We have amazing customers who sell great products, and we love to tell their stories about their business and how they use ShipStation. Today’s story comes from Likwid Concepts.
Salvatore DePaola, CEO
After just completing painting my whole house, I feel like I totally missed out not having one of these; where did the concept originate for you? (Perhaps while painting yourself?
That’s how I’ve felt my entire painting career! I’ve been painting since I’m about 16.
Quick funny story – The first time I ever painted was with my partner Johnny Boy. He needed help on a job so I gave him a hand even though I knew noting about painting. I’ll never forget it. He took me to the house, said paint this, this and this and that he’ll be right back. That was at about 9 am. I didn’t see him until at least 7 pm that night. And that was before cell phones!!!
I’ll tell you something though – it worked. I knew how to paint by the end of the day and continued to paint on and off for him. I probably came up with the idea a few years later. I just figured someone would come out with it, and wondered why it was never invented yet. I spoke to painters and they all felt the same. Though, it wasn’t until I started my own painting business, right after I became a NYC firefighter in 2005, that I truly saw that this product was a NEED for painters and not a WANT. Still thinking someone would invent it, but started toying with the idea of doing it myself.
It wasn’t until I got really fed up with always buying new brushes for my business, and wasting so much time washing them, that I finally decided to start doing some research on how to patent and create my own product. I teamed up with Johnny Boy in 2011 to start working on it, then we added Anthony a short time later, and also added another key component, my other friend Anthony Caminiti (our web designer/online guru) and the rest is history!
What has it been like since going on Shark Tank? Have there been any particular struggles you’ve had to overcome?
I couldn’t be happier with the decision to go on Shark Tank. We were a little hesitant at first because we didn’t want to give up any more of our company. But then we thought about how fast we can reach our goal if we did a deal with a Shark, specifically – Lori Greiner.
She and her husband Dan, have been great, not only as mentors, but as well as getting us into all the major hardware retailers. We will be in Home Depot and Sherwin Williams in January. Lowe’s soon to follow. We are also about to do a huge trade show with Ace Hardware and have been filling out paperwork for True Value, Do-it-Best and every major paint distributor in the US. Not to mention all the countries we are in overseas and the constant phone calls/emails that we get every single day.
With all this good, that doesn’t mean there weren’t struggles. We still have financial issues because we are so new and everything is happening so quickly, though we have been managing it pretty well. We are also so overwhelmed with paperwork from the big retailers. It has been a nightmare. Some nights I just want to give up, but never do because my eye is always on the prize.
There have been many other issues as well. Being a new company, everything is a learning process. We’ve had many growing pains over the last few years. That’s what happens when you get yourself into a new industry that you know nothing about. But its been worth every headache. We have been great at learning and adapting. We still have so much to learn and maybe in about ten years we’ll know the business inside out. LOL.
It definitely is huge to have someone like Lori Greiner behind you. We can always go to her for advice and it makes the learning process so much easier. We also speak with her other Entrepreneurs. We all help each other through whatever we can. Paperwork, sales reps, buyers, and any other tips or ideas to help improve each others business. It’s been a really exciting ride.
How has ShipStation helped you with your business?
Hahaha! You guys are going to love this story!
I always did all the shipping from my apartment. We got online orders but nothing too crazy. On certain weeks, like when we were in a magazine, or when we were on the DIY Network, we would get backed up and I would have my sister help (She’s now our office manager and our ShipStation Guru).
When we knew we were going to air on Shark Tank, we knew we were going to get swamped with orders. We weren’t sure how to handle it and kinda got a late start on figuring this out. We had originally planned to go with a dropshipping company. After getting pricing and scouting some places out, we decided against this. We figured we were better off figuring out the shipping part ourselves. We had no idea what we were in for.
We got an air date a little earlier than expected. We expected May and got the first week of April. We definitely weren’t ready yet. We were scrambling to figure everything out. We first tried just doing it with PayPal. I figured they had something in place to make it easy to ship a large amount of orders. Well, after a week, we ditched that idea. Then we went to UPS and the post office. It seemed like stamps.com was the better option so we went with them. We started to learn their system. It was much better than PayPal but not quite what we needed.
Then before we knew it, our airing date came. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best. That night we literally had thousands of orders. They were coming in quick. The whole night we averaged about 1-2 orders per minute. We celebrated, but not too hard because we knew we had work to do the next day.
Saturday morning comes and we all head to the office. We had a couple thousand orders waiting for us and more coming in. We got to the computers and started hacking away. After a couple hours, we knew we were in over our heads. We actually started to panic a little. We were on the phone with Stamps and PayPal trying to figure out an easy way to do this. It looked as if we were doomed and would have hundreds, or thousands, of angry customers. Not how I wanted to run my business.
While everyone was scrambling, I stepped back and thought about it. What could I do to solve this problem. Then it came to me! I belonged to a business forum and was a very reputable member. They’ve helped me immensely over the years, and I knew they wouldn’t fail me now. I knew someone would have an answer for me. So I created a post explaining my problem.
Almost immediately, I had a bunch of people helping me. Someone that I spoke with all the time asked me if I heard of ShipStation. She explained it to me really quickly and I started looking into it. From checking out the website I knew that it was everything I wanted and what I had imagined in my head that a good shipping system would look like. All of a sudden I get a phone call from my friend Billy. He happens to know one of the owners of ShipStation and put me in direct contact with him. We spoke for a little bit, and had my sister right there by my side so we could figure it out together. We integrated everything into the system by Monday, if my memory serves me correct, and just like that, we were in business!!!
We both couldn’t believe how easy it was to learn and how easy it was to ship. Basically, ShipStation saved the day! The morale in the office shot right back up to pre-show and I still can’t believe how easy it was and how great you guys have been. It’s been smooth sailing ever since. No angry customers!!!
What’s your favorite ShipStation feature?
My Office Manager/sister will have to answer this one: My favorite ShipStation feature is that I basically have to do nothing but hit print!! I love that the weight, mail class, etc is all pre-programmed and set-up for me. Our postal carrier really loves that there’s a manifest list! It is so easy and simple to use that I can now handle hundreds of orders with no sweat! Another great feature is how all of our customers’ information is saved. There are times I have to re-send an order and all I have to do is start typing the name and all their information appears! Working at Sal’s apartment using PayPal compared to using ShipStation? ShipStation is like a dream come true. So very happy with ShipStation; I wish we knew about it a year ago! But hey, better late than never! Thank you ShipStation!
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