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Simple Fishing – how industry layoffs resulted in a booming subscription service

We interviewed Scott Sibley, of Simple Fishing, to talk about how industry-wide layoffs were the push he needed to try entrepreneurship

What’s your name, your background and what business do you run?

My name is Scott Sibley. I am not what you would call a natural Entrepreneur.

I grew up in a small oil and gas town in northern Canada where waking up at 6am and getting home at 8pm is the norm. After many years of that I decided to try my hand at Ecommerce.

I started Simple Fishing with a $50 gift card and a 7 day Shopify free trial. I was lucky to make my first sale during that 7 day trial. When that first sale came, I knew I wanted to keep going and four years later Simple Fishing offers Canada’s largest fishing tackle subscription service. 


Is there anything in your past that led to opening the business?

I found the sport of fishing while looking for new hobbies in my early thirties and was instantly hooked. I quickly realized that there are many options for new anglers when it came to fishing tackle, like “which lures should I use for which species?”, “soft bait or hard bait?”, “top water or fast sinking?” 

I thought there must be an easier way, so I created RLM Elite, originally called Random Lure of the Month.

I have always thought about starting a business and when new government regulations were implemented it meant layoffs were headed my way. That was a huge push for me to take the step and give Entrepreneurship a try.

” when new government regulations were implemented it meant layoffs were headed my way. That was a huge push for me to take the step and give Entrepreneurship a try. “


What was the process of designing, manufacturing and bringing your first product or service to market?

I started by using a distributor to fill the original RLM box, but as we started to grow I realized that that was not going to be a scalable or profitable process. Now I contact the brands themselves, give them our RLM Elite pitch and see if there is opportunity to feature their brand. 

Each RLM Elite box contains about $75 in retail value, which on average is 8 lures. Usually that will represent 8 different brands but occasionally we’ll pair 2 lures from the same company that are made to complement each other.

My biggest mistake was not doing any work before launching. I launched first and then went and found customers. That really slowed my progress. 

If I was to do it again, I’d spend more time collecting emails, and building and engaging with my audience. That way I would have been able to create excitement around the release of the RLM Elite subscription box beforehand.


What strategies or marketing channels do you most rely on?

At the beginning we used Facebook to create awareness and for lead generation which helped us build an email list. We also created a subscriber only group to keep customers engaged with our brand.

We have been testing Brand Ambassadors for the past 6 months and will increase our focus on that strategy. We’ve created another Facebook group just for our Ambassadors as a way to keep them engaged, inform them of any announcements and for Ambassadors to communicate and learn from each other. 


What platform, tools or software do you use for your business?

Shopify provides a simple way to get your website up and running along with their App store for any add-ons or customization your require.

For subscriptions, I use Bold Subscriptions and Bold Upsell apps.

I use Omnisend for email marketing, and Judge.me for reviews.

(Editor – if you’re looking for more great Ecommerce resources, then check this out)


What does the next 12 months look like for your business, and for yourself, professionally?

In the next 12 months I would love to be a place where I am able to leave my day job and give 100% of my focus on scaling Simple Fishing. 


What have you learned through this process that you didn’t know or think was important beforehand?

Honestly, without having any background in business or marketing everything has been a learning curve.  Marketing is a huge one, more important than the product itself.   

I’ve learnt a lot from reading and podcasts. I love the Shopify Masters podcast and The 4 Hour Work Week by Tim Ferriss.

“without having any background in business or marketing everything has been a learning curve. Marketing is a huge one, more important than the product itself. “


What do you wish you knew before starting?

Just how important it is to build a list before launching. Launching to an audience that you have been engaging with and is excited for your product to be released will save you a lot of time. You will quickly find out what you’ve done well and what can use a little more refining.

I’d recommend using Paid Ads or hosting giveaways to start building your list. They’re simple but effective.


What resources would you recommend for others looking to start a business?

I enjoy the Shopify Podcast, the Shopify Entrepreneurs Facebook group and Udemy for online courses. 


Do you have any words of wisdom for other entrepreneurs looking to start their own ecommerce business?

Build an audience, do not launch until you have one.


Where can we go to learn more about you and your business?


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