We are thrilled to present our first-ever story on
D2CVille.com, featuring Nathanael Ziegler, the founder of Apfelband.
Apfelband is a German company that offers stylish wristbands for Apple Watches. Bahadir, our D2C-savvy interviewer, is excited to sit down with
Nathanael to learn about the brand's journey to success and the challenges they faced along the way.
Nathanael is sharing his personal ups and downs along with Apfelband’s successes and failures. He is also providing insights into how he navigated the challenges of launching a startup and the lessons he learned throughout the process. So join us for this discussion about Apfelband's unique brand and its secrets to success.
Well, Nathanael started out as a dropshipper for about a year. But I eventually had enough capital to buy all the goods in bulk and get them shipped to Germany, where they now sell the products directly. But dropshipping was a good kickstart for them anways, Nathanael says.
They started with Facebook ads, but it turned out to be less effective than they had hoped. So Nathanael decided to switch most of their budget to Google ads and ran with that for about a year - about 95% Google ads and the rest some Facebook ads. This brought in the most revenue to them, with a return on investment on ad spend of about 10x. While it's not as high now, Google ads were a big push for apfelband in the beginning.
Enough with TikToks
The problem that a lot of people have is that they consume a lot - wanting to start a business, they consume information, Nathanael says. But they don't actually start. His unique way of doing things is to consume, consume, consume, create, create, create. At some point, you just have to stop consuming and start. Ignore all the stuff and just begin. Along the way, you need to gather more information, but the journey continues only if you start.
Cash is the king
For Nathanael, success for the company is measured in cash. He has a tool to track our expenses, revenue, and ad spend - how is its performance. We track the cost of goods and our budget, and then he can see if everything is in line or if something needs to be improved. He can track all the metrics and all the numbers in tools, so he knows by the end of the month or the end of the quarter if it was a good month or not and what we should improve.
Work hard, party harder
Every once in a while, apfelband throw parties and have special events like team dinners to celebrate success. When there are rough times, the team comes together and figures out how to solve problems and get to work. They spend time together in the ups and downs. It's important to celebrate the good times in the company.
Nathanael's biggest "aha" moment was when he outsourced most of our marketing to an agency. They weren't big enough to attract online marketing experts, so he had to look for an agency with experts and pay them. This turned out to be the best choice he made for the company! External agencies helped apfelband grow a lot, 3-4 times since we started working with the agency. So Nathanael highly recommends startups and early companies work with an online marketing agency.
Avoid spending excessively
Nathanael's biggest mistake was spending money on whatever he wanted without checking for a good return on investment when we earned a lot of money in the beginning. They learned to always check for a positive return on investment before spending money.
As a founder, Nathanael feels like he could fail any minute, any day. This feeling motivates him to work as much as he can towards the company, but there are also times when he feels down, and it's important to take days off and relax. Ups and downs are part of being a founder.
They employees are very transparent about their work. They have a TikTok account where they show everything happening in the warehouse and office. They have fun and make funny videos while working, and everyone can watch the having fun at work. I think there are only a few companies that are so transparent and show every work in their warehouse, letting employees speak to the camera.
Thanks for reading the highlight of our chat with Nathanael! Please consider following D2CVille on social media and contacting us if you’d like to be a guest in one of these podcast episodes! And if you’re in Germany, visit apfelband at this link for more information about their wonderful indoor gardening products! One last thing: Check out the tool stack Nathanael has to spread his brand! It’s here .