Finding the perfect gift for the perfect man is tough. It's not as simple as heading to the local mall. If there's something there he wants, chances are he already has it. Quirky, funny, practical, or cool - any of these would work. But ultimately, you just want something to make him smile when he opens it because you get him.
Here's where Matt Fichtner steps in to save the day once again. TakeFlight features unique products explicitly curated for adventurous men.
From Afghanistan to Amazon (.com)
Matt graduated from college in 2005 and joined the United States Marine Corps. In addition to serving two tours in Afghanistan, he spent the next 11 years piloting helicopters and training recruits. That's when Matt developed a problem-solving strategy that's proven essential to his business success: working backward. He shared his process at a 8 Figure Exits workshop.
"There are a thousand paths to success," Matt says. "The key is knowing where you want to wind up… Only when you know the final objective can you come up with the tactics to get you to the end."
The military life lost its luster once his first child was born. He went back to school for his MBA and landed a job as a government contractor. What happened to launch his entrepreneurial career? Fichtner saw a video on Fulfillment By Amazon (FBA).
Services like FBA and Shopify make it easy for people to get started in e-commerce. The systems are affordable and user-friendly. Distributors for a wide range of products are easy to find online. They make it possible to get a business up-and-running in record time.
TakeFlight Takes Aim at the Men's Gift Market
Playing off his military background, Matt's first products were items he liked and would put to use. Tactical pens, everyday carry (EDC) tools, and multitool survival bracelets ended up being really popular Amazon products.
His first listing went live in 2017. A year later, his side gig was making more than his full-time job. In less than two years, Matt achieved a six-figure income in his spare time. After attending a Backroom weekend session, he realized he was building something more than a "guy gear" presence on Amazon. TakeFlight was a legitimate men's gift brand. Expanding to fit that theme has gone a long way to improve his marketing efforts and grow his business.
Not only does he cater to masculine types - military, police, survivalists - but to the women in men's lives who are buying them birthday and holiday presents. Christmas and Father's Day have become his busiest seasons. This seasonal shift shows up in his advertising strategy. In addition to running Facebook Ads and building an email list, Matt takes advantage of Amazon's advertising platform during the holiday season, targeting keywords like "stocking stuffers." Inserts in packages have also had a marked impact on repeat business.
Other changes happened in response to big problems. For instance, during last year's fourth quarter, U.S. Customs held up a $20,000 shipment for 20 days. Matt missed the deadline to ship the items to Amazon for distribution. Instead of spending a hard-earned vacation on the beach, he and his wife scrambled for weeks to mail orders out themselves. They processed 300-400 per day. This year, Matt's keeping logistics in mind and ordering earlier - and in larger quantities.
An even more significant shift happened during his second Backroom session. A protector by nature, Matt reinvested every dollar he made back into the business, determined to avoid loans. Talking to other business owners helped him work through his uncertainties and source the best financing partners. Two years of proven profits have resulted in a flood of offers.
Starting a New Business From Scratch
TakeFlight is a fun venture that drew Matt into the e-commerce world, and it's still going strong. But it's not the last of his projects. He's already working on new plans with a partner. Together they're launching a line of low-cal, low-carb dips for health-minded people who don't want to give up tasty snacks. To give you an idea of how fast this brand is flying, Costco is currently talking to the duo about getting their dips on shelves.
Making dip - or any food - for the mass market is quantum leaps away from making it for your family. "The best way to go is to find a reputable co-packer," Matt says. They looked for companies with previous experience working with Costco. Once they get the recipes, the co-packers will tweak them for mass production.
While Matt and his partner will create recipes from scratch, they already have the structure and cash flow in place to grow this business. They intend it to go faster than previous ventures, and with fewer mistakes. It's easy to use the knowledge, money, and momentum gathered from one business to fund future projects.
Exploring Backroom Benefits
Entrepreneurs who are starting to do well might wonder what Backroom and Workshop weekends offer them. What benefits do these events provide? Are they worth the investment of money or time?
For Matt, Backroom helped fine-tune his vision for TakeFlight. That allowed him to expand in profitable new directions. The sessions also helped him find the practical support he needed to get comfortable with financing options.
"Working through things with people in the group and finding out how fast other people were growing gave me more confidence," he says. It's one thing to read about programs online. It's another to hear people talk about how their profits are growing with the help of certain products designed for e-commerce.
We couldn’t resist asking a Marine who’s been everywhere about his thoughts on capitalism. No surprises here. “From my perspective working for the government for 14 years, I’ve seen an extremely wasteful, inefficient government. There are no repercussions for the government failing. If I launch a product that everybody hates, I lose all that money and I have to pivot to something else. If the government throws something up and loses all the money, they just asked for more tax money. They can always print more money. I'd like to see a smaller government that gives people the freedom to grow their own businesses.”
Advice From the Trenches with Matt Fichtner
"The cool thing about The One Percent and the Backroom and everything is we all focus on generating sales and cash flow. Like, right away," Matt says.
Unlike Shark Tank and venture capital start-ups, the focus is on testing and making sales. Get something to the market and see what consumers want enough to open their wallets. Ask buyers for their opinions, and use what you learn to develop a product they like even better. "Until you give them something to give you feedback on," Matt says, "you really have no idea."