- Tyler Wilcha, 30, is the founder, CEO and sole employee of Tap Tag, an NFC technology company.
- Wilcha started as a corporate intern and became a senior manager, but COVID-19 has changed his plans.
- He started Tap Tag as a side business, but now runs it full time and earns $ 10,000 to $ 20,000 per month.
Before starting an online business Tap the tag in July 2020, 30-year-old Tyler Wilcha told Insider he had never posted a letter or even set foot in a post office.
But these days, the entrepreneur has become a regular at the local Fishkill, New York post office, shipping his products daily to customers around the world.
Tap Tag uses near-field communication technology, which allows smartphone users to share information and pay for a variety of products and services through NFC-enabled apps like Apple Pay. Wilcha’s best-selling item, the NFC business card, is billed as the “last business card you’ll ever need” and ranges in price from $ 25 to $ 55 depending on the type of material. The card has an NFC chip that allows it to relay your contact information directly to another party’s smartphone with just a touch, eliminating the need for paper business cards and the physical exchange of cards.
While NFC technology isn’t new, the pandemic has accelerated the world’s need to find ways to interact without physical contact – something Wilcha has capitalized on with his selection of contactless products.
To date, Wilcha has sold over 10,000 “business cards”, mostly through word of mouth and Google ads. While he typically brings in between $ 10,000 and $ 15,000 in sales per month, he said, he made over $ 20,000 in October. Here is a glimpse of his early days.
From trainee to 6-figure employee in 4 years
In 2009, the NFC Forum, a nonprofit industry association with members drawn from all parts of the NFC ecosystem, released peer-to-peer standards, allowing people to transfer contact information between devices. . Around the same time, 18-year-old Wilcha was making $ 9 an hour cleaning cars at Enterprise Rent-A-Car.
In four years, he rose from the bottom rung of the corporate ladder to the upper echelons of commissioned flagship director, where he earned a six-figure annual salary.
But in 2020, as he prepared for a promotion to regional director, COVID-19 halted his plans.
“Everything changed overnight. As a core business, we stayed open, but like many businesses, Enterprise started laying off workers left and right,” Wilcha said. “Those of us who were able to keep our jobs suddenly had to work twice as hard to keep up with the demand. ”
The first people to be made redundant were the hourly car cleaners. Suddenly Wilcha found himself in the very place he had started ten years ago – cleaning cars – but this time as an executive in a business suit.
In April 2020, a company-wide email was sent to inform staff that all commissioned employees, mostly executives, were receiving a pay cut. Now they would earn 80% of what they earned in the same month the year before. Seven months later, Enterprise came up with the same arrangement or the employee’s current commission numbers, whichever is better.
” Do not mistake yourself. Overall it was still money, but with 50% of my staff gone, my workload skyrocketed and my income plummeted. the salary structure not only cost me money, but was also demotivating, ”said Wilcha.
All the while he said he had access to corporate business numbers and could see that they were taking advantage of them.
“That’s what attracted me,” Wilcha said. He knew it was time to move.
A desire for change leads to a new business
Wilcha keeps a list of business ideas on her phone, hoping to launch one someday.
With everything going on at Enterprise, he decided to take a week off in July and revisit his list, looking for the one that made the most sense. After much thought, he decided to take the NFC business as a side business and offer everything from business cards to readable sticker labels for coasters.
He set up a small workspace in his one-bedroom apartment and paid $ 1,500 in start-up costs, including a small $ 300 laser engraving machine he found on Amazon. He also budgeted $ 2 per day for Google ads.
“My mom was my very first customer, but after that someone I didn’t know bought a sticker, and that was a game-changer,” Wilcha said.
The first month he made a profit of $ 12 and said he was legitimately pumped. The next month it was $ 120. In December, that number rose to $ 4,000.
“I spent my days at Enterprise and my nights fulfilling orders, and as the number of orders increased, I ditched my puny little $ 300 burner and invested in a professional model. at $ 7,000, ”Wilcha said.
All the while, Wilcha kept thinking that if he had more time to work on his business, he could scale up – but he couldn’t do that while still working at Enterprise.
On January 27, he gave his two week notice. According to protocol, management informed him that this would be his last day.
Wilcha attributes his recent increase in sales to taking a risk after receiving a cold call from EA Direct Connection, a startup that caters to C suite executive assistants in the Tampa Bay, Florida area.
The founder of EA Direct Connect asked Wilcha to organize a promotional giveaway and give 100 NFC business cards to his members. Wilcha agreed, footing the bill for the gift.
According to Wilcha, sales have grown steadily by 20-30% each month, but seven days after the promotion ended he saw a big bump and is now on track for a month of 100% growth, including 70%. % he said he could attribute to his collaboration with EA Direct Connect.
Wilcha not only plans to match his former six-figure Enterprise salary by the end of the year, but also to exceed it by $ 20,000. He also recently purchased his first home, with a 700 square foot finished basement that he uses as work space.
He said his products were a fraction of the cost of his competition overseas. He hasn’t outsourced a single aspect of his business since launching, from logo and website design to product creation, although he has gladly paid some of his former Enterprise colleagues to help him. sometimes.
“If it hadn’t been for my years at Enterprise, I would never be in the position I am in today. Enterprise instilled in me a ‘yes’ mentality, allowing me to turn every interaction into an exercise for me. wow people by providing exceptional customer service, ”he said. “With everything I learned on the job in my various roles, I was able to transfer these skills over the years to my own business.”