With the help of Shipwire, Mark Delman turned his passion for small farming and his business savvy into a thriving business. A simple solution for a global problem, Chicken Waterer's biggest struggle is now keeping up with demand.
How caring for chickens turned into a profitable startup
When we think of startups, we usually think of the tech industry, but there are plenty of startups that don’t fall into that category. For example, while most Silicon Valley companies spend their early days scrambling to find investors and engineers, Mark Delman, CEO of Chicken Waterer, set out to answer a much simpler question: How do I provide clean water to chickens living in small scale, family-owned coops?
With a childhood passion of home gardening and a professional background managing brands representing $50 to $500 million in revenue, Delman’s decision to start Chicken Waterer was a meld of a personal hobby and a business idea.
“I have a long-standing interest in producing wholesome food at home and am an avid gardener and beekeeper. I also keep chickens,” he explained. “In 2012, I decided to create a company that would help people with similar interests enjoy greater success in these areas and to do so with a lot less labor.”
Delman knew that in order for chickens to thrive, they needed clean, uncontaminated water, and a survey of products quickly revealed that there were no options available for small-scale coops. In short, the market was his for the taking. Delman let this idea sink in and, as he did so, let his professional knowledge of business take over. The result doesn’t need much of an explanation: Chicken Waterer is here, and it’s thriving.
Shipwire with Volusion
When asked about his success, Delman credits having created a product that satisfies a need, as well as the careful planning he did in preparation to launch his business.
“One of the things that I did that may be very unusual for a small business is that I wrote a full business plan before I launched the company, and I knew I needed partners that would be able to scale with the business easily. My decision to choose both Shipwire and Volusion was very calculated.”
Even with all the extensive planning and foresight, Delman was surprised by how successful Chicken Waterer was from the start. “I couldn’t wait to get my business over to Shipwire,” he said. “There was a period of time when I actually added stock and I had about 150 orders that I needed to get out the door lickety-split . . . The people at the post office knew me so well that I wasn’t delivering packages at the front anymore — they directed me to the back!”
And in terms of pairing Shipwire with Volusion, he explained, “I’m very happy with Volusion, they have all the things that a small business needs. Their prices are competitive and the partnership of Volusion and Shipwire is pretty dynamite for a small business.” In summary, he added, "I want to focus my efforts on new product design and customer service. I want to leave the logistics to experts like Shipwire and the IT to experts like Volusion."
Chicken Waterer’s future
Today, Mark is no longer delivering his product onto loading docks at the back of post offices. Instead, he’s looking forward to launching new product lines and setting his eyes on new international markets. “I chose Shipwire very early on because the platform offers me scalability and access to warehouses around the world. So for me to go into other markets is very easy now.”
After an unexpectedly big first year, Chicken Waterer is in its second year of operation and has doubled its revenue and tripled its net income and profitability. It’s safe to say small chicken coops everywhere are now housing happier, well-watered hens.
Guest blog post by Jonathan Tran from Shipwire