How to build a startup that makes $6M in sales with 0 tech skills and no investment

You might think that to build a successful startup you’d need money, connections and fancy tech. Nope! You need nothing of those. Here’s what you really need

Ana Bibikova
4 min readSep 13, 2021

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Michael Martocci has had this entrepreneurship vibe since he was 4. He used to play supermarket putting his little improvised shop in the driveway as soon as his Mom brought grocieries from the real shop. He has been alsways creative and great in selling stuff. Not so much in coding.

No wonder, he did not go to a tech college. What he did instead — in 2013, barely out of high school and not even 20, he co-founded Clique. A social network that positions itself as “a method for broadening horizons, connecting us with people in our community, and establishing life-long, meaningful connections through shared experiences”.

Michael was working on a product design and marketing strategy, including social media marketing. Clique did not become grow huge but Michael had a great experience in communicating with developers and project management.

His next step was Weatherford Fit — a fitness app, where he, again, was in charge of marketing. This one was more successful and made $300K in sales in the first 4 months after launch. That was a great learning experience for Michael as well. He found out how digital marketing experiements are done, how to build a funnel, what email marketing is, etc.

Eventually, Michael landed as a marketing analyst in a venture capital startup advisory firm. That’s when he began interacting a lot with other srartup founder and came up with the idea of SwagUp.

The original insight was this:

💡Startups sometimes need souvenirs, wearables and gifts (SWAG) to be sent to their customers or advisors, or investors. But there’s no service that makes it simple. On one side, there are large e-comm sites. On the other side, there are agencies that deal with Big corps. And then there are mom and pop shops that do everything manually.

Michael decided he could automate a process a bit and deliver a more convenient experience to startup founders…

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Ana Bibikova

Marketing strategist, startups mentor, co-founder in www.wizenguides.com