Kyle Cox struck it big in the early 2000s with his first-ever custom window coverings business. Founded 11 years after starting his first company, Cox discovered the window coverings business world to be much different. After enduring a few challenges, Blindster took off and continues to grow immensely. The company’s success even saw it donate over $60,000 to the United Way’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund in 2020. Cox recently sat down to tell Totalprestige Magazine all about Blindster and the company’s success over the last 10 years.
Kyle, you founded Blindster in 2010. What led you to founding a custom window coverings business?
Prior to founding Blindster, I had previously founded another custom window coverings business in 1999 with $5,000 in savings and no experience in the product, e-commerce or business ownership. It was the first custom window coverings website. After growing that business to well over $30 million in revenue, I sold the company and it now sits under the Home Depot umbrella. Five years later, I ventured back into the industry to start Blindster to do what I have done before but bigger and better.
What were some of your early challenges in 2010?
The biggest challenge for me was something I did not expect — the cost to truly grow my business. Growing my business meant advertising and the cost of pay per click advertising on Google was significantly higher than it was when I started my first business in 1999. When I started my first business, I didn’t have any competitors, but when I started Blindster other players had moved into the space. The cost of Google PPC advertising was 10-times what it was in 1999. It was a lot for me to take in, but I made it work.
You have a long history in the lighting and blinds industry. How do you stay on the cutting edge as an entrepreneur in the sector?
At Blindster, we are always trying to stay up-to-date on the latest interior design trends and color palettes. Product innovation is also very important. A product that stands apart from the rest is our No Tools products. We saw a gap in options available for those who are renting, those who don’t have power tools or those who live alone. Or maybe they simply don’t want to drill holes in their window frames. The 3M adhesive based No Tools brackets make it much easier for anyone to install coverings as opposed to ones that need a drill and screws to install.
In October 2020, you were recognized as the Executive Excellence: Business Role Model of the Year. What does winning an award such as this mean to you as a business owner?
It was an honor to win the Business Role Model of the Year award. To be a good leader you don’t only need business acumen and creativity. Integrity is a fundamental pillar and I strive to conduct business with honesty and act as a true role model for my team and other small businesses out there.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company donated $2 per every product sale to the United Way’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund. What inspired you to donate money to the organization and how big of an impact did Blindster make?
COVID-19 brought hard times upon families all across the nation and world. Being a father running a family-owned business, I empathize with all of those who were struggling and wanted to do more to help. United Way has been helping those in need for over 125 years now and connected people to basic needs like food, shelter, and rental assistance throughout the pandemic. I am proud to say that the total donation came to $60,848, which was distributed to communities in the United States most affected by the pandemic.
How did the COVID-19 pandemic impact Blindster and what has been the biggest challenge to the company?
Like most companies at the start of the pandemic there was much uncertainty. As the months of 2020 went on, more people were at home for longer amounts of time. They started engaging in home projects or making small updates such as new window coverings. We are e-commerce only and the customer measures, orders, and installs on their own. No one needs to come into the home. Due to the nature of our business we saw sales double last year! Meeting the demand was a major challenge as most of our factories had to work with a reduced staff in order to uphold protocols.
Blindster is well-known for its customer service. It is the customer service that helped grow the business the old-fashioned way. How does Blindster uphold top-notch customer service?
We train our employees to treat each customer like they are family, NOT like they are a problem. There is no cookie cutter response that our reps can copy and paste to each customer. They look at each situation differently and work to quickly resolve each question and issue that arises.
Was it difficult to follow up that original business?
Yes, it was. The space changed significantly. Like I mentioned previously we had no competitors when I started my first business and when I founded Blindster there were many. I’m proud to say we are the third largest custom window coverings website behind competitors who are owned by major corporations. We are still a privately held family business!
Kyle, what is in store for Blindster in 2021?
We are currently rebuilding our website from the ground up and it will launch this year! From the navigation to the content, it is going to revolutionize the way you buy custom window coverings online.
For more information on Blindster and Kyle Cox, please visit https://www.blindster.com