Startup Advice

Nubody co-founder Nicole Monteforte on what running a subscription box startup is really like

Nicole Monteforte /

We live in a world of subscription everything. Subscription boxes are the most convenient way to get a tonne of your favourite things delivered to your door without any hassle.

Over the last three years, brands such as Birchbox, Bellabox and Lust Have It are just some of the companies reaping the rewards of a 3000% increase in website visits to subscription box sites. I started my own health and wellness subscription box called NUBODY in 2016 and haven’t looked back since.

But here are the four facts about running a subscription box business.

1. The hustle is real

My living room had turned into a warehouse full of boxes and product that needed to go in it. The walls had all been covered with white board material and my fruit bowl was full of coloured white board markers.

We were running so fast we could barely keep up with ourselves. With a small team of only three people, running a marathon at a sprinters’ pace is the only option that you have if you want it to work. There is no time to stop and breathe, as you have to tackle every challenge as it appears, because you don’t know what the challenges are until you get going. Thank goodness my fitness regime was fairly solid and I had the stamina to keep going, as the “keep going” mentally is what has to happen no matter what. No time to dwell, or over think, you just have to act on feedback, instinct and HUSTLE.

2. Flexibility is a must, and an advantage

It’s easy to get caught up in the vibe of a startup and lose sight of the fact that it’s not always a bed of roses to start with. In fact more often than not, it is far from.

Consumers are now a very different audience to what they were even a few years ago. They are knowledgeable and switched on. They have researched and researched and come to you with a wealth of information and questions that you don’t often expect. They come with expectations and needs, and unless you meet those expectations and needs you can basically kiss them goodbye as a subscriber.

Obstacles are inevitable and necessary. It’s how flexible you are in handling those obstacles that makes the difference between success or struggle. Listen, hear, review and pivot often.

3. There are hidden costs

The obvious costs of packaging, postage, products and marketing are just the beginning. Be prepared for hidden costs for software (for example, how often you bill your customers), marketing costs such as photography, or the costs of administration management for all of your customer inquiries.

4. It takes a lifetime to build trust

It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and only seconds to destroy it. This is incredibly important to consider in starting a subscription box service. A clear communication strategy here is key; you need to establish education, relatability, proof, connection and energy in order to build trust with your audience. We absolutely love the value of social media for this — it opens up the channels of communication in a light, engaging way.

Subscription boxes are a fantastic business model, but they don’t succeed overnight. If you’re thinking of starting your own, start building trust today while you build your product.

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Nicole Monteforte

Nicole Monteforte is the co-founder of NUBODY, a weightloss and wellness subscription box service delivering smoothie boosters, meal and exercise plans each month.

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