It's something many of us imagine doing, but few actually accomplish.
Start with nearly nothing and--through sheer force of will--build something special.
That's what Nathan Chan has done with Foundr, a fast-growth digital media company that was founded in March 2013 and now stands as a multi-million dollar success story.
Foundr Magazine is phenomenal publication & educational platform that provides valuable content that teaches entrepreneurs how to succeed.
A digital magazine for young entrepreneurs, by young entrepreneurs, Foundr has amassed an incredible email list of more than 250,000 subscribers and an Instagram following of more than 800,000 followers in just two-and-a-half years. In fact, only a year into his endeavor, Chan was able to quit his full-time job and live off Foundr's revenue.
In understanding how Foundr has beaten the odds and enjoyed such staggering growth in such a short time, it's important to first look at the origin of Chan's inspiration.
Foundr's Improbable Start
You could say Nathan Chan sort of came out of nowhere.
He wasn't a particularly good student. While at university, he failed most of his classes. There was a brief time a few years later where he became focused enough to complete a Masters of Marketing, but nothing ultimately really came of it.
Despite his Masters, he couldn't land a corporate job. As a result, Chan was stuck working IT support at a travel company--a gig he felt was humiliating.
You could say that Chan's life had effectively stalled. Then, he happened upon the 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris. As he observed a friend sell an online business for six figures, Chan poured over the book, and that's how it all began.
Inspired--but knowing nothing about magazines, publishing, content, interviews, apps or design, and only having $3000 in his pocket--Chan set to work.
And his work, well, worked. Foundr is now consumed by 1 million+ each month.
Why Foundr's Success is So Surprising
Starting a business is a supremely difficult endeavor, no matter who you are or what industry you're aiming to break into. You're never just handed a step-by-step guide. Usually you fumble through until you eventually find your way--or you simply fail.
Nathan may not have known anything about publishing and magazines, but there wasn't much fumbling done. And where Foundr has really beaten the odds and bucked market trends is that it's a business that was initially built entirely on a subscription model.
This is the information age, where the Internet provides anything you could hope to learn for free. Yet, Foundr's now a multi-million dollar company thanks in large part to paying customers.
How Foundr Did It
The keys to Foundr's improbable success?
It all starts with good content. Foundr is known for its interviews. Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Seth Godin, Tim Ferriss, and many more have already graced the font cover of the digital magazine. These exclusive interviews have offered readership something they can't discover through a free Google search.
Good content is the engine that drives Foundr's success. But what else should an aspiring entrepreneur know about replicating what Foundr has achieved?
Here's a quick list of how Chan achieved his success:
1. He followed his passion. It's hard to be successful at something you don't care about. In Chan's case, he followed his passion of digital marketing and entrepreneurism. He discovered what he cared about, and then used it as the cornerstone of his business endeavor.
2. He identified a unique opportunity. Identifying an opening, or niche, within an industry is crucial to breaking into it. Chan realized there wasn't a magazine that filled the need for content for young entrepreneurs, by young entrepreneurs. Once he realized this, he set about to fill that void. It's this laser focus on providing an absent service that helped Foundr in its early days.
3. He stuck to a deadline. Chan knew he just had to launch. Just had to. Launching was everything. He wasn't sure when growth would come or exactly how, necessarily, but he knew that launching was the key to everything else. He kept perspective.
Sticking to a date was critical for Foundr's improbable success. Chan set a deadline, and most importantly, he stuck to it. Sure, he only launched his first magazine edition to a grand total of two subscribers, but he launched. After that, things began to snowball.
4. He networked strategically. Chan knew interviews weren't just going to arrive on his doorstep. He knew he had to go out and build relationships in a strategic fashion. Instead of going directly to the source, he did the research to gain access to each interview target's gatekeeper.
Chan also ensured there were benefits for all. He knew how important a symbiotic relationship was--interviews couldn't only benefit Foundr. They had to benefit the interviewee, too.
5. He invested in social media. Big time. Foundr wouldn't be where it's at without the astonishing power of social media. Chan knew early on that social media success was key to the overarching success of his entire enterprise.
After surveying the social landscape, Chan decided upon Instagram thanks to its free platform and ability to drive tons of traffic. He put all his energy behind the photo and video sharing service, and it was this intense investment that stirred up more than 800,000 followers in such a short time.
6. He followed his dream despite the naysayers. Most importantly of all, Chan pursued his dream despite the naysayers, market trends, and odds. He committed to his goal, and tuned out the "white noise."
Regardless of what the future holds for the company, the early triumph of Foundr serves as a reassuring success story to any aspiring entrepreneur looking to beat the odds.
I hope you enjoyed this article!
If you're curious to know how I got started, and how you can begin your own journey to self- employment, you should enroll in my free mini-course on making more money. It'll take you step-by-step through the process of creating a new business using skills you already have.