Apr 14, 2024

BladeOps: A Story of Resilience, Innovation, and Growth

Written By

Onramp Funds

BladeOps: A Story of Resilience, Innovation, and Growth

Since working with Onramp




Sales growth in a 3 month period

In the dynamic world of eCommerce, you’re bound to find many inspirational stories- Trevor Darby’s journey with BladeOps is no exception. What began as a side hustle in the closet of his staffing agency has evolved into a thriving online business, renowned for its exceptional customer service and quality products. This is a tale of remarkable growth (including 53% revenue growth from May to August of 2022), a testament to Trevor's dedication and strategic thinking. But how did Trevor, with a background far removed from eCommerce, navigate his way to success in the online marketplace?

From Humble Beginnings to eCommerce Success

Trevor's journey into eCommerce was unexpected. However, like many stories in the eComm world, his work experience proved to be almost perfectly suited for running an online business. His early career was spent training managers at Little Caesar’s and owning a staffing agency. His time at each taught him invaluable lessons about the importance of customer experience and the challenges of managing a service-based business. These roles, seemingly unrelated to online sales, equipped Trevor with a unique perspective on business - emphasizing speed, quality, and above all, reliability. It was the pursuit of a reliable, tangible product that led Trevor to the world of eCommerce, specifically to selling knives online.

After an initial launch that saw no sales in its first month, Trevor stayed determined. He took a few weeks to intentionally learn the industry and its customers; Long story short, it paid off. He re-launched BladeOps with a clearer understanding of the market, witnessing immediate success that would set the stage for the company's future growth.

A Passion for Knives and Community

Trevor’s decision to focus on knives was driven by more than just consumer demand; it was a product he could truly stand behind. His passion for the product grew as he came to understand the knife community, recognizing the value of an everyday knife and the strong community bonds among collectors. BladeOps wasn't just selling knives; it was fostering a group of enthusiasts united by their passion for quality, craftsmanship, and the joy of collecting.

“Why BladeOps? My short answer is that I knew there was a market for this, and a profit was certainly not out of the question. I needed a product I could stand behind and vouch for, but the most important piece was reliable demand- I had that”

Customer First: The Core of BladeOps

Echoing his days at Little Caesar’s, Trevor maintained a customer-first approach in BladeOps. The joy and sense of belonging he witnessed among attendees at a blade show in Atlanta reinforced his belief in the importance of customer experience. This moment highlighted the value of not just selling a product but creating an environment where customers felt understood and appreciated. This commitment to customer service has been a cornerstone of BladeOps, contributing to its high customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Navigating Challenges with Innovative Funding

Despite its success, BladeOps has faced its challenges, particularly with the tightening supply from manufacturers. The need for innovative solutions led Trevor to seek funding, a decision that supported the business in its new landscape. 

Initially, Trevor had been using his credit card’s Merchant Financing program. The product made sense, but their offerings were sporadic and unreliable. He had seen how capital helped to grow their inventory, and being a visionary- Trevor knew the profit this could turn into. BladeOps needed a similar platform that was reliable and could be factored into their forecasts. 

Trevor first turned to banks, but quickly realized he didn’t fit into their many boxes. Enter Onramp. Trevor's partnership with Onramp, chosen for its understanding and supportive approach to funding, enabled BladeOps to navigate inventory challenges, invest in marketing, and continue to grow its product range. Specifically, this funding was allocated to expand their offerings for avid collectors and enhance their marketing efforts, particularly in SEO and community engagement, crucial for an industry where traditional advertising avenues were limited.

The Future of BladeOps

Today, BladeOps stands as a testament to the power of resilience, strategic innovation, and an unwavering focus on customer satisfaction. Trevor's journey from managing a pizza chain and a staffing agency to leading a successful eCommerce business highlights the unexpected paths to success and the importance of adapting one's skills and experiences to new challenges.

For online sellers seeking funding, Trevor offers sage advice: Understand the cost and value of funding, know your cash flow, take what you need to grow, and never hesitate to seek funding if it benefits your business. These principles have guided BladeOps through its journey, transforming challenges into opportunities for growth and innovation.

“Not seeking funding once you understand the benefits is doing both you and your business a disservice”

BladeOps is more than just an online knife store; it's a community, a testament to entrepreneurial spirit, and a showcase of how innovative funding and customer-centric approaches can lead to remarkable success in the marketplace.