There’s been a lot of discussion online recently around the Enter China (EC) Accelerate Program. With the explosion of e-commerce in recent years a number of programs and courses have popped up, claiming to teach the secrets about how to make money online and launch a successful business. The issue is, it’s very hard to decipher which programs are legit and which are scams. In this post, I will cover my personal experience going through the Enter China (EC) product launch program and whether it’s really worth the cost.
Let’s get into it!
Table of Contents
Enter China (EC) Accelerate is an online training program that consists of a framework, community, and one-on-one coaching to help founders take a physical product idea from concept to launch. Founders are guided through 5 phases that typically culminate in a crowdfunding or pre-order launch. The EC Accelerate program boasts a 100% success rate in terms of those who launch and successfully hit their funding goals required to begin production.
The Enter China program was originally founded in 2012 by Nick Ramil and Tim Nybo. Together, the two spent nearly a decade living and working in China, launching businesses from iPad cases to wine importing. Many of their ventures flopped but a few succeeded on a large scale—the most notable becoming what is now Vincero Watches. Through their many successes and failures, they put their learnings together and built the Enter China program to help people build and launch their own premium physical product brands. In 2016 the Enter China program was re-branded into what is now known as EC Accelerate.
Unlike a dropshipping business or Amazon FBA, EC Accelerate is solely focused on helping founders launch premium direct-to-consumer brands with uniquely designed and branded products. The program achieves this by taking the founder through a 5 phase process. Below, I will highlight what each phase covers and also write about how I personally used that phase to help me launch my current brand, Oak & Rove.
This phase is designed for people who don’t have any idea what they want to launch, or conversely, have several ideas and need help narrowing it down to pick the best one.
The Enter China (EC) Program is a bit different in that they really want you to focus on picking a product that can be branded in a more premium way. This allows for a higher retail price and in turn, better margins when you take into consideration the rising cost of Facebook ads.
Phase 0 is all about providing the necessary tools and resources to point you in the right direction and make sure you’re picking a product that will make sense in the long game.
You can see a brief breakdown of what the inside of Phase 0 looks like inside the program dashboard.
When I joined the program I had a rough idea that I wanted to create a weekender bag but I still utilized this phase to help reassure me that it was going to be successful later on.
Phase 1 is all about getting very specific on what you’re trying to create as a brand and who you’re going after.
This is something that not enough people understand when trying to start an e-commerce business. Especially because it’s not really discussed in the dropshipping or Amazon FBA world.
A proper understanding of these concepts and executing on them correctly is fundamental in starting your business. When done correctly, you have the best chance of becoming successful.
In the EC framework, phase one really dives into the “why” behind these concepts and how you should be thinking about it for your new brand and product.
Many times, people are too broad in their scope of who they’re looking to target. They think that a larger audience is better because you can make more money.
This is wrong!
You should be as focused and specific as possible. For example, for my brand Oak & Rove, I went from thinking I was targeting a broad range of first class travelers, to something a lot more defined. The riches are in the niches and this is essentially what EC is preaching.
The EC templates provided were also very helpful in guiding my focus and energy when coming up with these ideas for my brand.
In phase 2, you’ll be putting in the work to do your market research and start looking at how your competition is currently marketing towards your intended audience.
You’ll receive a template that outlines a number of places online that you should begin doing your research including but not limited to: blogs, publications, forums, events, influencers, and more.
By filling in your database, you’re going to slowly but surely become an expert in your market, understanding who the big players are and where you are going to fit in. A lot of this research is also going to come in handy when you begin marketing in the later stages. You’ll have a better idea of how your competition is successfully “speaking” to your audience and what channels they’re using.
I’ll admit, this was a daunting phase that took me about 2 weeks to finish but I came out the other end thinking that initially, my main competitors were companies like TUMI and Samsonite, and later realizing I was way off. In fact, I had much more niche competition that was closer to the target market that I was after. These are the realizations that you can achieve only with the right targeted work.
Phase 3 is where the fun begins. Now you’ve put in the ground work and foundation of what your brand is going to become. Now you get to start building out the visual elements of your brand including the 3D renderings and landing pages.
This phase covers everything from the 3D renderings to landing page structure and building out an autoresponder.
For 3D renderings they have a number of actual 3D artists that they connect you with so you can begin working to get your photorealistic images created.
Landing pages can be built with a number of website builders, but the EC program provides the actual template and structure that you should be following in terms of image placement, copy, email forms, etc. This made it fool-proof in terms of getting that setup appropriately.
You can see a few screenshots of the exact landing page and 3D renderings I used on my first draft:
Keep in mind, I’m no design or graphics expert. I simply took the research and information I had compiled in Phases 1 and 2, and then worked with the resources provided in the program to bring the brand to life in a visual way.
Once I had the landing page and renders ready to go, I built out an autoresponder which consisted of about 7 or 8 emails. Again, I simply used the templates that were provided in the program materials, which made the process so much easier.
Armed and ready to go with a website and email autoresponder, I pushed ahead to phase 4…
Phase 4: Market Testing, Customer Development
In Phase 4, the Enter China (EC) Accelerate program dives into actual Facebook advertising and market testing. In this module you will get videos on how to properly set up your ads as well as what your ad copy should look like.
In the early stages, you’ll be testing with small budgets around $10-$15 per day. Soon, people will begin to see your ads and sign up on your landing page. This is a really good sign!
It means that your concept and branding is interesting enough for people to hand over their email. They want to learn more about your product and business. This is what the 7 day email funnel is going to provide. It will nurture them and help build a stronger relationship with your audience.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous going into this phase. But luckily the preparation and execution paid off. I had 8 email sign ups on my first day on a pretty small budget. This was a great first indicator that I would have some traction.
Over the following weeks I scaled up my budgets and collected more emails and brought more interested people into my funnel.
Now this is only one aspect of Phase 4. Another crucial element is the actual customer development work. This involves actually speaking with your prospective customers and getting their feedback on your product, brand and more.
This 1-on-1 interview work with your customers is how you will build a strong relationship and begin to better understand the main pain points you’re solving.
Listening closely to your early adopters, you’ll hear certain words that are repeated over and over. These are golden nuggets that you can then use later on in your messaging in your ads and website.
Most importantly, Phase 4 gives you an opportunity to nail down your product design and offer. When done correctly, you will ensure you’re building the perfect pre-launch list full of raving fans waiting to buy.
This phase will cover the essential process leading up to and through the launch phase. You will be provided with a week by week launch plan that emphasizes different areas that you need to be focusing on.
At this stage the EC Accelerate program really emphasizes optimizing your email funnel and ads as well as doing as many customer interviews as possible. You should also begin speaking with factories and getting initial quotes around production. Usually founders will get a few prototypes so they can use for the campaign assets.
For my brand, we produced two prototypes which cost a few hundred dollars. Of course, this cost can vary significantly depending on how complicated the product is, if you need to create molds, etc.
Once we developed our campaign assets and built our email list to a sizeable amount, we set a launch date. From there, I received support from the team with 1-on-1 calls to help me focus my efforts and ensure I was working on the more impactful areas.
Finally at launch we were able to raise $30k in pre-order sales on Indiegogo.
A lot of people wonder what’s next? A successful campaign doesn’t mean much if you don’t have a plan afterwards.
The Enter China (EC) Accelerate team and community is plugged into a lot of useful resources. I was able to get connected to some great post-launch resources that helped me manage the actual orders and variations from the campaign.
I also got introduced to a variety of fulfillment companies that assist founders with the shipment of their goods.
As I already had a supplier I was working with, I didn’t need much assistance there but I did use the quality assurance (QC) company that was provided.
Getting these immediate introductions was a major time saver and headache reducer. I didn’t have to individually vet and worry about quality as the EC team really did it for me. They’ve established these relationships over years and it helped accelerate the whole post-launch process.
The EC program has different programs based on budget, experience and goals. As of this writing there are several programs ranging from $2,500 to $10,000+.
The difference in cost really comes down to the level of support and coaching. With more coaching the cost will be higher.
There are opportunities and options to pay the program fee over time in installments. This is something that I took advantage of to help me manage my cashflow. Fun fact, I was actually launching and raising capital via my crowdfunding campaign before I had paid off my program fee.
Organized and Concise – A major issue that first time founders have is not knowing where to start or where to focus their efforts. The program solves this issue by the methodical layout and phase-by-phase approach.
You cannot proceed to the next phase until you’ve finished the work before it. It is the most succinct framework, delivering content in easily digestible pieces of content. This allows the founder to easily make progress without feeling overwhelmed.
Real World Application – The actual content itself is useful and applicable to building a real brand. This is not a program based on theory or “feel good” ideas. You will walk away from the program having an in-depth understanding of how to take an idea and build a marketing funnel around it to drive traffic and interest.
One-on-One Coaching & Support – The coaches and team are not online marketing gurus. Everyone that I interacted with was actively working on and building their own business. The experience and expertise really comes through in the feedback and coaching received. The Facebook community is diverse and supportive. There are people in there ranging from first time founders to CEOs that are running mid 8-figure companies.
Not Easy Money – The program is not a walk in the park. You can expect to put in a good amount of time, energy and effort into each phase. The templates aren’t supposed to be done quickly as if to just get it done and receive a grade. You are building a business. It’s not a get-rich-quick-scheme.
Program Cost – The cost of the program can be a lot for someone who has never invested in this type of education before. The keyword here is “invested.” This should not be looked at as an expense but rather an investment that is going to pay off when you follow the program and launch your business.
Program Dashboard – One of my main complaints was with the way the content was delivered. At the time, it was organized in Google Docs, which was simple enough but less than ideal. However, as of now the program has been moved over to a more intuitive user-friendly dashboard.
In my honest but biased opinion, the program is well worth the original investment. I say this confidently because I successfully pulled off a $30k crowdfunding campaign and established a brand in a very difficult market.
The access to resources and service providers has paid itself back at least five times over. Furthermore, the connections I’ve made with other highly successful entrepreneurs has been incredible.
For someone who is looking to launch a real business and make money online, I honestly don’t know a program that’s doing it better. With nearly a decade of experience and dozens and dozens of campaigns that you can publicly look up, the Enter China (EC) Accelerate program has established itself as a leader in the space.
The program provides a great deal of value for people who take it seriously. It’s not for everyone, but neither is entrepreneurship. I read a lot of reviews about Enter China from people who never actually went through the program or people who joined and gave up. This is like reviewing a movie based on the trailer. Simply not a valid review.
I wanted to provide my take on it as I went through the process and now have a great understanding of how to repeat this process to launch additional products and brands.
Overall, the Enter China (EC) Program is a solid program for people who are looking to take their business to the next level and launch their own premium physical product brand.
If you have questions about the EC Program or interested to know more about what it’s like to do a crowdfunding campaign, drop a comment below.