Ditch the rat race
Well it has been quite the ride since Kamari Labs first opened it’s doors in mid 2013. Since then we have helped over 200 companies go live on the Shopify platform and netted in excess of $250k. Now most of you are probably thinking that’s not a lot of money (and it’s not), but keep in mind when I started the company it was just me.
Getting the lions share
As a software developer I have worked for companies ranging from the Fortune 1000 to Fortune 100 size. However with each company I worked for regardless of size, I could not break out of the salary ceiling of $150k per year. It just wasn’t heard of at the time. I had two choices if I wanted to break through this financial barrier and achieve financial freedom. I could either assume a more management based role in one of the companies I worked for or I could start my own.
I chose the latter and to my surprise getting a steady stream of work in 2013 was incredibly easy.
I quickly created a website, named my company Kamari Labs, and set out onto various partner programs to expand my client base.
I already had some previous freelance clients to get me started but remember the whole reason for ditching the day job was to exceed the salary ceiling which
seemed to be the end of the road or “as good as it gets” in my trade. It was not long before I realized Shopify was a great platform with just the right amount of growth to sustain my vision and take it to the next level.
I had to find work quick, and not just work I needed quality clients. Early on I was fortunate enough to acquire some fairly good sized clients and establish long term relationships with them. This yielded me $25k in just 5 weeks (Awesome, but not great). At $5k per week I was already making north of $250k! Whoo hoo.
Today the majority of work we do is still for Shopify merchants mostly. We have expanded into other communities but I must say Shopify keeps us pretty busy.
Scaling the model
I quickly saw the potential to earn a decent living running a web design company. Soon after, I had encountered my first real world problem. This thing doesn’t scale.
While I was making a very reasonable income for my time and efforts there was only one Tim Matheson. This means at capacity 3-4 projects was my limit and beyond that it would consume me entirely and I would be working 14+ hour days (maybe more).
This didn’t sit well with me because I was just barely exceeding my previous salaries as a developer. So what’s the problem? Well keep in mind when I was working for companies I had a much more stable environment and a lot less stress. If I was not going to earn more sailing on my own, then what was the point.
Delegating work to quality people
I then decided to reach out to some of my friends I had made over the years of working for various startups. I contacted a friend of mine Mark and asked if he would like to help me out with some of the projects. Mark himself had dropped out of the rat race and was working as a freelancer so the fit was perfect. We had already worked together and knew what to expect from each other.
Things started off great with a 50/50 revenue split Mark and I were burning up the ethernet with push after push of quality commits.
Now with the power of two we could increase our bandwidth and an extra set of hands meant I could refocus efforts on scaling the business even further.
Rinse and repeat
I quickly hired a designer named Ava for our front end projects and she turned out to be a great employee. She still works for us today on various projects as a freelance designer and we couldn’t be happier to have her on board (Thanks Ava).
Now with a team of 3 we set sail on the ocean of projects in the queue and we were working in concert with each other. At this point revenue soared into the $550k annual range. Not bad for a kid with a laptop in a garage in Southern California. After paying all employees and operational costs the company was actually making money.
We also have several SASS based products on the Shopify platform which helped guide our flagship to where it is today, but a good chunk of our revenue came from client contracts.
We are now expanding operations to Elance and BigCommerce to support the companies growth and expand operations even further. We hope to have 10 employees by end of the final quarter of 2015. We are hiring if you are an engineer in the Newport Beach, CA area feel free to contact us with your resume.
My advice to anyone starting a web design firm would be to not try and do everything yourself. Hire some great people who are great at what they do and delegate work to them. Without making this change I would have never been able to scale Kamari Labs to the level it has grown to today.