Jeremy Ong, Founder at HUSTLR

“If you want to make something happen, hustle hard and make it happen.”

Interview with Jeremy Ong, Founder at HUSTLR – a blog about personal finance, side hustles and making money online.

What is your company and what is its main goal?

My company is better known as Vape Club. The main goal and mission for this company was to provide access to local e-liquids for vapers all around the world. We want to be the biggest online retailer for vaping that stocks brands from all around the world. So far, we’ve shipped to 115 countries all around the world so I’d say we’ve done a pretty good job at this.

When did you start your business and why? 

I initially started off my company with paid advertising, until we got the ban hammer by Facebook and Google! I was a new entrepreneur and I had no idea vaping wasn’t allowed on Facebook (this was in 2015 when they just implemented the guidelines for vaping products).

I could see this as a problem, but I saw this as an opportunity, because nobody else in the industry can advertise their products as well. We went full on organic. We started producing YouTube videos on our channel, we blogged a lot in our space and we did a ton of blogger outreach.

Currently, our business is mostly powered by existing customers who’ve discovered us through organic SERPs and the content we produce. Organic growth is a slow and steady wins the race game, it took us about a year before we actually saw great results with it. In the next 12 months, we will continue to grow our user base and produce more authoritative content.

What makes you different from your competition?

We definitely have the upper edge when it comes to SEO, as we’ve been consistently ranked in the top 3 for the major vape-related keywords. We also carry local Malaysian e-liquids which isn’t readily available elsewhere in the world, and we offer a risk-free money back guarantee shipping policy to give new customers peace of mind.

On top of that, we also produce our own products, which we’ve developed into 2 in-house brands. By vertically expanding in our supply chain, we’re able to command better margins for these products, especially for wholesale orders.

Thanks to our in-bound traffic and product quality, we’ve been able to grow these 2 brands tremendously; with wholesale orders being sent out to more than 10 countries, and securing nation-wide distributors in 4 major countries.

What marketing channels do you use for your growth?

With our current rank on SERPs, we definitely see a glass ceiling in terms of how much we can grow from SEO alone, and since paid advertising is out of the question, we’ve been exploring influencer marketing to draw in new audiences to our businesses. We’ve been sending out our products to YouTubers for review videos, but to be frank we’re not seeing significant results from this marketing channel.

We’ve also implemented some referral programs on our site to spur word-of-mouth marketing, where we offer an incentive to our existing customers to get their friends or family to try out our site. Again, the results from this channel isn’t quite what we expected, as we noticed that a good portion of referrals are coming from customers who are trying to game our referral program for free rewards.

What are you expected to grow in terms of revenue in the next 12 months

We’ve got a huge project in the works that will dominate our roadmap for the next year. As the vaping industry matures, there has been a huge shift towards pod devices; smaller devices that consumes less vape liquid with higher nicotine concentration.

These devices are usually sold in Starter Kits, where you get a device and the disposable pods, which contains the flavoured vape liquid. JUUL has been the first to market with this type of product and has seen incredible results worldwide.

We’ve recently launched our own take on that by partnering up with other major e-liquids brands to offer the first pod system with interchangeable flavours. Instead of locking down our customers’ flavour options to 1 specific brand like JUUL, our device is compatible with flavours of more than 6 brands, giving our customers a much wider selection of flavours. The product has been received very well so far, and we see this as our key revenue driver in the next 12 months.

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