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The Concept of “Spending Money to Make Money” is a Trap with Kyle Ewing - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 169

Kyle Ewing became a full-time entrepreneur in 2014 when he left the corporate world to build his first company, Guerrilla Tags ID Systems. 

After a successful exit in 2015, Kyle is now focused on the growth and development of his company, TerraSlate Paper, which manufactures and prints waterproof paper for the US Military, restaurants, and biotech firms around the world. 

The success of his businesses can be best attributed to a creative marketing approach that nimbly tracks customer needs to fulfillment and leverages just-in-time inventory management. 

His most recent high-profile advertising campaign in partnership with BMW USA is the “Road to Sustainability” in which he seeks to make redundant laminated documents in all applications. 

Kyle enjoys collaborating with fellow entrepreneurs and venture capitalists to develop new systems, metrics and growth strategies for emerging companies in the tech and renewable resources industries. 

The experience Kyle gained in corporate positions provided the underpinnings for his entrepreneurship a position as Supply Chain Manager at Brightstar Corporation on supply chain optimization and demand signal forecasting in which, at an operator-wide level, he successfully carried out multiple initiatives in supply chain management, data-driven analytics, and inventory management using triple exponential smoothing models that he built for the wireless phone industry. 

Kyle also held roles as a Business Operations & Management Consultant, Procurement Manager and Marketing Analyst where he gained much of the valuable experience upon which he relies. 

Kyle received his BSBA in 2008 and his MBA in 2009 with a Chancellor's Scholarship from the Daniel's College of Business at the University of Denver. 

During his time at DU he developed a passion for philanthropic work and founded the Seven Ribbons Foundation supporting cancer research. 

In his personal life Kyle is an avid triathlete, runner, mountaineer, and is active in philanthropic work in the community. 

He won the Mt. Kilimanjaro Marathon in 2009, completed the Ironman Triathlon in Western Australia in 2010, and summited the mountains of the Swiss Holy Trinity: Mont Blanc, the Matterhorn, and the Eiger in 2011. 

Kyle is an accomplished skydiver and musician winning the state flute championships 3 years in a row. 

Recent accolades include “Entrepreneur of the Year” awarded by the Worldwide Who's Who organization and has become an avid Ukulele and Guitar player. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [01:31] Kyle’s first business
  • [02:48] The challenge in a “durable” product
  • [03:28] The importance of repurchase
  • [04:41] Raising LTV to cover CAC
  • [05:15] How quick is it from Guerilla Tags to TerraSlate?
  • [06:05] School education vs learning through experience
  • [08:03] You should have the willingness to learn
  • [09:32] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
  • [09:52] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [10:36] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [12:02] Sponsor: BeProfit beprofit.co
  • [13:33] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [14:20] Where did Kyle get his business ideas?
  • [15:37] Don’t be afraid to tell your ideas
  • [16:21] NDAs can hinder true feedback
  • [17:17] You don’t have to spend money to sell
  • [18:48] Why B2B is good
  • [22:02] D2C products from TerraSlate
  • [23:38] Is B2B marketing different to D2C marketing?
  • [25:19] The hardest part of building and growing a brand
  • [26:31] Hiring and managing good people is getting harder
  • [28:19] Electric Eye needs more Shopify experts
  • [28:43] Kyle wants to see more ADA compliance
  • [29:44] ADA compliance is a big and complex problem
  • [30:43] Be careful of these frivolous lawsuits
  • [32:59] Join as many entrepreneur groups as you can


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Chase Clymer  

Before we get started, if you're enjoying this content, you can do us a favor by subscribing to our YouTube channel and ringing the bell.

That will let the algorithm know that you like this content and it will help us produce more.

Kyle Ewing  

There's nothing worse than hiring people that you really like, but that aren't good workers or that aren't good managers. 

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey, everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. I'm your host Chase Clymer. 

And today, I'm welcoming to the show, probably one of the first people I ever met in this industry going to a conference that I didn't know of for another reason like a partner, like a SaaS, or like a Klaviyo or something like that. So it's very funny. 

And I know we're gonna talk a little bit more about networking later on in this conversation. But today, we're welcoming to the show, Kyle Ewing

Kyle is the president and founder of TerraSlate waterproof paper. They make everything from price tags at Whole Foods, to restaurant menus, to military field manuals. 

We'll talk more about their unique kind of offerings here in a bit. 

But Kyle, welcome to the show. How are you doing? 

Kyle Ewing  

Great. Thanks for having me. I'm thrilled to be here. 

Chase Clymer  

Oh yeah. I'm excited to get started. So this isn't your first business, right? You had a... 

We call it a success with your first go around too. Or was it first go around? I guess you can clarify. 

But take me back to 2014 with your first business. 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah, sure thing. In 2014, I started a company called Guerrilla Tags ID Systems. And we made ID systems for athletes. 

And so this would be something that you'd wear around your neck or on your wrist or lace it into your shoes, which would contain your name, medical allergies, and your emergency contacts. 

That way, if you and I went mountain biking and you bumped your head, I [would] immediately know who to call and the medics would know how to treat you right away. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And you found quick success there. It seems you ended up selling that company? 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah, we're thrilled the product really took off. Well, the market was there. And I made a nice exit. I was thrilled that the process was very easy. 

I probably got treated a little too well on that. But we sold to a competitor and man it was a great opportunity and experience for me. 

Chase Clymer  

Back in 2014. Was this a direct-to-consumer brand as well? Or was this a little more traditional? 

Kyle Ewing  

Yep. Yep. D2C. The challenge for us in that business was that the product was so durable that if I sold you 1, you never needed 2. 

And you might buy one for your brother or your mother, whomever. But every sale was basically unique. And that was a challenge. 

And that was something that I committed to, once I sold that business. My next business is going to have a product that you need to buy and rebuy. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, that's... Right there. First piece of gold right off the bat. That's... When you're thinking about building a company, you may have a fantastic product. 

But yeah, that repurchase because... I guess Kyle, explain why that's important. 

I don't want to use my words. 

Kyle Ewing  

Absolutely. The reason a repurchase is important is that when you are growing a brand, you're using things like Google ads, Facebook ads --I'm sure you guys are all familiar with it-- they ended up being very expensive. Now the product we made was about $30. 

And we would sometimes spend as much as $15 trying to sell it. At the beginning, our ads were really expensive. We didn't know how to target very well, we didn't know what would resonate with our customers. 

And so we would barely break even on those orders. And yes, we were thrilled to grow the brand. 

But we weren't growing very profitably at first, because there wasn't enough money left over after we paid for the ad, the cost of the materials, and shipping and all that jazz. 

So the reason you want a product that's consumable or that somebody will buy today, and then they'll buy it again next month, and again the next month after that is that you target them, you sell the ad once and then you get to continually make money from them after that going forward. 

So you do something like a Klaviyo email marketing campaign

And you touch base when you know what their interval is likely to be a month or two months or whatever it is for your product. 

You shoot him a note right before that date comes and you say, "Hey Chase, I'm so thrilled. Thank you so much for your review. When you need another order, here's what you bought last time. Let us know when you're ready to rock and roll."

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. Selling a product to an existing customer is almost infinitely easier than selling it to someone that has never purchased from you before. So having... 

And that's why you see some brands that can't really do that when they have a really interesting product. They come out with another product that's very similar or  that's parallel. 

So they can then cross-sell. And this is all, basically a play to increase lifetime value. Because customer acquisition costs are very expensive. 

Kyle Ewing  

That's exactly right. 

Chase Clymer  

In 2015, you sold Guerilla Tags ID System? And then did you just immediately turn around and launch TerraSlate? Was it that fast? 

Kyle Ewing  

I sat on the beach for 2 weeks thinking, "I'm gonna enjoy the good things in life." But I think any true entrepreneur gets bored with that pretty quickly. You just feel your mind start to rot. 

And you're immediately thinking like, "What else can I do? And oh, by the way, you just got this great education from one startup. And now you've learned all that stuff, you feel like it would be a shame to throw it all away." 

Because you can't get that knowledge at school. You can't get it in a book. You can learn a lot that way, but there's nothing like going through the experience and living and dying on each sale. 

So it's really exciting to start your next business from a platform that you didn't have when you started your first one. So it was pretty much immediately thereafter. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And you said something there. The education from starting your own business, I have heard a lot of people say that, you know, I know you have your MBA, so this is gonna be a very direct question. 

Is the education you get from starting a business almost better than going to school?

Kyle Ewing  

I would 100% agree with that. School gives you a lot of tools. You're building that tool chest. And so you've got a lot of things to pull from and you've done a lot of case studies. Those are often helpful, but there's just nothing like real world experience. 

An MBA program is never going to teach you how to do vendor negotiation. You're negotiating a contract with a vendor and they say, "Well Kyle, you're a nobody and we're a massive, global multinational. So this is the contract. Take it or leave it." 

And that's compelling. Because you're like "Oh... I guess you're right. I'm nobody compared to you guys. So I guess I'm gonna have to go with this contract." 

But the truth is, don't do that. Don't make that mistake. 

And what they'll say when you push back on their contract is "Well, everybody signs this contract." And your response is "I appreciate that. But for us to do business, here's what we need to do." 

And the line that I say all the time is a contract is a meeting of the minds. I married my attorney. 

And she wasn't my attorney at the time, but she was in law school. And so I've learned a lot from her. 

And those early contracts are so brutal. The terms are terrible. They make you pay everything upfront. The liability is entirely on you. And you just don't learn that in business school. 

So you have to go through the process. You've got to get skunked by somebody before you realize like, "Hey on the last contract like this, here's how we got skunked. We got to make sure that's not going to be an issue in this contract going forward." 

So I could give you 1000 examples like that. I highly recommend going to graduate school. I got a lot out of it. I made a lot of good connections. But there is just nothing like doing a startup. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. It is a crash course. And I think that with that statement and the sentiment behind  "Starting a business, you're gonna learn a lot.", as an individual, as an entrepreneur, as the person doing this, you have to be willing to put in the work and to educate yourself. 

I think that there was a major shift in at least our business when we started investing in our education. 

We started reading business books on particular topics that we felt we were weak on. And then we started getting mentors and coaches. 

And that is when things changed: When we started investing in ourselves and our knowledge. 

And then also going out there, seeing what worked, making mistakes, and learning from them. There's also that side of it. 

Kyle Ewing  

Absolutely. Yeah. There's so much good stuff in business books and podcasts. You can learn... I'm consuming podcasts on my way to work, on the way home, while I'm running, at the gym, in the shower... 

It's a free knowledge base. Tap that, get as much free knowledge as you can, because somebody will say something and it'll hit you and you'll be like, "Wow, that just saved me an epic amount of time and probably a lot of resources." 

So you guys are already doing the right thing. Hop in on this podcast. Learn everything you can from Chase. 

We met 4 or 5 years ago now and it's just been awesome watching your business, Chase. 

Just rock and roll and then getting to be here and sit with you here today.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you, man. 

Sponsor: Electric Eye

If you're struggling with scaling your sales, maybe Electric Eye can help. 

Our team has helped our clients generate millions of dollars in additional revenue through our unique brand scaling framework. You can learn more about our agency at electriceye.io. That's E-L-E-C-T-R-I-C-E-Y-E.io. 

Sponsor: Mesa

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Chase Clymer  

So I have a question that's not really on our journey that we're doing here. But it's something that I think that a lot of entrepreneurs are always... 

Maybe it's a sticking point for them. So you've launched 2 businesses with 2 cool ideas. Where are you getting these ideas from? You know what I mean? 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah. In full disclosure, this is my third company. I had one in parallel with TerraSlate and it bombed. I got a nice "very expensive education", as I call it. But the ideas... 

I think the ideas are free flowing. Those happen. But the one piece of caution that I would extend is that the road is littered with good ideas. Everybody's got a good idea and they're worth nothing. 

Everybody says, "Oh, I got a million dollar idea." And I can tell you right now what it's worth and it's zero if you don't execute on it. It all comes down to can you execute on this. 

I started a paper company in a digital world. That's a bad idea when you look at it on the surface. 

And then what we figured out is like, "Okay, we can sell this to the military because they need waterproof paper. And lamination doesn't work in the field, because you can't bring a laminating machine with you." So there's opportunities everywhere. 

But the key is, you have to take the first step, and figure out how to launch it, and then see it through. 

So ideas are awesome, but don't be afraid to tell people your ideas. They're not going to steal it from you. They don't have the passion. They don't have the background. They already have a job or something they're working on. 

So if you tell somebody you got an idea for something, it's very, very unlikely that they're going to run away with it, even if they're Google. Likely just... 

Even Google doesn't have resources to just jump on your idea. So tell people what you think. 

Say, "Hey Chase, I got this new idea. What do you think?" And then Chase is like, "Yeah, I think it's great." Or "Have you thought of this?" And you're like, "Ah... Okay. That was something I hadn't thought of yet. 

And that's gonna get me in a direction towards success that I might not have found on my own for a while." So tell people your ideas. There's very little risk in doing that. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I'm gonna double down on that. Do you have a good idea? Great. It's worth nothing. Again, doubling down on what Kyle said. 

But also, there is always this fear of "I got a great idea. And now I want to get feedback from people." 

And you're like, "Oh, sign this NDA." Don't do that. That is the sign of someone that doesn't know what they're doing, unfortunately. NDAs make sense when you have a business that actually has some proprietary information. 

Once it's proven and there's a track record, that's a little more enticing. An NDA may make sense. At that point... 

I'm not a lawyer, talk to one. 

But when you're first getting started, you want to get feedback in real time from A, people that know that industry, B, potential customers. 

And if you're trying to make people sign NDAs, you're not going to get real feedback from those people. So just go out there and start talking about your idea. 

And validate your idea before you start building aka spending money on doing something. Go talk to potential customers. And that's a major problem I see with startups. 

They get an idea and then they start building it in a silo and they don't talk to anybody about it. And then they are like, "Cool! I've got this thing!" And then it just falls flat. 

Kyle Ewing  

100% on that. And I think there's often a temptation to say things like, "Oh, you have to spend money to make money." 

I hate it when people say that, because it's just not true. 

Say you've created a new software piece, or you've created a new widget, whatever it is,  you don't need to spend any dollars on Facebook or Google or wherever to advertise it. 

Don't fall for that trap. 

Everybody's got a paid cell phone plan that you pay for anyway. It's unlimited. Get on the phone and sell it. Sell it to everybody you can. See if they'll buy it and then ask for their feedback. 

It's painful, yes. Everybody's gonna hang up on you, yes. But you're not going to spend any money and you're gonna get actual sales. 

I've blown tons of cash on online ads. We touched on that earlier. I thought, "Oh yeah. This is great. All I gotta do is put it on Facebook and we'll sell a billion of these things." 

Well, the only thing that worked was when I started calling people and I was like "Hey XYZ, here's my products. I'd love to send you one. Let me know what you think." 

And then when they say, "Hey, this is great." You ask them, "Who do you know that might be interested in buying one or buying 1000?" And then they'll say, "Well, I don't know." 

And what you can say is, "Give me one contact. I'm going to call them right now. And I'll either use your name or not. Whatever you like." But work that phone. That's how you get sales. 

Don't waste your money online, until you have a concept that you know is going to work for the mass market. Use that cell phone. Save your money for a later date. you're going to need it. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And you are leading into something that is a question I had for you. So you brushed on it early. The product at TerraSlate paper is waterproof paper, right? And selling paper in a digital world, very interesting.

And I know a little bit more about you and your business than most guests. We had dinner a few years back with your product. It's almost...

It's very close to being more B2B than it was D2C. And how do you  walk those lines? Because I feel like there are probably listeners out there that are in a very similar space where their product may be heavily B2B as well. 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah, our product is probably 80% sold B2B. And here's why B2B is good. Businesses have a lot more money than individual people. 

They're much bigger accounts. They have multiple departments. And businesses will refer to other businesses. 

And so if you get a referral from one small individual customer that refers to their brother, great. But would you rather have Google recommend it to Microsoft? Absolutely. 

Or would you rather use Google as a reference when you're pitching Microsoft? Or for instance, TerraSlate is in every Qdoba in the world. 

And what do you think my first call is after we got Qdoba? It's to Chipotle. Go straight to their competitor and say, "Hey, we're doing a lot of work with Qdoba. We'd love to work with you as well." 

And by the way, I've already cleared it with Qdoba because the products we make for them [don't affect] their business against Qdoba... Or excuse me. Against Chipotle in a competitive way. So they're happy to do it. 

And sometimes they'll make the introduction. So B2B is great. The key is getting paid. 

So businesses love to pay on 60-day, 30-day, 90-day terms, we make almost everybody pay upfront and that's because at the beginning of the business, I couldn't cover the purchase orders. 

So I have to make them pay up front. And so what we do is we manufacture our materials. And I pay for that on terms. I pay 60-day terms, and I let them... They let me put it on a credit card. 

So I really have 90-days to pay it. But I make the customer prepay. And that way, it doesn't matter how fast we grow, we can always afford our growth. 

We're not trying to pitch investors like "Hey, we just need money to cover POs." Or we're not taking loans to cover POs. We can carry that plus we can carry a ton of inventory. 

And when that's important is when you have something like a pandemic and all the supply chains are messed up. 

We say "Okay, let's make a ton of this stuff right now. We've got the warehouse space. Let's get it made and get it here. And we'll sell it down because it never goes bad.”

But we can also cover the cost of that inventory because we buy it on terms and we sell it prepaid. So businesses are phenomenal. 

They will try to pressure you into taking a bad deal or bad terms because it's helpful for them and they think they're bigger than you. And that's okay. But you can always push back. 

I've walked away from sales because I didn't like the payment terms. But I have a very successful business, regardless of that. And I've never had an issue in collections. 

So know that the terms they give you aren't always the terms you have to go with. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And so you found success with the B2B aspect of your business. And when we first met, I believe, it was like almost right around when you started really going into the direct to consumer side of things. 

So what have you found that works in a business that is heavily B2B and its products that are definitely more business-centric, how do you... 

How does direct-to-consumer play into your marketing mix and your business as overall? 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah. So for B2B stuff we sell... Our perfect example is restaurant menus. We print hundreds of thousands of those every month. 

Customers love them because they can wipe them clean like a laminated menu, but they don't crack and peel. 

You can also recycle our menus. 

And then oh, by the way, at the end of the month, they need to change the prices or change the menu content. And they placed another order on the consumer side. The thing... 

Our biggest business is waterproof notebooks. So we do a ton of notebooks. They're super cool products. They worked phenomenally well. We've got him all over the world. We're shipping in here, there, and everywhere. 

Each week, which is super fun, we just launched a new type of notebook that's reusable. We pair it with a Pilot FriXion pen, you get them on Amazon or Staples. Wherever. 

It comes with that pen. And what's cool is you can fill out the notebook. And then with a damp paper towel, you can erase the entire notebook in 2 seconds and start again. 

So that's a pretty cool eco-friendly play. It's really good for people that travel a lot. They don't want to carry 20 notebooks as they fill them up. 

They want to fill out their notebook, take a couple pictures of the things that are important, and then they want to start fresh. So that's been a super cool B2C product for us. 

Chase Clymer  

Is there a difference in your marketing of how you're trying to sell those direct-to-consumer products versus how you're approaching building out B2B relationships?

Kyle Ewing  

I wish I could say yes and then have a really clear marketing strategy for each. But what I can tell you is that our strategy, which maybe as an ad guy, you're like, "Oh my gosh, Kyle. You made my head explode right now." 

But we end up selling to people. Whether they're the end user or they're the business. And so the same ad typically works really well for a B2C person as a B2C. 

Obviously, a non-restaurant owner isn't going to buy restaurant menus, but they might buy waterproof paper to throw in their copier, because they need to put some signage up around their house. 

So there's "For Sale" posters, they're trying to make what they want to have outside. So, our marketing  is not super segmented. But we also don't spend a ton of money on marketing, like I have in previous businesses. 

The lifetime value of a customer is very high and we get a lot of word of mouth. And we've found --probably like everybody-- that the word of mouth means more than anything. So we do a lot of business on that. 

And right now we're fortunate enough that we can't produce the material fast enough, so we're not pushing ads that hard. And so I probably need to take you to dinner, Chase and sit down, and see how we should segment out our ads. 

But we're not doing that much marketing right now. And in a way, we're fortunate for that. 

Chase Clymer  

Just to pivot a little bit from there, speaking of things that are difficult, what would you say is the hardest part of building and growing a company? 

Kyle Ewing  

At any of my businesses, it's the people. It's making really good hires and then it's hiring really good managers to manage the team that you're building as you grow. 

There's nothing worse than hiring people that you really like, but that aren't good workers, or that aren't good managers. 

Managing is 1000 times harder than anybody ever realizes. I've hired so many managers that are wonderful people, but they're really not that effective. 

And it took me a long time to figure out like, "Ah. Just because everybody likes this person, doesn't mean that they're a great manager." 

And the way that I usually figure that out is their wife moves to Cincinnati and they go with them or whatever. And we're very sad to lose them. 

But then the person that steps into their spot is far and away different in their management style and still likable, and still liked by everybody. 

But all of a sudden, the performance of their team goes way up. And it's just about leadership. 

So finding those really good employees that stick around, that go the extra mile, and then hiring managers that are great at managing teams. 

That's the hardest thing for me. But I think it's also one of the most important things. So we put a lot of energy and resources towards that. 

Chase Clymer  

Have you ever experienced this? This is something that we're experiencing right now. It's that there is almost a shift, in that it becomes almost... 

Finding the sales is easier, but finding people, finding the fulfillment is harder. 

On my end, in a service business, the parallels are like "We're getting more clients and it's harder to find good employees." 

On your end, did you ever just kind of see that where it's like, "Alright. Well, selling this thing isn't hard anymore." It's like getting the job done is hard. 

Kyle Ewing  

Yeah. 100%. We're pretty good at selling it. And we've got a huge customer base. It's growing all the time. But managing that growth is really hard. Every month, we have a record month. 

COVID was hard for us, like for everybody. But it may have been the best thing that ever happened to the company, because everybody now is more germ-conscious than ever. 

And our materials are easy to clean and sanitize. And grocery stores, restaurants, the military, education spaces. So we're trying to keep up with that growth. 

And it is really hard to get the right people hired quick enough to stay on top of it all. And then you think you're in a really good place. And then you lose somebody for one reason or another. 

We lost the guy yesterday. Love this guy. But his commute is just killing him. 

And he's like, "I can't... I can't commute this far. And I'm not really able to move right now." 

Because he's in a long term lease. So those are super hard challenges. I hate that aspect of it. 

I'll be the first one to say that a good employee is worth twice whatever you're paying them. Because it's so hard to find a good one. 

So I would absolutely agree that getting the people is harder than selling the product. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And I'm just gonna say this to the podcast listeners, if you are a Shopify expert in anything that you've ever heard me riff on, please reach out to us through our website

We're always looking for full-time employees, contractors, and freelancers. 

If you just want to chat, please go to the website electriceye.io and reach out.

Kyle Ewing  

I'm going to jump in on that. 

Chase Clymer  

All right, Kyle.

Kyle Ewing  

Chase, before we move one... 

Chase Clymer  

What are you looking for?

Kyle Ewing  

Here's what I want: I want to see every Shopify business, build their website so that it's ADA compliant. You do not want to get sued for this. 

You will not be covered by your insurance or whatever supplemental policies you have. You're gonna get sued. It's just a matter of time. Make sure it's ADA compliant. 

We're going through that right now.

We have a plugin that makes our website ADA compliant, but really, it's just an overlay. And what I can tell you about that overlay, is that the automatic checkers, the bots that they're using to test websites, don't click the overlay. 

So now we have to prove that if you were an actual person, you would have seen the overlay but your bot didn't see it. So learn from that. 

Don't use an overlay. Make sure your website's ADA compliant. There's tons of checkers online. Just type your website in and it'll tell you in 2 seconds what your errors are. 

Save yourself the money in the hiring law firms. It's brain damage you can avoid super easily. 

If I can tell you one thing, do that today. 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. All right. So I'm just gonna preface this [by saying that] we are both not lawyers. And this is not legal advice. 

Kyle Ewing  


Chase Clymer  

Now, there are some resources out there that you can actually Google and find. I'm actually not going to link to them because I don't want to say that this is something I believe in or I don't believe in or these are words that I believe in. 

But you can actually find some arguments online that the overlays are A, not doing their job and B, almost like a scam. 

So you can go look at those things online and find those yourselves. But the goal here is like we do want these websites to be ADA compliant. 

The law itself is written extremely vague, and it's why it's allowing businesses to be sued. So that's a whole other thing. 

But if you're just looking at what it is, it's like "Yes, we want the internet to be compliant for individuals that are browsing it that aren't doing it in a traditional way." 

Now, ADA compliance itself. There are tiers of compliance. (Tier) 1 being where everybody should be. And government websites aren't even [at] (Tier) 1 at times. That's like, the bar is very low there. 

But (Tier) 3 is being as compliant as humanly possible and solving for everything. It's very rare, to be honest. It's a hard goal to find. But there's a million levels of differentiation between them. 

Shopify itself, out of the box, they do not claim to be ADA compliant. Again, not a lawyer. I assume. I think. I think.I don't know that for 100%. 

And no theme on the market either says that. And there are things that you can do to your store that are going to screw this up, as well. If you're... If you have text that's on over an image and the contrast isn't strong enough, that could not be compliant. 

If you don't have alt text on your images that cannot be compliant. So people oftentimes reach out to consultants and freelancers and agencies such as ours, and they're like, "We want an ADA compliant website." 

And half of that conversation is like we all have to understand "What is compliant? What are you actually asking for?" 

And then B, it's like, an agency or consultant or freelancer can set you up for success there. 

But you also need to improve your processes and systems within your business to make sure the content that you're updating on your website, and the changes that you're making to your store are still in line with being compliant. 

So it isn't all on an agency or contractor either. It's a big thing. And what I'll end on here is like, there is no quick win here. There's nothing that's going to circumvent doing the work. You can tell I've had that conversation a few times.

Kyle Ewing  

The passion is real there, man. But it's justified. It's just fine. Solve your own problem. Don't let somebody... Honestly, they're trolls. A lot of them are not fair lawsuits. 

But it's a way to make a buck for the attorney and for the client. So avoid that.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, it's a digital ambulance chasing at the end of the day. And it's very frustrating. But these bad actors are pointing out something that we should all strive to do. 

We should make the internet a better place. I do believe in that. 

Kyle Ewing  

Sure. Absolutely. 

Chase Clymer  

I just don't believe in the motivation behind them. 

Kyle Ewing  


Chase Clymer  

Kyle, you've been a wealth of knowledge today. Is there anything that I forgot to ask you about that you think would be useful for our audience?

Kyle Ewing  

One piece of advice that I love to give is, as an entrepreneur, join as many groups as you can. Google entrepreneur groups in your area, hop on LinkedIn, a lot of times there's leads groups. I can't tell you how many leads groups I joined at the beginning of TerraSlate. 

There would be realtors and tax people. And I would get up there and pitch waterproof paper to a bunch of people that... 

I have no idea. And a lot of them became customers. Or a lot of them --because you're in a leads group-- say "Hey, you know what, I actually have a contact for you." 

The thing that I learned at leads groups is every time you meet somebody, every time you give a speech, every time you get the opportunity to talk in front of people, at the very end, say "A really good lead or a really good referral for me. And I'll give you mine." 

It's somebody in the restaurant industry. We make the best menus in the world. They're super well priced. We have a 2-day turnaround time. They love them. 

So if you know anybody in the restaurant industry that I should know, shoot them my number or give me theirs. I'd love to get in touch with them right away. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Kyle, thank you so much. 

Kyle Ewing  

Thanks for having me, Chase. I had a great time today. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have.
Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.