My name is Sam Hendren, founder and CEO of Tech Gone Wild. The time has come to wind down our operation as I prepare to enter Arizona State University this fall. Though this was an incredibly difficult decision to make, it was one that needed to be done.
Running and growing Tech Gone Wild has been an experience I would never trade for the world. Due to the extraordinary amount of questions and inquires I have received over the years about our operation, I’m taking this time to be as transparent as possible, from beginning to end.
If you have a current or outstanding order with Tech Gone Wild, we’re not leaving you hanging! We will continue to answer all phone calls for the next 45 days and respond to emails for the next six months. It is important to note you can no longer log into your customer account, to obtain a copy of your invoice, order history, or warranty information. Please contact us within the time stated above, 45 days for calls or six months for emails.
If you purchased a device with a longer manufacture warranty, our fine partners will continue to honor items purchased from Tech Gone Wild up to the expiration date of your product’s warranty.
I could write a book about my experiences starting and running Tech Gone Wild, so I’m going to try to keep it as brief as possible without leaving out any important information!
Tech Gone Wild was founded in 2011 – completely unintentionally.
I had a really strange fascination (that I have now learned to embrace) with shipping things. I loved the entire shipping process, from package pickup and tracking it online, all the way to final delivery. I thought it was amazing. So I quickly sold everything around my house on e-Bay just so I could ship it! Well, in about a week I had run out of things to sell, and thereby, ship. That’s when I combined my passion for electronics and started Tech Gone Wild.
It was early 2011 when I spent every penny of my $250 in my savings account to purchase 10 iPad cases, sold them all and continued repeating the process. Later that year in August, Tech Gone Wild, LLC was incorporated and we ended our first year with over $30,000 in revenue.
We only continued to grow from there – and at an incredible rate. Midway into 2012 we hired MadWire Media, a design firm to build, maintain, and handle our SEO and online marketing practices. In November of 2012, customer inquiries hit a level where it was unmanageable alone. We then hired a local customer support center to field our customer inquiries.
This was when sales started to decline. To speak with us, you had to call us between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM PST. You had to go through a guided menu. When you finally spoke to someone, they were unhelpful. They did not have direct access to our systems in order to properly support the customer.
January of 2013, we terminated our contract with this local support center and partnered with Tele-Direct, a custom tailored support center located in Sacramento, California. I visited them and did the initial training with their team and we built a custom integration that allowed them to securely access our system and properly assist our customers.
We launched our new customer promise: “Talk to a live person within 10 seconds, receive an email response within 12 hours.”
Within two months’ time sales were climbing again, and at an even more impressive rate. In May of 2013 we partnered with a warehouse in Oregon. All our orders and returns were processed through them to ensure order accuracy and efficiency.
2013 posed as our greatest year of growth with over 300% vs. our previous year, ending the year with over $310,000 in revenue. However, with growth came costs. We were now operating with over $4,000 in monthly operational overhead (add that to the stress of studying for a math test).
In 2014 we reevaluated our agreement with FedEx to cut our shipping costs and partnered with OnTrac, a regional delivery carrier that served the western region. That move allowed us to deliver 99% of our western region orders within 1-2 days. Though we never advertised this, it allowed us to surprise and delight our customers.
We ended 2014 showing yet another impressive year of growth. In 2015 I endured my first acquisition offer and have gone further into detail below.
Customer accounts: 4,023
Customer orders: 26,911
Minutes we spent on the phone serving you (within 10 seconds of course): 7,184
e-mails replied to: 22,746
Partnered companies: 43
In February of 2015 I received interest regarding an acquisition from one of the world’s largest e-commerce companies, though, due to my age at the time (seventeen) they would not discuss any details. The day after I turned 18, I had an unbelievably early flight to visit their HQ in Las Vegas. They provided me an offer that was incredibly lucrative, with some strings attached: a 30-year non-competitive agreement.
Unfortunately, due to our current agreement I can’t say the name of the company, but let’s just say they do about everything…. literally everything. After a few visits back and forth I had to turn down the offer. A few months went by and in June they contacted me once again, wanted to revise their previous offer. They changed the non-competitive agreement to 15-years.
After more trips back and forth, I signed the letter of intent to sell the company. I had thirty days to back out before it was finalized and press releases were published.
During those thirty days I thought about it constantly. They had already taken possession of our domain and the wheels were in motion. But I continued to think about it.
I realize the thought of me graduating college as a multi-millionaire would be nothing short of amazing and a huge accomplishment. I have big dreams and huge goals, dreams and goals that would not be achievable with a 15-year non-compete agreement holding me down. That’s why on October 4th, 3 days before everything was set in stone, I broke the agreement. Whether or not I made the correct decision, well, I guess only time will tell.
That’s my story. It sure has been quite a WILD time, and as sad as it is to officially wrap it up, I’m incredibly excited for the future and I can promise you that I will always be doing something entrepreneurial. If you wish to follow me along, go ahead and read about my current endeavors.
Thanks for your support through all the years and once again, I look forward to having the opportunity to serve you again!
Tech Gone Wild, LLC