Growing a B2B Subscription eCommerce business to 7-figures in 1 year – Jonathan from Penji (episode 178)

In this episode we’re taking a dive into a different type of subscription eCommerce business, it’s a bit like SaaS (software as a service), and it’s selling a service rather than a physical product.

But there is a subscription, and it is bought online… so it counts as eCommerce!

Our special guest is … Johnathan Grzybowski of Penji is an online graphic design service via which you can get unlimited graphic design projects done for a flat monthly fee. The business launched in Oct 2017 and is already a 7-figure business.


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penji podcast
About the business

  • SaaS Subscription business
  • In the USA, selling worldwide

Penji’s Origin Story

Penji started off as a high-end agency that worked with all sorts of clients, from Fortune 100 companies to small businesses. They started off with a very poor customer service component, which led them to reform into Penji with better customer service based on repetitive feedback. Johnathan and his team of 35 provide “DAS,” or Design As a Service, which provides clients the convenience of completing all requests online without having to jump through hoops to communicate, which has completely transformed the customer service experience. Penji is composed of about 20 project managers and designers with the rest focusing their efforts on customer service, sales, and marketing. Some of their team is located overseas, and and their hiring process is very selective.

The Ultimate Dependability

Johnathan and his team stake a pretty big claim when they say they offer unlimited design, which leads customers to ask questions. Is it too good to be true? Penji believes in transparency and exists to make it easier for businesses to find quality graphic design and trust their providers. In order to achieve this trust, Penji offers a flat rate with no hidden fees, human customer support, 48-hour turnaround for most projects, 100% ownership of all source files, and a team of professional designers cherry-picked from a competitive application pool.

Listen to learn the ultimate business model for establishing trust.

Hitting Seven Figures in a Year

Although Penji is experiencing great success now, the team started off their journey with lots of mistakes. However, they did not wait for everything to come together before going out and establishing potential future clients, which allowed them to launch with 40% of the survey pool that they reached out to as their customers. The Penji team did not wait for the Penji service. They sat down with potential future clients to prep them for the launch and asked for feedback of their concept through surveys. They went above and beyond to market themselves pre-launch through podcasts, collaboration, ads, community involvement, and offered their service at a discount in order to get in front of their audience. And of course, their SEO is on point.

Local Marketing for a Global Business

Penji finds the most success within their local New Jersey bubble because of the connections they have to their community and the verification of trust they automatically have with local clients. Their efforts to market locally have inspired the community to give them free press over social media. In fact, it has led to their global outreach without Penji even having to spend their efforts in marketing abroad. They believe in word-of-mouth over most other marketing techniques, which has ultimately led to their success and continued growth.

Listen to learn about the effectiveness of marketing locally.

Becoming Scalable

Penji hit the ground running with major mistakes holding them back, but the nice thing about going all in is that you are able to learn very quickly and fix those mistakes. One of Penji’s biggest mistakes was making themselves unscalable by doing everything they could think of rather than focusing on efficiency. They did a poor job at tracking all their marketing efforts, which made it difficult to analyze effectiveness of elements such as ad targeting and SEO. Though Penji still has its flaws, the team is cognizant of them all and actively works to improve them. The overall awareness and ability to track what they are doing has allowed Penji to see continued growth and will enable them to make more accurate projections.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

  • Every single book, you’re gonna need them all

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • SEO is far from dead.
  • Use Intercom or your preferred chat service to stay on top of customer support and overall communication.

You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…

Tool Top Tip

  • Trello is a great collaboration tool for organizing and prioritizing projects.
  • Headspace is a helpful tool for staying positive and focused.

Growth Top Tip

  • Stay persistent regardless of failure and prepare a clear strategy towards growth.

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