Episode 213 Featuring Alex Bond

Finding Success in Failure with Mounir Bouferdou

Finding Success in Failure with Mounir Bouferdou

Mounir Bouferdou is the Co-founder of a boutique Email and SMS marketing agency called The Greenhouse, where he's had the opportunity to work with more than 30 eCommerce brands and help generate about $20M in sales. From an international student to a retired semi-pro soccer player and former civil engineer solving real-life architectural problems to a co-founder of The Greenhouse, Mounir and I talk about SMS Marketing, learning from failure, the power of positive thinking, and much more.


What is The Greenhouse

Mounir Bouferdou: It's literally like ready, set, grow with the greenhouse. Greenhouse is an e-commerce marketing agency. We work with a lot of e-commerce brands to help 'em scale their email and SMS marketing and also retention marketing efforts.

Alex Bond: Wonderful. So, when it comes to the services you provide, does your team handle the strategy, creative delivery, and analytics for your clients? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Absolutely fall on management of the email and sms s and retention strategies. That includes, obviously, like you said full on monthly and quarterly strategy, copywriting, creative design, deployment, and of course the most important part that a lot of brands and also like marketing agencies miss on performance analysis, that's how you basically make an impact. 

Alex Bond: What are some of those specific things that you guys analyze maybe that other people might miss? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Everything starts with an analysis from the beginning. Like you have to perform an account audit to see where it brand is, where they're currently at, and then based on their current status, then you could be able to say, well, here's where we are. We can basically craft the plan. 

And then we can get to A, and then from A, we can get to B. And then from B we can get to C. Majority of your brands miss on that. And that's where, you know a lot of brands kind of like just see what's out there and say, well, just because this brand is doing it this way, let's just replicate the same, you know, the same strategies of what they're doing.

And it might work for us or it might not. And that's where majority of the brands are missing. The mark is that audit at the beginning, that performance analysis to see where the current health of their account, where the current status of their account. And then based on that, You will have to look at a lot of metrics like, you know the metrics that make more sense is for email and SMS marketing, for example, is how many active profile do we have on our list?

How many segments are active on that list? How many segments are performing on that list? How many segments are converting on that list? And we take those segments and we break 'em down by different tiers to see how we can make an improvement in terms of like, you know, based on where the brand is and where they want to go.

Strategies in building your client list

Alex Bond: And the list that you're mentioning is your client list, right? So I think that is somewhere where people might struggle on the front end is regardless of their size honestly. So what are some strategies for helping a smaller company build a client list or maybe even a mid-size one that's trying to scale up?

Mounir Bouferdou: Obviously like you, you know, you build a brand and then you obviously optimizing that popup and then driving. You know, driving accusation, running ads, organic social media, that's how you drive that traffic to your site. And you want to able to maximize from that traffic and kind of like retain some of it.

How do you retain some of it? You optimize that pop-up. You come in with a welcome offer so you can get people into your, you know, into to, to the retention funnel. And that's where a lot of brands miss the mark again, because they really focus so much on the acquisition. You get 'em on with those welcome series on all of that, and then you forget the maintenance. 

Now, when you acquire this client, they become an existing client in your cycle. How do we keep nurturing them now to turn them into a loyal client? But as far as like list of growth, list of growth wouldn't work without driving traffic. So you need to drive traffic and always optimize the best way you can with different offers to see the offer that will work the best. And then, you know, you kind of like take it from there. 

Alex Bond: So are the strategies vastly different depending on the size of the company in terms of scale? So if I'm trying to build a client list for someone who is a lot smaller that might have, I don't know, we'll say 10 to 20 monthly users versus 200, 2000 are those gonna be different strategies in how you're trying to create those lists for drive traffic? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Absolutely not. The two main factors that will impact your list growth is the amount of traffic driven to the site and how much of that traffic do, are we able to retain? How much of that traffic are we able to kind of like get their information, hold 'em in our database?

So it's all related to the quantity of the traffic and the quality of the popup. If the quantity is if the quantity is big and then we have a good quality popup, you'll be able to gain more people in your list. And that's how it works. It's very simple, but a lot of marketers tend to make these marketing strategies so complicated.

It's very simple. Getting people to your email list, you need to optimize that popup and AB test a variety of kind of like offers to see what resonates the most with people, for them to give you their info. 

SMS marketing and its advantages

Alex Bond: I also wanted to talk about this SMS marketing. Personally, I think the most effective for me. I was talking with another gentleman on the podcast that email marketing works pretty well for me, but I know SMS works for other people, so I feel like a lot of companies understand specifically what that is, but maybe not. How much potential value that there actually is in using it. How were you first sold on SMS marketing's advantages? 

Mounir Bouferdou: As a brand, you need to meet your customer where they are. And we need to leverage technology to do that, whenever we see a new technology that's coming in that's going to kind of like bridge the gap between the consumer and the brand in terms of like communication and how can we get to them and how can we get the message across to them.

We need to get there. We need to get there, but again, can take it back to the main problem. The main problem is that marketers tend to make things very complicated than they should be. You know, the million dollar question that we need to ask as marketers is what is the problem that the brand or the brand that the product or the service is solving.

That's the main, that's literally, there's no sauce. There's no secret strategy, there's no like one magic wand that you are gonna hit on automatically. You are gonna get all these conversions. But again, it's auto market is, a lot of brands tend to kinda like think well. The grass is greener, probably just because this brand does it this way.

We can't do it this way. So as far as SMS marketing, SMS marketing is very, if you use SMS marketing very strategically and smart, in a way, you'll see a lot of success with it. And again, it comes back to the marketing and sales. So marketing without sales, it's like a battle without a cap. They go together. 

Okay, so what's missing out there and what I see a lot of brands make the mistake is that they send all these campaigns, but when you think about it, a campaign is basically a transaction. You're sending all these campaigns, but you're expecting people to convert. You're expecting people to buy.

Let's say we were just take it back to the old school, like you're in a market, you wanna sell something, you will introduce the product and say, hey, here's the product. You're not, you are not going to approach the client with, or the potential customer with like, here's the product. It costs $20, give me $20. Take it. 

That's not how people buy. People buy if the product solves a big problem within their life, and that's where. The majority of the campaigns missed the mark. You'll see, like now, like you have tons of email, tons of SMS campaigns or even email campaigns blowing up people's phones and email inboxes, which like, hey, here's a product, buy it, but no, but you're not really driving any value prop.

So that's where a lot of brands are missing the mark. If you wanna buy this product, here's what this product will do for you. Here's the link to find it. Here's the link where you can buy it. And it's, again, just going back to the basics. There is not really, I'm not the first person, I'm not the first marketer out here.

You know, there's tons of strategies out there that are just like the same thing. It's the same thing over and over and over again. The basic is the same. The foundation is the same, where people are missing the mark. It's answering the million dollar question, what is the problem that we're trying to solve?

And then you go from there and you craft a marketing strategy that will fit. But again, SMS marketing, it's all about communication. Communication. How can we communicate the problem clearly so that the potential lead will find interest in the offer and then they will convert, then they will buy. It's that simple. It's that simple. But what we see is that, hey, here's a product, here's a link, click buy. 

Importance of experimentation with your campaigns

Alex Bond: And I think that one of the problems that people in brands might get caught in is pretty much just establishing how good of a deal it is and not really telling me what the product is, pretty much saying, you know, 20% off this. Coffee grounds. It's like, okay, so what are the coffee grounds? Why should I buy these versus other ones? I understand that it's a deal, but it's all relative because if it's 20% off, $20, that's a little different than 20% off $10. 

So it's kinda like it's a sliding scale. Do you guys, what I'm hearing you say a little bit and the way that you talk. Is that you do a lot of trial and error and a lot of experimentation with your campaigns. How do you determine what's worth a shot? What's not, what's kind of the ratio to tried and true methods and experimentation that the greenhouse uses? 

Mounir Bouferdou: That's a really good question. I'm going to give like a little background on things and how we started. My co-founder used to be a director of marketing for multimillion dollar beauty brand. A lot of what's missing right now, and we have marketers we have a team of 10 people right now and we hire marketers and we know what's missing. What's missing is that background knowledge. A lot of marketers are taught by the book on marketing, but they never worked on the backend to see how the brands perform and how the brands work.

How do you, basically, you have your Shopify store and the brand as this heart, but you have all these marketing channels. You know, need to kinda like drive blood to that heart so we can pump, obviously by pumping is still alive and not die. So for the brand to stay alive and not die, you need all these marketing channels to be alive.

And leveraging that, understanding how things work on the backend, how all these channels work together, all these marketing channels work together to convert and grow the brand is very important because you can't just focus on one aspect of marketing and say, well, yeah, we can grow your brand and scale it.

So that's what helped us actually like, dominate and be the best at what we do. But also, on the other hand, we don't do things that we are not really skilled on. What I mean by that, we only work with, we, majority of our client portfolios is beauty brands. Why? Because we have done it at different scales and prior to that, My co-founder and I started a clothing brand just to understand what brands go through in that first phase of developing a product or starting a company.

Because the problem is not starting a company or developing a product that solves a problem because literally anyone can get funds and, and go and start a product or start a business. The problem is how do we get that product from here to here? And what I mean by that, how do we get that product from the facility to sell? How do we get it in front of our client's hands and that bridge is what marketing is. 

Alex Bond: And I like that analogy of the heart. I think that's really cool. 

Mounir Bouferdou: Thank you. Yeah. So I try to make things very relatable to things so people can actually like, see the value and see how things are very simple and easy when you take 'em into, you know, when you put 'em in an analogy like that, that works so we, they can visualize it because all of this is visualization.

As long as you be able to visualize things and how they work, it'll make all sense. So therefore we leveraged you know, we leveraged my co-founders. Experience and also us not knowing what startups might go through. We had to start brand on our own from zero, and the only way we were able to scale and get some cells was through organic social media because we didn't really have money to put in ads.

But email and SMS marketing on the other hand. So we had people coming in through our social media efforts, organic social media efforts. We get 'em through the email funnel and we were able to communicate through those email marketing strategies to help kinda like keep 'em engaged and get 'em like to convert and build a lot of small community covid.

Hit the manufacturer, shut down, and then we were like, okay, this is the perfect time in two kind of like diverse towards the service based business model, which is a marketing agency and help brands who are going through the same challenges to overcome those challenges. So we know what works for a brand to go from zero to 50.

50k and then from 50k to 400k and then 400k to a million. And we have done that for all these brands. We work with different brands at these, at different levels, so we know exactly where we work. And it's the same thing for a brand to go from zero to 50, you need to focus on list of growth.

Let's to grow straight to the point. You need to drive more people to the funnel and have the foundation. Have your foundation, have your welcome flows, because that's a position.

But to go from 50 to 400 or 500, that takes a little bit of advanced strategies. Now we need to focus on upsells, cross sells. How do we increase the average order value if one person only spends on acquisition, like say, let's say a product, average order value, or just like one product purchase will cost 50 k for like a beauty product or something like that.

Now they turn into an existing customer in our funnel. How do we get that person to not only just spend 50 at a time, but how can we add things into their order so they can spend 150. Now we three x that. Imagine e three, x step for every single client that you have in the funnel. Now your acquisition is you go from acquisition to retention, but also you're, you're, you're, you're scaling your margins. You're growing your margins, okay?

And then from that part, to go from 500 to mil, you need to focus on advanced retention strategies and also, again, driving more people to the funnel, but also like focusing on long-term lifetime value and increase in average order value. How do you get people to spend more? How do you get people not only to spend more, but also not only just buy once and twice, but by three and four and five and six? So that lifetime value of that consumer increases over time. 

Organic vs. paid social media

Alex Bond: And we'll definitely talk about retention marketing, don't get me wrong cause that's essentially what a lot of this is. But you mentioned something that I actually read that you also mentioned in the past, which is a combination of social media, paid marketing, and SMS and email marketing. 

So there might be a common misconception that I have to lean into SMS and email marketing instead of organic or paid social media marketing. But you know, you're of the impression that you do both at the same time. And is that a common misconception that people had? Is you gotta kind of pick one or the other, or what are your thoughts on that? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Man, that's a really good question. And it's also like a challenge for a lot of these brands because majority of them, again, lot of brands spend so much on that first phase, developing the product and getting the product.

Like getting the physical product in hand, and then by time it's the most important part by time to get in front of their customers. Now it's time to build that bridge. They run outta, they run out of funds, so they have, they have no other option, but to think, where can I get the most return on investment?

Can I get an own ads? Should I just do email and SMS marketing? Should I focus on pr? Should I focus on social media marketing? Should I focus on just creative and you know, influencer marketing? And so by the time you get to that place, you run out of funds, but you don't really know where to allocate.

Or where to make that very strategic investment. However, first thing first is your foundation. You're before driving any traffic to site without having those flows built in on the backend. At least the welcome flows for acquisition, at least the welcome series, they abandoned car and the post purchase.

You need those. If you don't have those, all the traffic, they are going to drive to site, it's going to be wasted. If they don't convert, because a lot of 'em need at least every single lead need at least five to seven touch points for 'em, for them to convert, building report, building connection, giving 'em an offer showing 'em social proof, and then help kind of like convert them that way. 

So four to four to seven touch points for 'em to convert. So the foundation, as soon as you get your site live on all of that, you need to build the email and SMS marketing foundation. Probably just the email for now cause you don't really even wanna focus on SMS yet. Cause it might get pricey afterwards.

Especially if you don't have a bigger list because you can, you can, you can do it backwards. Just get focus on email for first and then afterwards you can implement SMS and also just introduce that to the existing list for them to sign up. For SMS later on. So the foundation is very important.

Email marketing flows, the foundation, welcome flow, abandoned cart, post purchase and abandoned checkout. Those are very important to have before you drive any traffic to site. Then after that, maybe start driving a little bit of acquisition. Just start driving a little bit of blood to that site. Paid ads, Google ads, YouTube ads, Instagram ads whichever, whichever you feel like that might make an impact.

Service based businesses might find good conversions and traffic from Google Ads, because if I'm looking for an acupuncturist or if I'm looking for a chiropractor, usually I'm not gonna go to Instagram to look for that. I might just go to Google and look out for, you know, an acupuncture near me. You know, acupuncturist near me, for example. They'll gimme locations near me.

But if I'm looking for a product, for example you know, a gel a beard oil or something like that. I might just go to Instagram and see it in action because I wanna see people using the product, and that's what drives majority of the conversions. People seeing people using the product and seeing those results. 

Email and SMS marketing differences in terms of content

Alex Bond: That's a wicked, valid thought process. I never really thought about that in terms of services versus products marketing, you know I think that's really well put. I know the delivery method is obviously different between SMS and email marketing, but aside from that, should they be treated differently in terms of messaging and content? And if so, how? Because what I'm kind of hearing you say is that you should start with email and then move on to SMS. So what other ways are they different in terms of campaign strategy a little bit. 

Mounir Bouferdou: Yeah. That's a really good question as well. The two together work, they're like peanut butter and jelly. You know, you can have peanut butter by itself, but without jelly. With jelly gives it like a better taste. So people want that better taste. And when we bring it to email and marketing with brands, people want that very good treatment.

Make me feel, make me feel unique. Make me feel a VIP make me feel like I'm having those first access. Make me feel I'm getting treated better than everybody else. So consumers going back to it, consumers want to feel, they want to feel treated differently, especially your high rollers, for example, or you know people who are brand enthusiasts or brand loyalists, they want to feel different.

And the way to do that, for example, is, you know, leverage an email and SMS differently in a way to give people first access to things that are very important, like product launches or things or promos that are going on. So you can maximize on the people who are actually like Car 90, 180 to a hundred percent can spend with you. And on the other hand, you also wanna leverage it to kind of like just remind people about, like, you know, with email and sms. You kind of like, like reminders like vs on stuff. 

If you, for example, tried to touch point on an email campaign with a certain segment but they didn't, for example, some of 'em convert, some of 'em didn't convert, but you do want like a recent, for example, or give 'em like a reminder you can use SMS such as just like a short version of like, hey, just in case if you missed it, you know, here's a link to something that you miss.

You know, that kinda. But again, going back to the first, to the, to the main thing, what is the problem that we're trying to solve? So what and, and what happened? Majority of the time where people get really frustrated and maybe marketers get emotionally attached to the conversion, and that's when they just basically, They become just so attached to that conversion, and it's just whatever.

If I don't, we, we just need to see some conversions. We just need to see some dollar signs, and they just start sending promos over and over and over and over again, and they forget that. What is the value prop here as a consumer, it's a negotiation. If I'm giving you this product, I'm trying to sell you on this product, how this product presented in a way that the product is actually helping solve a problem to the consumer. So in that way, and I hope that answered the question. 

Optimizing your SMS marketing strategy

Alex Bond: So to kind of recontextualize SMS marketing, it sounds like it's a little shorter, simpler and trying to just kind of like remind people I wanna talk with you or get your advice on what some techniques that a brand can implement to optimize their SMS marketing.

Cause I feel like there's a high degree of difficulty in terms of if it's gonna be shorter and hit harder that means you're kind of playing in a smaller box. So what are some of those techniques to optimize sms? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Some of the techniques, and one of the one that works the most is what's called conversational messaging. So you build basically this automation or this flow that will help the consumer navigate through what they want. Okay, so because consumers have kind of like this extension, you know, when you give consumers too many options, they tend to get lost and not make a decision.

So what we wanna do with conversational messaging is kind of like curate this specific experience to our consumers to find what they're looking for. So let's say for example, where like, let's say a man's hair care brand, for example, as an example, and I'm making this up as I go, but I don't really have a very specific strategy on my hand.

So basically like, let's say I'm interested in a beard oil and they might have very different skews, for example, for beard product, like probably a beard shampoo, a beard kind of like I would say matt, and then a beard oil, and then probably even beard razor and trimmers and all of that. 

So you want to ask the consumer what are they looking for through conversational messaging? And that basically goes on a question. And if they responded with, very specific, you know, keyword. Then it will go to a different question, for example, to help them to help curate that experience for them to get to what they're looking for easily.

And that helps eliminate so many touchpoints. And also like it helps guide the client and give them this, give them this very unique experience that. Listen, I want a beard oil. I don't wanna set around and look for what product or what size that I'm looking for. I just want it, click it and get it.

Alex Bond: Because not only should the product, if a product is gonna solve a problem, then it feels like the marketing should answer the questions of why your product. You know, it's like, I shouldn't have to dig through websites and data to figure out which one is best. The marketing strategy should have that, those answers baked into it for me already.

Mounir Bouferdou: Hundred percent. And that, there you go. Now you said that yourself, it's going back to the basics. What is the problem that I reading, like solving. And that's what it all comes down to.

As soon as we answer that question, then we kinda like work reverse engineer the process to build the strategy because without and, and these strategies again as well, because a lot of people, and here's what's happening with the marketing community or not in a bad way, though a lot of marketers and also brands, tend to stalk the brands, you know what I mean?

You know what I'm talking about? Stalking the brands. So they tend to stock the brands, but not study the brands. And here's what I mean by that. A lot of marketers tend to stalk the brands and basically just like the example that I gave you, I just got on the sales call last week and the gentleman asked me that, he said that he wants his emails to look like manscaped emails, you know, so people fall in love with the outside.

They fall in love with the visuals. They fall in love with the SMS tactics, but they don't really study the strategy. They don't really study the action that they took in order for them to get, you know, the email or to get that campaign. And what if I clicked on that campaign? Where am I go going to get directed to?

So the problem with you know, marketers just stalking the brands and not studying them hurts a lot with their strategy because they just guess what might work. Just because the other brand, our competitor did a campaign and featured, you know, some type of influencer. Let's just feature an influencer as well, and we might get.

You know, some results and they end up not getting results and they're like, well, it didn't work. So maybe it's design. It's really not designed, it's strategy. You did not really build a strategy a solid strategy for that month to see what works and whatnot. 

How The Greenhouse conducts their research

Alex Bond: There's plenty of stuff we could look around and say, this thing is excellent, or this thing works, but people aren't willing to figure out why it works. They just want the same results.

So if I do the same thing, I should get the same results despite the fact that my product's different, my industry's different, my clientele's different. My demographics are different. And aren't willing to kind of use that to pivot with their own product. Are there any specific brands that you look at for strategy and how they work? Like how do you guys conduct your research? 

Mounir Bouferdou: Yeah, that's a really good question. We do have, as I'm not on the client side, I'm on the strategy side of things are more on the backend as the chief of operations running the machine, seeing how, making sure that our clients are successful.

Also by growth, bringing in more clients and more deals and more partnerships to the greenhouse and. Also like hiring nonstop, but as far as like, yeah, brands that we look up to are just leading brands in the industries. There are tons of brands there who actually give such a good examples. But again, there has to be a difference between just looking at an email and saying, well, this email is a good looking email.

Let's create a good looking email that, you know, let's duplicate this email and get a good looking email. But people tend to forget that good looking emails alone don't convert. You need a strategy, you need to see where you are. And craft a strategy that could, or help you get to be.

And if it didn't, you look back and say, well, let's analyze this strategy and see how can we, you know, optimize some errors that we can't make again, and some other stuff that we should probably focus on. 

Alex Bond: No, I think that makes a lot of sense. And just to kind of take a step back a little bit, now, we talked about how, you know, SMS and email marketing affects retention. So is it really as simple as optimizing those two delivery methods? And as long as they're successful, my retention should be too. 

Mounir Bouferdou: A hundred percent. Yes. Optimizing the two. Well, when it comes down to retention now, now we wanna retain clients. Now we want to get. You know those first time purchasers to make 'em purchase 2, 3, 4, 5, and six and seven. How do we do that? We need to kind of like focus on the long-term metrics, the long-term goals. What are the long-term goals?

Average order increased average order value, and increase customer lifetime value. How do we do that? In order for us to increase the average order value, we need to focus on the upsells and the cross sells. How can we get consumer to see an experience and kind of like deliver it in a way that, okay, like you buy this product, here's something else on my match top product so we can get you better. 

Alex Bond: You buy my beard oil, we should try to sell 'em to tremor as well, you know? 

Mounir Bouferdou: And there you go. There you go. Get it, like, get your line up nice and sharp. You know, not only, you know the beard oil will get it shiny, but the trimmer will get like nice and sharp. You know, we'll get the edges that's simple, just like that.

And then, yes, as soon as we increase the average order value, then now we need to increase the lifetime value. We need to make it repeat purchasable, very simple. Again, just bringing it back to the basics. Repeat purchasable. We wanna increase the retention. We wanna make it repeat purchasable. So we wanna know how long does it take, for example, for that one consumer to reorder the product.

And then here, right at that time, there'll be an automation that will let us know that this person has ordered 30 days ago. So maybe they're running low, so send them a reminder, Hey, might be running low refill. It's that simple man. It's that simple, man. It's very simple. It's very simple. And if you just apply the basics to it does work. 

From civil engineering to pursuing eCommerce and digital marketing

Alex Bond: So I wanna talk about your personal journey and how you kind of got in this position, because I think you've got a lot of insight. You've got a lot of great advice for our listeners. I'm learning a lot. But I do know that your primary background was in civil engineering, and you actually left a pretty stable job in that industry to pursue digital marketing and e-commerce. What convinced or inspired you to change paths so radically?

Mounir Bouferdou: Thank you. This is the fun part. Even though like, I don't like to speak about myself, so I'll push a little bit back. Prior or pre-civil engineering, I was born and raised in Morocco. I moved to the states in 2010. I moved to the states to pursue you know, right after high school I moved to the states to pursue college.

And I barely spoke English at the time, but two things that always stuck out to me. Back when I was in Morocco, I always wanted to become a soccer player or a civil engineer. Or an engineer of some degree, a soccer player or an engineer of some degree. I played soccer for a college in New Jersey, in Newark called Essex County College.

Unfortunately, my career, my soccer career was cut short in college, so I had to focus on academics. At the time, I barely spoke English, so I didn't really know what major was engineering, and by mistake, I picked the wrong major. I picked a graphic design and I was looking at it, and they didn't have any translators there or anything at the orientation day the international student orientation day, I remember, and I asked for a French translator, an Arabic translator, and they said we didn't really have any.

So you have to gamble. You have to take a gamble. So I looked at it, I was going through the curriculum of majors. I came across graphic design and. Sound really cool to me. I'm like graphic design me graphic designer, I think. I think there's something in there, some graphic design thinking on the back of my head.

That's engineering, that's computer engineering, some type of computer engineering. Two semesters later. I figured out I was taking more Photoshop classes and art classes than engineering and math. I was like, what did I sign up to? I was like, you know what, I'm already halfway through.

Might as well just finish. I finished my degree as a graphic designer, worked for a local printing shop, and I was like, there has to be more to graphic design than just printing flyers on stuff and science. I didn't enjoy it. I didn't see the bigger picture, and at the time I didn't really have any intro to e-commerce or digital marketing to kinda like see it from a higher level.

Took a step back, went back to school. My family's dream, especially my dad. My dad is a high school principal, so education was very important to him. His dream was for me to become an engineer. And it was my dream too, because I was really good in math and science. But my English was terrible. So every time I solved, like problems in the math class, they will call me solution, no English.

Cause there was no words to my solution. But the numbers were right all the time. I promised myself that I have to become an engineer. So I went back to school, took a, took a year off. Went back to school for engineering. I didn't really know any aspect of engineering. What aspect of engineering should I follow?

Worked as a project manager for a construction company, and that's where my love for civil engineer architecture started developing. Right after that, I went to Newark. I went to in New Jersey. Graduated as a civil engineer. Worked for a couple companies or last one was the engineering department for the city of Jersey City.

And that was the tip that basically made me want to change careers and, and, and an advice to everybody that's listening is that it's never too late. You never have to think that it's too late to change careers because I picked the wrong career, but look how things work out. I picked the wrong career and then I wasn't mad.

I didn't really regret it because later on that graphic designers was helping me right now, developing the creative vision for the greenhouse. Because if I didn't have that creative vision, our emails wouldn't look topnotch. I was hired by the engineering department in Jersey City, and then I'm this hungry new guy on the block that wants to work.

However, I was surrounded by fifties and 60 year olds who were just sitting on the same chair waiting for pension and what they say, you are the result of your environment or you're surrounding. So if you're surrounded by six people who want, who are just sitting on the same chair for the last 30 or 20 or 30 years waiting for a pension, you're gonna be the seventh.

And I told myself, absolutely not. I told myself absolutely not. I told myself that I was meant for bigger things, but I've always wanted to get into the e-commerce kind of like bubble. So my gap to get into the e-commerce bubble was my co-founder, Kerry McDonald, Charlotte, Kerry McDonald. When Kerry McDonald and I met Kerry, used to be a director of marketing for a multimillion dollar beauty brand.

It's not easy to pitch someone that you just meet, that you just met to start a company from scratch. I did successfully. She bought, she bought it, she bought the story. So we started our first job shipping business and it used to be a light features business, and I had the friend who had the same drop shipping business and.

Three weeks after we developed our website and all of, you know manufacturer connections and all of that, we realized a friend that I had who had the same business told me that they had a lot of liability on it because They literally returned every single order that they had because it was made out of glass.

And by the time that glass is shipped, if it's not, you know, shipped carefully, it will have cracks. So we're like, well, screw this. This is not gonna work. If we're gonna do a dropshipping style, it's not gonna work. Then we came across this book called How to Build a Brand that People Fall in Love with, with written by, I think Emily Hayward.

And the first thing that she said was that in order for you to build a brand that people fall in love with, you need to do something that you're passionate about. Something that you can maximize on and do and with, you know, do with care. So it doesn't feel like you're really working, but more like you're just doing something for fun.

And then the other part will come in, oh, we started the clothing brand, but the bigger picture was always, so the driver that made me, I'm sorry, I just have to give this tip. The driver that made me wanna start in the digital marketing space is Ty Lopez. I was always, I remember five years ago or something when Ty Lopez was all over YouTube.

Every time I tried to listen to a YouTube video or something. Tyler Lopez will come in with here in my garage and he has the Ferrari and he has the books behind him. So, and it was so annoying to the point that I was like, okay, the bigger picture is the marketing agency is the services. So, but getting to the services, again, the missing part is you need to start a business.

You need to know how that business function. You need to know how the heart will bump with all these marketing channels. You can't just go and learn about paid ads and say, well, I can scale your business if you don't really know what goes on on the operation side of things. So we started the clothing brand. We were able to scale the brand to to to 10 K just through organic social media and email and SMS marketing.

And unfortunately Covid hit the manufacturers that we worked with shut down. We had three manufacturers, one in North Carolina, one in Mexico City, and one in London. The manufacturers shut down and that was the moment we had to pull the trigger and say, well, this is the moment to pivot towards the service business business model. And that's when we started the greenhouse. 

Alex Bond
Alex Bond

Meet Alex Bond—a seasoned multimedia producer with experience in television, music, podcasts, music videos, and advertising. Alex is a creative problem solver with a track record of overseeing high-quality media productions. He's a co-founder of the music production company Too Indecent, and he also hosted the podcast "Get in the Herd," which was voted "Best Local Podcast of 2020" by the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia, USA.

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