Under The Hood: Rayan from Cloudsharks
The fascinating story of Rayan and Cloudsharks, the next Crocs.
Welcome Rayan! So what was your mindset when you were launching CloudSharks?
It happened organically.
I had been working in e-com for a few years. But recently, I took a 1.5 year break, needing a breather from a drop-shipping business that got hot very quickly, and later cooled down. That took a big toll on me mentally. But about 4 months ago, I was scrolling through Alibaba and Aliexpress aimlessly, and I saw these unique slides with sharks on them. I felt a connection, there was something there. I slept on it, ordered a few pairs - and once I received them, I instantly got the sense that these could turn into something big. So I setup a Shopify store in just over a week, and started selling. Primarily driving top of the funnel acquisition via Tik Tok Ads.
I launched the store April 6th 2022, and today we’re May 16th - and I’m now well over the 6 figure mark, with roughly around $120k in sales. So CloudSharks has exploded, in the best way possible.
I'm curious about your background. What was your level of exposure to drop-shipping?
I got into drop-shipping in late 2017. At that time, I had dropped out of college due to some unforeseen circumstances. I saw a youtube ad for dropshipping and never looked back. I ended up going back to school a year later and getting my degree in August of 2021.
My first store was selling hats. I made about $10k, unprofitably. For my second store, I sold drones. I shut that down after a few months, too many mechanical issues with that business. And then in August of 2020, I started my 3rd store, selling ring lights that clip onto your phone.
I was one of the first advertisers on TikTok, and I saw results instantly. Things took off, and as mentioned, eventually things went south. We had challenging supply issues and couldn’t sustain the demand. So that 3rd store was my first “success”, whilst also being a failure at the same time.
These experiences, along with everything that comes with it (media buying, store optimisation etc), taught me some of the key skills that I now leverage with CloudSharks.
So what’s the process of drop-shipping? How does it work?
Here’s an example for the selfie ring lights I mentioned: They were sourced via AliExpress. All dropshipping is, is buying the product from a place like aliexpress, and shipping directly to the customers doorstep so that I never touch the product.
I used the dropshipping method initially with the ring lights to see if they were even worth it. After seeing the sudden success, I decided I was tired of the terrible shipping times and decided to take another route. I found a supplier on Alibaba, and branded the product completely. I then shipped about $5k worth of inventory to my house in the United States and started fulfilling orders from home. I was running an entire business from A-Z in the basement of my home.
There are many different approaches to finding a winning product, but my strategy has always been to pick a product that other marketers haven’t capitalized on yet.
For shipping, you can choose to strictly send them via Aliexpress directly which is the traditional drop-shipping model - but that usually means less control over the operation and longer lead times (3-4 weeks). For CloudSharks, I’m working with a private agent in China who handles my orders and fulfills them much faster (10-12 business days).
Let's talk about acquisition. Is Tik Tok your main channel so far?
Primarily, yes. In the first 14 days, I had spent over $10k on Tik Tok ads, so +90% of my traffic came via Tik Tok ads.
One downfall of that is that my ad account recently got banned until the end of the month - for an issue which I can’t quite pin down (this happens frequently). So with the ban, I had to do something. I invested time into learning TikTok organic. I tried to learn what the algorithm liked from an organic content standpoint, and I’m starting to crack that. My latest video generated over 1 million views.
What makes the video unique? How did you succeed at that?
Honestly, I don't know why it gained so much traction. Some of my videos which I hope will take off often don’t, and then this one video went viral. It’s hard to know exactly why. Key things for me have been funny, weird content. Good lighting always as well, and of course, a good hook.
How are you optimizing your campaigns?
I look for cheap CPMs. and then ROAS. I initially was calculating profit manually at the end of day - but I’ve since upgraded to Triple Whale which has helped me immensely. I can’t recommend it enough.
Why do you love Triple Whale so much?
A mentor who’s done well over 7 figures in e-comm recommended it. And even though I just have the basic version, I go on the app about 10 times a day, checking how much ad spend I’ve invested, and my profitability. Checking those numbers + actual margins after inputting data on cost of goods sold has been a real gamechanger.
Let's talk about Conversion Rate Optimization. How did you think about that?
It took me about a week and a half to setup my store. Without sounding arrogant, I'm quite strong at building Shopify websites; making them look very presentable. When I first started in on e-com I learned there are 3 key elements to crack:
- The website
- The product
- The ads
So I made sure my website was perfect. That gave me certitude that if I wasn’t profitable, it’s not because my website was faulty - it had to be the product or the ads. From a CRO perspective - I don’t have a set approach. I just go through the entire funnel multiple times with very careful attention to detail, trying to determine whether the experience is as streamlined and clear as it needs to be. The pictures need to be high quality and trustworthy for example, which is why I take pictures at home with the slides on. I want consumers to feel a sense of trust.
Do you have a developer background or were you just using themes?
I have a little bit of background in HTML, but I'm just using a basic OS 2.0 theme on Shopify. I'm actually looking into adding a new theme now called “shapes”. I then add extra functionality mostly via Shopify apps.
One shout out to give would be to EcomWithMichael on Youtube. Such a smart guy when it comes to conversion optimization. He also recommended Microsoft Clarity to me to track heatmaps of the customer's journey. For example, I was trying to improve my abandoned checkout rate, and I looked at my data for the past 7 days and saw something was off around shipping times. So that's why I installed an app that just gave the estimated delivery date right in front of them so that they didn't have to click anything & reduce friction in the path to conversion. For that I’m using Tracktor order tracking which is great.
Most of it just comes down to just really trying to think in the customer's eye. Does this look like a good website? Do these pictures look good? Do the shipping times look good? Does the copywriting look good? It all comes down to just big attention to detail.
Tell me tell me about your stack then. What are the different tools that you're using?
One tool I’m extremely excited about is Bounty. Jason Wong at Doe Lashes uses it. It’s a tool that prompts customers to post a Tik Tok of their product to get some cash back. Big shoutout to Abe, the CEO, can’t thank him enough for giving Cloudsharks this opportunity.
I’ve enrolled 300 users already on that. And once they receive their orders, I’m suddenly going to receive so much Tik Tok UGC. That's huge. The other day, I even got a couple signups from a couple users that have a million followers a piece. I can’t wait.
You mentioned Triple Whale for analytics and Traktor for order tracking. Any other apps?
Obviously Klaviyo for email. I’ve outsourced flows to someone on Fiverr actually. And then Liverecover for SMS has been helpful. For reviews, I use AReviews and finally I leverage a really cool cart upsell app called Rebuy that’s made my AOV explode.
I love Rebuy. Curious - What do you even upsell to? What else are you selling?
I'm just discounting another pair. It's like buy one, get one 35% off and it's been killing it.I didn't expect customers to purchase more than 1 pair, but the upsells have worked so well.
Are you dreaming of this becoming something bigger than it already is?
My mentor told me before I started selling that this can be a lot bigger than what it initially was. So many people have commented that these are better than Crocs. have no doubt that this thing can hit over eight figures. The problem right now is the business is so early, and working capital is a real issue when scaling. It’s probably my biggest problem right now.
To implement this long term vision, I want to bring product to the US. And for that, I need to order a large amount of inventory - and for that I need funding. But with only 1 month of sales data, no one will lend me money, they all need 6+ months of sales data.
I’ve heard good things about is Parker. Last question from me: What’s been your one key to success so far on CloudSharks?
This is going to sound so cliché, but I think it comes down to “drive”. I've never liked working for others. I've always been entrepreneurial. Being able to do e-commerce full time has always been my dream and I love doing what I do.
I feel like I’m the realest version of myself in this business - and that’s been my key to success. I love building brands. Nothing makes me happier than customer satisfaction, getting a customer review, being tagged with my product on socials. A lot of success is attributed to how obsessed I am with customer experience. A line that sticks forever in my head is that customers are the lifeline of your business.
Rayan! Wow. Thank you. Just bought 2 pairs of CloudSharks. Can’t wait for what’s next.