Founder Stories: Matt Phelps On Building STEEL
In today’s Founder Story, we feature Matt Phelps, the founder of STEEL!
Read on for lessons he has learned from launching and marketing his jawline exercise equipment brand.
1. Please introduce your business and share your role.
STEEL helps men and women improve their jawlines. Yes, it’s actually possible! Losing weight will obviously make a difference, but we focus on building the masseter muscles on the side of the jaw.
We have 5 products currently, but we started with just one hard chewing gum made from mastic gum – a tree sap found only on a Greek island called Chios.
We sell internationally via our ecommerce store to men and women of all ages. I really mean that… we’ve had customers over 80 years old! Apparently, there are a lot of people who want to improve their jawline – most just don’t believe it’s possible.
2. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch?
All our traffic has come organically via Google and YouTube. There never really was a “launch”, it was more a steady incline. I pumped out jawline blog posts that ranked rather quickly in Google and brought eyeballs to the site. And I also created a personal YouTube channel and posted jawline content. THAT did really well from the beginning. The 2nd video I ever posted has 4 million views today.
3. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?
I experimented with paid ads via Google… but I could never get it to work profitably. I’m sure someone more qualified could have, but I just didn’t have that skill set at the time. Posting content and building backlinks has been the core of the entire marketing strategy.
4. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?
The founder of Native deodorant Moiz Ali has influenced me a lot. He really has a similar mindset to mine and has specialized in ecommerce – I listen to everything he ever says publicly.
The Jawliner team has also helped me tremendously. They were the first ones in this space and have continued to develop amazing products. I started collaborating with them in 2022 when I realized they could make certain products better than I could.
5. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?
Most of my marketing is search traffic so I use a combination of Google’s keyword planner, Ahrefs, and my own special hacks to find which articles I should write.
I wrote all the articles on the site myself. But if I were to publish more now… I’d certainly look into the A.I. content generation tools. Not as a replacement, but as a way to launch “MVP” articles. You can then follow up and edit it.
6. Looking ahead, what are you most excited about?
I realized that I love building websites and ranking them on Google. You can easily monetize the traffic with affiliate marketing or display ads – it’s just so simple.
I’m building a portfolio of affiliate sites and my main one at present is Selfpaid. It’s a content site that teaches creators how to get started and properly monetize their audience. I’m seeing amazing results already.
7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?
Every time I hear someone doing or building something out of the ordinary – I’m inspired. These days, there are even kids doing amazing things in different domains. I’m almost shocked every day by some new achievement of some human somewhere on the planet.
This is motivating… but you can’t try to keep up with everyone. You have to play your own game. My game is to live a balanced life and be healthy, wealthy and wise.
8. What are some lessons you’ve learned along the way that you would share with entrepreneurs hoping to launch or who have just launched?
Before launch… you don’t know much. You have to get the product in front of users and see how they react to it. What do they like? Are they willing to pay for it?
Launch ASAP, and iterate based on the feedback. Remember that you are building for other people – so listen to what they say!
9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?
I’ve seen all sorts of people succeed in entrepreneurship. That’s the beauty of the game: you get to make your own game. There are infinite paths for you to take, so don’t get attached to any one path.
I’m a big fan of Paul Graham, the founder of YCombinator. He says the main trait successful entrepreneurs have is determination. If you’re determined enough, you’ll succeed.
That should be encouraging because it means you’re not limited by anything other than your desire for your goal. You’ll face many failures along the way, but if you’re determined enough, you’ll get right back to it.