Learn how to validate your startup idea by pre-selling it, for only $80 (includes a free 1-hour consultancy call).
Interview with a Successful Startup Founder

Seven Figures a Month Selling Cleaning and Sanitizing Products

Jeff Stripp
Jeff Stripp
August 24, 2021
Category of startup
e-Commerce
Country of startup
United States
Revenue of startups
+$500k/mo
Interview with a Failed Startup Founder

Seven Figures a Month Selling Cleaning and Sanitizing Products

Jeff Stripp
Jeff Stripp
August 24, 2021
Category of startup
e-Commerce
Country of startup
United States
Cause of failure of the startup

Jeff is the CRO at Zogics, a B2B and B2C e-commerce company that markets cleaning products. It is listed as one of the fastest-growing businesses in the US. With +40 employees, this year they are on track to achieve $20 million in revenue.

You MUST validate your startup ideas if you want to avoid failure. In our course "Pre-Sell to Validate" we teach you an actionable framework to do it. You can get it here.

Ad

Startup Foundations

Gain traction with your startup right now. In this free video series, learn tactical strategies proven to deliver results. Get free access to Startup Foundations →

Hi Jeff! Who are you and what are you currently working on?

I’m the Chief Revenue Officer at Zogics, a B2B and B2C e-commerce company based in Lenox, MA that designs and markets cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing products. Zogics caters to the health, fitness, hospitality, educational, and aviation industries. The company was featured on the Inc. 5000 list as one of the fastest-growing private businesses in the US and has won numerous awards for its workplace culture. 

In my role, I lead the company’s sales and marketing departments to help grow top-line revenue. I’m able to share my expertise in leading and scaling growth through sales and marketing alignment and "operationalizing" sales strategies. With a focus on customer satisfaction and revenue generation, I balance strategic planning and tactical execution.


What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

The company was started in 2006. The initial goal was to solve a problem the CEO faced: he needed wipes to clean the grease off his hands after fixing his bike. Our brand of cleaning wipes continues to be our flagship product today. However, we’ve expanded into other categories and established the company as one of the largest retailers for facility cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing products.  

We’re the industry leader in facility cleaning supplies, and experts in facility safety, which encompasses everything from surface disinfecting and cleaning, including List-N approved disinfectants, cleaning, and hand wipes, to electrostatic sprayers, air quality tools, and more. We're proud to provide critical supplies for facilities to keep their employees and guests safe.

Before joining Zogics, I ran a digital marketing firm called i3. It was a full-service agency that consulted e-commerce businesses on web development, content marketing, and email nurturing. I was inspired to join Zogics because I wanted to be part of an internal team. At an agency, you gain exposure to different businesses and industries. I wanted to utilize my expertise in e-commerce to help a brand grow. Transitioning from being the CEO of a company I started to CRO of an exiting business was an adjustment. It required humility and an ability to adapt. 


How did you go from idea to product?

It all started when the company founder, Paul LeBlanc, was fixing a flat tire on his bike during a long ride. His hands were covered in grease and he had a eureka moment: he needed a wipe to clean his hands and bike. From there, the company started by developing wellness and facility items for gyms. 

He spearheaded the initial effort by developing the degreasing wipes and pouring everything into their development, including design, development, and packaging of the degreasing wipes.

Funding the development of the wipes was a challenge; Paul rented out his home for the summer (and moved in with his parents) to help secure the funds needed.

Paul tried several different promotional strategies in the early days. He rented a van and drove across the country from bike shop to bike shop with his wipes, selling directly to shop owners. He also snuck into the largest bike trade show in Las Vegas, giving away free samples of his degreaser wipes as he walked the floor. After a few years of nose-to-the-grindstone, the wipe started to gain traction, and new products were added as the company grew. The first Zogics employee was hired in 2010. 

Ad

Startup Foundations

Gain traction with your startup right now. In this free video series, learn tactical strategies proven to deliver results. Get free access to Startup Foundations →

Which were your marketing strategies to grow your business?

As an e-commerce company, it’s critical that prospective customers can find our website online. We invest in digital channels like content marketing, SEO, social media, and email. Our most successful marketing so far has been our blog. It has allowed us to write articles that help us inform prospective and current customers about the nuances of our products, which can be very technical.

Zogics Landing Page


How are you doing today and what are your goals for the future?

As I mentioned, our revenue has fluctuated significantly during the pandemic. Last year we did close to $35 million in revenue. However, this year we’re closer to being on track for $20 million. We have approximately 40 employees and contractors. Most recently, we’ve hired a new Chief Operating Officer to help streamline our processes and make the company more efficient.

Like many companies, our goal is to continue to grow. We’ll look to do that internally and externally. In the past few years, we’ve acquired two businesses. We may consider future acquisitions if the fit is right. 


Since starting Zogics, what have been your main lessons?

You don’t need to invest something completely new or revolutionary to be a successful entrepreneur. Some of the longest-standing businesses solve a critical problem for their customers with a simple product or service. That’s why Zogics has been able to continue to grow over years: we’ve been laser-focused on serving our customers and meeting their needs. Is something that has been a common theme throughout my career.

What were the biggest obstacles you overcame? What were your worst mistakes?

Our biggest challenge so far has been keeping up with the surge in demand due to COVID-19. While many businesses were downsizing or shutting down, we experienced the opposite. Almost overnight our web traffic and sales quadrupled. It’s a good problem to have, but not something we anticipated. We had to quickly hire additional team members and set up systems in place to make sure we have enough products stocked in our warehouse. The challenge we face now is projecting what our business looks like next year and beyond as the impact of the pandemic changes. 

One of the mistakes we’ve made is our brand positioning. We were able to gain initial traction by focusing on the fitness industry. This was helpful in the early days of the company because we were able to carve out a niche. However, it also limited our growth opportunities. Because all of the messaging on our website discussed how our products could benefit gym and fitness studio owners, we missed out on opportunities to sell our products to other types of businesses such as airports, hotels, schools, and hospitals. We’re now fixing this mistake by revamping our brand positioning and adding new pages on our website to help attract more customers from industries outside of fitness. However, it’s a challenge to change how a brand is perceived once it has been established. 


What tools & resources do you recommend?

We use Lucky Orange for conversion rate optimization. It isn’t enough to get customers to our website. We want to do our best to convert visitors into sales. Lucky Orange allows us to see how visitors find and interact with our content. It even provides live recordings of their exact journey. We use Lucky Orange because it combines qualitative findings  (e.g. heat maps, live recordings, etc.) with quantitative analysis (e.g. behavior tags, abandonment reports, etc.). This helps us turn our data into actionable steps to take to improve our marketing funnel.

We also use SEMrush for tracking our digital marketing efforts. This includes KPIs such as our keyword rankings in Google and mentions of our brand. We also use Ahrefs to stay on top of technical issues with our website such as broken links, duplicate content, and indexation issues.

Finally, our website is built on BigCommerce. We use their analytics tools to track metrics such as our conversion rate, revenue, and which products are selling the most.


Where can we go to learn more?

You can learn more about Zogics on our blog where we’ve published articles on topics such as the types of hand sanitizers and safety checklists for gyms. In addition, we have a cleaning guide library that covers cleaning protocols for different businesses.


You can connect with me personally on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The All-In-One Newsletter for Startup Founders

Every week, I’ll send you Failory’s latest interviews and articles, curated resources for founders, and updates on how I’m growing the site to $10k/mo. Join +7,000 other startup founders!