There are those of us who like to have a little fun on April Fool’s and those who would prefer to keep the jokes going year round. The later could not be truer for pranksters and businessmen Adam Elliot and Travis Peterson, creators of Dick at Your Door and Joker Greeting.
And yes… you can actually get a chocolate penis delivered straight to your door. (In fact, the most popular prank product made by Dick at Your Door!)
Joker Greeting and Dick at your door have earned Peterson and Elliot around $25,000 in monthly revenue.
While these two entrepreneurs share a love for fun and jokes, their upbringing and individual journeys to success play out a little differently.
Long before Dick at Your Door was even a passing thought, Adam Elliot grew up on a farm in a small town in Iowa. He credits the lack of entertainment and things to do in his hometown for his self-made creativity.
Adam reminisces about stealing beers, messing around with old cars and, yes, starting prank wars with friends.
But back then, pranks were just for fun and life was taking him in a different direction. Adam moved out to California after completing art school with big dreams of becoming a full-time photographer.
However, fate had other plans.
“I failed. Failed miserably,” Elliot recalls. After only one year he realized he hated photography, was making little to no money and was working as a telemarketer - a position he greatly disliked.
Travis Peterson, founder of Joker Greeting, began his business journey a little differently.
While Elliot was on the west coast figuring out his future, Peterson was on the other side of America, making waves in New York. For six years Peterson used his background in finance to his advantage, working as an investment banker in the big city.
Peterson was successful, loved his coworkers and was in a great position but still felt something was missing.
“I loved it,” Peterson says. “But as a service job I wanted to be making things not just helping others make things.”
Little did he know he would soon be making and selling obnoxious but heavily popular greeting cards.
The Pranking Business
Back in California, Elliot was helping to consult start-ups through his sales background. “That’s a fancy way of saying, I spent a lot of time pitching new ideas and products to people who didn’t necessarily want them.”
But this sales experience would come to benefit Elliot and the success of his business in the long run.
It was when one of his friends randomly stumbled upon a silicone mold of a penis that Dick at Your Door began to take shape (no pun intended).
At first they simply sent the chocolate penises to a few friends for a laugh but “eventually threw up a website as a joke.” Much to their surprise, they suddenly had the attention of people who expanded outside their circle of friends.
“What started as a joke quickly became a viable business with real opportunity,” Elliot recalls.
Peterson’s real inspiration, on the other hand, came from a visit to his mothers in 2014, who had a musical greeting card that he and his brother found completely ridiculous.
“Who wants to listen to this?!” They remember asking one another. But soon that questions was quickly replaced with, “What if it didn’t stop?”
And Joker Greeting took off. “That was it. Nothing more. No market research,” Peterson recalls.
The plan for their business was to create a musical greeting card that literally did not stop - one that would loop and continue to sing for 8 hours.
Getting the Ball Rolling
For Elliot and his Dick at Your Door business, it took a little while to find his footing.
He recalls that the original packaging for the chocolate penises was less than professional. The gift was sent in “a straight black box, a stamp we custom made, some paper mache to avoid broken chocolate and handheld plastic melter to wrap the box.”
In addition to the less than ideal packaging, Elliot and his partner were having a hard time producing and sending out orders in a timely manner.
“I remember the first time we had 10 orders to fulfill at once,” he says. He remembers it took them around 4 hours to complete and notes that, in the end, “it was a disaster.”
While success was slow to start, a sudden layoff from his corporate job really tipped the scales. Elliot says this dramatic change was a blessing in disguise and gave him the proper time and energy needed to make D at Your Door a success.
Without a website or any staple brand, Peterson began by launching his business on Kickstarter with the hopes of selling just 750 units of the 1,000 they had ordered.
What Peterson didn’t expect, however, was to go viral.
They sold those 750 units in a mere 3 days and were suddenly being featured on networks like ABCNews, Buzzfeed and more.
Peterson explains he suddenly realized “how making a great product can matter so much more than making just a good product.”
In the beginning, Peterson recalls people telling him “musical greeting cards are dead, don’t do it,” but he was determined to follow through with his dreams. “I just ignored that and moved forward.”
For Elliot, he has broken up his goals into short-term and long-term.
In the near future, Elliot hopes to take some of the pressure off of himself. He currently plays many roles in the production of his business - from marketer, creator, chocolate marker, boxer and shipper.
He hopes to release some of those roles to smart, hardworking employees so that he can step into a more administrative position.
And long-term? “Build the brand to something outside of D’s.”
In 2017, Peterson’s company had sold nearly 40,000 units. In 2018, he set goals to sell up to 50,000-60,000 and he hopes these numbers continue to grow in the years to come.
He also aspires to expand beyond greeting cards.
“Greeting cards is a platform and I just need to keep expanding our concept within the greeting card market and other paper goods.”
Peterson has utilized Shopify for this prancing business. “It has been great and I have no plans to change. It’s excellent for multi-channel sales, and it’s cheap,” he explains.
Elliot has found success over a number of times platforms including Facebook, Slack, WooCommerce, Instagram and more.
He also credits a number of podcasts and books for his success including the Tim Ferris Podcast, Calm App, Who Moved My Cheese and Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. “This book is about how you can train your mind and body to have a better/easier way to fall into that and become more productive.”
Elliot says that understanding your niche and and the consumers who populate that particular niche is extremely important. “Most niches have enough opportunity in it to carve out your own little piece and grow from there.”
He also says that networking properly and having a content-filled website also greatly contribute to a successful business.
And, finally, just start. “You may fail, but holy shit it will be fun,” Elliot comments. “As stupid as it sounds, just doing the things you need to do when you know you need to do them will help you succeed.”
Peterson’s advice follows a similar suit. “Make a product people want to buy not one you want to sell,” he says.
“You will know when you have something great - the product will sell itself.”