What a $500,000 Mistake Taught E-Commerce Entrepreneurs David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart About Relationships
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
In this series called Member Showcase, we publish interviews with members of The Oracles. This interview is with David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart, co-founders of Digital Sucker Punch, a digital marketing agency specializing in e-commerce growth. It was condensed by The Oracles.
Who are you?
David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart: In addition to Digital Sucker Punch, we’ve co-founded several other entrepreneurial e-commerce ventures, including one in nootropics. We are soon launching Oz Ecom Fulfilment, a third-party logistics company for e-commerce.
Each of our companies has a firm vision and guiding mantras that we abide by every day, such as transparency and clear communication. We believe there’s no such thing as a silly question — only silly answers — so we advocate for “ask, ask, and ask again” and encourage our team to voice their opinions.
Another core value ingrained in our culture is under-promising and over-delivering in everything we do. Asking yourself how you can provide more value ensures a customer-first focus.
What is one of your proudest moments?
David Hobdell: Every time we deliver results for our clients and help them scale to multiple seven figures. When you are motivated by helping others, it brings a new level of fulfillment and gratitude — which also comes with a sense of accomplishment.
What excites you the most about your business right now?
David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart: Our clients and their businesses. Every time we onboard a new client, it’s like opening a Kinder Surprise, those hollow chocolate eggs with surprise toys inside. We choose to market new brands and products that we’re excited about as a team, which gives us new energy. We also get exclusive insights into the inner workings of their business, which is their life.
It’s like watching something blossom — from creating the customer avatar to designing their advertising and seeing the positive feedback and results after we launch. But the best part is seeing the excitement on our clients’ faces.
What book changed your mindset or life?
Judith Lockhart: Ready, Fire, Aim: Zero to $100 Million in No Time Flat by Michael Masterson. In our last e-commerce business, we were pushing the glass ceiling in terms of our annual revenue. We wanted to reach tens of millions in revenue, but we didn’t have a roadmap or know anyone who had been there.
This book showed us how to take our business to the next level. It gave us confidence and showed us that we didn’t have to wait until everything was perfect. Just start with an idea, get out there, and do it. Then listen to your customer feedback, learn from your mistakes, and build from there.
What was your biggest, most painful failure?
David Hobdell: In 2017, our products were flying off the shelves. We saw an opportunity to serve more clients globally, so we ordered almost $500,000 of products from our manufacturers. We trusted them because we’d worked with them for over three years, but we found out the hard way that they outsourced to other manufacturers with subpar products. Months later, we realized that we had a problem when customers started complaining.
That was an expensive and painful lesson, but we learned to do extensive due diligence on manufacturers and hire a third-party quality-control company to visit factories before partnering with anyone. Now, we inspect our goods and build strong relationships based on mutual trust, values, and understanding of what we want to achieve before we place regular orders with anyone.
How do you define great leadership?
David Hobdell: Great leaders don’t just educate — they also inspire and motivate. They have a clear vision and a clear path to get there. Their vision inspires others to come along on the journey because they believe in it and want to be part of the growth and success. When you clearly define what you want to achieve, you can attract a team and network of people who want to travel with you.
How do you identify a good business partner?
Judith Lockhart: COO Alliance founder Cameron Harold talks about the visionary-integrator relationship, which is a critical dynamic to consider in a business partnership. The CEO is the big-picture visionary, the leader, thinker, and creator of innovative ideas. The COO is the integrator and second-in-command who filters those ideas, knocks back 90% of them, and turns the best 10% into reality.
How do you prevent burnout?
David Hobdell: We both follow a balanced routine with proper nutrition, regular massages, and time to relax through meditation, reading, and walking. A combination of weight lifting, cardio exercise like running, and yoga is my recipe for ensuring that I don’t burn out when I put my all into the business.
Judith is a professional Muay Thai fighter. She’s not competing in the ring anymore, but she still trains like an animal. For her, the combination of weights, cardio, and hitting things decreases stress, keeps things in focus, and prevents burnout.
What are three things you would like to be doing in three years?
David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart: We have vividly outlined where we’d like to be and what we’d like to achieve in three years. First, we’re going to expand our business to a full-stack agency.
We have a chic warehouse office for our operations, to house our internal staff and give our remote team a chance to visit our headquarters, so everyone feels like part of the team. We would also like to establish a gym in our complex where we can train with our staff and the local community.
Finally, we will have an established third-party logistics company, which is in its infancy now. We plan to provide e-commerce brands with marketing and pack and fulfillment logistics services to deliver their products directly to the consumer.
What do you want to be known for, or what do you want your legacy to be?
David Hobdell and Judith Lockhart: We both grew up in working-class families. We had modest beginnings, so we never had much given to us and worked every step of the way to get where we are.
We built our empire to escape the rat race, work on our terms — not for someone else — and provide for our family.
Because of our past experience and present vision, we would like to be known for starting our family’s generational wealth. We also want to give back by creating a culture of abundance and generosity in our community and providing education, knowledge, and whatever else is needed by those close to us. Ultimately, we want to help them succeed and achieve their goals.
The words and opinions expressed in this interview are those of the interviewee alone. What worked for them may not work for everyone. Any claims in this article have not been independently verified.