Month: November 2014

3 Lessons from The Natural Grip’s Shark Tank Experience

Recently The Natural Grip was featured on Shark Tank, ABC’s investment television show. The Natural Grip is a one year old company that sells reusable tape hand grips that protect your hands during CrossFit training. They do business primarily through distributors but also have an online store, hosted on Bigcommerce’s ecommerce platform.

The company has seen great growth in its first year and shows a lot of promise. So much promise, in fact, that it generated a heated bidding war between investors Robert Herjavec and Daymond John. Eventually Herjavec won and invested $125,000 for a 25% stake in the company.  The exposure they have received from their TV appearance, along with Mr Herjavec’s expertise, seems to guarantee that The Natural Grip will see continued growth and expansion.  Here are a few takeaways from the show and our experience visiting their website.

The Natural Grip on Shark Tank

Ashley Drake on ABC’s Shark Tank


Lesson #1: Focus on Your Goal

As an entrepreneur, you wear many hats and are pulled in numerous directions. Furthermore, with all the challenges you face, it can be easy to be blown by the wind and chase after every possible revenue opportunity.

From The Natural Grip’s experience on Shark Tank, we learned that they are extremely focused.

Mark Cuban: “I don’t think you want to expand outside of CrossFit. That’s not the opportunity. The opportunity is adding additional products that leverage your credibility and the trust you’ve developed.”

Ashley Drake: “Right now though, let’s deal with this… what we have going on.”

Without losing sight of future opportunities, she maintained her focus on her existing product in the untapped market before her. That’s not an easy thing to do when talking to a billionaire with a lofty vision for your company.

Now, what Cuban says makes sense in a lot of contexts. However, for a young company that has yet to fully find their identity and take advantage of what lies before them, it’s not the  best idea. Too many people jump at every opportunity – never finishing what they started.

With finite bandwidth, you cannot do everything. Excel at one thing first.

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For your business or online store, you might find yourself in similar scenarios, but don’t get distracted. Focus and achieve your goals, then move on.


Lesson #2: Go All In

Like many entrepreneurs, founder Ashley Drake and her family are fully committed to the business. Although she is an active duty Captain in the Army Corp of Engineers, she finds time to dedicate to the business by sleeping less than four hours per night. On top of that, her husband has left his day job to commit full time to the business.

Rarely do entrepreneurs survive, let alone succeed, without this type of dedication. Of course, timing and preparation are key. Long gone are the days when you could merely open an online store and easily get sales. Commit to the journey.

Sacrifice and commitment are critical to your success.

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It is critical to understand the vision and see the endgame. However, don’t expect that you will get to the finish line without putting in hard work first.


Lesson #3: Optimize Your Website

While The Natural Grip shared on Shark Tank that they have built the business through distributors, they have focused some of their effort online as well. They have an online store — hosted on Bigcommerce’s ecommerce platform — on a subdomain, as well as a basic site with a fancy parallax splash page featuring their Shark Tank experience and their products.

While Bigcommerce was a great choice for their ecommerce platform, the website is poorly optimized for online visibility.   Hopefully they become aware of this while the company is still young, because it can impact their presence and sales significantly.  Not once is CrossFit included in a page title, URL, or H1 tag! Only one product has a product review, and none of them are marked up with structured data.

The results of all this? See for yourself — Google “crossfit grips” and see what happens. They are nowhere to be found (though their Facebook page shows up at the bottom of page one of the search results).

There are also a few critical user experience issues such as not having their own SSL certificate, and forcing users to check out on an unbranded URL ( instead of their own domain. As a result of the splash page, root domain site, store site, and unbranded checkout, there are multiple different experiences that potential customers have to navigate through to buy the product. These types of user experience challenges can seriously hurt a store’s conversion rate.

Don’t get so caught up in the business that you forget to do your due diligence on this critical marketing channel. Even if the focus is not on online sales, potential retailers and distributors are going to have a hard time finding The Natural Grip over their competitors.

Don’t forget about your users.  Make it easy for them to find you.

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It is critical that you optimize your website for both online search and user experience. If you don’t know how, start by filling in the standard fields with descriptive text as if talking to a customer. From there you can learn more about online search or hire an ecommerce SEO agency to help you out. Be sure to have a friend (or a stranger) go through your website for the first time – with no background – and share their experiences.


There are always lessons to be learned from observing others’ experiences.  We wish The Natural Grip continued success in their growing business, both wholesale and online.

How to Add a WordPress Blog to your Bigcommerce Store

Despite the addition of an integrated blogging feature in Bigcommerce earlier this year, many store owners still want the power and flexibility of a WordPress blog for their website. While you cannot install WordPress onto Bigcommerce’ servers to fully integrate the code into the Bigcommerce system, it is possible to have it function together well with your online store.

Integrate WordPress into your Bigcommerce Store

How it Works

Effectively you have to set the blog up on a subdomain (ie that is hosted elsewhere. By doing so, you can control the environment to be able to install WordPress onto the server and modify as desired. In doing so, there will be 2 sites (store & blog) running on 2 platforms (Bigcommerce & WordPress) hosted on 2 servers (Bigcommerce server & other) all creating 1 unified experience.

This allows you to take advantage of the flexibility of WordPress for your blog while retaining the power of Bigcommerce for your online store.

The image below demonstrate what this looks like.

WordPress Blog on a Subdomain

How to Integrate WordPress & your Bigcommerce Store

Step 1: Set up your Hosting

The first step is to set up a hosting account (unless you already have one you can use) with a website hosting company. Typically people use GoDaddy, Bluehost or a similar hosting service. We highly recommend Bluehost for use with this.

Quick Disclaimer: we are a Bluehost affiliate and do get a minor commission if you click on that link but most hosting companies offer similar programs and we choose Bluehost because we have had great experiences using them ourselves for over 8 years.

The hosting account is where website files are stored and the server-side code is run (WordPress is built on PHP which is processed by the server). You will want to host on a Linux server as IIS is more complicated to set WordPress up on and is not recommended.

Step 2: Install & Configure WordPress

Most hosting companies now have easy “single click” installations of WordPress. This means that the hosting company has an automated process to help you with this installation.

When adding WordPress onto a subdomain you will want to set that up prior to beginning this installation process.

Be sure to install WordPress onto the subdomain you have set up for your store (and not onto some other location). This process is quite simple with the only other key to success really being that you need to remember the username and password you set up.

Step 3: Change your DNS Settings

Once ready, you need to make the necessary changes to point the subdomain at your WordPress hosting. If you are not familiar with DNS, this process effectively maps the location of your website’s subdomain to the server where your blog resides.

Most of you will have pointed your domain’s nameservers at Bigcommerce. In that case, you will likely want to set up an A record to point at the IP address of your self-hosted WordPress blog. If you don’t know how to find that, just call or chat with your hosting company’s support team.

To set up the DNS records on Bigcommerce:

  1. Login to your Bigcommerce store dashboard as an Administrator
  2. Go to Setup & Tools > DNS Records
  3. Add an A Record where your “Fully Qualified Host” is your new blog subdomain (ie and your “Value” is the IP Address you tracked down for the hosting server

Bigcommerce DNS Settings

DNS setups can be very complicated and vary widely. We highly recommend you ensure you know what you are doing (and take note of current settings) prior to making any changes.

Note: propagation (the process of these changes pushing to servers around the world) can take up to 72 hours but typically you will see this change within a couple hours.


That’s it! It’s time to implement all those blogging and content marketing plans.

Still Sound Complicated?

Stop Struggling. Hire Us to Do It For You.

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Why Would You Want to Use WordPress with your Bigcommerce Store?

There are many great reasons to use WordPress to host you blog (or other content). Here are some of the top ones:

  • Flexibility – you have access to all the source code to make it do whatever you want
  • Ubiquity – while there are some 55,000 stores on Bigcommerce, WordPress is the platform that runs over 13 million websites around the world. Support & developers are easy to find
  • Plugins – you can choose from thousands of plugins to help with site layout, functionality, SEO optimization and much more

What if I Want a Seamless Experience?

Some of you will be content with a blog that does not match your Bigcommerce theme. Other will be looking for a much more unified experience. Your blog experience can range from totally different from your Bigcommerce store to a truly seamless experience where the user does not realize they are moving back and forth unless looking at the URL. We have worked on every range and while it takes a whole lot of work to offer a seamless integration, it can provide a really great user experience to complement your online store.

What Are the Alternatives?

There are not too many alternatives to this setup. The top contender is Bigcommerce’ built-in blogging. While it will never be as powerful as WordPress, it is a decent option. Other alternatives would be to do this exact same thing just with some other blogging platform other than WordPress.

Step by Step Guide