Success Story: Pura Vida Bracelets
How a $200 investment in Costa Rica turned into a $9 million eCommerce business in less than 4 years
In preparation for our official launch, we wanted to pump you up with an online business success story that tops all others. I had the pleasure of meeting with the two co-founders of Pura Vida Bracelets to discuss, not only the extreme success of their business, but also some lessons they learned along the way. The story exemplifies the power of starting your own online business and what it can mean to your life. This story also holds dear me, as the idea for ONtrepreneur Academy also came to fruition from a month-long trip to Costa Rica. I can attest to the “pura vida” vibe that these bracelets carry with them and hope you will check them out. So without further ado…
In 2010, a five-week graduation trip to Costa Rica turned into the business venture of a lifetime for two friends from Southern California. Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman had embraced the “pura vida” lifestyle that Costa Rica embodied and wanted to bring the vibe back home with them.
During their journey, they came across a couple of homeless street vendors, Jorge and Joaquin, who were selling handmade bracelets that seemed to “capture the essence of [their] journey.” Griffin and Paul knew there was an opportunity to share this experience with others, and possibly make money while doing it. Beyond just jewelry, these bracelets seemed to be a symbol of the freedom, simplicity, and worry-free lifestyle that made the Costa Rican locals so happy. That symbol would soon become a movement that anyone could enjoy anywhere in the world.
With just $100 each, Griffin and Paul purchased as many bracelets as they could from the eager vendors with no real intention of coming back for more. Little did they know, if they were able to successfully sell these bracelets back home, they would have anchored a business relationship that could provide employment opportunities for Costa Rican artisans as well as keep themselves ‘gainfully employed’ back at home post-graduation.
Once Griffin and Paul were back in the US, they put the bracelets in a local boutique to gauge people’s interest and, to no one’s surprise, they sold out in a matter of days. People loved the bracelets—they loved the idea behind them and wanted more. Capitalizing on the opportunity, the two friends—and now business partners—decided that Pura Vida Bracelets were here to stay.
It’s only a few years later, and Pura Vida Bracelets is now a full-fledged eCommerce company and lifestyle brand, employing dozens of people in the U.S. and over 100 in Costa Rica. Their products are sold through their website as well as in more than 2,500+ retail locations, both domestic and internationally – accounting for over $9 million in annual sales. What’s more impressive is that a lot of their success can be attributed to organic, grassroots efforts and a loyal consumer following through social media.
Beyond providing full-time jobs for artisans in Costa Rica, Pura Vida Bracelets also aims to make the world a better place. Partnering with organizations like “1% for the Planet,” their brand has donated more than $935,000 and have helped more than 190 charities. Between creating a multimillion brand from a $100 investment each and helping impact the world in positive ways, it’s no wonder both Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman recently made the “Forbes 30 under 30” annual list of young innovators and entrepreneurs.
Now, it may seem like these co-founders were either overnight successes or just born to create businesses, but the truth is that they started right where you are now—with an idea, some drive, and a whole lot of challenges that lie ahead. Griffin and Paul are no strangers to the startup struggles, but exemplify how a successful business can be built with a simple vision, a good value proposition, and a lot of heart. In addition, their story goes to show that leveraging the power of social media can help propel your business forward even if you don’t have a large marketing budget.
Startup Lessons from Pura Vida Bracelets:
- Systematize whenever possible – PVB found that by creating systems in all elements of their business, they were able to cut down on duplicated work and become much more efficient. That allowed their small business grow into the international brand they are today.
- Speed Matters – when PVB upgraded to a cloud-based server, their web page load times dropped from 12 seconds to an incredible ½ second, which doubled online sales in just one day.
- Be Mobile-friendly – PVB also upgraded to a mobile-friendly site, which gave them an immediate 40% increase in mobile traffic.
- Importance of Conversions – with just a 1% increase in conversion rates, PVB found that they were able to bring in 20% more orders per day. This prompted them to continuously optimize online conversions whenever possible.
As you can see, it doesn’t take a lot of money to create a business – just a focused business model, execution, and constant iteration. If Pura Vida Bracelets can turn $200 into a multimillion-dollar company by selling $5 products, so can you. At ONtrepreneur Academy, our goal is to make the execution phase as easy as possible by giving you the tools necessary to create a great business model around your passions and interests. Our course will take you step-by-step in the direction you need to go, and once the simple (and inexpensive) elements are in place, the power to make your dreams come true is right in your hands.
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