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How a Car Enthusiast Started a Business that Blew UP

Capitalism.com
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December 18, 2020
Chad Hamzeh started a business

How former UFC fighter and car enthusiast Chad Hamzeh started a business in his garage and went from startup to 7-figures in one year.

Here’s why Chad started a business serving gear heads: Buying a car is a significant investment, one worth pampering. As a car guy, Chad Hamzeh understands the importance of taking care of your vehicle. He’s one of the brains behind The Last Coat, a ceramic-based all-surface car coating. A single application of this product will give your car a high-shine while protecting it from the elements.

Wheels Ain’t Cheap

The average price for a new car continues to increase by about four percent every year, with no end in sight. If you’re in the market for a new ride, expect to pay about $37,185, according to Kelley Blue Book. That’s not pocket change.

After dropping that much cash at a dealership, you probably want to protect your investment in every possible way. Wear and tear to the exterior is the fastest way to reduce your resale value. But how can you protect the paint from chips when you’re on the open road? 

A Shining (Ceramic) Star Is Born

Chad didn’t always have his foot in the car business, but he has always been a car enthusiast—it’s in his blood. His dad owned several car dealerships, and his brother made a name for himself customizing and flipping vehicles. Growing up surrounded by cars gave Chad an appreciation for sweet rides. Little did he know this passion would manifest into something more down the road when he started a business of his own.

Initially, Chad had childhood dreams of becoming a UFC fighter, and this goal wasn’t entirely out of his reach. Chad had 20 professional fights under his belt, and he understood the amount of training required to become the best. He decided to give up his mundane desk job as a business analyst to enter the fighting industry. After looking for a cheap place to train full-time, Chad and his wife, Veronica, decided to take the plunge and move to Thailand in 2008.

Chad describes that year as the best one of his life—he was able to pursue his passion alongside Veronica. But, in 2009, his father became ill, and Chad moved back to Canada to take care of him. He left his UFC dreams behind to be with family.

Time for a Pivot

After moving home, Veronica got pregnant, and Chad started freaking out about paying the mortgage. They also amassed some debt during their Thailand adventure, so he decided to make a career change—marketing. His journey commenced with a simple Google search for “how to make money online,” and he never looked back. Chad began to build an impressive resume as an affiliate marketer and media buyer.

Although self-taught, Chad’s success is jaw-dropping. His e-commerce business earned a staggering $47 million in only its first two years. Not everything about this automated endeavor was smooth, and in some ways, it was a complete disaster. However, Chad gained massive amounts of marketing experience, which was about to take him down a much wilder and more rewarding track. 

The Last Coat

The Garage Startup Turned Million-Dollar Business

In 2018, Chad decided to create an automotive detailing product with his partner, Nick. Unlike Chad, Nick had years of car detailing experience—over 15,000 hours to be exact. As a certified ceramic coating specialist, Nick knew which products worked and which didn’t. Since similar products sold well, Chad knew they could come up with something that could compete. The two men put their heads together, started a business, and learned to formulate, bottle, and market The Last Coat (TLC).

Chad and Nick spent hours creating their “secret sauce,” as they jokingly coined it. They filled every bottle by hand, using only a funnel and weight scale. Fulfilling orders was tedious, even when they only had ten a day. Since Chad’s last endeavor was fully automated, he found himself wondering if he’d just taken a giant leap backward.

The partners soon outgrew their single funnel system and upgraded to a bigger one—it could fill three bottles at a time! Before long, Nick had a “Popeye” arm from filling so many orders. Veronica determined they needed some assistance and jumped on board to help with fulfillment. In March of 2019, they finally moved their operation out of the garage and into a warehouse.

Chad vividly remembers driving all the packages to the post office himself. He was spending almost every hour of the day working on the business, and things were about to explode. 

Chad and Nick started a business - The Last Coat

The Customer Is Always Right—and Not Afraid to Tell You

Customer satisfaction was at the forefront from the beginning. Their target audience is picky—they know what they want and aren’t afraid to let you know what they really think of your product. Although most of the customers are DIY enthusiasts, they are incredibly knowledgeable. After taking about 75 customer service calls, Chad realized you couldn’t fool these guys—you have to know what you’re talking about if you want to succeed. His customers could smell bullshit from a mile away.

Quality control was a must. Every component needed to meet Chad’s high standards, so the duo ordered supplies from a ton of different vendors. He recalls buying bottles from one company, sourcing sprayers from a different company, and relying on yet another for the formula. But, if you’re going to market a car detailing product, you better make sure every detail of the actual product is perfect. 

A Boost from an Influencer

In April of 2019, a famous influencer tested the product, and he wanted to post a glowing review online. Nick, however, got scared—if all the influencer’s followers purchased The Last Coat, they might not be able to keep up with the orders. To prepare for the big post, the team purchased a filler capable of filling 700 bottles an hour. Luckily, it arrived exactly three days before the influencer posted. Nick, in the style of MacGyver, put it all together and prepared 700 bottles. On the day of the post, Chad and Nick sold 250 bottles!

After the initial excitement of the influencer’s post died down, so did the number of sales. However, they still averaged about 40-50 a day. And, best of all, customers raved about the product.

Their initial product launch garnered about 1,100 5-star reviews, and they had over 10,000 customers. But, there was rocky terrain on the horizon. 

The Torture Test

As The Last Coat began to develop a cult following and a solid reputation, one YouTuber decided to put its claims to the test. His subscribers knew him for producing outlandish and unrealistic product test videos. Unfortunately, the YouTuber released a disastrous video about The Last Coat and tore Chad and Nick’s product to shreds.

In the video, their product endured a variety of tests—including dousing it with acid. The Last Coat didn’t pass, but why would it? The team didn’t design the product for chemical warfare; they created it to withstand normal, realistic circumstances.

While most people would’ve shrugged their shoulders at the ridiculousness of the video, Chad took it was a challenge. He set the bar for The Last Coat even higher and decided to reformulate.

After a lot of trial and error as they started a business together, Chad and Nick introduced the new formula to their customers. At first, it wasn’t well-received. Their customers loved the original and were hesitant to give it a chance. However, they soon changed their tune. The reformulation required less product during application and performed even better.

You Can’t Make Chicken Salad Out of Chicken Shit 

Great marketing sells products, but if you don’t have the right creatives, you can’t sell your way out of a paper bag. For Chad, Facebook always produced customers, but until late August, he didn’t do much with Facebook ads. Testimonial videos worked for some competitors, but not in the way Chad and Nick desired.

To prove they had the best product on the market, Chad and Nick began their own series of torture test videos. And their first video boosted their sales to triple digits, where it has since stayed. Other marketing strategies include ads with improved production value, YouTube reviews, and email. The partners finally entered the Amazon marketplace in December, which turned out to be a lucrative channel. 

Although growth has been slower than Chad prefers, The Last Coat surpassed 7-figures in its first 12 months. Even with logistics challenges during the past year—streamlining packaging, a new formula, etc.—the company has been very successful. As for scaling, Chad hopes to go international with the brand very soon. 

Helpful Advice from Capitalism.com

Chad has followed Capitalism.com for several years, and he found the free content to be very helpful as he started a business. He finally had the chance to attend an 8-Figure Exits event. He says the highlight was getting to talk at length with Ryan—an experience he’ll never forget.

During this conversation, Chad received very valuable advice—stop looking at the competitors. Chad admits to feeling frustrated after seeing an inferior product surpass their volume in less time. Instead of paying attention to what was happening in other companies, Chad needed to focus one-hundred percent on their own journey. Once he learned to do that, he had less stress and was able to prioritize his family and health.

When The Last Coat rolls out a new product, it needs to be the best in the industry. It needs to provide a big benefit to the customer, and we should be able to demonstrate it on video. Although it doesn’t necessarily need to be another torture test video, it should confirm durability and quality to the buyer. “We have to come home with stuff that is just awesome in every way.”

Got Your Entrepreneurial Imagination Revved Up?

The world needs more entrepreneurs like Chad, who started a business serving car nuts. If taking risks and overcoming challenges is part of your DNA, then starting a business of your own only makes sense. 

If Chad’s success story inspires you, and you’re the kind of capitalist who’s ready to own problems, create solutions, and serve people like nobody’s business, we’d like to help. If you haven’t gone through Million Dollar Brands yet, that would be the place to start. If you’re ready for the next step, The One Percent community may be a fit for you. 

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