind. Well,
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I think, you know, with, with these kinds of products, the only way, um, Or the only way somebody could really gain an advantage is like through really, um, innovative market, like great marketing.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: That, that and a technology revolution that we’re not quite, you know, aware of yet. Nobody really knows how AI is going to disrupt the industry. Um, and then that, you know, brings. Great opportunity. I just wonder though, whether there will be a revolution. Like there was, you know, the digital revolution and the Instagram revolution where you could build a million dollar business [00:51:00] on 24 photos posted on Instagram of something sat beside a coffee cup.
You know, there was basically zero cost and zero expenditure there, which is unique. I wonder whether the next technology revolution will be quite as accessible as that one. Maybe it will. I mean, AI is bringing, you know, access to, you know, copywriters and designers, you know, for practically free. So perhaps it will do.
Um, but if it’s like content. Where, you know, a lot of the future of e com will be in content, I believe. Costs to create content is just going up and up and up and up to create content that’s watchable and worthy. So, you’re going to have those two, those two forces at play, which will be really interesting over the next ten years.
Yeah, and, and…
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, Apple is just, or will be coming out with the VR, their VR headset, which seems like a very, I mean, it’s a new interface and seems to give [00:52:00] like a really, a different experience. I wonder how that’s going to impact the whole, the whole way people interact with computing and things like that.
So who knows, maybe, maybe that could be a game changer.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, no, I know. Um, but then you think if you have to, like, um, digitally render in 3D detail, every product that you’re listing on your website, unless there’s an affordable way to do that, it’s going to be very hard for the small player to compete against the Nikes and the Adidases, and then you’re going to get this two tier e com environment, and one of them will just fall by the wayside.
Um, so, yeah. You know, great change comes great opportunity. Uh, but hopefully it will be an accessible opportunity for us small guys
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: for sure Now i’m going to move on to our rapid fire segment in this segment I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a word or a sentence or so Uh, the first one is one book recommendation for entrepreneurship
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Uh, I would choose psycho cybernetics [00:53:00] By Maxwell Maltz, uh, it’s a pretty, you know, often cited book.
Uh, it’s good for me because I think, uh, I can overthink things a bit too much. And the book encourages you to trust your body and your mind more and just focus on like the big objective that you’re trying to achieve rather than, uh, trying to kind of micro manage every sort of every aspect of a business and your own sort of personal development.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, an innovative product or idea in the current e commerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about? I know you mentioned AI, but anything else?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah, I mean, I’m just going to go back to AI and, you know, the new glasses that are being developed by Apple and things. I mean, they look, they look really cool.
Um, and we’ll have to see how that, that plays out.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Uh, a business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: So I’m going to steal a productivity tip that I heard from [00:54:00] somebody else. I can’t remember who said it, um, but I thought it was really good, which is that if you’re trying to manage or run a business and there are people working for you, you shouldn’t have a laptop.
You shouldn’t have a computer. You should only have a tablet, because all you’re doing is you’re reviewing, commenting, feeding back on other people’s work. Whereas if you go in with your computer or you sit down at your desk, you’re going to be working, invariably. Whereas you should have no desk, you should have no computer, you should just have a tablet.
And… That’s not something I practice at the moment, but I would love to get that, um, as you know, the fate, I think the, the, um, the trap that so many entrepreneurs fall into is they just get bogged down by the operation of the business as opposed to the growing of it.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Yeah, that’s a very interesting advice.
I mean, I’ve definitely heard some great entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and others also [00:55:00] who basically they don’t even have a tablet. They basically have a notebook and they’re basically, you know, prioritizing every day what they’re working on. And that’s, that’s kind of, uh, you know, it’s really about delegation and then they’re really working on the big, the big items.
So very, very interesting advice. Um, a startup or business. Uh, in e commerce, retail or tech that you think is currently doing great, any other business that you like?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Yeah. So I’m going to pick a UK business. Uh, it’s called Arne, A R N E. Uh, it’s a menswear fashion brand. And I think they’re one of the generation of e com brands that have been started in the last five years.
They’ve got opportunity to become one of the like mainstream established. Players in a retail landscape, which moves beyond just online. Uh, I think there’s Jim shark, which is from the UK, but it’s also crossed into the States a bit. And. I [00:56:00] think that these are really nimble and agile brands that just build incredible communities around what they’re offering.
And they’re so laser focused in what they do. Um, so on on is a brand that I, I admire at the moment. Um, and yeah, I love, I love that work.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: A peer entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or someone who inspires you.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Uh, so I will go for Ryan Reynolds at this moment because, uh, I like his out of the box approach to creating businesses.
Um, but I’m also envious that he is able to, you know, just be an orchestrator from day one because he’s coming from a position of, you know, incredible wealth already. But what kind of what he’s doing with that is really exciting and really cool. So, uh. You know, if we can all become more Ryan Reynolds, like that’ll be a good thing for business.[00:57:00]
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. I completely agree. Like, uh, yeah, he, he’s, he’s turned out to be more of an entrepreneur than an actor now. Yeah. Yeah. Final question. Best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: Um, so I would say. Um, for an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get sucked in by big blue sky thinking, but probably what’s more important, especially for your survival and when finances are tight, is what can you do today to add value to your business?
I remember when I was just started in Graver’s Guild and, you know, it was, uh, we got some early traction, but, you know, it wasn’t enough to build a career on or build a living or anything like that. And I maybe got a bit of cold feet and I thought, and somebody approached me. You know, just cold. Oh, you know, you can sell your business for, you know, X amount, [00:58:00] you know, speak, click here to learn more.
And I did, and somebody came around and valued the business. They valued it basically nothing, um, which was what I expected. Um, but what it did was it changed my mindset to think, well, imagine if I got this guy to come around to my business. In one year’s time, one year to the day from today, what is it I can do in every intervening day to get my business to be worth more when he comes and visits me again and For that next year, everything I tried to do would be something that added a value to the business.
Wasn’t just thinking, you know, Oh, a background color on my website or something. Yeah. Long term that might be good, but I needed something that was going to make me money. Um, and so that would be my advice. What can you do to your business today to make value today? Very, very good
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: advice. I mean, you almost have to think like a hustler, right?
It’s like the hustler mindset, how, how can you [00:59:00] sell, how can you actually make the money rather than, you know, think, uh, uh, Uh, you know, very high level. Well, Elliot, those were all the questions that I had. Thank you so much. Really, really enjoyed speaking with you. Thanks for sharing your story and thanks for sharing your business insight, your success and failures.
Um, if anybody wants to get, uh, you know, your, your products, what is the best
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: way to do that? Simply logging on, uh, www dot engravers Guild. co. uk.
Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, uh, Elliot again for your time and wish you all the very best, uh, in your
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild: business. Thanks very much. It’s been a pleasure. Likewise.
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