e-Commerce Success Story: Brian Lim of iHeartRaves

Welcome! Today, I am excited to share another brilliant e-commerce success story with you. We had the honor of speaking with Brian Lim, the founder of iHeartRaves.

iHeartRaves is a wildly successful e-commerce brand specializing in fashion worn by festival and concert-goers around the world. They currently haul in around $30M per year!

There are a few things that I love about this brand. Something that we harp on continually is the need to focus in on a niche with your e-commerce store. iHeartRaves does this masterfully.

If you don’t go to festivals and electronic concerts yourself, you probably know at least one person who does. These people are PASSIONATE about hearing their favorite artists, connecting with other fest-goers, and, of course, dressing up for each event!

As I’ve mentioned elsewhere on the blog, enthusiastic hobbyists make great customers. They are always looking to stand out among their peers, to be a leader within their groups, and be the first one to identify the latest trend. As a result, if you can build a brand that is positioned as an expert that furnishes that hobby, you will create your own e-commerce success story!

Of course, this is just one reason that iHearRaves has been able to capture such a dominant slice of this market. For the rest of the story, let’s turn to the words of the founder. 

Brian was a great interview! His brand has been featured in the Inc. 5000 for six years in a row and scored deals through Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban and Daymond John. Here, without further ado, is Brian’s story in his own words.

I started out with $100 selling merchandise out of the trunk of my car. It was very difficult to start off with no resources and no prior experience growing an eCommerce business. I relied on simply providing value to my target audience. We first started by retailing existing products and by providing a better customer experience than our competitors. We were then able to save enough money to create our own product that was 100% focused on our target audience. We also were able to market through Facebook at a time when organic social was free and the reach was great. This is a strategy that always works and is very true with TikTok today. Luckily, we were profitable in the first few weeks because there was a high demand for the product and very low overhead costs. If I had to do it all over again with my current level of experience, I would start off with a much higher amount of money.

Before I went full time with my companies, I was working as a Business Technology Analyst for Deloitte Consulting for a couple of years. Figuring out the best time to jump into the boat with both feet and knowing you won’t fall short or drown is one of the toughest decisions for entrepreneurs. I asked myself this question all the time and spoke about this topic with mentors and business folks that I respected. Ultimately, I continued working my day job and ran my side business during the nights and weekends until the business made enough revenue and profit to replace my day job. At that point, it was a no-brainer that I could increase revenue greatly if I could dedicate an additional 40 hours (80 hours total) and be solely focused on the business.

One of the best moves I made early on was to hire a full-time graphic and web designer which allowed me to offload tasks to focus on growing the business and eventually hire more team members. Adapting to our customer’s demands is critical, especially in the early stages as we had to find a way to stand out from the competition. Being small and nimble is a competitive advantage we could use during our start-up days. Applying for a line of credit from the bank at a time when we didn’t need it was very helpful down the road when we needed extra cash.

Very inspiring message! Please let us know in the comments what you thought of this e-commerce success story, as well as whether you have any follow up questions. 

Thank you Brian, for being on the blog! 

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