11/08/2011 10:46 am ET Updated Jan 07, 2012 Case Study in 'Reverse E-Commerce,' Sell then Buy

In my book, Get Rich Click, I cover a lot of fascinating case studies that illustrate how the right idea can lead to a wildly successful online business. Opportunities present themselves every day -- to everyone. You just have to be alert and ready to act.

One of my favorite stories is that of Zachary and Nathan Doctor, two brothers who started a business in their dad's garage when Zachary was 10 years old and Nathan was 12. Their online bike tire business now generates $8 million in annual sales. It's also a great story about "SELL THEN BUY," a topic I've been addressing here in my blog lately.

The Doctor boys were your average preteens. They went to school, played sports and found all kinds of ways to have fun. They also lived in an entrepreneurial family and did what the typical kids of entrepreneurial parents do, from setting up lemonade stands to finding other ways to make a few bucks. Their dad is Lou Doctor, a successful executive living in Silicon Valley. He runs a boutique investment banking firm called Arbor Advisors.

Lou Doctor enjoys cycling. His sons also adopted the sport early on. All three learned that in the world of cycling, special bike tires are the equipment of choice. You must have the right tires for the right application, from paved road to mountain path.

One day in 2002 Lou and his bike club ordered tires online from a specialty firm in the United Kingdom. To get the best price, they had to order in quantities of 10 tires per type. When they received their first order, Lou and his bike club were not thrilled. The tires were an odd color. No one in the bike club wanted them on their bikes.

Lou Doctor struck a deal with his sons. He gave the boys the tires and suggested they try to sell them on eBay. They could sell them for whatever price they wanted, but he needed $30 a tire to cover his costs. Above that, the boys could keep anything they got above that as profit. The sons went into action. They snapped digital photos of the ugly-colored tires, posted them for sale on eBay and waited.

Not only did the boys sell them in quick order, but they sold them for $35 each. Lou got his $300 investment back and the boys pocketed $50 for their efforts. The boys asked their dad to order 10 extra tires next time.

Sell Then Buy

The same thing happened. The boys sold the 10 extra tires and again made a tidy profit. Zachary and Nathan wanted more! They were making money and having fun at the same time. Soon there were more orders, more sales, more customers and more profits. They went from ordering 10 tires to ordering 50 and as many as 500 at a time from the retailer in the United Kingdom, who eventually gave them discounts for large-volume purchases.

Then the boys opened an eBay store. They got up each day at 5:00 a.m. and pulled the items, packed the orders, filled out the shipping labels and got to school at 7:30 a.m. When they came home, they went to work printing out the orders and getting them ready for fulfillment. Every day at 6:00 p.m., they took the packages to the local post office, where they became known for pulling bins of boxes and placing them directly on the back of the post office truck before it left for the distribution center.

It wasn't long before the brothers launched, their own e-commerce website. The business kept growing and in the Get Rich Click spirit, Zachary and Nathan pursued online marketing, learning how to buy the right Keyword combinations to get higher rankings in the search engines. They
attribute much of their success to buying traffic via Keywords... thousands of Keywords and Keyword combinations that increase the number of "free" hits they get on Google, Yahoo and other search engines.

Thanks to the Doctor family, their tire supplier became the largest supplier of specialty bike tires in the United Kingdom. Today Zach is 20 and Nathan is 22. They have less time to work at the company, but they still help with buying Keywords and work during the summers. The company, with over $9.5 million in sales annually, now sells everything for the serious cyclist. And it's still growing.

Order Delivery Time in Five Minutes

Customers in virtually every country in the world order from BikeTiresDirect. Occasionally an order comes from a Silicon Valley customer. For fun, Lou Doctor would drive his kids to the customer's home, ring the bell and deliver the order -- allowing the boys to meet and get to know some of their customers. One day, they received an order from someone who lived only a few streets from their home. They quickly fulfilled the order, jumped in the car and drove to the customer's home, arriving five minutes after the order had been placed. When the customer answered the door, 10-year-old Zachary and 12-year-old Nathan were standing there, order in hand. Needless to say, the boys had a new customer for life. Word-of-mouth referrals from the delighted customer generated even more business for BikeTiresDirect.