Episode 124

Turning a Crazy Idea into a Multi-Million Dollar eCommerce Business

Chris Meade - CrossNet Games
June 17, 2020
SUBSCRIBE: iTunesStitcher

CrossNet Game began as a crazy idea dreamed up late at night by two brothers and their best friend.  But ideas are a dime a dozen.  Chris and his brother Greg and co-founder Mike turned their crazy idea into a wildly popular product and a rapidly growing company.  So what is CrossNet?  It’s 4-way volleyball.  Put another way, if volleyball 4 square had a baby, it would be CrossNet.  And it’s amazing.

This is a phenomenal story about how to launch a product from total obscurity into a sensation.  We talk about how the product came to be, how the founders successfully boot-strapped everything initially,  and how a combination of playing volleyball all day on the beaches of Miami plus Facebook Ads fueled their launch.   Here’s a look at what we discuss:

  • How their first “prototype” and first test market let them know they were onto something big
  • Why they packed their bags and moved from Connecticut to Miami to launch CrossNet
  • Creating the snowball effect - doing lots of little things well and watching success and momentum grow over time.
  • Their first brand ambassadors and their first influencer…all by accident (but still duplicatable) 
  • Their most important sales channels
  • How they view Amazon
  • How they are using events (pre-pandemic) to grow the brand
  • Getting their product in 5,000+ schools
  • Getting into Dicks Sporting Goods, Academy Sports and more
  • What products are next for CrossNet and how they plan to grow (including running YT ads with OMG Commerce…)

Mentioned in this episode:

Amazon DSP

DICK’S Sporting Goods

Today Show

Academy Sports

Seal Sports


Chris Meade - Co-Founder at CROSSNET

Via LinkedIn


CROSSNET - Four Square Volleyball Net

Via LinkedIn

Via Facebook

Via Twitter

Via Instagram

Via YouTube

Episode Transcript

Brett Curry:

Welcome to another edition of the e-commerce Evolution podcast. I'm your host, Brett Curry CEO of OMG Commerce. And today we are talking about how I did it and not how I specifically did it but how my guest built his business. It's a fantastic story. It's an amazing product. You're going to be inspired by this story and you're going to learn a lot. I'm going to have a lot of fun in the process. This episode of the e-commerce Evolution podcast is brought to you by OMG Commerce. And in addition to this podcast we want to be a resource for you helping you accelerate your e-commerce growth.

Brett Curry:

So I have with me on the show Chris Meade, co-founder of CROSSNET game. You may be asking what is CROSSNET game. You may have seen it. You may see it on Facebook. We're going to tell you all about it on the show and lots and lots of e-commerce lessons along the way also. So Chris, welcome to the show and man thanks for taking the time.

Chris Meade:

I appreciate it man. Thanks for having me on I'm excited to talk.

Brett Curry:

So just real quickly for those that are watching the video because they can see you're in a, it looks like a cool high rise building.

Chris Meade:

Yes.

Brett Curry:

Where are you hailing from and what's the weather like there right now?

Chris Meade:

Yeah so I'm hailing from Miami. I'm a small farm town boy from Connecticut though. We moved to Miami three years ago to start our invention. And the weather is, we're finally out of a tropical storm we've had four days straight of rain so finally nice to see the sun in Miami.

Brett Curry:

That's amazing. So pretty big change then from Connecticut farm to Miami. Just curious, before we get into the story of the product and the business and all this fun stuff why Miami?

Chris Meade:

Yeah. So the product it's a four way volleyball net. So we were in Connecticut, it's rainy, it's cold, it's dark the majority of the year so it was just a logical move when we started a volleyball net company on the beach.

Brett Curry:

On the beach man.

Chris Meade:

Yeah on the beach Miami or California and our family's on the east coast so it just made sense to stay a little bit local, a three hour flight back up to Connecticut so Miami it was.

Brett Curry:

Going to Miami. So before we talk about all the cool story of how the idea came to be and then more importantly how the company came to be because we were talking about this off air lots of people have good ideas man, lots of people have these crazy ideas of what if we combine this and that. But turning that into a company is really hard and a lot of people don't do that. But before we get into that, what was your background so what'd you do before this company?

Chris Meade:

Yeah. So I actually went to school for film. Film and photography was always a passion of mine.

Brett Curry:

Did you want to make movies?

Chris Meade:

Yeah I wanted to make horror movies actually. I love scary movies. There's only a few really famous scary movie directors so I was like, "All right, there's an opportunity there." So, I went to film school, graduated with a lot of student loan debt, got to work on a few HBO... I was working on the show HBO Girls I was an on-set director, a production assistant. Awesome. So, that went cool for a year, it was all right. But I was working 12, 14 hour days, not making close to the amount of money that I needed in my bank account to survive in Manhattan.

Brett Curry:

So, I'm curious did that fuel the passion for film or did that make you say like, "Maybe this isn't as great as I thought."

Chris Meade:

That's a good question. So, it fueled the passion when I was doing the stuff I liked. One of the guys on the set is now Darth Vader and I've had conversations with him. I remember talking to this dude for 10 minutes and I'm like, "That's Darth Vader." So that's cool now but hindsight waking up at 4:00 in the morning and taking a subway to Chinatown and being there in the pitch black and literally working for 14 hours for $10 was not ideal to me so.

Brett Curry:

A lot of people have these visions of grandeur like all of show business is amazing and there's just a lot of work and there's a lot of people in the show business that aren't making any money.

Chris Meade:

Exactly yes. I mean kudos to anybody who can stick it out and grind it out and get to where they want it to be. I'm sure it would be much better if I was a director or producer but it just financially wasn't in the cards for me with the college debt I took on. So, got into a sales job, started selling commercials. That was super corporate America.

Brett Curry:

Like TV commercials, radio commercials?

Chris Meade:

Yeah TV and radio.

Brett Curry:

Nice that's how I got my start as well in radio ad sales.

Chris Meade:

Exactly. Yeah. So that was corporate America 101 like, "Chris your shirts a little bit untucked please tuck it in. You need to be here at 9:00 or you're fired."

Brett Curry:

I was rocking a tie back in the day.

Chris Meade:

Yeah. Exactly. So, I left that and joined a software company, SAS in New York City called Contently, created sales experience meeting CMOs of all different types of companies, learned how to work a room. Which is helpful now when I'm in pitches with retail buyers all across the country. I went to Uber for a little bit so I worked as an account executive at Uber headquarters in Chelsea. Quit that when CROSSNET came to be and flew to Miami and that's all she wrote.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Awesome. I love that story. I love that you have so much sales experience. I think almost anybody that's going to be an entrepreneur it's great to have at least some sales experience. You don't have to necessarily be a salesperson but everything has to be sold in some capacity whether that's all through text on a screen or through video or whatever. But I think there's something about that either face to face selling or selling on the phone or whatever that really trains you to understand the process. It's difficult to get someone to part with their money and to trust your product or your service or whatever so that's awesome that you had that experience. I still value my time of hitting the streets as a radio sales person it helped shape me and make me who I am so.

Brett Curry:

Yup that's awesome. So CROSSNET you mentioned it as a four way volleyball net, it's such a cool concept. So, how did this idea come to be? Was this over a couple of beers or how did this come to be?

Chris Meade:

So I was working at Uber. I had came home for spring break or whatever it was. My brother was home in Connecticut where we're from and our partner Mike so the third founder had just graduated from Northeastern with an engineering degree. Greg was running a few eCommerce businesses. I was just grinding along, making money, making good money but just wasn't fully content at the job. And he's like, "Dude, I'm coming over. Let's chat, let's invent something because I don't want to do this 9:00 to 5:00 thing yet."

Chris Meade:

And we had ESPN on in the background, start writing down ideas, none that really are super memorable. And eventually we write down four way volleyball net. It's about 3:00 in the morning, getting pretty tired. And we Google four way volleyball net and nobody had ever done it before, no photos, no product, no Walmart listing. And we're like, "This is too good to be true," and woke up the next morning super pumped. We went to Walmart, got two badminton nets, ring them together, cut out the center. We texted our friends we're like, "Meet us at the house at 12:00 and we just played for five hours straight it was so much fun."

Brett Curry:

Quick test market, let's go make one of these. And I love this because when you see the product and obviously we'll link to it in the show notes and you can see videos and all that it's a cross between volleyball and four square. And so, as a kid on the playgrounds at school I loved playing four square. My kids love four square. There's just something about it, you get the rotation going, getting people in, it's competitive, it's fun, it's fast paced. So obviously when you had the idea and you saw that there wasn't anybody else doing it you were like, "Okay, this is an idea." But then did it really hit home when you guys were playing it?

Chris Meade:

Yeah we were playing and it was just like the sun was going down and nobody wanted to go in. And the coolest part was nobody was checking their cell phones, nobody was texting, everyone took photos of course but we finally got to disconnect. And as you get older the time with your friends where you're not on your phone is the best part. I'm 27 so I still have the phone glued to my hand all the time. But I know when I put my phone down for half an hour those are always the best memories not when I'm on Twitter.

Brett Curry:

Absolutely. That's a conversation I have with my teens, I have teen kids now, "Hey, you're never going to look back and say, 'Man, I remember that day I was on my cell phone." Those aren't your memories. That's fine, I obviously love mobile technology But yeah, you create those memories when you put the phone down so that's awesome. Okay. So got the idea, you rigged together the prototype of CROSSNET, you and your buddies are playing, everybody's addicted to it. So then transition to the business because again that's the part that's hard. So many people have an idea but making it a business is super tricky how'd you guys do it?

Chris Meade:

Especially a product, right? It's one thing to create an agency or something but creating a physical product and having it tangible in your hands it's tough and that's why a lot of people fall off. Fortunately for us, Mike he was an engineer. We didn't have to go scrap up a bunch of money and then go sell ourselves to an engineer to create the blueprint. We had this dude who had AutoCAD on his computer and this was his, that's his passion was designing stuff. So boom, boom, boom, took some photos, got some draft models going and then we started reaching out to manufacturers. So, we found a sporting goods manufacturer overseas who specifically dealt with volleyball nets in particular.

Brett Curry:

Wow that's perfect.

Chris Meade:

Yeah and the conversation was really good, trustworthy, sent over some paperwork, sent over the product and they're like, "Can you do it?" And we're like, "Yeah, we can do it. It might take a few months for you to get it but we'll do it." And we told them our financial situation, we were just three kids. But Greg and Mike were 24 at the time and I was 20 or they were 22 and I was 24. So we didn't have much money and we're like, "Hey, we've got $10,000 take it or leave it," and they took it and we're like, "We promise one day we'll be putting in bigger orders just get this first order out for us." So, got the first one landed and it was cool. It worked, it stood up, there's some things that we changed and modified but it was pretty much the CROSSNET that you see today.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome. So you had the engineering connection and that's huge. I mean it is a simple concept but still going from simple concept to a net that holds up and works that's not easy but you had an engineer as a co-founder so that's super handy. You found a connection overseas to manufacture it. So now you get this $10,000 order of products what do you do? You're hocking it out of the garage, you're traveling around selling it, what are you doing?

Chris Meade:

So, the first thing we did really we moved to Miami and we started going to the beach every day just setting it up and we would just have, we'd set it up. People would be staring at us like, "What are these kids doing?" You're setting up a volleyball net and then you think out the second side and it's like, "Oh, what is this." So by the end of the day we'd have 20, 30 people playing it and we wouldn't even get to play our own game. And we would just be taking content all day long on our phones, run home at night, post it on the website and then run ads on it. Granted we had a super frugal budget back then but a lot

Brett Curry:

So, you're using just playing at the beach to get your content and you're mainly selling through ads. I'm assuming that you have people on the beaches thing, "Dude, where can I buy one of these?"

Chris Meade:

Of course. Yeah. So yeah, so almost all the time we would sell the one. We would never bring home the same CROSSNET. So, we'd ship that out. I have a fond memory of these girls from New York, this town called West Islip, never been there myself, but they were from advocates of the game they had such a blast. They bought it and every weekend for a year straight they would post them playing CROSSNET. And so, as they would play it at their beach people from their town would be purchasing and I'd be like, "Oh, another order from this town they must be out there marketing it for us." So, it got

Brett Curry:

Your initial ambassadors.

Chris Meade:

Exactly. So the more nets out in the world the more eyeballs and eventually it was like, "All right, I don't need to go to the beach every day I have customers who are doing it for me for free. We're going to have that same organic approach." So, that's when the business really started to take off.

Brett Curry:

But and then you're 100% right. But you also, I think there's a lot of people that start an eCommerce business the one to just hide behind the computer screen and just let the customers do it from the beginning.

Chris Meade:

Of course.

Brett Curry:

This wouldn't have happened if you guys hadn't gotten out there and gotten sandy and hanging out on South Beach there could be worse things. That's cool that you got to do something really fun. But yeah, you guys got out there and you were hustling and you were demonstrating the product and you were selling it and then eventually the customers took that over.

Chris Meade:

Exactly.

Brett Curry:

But you guys do have... I actually just had a call with a guy earlier who's thinking about how do you measure, how do you track word of mouth? It's a long conversation that...

Chris Meade:

It's a tough one.

Brett Curry:

It's tough but it happens. And so, but if you can think about part of that comes from product design. So does the product hold up and can the product be used in public settings and if it is then people are going to see it. And anyway all of that just is really working for you guys which is awesome. So let's talk about what were some of the early mistakes because I think we all learn from and even as an agency owner I can think back of all the things we try to do in the beginning where we try to do too many things or we try to do things that we really sucked at and that was crash and burn. But then we focused on some things that were really, really good at and then things took off. What were some of the early mistakes you made?

Chris Meade:

Yeah I mean hindsight's always 2020 but I think the biggest mistake for us was we launched our product when our manufacturers said they were about to ship it but not when it actually landed. So we had expectations, we thought that the product would arrive to the states much sooner than it actually did. So, we had customers order thinking they're going to get their game in about 15, 20 days but in reality they weren't going to get their game for 90 days. Yeah. So that was a tough start to the business.

Brett Curry:

Some people are less understanding than others when it comes to yeah...

Chris Meade:

Of course. So I mean yeah had we have done a kick starter or something who knows it would have helped with just messaging.

Brett Curry:

Kickstarter people are more patient with that for sure

Chris Meade:

So, yeah did we deceive people? I don't know I don't think we intentionally meant to.

Brett Curry:

Not on purpose no.

Chris Meade:

Yeah. Exactly. So that was our first run at customer service even at a small scale of 50 to 100 customers but definitely lesson learned if I ever start a business again don't start it until the product is in my garage.

Brett Curry:

The product in hand.

Chris Meade:

Yeah, exactly so that was a tough lesson. And then also just being super frugal with inventory and also packaging, don't overbuy boxes or stuff like shipping material just because you're getting a price break even for 50 cents or a quarter. You could always buy back more stuff, products change. I remember when we designed our box and we bought 2000 of them but we only really needing 500 and we ended up changing the box so we lost out on 1500 boxes that we had to just chuck. So stuff like that all adds up.

Brett Curry:

Especially in the early days that totally makes sense. You're almost guaranteed to make some of those changes. So, what looks like a quantity break it's going to cost you in the long run.

Chris Meade:

Exactly. Yeah.

Brett Curry:

That totally makes sense yeah.

Chris Meade:

Those are two of the biggest things yeah. I mean, definitely had we gone back I would've been more frugal about it, I would have been, "Hey, we need 500 boxes for 500 games and that's it and we'll get our price breaks later on."

Brett Curry:

Yep. That's awesome. Every company has them, you can't fully avoid them but I think it's good just to share the mistakes and so other people can learn from them. What about on the marketing side are there any mistakes you guys made on the marketing side? And I know that that can lead to some pretty technical answers and stuff like that but any thoughts there?

Chris Meade:

Yeah. So the biggest ones I think of is not taking email marketing seriously, seriously enough. We would have one or two flows like, "Oh, put your email in for a coupon." You'd get one email and that's it, that's where it dropped off. So just literally within the last five months we've hired an email agency. You've got a full time creative director to oversee everything. That's where we started to make 15% of our revenue through email, before it was 1%. So, just adding two or three email touches that are just automated is an additional $100,000 revenue it's crazy so.

Brett Curry:

And it's such a big deal because we focus a lot on driving traffic, cold traffic through YouTube and Google and Amazon but then also remarketing traffic. But if you have the email flows in place then we can be more aggressive, you can be more aggressive on Facebook. You can do those things to drive more top funnel traffic because you know you're going to be closing a much higher percentage of people that you get to visit the site so totally, totally makes sense. What were some of the early wins maybe as Bob Ross would say the happy little accidents that happened or the things you did on purpose that really worked well?

Chris Meade:

The biggest one so our product is 20 pounds so it's not the easiest to ship, it's not the cheapest.

Brett Curry:

It's bulky like you could imagine a volleyball the post, the poles are larger.

Chris Meade:

Exactly and I know a lot of people start up a Shopify store they're like, "We'll send it out to a bunch of influencers." In our situation we didn't have the luxury to do that because every time we send out a product we're out $50 or so with the cost of goods plus shipping, you quickly find yourself in a hole. But fortunately for whatever reason we have people reach out all the time. A guy from Latvia reached out to us and we're not volleyball players, we were never volleyball players, we're very honest about that. We made a game that's fun and it has volleyball.

Chris Meade:

And so, this guy wrote back he's like, "Let me get a sample sent out." Whatever reason we sent him one and about a month later we wake up to this video that has 5 million views on it. It's team Latvia like the Olympic team Latvia playing CROSSNET this deserted island. And it is the coolest rally ever, you've probably seen it online. This is what we run ads all the time on it's this original video of teen Latvia playing CROSSNET and it's dope crazy spike and it just shows the game at its full potential.

Brett Curry:

So you're saying that was worth the $50?

Chris Meade:

Exactly. Yeah. So, that started our company in my eyes. We were selling one or two a day I'd be like, "Dope we hit three sales today." And we woke up and my phone was like 5 million views on this video. Sales were coming it was like that was the start of CROSSNET in my opinion.

Brett Curry:

Yep. Awesome. So that's when it hit and then and now you're still using that footage. And what's interesting, you couldn't have manufactured that. I mean, I guess you could like sometimes you can but that's the way business and entrepreneurship goes. You're going to be doing some things, some things happen because you're hustling like you're going to the beach, you're working hard, you're showing this thing off, you're not just sitting at home all day, good things happen because of that. But as you get momentum you're going to get these happy little accidents that happen and you can't always predict it but they happen if your product is good and things can take off.

Chris Meade:

Exactly.

Brett Curry:

That's awesome. Let's talk about your most important sales channels now where are you selling the most and talk about some of your marketing mix. And I know we can't divulge lots of secrets and stuff like that but share with us what you're comfortable with.

Chris Meade:

Yeah of course. I think the majority of, I'd say close to 80% of our sales are directly on our eCommerce site across crossnetgame.com. That's where we drive all of our traffic, that's the most profitable for us. And then the way we're getting that traffic is typically through Facebook. We have a pretty high Facebook spend. We are seasonal gain in some aspects but COVID has helped with that. People are looking for something to do, they're desperate to get outside and our game's been perfect for that so.

Brett Curry:

And specifically, I was talking to Greg your brother the co founder, you've got a lot of moms buying the game. which totally makes sense because kids are stuck inside let's get something to get everybody outside and we play as a family, we're quarantined together. And now most people are coming out of quarantine are whatever but still you're not doing what you've always done you're hanging out at home a lot more so it's still a great time to buy.

Chris Meade:

Yeah. So Facebook's our number one channel for sales overall and traffic but also that's our mom and dad demo. Moms and dads are on Facebook. My mom's on Facebook, she has probably six Facebook accounts and she just keeps making them. She has no idea how to log back in but anyways those are the type of people we're selling to.

Brett Curry:

That's amazing. I love it.

Chris Meade:

Yeah so they're watching the videos, they're clicking, boom, CROSSNET looks great for my backyard and those are the real people and we're selling with UGC content. I don't think we've ever paid more than $1,000 for a video in our lifetime and we're a big company at this point and we never will unless we really need to. User generated content, what does this look like when I go set it up in my backyard and there's a barbecue going on and my eight year old daughter's out there playing with our 14 year old son? That's what they want to see. That drives tons of traffic for us and then remarketing that through Facebook and also email is huge for us. Going to start with YouTube with you guys which I'm pumped about.

Brett Curry:

And so on the YouTube side using that user generated content is so powerful on YouTube as well, we'll need to and this was a topic for another podcast I just actually did a deep dive on YouTube, but we'll need to string more together and since we have a voiceover and I've been working on that with Greg but you still use that UGC is so powerful and so pumped about that for sure.

Chris Meade:

Yeah the UGC is great every day. I literally just got a video half an hour ago of a family in North Carolina playing on the beach and there's 40 people around the net. It just remind me of the Miami days, it's crazy. So yeah, and word of mouth, word of mouth is huge just organically spreading it like, "Oh, that's that game I was talking about." And so, it all piles up.

Brett Curry:

Yep. Love it, man. Love it. Love it. So, let's talk about your Amazon strategy and I have a lot of people on the show, a lot of merchants, a lot of service providers, everybody has a slightly different take on Amazon. Obviously we can't ignore it but is Amazon an enemy, a frenemy, whatever evil, not evil but talk about what your current Amazon strategy is.

Chris Meade:

I means for us we're in a different situation than most people I'd assume. We have a distributor who purchases in bulk 40 foot containers. So they're importing thousands of CROSSNET's a year sending them to their DCs all across the country and then fulfilling within 72 hours, which is great, on Amazon. We're still pumping the majority of our traffic to our website because at the end of the day my goal is to always to own the audience. We have new products coming out this month, next year. And if they're on Amazon and I don't have their data I have to pray that my brand is strong enough that they're going to come back to us organically or follow us on a social media platform which I can't rely on. As good as I make my company I can never rely fully to have their attention. So, by having an email and phone number that's the best thing I can do.

Chris Meade:

But yeah, I'm never going to shy away from Amazon, Amazon makes tons of sense. And what I'm most excited about with Amazon is that we're opening up Amazon in Canada, opening up Amazon in the United Kingdom and Amazon Australia. So, that's all happening within the next three months for our company. People want to buy it, people spend $150 to ship a $150 game. So, I can only imagine when we pull that lever and can actually start marketing to these foreign countries that's when Amazon is going to be big for us.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, it's amazing. But it just shows that people want experiences and they want, it's just totally worth it. I can't play a four way volleyball game in any other way so of course I'll pay the shipping. So, you're primarily driving traffic to your .com so you can own the customer relationship and all that but there's still always going to be some people that just say, "I buy from Amazon. I want to buy on Amazon." Or whatever so they're going to go there so you have a presence there which totally makes sense.

Brett Curry:

One thing you ought to consider and something we can talk about later but utilizing Amazon DSP it's a form of Amazon retargeting where you could take even your Amazon buyers, target them with display ads on Amazon and off Amazon but you can send them to whatever site you want to. That's something you could use to, "Hey, now we're releasing." And I won't steal your thunder but if you want to talk about some of the new products that' would be awesome. So as you're releasing these new products target those buyers on Amazon and say, "Hey, check it out we've got these new products." So, do you want to talk a little bit about what's next?

Chris Meade:

Yeah, of course. So we've been on the market for three years now with our outdoor volleyball game but what it has led to is that we have partnerships with over 5,000 schools right now. So kids all across the country are going to gym class and learning how to play volleyball on a CROSSNET rather than a traditional volleyball net. So one, that's an awesome feeling it's just absolutely crazy.

Brett Curry:

Which I think that's so much easier because we, so just a quick example and I've got a big family but we would set up a volleyball net and you have to have a lot of people for volleyball to make sense but if it's two on two or even three on three volleyball is hard especially if you get one or two people that are not great volleyball players it's almost impossible.

Chris Meade:

And on the contrary like in gym class I remember going and it's 10 on 10 and you're six on six and then you don't touch the ball for an hour. So, growing up we all went to this volleyball, gym class we're like "Volleyball again? This sucks." So, now having the CROSSNET they can actually touch it, you get spiked on, learn hand eye coordination. But what it's led to is gym teachers are demanding that we have an indoor setup. So we just released indoor bases that you can slap on, add on, they're $100, really easy to fill up with sand or water. And the cool part about it is they're now played inside but also great for tailgates. So blacktop, anywhere, turf, anything that wouldn't allow you to stake in CROSSNET normally you can use these spaces for so that's been great for us. We released that a few months ago, great success so far.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Awesome. And that helps with non beach locations and of course you can do the, you can drive stakes in a park or something but sometimes it's not easy so having a bases it totally fits. Cool. Any other product releases on the horizon or

Chris Meade:

No, this summer we got the pool model coming out so this is the formal announcement. Limited stock, not sure how many we'll actually get it. I know we have at least a thousand on the way but I can't imagine.

Brett Curry:

It won't last very long.

Chris Meade:

No, it will last a week if that's... Limited edition.

Brett Curry:

Yeah. Very cool, man. Very, very cool. So, let's talk a little bit about so there's so many cool things going on with the company but let's talk about this was a win whether anything fully happens here or not. So, at the time of this recording I think you said you just recorded a TV show recently. So do you want to talk a little bit about that how that came to be and what that looks like? And by the time this show airs it'll either be, the episode will be out there for everyone to watch or maybe it won't, I don't know, but either way it's really cool for it to happen.

Chris Meade:

Fingers crossed yeah. So anybody who has a Shopify store you need to keep a chat box on your website. I can tell you Dick's Sporting Goods they came through on my chat box, "Hey, we are ready to place a purchase order. This is Dick's, this is not a joke." That's how we started with Dick's. So, the Today Show reached out to us, like the actual Today Show, "Hey."

Brett Curry:

On your online chat, on your Shopify store, the Today's Show reaches out, crazy

Chris Meade:

And we write back, "Is this a joke?" And this is legit.

Brett Curry:

Is this you? Are you messing with us? Yeah.

Chris Meade:

And then we had our events person pick up the phone and have been communicating back and forth, got them a CROSSNET sent out to LA and they filmed the segment this morning and it's ready to go live within the next 48 hours, it's supposed to go live on Thursday or Friday and it's just insane, so excited.

Brett Curry:

It's amazing. It's amazing. And so yeah, it just shows and one of the other I think great entrepreneurial lessons but just good business growth lessons is you have to have a lot of things going and when you do things build on themselves. So you've got ambassadors and you've got Facebook and now you're looking at YouTube and you've got all these touch points. You're investing in email marketing which is great and you're doing all of these things. You've got word of mouth and then the Today's Show.

Chris Meade:

Yeah exactly it's crazy.

Brett Curry:

And it takes effort on the part of the founders and the marketing team and all that. Some of it is a little bit of luck involved as well, that always happens, it's true for every entrepreneur but it's super cool. One last topic here that I want to touch on and then we'll wrap up. You mentioned you brought on I think you call him the creative director or a marketing director. Can you talk about the team growth and how you guys were approaching that? Because I think it was scrappy, it was you and your brother Greg and your partner Mike. And so yeah what has team growth been like?

Chris Meade:

Yeah, so we have three founders, fortunately for us, when we started the company. I head up sales and marketing, Greg's the CEO he handles all the legal and other nonsense we don't want to deal with. Mike does engineering and logistics. And then so, our first two hires was we found out that it was more affordable for us to rent out a warehouse and hire a full time worker, who is my best friend growing up, to ship all the products out instead of going to a fulfillment company and getting charged way too much. And our second hire was events, event marketing, just setting up tournament's and music festival partnerships. And now we have a creative director who oversees all the campaigns we create overseas, email marketing oversees any of the social media production.

Brett Curry:

Actually, I want to pause just a minute and talk about that and the event piece because this is interesting. I think, obviously it's an obvious fit for you, you're a game, very visual, people see it being played, they want to buy it, but I think there's the other eCommerce businesses that could benefit from events and showing up in person at events. How do you guys approach that? And obviously I know this is a weird time, not a lot of events happening, events are either on hold or they're changing drastically but one day there will be more events and stuff. How do you guys approach that? How do you find events? What do you do at events? Just talk real briefly.

Chris Meade:

Yeah. I mean fortunately for us there's tons of events to be at whether it's at a music festival? So we had, I was so excited, I'm a big music guy. Life after CROSSNET involves music production, music festivals. So we had just cold email out to music festivals, "Hey, do you want CROSSNET set up at your sand location?" Pharrell's music festival they wanted a CROSSNET set up. We had a contract and everything was in the CROSSNET tournament at Pharrell's music festival, that was a logical thing. Gym teacher conferences, camp counselor conferences, retail store conventions, those are all things that we need to be out actively, we're excited for we'll see if we get back to it this year, if not next year.

Brett Curry:

But it was strategic in a lot of ways because and the gym teacher conference that's brilliant because yeah it's going to lead to sales in those schools which is nice like 5,000 schools that's not an insignificant number of sales at all that's great. But think about the thousands and thousands of kids that come through each of those gym classes and see CROSSNET and now want to tell mom and dad to buy one. It's just, it's really brilliant marketing helps fuel distribution and awareness and it's a marketing multiplier so really, really smart. So okay awesome. So, I got so excited about the events I think I cut you off. You were talking about the marketing person.

Chris Meade:

Yeah so we got that. I mean the events thing that's huge for us, absolutely huge. So excited for that to get back. We have a creative director, all the campaigns, all the management like we talked about we're doing very little with email and now we have somebody creating campaigns that go out to our email list which is well over 100,000 people now on a weekly basis. And we have campaigns We're now in Dick's sporting goods, go drive to sales to Dick's and then Dick's emails me, "Why did we get so many sales so quickly? Let me reorder." So, they all work on top of each other like you talked about so.

Brett Curry:

That's great. That's great. Are you going to be pushing for more physical store retail distribution?

Chris Meade:

Yeah, that's the goal. We started the company, we saw this as a retail product. It was never like, "Shopify D to C only like this is exclusive here." We're like, "No, we want to go..." Going into the store and seeing your product on a shelf is just the best feeling of all time.

Brett Curry:

Yeah it's super cool. And they're still, I mean and because of the pandemic, the acceleration of e-commerce penetration and growth has been amazing. So, it went from I think Forrester said it was 16% of all retail was eCommerce pre-pandemic. And during pandemic that went to 20 some percent and I saw some reports were 30 some percent but that still means 70% is in a store. And so, there's still some people they want to touch it, feel it, see it before they buy it. It's like Bass Pro and all these other, Walmart you can be in. And so yeah, really excited about that for you.

Chris Meade:

Yeah so we got a Dick's Sporting Goods which is awesome. We're about to expand nationwide with them it looks like. Academy Sports nationwide, nationwide working on Walmart and Target right now we're on Walmart and target.com selling great. So retailers should be at least 20 to 25% of our business by the end of the year hopefully.

Brett Curry:

Awesome. Awesome, man. That's so cool. Okay, fantastic. So, people want to learn more, people want to say, "Okay I'm picturing this in my head. I've got to go see what this looks like." Where can they learn more and where can they get their very own CROSSNET?

Chris Meade:

Crossnetgame.com, the best place to support small business.

Brett Curry:

Yeah, I like it. Chris man, thank you so much it's been a blast, loved talking entrepreneurship and CROSSNET and online marketing and all this fun stuff with you. So, I really appreciate you taking the time and checking in virtually here.

Chris Meade:

I appreciate it man. Thanks so much for having me.

Brett Curry:

Yep, absolutely. And as always thank you for tuning in. We would love to hear feedback. We would love to get that five star review on iTunes if you feel so inclined. It does help other people discover the podcast which is a good thing, at least I think. And so, with that until next time thank you for listening.

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