How HiSmile scaled from $10 million in revenue to eyeing off $100 million by setting infinite goals
Wednesday, March 28, 2018/
When Keeping up with the Kardashians star Kylie Jenner wiped billions of Snapchat’s share price earlier this year with a single tweet, the co-founders of teeth whitening business HiSmile were thrilled at the opportunity she has presented them.
HiSmile founders Nik Mirkovic and Alex Tomic have seen the impact of Jenner’s influence first hand: one of her Instagram posts about their products generated millions of likes alone.
However, the duo, who are 22 and 24 respectively and and on a path to hit $100 million in revenue in 2018, realised the deluge of news stories about users leaving Snapchat would also mean their competitors may foolishly flee the platform.
“When Kylie put that thing out about Snapchat, that was the best time to double down on [promotions] on it,” Mirkovic tells SmartCompany.
“The heads of marketing everywhere would be reading headlines and going, ‘nobody’s on Snapchat’.”
HiSmile’s approach has long been about doing the unexpected, however, and the pair say they knew there was still a massive base of Snapchat users interested in their products. And now, there could well be fewer brands spending on the platform to compete with.
“On an entire business scale, we really have one key thing: everything we do is about challenging expectation,” Tomic says.
Since the business launched in 2014, Mirkovic and Tomic have hit several impressive milestones: in 2016, they were sitting at $10 million in revenue from 100,000 customers, and by the start of 2017, they were looking at $20 million.
Having just been included in this year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 list, the pair say they have now got a customer base hovering around 1 million, and will be on track to turn over $100 million by the end of this year.
Mirkovic was also the youngest entrant in the Australian Financial Review’s Young Rich List in 2017, when the pair reached 58th and 59th position on the annual rankings with an estimated wealth between them of $46 million.
That’s not where they’re going to stop, however: there’s a plan to hit $1 billion in sales, and beyond, over the coming years.
“We have an infinite goal, and we are here for the long run — the next 20, 50, 100 years,” Tomic says.
“With the push from ten to 20 and now $100 million, you have to push yourself that extra percent, and always ask yourself, ‘are you comfortable with this position? Or do you have a much larger goal?'”
Breaking down the infinite goal
Social media has been a significant driver for the business, which has 1.6 million Facebook likes and close to 730,000 Instagram followers, but the founders say there is more to the brand’s growth trajectory than just social engagement.
Instead, Tomic and Mirkovic say they have taken a strategic approach to both where their brand is seen, as well as how their team visualises long-term goals.
Finding “undervalued” social media marketing opportunities is one thing, with the team working hard to determine gaps across the internet where content is most likely to be seen by potential HiSmile customers.
However, when you have an “infinite” goal, keeping momentum is all about breaking success up into smaller chunks, says Mirkovic.
“Some people just can’t handle an infinite goal, but we have been able to continue ours through setting microgoals, for example, reaching $100 million in sales,” he says.
Once a smaller goal has been achieved, the team is focused on the next thing, with Tomic observing that during this high-growth period, the company is indulging in self-criticism.
“We have been trying to find the things we have been doing incorrectly,” he says.
“Right now is the time to be most critical of ourselves, if we want to be the largest oral cosmetic company in the world.”
From the frontlines
Five reasons AI is better at making business decisions than you Anthony Aarons Epifini co-founder
'Few are destined to be unicorns': When is the right time to sell your startup? Peter Forbes HROnboard founder
Forget gender quotas: It's time to review your definition of diversity Inga Latham SiteMinder chief product officer
How to assemble a board of directors that will make, not break, your startup Mark Rohald Cluey Learning co-founder
From disrupted to disrupter: What I learnt moving from corporate to startup Tim Shepherd CIMET director
Imagine the worst-case scenario for a startup founder. It happened to me Sam Jockel ParentTV founder