Charles Camisasca founded The Ecommerce Boardroom to help aspiring entrepreneurs get their online business off the ground and to help existing businesses scale their operations using modern software or tools like SEO. Clients who wish to work with the Boardroom don’t need any previous experience to achieve their business goals with the company.
Before founding The Ecommerce Boardroom, Charles Camisasca worked for five years as a Management Consultant. While working in that role, he designed software “for corporate legal departments at several Fortune 500 companies.” However, despite his high-powered white-collar job, he could not avoid feeling the tug of entrepreneurship in his heart.
So, to make his dream of starting his own business come true, Charles Camisasca devoted hundreds of hours on nights and weekends to build his prospective company. His efforts led him to start three successful e-commerce brands, which helped give him the necessary tools and habits he needed to grow his success.
In early 2020, Charles Camisasca finally took the leap of faith and quit his full-time consulting job to become a full-fledged entrepreneur. With a keen understanding of e-commerce as a promising opportunity for other aspiring entrepreneurs, Charles founded The Ecommerce Boardroom. The company combines his interests, skills, and expertise in “eCommerce, Consulting, and Software Design.”
At the company, Charles Camisasca wants to help people realize that e-commerce is a game-changing opportunity, which they should really take advantage of.
Jerome Knyszewski: What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to not stress if you don’t have all the skills that you need to build a great company. Online dating is great but finding a business partner online is even better! Just be sure you are clear about setting boundaries and coming to terms before partnering with a stranger.
Jerome Knyszewski: Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Charles Camisasca: Create a routine that includes time for mental health. I’ve found that I need to carve out 3 specific times each day to do this.
First, for me, the early mornings are critical times of meditation, reading, and prayer. Second, (this one is the hardest for me) I’ve forced myself to get into the habit of taking a lunch break. And third, I take 15–30 minutes at the end of the day to reflect and journal.
I can’t stress enough how important these have been!
Jerome Knyszewski: None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Charles Camisasca: I am extraordinarily grateful for my father, who always encouraged me to start a business and inspired me with his own work ethic.
Additionally, my former boss at my consulting firm, William, was instrumental to my professional development. William is a master salesman and always pushed me to take on more responsibility than I thought I could handle.
His favorite exercise was to do what he called “theoretical physics”. This was a scoping exercise where we tried to figure out how in the heck we were going to come up with the resources to complete a project with a tight deadline.
Whenever I heard William say, in his thick British accent, “Hello Charlie. It’s time for some theoretical physics,” I knew I was in for a busy week. And a week full of learning!
Jerome Knyszewski: Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
Charles Camisasca: The pandemic definitely disrupted the way in which eCommerce store owners run their business. Here are a few things that we’ve had to do:
- Adjust our inventory to meet market demand. With Yugenite, we had to completely overhaul our product line. Travel, Apparel, Jewelry, and Electronics sales are all down. Products that target an “at home” audience are doing quite well.
- Monitor geographic realities for ad targeting. Something we’ve had to do is to pay close attention to which states and cities are reopening or shutting down again to curb a resurgence in the virus. This has helped significantly boost efficiency of our ad campaigns.
- Transition from B2B to B2C. One of our primary customer segments, Catering Companies, suddenly stopped operating when the pandemic hit (unsurprising since most events were canceled!). We pivoted to a B2C model successfully. I am sure that other eCommerce companies have had to do the same thing in their niche.
- Focus on Customer Retention: If your budget is tightened because of the pandemic, start focusing on low-cost customer retention methods like Email Marketing. Another gem we implemented: We started offering discounted subscription-based deliveries (think Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save”) for some of our disposable products. Customers love the savings and we love the predictable recurring revenue!
- Be a human: I know, groundbreaking. Just be open and honest about the way that the pandemic is affecting your business, commiserate with your customers, and try to encourage people.
Jerome Knyszewski: Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
Charles Camisasca: Try to see the changing landscape as an opportunity instead of a threat. Worried about the threat of Amazon? Well, Amazon is made up of over 2 million 3rd party sellers. Instead of worrying, why not instead list your products on Amazon and capitalize on their huge but growing market share in eCommerce?
If you are an exclusively brick and mortar retailer, it may be time to introduce an online component to your business. At The eCommerce Boardroom, we love helping folks expand their reach in this way.
My point is that yes, there are significant challenges associated with the rapid pace of change in eCommerce. But if you can stay calm and adapt your business, you can thrive amidst the chaos.
Jerome Knyszewski: What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Charles Camisasca: Many newcomers to eCommerce, unfortunately, start in the middle of the business launch process instead of at the beginning.
What do I mean by that? Well, most people starting an eCommerce business get going by doing a few Google searches. It doesn’t take long before they land on the website of some Internet Marketing “Guru”. These Gurus make a killing by selling courses that teach a very narrow model, like “Private Labeling with Fulfillment by Amazon” or “Print-on-Demand Drop Shipping with Shopify”. They do this because the content is fairly easy to teach when presented in this way. But it doesn’t give the full picture.
Some will be successful after spending $2k on one of these courses. But, as the Guru’s fine print will tell you, most will fail. Why is that? Well, the above examples (Amazon FBA and Drop Shipping with Shopify) are really just fulfillment models. But why on earth would you choose a fulfillment model before you even know what product you’re going to sell?
We teach a different launch process, one that’s logical and linear. We harp on answering what we call “The 5 Fundamental Questions of eCommerce”, in order:
- What product should I sell?
- How will I produce (or source) my product?
- How will I deliver it to my customers (now choose a fulfillment model)?
- Who is my ideal customer, anyways?
- How do I convince them to become a repeat buyer and tell their friends about me?
I apologize for the soapbox, but I get fired up about this stuff. The Gurus start you off on Question 3 because they have an agenda, one that involves selling as many courses as possible. I think (I hope) that when it’s laid out in this way, it becomes clear that their approach doesn’t make sense.
Jerome Knyszewski: In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
Charles Camisasca: I think folks tend to underestimate the importance of differentiation.
It can really make all the difference. Just look at Sarah Kauss, the founder of S’well. If you don’t know, S’well is a brand selling stainless steel water bottles that keep drinks hot or cold for a long time (12–24 hours). They did well over $100M in sales in 2017. But did Sarah invent stainless steel water bottles? Hardly! She is just a master at differentiating her brand, in two key ways. 1) She aligned her products with a social cause (the clean water crisis), and 2) She made her water bottles just plain cool, by focusing on creating unique and fashionable designs.
S’well is a great case study in differentiation that all eCommerce entrepreneurs can learn from!
Jerome Knyszewski: One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
Charles Camisasca: Brands should be sure to respond to negative reviews quickly, publicly, and compassionately.
You don’t want a website visitor to read a negative review in isolation. You always want them to have a chance to see your response. So, replying quickly is crucial.
You want to ensure that your reply is visible directly beneath the negative review. Your response should stand out and it should be obvious that it comes from your brand. It must be public so that folks have a chance to read it.
Finally, respond compassionately. Even if you’re feeling attacked, make sure your response is kind, understanding, and respectful. If what their criticism is truly unfair, you can usually get them to remove their review by asking gently.
Jerome Knyszewski: You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Charles Camisasca: As someone who has struggled with depression in the past, I would love to start a mental health “movement”. One thing that has helped me tremendously with mental health is entrepreneurship. I would love to create an organization that teaches “mental health through entrepreneurship” as a means for curbing anxiety and depression. In fact, if The eCommerce Boardroom achieves even modest financial success, we intend very seriously to form a team that focuses on this initiative!
Jerome Knyszewski: How can our readers further follow you online?
Charles Camisasca: The best way is to sign up for our newsletter on the eComm Boardroom site.There, we provide helpful eCommerce tips and resources and readers will have the exclusive chance to beta test our software for free once it is released!
And finally, we’d love to answer any questions your readers might have! Please feel free to reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to everyone, sincerely, for reading!
Jerome Knyszewski: This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!