The brief excerpt below is from the book; 50 Interviews: Entrepreneurs Thriving in Uncertain Times. The award winning 300 page book includes exclusive interviews with over 50 successful entrepreneurs in a variety of industries.
John Fischer – recapturing a childhood obsession and becoming the giant in world of stickers
John Fischer started StickerGiant, www.stickergiant.com, in 2000. Today he
has eight full time employees and five part-time in Hygiene, Colorado. What
began for John as a curiosity, at a time when he was home sick with the flu,
WhatPresident.com, quickly became an overnight national sensation during the
five week period when the USA didn’t know who its president was, Gore or
Bush! The slogan, “He is not my president,” died as quickly as it grew, but
along the way, sold thousands of stickers, mugs, and T-shirts. From that
experience, the vision for StickerGiant began to grow in John’s mind. He
partnered with a young designer, Mike Brooks, on building a brand that was
hip, and fed the demand for stickers that reflected all things in our pop
culture. Do a Google search for the word “stickers,” and stickergiant.com is
number one. StickerGiant’s stickers are all over the world and beyond. They
even have StickerGiant stickers
Q: What was your initial startup cost and source?
A: $80,000 from personal savings and credit cards.
Q: How long until there was a positive cash flow?
A: Twelve months. I started making a profit just about the time I ran out of
money and credit.
Q: Did you use a business plan?
A: Yes, and I recommend it for the sole purpose of having a communication
tool others can give you feedback on. It’s a good reality check.
Q: What was the genesis of the idea?
A: I was an avid collector of stickers as a kid, back to the days of the
“Garbage Pail Kids” stickers. My entire career always centered around
printing. Stickers are one of the earliest forms of social media. Stickers
provide a way for others to personally endorse something. It gives people a
voluntary way to show their support and pride for something. What’s more
effective, a sticker on a car or a billboard? I would argue the former, and
it’s one of the lowest cost forms of advertising. Of all the Obama stickers
you see today, nobody is paying them to put them up, but the impact of them
has no doubt contributed to who our next president will be. I’m a firm
believer that everyone should have the right to voice their opinion, and
stickers provide an effective way to do so.
Q: Are there one or two things you can attribute your success to? Was it
luck, timing, someone who helped you?
A: I was lucky in that I had good parents, and grew up in a supportive
family in the USA. Beyond that, I believe you must create your own luck.
Early in my career, I am thankful that the jobs I held were
commission-based. It caused an appreciation for how businesses make money on
a day-to-day basis. I’d suggest you work for a smaller company right out of
college to get that kind of experience firsthand. Too many college kids
today go right into large corporations, only to be so far removed that they
never learn the basics of how a company makes money, or for that matter, how
to manage their own finances. I come from a family of entrepreneurs that was
always there to support me, and offer valuable advice.
Q: What is the most important attribute you look for in an employee? What
are your thoughts on the employee-ownership model?
A: I began by hiring part-time stay-at-home moms to help pack and ship the
stickers I sold online. While we don’t have an employee ownership stake
today, our business model doesn’t yet support it, I am an advocate for it.
Right now we are focused on near term profitability to sustain our growth.