Blog > Objects! Podcast: The Uncertain Entrepreneur

Objects! Podcast: The Uncertain Entrepreneur

Blog, Ecommerce, Podcast

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How a Guy Who Never Went to College Built an eCommerce Empire

You can all relate to scrolling through Facebook when an article about some college kid who started a billion-dollar company pops up in your feed. You think, “that could be me if I just went to college.” And so the never-ending cycle of regret begins. But what if I told you that you don’t need an ivy league school degree to start your own business? Today we’ll meet Allen Walton, founder of spyguy.com – a company he started from nothing! So how did he do it?

Keep reading his recent interview with ShipHero’s podcast host, John Wakim, to find out.

James Bond is Cool

Meet Allen Walton, the founder of SpyGuy.com, a one-stop shop for all your covert surveillance needs. His story isn’t your typical success narrative. He didn’t have a burning passion for spy gear or attend a prestigious university before starting his company.

Allen spent much of his time during young adulthood pondering his next move. He wasn’t interested in business or entrepreneurship. Though he had been exposed to a business, doing the grunt work was actually what excited him. But after wasting a few years at his parent’s house, indulging in the World of Warcraft video game, fate was ready to step in and get him to the next level.

While spy gadgets may not have been his top career choice, he stumbled upon a job that turned out to be quite an education. Allen applied for a position at the local spy shop at his parent’s insistence and was lucky enough to snag an on-the-spot interview with the store owner.

“It just seemed like an interesting opportunity, and you know, security cameras and installations and stuff for businesses and whatnot. I was like, okay, this is kind of up my alley. I like Electronics; I’m tech-savvy. I think James Bond is cool, and maybe I’ll meet some cool people working here.” Allen said.

Sell Solutions, Not Products.

When he first stumbled into sales, it was purely by chance. However, Allen quickly realized that he had a knack for it and became curious about the strategies and techniques behind successful selling. Thus began his passion for personal growth and self-improvement. Allen read books, studied the industry, and became more motivated to excel in his job and continue developing his skills. In fact, not having a natural passion for sales has been a blessing in disguise. Without any predetermined expectations or beliefs about what selling should be like, he can approach each situation with an open mind and continuously strive to improve himself. The bottom line is that passion can definitely drive success, but sometimes, having the drive and determination to improve can lead to impressive accomplishments.

Working in retail taught him more about customer interactions and merchandising than any college class could. As he was moved from store to store, he observed how managers interacted with customers and laid out products appealingly. It may seem like a small detail, but how products are displayed can make a big difference in sales. He learned how to approach customers, effectively merchandise products, and create an overall welcoming shopping experience. Who knew a spy shop could be such a valuable learning experience? His time there taught him more than how to pick locks or install surveillance equipment – it taught him the importance of finding the right solution for each individual’s unique situation.

It’s Showtime

When Allen started selling spy gear, he was just another cog in the machine. But his natural talent and drive quickly propelled him to the rank of manager in only 18 months. That is until a popular TV reality show producer came along and saw potential in Allen’s skills. Suddenly, he found himself as CEO of their online spy store – talk about a career change! While it may not have been the path he planned, Allen proved that hard work and determination could lead to success in unexpected ways. 

But, when the show he was working on ended, he found himself jobless and without a plan. Rather than letting it get him down, he saw it as an opportunity to pursue his passion. He started selling spy gear online and found success for four years before deciding to branch out on his own. Starting a business from scratch can be daunting, but thankfully he had a leg up on the competition. With pre-existing relationships with suppliers and an understanding of what products sell well, Allen hit the ground running with the online store. 

When his eCommerce business started, he knew they were doing well with their regular customers and word-of-mouth marketing, but they knew they needed to expand. So, he took a shot in the dark and hired a friend to handle SpyGuy’s Google ad campaigns. The results were insane – in just 18 months, he was able to drive to over a million dollars in sales. They fine-tuned our campaigns and targeted the perfect keywords, leading to a significant increase in revenue. 

How to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Being a successful entrepreneur in a niche market can be challenging. As much as Allen loves what he does, he knows it’s essential to constantly strive for growth and change. He is currently focused on improving operations and hitting financial goals. He plans to hand off the reins to someone else and move on to his next venture. Stagnation is the enemy of progress, after all. But while he may be looking toward the future, Allen will never forget the experiences and lessons that got him where he is today. 

The age-old question of “follow your passion or make a pragmatic decision” boils down to an individual’s priorities. While following your passion may not always yield the most remarkable financial security, it often brings satisfaction and a more profound sense of purpose. On the flip side, chasing the almighty dollar may seem like a safe bet, but it can lead to long-term dissatisfaction and even regret. And then there’s the third option – taking the path of least resistance. But let’s be honest – is there any real reward in opting for mediocrity and complacency? As they say, fortune favors the bold. So why not live life on your terms and follow what truly lights a fire in your soul? After all, you only have one shot at life – why not make every moment count?

Objects! with ShipHero is a detailed, 360′ exploration of eCommerce and shipping one object at a time. John Wakim, your new host and ShipHero Head of Partnerships, will drill into the details to help you make sense of this world. If you have an object that you want to profile, please send a note to John Wakim at pitch@shiphero.com.

Click HERE to Listen on iTunes.                             Click HERE to Listen on Spotify.

About the host: John Wakim is the Head of Partnerships at ShipHero and Host of the Objects! With ShipHero podcast. As an early-stage entrepreneur with experience in SaaS, eCommerce, and retail, John has a diverse background. His innate ability to embrace challenges head-on makes him an early adopter at heart. No matter if he’s working alone, with an in-house or remote team, with a vendor, or with an agency, John can wear many hats and roll up his sleeves and work relentlessly to meet goals

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