Luke Peters was an environmental scientist in California with no experience in online business or marketing when he had an idea for an online retailer. Eight years later, his company Air & Water Inc. is a hugely successful home and office appliance retailer, boasting a 35,000 square foot warehouse and more than 30 full-time employees.
Always looking to lend a helping hand to other entrepreneurs, Peters agreed to sit down and share some of the insights he’d learned during Air and Water’s history and share some of the keys to his success.
How did you get the idea for the online business?
I was working as an environmental scientist for the state of California, but my brother had me convinced that starting an online business could be much more lucrative. All I needed to do was find the market, he said. I started to look for what people were looking for online, but not able to find. Through the research, I saw there was a high demand for air conditioner-related products online, but very few options. After mulling it over for a while, I realized that this was the best opportunity out there.
Did you have any online marketing/web development in your background that helped with the development?
My background was actually in microbiology and chemistry – so the short answer is no. Calling the site development slow would be definitely be an understatement! To make things as easy as possible, we first started developing the site as a Yahoo store. Every evening I would come home from work, eat dinner and play with the kids until they went to bed, and then work on the site until the wee hours of the morning. This went on for weeks, and eventually we were able to roll out the site right from our condo.
What would you consider the key to your success?
The most important key for us – which I’ve learned over the last eight years – is to just keep moving forward. It’s nothing new or revolutionary, but I never liked getting stuck on projects. Even if don’t knock it out of the park on the first try, just keep moving forward and don’t let yourself get bogged down with analysis and over-planning. This lets us test our new ideas in the best lab of all – the real world market!
Is there any other advice would you give someone looking to start their own online business?
The more I think all we’ve been through at Air & Water over the past eight years, the more I realize how important it was for us to just jump right in and do it. You can plan and stress over every detail, but there’s nothing that can really prepare you for going through with it. I would tell them to just dive right in. Some may call it reckless, but that’s kept us ahead of the competition from the start. Our ideas make it to market faster, and that’s why we’ve been so successful.