From Catching Fish to Catching Millions: How these Founders Built a 7-figure Empire While Helping eCommerce Shops Scale

Victoria Kennedy
4 min readNov 13, 2020


Daniel Stafford, Robby Switzer

Daniel Stafford and Robby Switzer are the kind of grassroots, organic growth founders America needs right now. Every entrepreneur faces challenges that make them question their decision to start a business.

But what sets Daniel and Robby apart from other successful entrepreneurs you might meet is that they survived these tough moments and came out on the other side without even a whiff of ego.

So where did this humility come from? The two met on a fishing boat in Alaska.

After realizing commercial fishing wasn’t compatible with the lifestyle they really wanted, they started a video production company that they scaled to an eventual 8-Figure digital marketing agency called Shopanova.

Now, these truly self-made founders are on a mission to show their eCommerce clients how to scale their own businesses and build a brand that lasts.

Lost at Sea, Literally

Before they started their eCommerce marketing business, Daniel and Robby were lost at sea, literally. Daniel grew up in Homer, Alaska, son of legendary commercial fisherman, Tom Stafford. Fishing was in Daniel’s blood.

In his mid-20’s — with his wife newly pregnant — Daniel bought his first boat and started his own fishing business. “Now, it may seem like a big risk, but in the commercial fishing industry,” says Daniel, “it’s not uncommon for new captains to take on $300,000 of debt to buy a boat without a guarantee that they’ll catch anything, let alone get paid for what they catch.”

Commercial fishing is big business in Alaska. It’s highly competitive.

Well, as the saying goes, with great risk comes great reward. But in many cases, great risks come with great losses and unfortunately, this was true in Daniel’s case.

As Daniel was coming into the port of Valdez one day, the wind picked up and the boat capsized. Fortunately, the whole crew survived. But the boat was underinsured, and Daniel spent much of the rest of that fishing season trying to dig himself out of a financial hole.

Daniel lost more than his boat that day, though. He lost his interest in fishing.

At the same time, Robby was going through a similar transition in his relationship with his own fishing business. One night at the end of a long season, Robby watched an older fisherman out on the water and thought about how he had missed more than half of his infant daughter’s life out at sea chasing the almighty dollar. “At that moment, I just knew fishing wasn’t going to work with this season of life,” says Robby.

From Catching Fish to Making Videos

Robby and Daniel both hung up their fishing gear without a game plan. Neither one actually believed they could be rich. “The fishing culture is about grinding away all season, living for that one huge set (catch) that pays half your revenues for the year. It’s addictive,” says Robby.

But then, Daniel read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill and it opened his eyes to new possibilities. Daniel and Robby started dreaming about building a safer, more viable, predictable, and sustainable business that would allow them to spend more time with their families. Then they took the leap.

“People can get caught up over-analyzing the market,” says Robby. “But we just jumped in. We thought we’d build the biggest video production company in Alaska and…we were mistaken. We starved that first year.”

Robby and Daniel are fast learners though. They brought onboard an expert salesperson, Patrick — one of Daniel’s former crew members who was on the boat when it capsized that fateful day. Patrick helped close some crucial deals and has helped grow the company to what it is today.

Since then, Shopanova has evolved into a wildly successful eCommerce marketing agency. They’ve grown their clientele month over month and developed “flywheel” systems for getting those clients reliable results using digital ad strategies.

These fishermen from Alaska are still down-to-earth, though. “We’re always looking to expand our impact on the world,” says Robby. “When you see a client generating $10,000 in revenues in a good month, scale to $900,000, that’s a measurable impact. That’s creating value. That’s helping to build a business that can hire new employees and change lives.”

Who knows? Maybe the next life they’ll be changing is yours. If you have dreams of scaling your eCommerce business, jump on a call with the team at Shopanova today.

Nathan Otwell, is the CMO of Shopanova, a modern growth media buying agency for eCommerce shops. This phenomenal team has been able to grow their client’s revenues from 5 figures all the way to 7 figures and beyond. Click here to learn how to build a generational brand and scale your business to millions:



Victoria Kennedy

Founder of Victorious PR. Getting Entrepreneurs in the Press.