#40: Confessions of a 21-Year Old E-Commerce Entrepreneur with Alec Matlock from Envy Controllers

Started from his college dorm room at the age of 19 (and still in school), tune in to hear how Alec Matlock built Envy Controllers to a team of six people while selling hundreds of product every month. Envy Controllers sells custom painted Xbox 360 controllers for the hardcore gamer that wants an extra edge in style over their peers offline and online.

Topics Discussed:

  • 04:30 – Background of Envy Controllers
  • 05:30 – Finding the first customer for custom Xbox controllers
  • 06:30 – Custom controllers vs stock Xbox controllers
  • 08:00 – How the business has grown since the dorm room days
  • 09:00 – Characteristics of the hardcore gamer crowd
  • 10:30 – Mistake of not setting expectations with customers
  • 12:00 – Process of creating new designs and being creative
  • 13:00 – Knock-off controls vs genuine OEM controllers
  • 15:00 – Product categories and custom designs available
  • 16:45 – Scaling operations outside of a dorm room
  • 18:00 – So…why is he still in school?
  • 20:00 – Being a part of your community and creating a product
  • 21:00 – Approval and permission seeking vs the entrepreneurial leap
  • 23:30 – Initial efforts and branding of products at offline events
  • 25:00 – Social media efforts and rolling out a new marketing plan
  • 27:30 – Dangers of scaling a business too fast
  • 29:00 – Hiring older staff and maintaining the company culture
  • 31:00 – The biggest mistake Alec made starting out
  • 33:30 – Benefits of learning from business podcasts, blogs, and videos
  • 35:00 – Changing from Volusion to Shopify
  • 36:00 – Customizing a Shopify theme to launch a new store
  • 39:00 – Advice for choosing an E-Commerce Platform


Mentions in the Episode:


Episode Length: 42:26


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  1. Great interview. Be curious how the transition goes from Volusion to Shopify. I’ve had Volusion for 3 years. We have 100,000+ sku’s and with all these rules set up we’ve been nervous to move, but definitely have heard some great things with Shopify being easier to customize.

    1. Thanks Mike! Yes would be interesting to hear too – seems like a huge pain once you are established.

      Another business I interviewed (Diamond Candles, Episode #25) actually moved off Shopify as they wanted more control over check-out and a few other things.

      Everyone has different starting points but if capital wasn’t a huge concern or you just had extra money laying around to start, Magento is probably better option to just get it right and have flexibility to change things around within a platform down the road.

    2. I’ve heard in other interviews that people seem to move to magento once they establish and start to get larger and want more options and customization. But that’s not from my personal experience, I only recently started with Shopify as my first and only shopping cart platform.

      1. Site looks good Jeremy. Shopify was newer and didn’t have 1/2 bells & whistles it does now, compared to when I started in 2008. My first site was built on V-Store (yikes). Have spoken to Magento and the cost will be high for my one store to move, but you get what you pay for (sometimes). Good Luck with you site. Mike

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