You’d think running a fledgling beer t-shirt business as a finance and marketing student would get you extra points with your New York University lecturers. But instead, in 2004, it got Roy Laniado thrown out of his dorm room. Like many universities, NYU bans running a business for profit from student dorms.
Laniado, who was born in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, moved to Israel and then to South Africa, where his father owned a textiles company. As a child, he spent each summer working for his relatives in South Carolina in their retail store, Bargain Beachwear, which sold beach supplies and tourist necessities — as well as licensed beer apparel.
He relocated to the U.S. in 2001 as a 17-year-old and after a year working for Bargain Beachwear in Myrtle Beach, began his major in finance and marketing at New York University. In August 2004, he discovered Corona beer t-shirts on eBay — the type that were sold at Bargain Beachwear — at an inflated price. Realizing he could undercut the eBay seller, Laniado bought some merchandise from his father and began selling it on his personal eBay account.
About four months and 329 eBay transactions later, Laniado launched WearYourBeer.com.
In March 2005, NYU officials realized Laniado was running a business and forced him to live off-campus, where he ran his start-up from an apartment in Queens.
WearYourBeer has grown steadily in revenue, from $97,700 in 2005, to $223,065 in 2006, $620,176 in 2008, and $1,300,000 in 2011.
To date, with the busiest quarter to begin, WearYourBeer has recorded $1,020,00 in revenue this year. Laniado hopes it to be a $10 million dollar company by 2015.
Laniado taught himself HTML from reading books and learning online and within two weeks, had created the first website for WearYourBeer, using the open-source shopping cart osCommerce.
“At first, it was easy to use, and inexpensive. I knew a little bit of code so I used to try to customize it myself. Then, as the site grew with more products and more layers, it was becoming too complicated.”
In May 2005, WearYourBeer switched to shopping cart software CRE Loaded, which is derived from osCommerce. Inheriting many of its features such as inventory control, content management, and the ability to add admin accounts to the backend, and including many others, it has a one-time fee of $50.
Credit Card Payments
WearYourBeer initially used PayPal because it was inexpensive and easy to use.
“We began accepting credit card payments through Bank of America towards the end of 2005 after realizing that not everyone has PayPal and that we needed to give more customers as many options as possible to pay.”
The business switched to accepting credit card payments through Fidelity Payment Services in 2007 because it provided the more competitive processing rate of 2.1 percent.
Laniado began selling WearYourBeer products from his dorm room, making daily trips to the U.S. Post Office to deliver packages for shipping.
“But I was kicked out for running a business in the dorm building in 2005 and moved into an apartment in Queens, where the USPS truck would come and pick up orders every day.”
Two years later in 2007, WearYourBeer relocated to a nearby office and warehouse in Queens from which USPS collected items. In 2010, Laniado outsourced order management, inventory management and fulfillment to The Holcombe Group, a third party warehouse shipping center in Pennsylvania, which was recommended to him.
“In 2012, we began to use UPS for some shipments because customers wanted to receive orders sooner and we’ve been able to integrate the UPS Mail Innovations program [a hybrid model, combining UPS with USPS] within our CRE Loaded order management software.”
WearYourBeer initially used GoDaddy for website hosting because of its low cost.
“We thought they would be reliable because they are a big company but we soon found GoDaddy was not compatible with osCommerce and PHP, so it became very difficult.”
Laniado then used a small hosting company in Queens because he liked the business owner, enjoyed helping a local firm, and it was inexpensive.
“However, the servers began crashing and there were many problems, so we switched to Rackspace in 2008, which we’ve been with ever since. They are well known in the tech industry and were recommended by a friend.”