6 Oct, 2020

From Startup Creator to Serial Entrepreneur: A Journey Powered by Dropshipping

Have you ever heard of serial entrepreneurs? Setting up a business – whether as a freelancer, a startup, or an e-commerce company – is already a significant commitment, But, for some entrepreneurs, it’s not enough, and they set out to create and run several businesses at a time.

Recently, we met with Frank Houbre, a French serial entrepreneur who is the CEO of the startup MyMusicTeacher and the test lab Business Dynamite, which specializes in ecommerce. A passionate guitar player, he launched his first startup with a friend. Over time, he developed digital marketing and ecommerce skills and decided to share his expertise through tutorials, training, and advice on Business Dynamite.

Now, at the age of 29, Frank already has ten years of experience as an entrepreneur. Over this time, he has helped aspiring musicians learn to play guitar and helped dropshippers choose the right products, improve their SEO, and test new marketing techniques. We asked Frank to tell us about his career path and share his advice on how to grow a business.

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From Guitar Enthusiast to Startup Creator

An Unconventional Academic Path

Since his teenage years, Frank has been passionate about music. As a student, he started working to make money to buy guitars, first taking up small part-time jobs, and then giving guitar lessons on the weekends. He always liked to discover new things, which his study path reflected. After graduating from high school, Frank first studied computer science for two years before switching to journalism and then, one year later, set out to study design. A year after this, he took up innovation management studies, obtaining his Master’s degree.

This unconventional path has allowed him to acquire a wide variety of computer science,design, video editing, and project management skills. These skills are precisely what you need to launch your own business, an idea that started to take shape in Frank’s mind.

“What If I Automated My Guitar Lessons?”

At the age of 18, Frank started teaching guitar. His guitar lessons took up a lot of his time, and he started wondering if there was a way to automate it all.

Frank initially created YouTube tutorials and decided to launch an online teaching platform he developed during his studies. At the time, he focused on offering free lessons. It took him several months to understand that he could charge for a service or content as long as it gives users value.

Frank then entered the Pépite program, an entrepreneurial program funded by the French government, which helps young entrepreneurs acquire skills, nurture their project, and launch their startup. At the end of this program, and together with a business partner, Frank launched his first company, MyMusicTeacher. He was officially an entrepreneur and a startup creator!

The Beginnings of MyMusicTeacher

Frank quickly raised more than €300,000 from public and private investors and banks. In addition to providing guitar lessons, MyMusicTeacher developed a sound capture system that tracks learners’ progress in real-time. Almost like Guitar Hero designed for learning.

The reputation and sales of MyMusicTeacher grew over time. However, a big competitor entered the French market, making it hard for Frank’s startup to exist. After this failure, it took several months for the team to pivot and get back on track. It was a period of tireless work.

Frank went through all the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur, but through solidarity and teamwork, the team could reinvent itself. They made a strategic decision: Discontinue complicated or unnecessary features and focus on a new, more straightforward minimum viable product.

Frank and his associates created several websites that revolved around the MyMusicTeacher website. The objective was to attract different profiles to their online music school. They also launched several tutorials on YouTube, short and simple lessons to learn popular guitar songs. In 2016, MyMusicTeacher won the gold medal at the prestigious French Lépine innovation contest and expanded overseas. The startup now has six employees/partners and over 200,000 users worldwide, including French-speaking countries, English-speaking countries, and South Korea.

In conjunction with his startup, Frank also started selling products online. He found a supplier in China offering guitar accessories that could help improve guitar playing. He launched an online store and connected it to MyMusicTeacher. But, as time went by, Frank and his associates decided to focus on developing their platform and the guitar lessons. They didn’t want customers to have to buy additional products to use all the platform features.

How Frank Became A Serial Entrepreneur

His Ecommerce Debuts

In addition to his startup, Frank grew a strong interest in ecommerce and, during his spare time, launched various online stores using Shopify and WordPress. One of them was a ukulele store that generated €180,000 in sales in just three days. Frank has since discontinued his online store but kept the ukulele site as an information and learning platform.

Becoming A Serial Entrepreneur

With his various stores and experiments, Frank quickly became a serial entrepreneur. He decided to share everything he had learned along the way on YouTube – the same channel he’d used to launch his guitar lessons. And that’s how the Business Dynamite channel started.

Today, Business Dynamite allows Frank to experiment with all sorts of things. In his videos (in French), Frank tries out ideas, tests new products, experiments with Facebook advertising or SEO techniques, and shares his dos and don’ts.

The projects launched on Frank’s channel aim to help his followers and allow them to improve their ecommerce and digital marketing skills. For their online store launch, Frank advises entrepreneurs to work on their SEO, but also to develop an affiliate marketing strategy working with blogs in their product niche. He also teaches social media advertising techniques, focusing on retargeting to reduce acquisition costs and convert. Frank prefers to focus on SEO techniques that build traffic in the long term. He also shares advice on navigating the complexities of the French legal system.

Frank often reminds his followers of the importance of storytelling for product marketing. As an example, he takes a pen with a white background on AliExpress and creates a brand image that gives it an identity. Another example is a scratch map of the world that he sold when he first started and called “The Treasure Hunter.” Dropshipping begins by attractively presenting a product so that customers will want to have it and buy it. But you need to make sure you have the right product.

Towards Ethical Dropshipping

Frank, together with an associate, recently launched a new wellness and nutrition online store. SEO is solely responsible for the traffic to the store, and in just a few months, he was able to generate €74,000 in sales.

Always up for something new, Frank also works on the SEO of various stores before reselling them to make a profit or subcontracting them to dominate multiple niches. There are many niche opportunities that allow him to have several stores and bring in even more revenue. According to Frank, SEO is the real estate of the Internet. As a site improves its ranking and gets older, it gains value and will be a good opportunity for another company.

“In this case, products are European and mostly vegan, it’s really a project that I wanted to set up in accordance with my values of animal and environmental protection. I am no longer interested in selling plastic products that come from AliExpress. I had started to give money from my dropshipping activity to plant trees, but for me, it wasn’t sufficient, and I was contributing to environmental pollution with my activity. So, I decided to find a quality product with a European supplier”.

Today, Frank is developing his own brand and range of vegan food supplements, intending to grow from one business to another. Because of how his team is structured, he can manage already established ecommerce projects and advise aspiring entrepreneurs.

For example, he shared with us the results that have been achieved by an entrepreneur that he coached. By following Frank’s advice, the entrepreneur was able to scale his business and achieve nearly €400,000 in sales in a few weeks.

Frank encourages more responsible ecommerce practices through his videos on the Business Dynamite channel. With good practices related to product selection, supplier choice, and marketing techniques, he wants to show that it’s possible to dropship ethically.

Today, Frank has been able to create a virtuous circle. He learned the basics of e-commerce through his MyMusicTeacher startup activity. It was through his numerous experiments on Business Dynamite that he became a digital marketing expert, boosting his website traffic and driving sales on My Music Teacher.

Startup Creator, Dropshipper, Serial Entrepreneur, and Trainer!

How Frank Trains Other Entrepreneurs in Digital Marketing

In addition to his numerous YouTube tutorials, Frank has also developed paid training courses to grow his dropshipping business, increase his visibility on Instagram, and boost his natural referencing. He also has a course on the basics of dropshipping available on Udemy (in French). Nearly 8,000 people have followed one of his training programs since 2018. He recently expanded his offer with digital marketing courses for companies.

How Do You Organize Your Time as A Serial Entrepreneur?

With two fast-growing companies and ambitious projects, one wonders how Frank manages to stay on top of everything and have free time!

To ensure he is efficient and productive, Frank splits his day in two. In the morning, he works on MyMusicTeacher and, in the afternoon, on his ecommerce activity with Business Dynamite. To save time, he also subcontracts some work to freelancers who assist with daily tasks.

As for his personal life, Frank has a strict rule: Disconnect on the weekends and try not to check emails. However, even he admits that he’s not always disciplined.

What’s really important for Frank is making an impact, help entrepreneurs experiment and continuously discover, and try new things. He keeps his trainer and startup creator mindset at all times, embracing a test and learn approach.

How to Develop Your Business: The Long Tail Keywords SEO Strategy

Some advice Frank gives is, after testing many things, entrepreneurs should create videos on TikTok – and to also watch out for new high-growth social networks. With a good idea, you can achieve great visibility. Thanks to just one TikTok video, Frank received 3 million views and gained 80,000 subscribers in just a few hours. Pinterest is another platform worth testing, even if it requires good targeting to be effective.

But ultimately, for Frank, what can really make a difference is focussing your SEO content strategy on long-tail keywords. He highlights five key steps to obtain free and stable traffic:

  1. Start by buying a domain name that is no longer active but has already enjoyed visibility on Google, so you don’t start from scratch.
  2. Find the most searched topics or questions of the moment with SEO tools such as Answer the Public or Keywordtool.io
  3. Answer as many of these questions as possible in your articles on your website
  4. Create YouTube videos related to these same questions. Embed your videos in your articles and include links to your articles in your YouTube descriptions
  5. Ask partners in your niche to create affiliate links to increase your off-site SEO further and be in the first Google results.

“Google is the world’s leading search engine, and YouTube, acquired by Google, is second in terms of queries,” says Frank. “If you make connections and create relevant content for both platforms, you will obtain better referencing for these queries.”

3 Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs from A Serial Entrepreneur

We asked Frank what advice he would give to entrepreneurs about to launch their business, whether it’s a startup or an online store.

Here are his top three tips:

  • Get started and go for it: make it as simple as possible to start within a week. To launch your startup, start with a simple and effective minimum viable product. Don’t spend too much time fine-tuning your product and test it as soon as possible. Frank says he waited too long to test MyMusicTeacher. It is essential to share your product with the user as quickly as possible, even if it means evolving your product later based on customer feedback.
  • Do not think that there is a magic formula or a ready-made recipe for success. What works are the fundamentals of business: Respect customers and cultivate loyalty, sell quality products, and adapt all of this to the opportunities of the internet.
  • Finally, the most important thing is to believe in yourself, surround yourself with people who support you, and accept failure. Because even if your online store or business is a success, you will still have failures. So, you have to prepare for them, face them, and come out stronger.

We hope you found Frank’s story inspiring and that it provided good food for thought whether you plan to launch your business shortly or have already done so!

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Audrey Liberge: