Earlier this week, the Internet practically exploded when it learned of a new service that helps you piss off your enemies in a fun, anonymous, and ostensibly harmless way. For just $9.99 AUD (about $8 US dollars) you can ruin someone’s day by sending them an envelope full of their least favorite craft item— glitter. Seriously, the stuff gets everywhere.
‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter‘ went viral almost immediately after going live on Tuesday. It was discovered by Product Hunt founder Ryan Hoover, who quickly declared it, “The ultimate troll product.”
That’s when the viral hit turned into a logistical nightmare for 22-year-old founder and serial entrepreneur, Mathew Carpenter.
“Hi guys, I’m the founder of this website,” Carpenter wrote on Product Hunt. “Please stop buying this horrible glitter product — I’m sick of dealing with it. Sincerely, Mat.”
In fact, after amassing a million page views in just 24 hours, Carpenter decided that the site was too much for him to handle:
ShipYourEnemiesGlitter with 1m visits, 270k social shares, $xx,xxx in sales, tonnes of people wanting to order. 24 hours old. For sale.
— Mathew Carpenter (@matcarpenter) January 14, 2015
Now boasting $20,000+ in sales and 2.5 million page views in just 4 days, Ship Your Enemies Glitter is up for public auction on the startup marketplace Flippa.
While the future of Ship Your Enemies Glitter remains unknown, there are a few important lessons we can take away from this startup Cinderella story.
1. Develop the infrastructure to support your business— before you launch.
Sure, Carpenter probably could not have anticipated such rapid success. But before you launch your own startup, it’s important that you have the organizational processes in place to fulfill your orders and provide great customer service.
That doesn’t mean hiring a ton of employees or dumping millions of dollars into resources. On the contrary, it’s best to keep it lean in the beginning and bake customer feedback into your product development— perhaps by launching an MVP or beta release to a small volume of customers.
2. Don’t be afraid of failure.
Anonymously shipping your enemies an envelope full of glitter? C’mon —It’s a funny, irreverent, and downright genius idea. And most of us would have left it at the bar along with our tip.
It takes a special kind of person—a certain attitude— to stumble upon a creative idea like this and actually do it.
Of course it’s important to weigh your options, and set your business up for success— but don’t let the fear of failure stop you from trying.
At some point you have to put yourself out there, and the lean startup model gives you the opportunity to explore a business and quickly determine whether or not it’s viable.
Dropbox founder, Drew Houston, put it best, “Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”
3. Get “in” with the popular crowd.
Would Ship Your Enemies Glitter have been a success if it hadn’t impressed Ryan Hoover? Maybe. But it would have taken a lot more time and resources (read: money) to reach that level of virality.
Hoover is influential among niche Internet communities, such as Reddit, and his nod of approval signaled to these users that, basically, this product was cool.
Getting your product into the right hands is an essential tactic of growth hacking. And as more startups adopt the lean business model, traditional marketing procedures are becoming too slow and expensive to support the rapid iteration necessary for success.
Want to learn more about launching a startup?