From Delivering Pizzas to Making $5.6 Million in Two Years: The Story Behind Quadra
In 2008 the US experienced a devastating recession, and like many people, John Sanders was laid off from his job selling software to homebuilders. Ever since college, Sanders was interested in online marketing and decided it was time to make that a full time job. With his connections to homebuilders, Sanders wanted to help them with online marketing.
“I already had the contacts, and so I thought that was my easiest path to success,” says Sanders. “Unfortunately, it was a lot harder than I thought, especially given the economy. I think I wasn't prepared to be an entrepreneur at the time. It got so tough for me and my family that I almost lost my house and cars. I was literally at the brink of disaster.”
To make ends meet, Sanders started working as a pizza delivery man, pictured below holding his pizza delivery badge that serves as a humble reminder of his early days in business.
“At the time I was in my thirties, I had friends that had been really successful in their businesses and careers, and I remember that being one of the lowest points in my life,” says Sanders. “One day I was delivering on Halloween and all these people were with their families and here I was delivering pizzas. I felt like a complete loser.”
With a fourth child on the way, Sanders stopped his entrepreneurial efforts and found a corporate job again. But his dream of being an entrepreneur and working in the online marketing world never faded.
In 2014, Sanders came across a course on how to run a print on demand (POD) business. POD allows sellers to put designs on products and sell them on a website without having to hold inventory. He saw a lot of other sellers succeed and believed it was a sound investment. Sanders promised his wife that if it didn’t succeed after 30 days, he’d put his online marketing dreams to rest.
“Long story short, I ended up selling T-shirts and making money–it was successful,” says Sanders. After a year he moved to Logan, and eventually quit his job, becoming a full-time POD seller.
Throughout his journey Sanders says his wife is his main support and lifeline. When first starting up his ecommerce business, Sanders wondered if he should just quit and go back to the corporate world. But his wife pushed him to keep going on the path he was on. “I’ll have these conversations with her and she just tells me, ‘No, you were you were born to do this, you weren't born to be behind a desk.’ Her support has been everything to me,” says Sanders.
While making money selling products like T-shirts and mugs, Sanders wanted to expand into more unique products, selling things that he saw on Etsy. He reached out to multiple Etsy sellers, but there was no easy way to connect his ecommerce business to their products, so they could see fulfillment orders and requests.
This problem gave Sanders the idea to automate the whole process between manufacturers and sellers.
“People use Etsy because they're manufacturers, but they're not marketers, they just want to sell products,” explains Sanders. “Then there's sellers like me, who are looking for unique products. At Quadra, we want to connect people that manufacture with people that sell so it's a win-win.”
In 2018 Sanders met Scott Carpenter, a developer who was interested in this idea. Together, they wrote up the legal paperwork and officially founded Quadra eCommerce.
Sports, especially volleyball, is an important part of Sanders’s life. As he is also half Brazilian, he chose the word, Quadra, as the name of his company because it is the Portuguese word for court. The vision of Quadra is a collaboration between manufacturers and sellers, just like the collaboration of a team out on the court.
Quadra is completely bootstrapped. To grow, Sanders went to companies and offered his marketing skills, funding the development of Quadra’s app through client work. Through these early contacts, Sanders met his other business partner, Brian Rueckert who ran a laser engraving shop in Logan and owned an online store, Urban Forest Wood. In one year, Sanders took Urban Forest Wood from almost zero to high six figures in sales. Rueckert was impressed by their success, intrigued by the idea of Quadra, and joined the team as head of manufacturing.
In 2020, the team found a large volume manufacturing company in Lindon that could fill the orders of Rueckert’s online store. Since then, the team has scaled Urban Forest Wood to earn over $5.6M in revenue.
The MVP of the Quadra app came out in November 2021, based on the software created to connect Urban Forest Wood to the Lindon manufacturing company. Now, the company is fixing bugs and adding more manufacturers to the platform to prepare for the 2022 Q4 rush.
“Our mission is to help people express and monetize their creativity,” explains Sanders. “If you have an idea for a product, we help you express it without having to buy a lot of inventory. Just install our app on your Shopify store, put a design on the product, and once that product sells, our connections to manufacturers will print it and ship it to your customer. Then, all that data goes back to your store with the tracking number and everything.”
Quadra offers a lot of unique customizable products creators can put their designs on, including mousepads, ornaments, lanterns, tote bags, and plywood signs.
The company also offers a three-tiered payment system. The free app has limited mobility for users while the Quadra Pro-monthly and Quadra Pro-Annual plans offer more options and services. The Quadra Pro-Annual plan even offers monthly live print-on-demand training with Rueckert and Sanders and access to thousands of done-for-you product designs.
As the company grows, Sanders says he is constantly empowered by his humble beginnings. In fact, he always carries around his name badge from the pizza company and still drives the same car as a reminder of where he started.
“As I reflect back on my story, the worst time in my life has now become my superpower, it’s become the fuel that drives me to make Quadra into something special,” says Sanders. “Everything I do with Quadra now is with the pizza guy in mind. I'm always looking at how I can help him and how I can be a lifeline to that guy. That's what I think drives the success we've had initially.”
Since the launch of the app, the company has processed over 16,000 orders and has added over 500 users on the platform.
Quadra’s next steps are to make more connections with manufacturers, and they have started talking to companies outside of the US in both the United Kingdom and Brazil.
As Sanders is half Brazilian, expanding into Brazil and connecting sellers there with American manufacturers and audiences is a big goal for the company. He sees Quadra connecting people around the world to reach a wider customer base and have access to products no matter where they live in the world.
Sanders also hopes to be a large part of Web3. “As we evolve into Web3, the metaverse, and those kinds of things, people are going to start taking ownership of the web,” explains Sanders. “I envision Quadra being the engine that allows people to bring their digital ideas into the physical world.”
Quadra will be doing a free live masterclass on July 21, 2022. Click here for more details, or to see future training and courses.