2003 R53 MINI Cooper S Briitsh Racing Green + White Roof
This is the MINI that started the journey that became OutMotoring.com. Custom ordered as one of the very first rounds of R53 MINI Cooper S models in late 2002, this was spec'd in British Racing Green, no nav, no sunroof, 16" X Lites, Cold Weather Package, Leatherette interior, and virtually no other options. It was meant to be a stripped down, lightweight car that could be used as a base to upgrade and modify, even though at the time there were virtually NO performance or upgrade parts outside of the MINI developed mods. Within weeks of it being delivered in early November, Aaron had formed a idea to create a online business to satisfy what he felt would end up being a big demand for parts- even though very few existed. With the accessory catalog that MINI offered and a wheels such as the Team Dynamics range that he had been researching, Aaron kicked off a starter website just to add these and some G2 Caliper Paint and some other wheels that he thought would appeal to MINI owners.
Within just a few weeks of creating the 'dummy' site using a free domain from the local internet provide and with NO ecommerce capability he began getting emails from potential customers that wanted to buy MINI products for their newly acquired MINIs. That shifted Aaron into high gear and he thought of a business name that was catchy and described the momentum of the MINI brand and driving experience but also left the door open for the possibility to add other vehicles and not cause any copy right issues with MINI. OutMotoring.com was born with just maybe 6 or so parts. Among them were the very Team Dynamics wheels he had purchased for his own 2003 MINI.
After the first few sales generated profit it was clear to see that there was a huge demand and orders started coming in. Some from local folks and others from nearly all the other states around the USA. The first month of sales was shocking considering what a niche brand MINI was and after that the orders just came rolling in-- just off of traffic from Google search results for MINI Cooper parts, accessories and upgrades from all around the world. The first ecommerce platform was built using Bizhosting which allowed for very basic templates which Aaron was not satisfied with so he built a custom site with graphics created in Illustrator and imported into Adobe Dreamweaver using his limited skills learned at Art Center College of Design as a product designer. The custom graphics were connected to the Bizhosting backend section to allow for all of the e-commerce requirements but it remained a very patchwork design given the limitations of ecommerce platforms at the time. Somehow he made it work and from 2003 to nearly the end of 2005 that same platform allowed the business to grow from nothing to nearly 700K a year. Things began to get very confusing when MINI introduced the R52 Convertible which required even more complex navigation and category layouts to allow shoppers to browse parts just for their model. At that time Aaron had been working his normal job as a product designer, had 2 kids, a house to take care and a side business that was quickly taking over the 2+ car garage and breezeway into the house. The cars were parked in the driveway as big shipments came in and shelving was made to hold inventory. And with the complexity of new MINI models a new website had to be designed using a more robust platform entirely self contained as to not require a blend of 3+ programs.
Soon, Aaron settled with Xcart and started laying out the category flow and product organization, not knowing that just a year later MINI would release the gen2 models starting with the R56. The new site was ready just in time to allow for the R56 and the R55 and R57 as MINI released them over the next few years. This along with shocking growth from sales for a brand that other auto accessory and aftermarket parts companies had basically ignored allowed OutMotoring to take a major stake in the growing MINI community.
Advertising was done with what evolved into Motoringfile.com - which at the time was just Gabe Bridgers personal blog site, and MINICooperOnline.com started by Mark Ferguson which evolved into NorthamericanMotoring.com after MINI threatened copyright infringement for using the word MINI in their URL. Other than that there were no google adwords or any print ads, after all MINI was such a new brand that it was considered a trendy, flash in the pan car that would be gone soon. Or so they thought. Other early advertising was also done on a up and coming podcast called WhiteRoofRadio. These efforts combined with a growing selection, friendly service and a massive demand for parts not satisfied by many others made for a business that grew faster than ever imagined. At the time there were a few others such as Helix, Way Motor Works, Detroit Tuned, MINI Madness, Cravenspeed, Alta, MINI Mania (a long time Mini site) and a few others but none of the 'big' companies even considered MINI to be worth addressing. So, they didn't. Their loss, our gain.