Iowa media company gives employees $5,000 to launch e-commerce business

The local media company I work for – The Gazette Company –  and more specifically the agency formed within called Fusionfarm launched today an internal project awarding teams of employees $5,000 to start an e-commerce business.

The company has agreed to invest $30,000 for six teams to plan, launch, market and maintain each business with an offer to share in the revenue over a period of time.

The goal is to increase the e-commerce knowledge within the agency and to increase collaboration between product, sales, technology and creative resources.

That’s pretty darn cool. We’re calling this process E-Commerce Camp.

Three people, me included, have worked for more than a month to gain as much e-commerce acumen as possible to create a core curriculum each team can use as a guide. In return, each team will report weekly on the progress and lessons learned.

Each team was required to have at least one representative from each area of expertise listed above. The only limitation is that teams cannot use a wholesaler supplier. We ended up with six teams of seven people.

That equals 42 people, or approximately 10 percent of the entire company who will collaborate to deploy a start-up e-commerce business. The curriculum calls for launching in the first couple of weeks of January 2013.

The curriculum, in simple form, includes 10 main steps:

  • How to choose a good niche
  • How to find a URL and brand name
  • How to find dropship suppliers
  • How to set up a merchant account, tax ID and credit card transactions
  • How to choose a shopping cart platform
  • How to design your storefront
  • How to optimize your site for search
  • How to build and execute an e-commerce marketing plan
  • How to monitor your site and transaction performance
  • How to tell if you’re making a profit

The idea came from Tim McDougall, the Vice President of Products, Publisher of The Gazette and a main partner with Fusionfarm. He, myself and Aaron Frerichs, the Manager of Digital Production, formed the curriculum and will act as advisors to the teams. Our Vice President of Sales and Fusionfarm partner Chris Edwards and Fusionfarm’s Director of Product Development Kelly Homewood will also act as advisers.

Not every detail is finalized and we’ll all be learning and adapting throughout this process. I’ll update the progress here and on the Fusionfarm blog.



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