How Bad Acne Inspired This Entrepreneur to Start a 7 Figure Ecommerce Business & Become Mobile-Friendly With Shopify Plus

How Bad Acne Inspired This Entrepreneur to Start a 7 Figure Ecommerce Business & Become Mobile-Friendly With Shopify Plus

She may have been the one.

Stunningly gorgeous and the type of girl for which Mads Timmermann could easily see himself falling.

But Timmermann hid from the Danish beauty.


He looked like a beast.

Or at least that’s what Timmermann thought he saw every time he looked into a mirror.

“I was certainly not a beauty,” he says. “I really did see myself as a beast.”

A beast?

Like many, Timmermann had a bad acne problem which significantly impacted his self-esteem even into early adulthood. “I remember telling friends I couldn’t go to parties with them,” he says. “I really wanted to go but couldn’t bear to show my face because of the acne.”

When he did go out, Timmermann says people had no problem reminding him how bad his skin was.

Each instance hurt worse than the last.

And each made that beast in the mirror, at least in Timmermann’s hurting eyes, even uglier.

What about that Danish beauty he had spotted?

“I had the biggest crush on that girl,” Timmermann recalls. “But I never could approach her because I was too embarrassed of my skin.”

Timmermann may not have gotten the girl.

But what he would eventually do is leave a beautiful mark on the face of humanity much greater than any mark left by an oily pimple.

And he did it by annoying the hell out of his business partners.

A Kitchen Born Cure

As epiphanies go…

This one is laced with irony.

“I wanted to cure my skin,” Timmermann says.

Of course he did. But that’s the desire everyone with an acne problem has. Few if any actually have the skills to act on it, though.

Timmermann certainly didn’t.

He was working at an advertising agency at the time and watched as a beautiful young model smiled for the camera during a photoshoot. The photographer passed the photos to Timmermann as it was his job to retouch them and make the model look perfect.

That’s when Timmermann recognized the irony at hand.

He was retouching the photos to remove acne from the face of a model who was being paid to hawk an acne cure that obviously didn’t work. “How can this model sell this medicine,” Timmermann recalls wondering. “What if I actually had a great acne curing product that I could market honestly?”

It was 2008 when Timmermann began experimenting in his kitchen.

Three years later, after boning up on his chemistry and partnering with a pharmacist, Timmermann was on the cusp of identifying just the right mix for an acne treatment that may work. “I really annoyed my partners during the process because the product had to be perfect,” Timmermann says with a grin. “But hey, it’s like a marriage in that if you are married and committed to your partner sometimes you annoy them, right?”

The ultimate test?

Timmermann tested the product on himself.

“I cured myself,” Timmermann says with just a hint of elation in his voice.

Hence the 2011 launch of Danish Skin Care, a company that not only promises to cure acne but help people live better lives. “People get so sad about their acne, and it really impacts their self-esteem,” Timmermann laments. “Our mission is to inspire people to live happier more positive lives.”

In the last five years, the company has evolved to offer a range of products designed to help people get the beautiful and healthy skin they desire as well as protect it from the sun. The testimonials and before and after photos on the Danish Skin Care site tell a story even more impressive than the company’s financial metrics:

  • The company has doubled its revenue every year
  • In 2015, it generated $700,000 in sales
  • In 2016, it’s experiencing sequential monthly revenue growth of 10%

“We always remember to celebrate our success,” Timmermann says. “Life is too short to wait for one big celebration a year so we plan daily, weekly, and monthly outings to celebrate and be grateful for our growth.”

Recently though, a big storm was spotted on the SEO horizon.

It’d be a blemish without a cure unless Timmermann did something extreme.

Outfoxing Google

Imagine having thirty days until your business grinds to a halt.

That’s the position in which Timmermann found himself after he says Google announced sites that weren’t mobile friendly would be penalized in organic search rankings. “There were definitely some sleepless nights,” Timmermann says. “We knew we needed a responsive site and with just thirty days before the deadline we had to act quickly.”

It’s one reason Danish Skin Care replatformed with Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce solution for high volume merchants. “The people at Shopify are really professional,” Timmermann notes. “It’s a great family to be a part of.”

Besides providing Danish Skin Care with a responsive site that is pleasing to Google, Timmermann says Shopify Plus has a beautiful interface and intuitive backend that has helped the company become more agile. “We can do things so much faster now,” he says. “Why would anyone spend time or money building a platform when Shopify works so well right out of the box?”

Even more important, according to Timmermann, is the flexibility and ease with which Shopify integrates with third-party systems and applications. For instance, Danish Skin Care relies on Shopify for advanced email integrations that allow it to accelerate growth.

“We’re into giving not selling,” Timmermann says regarding his company’s robust content marketing strategy. “Seventy-percent of our marketing is email, so we really try to focus on creating valuable content that causes people to fall in love with us.”

Here’s one way Danish Skin Care does it.

Spend any time at all on the company’s site and you’ll quickly notice how willing Timmermann is to give away guides detailing the secrets to making your skin beautiful. One tool Danish Skin Care uses to capture leads and build its email list is Picreel, a CRO software provider that helps merchants optimize their digital marketing efforts.

Custom exit pop-ups, powered by Picreel, have been especially successful for Timmermann and his team:

“It’s so simple to make beautiful exit pop-ups with this tool,” Timmermann says. “We save a lot, and these are high converting pop-ups.”

In fact, Timmermann says his exit pop-ups are converting at a rate of 8%. It’s the type of success that has Timmermann excited to test the pop-ups just as users appear to be abandoning their cart. The idea is to use them to recapture sales about to be lost by making checking out irresistible.

“Why would anyone not use Shopify,” Timmermann wonders aloud. “If someone is hesitant to use Shopify I’d ask them what they’re really afraid of in terms of starting a business because Shopify is so great you can be up and running in an hour.”

Changing Someone’s World

Here’s a secret Timmermann wants entrepreneurs to know.

“You don’t need a lot of customers,” he says. “What you do need are customers who love and buy from you again and again.”

In the case of Danish Skin Care, Timmermann has both volume and loyalty. The company’s 15,000 customers are extremely loyal and purchase often. In the future, customers can expect even more as Timmermann considers subscription offerings, collaborations that package skin care products with complementary items, and improving on an already world-class unboxing experience.

“It’s amazing to be able to do something you love,” Timmermann says. “I wish other people would do more of what they love because they can really make a difference like we have.”

By far, though, the most important rewards to Timmermann are the thank you letters he receives from customers whose acne has been cured by Danish Skin Care products. Timmermann hangs some of them on the walls in his office which, in summary, communicate:

  • Gratefulness customers are finally confident enough to attend parties
  • Excitement about having their wedding photographs taken
  • Happiness that they now feel beautiful for the first time

“It’s popular to say you want to change the world, but personally, I feel I’ve changed someone’s world when we help them make their skin beautiful,” Timmermann says. “It’s personal for me because I know how devastating acne can be so changing someone’s world touches me deeply.”

Turns out, Timmermann, just like his customers, was mistaken standing in front of that mirror years ago.

He was a beauty all along.

About the Author

Nick Winkler is a contributor to the Shopify Plus blog and founder of The Winkler Group, a strategic communications firm that provides content marketing services to the world's best-known brands, businesses, and marketers. Get more from Nick here.