Founder Stories: Vishal Goswami On Building Friction Studio

In today’s Founder Story, we feature Vishal Goswami, Founder & CEO of Friction Studio!

Read on for lessons he has learned from launching and marketing his Shopify Agency.

1. Please introduce your business and share your role.

Greetings, I’m Vishal Goswami, an eCommerce consultant and the visionary behind Friction Studio, a distinguished Shopify Agency. Our journey at Friction Studio is rooted in a commitment to enhance the world of commerce for everyone involved. Essentially, our mission is to guide you through the process of selling seamlessly.

Drawing upon a wealth of experience and specialized knowledge, we specialize in assisting Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands in crafting, establishing, and expanding their online presence on the Shopify platform. 

Our role extends beyond merely creating online stores; we’re dedicated to cultivating a strong brand identity and fostering exponential growth. By implementing effective strategies and designing Shopify stores with a keen focus on conversions and user experience, we empower brands to thrive.

At the core of our efforts is a team of Shopify experts united by a common goal – eliminating the barriers between eCommerce design, development, and strategy. This unified approach is designed to fuel the growth of Direct-to-Consumer businesses, ensuring a seamless journey toward success.

2. What’s your backstory, what kind of challenges did you face, and how did you come up with your business idea?

My journey into becoming a Shopify expert wasn’t always a planned path—it unfolded out of necessity and passion.

Growing up in India, my routine mirrored that of many others: school, homework, eat, sleep, and repeat. Yet, my unwavering fascination with computers set me apart. At the age of 17, I independently delved into the realms of HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Initially, I worked on WordPress for local clients. It was during this time that I stumbled upon the world of dropshipping and Shopify, sparking a pivotal shift in my trajectory.

Intrigued, I initiated my foray into Shopify by launching a dropshipping store. Fueling my perpetual interest in website design and development, I crafted my own site and showcased it in a Facebook group frequented by brand owners. To my surprise, the post gained significant traction, leading to my first client. Driven by an insatiable passion for exploration, I ventured into designing and developing Shopify stores for small brands.

Back in 2016, financial constraints were a hurdle, and I couldn’t even afford my own laptop. My introduction to coding and design happened through government-issued laptops during my high school years. Every facet of learning, from coding to design, was explored through free online tutorials.

After creating several stores, I co-founded an agency with a partner, gradually transforming it into an Official Shopify Experts entity. Eventually, circumstances led me to part ways with the agency in late 2020. Undeterred, I envisioned creating a new agency from the ground up, driven by a distinct vision.

The turning point arrived in December 2020, when I decided to consolidate my learnings. Under the banner of Friction Studio, I began setting up stores for Direct-to-Consumer (D2C) brands, aspiring to make the online transition “frictionless.” Witnessing the struggles of brands in finding someone to comprehend their vision, I identified a gap in the industry.

Friction Studio emerged as a solution, offering optimized design solutions for brands of all sizes. Recognizing the common pitfalls—misaligned understanding of store setup, websites lacking representation of the brand’s message, and functional deficiencies—I committed to bridging these gaps.

Creating impactful Shopify websites is a complex task, and with industry best practices in constant flux, challenges abound. Nevertheless, armed with a team of design and Shopify experts, Friction Studio has consistently delivered exceptional conversion rates for brands. The journey involved hands-on work, encompassing brand strategy, design, and custom implementation during the online store setup.

My initial interaction with D2C businesses evolved into a learning curve, eventually culminating in the establishment of Friction Studio as it stands today. The vision remains steadfast: to fuel the growth of businesses through meticulously crafted, commercially optimized website designs.

3. How did you prepare for, and go about your launch? 

Friction Studio has been nothing short of a dream project, a journey where each step unfolded with surprises that left me exhilarated. To claim that I had every detail meticulously planned from day one would be an understatement. Instead, I embraced a steady progression, allowing each subsequent move to be a revelation.

The inception of our venture’s name, “Friction Studio,” wasn’t a result of a grand plan but rather a casual conversation with a friend Devang Tiwari (COO at Friction Studio) about websites and services. The serendipitous choice encapsulated the essence of our mission.

Our initial marketing strategy centered around content marketing and SEO, spanning platforms like Instagram, Facebook, Linkedin, and our website. During the launch phase, I assembled a team comprising 2 designers, 2 developers, and an account manager. The launch period demanded considerable effort as we aimed to build case studies and gather reviews. It took two months to secure our first client, followed by a daunting period of uncertainty.

Focused on refining our content, positioning, and targeting, we shifted our primary attention to SEO, content marketing, blogs, and upcoming forays into paid ads. The goal was to attract big brands, showcasing our work through compelling case studies.

The journey has been marked by significant learning, culminating in successful case studies with prominent industry brands. Looking ahead, we are on the brink of launching a podcast in 2022, acknowledging the power of content in our strategy. Our focus extends across blogs, emails, social media, and various channels to deliver value and collaborate with more noteworthy brands.

My passion lies in building and scaling businesses, and I am steering this agency with unwavering dedication. Despite the challenges and triumphs of the past year, I have ambitious plans for the coming year.

Remarkably, the startup cost of this agency was modest, beginning with just $100 for a domain and legal registration. Additional software investments followed as clients came on board, contributing to the agency’s growth.

In essence, Friction Studio is a testament to the belief that even humble beginnings can lead to extraordinary journeys, and I am thrilled to see the agency evolve with each passing day.

4. Since launching, what types of marketing campaigns and designs have worked best to attract and retain customers?

Specializing in a specific niche is the key to customer retention and establishing oneself as a leader in the industry. After a few months in operation, we recognized this principle and decided to narrow our focus. Today, we cater to supplements, CBD, lifestyle, and beauty brands, with a primary clientele rooted in the CBD and supplement industry.

Our foray into content marketing initiatives has proven successful, garnering a significant portion of our community’s clients and referrals. We are now diversifying our approach, incorporating Google and Facebook ads, email outreach, and LinkedIn strategies. Having collaborated with noteworthy brands from various sectors, our upcoming plans include rolling out a press release and showcasing compelling case studies this year.

A distinctive pattern has emerged in our work process and service delivery, one that minimizes friction and resonates well with our clients. Our mission is to drive value and provide time-optimized solutions, allowing brands to focus on enhancing their sales strategy while we handle the intricacies.

Recognizing the adage that “time is money,” Friction Studio is committed to saving our clients’ time and delivering unparalleled experiences. Effective communication is another pillar of customer retention, involving the creation of an emotional, human touch. 

Understanding and addressing their challenges, comprehending their investment plans, and forming a genuine connection strengthens the bond with the brand. This approach ensures that when they seek solutions in the future, they turn to us rather than exploring alternative providers. Consider this as a pro tip for forming enduring connections with your audience.

In the words of the timeless quote, “your hunger to bring the better must never stop,” I remain dedicated to building a seamless process for Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands. We are selective in our clientele, seeking those with a genuine commitment to their venture and a clear vision for their eCommerce journey. Our discovery sessions delve into their goals and plans, ensuring a shared vision for success.

We firmly believe that content establishes authority and attracts quality leads and clients, hence our intensified focus in this direction. As we navigate the ever-evolving landscape of eCommerce, our commitment to delivering excellence and fostering lasting connections remains unwavering.

5. What have been the most influential brands for your business? Whose branding and marketing do you aspire to and why?

For Friction Studio, our business has been significantly influenced by renowned brands such as Nike, Gymshark, and Javy Coffee, each contributing distinct elements to our approach to marketing and branding. These brands serve as influential benchmarks and sources of inspiration for our endeavors.

Nike, a global leader in athletic footwear and apparel, embodies a level of excellence that aligns with our commitment to delivering top-tier solutions. Their iconic branding and innovative marketing strategies resonate with our goal of creating a lasting impact in the eCommerce design and development space. Nike’s ability to seamlessly blend performance, style, and a strong brand narrative is a constant source of inspiration.

Gymshark, a prominent name in the fitness and activewear industry, is admired for its disruptive approach and community-building efforts. Their brand exudes authenticity and a deep connection with their audience, aligning with our ethos of creating meaningful connections with Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) brands. Gymshark’s success story motivates us to push boundaries and foster a community around our brand.

Javy Coffee, known for its unique approach to instant coffee, stands out for its commitment to quality and sustainability. The brand’s ability to carve a niche in a competitive market inspires our dedication to providing tailored solutions for brands seeking a distinctive online presence. Javy Coffee’s emphasis on storytelling and connecting with consumers aligns with our belief in the power of narrative in eCommerce.

These influential brands guide our aspirations in marketing and branding. We aim to incorporate elements of Nike’s excellence, Gymshark’s community-centric approach, and Javy Coffee’s focus on quality and narrative into our own strategies. Learning from the success stories of these brands, we strive to create compelling brand identities, implement effective marketing campaigns, and deliver seamless solutions for DTC brands.

In summary, our admiration for Nike, Gymshark, and Javy Coffee stems from their achievements in different industries, and we draw inspiration from their innovative approaches to elevate our own standards of excellence as we navigate the evolving landscape of eCommerce.

6. What are your favorite marketing platforms/tools?

At Friction Studio, we leverage a versatile set of marketing platforms and tools to create comprehensive and effective strategies. Our favorites include:

  1. Cold Email Platforms: We utilize specialized tools for cold email outreach, ensuring targeted communication to potential clients. Tools like Outreach or Lemlist assist in crafting personalized and impactful cold email campaigns.
  1. Facebook Ads Manager: Leveraging the extensive reach and targeting capabilities of Facebook Ads Manager, we create and optimize ad campaigns to connect with our audience on the world’s largest social media platform.
  1. Google Ads: Utilizing the power of Google Ads, we ensure a prominent online presence through strategic and targeted advertising on Google’s search and display networks.
  1. Content Marketing Platforms: Our content marketing efforts span various platforms, with tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs aiding in keyword research, content optimization, and performance tracking across channels.
  1. Blogs: We understand the importance of maintaining an active blog presence. WordPress or other blogging platforms help us craft engaging and informative content that resonates with our audience.
  1. Newsletter Tools: Email newsletters are a crucial aspect of our communication strategy. Tools like Mailchimp or Sendinblue enable us to design, send, and track the performance of our newsletters, keeping our audience informed and engaged.
  1. Social Media Platforms: Apart from Facebook, we strategically use other social media platforms such as Instagram and LinkedIn to connect with our audience. Tools like Hootsuite or Buffer assist in scheduling and managing posts efficiently.

These tools collectively contribute to our integrated marketing approach, ensuring that our messages are coherent, targeted, and effectively reach our audience across various channels. The synergy of these platforms allows us to optimize campaigns, track performance, and continuously refine our strategies for maximum impact.

7. Who or what inspires and motivates you?

At Friction Studio, our inspiration and motivation are drawn from various sources that shape our approach and drive our passion for excellence. Here are some key influences:

  1. Bigger Agencies: We find inspiration in observing the successes of larger agencies that have made significant strides in the field. Their innovative approaches, refined processes, and ability to consistently deliver high-quality solutions motivate us to push our boundaries and strive for excellence in our own services.
  1. Lifestyle Brands: Lifestyle brands, with their unique storytelling and immersive branding strategies, captivate our attention. Brands that seamlessly integrate their products into the lifestyle of their audience inspire us to think creatively and develop holistic solutions for our clients.
  1. Innovation in the Industry: We are motivated by the continuous evolution and innovation within the eCommerce and marketing industry. Staying abreast of emerging trends, technologies, and best practices motivates us to adapt and incorporate cutting-edge solutions into our services.
  1. Client Success Stories: Witnessing the success of our clients, especially in the Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) space, is a powerful motivator. Their achievements and growth fuel our commitment to providing impactful design, development, and marketing solutions that contribute to their success.
  1. Entrepreneurial Spirit: The entrepreneurial spirit, exemplified by individuals who dare to dream big and bring their visions to life, serves as a constant source of inspiration. The resilience, creativity, and dedication demonstrated by entrepreneurs inspire us to approach our work with the same level of passion and commitment.
  1. Continuous Learning: The pursuit of knowledge and continuous learning motivates us. Whether it’s staying updated on the latest industry trends, exploring new technologies, or refining our skills, the journey of learning inspires us to remain dynamic and forward-thinking.

In essence, a combination of industry leaders, successful brands, client achievements, and a commitment to learning collectively inspire and motivate us at Friction Studio. It’s the synergy of these influences that propels us forward, encouraging us to deliver exceptional results and contribute meaningfully to the success of our clients and the industry as a whole.

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? 

 If you’re contemplating the initiation of a creative agency, it is crucial to establish a clear vision, mission, and purpose for the agency, outlining the desired impact on the ecosystem. In an industry bustling with startups and established players, meticulous planning is imperative to avoid getting stuck in a repetitive cycle devoid of defined goals.

Developing a comprehensive system for lead generation, sales, and service delivery is essential. Equally important is the assembly of a team capable of surpassing expectations, fostering a culture of excellence within the agency.

It’s essential to resist the allure of large figures at the initial stages. Recognize that each startup is unique, charging fees commensurate with its value. Begin modestly and progressively scale rates to reflect the agency’s growing expertise.

Maintaining a minimum 50% profit margin is vital for sustained progress. Failing to achieve this margin could impede the agency’s advancement. Avoid falling into the trap of a pricing cycle, especially when targeting small business owners initially. While they may offer lower payment, accumulating a robust portfolio and refining processes will pave the way to scaling pricing and marketing efforts toward larger brands, adopting a value-based pricing model.

9. What do you believe are the qualities of a good entrepreneur? And what makes a team successful?

As an entrepreneur, in my perspective as the founder of Friction Studio, embodies a unique blend of qualities that drive both personal and business growth. Foremost is visionary leadership, the ability to articulate a clear mission and inspire a team to align with that vision. Resilience plays a pivotal role as setbacks are inevitable; the entrepreneur’s capacity to bounce back and learn from challenges is instrumental. 

Equally crucial is adaptability, navigating through evolving market dynamics and adjusting strategies accordingly. In the entrepreneurial journey, risk-taking ability is indispensable, requiring calculated decisions that propel the business forward. I

Innovation thinking is a cornerstone, fostering a culture of creativity and continuous improvement within the team. Effective communication ensures that the entire team is aligned with our goals, fostering transparency and collaboration. 

Lastly, a customer-centric mindset and networking abilities are pivotal for understanding client needs and building strategic partnerships. Transitioning to the success of a team, I believe it hinges on the collective embodiment of qualities such as clear communication, collaboration, diversity, accountability, and adaptability. 

10. Let us know where we can go to learn more!

Sure, you can reach out to me by the following links: