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How one e-commerce entrepreneur found success in North Dakota

“Even if you have a successful enterprise, you’re going to have failures within it at times. That’s just a part of it,” says Scott Bintz, a serial entrepreneur from North Dakota.

Bintz founded his first e-commerce platform in 1998 with RealTruck.com and saw it grow into the largest online retailer of pickup truck accessories. But with over 20 years of expertise in e-commerce, business strategy, digital marketing and company work-culture building, a few roadblocks and stumbles were inevitable.

“You see people who have had some success but often times they’ve had many failures along the way,” says Bintz. “I’m certainly no exception. […] One needs to learn from those things. Having the ability to keep starting is required.”

Bintz says that one of his biggest challenges as a founder came when he realized that his company’s culture needed work. It took a few iterations and assessments of what the company’s goals really were before they found their footing.

“A couple of things happened where we tried to get the culture right and failed,” says Bintz. “[RealTruck] grew and it was at about $6 million in sales, but we didn’t seem to have a purpose other than more. More sales, more products, more employees.”

Bintz says the company solidified their mission to make people’s vehicles and lives better and started bringing principles into the workplace. RealTruck became a more engaging place to work, and employees felt empowered by the company’s newfound guiding principles.

“Changing the culture is what allowed RealTruck to [grow] to over $100 million in [sales],” says Mintz. “Once we got the culture going in the right direction, then innovation started.”

RealTruck focused on providing a superior level of service to their customers. The company would ship orders faster than was expected and surprise customers with free gifts.

“It turns out that if you do a good job taking care of your customers, they tell their friends which is the best marking you can have,” says Bintz.

He also points out that they did it all from a small town in North Dakota.

“Being in North Dakota you aren’t bumping into too many ivy leaguers, but you are bumping into really good people,” says Bintz. “I thought maybe we could do the same thing with RealTruck that Tony Hsieh did with Zappos. Once we had that awareness, [we realized that success] is not all contingent on location. Why can’t you do it from anywhere?”

Bintz says that the fear of not having it all figured out ahead of time inhibits too many people from being entrepreneurs in the first place.

He says that people will often come to him with an idea and ask ‘What do you think of this?” But that in itself of a problem.

“Stop doing opinion polls because the world will just keep telling you all the reasons why it won’t work,” says Bintz. “There aren’t too many people who are going to like your idea better than you. Realize that. Not to say there won’t be some, but you’re going to have to be the spark plug behind [your idea].”

Bintz sold RealTruckin 2015 and stayed on with the company as CEP through early 2017. Since then, he’s focused on developing his other online brands and platforms, done e-commerce consulting for other companies and authored a book on his experiences that he hopes can help average business people like himself find success.

Bintz is also working with other entrepreneurs and leaders in North Dakota on initiatives to establish the state as a center for e-commerce activity.

“Fifty percent of [American commerce will be online within the next six years],” said Bintz. “My message to people is that it’s not too late. Sometimes people think they’ve missed the wave, but it’s not too late if you know what you’re doing.”

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Christine McGuigan is the Managing Editor of Silicon Prairie News.

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