How I Started a Crossbody
Phone Case Brand
Hi! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hey, Founder Facts Team! First of all, thank you for having me on your platform for founders. I hope I can inspire some of your readers today to start their own business. My name is Ramin, and I started a crossbody phone case brand called Keebos almost 2 years ago.
Keebos is a lifestyle brand that aims to make a difference by supporting the environment. Our signature product is our iconic crossbody phone case, which lets you wear your smartphone either crossbody over your shoulder, or around your neck, similar to a necklace.
Beyond that, we’ve expanded based on customer feedback to include stylish accented Keebos cases with detachable gold and onyx chains, wallet phone cases, and our handsfree Sunglass Straps that are a stylish, yet functional way to accent and carry your favorite sunglasses!
What is your personal story and how did you come up with the idea?
I’m originally from Germany, grew up in Washington DC and lived abroad in Madrid, Montpellier and Berlin before moving to Los Angeles three years ago. After working in product and marketing at Nike for over four years and leading many global product launches, I became a huge fan of products that are innovative and functional, yet represent a cool, active lifestyle at the same time.
The people and startup scene in Los Angeles really inspired me in many ways to start a company with a well-designed product and a meaningful mission – planting a tree for each product sold.
Living in sunny Venice, California, you’re always out and about. When you’re on a bike or going out, there’s always a risk that you’ll lose, misplace or drop your phone. Especially bigger smartphones often don’t fit into your clothes’ regular-sized pockets. Or, for example, my sister often didn’t know where to put her phone when wearing yoga pants.
There wasn’t a product out there that was functional & fashionable to carry your phone handsfree. I saw an opportunity to develop Keebos phone cases – to connect with people over something we all love to share: being handsfree and carefree!
What challenges did you face when creating your product/service?
When I first started Keebos, I purposely tried to do everything on my own: sourcing, accounting, website development, product photography, customer service, and everything else that comes with starting a company. It was great because I learned so much more about each field.
I also realized that there is always someone in your network with more experience who can and wants to help you. That’s when I started asking for more help, and more importantly outsourcing tasks that take me sometimes 5x as long as it would take someone who is specialized in that field.
Who is your target market?
Even though we get many international orders from men and women between the ages of 18-70 years old, our current target market is women between the ages of 25 and 45. Especially busy moms love staying handsfree with their Keebos crossbody phone case.
Also, since the beginning of the pandemic, more nurses and doctors are reaching out about our crossbody phone cases. They’ve highlighted to us how much easier our phone cases make their job on the frontlines.
How do you market your business and which approaches have been the most successful?
Beyond the traditional methods of Facebook/Instagram advertising, SEO, influencer marketing and word of mouth have been key to our success. Especially when celebrities like Eva Longoria and Maria Menenous started wearing and posting about their Keebos on Instagram, our sales, as well as social media following, really grew.
One strategy that has worked surprisingly well is building genuine relationships with our early customers. They are the most critical and the most passionate. Early on, I chatted with them on a daily basis as we started off.
Since you launched, what has worked in not only attracting but retaining customers?
Customer satisfaction is a high priority for us here at Keebos. It’s a central pillar within the company. When someone decides to purchase Keebos, we understand they are making a choice to spend some of their hard-earned money on our product, in place of other things they could buy. So we always want to ensure the best possible experience and product for each and every customer.
Whether you need our assistance before, during or after your purchase, our Keebos team is always here to help and ensure you have the best experience with our brand. I personally get frustrated when I purchase a new brand and their team is unresponsive, or even rude. Our focus on customer success is what keeps our customers happy and coming back.
What kind of culture exists in your company, and how did you establish it?
Our culture at Keebos is centred around the customer. For us, it’s incredibly important that we listen to our customers and constantly ask for their feedback on how we can improve as a company and create better products. Before making significant changes to our products, we always make sure to ask our customers first. Let’s face it; at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what we like, it’s truly all about what the customers want. That’s why we don’t just wait for feedback to come our way; rather, we proactively ask our customers how we can improve.
Innovation is another key element that is important to us. We constantly look for ways to make our products and processes better. There are no “bad” ideas, and if we think something could be innovated or improved we always make sure to test our theories. As an example, we’ve gone through five different iterations of the wallet attached to the back of our cases since we first launched, and we continue to make little improvements to make it the best possible product for our customers.
What software, services or tools do you use within your business?
Let’s see…here is what we currently use:
CRM and email newsletters – Hubspot
API Integration Software – Zapier
Database – Airtable
Communication – Slack
E-commerce shop – Shopify
Simple image editing – Canva
SEO – Ahrefs
To automate a majority of the Keebos business tasks, we use Zapier as an integration software. For example, I use an integration of Shopify and Airtable for managing and analysing customer data.
What are the most important lessons have you learned on your business journey?
The most important lesson I’ve learned from starting a business is how essential it is to get customer feedback. You can waste so many resources at the beginning of your journey, trying to create the perfect business plan, product, logos and long-term strategies. For us, selling our products and receiving and accepting honest feedback from customers has accelerated our business the most. Think of early promos, free products and returns as your marketing expense.
What is your favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
One thing I truly relish about being an entrepreneur is that, while not everything can be exciting, I always feel I am progressing and learning new things with each passing day. I also appreciate that entrepreneurship challenges me to learn about each field of the business. You are the head of marketing, sales, finance, customer service and everything else when you start out, and you learn a lot more about each field than when you are siloed into a particular position in a 9 to 5 job at another company.
Of course, with the skills you develop as an entrepreneur you always have the freedom to return to a 9 to 5 if you really want to. But you’ll show up with a broader set of skills and experience than many other folks at the company might have! I don’t plan on doing that, but it’s a great way of thinking about risk for anyone wanting to start their own business.
What is your LEAST favourite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
I honestly don’t have a least favorite aspect. obviously not every day will feel like the greatest.But all the benefits outweigh the negatives by so much, that I accept all challenges that come with being an entrepreneur.
For anyone thinking about starting a business, be aware that it’s not always as glamorous (and effortless) as people make it look on social media. You will have to make hard decisions every single day and it usually takes time for you to see your hard work pay off.
What books, podcasts or other resources have inspired and influenced your business journey?
Definitely “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries. I actually had a chance to go see him speak in Santa Monica in 2018, and he signed my book as well haha. That really inspired me to start a company the “lean” way and build products based on customer feedback.
“4 Hour Work Week” by Tim Ferriss is another book with similar perspectives and strategies for starting a business. The title is a little misleading to some, but there are so many golden nuggets and ways of thinking about starting a business without investing too much upfront capital.
Where do you see your business 2-3 years from now?
Smartphones are continuously getting more important to everyone’s life. They also are getting more expensive and bigger. So I see it as normal in the future for people to wear their phones on their bodies as they are more reliant on them. We all want to keep our phones safe and accessible, but our cases also should match our lifestyle! So, beyond being just a case, Keebos are becoming an accessory that allows the Keebos family to express their sense of style in a convenient way every single day.