Scaling Your Business, Business, Marketing

From Garage Startup to On Track to $100 Million with Jane Lu Founder of Showpo

Episode 307: Show Notes

Hey everybody and welcome back to the Strategy Hour Podcast! Today we are very, very excited to have Jane Lu as our guest. Jane is the founder of Showpo and has been in Forbes, Cosmopolitan and won numerous awards for her business! What started as a small clothing store in her parents garage in 2010 has grown and grown to the huge online store that is today. Their goal is to reach $100 million in revenue by 2020 and boy do we think they will achieve it! Jane is so inspiring and we love the way her brain works, she makes fast decisions and is such a visionary; qualities that have taken her company to amazing heights.

Hey everybody and welcome back to the Strategy Hour Podcast! Today we are very, very excited to have Jane Lu as our guest. Jane is the founder of Showpo and has been in Forbes, Cosmopolitan and won numerous awards for her business! What started as a small clothing store in her parents garage in 2010 has grown and grown to the huge online store that is today.  |  The Strategy Hour Podcast  | Boss Project

In our conversation Jane breaks down the milestones, learning curves, mistake, strategies and almost every important step in the process, so get ready to take some notes! This episode is a great insight into the turning points that any business faces and how to ride them out to success. Jane admits that some of the strategy she now espouses she has only seen in hindsight, quite an achievement for a business that now has 150 staff members and started with two racks of clothing less than nine years ago! Now, let’s get into the show.

Quitting a Full Time Job and Starting the Company

Jane really hated the job that she had in finance and in September 2010 she finally quit it! She had grown up academic and focused on school but had been getting excited by the idea of starting her own business, so when her friend came to her with an idea she jumped in. She does admit she had a bit of a romantic notion of what a business would be and was quite naive about the nuts and bolts. It just goes to show how capable Jane and her partner were that after only two months of being up and running they managed to have a functioning physical store that was making money! One of the things that made this possible was the low start up costs and their product just started to sell like crazy, it was an immediate cash cow! She even admits that going into this endeavor she did not know much about fashion or the industry, one of the most important lessons she learned early on was about consignment which definitely helped get the shop ahead. Jane believes as entrepreneurs our main skill is actually problem solving, the ability to overcome adversity and challenges is way more important than planning or anything else. We hope you are taking notes people!

Buying Out the Business and Going Online

After some seriously good growth for a couple of years, things started to plateau a little bit for Showpo and her partner at the time decided it was time to leave the business. Jane felt scared and excited to go it alone and the responsibility was a great motivation while the thought of shouldering any failure alone was quite daunting. She basically just started doing a million things at once after buying out her partner, which she does not necessarily recommend but somehow it worked out for her. Within a month her sales doubled and continued to grow until within about 5 months she had grown from 5k to 140k of monthly revenue! One of the tactics she used during this time was Google Ads and the idea of answering only to herself actually seemed to really suit her. Around this time she made the leap to start pumping more money into her biz and luckily for Jane, this paid off. The bigger the risks that she took, getting an office, hiring a general manager, ultimately worked in her favor and though it was all quite scary she smiles about it now!

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The bigger the risks I took ultimately worked in my favor, though it was quite scary at the time!
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Social Media Strategy and Using it to Increase Sales

Jane tells us that Facebook was the first platform that she used to get ahead. She actually knew her way around Facebook really well by 2010 after spending a bunch of time at her boring job browsing the platform! The first big thing she did using Facebook was to run a competition to become the next face of Showpo and this stunt helped grow their following from about 3k to 20k within a month! That was even more than it sounds like, in 2010. This boost came at no cost and gave the brand immediate credibility and more power, such a great example of using social media smartly!

Even though Facebook has changed so much in the last few years there are still ways that Jane thinks you can make it work for your biz, she believes using a paid strategy to jump start engagement is a good tactic and using other accounts like YouTube in conjunction with this can have a great effect. With the ever-evolving face of social media it is also wise to spread your eggs over a few baskets so you are not stranded if things change drastically. Jane actually believes that when the algorithms change it is great for small businesses as it levels the playing fields a bit.

Instagram has also played a vital role for Jane and Showpo and one of the reasons Jane values it so much is the instant feedback it gives you. You are constantly aware of exactly how your audience feels about your content. This can really guide you and how you create your posts. The other avenue is to work with IG influencers and high level collaborations. A pro-tip from our guest is to stick to your brand strengths, numbers and stats are not as meaningful as brand cohesion, the conversion depends on your alignment!

Highlights

  • Quitting a Full Time Job and Starting the Company. [0:05:05.4]

  • Sourcing Beautiful and Affordable Product. [0:13:34.8]

  • Buying Out the Business and Going Online. [0:16:29.3]

  • Social Media Strategy and Using it to Increase Sales. [0:22:30.4]

  • International Expansion, App Development and the Future. [0:35:55.2]

#TalkStrategyToMe [0:43:41.9]

  1. Don’t beat yourself up!

  2. Problem solve.

  3. Never over-invest.

  4. Learn from your mistakes.


Today’sGuest

307-headshot.jpg

Jane Lu

Showpo

Website | Instagram | Facebook

Jane Lu founded Showpo in 2010 from her parents’ garage. Jane previously worked in accounting and corporate finance, but after returning from a year abroad, was inspired to ditch the “cubicle life”, so she quit her job to start her own business. With much enthusiasm for entrepreneurship , she set off to start her first business, which failed spectacularly. However, Jane was undeterred and got right back on the horse, starting the online fashion brand, Showpo the following month. What started off with a laptop and two shelves of clothing is now an online global fashion empire, shipping to over 100 countries. Through being disruptive in the retail space and capitalising on the use of social media, Showpo now boasts a cult social following of over 3.3 million engaged followers collectively and has a team of over 90 across Sydney HQ and Distribution Center.

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A regular keynote speaker, for some of Australia’s biggest brands and having fronted stages for audiences internationally, Lu’s expertise is unparalleled, and her tone of voice, is real and relatable. A prominent figure in the Australian start up scene, Lu has been nominated for numerous awards, taking home taking the title of Cosmopolitan’s Entrepreneur of the Year in 2015 and Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia in 2016. Lu’s personal experiences led her to build her own entrepreneurial community, Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine, which she co-founded with serial entrepreneur, Gen George. Together they have grown an active community of over 85,000 members. Bringing women together to hear (and give) real, honest advice, to be inspired and to join forces - all over a good class of wine of course. With Lu at the helm, 8 years since it’s founding, Showpo owns its status as one of Australia’s fastest growing fashion e-commerce retailers. Recently awarded the highly coveted Australian Online Retailer of The Year Award and is on track to reach its goal of $100 million in revenue by 2020 with no external funding.

KeyTopics

  • Retail.

  • Turning Points.

  • Decision Making.

  • Clothing.

  • Online Store.

  • Risk Taking.

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