Brock Johnson on Being an Entrepreneur and Winning on Amazon (Follow the Data Ep. 17)

Brock Johnson on Being an Entrepreneur and Winning on Amazon (Follow the Data Ep. 17)

Get inside the mind of entrepreneur Brock Johnson. He’s well known in the Amazon seller community for his incredible success with solar eclipse glasses this past summer, but he’s been flipping products and chasing down entrepreneurial pursuits since he was 9 years old. He has been featured on the DailyVee (episode 367) and has his own successful YouTube channel where he shares his tips for Amazon FBA success.

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Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
What’s up, everybody? We are live today with Brock Johnson. I’m here with Casey. Casey, say hello.

CASEY GAUSS:
What’s up, guys?

CAMERON YODER:
So Brock, Brock is a seller on Amazon, and he’s involved with a lot of different things. And so we’re just
going to run through some questions. The purpose of today and the purpose of these episodes, which
we’re going to be doing month-to- month, is to inspire you with different stories.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and if you guys haven’t heard of Brock Johnson you may possibly be living under a rock. This guy is
blowing up right now, and so we just thought he was the perfect fit to bring him on, provide some
inspiration to you and just show you, you know, how tangible or attainable kind of these lofty goals that
you may have, just are – if you put in the work and you’re, you know, you’re logical about your
processes. So yeah, Brock, thank you so much for coming on, dude.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, thanks for having me on. I really appreciate it.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, well, we’re going to start just with some awesome questions just for you to explain yourself and
your story. First question is something we’re going to be asking everyone when they come on the show
is have you always considered yourself an entrepreneur?

BROCK JOHNSON:
That’s a tough one. So I have. I guess in retrospect now I would consider myself an entrepreneur, but I
didn’t always think of myself like that. But even since the age of, what, 9 or 10 I was – I was using my
mom’s eBay account to so all my friends’ video games. Then I was also playing on all these online games
like World of Warcraft and stuff, and I was more focused on the economy and flipping stuff on auction –
I was actually flipping stuff on the auction houses of these video games. And then in college I was like
buying and selling pennies. So I was doing this all the time, but I never thought it would be a full-time
thing until it came to where I had to get out of college, and it was like well you either go get a job, or you
start a company, or you do something. And that’s when I was like all right, I’m an entrepreneur. But I’ve
always been one.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s when – so when you got out of college and you started considering going into other jobs or other
fields, that’s when you said hey, I guess I kind of am an entrepreneur?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, yeah. Well, when I really did it was because I never really had a job my whole life because I had
always found ways to make money. Like I was card counting in casinos, or you know, just doing my own
side hustles and flipping stuff. But then it was when I got an internship, that’s when I – the decision was
made.

CAMERON YODER:
Gotcha.

BROCK JOHNSON:
I was like wow, this sucks.

CAMERON YODER:
So okay. Well, that’s a good response. Thank you for that response. Can you explain just a little bit about
yourself? Can you tell us where you’re from and what your experience was growing up, like if you had
siblings, or if you did well in school what your favorite subjects were? Just give us some background info.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, so I’m from Minnesota, born and raised here. I’ve got two sisters. With school, I don’t know, I did
all right in school. I never really tried, so I had decent grades, but then I started to do bad. I ended up
with like a 2.9 in high school or something. But then I went to college, and when I would apply myself I
always did really good in math classes or physics and stuff like that, but to be honest I was known as the
worst person. I never attended. I went to less than 50% of my coll– I have a full math degree, so I went
through all the advanced math classes, and I went to less than 50% of the classes because I hated it. Like
just somebody teaching me. I just wanted to go learn it. And so I would actually like do the tests, and I
would go to a math test, and I wouldn’t go to any of the classes, do any of the homework, and then 24
to 36 hours before the class I would just go and just read the textbook and teach myself everything and
stay up for 36 hours. And then I would go and get like a B on it. So like I’ve just always been like nobody
teach me; like I’m just going to go and like immerse myself in something.

CAMERON YODER:
Did people ever try and call you out on that, like hey man, I noticed you’re not going to classes. What’s
the deal with that?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, people called me out all the time. And so would my teachers. But I was really good at making
excuses.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Right, no, yeah, yeah.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Excuses that you can’t call out or just like coming up with stuff.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. I mean the thing is you had that drive to go out and learn and do it and do it for yourself, and
that’s what you did, which I think is – that’s so inspiring. So you talked about this before, but before you
started selling on Amazon, before you got involved with Amazon, can you give us the full picture again
just of what the process was that led you up to that point?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, so I was selling on eBay. Well, first internship, wow, life sucks. Don’t want to work for somebody
else because there was no correlation between my efforts and what I got in reward. And I didn’t have
the choice of what I did. So that’s what led me to e-commerce. And then at one point I was trying to
build a tech company to start out, but then I was like ooh, this is a long, hard path, and I have no
experience and no capital. But so I got onto eBay, and that was great, but then eventually I got banned
from eBay for life because they just have – like they have metrics. And if you don’t meet these metrics
or you don’t respond to people or like just one or two people flag you for something you can just –
they’ll just decide oh, we’re done with you.

CAMERON YODER:
Interesting.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, yeah, but then so then I was flipping stuff, and I just watched some YouTube videos of people
doing retail arbitrage. And then that’s where I heard about Amazon, and then I tried it out a little bit,
and then it was like oh, there is some money to be made here.

CAMERON YODER:
And so you, when you first got involved with Amazon you were doing retail arbitrage?
BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, I actually did retail arbitrage for, on and off, for about two years.

CASEY GAUSS:
So people just looking at getting started on Amazon, a lot of people kind of suggest jumping into retail
arbitrage to build up their capital. Would you – do you feel the same?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, I absolutely do because you learn – okay, you get paid to learn. So there’s a lot of things about the
Amazon platform that you just need to get into the thinking mode about how do listings work on
Amazon, what do people buy, and why don’t they buy things? So when you’re picking up hundreds of
items a day you see, oh, well Walmart charges $30, but people are only willing to pay $9 on Amazon.

That’s weird, why? Oh, well it’s because it’s just this private label, or it’s this brand product, but nobody
wants it. Or this listing is bad. So you learn all these mini lessons, and then you find one that does sell,
and then it’s wait; why is it cheap in the store and expensive on the intranet? Oh, there’s maybe some
value here. So I learned, you know, hundreds and hundreds of lessons through doing retail arbitrage
that a lot of people don’t talk about. But you know, just learning. And then when you get into the
seasonality, too, that’s where I learned a lot was oh wow, you can actually make – it’s like the price of
these things skyrocket near Q4 because there is a limited supply. So you really learn a lot of supply and
demand lessons, too.

CAMERON YODER:
Interesting. So okay, we know about the solar eclipse glasses, but a lot of people listening might not. Can
you talk about a bit of what happened with that and kind of what led up to that point?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, so I had been doing wholesale and whatnot, so I did retail arbitrage, and that I did more so
wholesale when RadioShack went out of business. And thousands of stores went out of business around
the country, and so I went to all of those, and I went to about 400-ish literally across the whole country
and was able to build up good capital through that. But then they ran out of stores. And then I was doing
wholesale through them, and then the Chairman of the Board who was like this billionaire sent me an
email threatening he was going to sue me for like buying and selling their – because they were selling it
on Amazon, too. They had just learned how to do it. But I had a repricer and they didn’t. So they
couldn’t win the buy box. And then like they had this big meeting, apparently, at like their headquarters,
and they’re like what is going on? Why can’t we win the buy box?

CAMERON YODER:
This guy, Brock Johnson, he’s the reason.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, apparently they were talking about me in this big meeting. And yeah, then they sent me some
threatening emails. So that was wonderful. And then I was like all right, I’m done with this. I want to be
– I want something scalable that nothing can take away from me. And that’s what led me into this. So I
just decided okay, I’m going to do private label, and it just so happens that right when I made that
decision I got – well, before that I went to China, went to the Canton Fair, started to learn everything I
could about private label, and then didn’t end up getting any good product ideas or sourcing abilities,
but then when I came back some guy sent me a random email just about this time that I made this
decision I’m going into private label. It was like a one sentence email saying oh, are you interested in
solar eclipse glasses? They’re really hot in the United States. And I was like sure, send me some
information. I’m interested. But he never responded to me. But that’s when I went and I looked into the
opportunity of the solar eclipse, and I was like you know I think this could be something big. So that’s
kind of how I led into the solar eclipse.

CASEY GAUSS:
Gotcha. So then yeah, so then can you walk us through okay, I stumbled across – first off, did you ever
reach back out to that guy that shot you that email and said thank you so much for what you’ve done?

BROCK JOHNSON:
No, I need to. I need to. I’ve thought about it many times in my head, but I should because yeah, that
was a very valuable email.

CASEY GAUSS:
So we haven’t mentioned the stats yet around like what happened with solar eclipse glasses. So people
unfamiliar with you are still like okay, solar eclipse glasses, like big deal. Who is this guy? Can you give us
a little bit of the stats and then kind of go through like how you went from, okay, the idea of solar
eclipse glasses to I’m a king on Amazon?

BROCK JOHNSON:
So basically – okay, so the numbers, I did $6 million in sales in the first six months, and it got really crazy

CAMERON YODER:
Wait, wait, hold up. Say that again.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, I did $6 million in sales in the first six months private label.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, that’s what I thought.

BROCK JOHNSON:
And that’s with over a 50% profit margin.

CASEY GAUSS:
Geez.

CAMERON YODER:
Wow.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, that was absolutely crazy. So basically yeah, so it goes from idea to oh, this could be a big
opportunity. And then that’s where, you know, it gets hard now. You [could run 0:10:49.7] number. So
basically there were rough– when I got into it there was about 20 people selling, but they didn’t have
the best designs, in my opinion, of these glasses. And you know, these were cheaper glasses, but you
could like put your complete unique design on them, and they were so cheap that you had to sell them

in bundles and packs. That was the only way to make it profitable on Amazon. So there was a lot of
creativity that I see that could be done. So then I looked at just how many people were going to view
this, and it was tough at the time because there were not – barely none were selling, and there was 20
people.

CASEY GAUSS:
What month was this? When was this?

BROCK JOHNSON:
This was – when I found out about it was January 27 th .

CAMERON YODER:
Okay.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, so January 27 th I found out about the opportunity. You know, wasn’t selling much, but I ran the
numbers, and it was literally going – every single person in the United States was going to see a partial
eclipse at least. I didn’t think that anybody would watch the partial eclipse, to be honest. I was wrong.
Everybody watched the partial eclipse. But I just took the assumption, and I ran, and there was 10
million people that lived under the total eclipse. So like how could you not look, like watch that? If it’s
going over your head, this happens – this is a once in a lifetime event. So I said all right, there’s 10
million customers here. Let me capture 1% of it. And then then that’s all I need, 1% of 10 million is
100,000 glasses. If I could find a way to make a dollar per glass I would make $100,000, and that would
be jacked. I would be jacked.

CASEY GAUSS:
How did you get to the number, though, of the number of units that you would order for the first time
or for the first couple times?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, so what I did for the first time was, well, I just bought what I could afford.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

BROCK JOHNSON:
I could have afforded a bit more, but so I started out with a $7500 order, which was 25,000 glasses.

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh wow.

BROCK JOHNSON:
That’s what I – yeah, so that’s what I started out with, and that was like I was like at first thinking I don’t
know if I’m going to be able to sell all these. But then I was thinking of – what I always do is I go through
the worst-case scenario. Okay, well if nobody buys my listing on Amazon I could hard call schools and
businesses and sell them in big packs at wholesale price, and I could probably get my money back. So I
like to look at worst-case scenarios, and if you can get your money back and there’s a huge upside, then
okay, this is a good opportunity to go into. So I had calculated how many hours it would take to call up
businesses, and it was like okay, I could get rid of these in a couple days or a week. So I’ll buy 25,000 and
see how it goes. And then they started to sell really well. So then that’s when I was like oh, okay, I’m
onto something here.

CASEY GAUSS:
When was it that they started to – sales started to pick up?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Sales? Well, I started in right at the end of March, beginning of April, and they were doing good. I don’t
remember exactly how much I was selling then, but it was, I mean I was doing probably $1000 a day at
least, like right off the bat. So that was great. And then I got up to a lot more per day. But to be honest
the sales really – well they started to pick up in June, and then they launched – they [took off 0:14:35.4]
better in July, but then I found that there’s this human procrastination curve, essentially, like that’s true
for all seasonal things, something about 30 days until an event. So like a mental trigger goes off in
people’s heads, and that’s where it just skyrockets.

CAMERON YODER:
I want to touch on one aspect that I think a lot of sellers get hung up on in both the just seasonal,
sourcing seasonal products, but also just sourcing products in general, and that’s risk. You talked about
it a little bit. When you had kind of that backup plan where you said okay, if I run – or if people don’t buy
my listing then I’ll just go call people and cold call people or whatever, go to schools and sell them
directly. But what would you say to sellers that are getting really hung up on risk when entering markets
maybe they’re not familiar with? What advice would you have for them?

BROCK JOHNSON:
If you’re entering into a market that you’re not sure about and you want to look at the risk, what I would
say that you should do is just, is there some utility? Are you doing something unique? Is there like – are
people – does this product like sell on eBay? Like could you liquidate this somehow? That’s kind of what
I look at on the risk side. Are you doing something different that’s a value add? And if there is demand
there and there’s some form of liquidation and you’ve done something different, you’re going to be able
to sell it, especially if there’s any room for margin on Amazon. I just don’t see why you wouldn’t be able
to slowly sell one unit a day over a year and a half. Like you’ll sell it eventually.

CAMERON YODER:
What was your differentiating factor then for your glasses?

BROCK JOHNSON:
So for my glasses it was one, they were actually good and real, and they were certified, where 98% of
my competitors were not. So that was the biggest one. They all had theirs made in China, and mine were
made in the USA. And mine actually – so they had the certification. Made in USA made a big difference
for people looking at their eyes, but then I also had just really, really good design. So I went to 99designs
and I actually had professional designers like – if people aren’t familiar with exact – well, who’s not
familiar with eclipse glasses, okay? And maybe if you weren’t in the USA because I know people watched
all around the world. Basically they’re like these cardboard glasses or something. And so you could print
whatever design you wanted on them. So I specifically put types of images and logos that would
correlate to space and the eclipse the best. So like certain ones were made towards kids, and they had
certain images that would really be appealable to children and all these different sects of people. So I
made all these different designs, and then the bundles and then just had the best, you know, really the
best photography. That was how I differentiated on glasses, but then I also had goggles. So those were
way better sellers because nobody made goggles. So these paper glasses let in a bunch of light, so I
made these more, you know, super, the super eclipse viewers per se.

CASEY GAUSS:
And there was, I don’t know, super eclipse Armageddon or whatever where you know a lot of the
glasses were taken down, but some people were still up, and they were allowed to charge like a much
higher price. How did you kind of fare through that process?

BROCK JOHNSON:
It was rough at first when you get an email from Amazon – because I had bought – I went off of this – I
kind of made a forecast model that showed that everybody was going to buy in the last couple weeks
because everybody procrastinates. So I had hundreds of thousands of glasses, and like they just arrived,
and I’m shipping them into Amazon, and right as I’m about to ship them all into Amazon they send out
an email saying they’re taking down all eclipse glasses, basically, because there’s bad ones. And I was
pissed because I had been warning them for months. I had called them over 10 times, sent them
countless emails warning them they’re going to make people blind. Take down the competitors, and
then they’re going to say okay we’re just taking them all down.

So yeah, then everybody freaked out. We all dropped our prices to the floor. And so that was really
rough, but then eventually, okay, so they wanted a certification for every glass, but so we got the
certification done for like our main one, but then if you got a different design we didn’t get the
certification done for the new design because it’s just like a different color on it, you know? But so that’s
where I thought I was really screwed because I had all these different designs and only one certification.
But what they ended up doing was they actually kept mine up, most of them. Some of them they took
down, which was frustrating. But I was able to provide that certification, stay up, and everybody else got
taken down. So a lot of private labelers from the United States had sourced from China. They didn’t

actually have the real certs, so they took their listings down. And then they refunded all of those
customers, and then a month and a half later they made all of those sellers front the bill for that. So they
had to pay for the product. They had to pay the Amazon fees. And then they had to pay the entire listing
price back.

CAMERON YODER:
Oh man.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah. Like I can’t even imagine.

CASEY GAUSS:
So were you able to raise your price during that period where fewer sellers existed so that like helped
margin?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, I definitely was able to raise the price then because well, you know, then now it was just us real
sellers. But I had still done a lot of revenue up until then. Let’s see, I believe I had done, until that time, I
think 2.5 million, and then this happened, and then –

CAMERON YODER:
I’m going to shift our focus a little bit here, but I want to ask one last question before we get off of the
subject of solar eclipse glasses. And that’s through all of your experiences with this product and the
different products that you sold on Amazon and are selling on Amazon, what one piece of advice would
you have for Amazon sellers specifically?

BROCK JOHNSON:
You’ve got to do your research. If there is certifications, you need to do your due diligence because if
you’re not checking out your supplier and vetting them, a lot of, unfortunately, Chinese suppliers will lie.
I went to China, and I was trying to source – because my true passion is like LED lighting, and I was trying
to source it for the longest time. But it just never seemed right, and I wanted to get UL certification
because that really protects you in a lawsuit. And none of the Chinese sellers would – like they wouldn’t
really have it, or some of them would have it, and I would go talk to them, and then they’d be like oh
yeah, we have UL and there would be UL on the product. And then I would go to their factory, and so
then I would ask for the actual certification and they didn’t actually have UL. They said oh, we could get
it if you order a large enough quantity. So basically they were going to sell it to me with the UL sticker on
it and never actually have the cert.

CAMERON YODER:
Wow.

BROCK JOHNSON:
And same with the eclipse glasses. All those got shut down. So if you’re selling something that’s
potentially dangerous, check that out. But just to protect your liability because it doesn’t matter how
many millions of dollars you make. Burn down one apartment, and it’s all gone. So and then do
something different. Like just make a, you know, small change, or catch a trend. Or you’ve got to do
something more unique to compete. Like you either get in early, you make a new mold – or you don’t
even need to go as far as making a new mold. Do new colors, a new bundle, a new marketing pitch, like
now you’re making clothes, but these are close for vegan. I just used the product discovery tool
yesterday. One of the top idea scores was clothes for vegans.

CAMERON YODER:
On the rise man.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, just so like you know, I think gone are the days of literally just sticking a logo on it. But there is still
lots of opportunity, but you’ve got to do just a little bit more than a logo, I’d say.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. So I had said I was going to shift focus a little bit. Sometimes when sellers, or when people
get in in the Amazon space specifically and they sell a ton or they see the potential they shift their focus
solely to Amazon. And I want to ask has your focus solely been placed on Amazon, or have you now kind
of broken into a couple different areas of focus?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, so there’s – you know, Amazon was great for the growth and everything, and it has the best
wealth building opportunity that I see out there. If your main goal is to literally just grow your business
and build as much capital as possible, I would say to just stick it on Amazon. Like that’s it. That’s all you
need to do. But I guess where I’m going now is I’m going for more of a – I had this realization, okay, I can
easily build up $100 million of wealth by just selling on Amazon. The opportunity is there. But it wasn’t
what I was particularly extremely passionate about. I love it, but just to just solely do that is whatever.
So now I’m really focused on building – I’m still selling on Amazon, and like don’t get me wrong; that’s a
main thing. But now I’m trying to build a whole brand. So not just on Amazon, but also getting to
Shopify, into software, so literally building an entire brand and then going into personal branding, and
then also social media. So all of these five work together to make a brand that’s truly that value of like
that perceived value. So I don’t care what happens on one platform. I don’t care about the – you know, I
can charge a premium price, like Apple can charge a premium price. Nike can charge a premium price
just because it’s, you know, it’s there, and it’s got that value. So I’ve kind of diversified a little bit. But
Amazon is still there.

CAMERON YODER:
How did you come to terms with your passion because some sell– so sometimes what happens is people
get in the space, or any marketing or business space in general, right, and they see the money potential

and the value proposition that’s there, and they push their passion to the side for a long time. How did
you come to terms with the fact that you knew what your passion was and you’re pushing towards that
now, and you’re not necessarily pushing money to the side, right, but you’re also pushing for your
passion? So what did that process look like?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Well, what it came down to was just making that large sum of money and not being happy. That’s what
it came down to because you’ll hear the thing that money brings happiness, but it’s true. Some lessons
you can’t learn until you feel them. Like some things you just have to experience. So by just getting that I
was like okay, you know, now I know this. I don’t need to just push and maximize ROI. But I mean I’m a
finance and math guy. I’m not going to sit there and just retire or whatnot. I’m still going to make over
$1 million a year every single year. I’m trying to go for like five, six this year. But like don’t care if that
happens, you know. So now I’m more focused on the impact that I’m going to have on the world and
doing things that make me happy. But it just, it literally some things you’ve just got to learn for yourself.
But what’s great is you kind of have to get on this path where you have to get financially free first. Like
it’s hard to go from a 9 to 5 job to passion. So go out there, start hustling, building skills as an
entrepreneur, building up capital, and then eventually once you’ve built all these skills, these lessons
and you have all this money, now you can start to go at that passion. And I think that’s actually an easier
path to getting to where you want than to start out and just go from nothing to all right I’m going to
make a full time at my passion.

CASEY GAUSS:
As a side note kind of on the selfish side, okay Amazon sends you $6 million in payouts, or whatever, you
know, 50% was profit, so $3 million. What in your mind – what is the first thing that comes to mind as
this is the first thing I’m going to buy with my $3 million?

BROCK JOHNSON:
I bought like a chocolate bar, and my wife really wanted a camper, so we paid like $12,000 for a trailer
camper, like a vintage-looking one. And that’s it.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice.

CAMERON YODER:
I love it.

BROCK JOHNSON:
You know, like oh well, no, what I thought was I can now fund a software company that I’ve always
wanted to build.

CAMERON YODER:
Gotcha.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice.

BROCK JOHSON:
That’ was like – and so I put like $250,000 into that, and then I just started investing money into myself
by going and seeing Gary Vaynerchuk, going to Tony Robbins events, joining the platinum membership
there and, you know, just making investments into myself, things that are going to make me happy and
grow more. That’s kind of it.

CASEY GAUSS:
Heck yeah, man. I love it.

CAMERON YODER:
I love it. So you talked about –

BROCK JOHNSON:
I’m not going to buy a Ferrari or a Lambo.

CAMERON YODER:
Wait. Say that again.

BROCK JOHNSON:
I’m never going to buy a Ferrari or a Lambo.

CAMERON YODER:
No?

BROCK JOHNSON:
No.

CAMERON YODER:
You talked about Gary Vee and Tony Robbins a little bit. What – who are some of your role models?
Who are the people that you follow closely and really try to emulate?

BROCK JOHNSON:
I’d say Elon Musk, Tim Ferriss, Dave Asprey, Neil Degrasse Tyson. Yeah, those are some of my – oh, Gary
Vee, Tony Robbins. Yeah, that’s kind of who I listen to and what I emulate.

CAMERON YODER:
Do you try to split your attention between all of them, or is there kind of one or two that you follow
really closely?

BROCK JOHNSON:

I’d say the one that I follow the closest – well, it used to be Dave Asprey because that completely
changed my life. So I’m really into biohacking and just optimizing every part of my biology to get the
most out of life, so I’ve always got energy. You know I’m running these 16- to 18-hour days, just like – so
that’s huge. But then I’d say recently now it’s Tim Ferriss and Gary Vaynerchuk that are – that I listen to
the most.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice. Do you want to give some quick tips on biohacking things that have worked for you to help you be,
you know, at the top?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Take a cold shower.

CASEY GAUSS:
Nice.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Right there. Take a cold shower. Do yoga every single morning, or not – I mean it takes time to get there,
but you know I just do like 10 minutes of yoga every morning, meditate for a little bit, cold showers,
Bulletproof coffee, intermittent fasting. So I don’t really eat until like 2:00 or 3:00 in the afternoon. I just
have this Bulletproof coffee. If you don’t know what it is look it up. It will change your life. You know,
just doing stuff like that. I really am focused. I have a standing desk. I have a triple screen set-up. I have
white boards all over my basement. So in physics, you know, the particle is affected by the field. And in
our lives we as human beings are affected by our environment. So by just really focusing on what you do
with your biology and how you shape the space around you, that will shape you then. And it’s a positive
feedback loop.

CAMERON YODER:
Nice. How much sleep do you get?

BROCK JOHNSON:
You know, it depends. I’d say on average about six, six hours.

CAMERON YODER:
Gotcha. For everyone saying you need eight, no excuses.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, I mean I do feel better when I get like – when I get a bit more. But it matters if I’m going – I’ll go
through like a period of grinding for a month or two where it’s just all on and then, okay, I’ll take a week
or two and, you know, recharge but then get back at it.

CAMERON YODER:
Of course.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so if you want to make $6 million in six months, be Brock Johnson. Sleep six hours a night.

BROCK JOHNSON:
No, if you want to do that you sleep like four.

CAMERON YODER:
Taking a look at where you’ve come from and where you’ve been and looking ahead now to 2018 and
whatever is beyond 2018, where do you hope to go from here?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Where I hope to go from here? I want to essentially go and have a giant estate in the mountains and
essentially to start kind of a retreat center out there. My wife’s a yoga teacher. And so just helping to
get some people just on track, like you know where they could just go for a bit and have this total
immersion, really like focus on their biology and their psychology and to just like revamp and kill it. So
kind of doing that, but mainly what I want to do is to just help other people’s lives by – there’s not a lot
of tools to focus on our goals, our bucket list, just the little practices that make our life better on a day-
to-day process. So I’m building out currently an entire physical brand around just personal development,
that whole area, but then also software around that. And then my personal brand digitally and then
building that up on social media and everything so that it’s this just one giant conglomerate that is
focused on making a better world and helping people just achieve their goals, but then making a profit
at the same time. So you know, like just then it all is just I feel good about. That’s where I’m going
towards.

And then eventually my overall goal is building more of an artificial intelligence company that’s
collecting our biometrics and just ambient data to help correlate all of these inputs to get somewhat of a
picture of what mood we’re in or just different things about our biology that may see okay, you know,
he was really productive during these times. What happened? What factors were there? Or he’s starting
to become unproductive. What factors could we change in the environment, like the music, the lights,
the temperature, just stuff like that, to essentially help people making like a big mother technology that
just helps make our life better instead of like right now where oh, like everything on your phone and
every piece of tech just wants to take your attention and sell that and make you become distracted and
not have a better life.

CASEY GAUSS:
I love it, dude. I love the, you know, focus on helping people to be motivated or be kind of at their best
performance or encourage them to be who they want to be. Before Viral Launch I was actually working
on an app somewhat similar. I called it [Live 0:35:02.8], and it was just all around providing some

incentives and some structure around like setting goals and helping you to put the plan in place to
achieve them. So I think it’s [sick 0:35:12.5].

BROCK JOHNSON:
Oh that’s awesome.

CAMERON YODER:
All right, so last question. I love asking people this question. How much of your success would you
attribute to luck, and how much would you attribute to your own hard work and intelligence?

BROCK JOHNSON:
So luck was finding out about the opportunity at the time that I did, and the life situation, that was
lucky. But what wasn’t lucky was going through, you know, 70+ suppliers, finding out everything that
was wrong with it, actually finding the right ones, doing all this analysis, all these predictions and
everything. So it also got lucky that they took down my other competitors right near the end. But it
wasn’t because mine was taken down, too, and I had to argue and fight. So you know, to assign a
percentage, perhaps 15% of it was luck. But if I wouldn’t have sat there and grinded it out, you know,
there was a day where I stayed up 60+ hours in a row. That was really rough. But you know, that’s not
lucky. You know, and that was over $1 million of it was actually that one day, like I don’t want to get this
going too long. That’s a pretty long story.

CAMERON YODER:
Sure, no, that’s fine. I think a lot of people, it’s easy for people to see a story and just attribute it to luck
or [dumb it down 0:36:45.8] to oh, well he got lucky. And it’s really hard. It’s really hard for people to
see how much work and effort really is put into building and establishing an entire business, entire social
media presence, etc., right? And stories like this, I – a personal goal of mine is always to pull out the
hard work that people have done in an effort to establish something wonderful and establish something
great. And I see that with you. I mean you’ve obviously put in a lot of hard work and so, yes, there was a
bit of luck involved, but there was a lot of work.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, well thank you. I really appreciate you pulling that out. And I guess, like looking at luck, so some
people could say it was lucky, but I saw over 100 other private labelers who found out about this
opportunity, and that just sourced from China, didn’t really do much, and they all lost, you know, tens of
thousands of dollars. So if the luck was just finding out about the opportunity you would hear – there
should be 100 other Brock Johnsons with this crazy story you’re hearing about.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Well Brock, that’s all we have for today. I wanted to thank you so much for taking time out of your
schedule to be here with us, and there is a lot of value in everything that we talked about today. So
again, thank you so much for being here.

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, thanks for having me. I really appreciate it.

CAMERON YODER:
If our listeners want to keep in touch with you and keep in touch with what you’re doing, with
everything on Amazon and everything outside of Amazon, how can they do that?

BROCK JOHNSON:
Yeah, come check me out. I’m on YouTube, Brock Johnson, just look me up. You’ll find me. And then if
you want to follow – I just started my Instagram, so if you want to follow me on Instagram it’s
@officialbrockjohnson. That’s where – send me a DM on there, and that’s how you can get a good
response from me. And yeah, that’s how you can check me out.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s going down on the DMs, man. We will put all of your info in our show notes. So guys, if you want to
keep in touch with Brock you’ll be able to find it there. But thank you again, Brock. There’s a lot of value
in what we talked about today. We very much appreciate

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Video on Amazon Listings: An Experienced Seller’s Perspective (Follow the Data Ep. 16)

Join Amazon Seller Coach, Cameron, as he discusses the effects of video on Amazon listings with special guest Kyle Goguen of Pawstruck, an experienced Amazon seller. Kyle shares insights gained from testing out video on his own products, and together they speculate about the future of video on Amazon.

Listen on iTunes

Follow the Data Show Notes

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, guys, what’s up? We have Kyle with us today. Kyle has been a seller on Amazon for a little while. Kyle, can you just say hello and intro yourself a little bit?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Hey, everyone. Yeah, Kyle from Pawstruck.com. I’ve been selling on Amazon – I think it’s been two-and-a-half, three years now, and prior to that launched the company in 2014. We sell on our own website, obviously Amazon, eBay and a few other channels. But as of late we’ve been focusing a lot on Amazon.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So I actually – I always love asking people, sellers this when we bring them on and when I’m talking to them, but from your perspective how much has Amazon changed? How much has the Amazon game changed since when you first started?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so you figure it’s only been a couple years, but things have changed drastically since I started. I would say in the beginning I didn’t really know what I was doing on Amazon, to say the least. And then it’s like as soon as you learn new strategies on how to launch products and promote products, it all seems to change, which I think is a good and bad thing. It definitely pays off for people who stay on top of the latest trends and strategies. Kind of sets yourself apart from the competition. So I like it, and overall I think we set ourselves up well for growth here in 2018 and in the future.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s really good. And that actually kind of leads into something that we’re talking about today. So our topic today is all about video and video on Amazon. And this is something that’s – video on Amazon is something that’s super interesting that not too many people are talking about right now. It did get some buzz a little back when the beta was first announced and when people first found out about it, that Amazon was bringing video to sellers on Seller Central. But we’re focusing on video today, and Kyle has been a user of video on Amazon. He’s been – and correct me if I’m wrong, but you were part of the beta. I’m not actually quite sure how soon you were able to get in with video. How long have you had video on Amazon?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

I don’t remember the exact date, but it’s got to be – I would say over a year, at least. I was in the Amazon Exclusives program, and that’s how I initially got access to it through some contacts I made through that program. And since then I’ve actually left Exclusives, but I still have access to some of the tools, which include video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. But so baseline you’ve really had some decent time to see how to work with video on Amazon, see what it’s done for you, right?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, definitely.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. So first question, first question for you, for all of our viewers; how – just generally speaking, how has video affected your listings?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So I guess the first thing I want to go through is all the places that we currently are using video, just to explain that for the listeners, and then I’ll let them know what I think it’s done for our sales and listings. So the first place we have it on a listing would be in the thumbnails. You’ll see it kind of right next to the photos. I’m sure everyone’s seen that before. It’s got a play button, and when you click on it it will play a video just in place of where the main image is. That’s one place. The second place we have it is about halfway down the page. You’ll see video under a related video short section. So we also use that. And the third place we upload video is on our Amazon storefront, which is fairly new, and we’ve got kind of a whole, almost like our own website within Amazon built out. And on each of those pages we’ve used video to show off our products in use. So on – I guess when you’re asking how has it affected our listing, it’s a tough question to answer.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I know, I know, I know.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, like most things on Amazon, they don’t give you a whole lot of data, which is too bad. You wish you had access to it, but it makes sense that they wouldn’t want to share it with the sellers.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So I can’t tell you how many people have viewed videos, how long they watch our videos or anything like that. And unfortunately when I did upload the videos, you know, we were making a lot of changes to our listings, so I wasn’t even really able to say like A/B test, you know, conversion rate before a video or post videos because we changed so much it really wouldn’t be a fair way of measuring success. So I basically just have to give you my gut feeling.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, yeah.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And my gut tells me that it’s definitely helped. Our conversion rates based on my research and talking to other sellers are equal if not much higher than other sellers or people in my industry. So I definitely think it can’t hurt you. It can only help you if you do it the right way.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So these three locations for videos – so you said in the thumbnails and kind of halfway down the listings and then on your Amazon storefront. Is there one – are all of these videos in each of these places the same, or have you created unique content for each of them?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So for us we had our videos done kind of all in bulk, so product videos, for example, they would shoot just one single product video, and we would upload the same video in all the places. So we didn’t customize it necessarily, but you absolutely could, depending on your needs. You can – it’s not like they’re all connected together, I guess. You upload them separately, so they can have different versions if you felt like one was better.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so you basically have the ability to customize putting a unique video at the top in the thumbnails, for example, or like a unique video halfway down?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely. And my gut also tells me that the video at the top I would assume gets a lot more views than the one halfway down the page. It kind of gets lost in all the other product recommendations and reviews and everything down there. But since we have the ability to do it, we upload it there, too, and so more people can see the video.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. And that seems consistent with the, I mean just photos in general and thumbnail photos and EBC all in kind of the same way. With your videos that you’ve implemented have you found any customers giving feedback, or have you gotten any direct feedback from customers that have bought your products or looked at your videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, all the time. So we definitely try to interact with our customers as much as possible. We send out automatic emails after every purchase and every delivery and shipment. We definitely get a lot of responses that reference our videos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we sell dog products, and so our videos show, you know, dogs chewing our products or using it. So a lot of times we’ll get comments about how adorable or cute the videos were, or how helpful they were, or maybe just a follow-up question, something that we didn’t clarify in the video. They’ll mention that they watched the video and they had a question about X, Y, and Z. We also see it in our reviews. A lot of times people will reference the videos on the listings for whatever reason. So we definitely know people are watching them. We don’t know how many.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Do you think – right, unfortunately. Do you think there’s a little bit of a wow factor when it comes to videos on listings because it’s still – honestly it’s beginning to get standardized kind of, but it’s still pretty new? Do you think people still have that wow factor when they watch videos?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I would think so. I would think it’s definitely a way to set yourself apart from your competitors and other listings if you have video and it’s well done and they don’t. That’s a great way to set yourself apart, especially if you have a really high priced product, or something really technical, or one like ours that requires a high level of trust to purchase. I think video can be a way of kind of earning that trust or really showing people why they should trust you to spend that kind of money on a product because sometimes photos don’t do a product justice.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Or people don’t want to take the time to read a description to understand how it works or what it does. So our products are pretty simple. We don’t do any how-to videos, but I could definitely see where a how-to video would be helpful for a technical product in setting yourself apart.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. So technically speaking, I mean again you’ve had experience in setting up videos with your listings. Is it easy to do? Is it just easy to upload like an MP4 into Amazon and just like oh, there it is straight into my listing, or is it kind of complicated?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

It is pretty basic. Assuming that you have a normal video file and that your video is compliant with Amazon’s requirements – so definitely look into that. Like I’m sure you can’t – you know I couldn’t run videos saying like go shop on Pawstruck.com. You know, so you have to make sure your video actually complies with Amazon’s terms of services for videos. But assuming you do all the right things there it is just a matter of hitting the upload button and entering, you know, a title and so on. So it’s pretty basic.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting. Well, that’s good to know. So as a whole – again, just generally speaking video is a little bit newer, and it was in beta. Again, it was in a beta program that you had to get accepted into, and it kind of got rolled out to people that were brand registered. And now it’s beginning to have more of a mass adoption with sellers that are brand registered. Do you think that video specifically is something that sellers should be putting their time and energy into right now?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, absolutely, especially if you have an off-Amazon presence in any way. If you’re running any sort of off-Amazon advertising campaigns, whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, something like that, or you have your own website, it definitely makes sense because the money you invest in video is obviously going to help you on Amazon, but you can also repurpose a lot of those videos. So something I haven’t really mentioned yet, but from our videos we have dogs using our products, and we are able to take high res screenshots or screen captures from various frames. So we’re able to get photos of the dogs using the product. And we use those photos as our secondary images on the product. So it’s kind of serving as both a video and a way to generate really good, high-quality photos.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Interesting.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And we’ve also had the company that we use to produce the videos make shorter versions that are used for advertisements. So you can repurpose the videos in a different way, maybe to optimize for Facebook ads, for example, or Instagram. So you can get a lot of use out of them, and that helps a little bit with that upfront cost that I’m sure you’ll have to pay.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. So you talked a little bit about focusing off of Amazon. Have you found really good – I mean you’re able to – people generally are able to track attrition, I guess, or if people convert better outside of Amazon just because you can track, I don’t know, consumers a little bit better on something like Instagram or Facebook. Have you found really good conversions from using these videos on something like Facebook, or YouTube or Instagram?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

So we use those videos on our ads, and they’ve been pretty successful, but I wouldn’t really be able to compare them to anything else we’ve done previously because these are the only videos we’ve had. But one thing I can do – maybe we can put it in the show notes or [somewhere 0:20:09.1] because I don’t know off the top of my head, but on our website we definitely saw a huge conversion boost once we added our videos to our product pages. So I can look that information up, and maybe we can throw that in the show notes what exactly happened because that we were able to A/B test, which was really great. And we have all the information, obviously, how many people are viewing it and all of that.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Gotcha. Okay, and so we talked briefly about this, but I think it’s something that people should know. It was – we mentioned it just a little before, but I want to reiterate that this video thing was available only to people in beta, like an invite basically. But now seemingly it is starting to get rolled out to everyone that is a part of the brand registry program. And so just for everyone that’s looking to get into video, it would be a good idea if you aren’t brand registered yet to just get brand registered. And brand registry involves a lot more outside of video. It involves a lot of different things. And potentially being brand registered just kind of opens the door for being able to be invited to things quicker or earlier than other people that aren’t brand registered. Seemingly Amazon takes preference to people that are brand registered. And I’m not sure if you could touch into that a little bit. Have you seen – in your time being brand registered have you seen early rollouts or just other things, including video, that have benefited you?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, so I was part of the beta rollout of brand registry 2.0 so I was able to get in there pretty early and talk to some of the people on Amazon’s brand registry team and give them feedback as they built out the program and everything, and it’s definitely an emphasis of Amazon moving forward. For brand owners they want people to be brand registered, and they’re going to continue to build out features that are specific to those in that program. So like you already mentioned, any seller that has the ability to be brand registered who is not brand registered at this point in time, I absolutely recommend getting registered even if you don’t plan on doing video soon or ever. It doesn’t really matter. There’s just so much that the program offers, and there’s going to be some feature at some point in time that you’re going to want that you won’t be able to get unless you’re in the program. And I have a lot of colleagues and friends who are Amazon sellers who some of which are unable to get brand registered, and it definitely hurts. And they have a lot more issues with counterfeiters and people who are hijacking their listings, and they can’t really do a lot from a protection standpoint. And a lot of those people were in the original brand registry program and just because of some changes aren’t able to get in 2.0 at this point in time, and they really wish they could.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, so taking a look at – talking a little bit about brand registry, or taking that even further, what do you think Amazon is going to do next for listings in general? And we’re talking about video, which was a pretty big deal, honestly, to add to your repertoire of things available on your listing. What do you think Amazon is going to do next?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Sure. So when talking about product listings in particular, I think the next thing they’re going to do is build in some sort of augmented reality option for listings, probably on mobile I would assume. And the reason I kind of bring that up is because every time I talk to, you know, family members or friends about shopping on Amazon the one thing they always bring up as a negative – basically the only thing they can bring up as a negative is that they wish sometimes they could go to the store because they want to touch and feel the product. And a lot of times it has to do with apparel specifically, which makes sense, and Amazon is doing a lot of things to combat that with their fast shipping and return policies and even video, right? So being able to see the product kind of in use really helps the customer understand what they’re buying. So I think if you’re able to work in some sort of augmented reality into a listing that could take it even a step further. So, for example, if you wanted to buy some T-shirt, you’re unsure how it looks. It looks on a model. It’s like well you don’t really know how it’s going to fit on you. Or it’s on a white background that’s really hard to tell, but with augmented reality they have the possibility of, you know, you basically turning the camera on yourself kind of like a selfie and the T-shirt or clothing being put onto your body to see what it’s actually going to look like when you receive it. So my guess is they’re going to do creative stuff like that. I think that’s coming to e-commerce in general. People are going to keep innovating, basically removing that barrier or that one hiccup that makes some people want to shop in-store versus online.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. That makes sense to me. I mean there was an article put out not too long ago about how Amazon owns, I think it was about seven clothing brands on Amazon specifically and how Amazon is moving further or deeper into the fashion market. We also have that fashion camera. It’s a camera that helps you pick out clothes, basically. So seemingly I would totally agree with you. I think that’s an argument that people have for classic retail stores, right, is that you can go and you can touch and feel everything. And so for them to implement technology like that would be huge for the space. I could definitely see that happening. What does the inclusion of video tell you about what Amazon is moving towards with their overall website experience and aesthetic? You touched on this a little bit with the idea of that VR AR idea. But do you think that is going to carry through to their website as a whole?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, I think so. I think video is just kind of an indication that they want to really show customers what they’re buying before they’re buying it. And like I said before, like photo can only take you – photos can only take you so far. So I think they’re – I’m sure they’re going to add video all over the place, or some of these new technologies, even maybe into somehow in, you know, search results or somewhere else maybe. I think it’s something that they’re definitely focused on doing. You see like if you go through your Facebook feed these days it’s almost – to me, at least, it’s like 95% video is what people are sharing. So I think Amazon understands that. I mean I think that’s part of why they rolled out the related video shorts portion to listings. They’re trying to compete with YouTube influencers and product reviewers. They want that ecosystem on their own website. So I think they’re going to continue to encourage video and other types of content. I mean they’ve already done it with enhanced brand content. I think they’re going to allow brand owners to really build out their brand on Amazon.

 

So with the storefront and video content, enhanced brand content, really nice photos, and I even think on listings they’ll – right now you only see really big brands, but you see the brand name. Instead of it being text you see a logo there for some of the really big brands. My guess is that they’re going to roll that out to people who are brand registered, that that might be something they’re going to have for everyone because it seems to me that Amazon wants people to build out their brand on Amazon, and that’s something they can set them apart from Walmart, Jet, other places like that is all the sellers are taking the time to build out a brand presence on Amazon. They’re probably not doing that on other platforms. So they can kind of really separate themselves there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Well, one final thing for you. And Kyle, I want to thank you so much for taking time out of your day just to be here and talking to us about video and what’s next potentially for Amazon when it comes to creatives and everything in between. For our listeners, what piece of advice, what one thing do you think that our listeners should focus on? We’re getting close to the new year right now, so what do you think that sellers should focus on at the beginning of next quarter, and what are you going to focus on at the beginning of the new year?

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Okay, so the first one, first piece of advice I’d have is kind of a trick that I’ve been using that I forgot to mention earlier, so I’ll take this opportunity to mention it. So with video what we’ve also done is in our follow-up email sequences that go to customers, we let them know that they can click a link to go watch videos to learn more about the product that they purchased, and where we’re sending them is to a page on our Amazon storefront. So that is within terms of service since we’re sending them within Amazon’s own website. So it’s just a great way to get people to see your own videos if they haven’t already. It also gives the opportunity to cross-sell some other products within that video or maybe on the same page. And I think a really great use, which we don’t do because we don’t need to, but like I said with a technical product if you have a how-to video and you have it on your storefront and you send people there, you’re going to prevent all kinds of negative reviews, or returns or questions. You can send them there and explain exactly how a product should be used. That’s just going to be a great customer experience and help kind of your whole product overall. So I recommend doing that if you’ve got video already and aren’t doing that right now.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

And for I guess your second question was what we as a company are focusing on the beginning of next year. So the main thing we’re going to be doing is just really ramping up product development. So we’re going to be trying to launch between two and four new products every month and really kind of set up a system where we are constantly finding, launching and kind of adding products to our catalog in a very consistent way and successful way because right now we’ve kind of done it piecemeal as things come up. So I really want to get more focused on that and set up the systems that will allow us to kind of scale that process.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Sure. Well, hey, that’s good to hear, and that’s good advice. Kyle, you’ve been awesome. You’re in such a good spot, and you’ve had such great opportunity really to know video, number one, but get a lot of good and early experience with a lot of these things that honestly not a lot of sellers have had experience with. So thank you so much for sharing your own experiences with us and for giving your advice. It’s been awesome.

 

KYLE GOGUEN:

Yeah, of course. I’m happy to do it. Thanks for having me.

 

 

7 Tips for Your FBA Business from Casey Gauss (Follow the Data Ep. 15)

Follow the Data Episode 15: 3 Tips for your FBA Business from Casey Gauss

Merry Christmas listeners! We’ve got a present for you: 7 tips for your FBA business courtesy of our CEO, Casey Gauss. As you set your business goals for 2018, these tips will help you focus on what will take your business to the next level. Looking to sell for the first time? Even better. Listen closely for advice about what pitfalls to avoid and what will set you apart from other Amazon Sellers.

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Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Check out this brief overview or this longer walkthrough of Product Discovery to learn more about how Product Discovery leverages data to help you find the most profitable Amazon products to source.
  • Not sure how to use Market Intelligence? Here’s a full Market Intelligence walkthrough about how to get the most out of the tool.
  • Reinvesting your Q4 profits is the best way to get the most out of your extra earnings. Think about what seasonal products you might be able to turn around in time for upcoming Q1 holidays.
  • Looking for more reliable information from the Viral Launch? Check out our Dispelling Myths Series. Viral Launch takes on 4 common myths in the Amazon FBA community.
  • Want to be on the show? Have your own story of entrepreneurial success? We’re working on an episode that features our listeners! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Merry Christmas, everyone, and happy New Year. It’s the holiday season and the end of Q4 2017. As we head into 2018 we want to help you focus on what’s going to make your business as profitable and successful as possible.

CASEY GAUSS:
Today I’m giving out seven tips to grow your FBA business to help you get in the success mindset heading into the New Year. I am Casey Gauss.

CAMERON YODER:
And I’m Cameron Yoder, your hosts for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 28,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller. Let’s dive in.

CASEY GAUSS:
Cool, guys. So we’ll start kind of in the source, launch, dominate order. Tip number one coming to you through the kind of source perspective, tip number one is pay attention to the sales-to-review ratio when entering a market. Really what this means, you know, we call this the ROI ratio, but really what sales-to-review ratio is, it’s just a very simple calculation, estimated monthly sales divided by total review quantity, and really this is a calculation that does two things for you. One, it is showing you kind of what the reward is versus the amount of work you have to put in. So if I want the reward of selling 1000 units of this widget per month, then the amount of work I have to put in is to get to, you know, X number of reviews. So let’s say 100 reviews, right? So if I only need to get 100 reviews to sell 1000 units, that’s a sales review ratio of 10. And that sounds like a pretty awesome scenario considering or assuming that all the other metrics are good, so price point, margin and so forth. But you know that’s far better than having to get 10,000 reviews to sell 1000 units, right? So the sales-to-review ratio, just a really simple quick calculation to, you know, as this kind of litmus test for should I consider this market or not.

CAMERON YODER:
I’m still amazed at how many people don’t take this into consideration when entering new markets. And it’s a really simple concept. Like it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Really it makes sense if you’re looking at a market and you see a bunch of sales and a ton of reviews, then of course you’re going to have to, in order to compete well, have to get that review count up to match what the market’s at. But if you’re in a market with a low number of reviews and high sales, obviously that’s opportune for you to enter and do well.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. Thanks, Cam. So tip number two, go wide, not deep. So a lot of people are always looking for that home run product that is going to, you know, make them wealthy overnight. We have a guy named Brock Johnson coming onto the podcast. In six months he sold like $6 million worth of one product. That’s a unicorn. It’s very tough to find unicorns if you’ve never seen one. So anyways, you know, it’s so much more practical to be able to go really wide and not very deep. So what that looks like is, you know, if I were jumping into selling on Amazon this is the strategy that I would take because this is what I see kind of a lot of people having success with. Anyways, what this looks like is going after products where maybe the maximum sales potential for that market is $10,000 or $15,000, $20,000, some fairly low amount. I guess it’s all relative because for a lot of people $10,000 a month is insane. But essentially what you’re looking to do is enter markets where competition is not very high and you know, there’s lessons in it for the big players with the big budgets who are going to, you know, maybe use black hat tactics against you or whatever to come into the market and try to hurt you and your business.

I see this all the time with supplements and cell phone cases and beauty products. You know, what happens is people end up – competitors will buy your products. They’ll say that they’re getting the products – you’re selling it new, but it’s coming used, you know, the seal was broken, or they up-vote your bad reviews, or they leave a bunch of bad reviews, or they leave a bunch of unverified five-star reviews to make it look like you are going and soliciting these reviews. There’s so many things that competitors will do, and it’s just such a headache to fight in these markets, especially if the markets are mature. It takes a lot of time, a lot of money to reach maximum sales potential versus going in these, you know, markets that are not very deep where you’re making, you know, $10,000 a month top line.

The nice thing about it is you don’t really have to worry about competitors if you find the right markets. It’s extremely easy to enter. You don’t have to spend that much time, that many resources, like achieving success with these products. It’s so easy to do that. And so I would much rather sell 10 products that do $10,000 a month than one product that’s doing 100 K a month, and the reason being, again, competition, ease of entry. A lot of the time going for these, you know, smaller products, it takes 30 days to reach maximum sales potential, or maybe 60 days to reach maximum sales potential and boom, you’re off to the next product. And you can just continue to iterate from there versus going after these $100,000 a month markets generally assuming that there is some degree of maturity around it. It’s going to take you quite a long time.

So I see plenty of people just going – you know, the biggest account that I know of these people that are going, you know, in these wide markets, or going wide versus deep is $30 million a year just in Amazon US. So these guys have a killer business, and they’re just going after all the, you know, low-hanging fruit opportunities. And I would highly suggest anyone jump into there that can or is looking to start sourcing in a different strategy or whatever. I think this is probably the fastest, simplest, you know, lowest headache opportunity to growing your business quickly.

CAMERON YODER:
I would even say – I would add to that a couple years back I think this looked a little bit different just because the market, the Amazon market as a whole, was pretty different where competition with the deeper markets was a little bit less than it is now. Not to say that going deep was better than going wide, but even now since competition is so fierce, especially in those deep markets, going wide is going to let you really look into those markets that people haven’t discovered yet and/or are definitely not as competitive as the deep ones.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, completely agree. Awesome. So we will move on to the launch phase of your FBA journey. Tip number one, you know, I would still – we’ve been trying to, you know, kind of preach this so sorry if you’ve already heard this, but so many people still have not, and I think it is just a very, very simple hack to potentially dramatically increasing your sales. And what that is is you need to include both plural and singular forms of your words in your listings title. So in Amazon’s style guides or guidelines they say you don’t need to include both singular and plural forms. And they say that Amazon, you know, they already account for this in their algorithm, but it’s absolutely untrue. You know, just one quick anecdote. Someone is running a launch for grill gloves. I believe they had gloves in their title, but they were running a launch for a grill glove, and for a grill glove though, the key word that they’re targeting, they hit page 2 like top of page 2 for the launch and they were, you know, kind of disappointed that they didn’t hit page 1. But if you went and looked for the plural form, grill gloves, they were like in the top 10 on page 1 even though they weren’t targeting that word just because it was in the title. And so basically that just goes – and we see this all the time. So this just goes to show that, you know, Amazon does treat singular and plural forms of words differently. I mean if you want to go prove it or test it out for yourself literally search grill glove. Search grill gloves. There’s going to be different search results or in different orders. If there’s not, go try other words, fish oil, fish oils. Just go try a few singular and plural forms of the same word and you’ll see different order of words, different results, and the title has a lot to do with this. So it’s a very quick fix. But like, you know, seriously, the difference in ranking or the amount of keyword power that you’re driving to one word could be the difference of thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of dollars in revenue every month.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s an easy action step, too.

CASEY GAUSS:
So easy.

CAMERON YODER:
To simply go over, go over listing and see if you have both plural and singular forms of your main keywords.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep, and then the second part to that tip is just don’t repeat words. So you know, let’s say this grill glove seller, they have grill glove then grill gloves and barbecue grill gloves in their title. You don’t need to repeat all those words. It should be in phrase order. So ideally as much as possible, right, so it would be something like, you know, grill gloves, best glove for grilling, or you know something like that. That was just off the top of my head, so probably wasn’t the best. But anyways, you kind of get the gist there. But anyways yeah, you have to have – even if it doesn’t make 100% sense, you know, let’s say you’re selling one glove. You should still have “gloves” in your title because people are searching gloves. Or let’s take a grill brush for example. People are inevitably searching grill brushes, right? Even though you’re only selling one brush you have to have the plural form because people are searching brushes, and by having that in your title when sales are driven through your listing you’re driving that much more power to the ranking for that plural form.

CAMERON YODER:
And by not you’re missing out on all that opportunity.

CASEY GAUSS:
Right. And competitors are. And then second tip for the launch phase is just being aggressive. We just see so many people kind of, you know, tiptoeing to success or waiting kind of for the success to come to them, and it’s just less and less likely every day as competition continues to increase. You really have to go after that success, and I mean really looking at opportunity costs. If you are taking six months to get a product up and, you know, hitting maximum sales potential you’re missing out on so much opportunity. If you did that and if you were more aggressive, hit maximum sales potential in three months you would have twice as much time to go after that second opportunity. And so now you have, you know, let’s say you repeat that with a second product, and so then within six months you have two products at maximum sales potential versus the one. So by going slow, yes it is probably more cost-effective or more cost-efficient, right? So you don’t spend as much money going and achieving that success, but by spending that money and being aggressive you have the opportunity to make that much more money.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re getting into the New Year now, and we’re going to touch more on New Year tactics later. But really this aggressiveness, this tip to be aggressive is a great one to hold onto moving into 2018, even to now, and understand it’s getting close to the end of 2017 and everyone’s going to be spending time with their family and the holidays and whatnot. But planning ahead for 2018, to actually sit down and plan how you’re going to be aggressive is honestly a great strategy, just to even plan it out and see what it looks like for you specifically. Again, reevaluating your goals and setting new goals to just flat out be aggressive among other things. But Casey, let’s move on to dominate. What have you got?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so three tips under dominate. First one, just reinvest your Q4 profits. I mean hopefully Q4 has been, you know, an amazing experience for you. Hopefully you broke some records and are just super, you know, proud of yourself and excited for what you’ve been able to accomplish. But you know, at least for my personality and if you, again, really look at the opportunity that still exists in the market, I think you really owe it to yourself and, you know, all the people that you are planning on helping with what you’re achieving here with your Amazon FBA business to just go super hard and reinvest those profits. You know, delay getting that Lamborghini or going on, you know, these month-long vacations. You still have so much opportunity. The last thing you want to do when you look back five years from now, 10 years from now is say dang, you know, that was a gold rush and I went to the Bahamas for a month while everybody else is panning for gold and hitting all these opportunities and, you know, I missed out. So anyways, reinvest your Q4 profits. The amount of success that we are seeing on Amazon is just insane, even to this day, and I just really want to encourage you to continue to take part in it. Delay the, you know, instant gratification, the short-term gratification for the long-term goals. So yeah, just reinvest your Q4 profits. Kind of a little reminder there.

Tip number two is go international. So we are planning on having some guys on the podcast that I met recently, and these guys did – in their first year of Amazon they did $10 million.

CAMERON YODER:
They’re killing it.

CASEY GAUSS:
And some other fun facts for you is one of them, still in school full time, and they are both 20 years old. And the other fun fact for you is that they have never sold anything in Amazon US, only international. There is so much opportunity internationally. You know, these guys, you know, they’ll share their story and everything, but there is just so much opportunity internationally. The competition is a fraction of what it is in Amazon US, and I really think that you need to take your resources, you know, hire someone, bring someone on your team to be general manager of internationalization or marketplace director. I don’t know, somebody to go manage your international business.

But there is so much opportunity, and you really want to get in on the ground floor. I mean a lot of the like really successful folks in Amazon US that I know are all people that jumped in in 2014 or maybe 2015, and they went super hard when Amazon was so much easier. And now that Amazon has, you know, really dramatically increased competition and there’s so many additional sellers here, a lot more money going into driving success, it’s so much more difficult. But if you go look in the international markets, in the majority of these markets it’s Amazon 2014 still. And so you need to get in on the ground floor when, you know, Amazon is still – you need to ride that wave of success. So you know you’re on the ground floor. Revenue or revenue potential is just going to continue to increase internationally, but so will competition. And if you’re in, you know, on the ground floor you already will be ranking. You’ll already have the review quantity, and you can just ride that wave up.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s going to be – granted, it’s going to be a little bit different. I don’t think you should go into international markets expecting the same exact process as the United States, but these guys that we’re going to bring on later are examples that, guys, there are no excuses. At 20 years old they are killing it. They’re making bank, and they haven’t sold a single thing in the United States. So if that’s not proof as to what can be possible in international markets, then I don’t know what is. But that, I think that should be part of your long-term strategy, planning, right, to sit down and if international is something you’re interested in, find out more about it, do your research, and then dive in. All right, Casey, what’s tip number three?

CASEY GAUSS:
Tip number three, so basically just never go out of inventory. We see so many people make this mistake, and you know, sometimes it’s inevitable. Sometimes your projections are way off, which is a good thing hopefully. But anyways, there can just be a lot of, you know, downside to going out of inventory. So essentially, you know, just make sure that you are planning accordingly. You know, look at something like market intelligence where you’re able to see kind of the market trends and understand to what degree sales are increasing, decreasing and, you know, how long the increase or decrease will sustain just so you have a really accurate, you know, indication of what to expect or how the market will perform over the, you know, coming X number of months that you need to plan inventory for. And then secondly, like so it may be too late, or it’s probably pretty close to too late if it’s not already.

CAMERON YODER:
Honestly, actually yeah, by the time this podcast is out it’s probably going to be too late depending on the production time for your product.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean so the Chinese New Year is coming up, and I think it’s like early February to early March. Factories are closed down for a month, and before and after that, you know, it’s like, it’s just crazy production because they’re trying to fit everything in before and after for all the people that missed out. And so hopefully you’ve already ordered your inventory in preparation for Chinese New Year, especially if you’re wanting to launch new products. If not, like that can delay your time to getting that product up and running, you know, so far. But yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
This – it’s Friday, December 22nd, and I do know that a lot of manufacturers are taking orders this week in order to get products to you before the Chinese New Year. But with this area specifically, talking about inventory, guys, I honestly think it’s much better to play safe than sorry with this. And so it’s better to overcompensate for inventory here. And sure, you’re going to spend maybe a little bit more money, and you need to figure out how much money you have to play around with ordering inventory and different strategies with that. But it’s better to order a little bit more inventory than it is to run out of inventory and have to wait maybe a week to two weeks before you get your next shipment in. So plan ahead. Plan accordingly. Play it a little safe on this one.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think that’s pretty much all for me.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, well okay. That’s all for this week. Thank you guys so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. For more FBA tips and reliable information that will help take your Amazon business to the next level, subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at viral-launch.com.

CASEY GAUSS:
Guys, we’re all Amazon sellers. We know the most difficult part of your Amazon business is getting reviews.

CAMERON YODER:
So hard.

CASEY GAUSS:
So hard. Please help us get reviews. If we could we would go review your product, but we don’t want to get you shut down. But by you reviewing this podcast we will not get shut down, so we would love your help on this. I mean really at the end of the day if you know anything about me or the company, like we just love honest feedback. So whether it’s in a review or whatever, any feedback just so we know how are we doing, what do you guys want to hear, you know, maybe our approach isn’t the best. Maybe you want us to use voice changers because you don’t like our voice, I don’t know. Anyways, we just love feedback. So yeah, thank you so much.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re also doing – we’re currently doing weekly webinars where we’re going through, walking through product discovery and different strategies that you can use to take advantage of the tools. So if you haven’t seen those yet keep an eye out for those. We do it every – typically every Thursday. But again, we just wanted to say thank you so much for listening. Happy holidays. We hope everyone has a great New Year. And don’t forget if you want to be featured on the show, or if you have an Amazon-related question or an idea for an episode you can leave us a voicemail. Our number is 317-721-6590. Until next time, remember the data is out there.

From Coding With Socks on My Hands to Running an 8 Figure Company (Follow the Data Ep. 14)

Follow the Data Episode 14: From Coding With Socks on My Hands to Running an 8 Figure Company

3 years ago this week, Casey made his first dollar through Viral Launch. He was coding by candlelight with socks on hands to keep them warm in an unheated apartment. Today he is the CEO of an 8 figure company. On today’s episode hear Casey Gauss tell the story of Viral Launch and what has brought him and the company to this amazing milestone.

Follow the Data Show Notes

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:
Hey, guys, what’s up? Cameron here with Viral Launch. I’m here with Casey.

CASEY GAUSS:
Hey, guys.

CAMERON YODER:
We’re just dropping in. We know it’s getting really close to Christmas. And we have a special episode for you today. I know we’ve been on and off the sourcing series here and there, but we’re going to jump back on that after the holiday season is kind of over. But for now, today’s episode is something I’m super excited about. We’re actually going to talk about the origin story of Viral Launch and how Casey got started with everything. And this is actually something that I’ve been hoping Casey would do for a long time, and I’m super glad that he’s jumping in on this right now. So Casey, how are you feeling today?

CASEY GAUSS:
Thanks, man. Yeah, I mean it’s always a little intimidating to share kind of the more personal side of things. You know, sharing numbers or facts, like that’s easy. Sharing personal information, or I don’t know; it’s a little intimidating just to be vulnerable like that. So yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s a good story, though, and it’s definitely a story that I think people need to hear and want to hear, as well. It’s something that – I mean it’s something that we all look to or that we have a lot of people that look to that they don’t even realize the story of how it got started, right, of how Viral Launch came to be. And so like all origin stories, we’re going to start from the beginning. So Casey, tell us – okay, tell us how old, first off, tell us how old Viral Launch is.

CASEY GAUSS:
Viral Launch is three years and a month and a half, or yeah, so just over three years.

CAMERON YODER:
Three years and a month and a half. Tell us where you were at the very beginning and everything that has to do with where you were.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I think just to provide a little bit of context, a quick back story to me, going back maybe 6 to 8 months before Viral Launch got started. So essentially, you know, in college. I went to a small Christian college in Indiana. I was running track, pole-vault and 400 hurdles, if you were wondering.

CAMERON YODER:
Oh.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. I was studying business, and I essentially, you know, always had these ideas for businesses, but they happened to all be, you know, mobile apps, and I love testing anything before I jump in, and so I couldn’t test anything because I couldn’t build anything. I didn’t have any money, so I wasn’t able to, you know, outsource the development. So essentially I just taught myself, you know, how to code, first websites and then iOS apps. And so, you know, midway through my junior year I had actually for the majority of the year, you know, quit running track because I started to feel kind of guilty around, you know, where I was spending my time. I was essentially, you know, from my perspective at least, I was spending, you know, all this time, you know, training and going to meets and competing. And really the only person I was benefiting was myself. Like sure, it was paying for – it was helping pay for school, but like I didn’t care so much about money. I generally measure my life in the impact that I’m having on others. And so I wasn’t really having any impact.

So anyways, had kind of quit doing that so that I could really focus in on, you know, learning how to code or develop these apps and chasing after this technology, which was called iBeacon – or is called the iBeacon, essentially around iOS 7. Apple released this new technology. It has to do with Bluetooth 4.0 devices, and basically you can build contextually aware applications. So anyways, you can search Bluetooth if you want. I don’t want to dive into it. But anyways, you know, I love learning. I’m super passionate about learning. And essentially, you know, my professors, my business professors, were teaching things that were contradicting what the Fortune 500 CEOs were telling me, you know, in the articles that I was reading. I just felt like, you know, they had kind of lost relevance in this fast-paced business, you know, this techno-business world that we find ourselves in.

CAMERON YODER:
So what – they were just not teaching the right information, or they were teaching dated information?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, they were teaching this archaic, you know, like this is what marketing looks like because, you know, this is what we did 20+ years ago when I was in the workforce. And you know, they didn’t even really know how to operate an iPhone, and let alone any of the new technologies that were going on. And you know, the entire environment, from what I could see from my readings and stuff had completely changed, and they were just were not aware of it. And so I just felt like I was – I wanted to be on, you know, the leading edge of this new technology, iBeacon at the time, and I wanted to be able to continue learning, and I just felt like I was wasting time in class.

CAMERON YODER:
Do you think at its core was it frustration at that point in time that pushed you to want to do your own thing, or just a desire really to do something that you weren’t being, like that you weren’t being fulfilled in?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so like I was learning a ton outside. I had taught myself how to code, right, and I was learning a ton in kind of the business sense just from reading. And so you know, I really felt like I was just wasting my time by going to class. And one of the – I had one particular class that kind of pushed me over the line, and we were just doing – it was a 400 level course, which was supposed to be, you know, the highest level there, and it was just absolutely I guess silly is kind of the word. It was so dumb, and I was wasting my time so much. And so that was really kind of the course that had like pushed me overboard.

So yeah, so at that time, you know, I dropped out. I didn’t have a plan. I didn’t have a business. I didn’t have any money actually. And so from there essentially I was just trying to build apps around – or build a demo app that I could – I had built a demo app, sorry, that I could then go and sell to museums, which is pretty much impossible if you know anything about selling to like these slow-moving, you know, these dinosaur public service type companies. Like you know, it’s just impossible. But anyways, while working on that a friend of mine – well okay, so actually during this time I had moved home to Jackson, Michigan, and you know, I really do not like being at home. Even to this day it’s very tough for me. So growing up, you know, I had kind of a rough childhood. My siblings have it far worse than I did, and it really sucks to kind of see all the, you know, pain and kind of suffering that’s going on there. So while I was there my brother and I, my youngest brother – or sorry, my oldest brother, but he’s younger than me, he’s two years younger. We decided he needed to get out of Jackson, Michigan, which is where we’re from, because he was getting into trouble. I needed to get out of Jackson, Michigan, because it is just a terrible environment. I wanted to go back to the college town, just not go to college. And so off of money that my brother had saved delivering pizzas – he was actually going to invest it in an FBA business.

CAMERON YODER:
Really?

CASEY GAUSS:
He was going to source glucosamine, I think.

CAMERON YODER:
Really?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah. But so, you know, I really appreciated it, but he took that money, and we moved down to Indiana. And it was kind of crazy because we had found an apartment. He had gotten a job. But we weren’t moved in yet. And so he actually had to commute – we didn’t tell his job this – 2 ½ hours to his, to the job. And the first day he woke up late, missed the job, didn’t have a job, but we did have the apartment. And so we moved into the apartment. No money coming in. I didn’t have any money in my bank account, let alone coming in. And Corey, my brother, he didn’t have any money coming in. It was just off of his savings. And we moved in. My girlfriend, my now wife, my girlfriend at the time, it was her parents that like provided the majority of the furniture when we moved in. You know, I’m really thankful that they like kind of believed in me because looking back it’s kind of crazy that they let their daughter, you know, just be with this guy that just dropped out of college, doesn’t really have, you know, anything like in the works. Like of course they knew, you know, I had taught myself coding and I was like very ambitious and a really hard worker and, you know, really care about people, but anyways –

CAMERON YODER:
But getting to this point what was your conversation like with Corey to get to, to get back to that college town?

CASEY GAUSS:
I actually do not remember, so we’re going to have to talk to Corey about this because I don’t remember how I convinced him. I think he really wanted to get out of Jackson, and I wanted to be around, you know, my friends and my girlfriend at the time. But I also just wanted a better environment for me to like, you know, try to go after these app ideas or whatever.

CAMERON YODER:
So around this – no Amazon is in your mind really right now. Like you’re thinking apps. You’re thinking app development.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
And that’s what got you to the college town.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yep, so then in the college town a friend of mine – so this is in Marion, Indiana, where you know in this small apartment, and a friend of mine who is two years younger, as well, we had run track together, and he had an FBA business. So his name is Jordan. He took ASM 2, I believe, [unintelligible 0:09:11.3], and so he was doing well, and he had showed me. And I was like oh wow, this is awesome. But you know, from my perspective I was like oh, well you know you’re not really helping anybody. You are just making money. I don’t care about money. So it’s super cool that you’re able to do this, you know, at such a young age. But also, like you know it wasn’t that interesting to me. And I was, you know, doing all kinds of things for money. So I made this Udemy course on how to use iOS 8, like not even from a development standpoint, just how to efficiently use iOS 8. And I made like 250 bucks off of it. And a friend of mine knew that I needed money, so I went and worked construction like this cold, like wet day – weekend to make 250 bucks. And so I was using that money. My girlfriend at the time, she was kind of like getting the essentials for me like if need be. She was, you know, just supporting me. And it was Corey who was paying for all, like our bills, and food, and just everything. And he was supporting us. And because of this construction job that I worked this one weekend I was able to get Corey the construction job like long-term. And so it ended up being this construction job, Corey would be gone for months at a time, but it was this construction job that allowed us to continue paying our bills and for food and everything like that. So pretty insane.

CAMERON YODER:
So during this next season of time, so Corey was working this construction job.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
And you were still in app mode, or were you starting to expand in other things?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so like basically the weekend of this construction job – it’s weird that like, you know, this construction job was so, you know, arbitrary or random I guess, but a lot kind of hangs on that. So this was the day that my friend, Jordan, had sent me – he’s like hey, I have an idea for a business, like we should do it together. And so I was a bit reluctant because I really wanted to focus in on this Beacon stuff. But yeah, so I met up with him, and you know I really am so thankful for his patience because just when I got there someone called me, and I was on the phone for like 45 minutes, and he waited. And I feel so bad even to this day. Anyways, he told me his idea, and I didn’t get it because I didn’t really understand. You know, I had barely grasped the fact that most of the stuff you’re buying on Amazon wasn’t actually from Amazon. And anyways, he was like – what sold me was he said hey, you know all you have to do is throw up the website. I’ll do the Amazon stuff. I’ll work with the customers. You just build the platform, and we could probably make, you know, $10,000 a month, which at the time was an insane amount of money.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so in between the time I had dropped out of school and the time Corey and I moved to Indiana, or no, before Viral Launch had gotten started, my mom had just had her car repossessed. She had been evicted. And these weren’t uncommon things for us growing up. We moved around quite often, and you know looking back on it, my mom would, you know, not have her car some weekend when we came back from our dad’s or something like that. And so now I understand why. But anyways, so it was really tough. I remember kind of I guess looking back now, again, more vulnerable part, but I just remember you know looking out the window as kind of the tow truck came and picked up my mom’s car, and you know, being teary-eyed or whatever and like wishing, you know, that I had the money to, you know, help her out and everything and like, you know, just thinking, you know, one day I will, and I will be able to help her out, which is crazy because now I do have the opportunity to help her out. So super cool that it’s come full term. So I’m probably getting too much context, but anyways, yeah, so Jordan had this idea. And so I was like dude, let’s do it. This will help me like get some money so that I can focus more on my Beacon stuff because I really started to run down on money.

CAMERON YODER:
So the focus was still like never, never at this point in time solely focused on Amazon; it was like I’m going to do this to get more money to work on Beacon, Beacon stuff?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah. And so I had no idea what it could be. I mean neither did Jordan. In retrospect we had no idea what was happening. And so Jordan invested $700 into the business to grow, you know, our initial audience.

CAMERON YODER:
What was the initial idea? You said Jordan had an idea for the website. What was like the first idea?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so the idea for – so we ended up calling it Viral Launch, and I don’t remember who came up with the name. I think it was me, but you know, I could be completely wrong. It was so long ago. And it seemed like an insignificant detail at the time.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right.

CASEY GAUSS:
But yeah, I mean, it doesn’t matter. So anyways, it was Jordan’s idea. So the idea was essentially hey, you know we can amass an audience that we can then, you know, sell to other people. And by giving them access to this audience we can help their sales. We can – at the time it was as juvenile as that, right? And so basically by driving promotional sales we can then drive keyword ranking. And so still the same principle that we’re, you know, engendering in some of our services now, which is interesting that it’s worked so long, right? So anyways, yeah, so Jordan spent $700 to you know, get the – actually I don’t even know if we filed an LLC initially. But essentially just to build up our initial audience and create this ecosystem of buyers and sellers. And fortunately Jordan had some friends from ASM, and so pretty quick, like right off the bat we started making money. We did a few free launches, and then from there you know the value proposition was there, and yeah. So we got started, and it took us, you know, well you know it’s funny looking back. So at the time we were really, really trying to get one deal every other day. That was like our goal.

CAMERON YODER:
Every other day?

CASEY GAUSS:
Every other day, yeah. And you know, so now here in 2017 Q4, at one point we were running, you know, 700 launches a day. So pretty cool to look back. But yeah, now we’re 27,000 launches in, something like that.

CAMERON YODER:
How quickly did it scale from there? Did it just kind of take off, or was it slow and steady?

CASEY GAUSS:
No. Yeah, it was slow and steady. You know I think February we did $10,000 that month, which was like insane. And so February – I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, but February was kind of the month where – or January because I ended up having the opportunity to go – you know, this guy, he was doing something similar to what I was doing with Beacons but in Wi-Fi, and he had come across me. We had met up a couple times, and he wanted me to actually come like start to build a little iBeacon department in his like bigger company in Detroit. And so this was a kind of cool opportunity, but Viral Launch had started to take off, and like I said, we did like 10,000 – it may have been January, but in January or February. And then I was like oh wow, like you know this is something of my own. I really want to see where this can go.

So yeah, so Jordan and I got started. I had 40% of the business. He had 60%. And even then, you know, I felt like he was being very generous. I had no idea what he was doing off the bat. I was just making things, right? I was just the developer, and Jordan was the guy with the idea, the understanding and the clients. But you know, my personality is quickly I like to work insanely hard and, you know, never allow anybody to really work harder than me. And so with Jordan and I being partners I always felt like I had to prove to him that, you know, I was working so much harder than him. Just for whatever reason like that’s my natural tendency. And so yeah, I was doing that, and it was – so in December I, you know –

CAMERON YODER:
Real quick, which month did Viral Launch start in?

CASEY GAUSS:
Viral Launch started in October.

CAMERON YODER:
In October.

CASEY GAUSS:
I think we registered the domain on like October 4th, and I probably had the website up like in the next day or something.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, so October. And then you said January-ish or February was the first like $10,000?
CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay.

CASEY GAUSS:
It was after three months.

CAMERON YODER:
And now when was the last date? Where were you at last?

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh, so I do want to go to December. So December of this year I like had $50 in my bank account. I had money on my credit card. You know, again, Corey was still like paying for everything for us. My girlfriend at the time, now wife, she was helping to pay for stuff. And it was, you know, a really humbling experience because I didn’t have anything. I couldn’t reach out to my parents. Like my mom obviously, like I said, she had less than no money. My dad was like going through a second divorce and, you know, has never really cared to contribute or, you know, care too much about what’s going on. And so yeah, it was really all on me. And so I was like okay, we have, you know, maybe $5000 to $6000 in the bank. Let’s say $6000 in the bank, and I, you know, went to – in, yeah, I think I said I had been deferring student loans and I had like a payment coming up. I don’t remember the first day of the payment, but it was coming up. So I was just really starting to be concerned around like how was this going to happen. And so I went to my cofounder, Jordan, and we had a meeting every once in a while, and I was like dude, you know, I was really kind of intimidated to ask. Again, he was the one really driving the ship even to this point. And I was like dude, you know, do you think maybe we could pay ourselves a little bit of money out of like the money that we have in the bank? And he was like oh, no, like we should invest it and continue to grow the business. And I was like dude, but like you don’t understand. I literally have, you know, $50 in my bank account. My mom just had her car repossessed and was evicted, and like you know, I really don’t have anything. And he finally, like after explaining all this – he had no idea kind of my situation.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so yeah, he was like yeah, you know, I think that we can do it. I need to pay myself for the money that you know, I put in, but yeah, we can definitely do that. And so that $600 felt like $1 million. It was amazing. I just was like geez, we have so much money now. And looking back it’s crazy because I think we had like $6000 in our account.

CAMERON YODER:
Which is good from where you started with.

CASEY GAUSS:
True, for sure. Yeah, and you know one very like distinct memory is like – and I had never experienced this before, but it was so cold in our apartment, again, because you know we didn’t really have the money to pay for heat, that I could like barely type. I was, you know, wearing my winter coat, no lights because we didn’t want to, you know, run up the electricity bill. And we – yeah, it was just super cold. I had like a small candle running, and so I looked up like what to do in a situation in which your hands are so cold you can barely type. And basically they suggested going and finding athletic socks and cutting holes in the top so that you can stick your fingers through and putting them on your hands. So yeah I went and cut up some socks. Had a place for your thumb and then a place for your fingers, and yeah, so like I called them my hacker gloves.

CAMERON YODER:
Hacker gloves.

CASEY GAUSS:
So it wasn’t as embarrassing that I was wearing socks on my hands to code. But that’s how Viral Launch was built.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s how it was started.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I was coding, you know, all hours of the day, just really trying to build the platform. And so yeah, it’s extremely humbling to look back because, you know, that was only three years ago, and yeah, you know, I really had nothing. But you know, so I’m a religious person, and for whatever reason looking back I don’t think I was super scared. I was obviously very, you know, humble about like – I was very humbled by the situation, not having any money and not really having much money on the horizon. But yeah, you know I just kind of always thought like you know God was going to take care of me or something, and then, you know, when I needed him most like that we were able to pay ourselves, which is pretty crazy.

CAMERON YODER:
You said, so money is not a driver for you. Helping people is. So at this point in time what was keeping you going in this?

CASEY GAUSS:
I mean like at this point I just needed money to survive.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

CASEY GAUSS:
And so at this point it was a lot more survival than anything. It took probably a couple – well, and it was the excitement of like oh wow, things are happening. People are paying us money. Like I didn’t really – I hadn’t fully grasped the concept like that we were helping people at this point. I was like actually felt a little bit guilty around what we were doing because from my perspective, you know, we were helping people that had money enough to invest. So for me it was like, you know, helping fancy people or like wealthy people to make more money. So I did feel a little bit guilty around the situation. But basically I just, you know, told myself like it’s okay because by helping these people make more money I’m allowing myself to survive. And so yeah, that’s where we were at with Viral Launch. But you know, right around April or so, then I started to take a lot more ownership. And I think around April of 2015 Jordan had said okay, I think you deserve 50% because I was working so hard, and Jordan was, you know, distracted with his friends, and school, and he was still running track.

CAMERON YODER:
He was in college, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, he was still in college because I was 21 at the time. He was 19. So yeah, he’s like freshman – or sophomore year of college or so. Yeah, so it was around May that Jordan like went on this bus trip to go help people, and he did not have internet access for three months. So from that time, though, I took the business from, you know, $20,000 a month or so to like he came back and we were doing like $75,000 a month. So it was a significantly different business. I really understood what was going on at that point, and I was even starting to like come up with new things. Like we started using the – I came up with the [super euro 0:23:29.9] or sorry, the [two-step euro 0:23:32.2], which worked far better than the quote unquote, you know, [super euro] at the time. And that was in March of 2015. So we’ve been using the [two-step euro] for –

CAMERON YODER:
A long time.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, coming up on three years now. And so yeah, I had started to like innovate in the space and take a lot more ownership over what was going on and really start to understand because we just had so much data. And pretty quickly, you know, we had a $50 million-a-year seller come, start to use us a lot. And I started building a relationship with him. So yeah, Jordan came back, and I was like dude, you know I built this business around myself. We’re growing really well. You know, I just don’t really have much need for you, you know, especially for you to be 50% of the business. And so I was kind of dis-incentivized to continue pushing. And so essentially I had given him an ultimatum, either drop out and really help me to push Viral Launch, or you sell the business to me. And essentially, like he finally, you know, decided to sell because he wanted to stay in school and wanted to continue running track because from his perspective he could make money the rest of his life. What he couldn’t do is hang out with his friends, run track and you know, be in college and enjoy those years. And so I totally get it, and yeah, he sold it to me. And yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
When did he sell to you?

CASEY GAUSS:
He sold to me in October of 2015, so –

CAMERON YODER:
So a year?

CASEY GAUSS:
Officially a year, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Okay, and then after – so after he sold to you, then it was you.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, like it was just you?

CASEY GAUSS:
Well, it had kind of already been me for like the last like five months or something.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right. But officially, like on the paper it was you. And what happened after that period of time then?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so I mean my goal was always to sell Viral Launch like as quickly as possible, the reason being is you know, I wasn’t super passionate about Viral Launch like because, again, we were still, from my perspective, it’s like yes, we’re making money, and like we can do good things with this money, but I would much rather make money by helping people that need it, from my perspective, you know, quote need it. And then still use the proceeds from that to then help people more.

CAMERON YODER:
Right.
CASEY GAUSS:
And I still, for the most part, felt like we were helping the people that didn’t really need help so much. And so, but it was around this time, though, that these stories started to come out about us being able to, you know, help people pay off their student loans, or people that had always wanted to be entrepreneurs, Viral Launch had helped them finally have that first taste of success as an entrepreneur. Or you know, this one particular story, this dad had just had a son, or I believe it was a son – they just had a child that was diagnosed with, you know, it was like autism or Asperger’s or Down syndrome, something like that, right? And he had just sold his like truck, his vehicle to get started in this private label business. And we – his goal was to build a business where they could like work from home to have time with this child. And so essentially Viral Launch had helped them go from I’m selling my truck and taking this leap of faith to success and being able to go work from home full time.

And so like the stories were pretty incredible. And you know, I had some friends that were like using the money they were making from their private label business to then invest in charities. And so I was like wow, you know, actually Viral Launch is having a pretty significant impact in some of these people’s lives, and this is pretty cool. And you know, again, looking – it all hit me kind of at the same time, and I really kind of had realized like, you know, I had no intention of starting down this path. But like, you know, God had just thrown me into it, and I’m learning so much about how to build a scalable tech company, and so much from a tech perspective, so much from a business perspective, as well as being able to have an impact in so many lives. I was like wow, you know, I think there’s really something here.

And then I started to look at, you know, what is the future potential of Viral Launch? And it seemed so vast. And so it was kind of at this point where I was like okay, you know, I really believe – I can really believe in this. I can really, you know, justify spending my time here, and I can use Viral Launch as a vehicle to continue to help people, have an impact on people’s lives, entrepreneurs’ lives, help them, you know, achieve their dreams like I’ve started to see my dreams come to fruition by being in a position that I am. I can build my resume. I can build up some capital so that I can, you know, at some point sell Viral Launch to then go build that dream company that is focused on helping those that, you know, aren’t able to help themselves or, you know, enable those that aren’t able to enable themselves or haven’t been as privileged as I. And so that – it was like that moment where I really decided okay, I’m going to chase after Viral Launch. And it was a really, you know, important time kind of in my life and obviously in Viral Launch’s life.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. When did you officially bring on employee number one?

CASEY GAUSS:
So a friend of mine from high school, Andrew, he was employee number one. And it was – it just started kind of as like a little side. He was just contractual. It was contract work, like X number of hours a day or whatever. He was helping me with our audiences’ customer service. And then he started scheduling launches. But this is like June of 2015, so I hadn’t bought Jordan out yet, but I just needed someone to help me kind of man customer service on our audience side because it had been, you know, grown to like 30,000 users or something like that. And so I was building the Viral Launch platform, our audiences platform, doing customer service for Viral Launch, doing customer service for our audience of, you know, now 30,000 people and talking with clients on Viral Launch side, managing the whole thing. It had become so much that I realized I needed help. And so yeah, I brought on Andrew, but it wasn’t until May of 2016 that I really felt comfortable hiring people because essentially like we were subject to Amazon’s algorithm. If Amazon changed up how you could rank products through these giveaways, then the business would have been, you know, dead overnight. And so I didn’t want to, you know, promise people jobs if they could potentially be gone tomorrow. So it was in May of 2016 that I, you know, we had enough steam. We had diversified, or I knew that, you know, if we pushed hard enough for, you know, six months we’ll be able to diversify our revenue enough, build up enough data so that if Amazon does make any significant changes we’ll either be nimble enough to adapt and not lose much revenue, or we’ll be so diversified that if launches do go away we will be able to sustain the team. And so that’s where we hired like our first developer at a six-figure salary, and we really started to push forward from there.

CAMERON YODER:
Where do you think the tipping point was for Viral Launch? Where was the moment, or was there a moment when it turned from – this may have been closer to the beginning – where it turned from just an idea to, okay, this is legit, and I am going to carry this through for a long time?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, well, I mean at any given stage there’s like a, you know, next chapter or an upgrade, maybe in my thinking or just in the company. So like, yeah, again, January of 2015 when I realized hey, this is actually something that like is growing and could be bigger than just this website that I built or whatever, right? Yeah, but then like May of 2016 there was a significant change in my mindset, and we really started to hire like legitimate people.

CAMERON YODER:
Actual people.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, yeah, started to hire legitimate people, so it seemed, right? And this was very intimidating, but it was building this foundation. You know, we are so focused on the long-term that any given point we are building our foundation for the next step. And so even right now I think that we’ve kind of just scratched the surface of what we’re able to do. And so right now we’re investing heavily in building the foundation for the next level, and yeah. I mean this summer was really big. We launched – or April of this year we launched a new tool, Market Intelligence, and we went to just an insane amount of conferences. And that really helped us reach the next step. We just launched Product Discovery, which is helping us reach the next step. We’re always building our team to help us like prepare for that next step, that next step.

CAMERON YODER:
Right. So Viral Launch now. Let’s talk a little bit about Viral Launch now. How does Viral Launch in its current state resemble what it was at the beginning? And what’s different now about the business?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, you know, I think I’ve been very fortunate to be someone that I guess like doesn’t have much of an ego. So I think what that has allowed us to do is kind of stay true to ourselves throughout the entirety of it. So like even from the beginning, you know, we just really cared about people. One thing that I didn’t mention is I brought on a friend of mine because I was originally planning on – so his name is Darrian. He’s my right hand man now. He’s our Vice President. I was planning on having him run Viral Launch so that I could go focus on this other business that I cared about. Viral Launch, you know, will be a place where I can make money, but I will actually go build, you know, this next whatever company that is actually focused on helping people. You know I’m really passionate about education, so yeah, in those like early days of Viral Launch still like early, mid-2015 I was actually like putting the resources together to like go build this new company because, again, Viral Launch was like okay I’m making enough money to like pay, like sustain myself. Now I will spend all the rest of my time like going and building something else.

So anyways, yeah, that’s how Darrian joined. But anyways, yeah, we’ve just always been focused on really focused on helping people. And I think this has been, you know, a big advantage for us like moving forward or throughout the entirety of the company is that we actually like – I don’t know, from my perspective, actually care about like helping people. And so we aren’t focused on like these short-term marketing initiatives that are kind of like churn and burn. So we’re not, you know, giving you false information or building things that are not, you know, incomplete just so that we can get the quick cash. We’re always so focused on like the long-term because – and like helping people. And we understand that like helping people build a long-term future for us and our clients.

I think one of the big differences is just having a team, or at least for me. So my focus is on always helping to make sure that the team is focused on, you know, our mission. Our mission as a company is to be the launch pad to success, so again, to enable entrepreneurs, to help entrepreneurs. And so this has not changed. And sorry, you asked me, you know, what has remained the same. And again, it’s just like our mission statement. So whether that’s helping people to rank on page one or helping them to source, it all comes from the same kind of mission, which is to help entrepreneurs, specifically in the Amazon space. And so again, this is what helps us decide what products to launch and what products to build. We originally started helping people rank on page one, but then we saw people had terrible products, so it doesn’t matter how good – or sorry – it doesn’t matter how well you’re doing with your launch if you have a terrible product. You’re not going to have success. So we had to launch Market Intelligence to help you like better make product decisions or help validate or invalidate your product ideas so that when you come to us with a launch you actually have a good product, and you’re set up well for success.

And so yeah, so like everything that we’re doing, we’re not like hey, making this like tool that makes your process a little bit simpler because we know that we can make some money off of it. No, like we’re going after the products that are like causing the most failure in entrepreneurs’ businesses. And yeah, that’s, yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
Let’s talk a little more broad. Casey, what would you say – you’ve been at the forefront of really establishing what Viral Launch is now and pushing it, pushing it even further than what people thought it was capable of. So what, from your perspective, what does it take to make something like Viral Launch? What does it take to establish a business and keep on pushing it forward?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I mean it takes a lot. I think the biggest thing is just perseverance, right? So like especially being, if you’re young I think a lot of people like look down on you, don’t take you as seriously and just have much lower expectations. So you know, as an example, I was going to a lot of conferences, and these conferences had never heard of Viral Launch. I’m super young. And so like I would just, you know, casually try to bring up Viral Launch. I’m not much of a salesman, so I’m not, you know, like pushing anybody. I’d just maybe talk about it, or like people would ask me what I do, and I would, you know, start talking about Viral Launch. And people would, you know, immediately pass me off because like okay, this 21-year-old guy or whatever, this young guy talking to me about some startup that I’ve never heard that’s, you know, sounds similar to this other company. So just a ton of rejection, right? But like it was those early days of grinding. And I think it’s so funny because now we go to conferences. Everybody knows Viral Launch. So we have, you know, like a lot of people that love what we do. And so basically like going to conferences is a lot of fun now because everybody is, you know, just like oh I love Viral Launch. Like guys, thank you so much. And they’re excited to meet us. And it’s the complete opposite experience from what it was like in the early days.

But anyways, just so much perseverance. You know, we had competitors like telling lies about us in emails, saying oh, don’t use this service. Like people would email in and say hey, should I use Viral Launch or your service? And they would say oh, don’t use Viral Launch. Like they buy reviews, or like just saying that we do shady things, that we didn’t at the time, just so that they wouldn’t – like anyways, just so many hurdles. And this is not uncommon with life. But it was, you know, really those hurdles that really helped to strengthen me and helped me to be kind of the entrepreneur that I am. And so really like I just encourage you no matter the situation, no matter what’s going on, like you always have to be putting one step in front of the other, and it doesn’t – you know, even if things seem to be going well I think it’s easy to become distracted. But it’s really that day-in/day-out, putting that one foot in front of the other, marching on to that bigger vision that will allow you to have long-term success.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s about the grind, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh yeah, for sure. And like, you know, even to this day, like so many people expect okay, you know, we have 30+ employees. We’re just doing really well. People would expect me to be, you know, just sleeping in and like hanging out on the beach and like doing, I don’t know, just going on all these vacations and letting, you know, all my – from their perspective, all my quote minions, handle the actual work. But it’s nothing like that, right? Like we are a cohesive team, and we’re all focused really heavily on the mission. And so I’m grinding and sleeping just as little – grinding just as much and sleeping just as little as, you know, three years ago when I had $50 in my bank account and was just trying to survive. You know, I’m probably working so much harder because I know the opportunity ahead of us. I know the responsibility we have to help these sellers. And so many people are relying on us. People on the team are relying on me, and these entrepreneurs are relying on Viral Launch to, you know, have an impact in their lives and help them avoid bad decisions, whatever. And so I’m just grinding so hard, and I think that I’ve seen a lot of people, like they are off to initial success because they grind, and then they start to become lax and be that person that’s just hanging out on the beach and working a couple hours here and there. It works for a while, but eventually, like because things move so fast you, you know, you lose the pulse of the market, and you end up falling behind. Sometimes it’s so hard to regain that momentum. So just persistence, working super hard.

CAMERON YODER:
What does your daily schedule look like?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so my daily schedule is generally, okay, so I wake up around just before 6:30 or so, go to the gym with you, Cam.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, yeah, let’s go.

CASEY GAUSS:
And Andrew. And then get to the office around 8:30, Lee from – like, you know, shower at the gym or whatever, get to the office around 8:30, leave around 6:30 so that I can go have dinner with my wife. And so have dinner with my wife for like an hour, and then I’m back on my laptop around 8:00, 8:30, until, you know, I’ll lay in bed with her until she falls asleep, and you know, I’m right back on my laptop until, you know, anywhere between 12:30 and 2:30, or maybe I don’t even get to sleep that night. I’m trying to sleep a lot more, well, trying to actually go to sleep. But anyways, yeah, so and then it’s like rinse and repeat. So I’m not 100% on waking up to go to the gym. Like if I stay up super late it’s a lot harder for me to wake up.

CAMERON YODER:
You get there.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, I appreciate it. Yeah, so I’m trying. Yeah, and then you know, Saturday – Fridays and Saturday nights are reserved, you know, for date night with my wife. But you know, Saturday I usually sleep in, go to the gym and then work at a coffee shop until my wife and I do something that night, and then Sunday wake up, go to church and then go to a coffee shop usually and just work until – Sundays are usually pretty late nights because I’ve got to prepare for the week. So, and that’s, you know, hopefully in perpetuity I continue to have this work ethic because I think like I’m in – I’m so blessed to be in the position that I’m in, and like I feel like any waking moment that I am not focused on, you know, building Viral Launch, you know, that’s that many more entrepreneurs that we’re not able to help or we’ll be helping a week later, a month later, something like that. And so I just feel like this persistent or like never-ceasing desire or responsibility to help.

CAMERON YODER:
What single piece of advice – we’re going to wrap up a little bit here, but what single piece of advice would you give to aspiring business owners and entrepreneurs?

CASEY GAUSS:
So I think the affliction of our generation – so I’m a millennial. I think so many people say that we have bad work ethic. From at least what I see, you know, my sphere of like people that I went to high school with and whatever, it’s not necessarily poor work ethic, but it’s lack of desire to delay gratification in the short term for the long-term gain. And so we see this so much in the market, and this is a major advantage that we have is like for whatever reason I’m really willing to focus on the long term. So I’ll put in the work. I’ll struggle now so that in the long term we maximize the advantage or whatever, maximize the benefit. And so please – I cannot encourage you enough to focus on the long term. We see so many people make so many mistakes because they’re focused on the short-term cash, or you know, they get distracted by the shiny object. And as entrepreneurs we see the world as opportunity. There’s endless opportunity, and really it should be your job to say no to as many things as possible so that you can say yes to the things that really matter. There’s this guy, Derek Sivers, and I don’t swear, but basically his thing is like if it’s not heck yes or other words associated, anyway, if it’s not heck yes, then it’s a no. So like you should be so stoked about it. It should be, you know, the best opportunity possible. That’s what you need to go for. You need to be so focused on that and say no to everything else.

Yeah, and again, just be willing to say no to the exciting things, the short-term gratification for the long-term success, and that, like looking back, you know, 10 years later, you will be so glad that you’ve done that because, you know, watching Netflix or watching those YouTube videos, or you know, getting a couple more likes on Facebook or whatever, like in the grand scheme those are not the things that you’re going to remember or be proud of or are really going to, when you look back, you know it’s not going to be how you measure your life. How you measure your life is going to be the impact that you have on people, or the significant projects that, you know, you accomplished, or the things that you accomplished. And the only way to do anything of significance is to invest the time. Delay that gratification. You know they always say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but you know, was Amazon? No. You know, was Apple? No. You know, very few things are built in a day. So yeah.
CAMERON YODER:
One last question. Through this – for this whole thing, for all of Viral Launch, what percentage of everything would you say was luck or good timing, and what percentage would you say was skill and hard work?

CASEY GAUSS:
I think we all have kind of like a different term or way that we reference luck. Me, like being religious or whatever, I believe that it was God. So I would say, you know, at least 95% was God, and then the other 5% or 4.9% was just showing up and working extremely hard. And then, you know, that 0.1% was probably like, I don’t know, something else that like had to do with the decisions I made or something. I don’t know. But yeah, you know, I think like – I don’t know.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so you can’t control the other 95% in my equation. So you have to control the 5% or 4.9% that you can, and that is working extremely hard. And so just working extremely hard, and then the 0.1% is because I’ve always tried to focus on the long-term, right, or something like that. Or maybe it’s 2.5%. Anyways, I don’t want to get into the details. Anyways, just working hard, focusing on the long-term and then luck, or God, or whatever you believe in, right, will take care of the rest.

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. Well, that’s all we have for today. Casey, thank you so much for telling us the whole thing.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, thanks so much. You guys, like I love feedback if you don’t know me. Good or bad, just honest feedback. So any way that you can give me feedback, I’d love it, and I mean honestly if you’ve listened to this whole thing I really appreciate you putting up with all the rambling and the side stories and stuff like that. So yeah, hopefully this was inspirational to some degree to somebody, right? Like that’s kind of the intention behind, you know, sharing this. And yeah, also just providing a little more insight into, you know, who we are as a company and why we exist and why we make the decisions that we do.

CAMERON YODER:
As always, thank you guys so much for listening and for being here. We love you guys so much, and we love doing this for you. We hope you have a – we hope you have an awesome Christmas, awesome holiday season. We’ll be here, and we’ll keep on grinding. Until next time, thank you, guys.

CASEY GAUSS:
Take care.

 

Taking Your Business International with Lucy Marshall from World First (Follow the Data Ep. 13)

Follow the Data Episode 13: Taking Your Business International with Lucy Marshall from World First

 

Amazon Europe is as big as Amazon US. Could going international be the next great move for your FBA business? Join Viral Launch CEO Casey Gauss and co-host Cameron Yoder as they talk with Lucy Marshall from World First about incredible opportunity that is Amazon international and how to make the most out of overseas earnings.

Follow the Data Show Notes

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

Hey, everybody. Cameron here with Viral Launch. We’re here in Austin, Texas, recording a special episode. Today we are going to talk about internationalization, and it’s internationalization involved with a company called World First. And we’re going to get into a lot of different things today involved with internationalization. But for now I guess I’ll just pass the mic around the table for some introductions.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Hey, guys. Casey here. Yeah, hopefully we can bring you guys some decent value as you look to expand internationally. Or maybe you’re an international seller looking to sell in the US.  Or maybe you already are. We just want to help make sure that you are being as efficient as possible, making sure you have as much capital as possible to drive success behind your business.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

And hi, I’m Lucy Marshall over at World First. I work on our e-commerce team here working with sellers directly to help them take advantage of new marketplaces and have worked previously for private label brands, so kind of understanding from both the brand perspective and the payments international end of that, how to make your brand successful overseas.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So like Casey touched on a little bit before, we’re trying to provide value for you, whether you’re expanding into international markets, or you’re thinking about expanding into international markets, or just even with your consideration in expanding your private label business in general. We’re going to talk a lot today about kind of everything having to do with those ideas. Part of that will be really having Lucy here explain what World First is and how sellers can prepare for something like expanding into international markets when it comes to what World First provides. So let’s get started.

 

Lucy, can you explain, just to everyone, give a basic overview of what World First is, like just simple as that?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Absolutely. So what we are is an international payment solution, and we work with corporations and e-commerce sellers to help them send and receive money globally.

 

We were founded in the UK back in 2004, and really our founder was working at Citibank and kind of saw an opportunity in the market for small- to medium-sized businesses to get better rates for their FX transfers. And that’s kind of blossomed the idea of World First and really being able to give those businesses better access to better rates than some of the larger banking platforms were. Our e-commerce solution really started coming into play in 2007 and coming truly to support the US market in 2014.

 

Now as we stand about to roll into 2018 we’ve worked with over 40,000 e-commerce sellers with offices worldwide. Whether you’re selling, you know, in China, Japan, Australia, UK, EU, US, Canada, we’ve got someone there to support you and really make sure your business is a success in that market.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So let’s say a – because you don’t only deal with private label sellers and Amazon, right? Like it’s businesses involved with international transactions, in general?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Absolutely, absolutely. I mean outside of Amazon itself, we’re compatible with 72 marketplaces globally, so it’s not strictly Amazon. Additionally, if you’re a company with an entity in the US and EU we’re able to send those funds back and forth. If you have suppliers overseas you need to make payments to, we can facilitate those payments as well. So it’s not strictly online businesses, but truly any business that needs to make payments or receive payments globally in different currencies.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So if a private label seller on Amazon comes to you and says – well, is just interested in what you do, what would you tell them, like specifically for them?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

So for them what I would say is we’re an international payment solution that will allow for you to set up receiving accounts worldwide. The benefit of being a private label business is you’ve worked to build this brand. Let’s say you want to take that brand to the UK without actually having to make an entity in the UK. We’re able to set up a receiving solution for you so that that way you can receive pounds or receive the local currency and send it back to your US account at about half the cost of what a marketplace would charge. So we’re automatically adding about 2% to your bottom line without any opening fees, monthly fees or closing fees, and it allows for you to move your money from those global markets worldwide.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So we talked – now that we, I think everyone kind of has a pretty general understanding of what World First is and, or where you guys came from, let’s touch on just internationalization in general, right. So can you tell us from your perspective and World First’s perspective, what are the advantages to selling internationally?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

There are so many. I am like the world’s biggest advocate for selling outside of the US right now because I think there are so many fantastic opportunities even just looking at different selling opportunities. Like you’ve got Boxing Day in the UK, and that’s not something we have access to in the States. There is Singles Day in China. If you start selling in the new Australian market that launched you have seasonality, so if you have a summer product in the US and you want to sell that in Australia during the winter you have that opportunity to sell that worldwide. And so for me those are all those advantages, and especially taking advantage of newer markets, it’s less competition. It’s more opportunity. And then even with exchange rates, if you’re selling in the UK it’s often a higher price point, and so you’re getting more return as you’re converting those funds back and those sales back from the UK.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and building off of what Lucy is talking about, you know collectively – I think we’ve said this before – but collectively the Amazon EU is just as large as Amazon US. And like Lucy said, so much easier to drive success in these markets because competition is so much lower. Obviously there are some hurdles there, and World First is helping you kind of step over some of those. But there is so much opportunity international. We’re super bullish on internationalization and, you know, making sure you’re selling everywhere as much as possible. Amazon is really pushing Amazon EU markets, and so like, you know, Amazon EU is like getting into Amazon US two years ago, maybe three years ago, where competition is just a fraction of what it is now, and you get to essentially ride that wave of success as Amazon continues to grow their dominance in these markets. And so you know, we actually, here in Austin, at Capitalism Conference with Ryan Moran, we actually just met these two guys. After apparently eight months of taking Amazon successfully these guys just reached the $10 million mark.

 

CAMERON YODER:

They’re killing it.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Which is absolutely insane, while going to college – one of them is going to college. And they don’t sell in the US. They’re only selling an international Amazon markets because there is so much opportunity. You know, one of the guys was saying just by the fact that they have a Spanish speaker write their listings for Amazon Spain they’ll get ranking because their keyword structure is so much better. Their listings are so much better written because they have – one of them is a native Spanish speaker. He’s from Venezuela. And he’s just able to write really great listings, and that allows them to rank. So competition is just like, you know, a shadow of what it is in the US, but the opportunity collectively is the same.

 

CAMERON YODER:

And they have a slight advantage over people in the US having grown up in Europe and kind of understanding the European market. That being said, that – I think their story really shows that’s a very tangible thing to tell you guys that hey, the European market, or the worldwide market is very much alive. Obviously that’s a lot of good opportunity that is there, and they’re not even selling in the US market.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Those guys are super smart guys. Like they were going to Dartmouth, and then now he’s going to Cambridge studying mathematics and finance. So they are very smart guys.

 

CAMERON YODER:

It’s not like you can just pull a trigger and it just like magically happens.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

But there’s huge opportunity, for sure.

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about the UK market specifically. So if someone – let’s say you have a seller in the US who wants to sell in the UK as maybe like their first step internationally. From your perspective and from what you’ve seen, what would be like a good kind of tangible first step leading to that?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

So obviously I think first step looking into any market is looking how your product is going to perform in that market and making sure that you’re actually going to be able to make sales from that. No one wants to throw spaghetti against a wall and put their product in Amazon FBA and be like fingers crossed, hope this works. So again, I think that’s such a fantastic thing that Viral Launch can help you with and looking at what your product can do in that market. Next steps from there are a little bit more admin. Like do you have your VAT numbers, which is value-added tax? And Amazon has really been cracking down on that in the past year. I think the stat was they lost out on $1.28 billion in VAT fraud from Amazon sellers specifically not necessarily paying it. And so the UK government has been really upset with Amazon, which means Amazon is like yo, you’ve got to get your VAT numbers in because we will shut down your account. So getting those set up, making sure you have those implications in place ready to pay those taxes. Our service specifically can help you make those payments so that way you’re making a pound-to-pound payment and not having to bring those pounds back to dollars and then send the VAT payment in pounds again.

 

Next steps from there, shipping, and then translating your labels and your listings if you are private label and selling on those markets. Luckily UK is English-speaking, so not a ton of leg work there. A little bit of localization to make sure – let’s say if you’re selling pants, they become trousers on that marketplace, making sure things are finessed a bit to that space.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

I really think – well, there’s one area that I see a lot of people focus on when it comes to money, and that’s tax. Like a lot of people, when they think about expanding internationally they think oh, all I need to do, all I need to do is have my taxes, my tax system set up and set in place. They don’t often think about having like a bank set up –

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Right.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

– right? Or this money transfer system set up in place. Do people need to have, need to have or should have like a bank set up in like the UK, or is that something that –?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

You don’t necessarily need to have the banking account in the UK, and this is truly where our service comes into play, right? Like if you’re opening a physical bank account you have to pay fees, you have to have a business over there. You have to have a physical entity and then be paying taxes to that country and paying taxes on your business there. If you’re opening an account with us the beauty is we’re able to collect those funds in one of our virtual accounts. You have the banking and routing number and everything that goes along with that. And if you’re choosing to just use a marketplace to manage your FX transfer, they’re typically transferring that at a much higher rate, and they’re doing it biweekly, so that’s not giving you any control or transparency as to how or when to move your funds. If you’re using a platform like ours we can collect the funds, and then you have access to a platform much like your online banking platforms where you can facilitate a trade. You can watch the rates, be aware of what rate exactly you’re moving your funds at, and then we’re usually coming close to cutting those rates in half, so saving up to 2% on your bottom line. So if you are selling, say, 10,000 pounds a month, that’s saving you $200 on your transfers coming back. So that’s not a small fee by any stretch. And again, as you continue to grow your sales that becomes a much bigger chunk of your sales that you should be getting back because you’ve put in all this hard work to get to new markets. Make sure you’re taking the most home from those markets.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Is there a simple way to explain like, okay, let’s say we have a seller in the US again who sells in the UK. What does a simple process look like to get that money back into the United States? Like can you break that down a little bit?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, the flow of funds you mean?

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, so what – right now if you were a US seller selling into the UK you would be putting your US bank account into that space. You would put our routing account numbers in there, and that’s in the name of your business. So Amazon now deposits funds into that account, and then we move that back when you’re ready. It’s either an automatic transfer, or you can transfer that online when you’re ready to. If you are a rate watcher and want to see, hey, I saw this go up to, you know, 1.3 today. I’d like to do it at that rate. So there’s really no difference in terms of timing or flow of funds. It’s just Amazon deposits to us, and then we move that back to your US account.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay. What do you see as like maybe the number one or maybe even top couple mistakes that people are making when it comes to like, I don’t know, money transfer and/or sales internationally?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s a complete lack of awareness. I think really one of our biggest hurdles as we’re talking to new sellers is they’re not aware that this FX transfer is occurring, and they’re not aware of what rate that that’s happening at. So to me if you’re not watching your bottom line as a seller, like that’s a problem. You need to be making sure that you are getting the most of your sales home. So we’re able to kind of calculate that, and you can look at, say, a daily rate of when Amazon’s transferring your funds and then you know, dividing that by the amount you’re getting back. And usually you can figure out what that daily rate is and through a percent change calculation see, oh, that’s roughly maybe like 4% of my bottom line. And that’s not necessarily super competitive. And also you have no control over it, so that stinks, too. Like you should be in charge of your own money and how and when that’s being moved back.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Talking about like money saved, right, because this – so this whole process, the goal is to really help sellers save money through a process that maybe they’re not even aware of.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

How – do you know how much a typical seller will save after like becoming aware of something like this and getting involved with these transactions?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, and typically that depends on size of the seller, how much you’re moving back. But I would say on average, again, if you’re at that 10,000 pound mark we’re saving about $200 on every transfer. So that’s kind of our best rule of thumb. Obviously if you’re selling like 10 million pounds or something in that range yearly that’s a much, much bigger number. So that does vary depending on the size of the seller and how much you’re bringing home.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and so how long does it take to set up this whole World First process?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s super easy. It’s really only four documents that we need to get you set up. As long as those come in we can have your account set up in a matter of hours, and then the accounts are able to allocate immediately. We have RMs, relationship managers, in-house that can walk you through where and how to put this in on Amazon so everything is done correctly, it’s Amazon-compliant, and then they will walk you through your first trade as well. So it’s really helpful to actually have a voice on the phone and someone to actually talk to rather than, you know, screaming at a computer. I feel like we all do that enough in our day-to-day lives that don’t have to do it on the banking end of things as well.

 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so I mean just to break it down, I know everybody’s always so crunched for time. I mean apparently, you know, this is something that you can do in a matter of hours, let’s say, at the most, and you will save hundreds to thousands of dollars a month, which just really adds up over the course of a year, especially when you’re talking about being able to purchase more inventory, get a little bit cheaper rates on your inventory, so you save more money there. And you can – it really just compounds. And so as long as it’s quick, 2% really adds up, especially when you start getting into volume and you add that up over time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Right. This is something that not many people know about, especially when it comes to international stuff. I think one thing that is kind of at fault with US sellers is just awareness with all the systems in place, like in VATs. And the story of the guys that we talked about before, the thing about them is that they, again, grew up in that area. And so they definitely have – they’re smart guys, number one, but number two, they do have a pretty good understanding of the space and the area that they’re in, which is Europe. And that definitely has an advantage. And so being aware of something like this, as well as being able to save money to put towards your other resources, like something like this is something that not a lot of people are aware of that we want to provide value to you by making you aware of or having you be aware of it. So Lucy, talking specifically about World First, what unique perspective does World First offer sellers on Amazon?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

It’s really the perspective of smartly managing your finance. I mean we are – we really focus on that payments end of it and making sure we’re creating a solution where not only if you’re selling on the UK, but if you’re selling on China, if you’re selling on Japan, if you’re figuring out how to take advantage of that new Australian market, we want to put the pieces in place for you to be able to manage those different aspects of your business and be smart about it financially. In addition to that we do have a very vast partner network. So if you do need help figuring that out we’re kind of a jack of all trades, masters of none outside of that payment space. So we’re really able to figure out where to connect you there, and I just think there’s so much opportunity outside of the domestic US market to go take advantage of that and then really make sure you’re savvy with both your receiving payments from Amazon, but also paying for, and suppliers paying for, and employees, and making sure you have a frictionless way to move your money globally.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So if, let’s say some of our listeners are even just a little curious about what you’re talking about. What resources would you have for them to even just point them in a specific direction or to get in touch?

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Yeah, and there are a couple of different ways. You can just go sign up online. I mean I will give you all  my email to post after this. Please reach out directly. I’m more than happy to field calls or answer questions about something. Really our biggest resource are our people. Everyone’s highly educated, not only in the world of FX, but in e-commerce, as well. So I would put ourselves forward as our best resource to do that in addition to, you know, the content we’re putting out on our blog, as well.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, gotcha.

 

LUCY MARSHALL:

Recently we’ve been working not only with sellers that have already expanded to the international markets, but really looking at how we can support those that want to take advantage of it as well. And so we’ve really relied on partners in the field of VAT, shipping, logistics and translation to help kind of those admin pieces of like where do I start to figure out to get my product overseas and get my listings set up and make sure you’re government-compliant with everything that’s happening in the UK and EU as well. So truly I feel like you all are the best first stop for our clients because you’re able to figure out where in the market does someone’s product fit, and will that be successful? And then we can kind of help through the nuts and bolts in terms of figuring out VAT, shipping and the payments piece of it as how you figure out how to manage your global payments.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Got it.

 

Thank you guys so much for tuning in. Again, if you have any questions feel free to shoot us an email. We’ll provide all of the content from this podcast in the description.

 

Sourcing: Manufacturing Lessons from a High-Level Seller (Follow the Data Ep 12)

Follow the Data Episode 12: Sourcing: Manufacturing Lessons from a High-Level Seller

The manufacturer you choose to parnter with can have a huge impact on your Amazon business. A lot can go wrong: from late or damaged inventory shipments to having your supplier compete directly against you on Amazon. But there’s also huge potential for benefits like credit terms, discounts, and more time to focus on your business. Join co-host Cameron Yoder as he talks to a high-level seller about the experience of finding great manufacturing partners.

Listen on iTunes See All Episodes

Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Never sourced a product before? Check out this Forbes series that walks through the process of sourcing from China
  • Want to learn more about negotiating terms with your supplier and getting yourself in to a more favorable financial situation? Check out Business Victoria’s quick overview of the systems you should be putting in place when it comes to your relationship with your supplier.
  • Looking to source a new product to source but can’t find the right market? Check out our latest tool Product Discovery. It’s the fastest and most accurate way to find opportunity-rich products that meet your exact standards.
  • Want to be featured on the show? Have a question about today’s episode? Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590

 

Podcast Transcript

CAMERON YODER:

What’s up everybody. Cameron here. Today we are going to get some insight into a topic that just about all sellers are involved in: that’s manufacturing. So I jumped on a call with a top-level seller that has been in the Amazon space for a good amount of time and has been in the ecommerce and manufacturing space for even longer. So we talk about everything from how is the manufacturing journey started to what he’s learned since then and is implementing now. There’s honestly a lot of great info here, so let’s get started.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay everybody so we have Adi here with us, nad he is here today to talk about his manufacturing journey. Adi, how are you feeling?

 

ADI:

I’m doing great Cam, just gearing up for Q4 and launching a bunch of new products.

 

CAMERON YDOER:

That’s good man. New products are good. Especially in the craziness of Q4. So just to give everyone a little bit of perspective, can you just tell us a little bit about yourself, like how long you’ve been selling and what kind of the beginning of your journey has looked like, just with selling.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so I’ve been selling online for 4 or 5 years now. I started right after I graduated from university, and I actually got into the whole selling on Amazon thing only about a year and a half, 2 years ago. So most of my business actually happens outside of Amazon, and so I’ve got a different perspective on the whole selling on Amazon thing.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s interesting. So you said a majority of your selling is outside of Amazon.

 

ADI:

That’s true, yes. That’s right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good. That gives … that’ll give … So you have kind of a really good picture of both then, and that definitely provides value. I would say you’re a master at both, and so you would be able to provide … I would consider you a master at both at least.

 

ADI:

Well I’m trying to do my best.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. So we’re talking about, we’re talking about manufacturing, specifically, and so again your unique background, your unique perspective is just really really valuable in these cases, especially for a lot of people listening. So touching on, let’s touch on Amazon specifically. How did you find or when, when and how did you find your first manufacturer? Do you remember that?

 

ADI:

Yes, for Amazon specifically it was a simple search on Alibaba, which lead me to finding, for the niche that I’m in, probably 20 or 30 suppliers, out of which I had to narrow them down to 6 or 7, and so it was just a simple search in Alibaba, started Skyping with them and you know, got samples and then took everything from there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, so how long in your ecommerce and your manufacturing experience journey was Amazon? Where along your selling line did Amazon come into play? You had already been selling a couple years before then?

 

ADI:

That’s right, so I had been selling for a couple years already and then I launched into Amazon just about 2 years ago. So I’d been doing this for a couple years before I got into Amazon.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So what then was your very first manufacturing experience like? Do you remember that far back?

 

ADI:
Yeah, I remember I … in the beginning I was primarily just concerned with the cost of the product, which I learned over time is not necessarily the best thing to do. So I tried just finding the cheapest supplier that I could because I thought that that would bring in the best return, and that was the first mistake that I made. So you know, really, the mistake I made was finding a supplier that was not the highest quality that was willing to cut corners. And over time I’ve just kind of learned what things to look for rather than just price.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, how did you feel going into all of this for the first time? So putting yourself back in your younger shoes when you were finding a manufacturer for the first time, what were you feeling?

 

ADI:

That’s true. Okay, I guess at that time I … it was really new. I mean, I’m gonna talk when the first time I actually looked for suppliers. This was before my Amazon days. At that time I didn’t really know where I would be getting the supplier so you know, I asked around friends, and I was told, you know, look on Alibabab because China is where the, most of the stuff is made. So went on Alibaba not knowing anything about what to expect. So set up my account and just started talking to these people from across the globe. And it was actually my first time talking to somebody from China. And there was some communication barriers, and it was a steep learning curve. But in the beginning I was a bit apprehensive just because I didn’t know what to expect. I just thought it would be better to manufacture stuff locally because I can trust the person. But you know, I quickly found out that you can actually source in China, and there are some very good factories there. Sure there’s gonna be scammers in pretty much every country that you work with, but if you really dig deep, you can find a really solid supplier. Ever since then I haven’t looked back, and I’ve just been sourcing from China.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Where you, would you say you were, when you first started, where you pretty confident in yourself or do you think you were more just apprehensive or scared or?

 

ADI:

I was pretty confident that I was gonna be able to run or like start a business and then grow it. I definitely was apprehensive about working with the Chinese suppliers just because I never heard of anybody or knew anybody who had worked with one. So that definitely took some time for me to get used to and get comfortable with, but I kind of just took it one day at a time and acclimiatized myself to working with the Chinese suppliers. Once I received their products and tested it compared to what a US supplier was providing, it was essentially the same product, and in a lot of the cases, the US supplier that I was working with, they were importing it from China and just being a middle man. So you know, I just realized quickly it’s best to work with the Chinese suppliers.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, okay. Now, so you touched on this a little bit, but talking about your … again we’re still kind of talking about your beginning phases of when you started out, but what were your criteria for finding your early manufacturing partners or did you have any criteria at that time. So you talked about what the first wanting to get products that were a little bit cheaper, right? To save on margins or just because that’s what you thought would bring you, bring in a lot of sales, so what were your early, what was your early criteria for finding these people?

 

ADI:

I mean, it was pretty simple. I just wanted something really cheap, and I didn’t want anybody to screw me. So that that was it. You know. So at that time that was basically it. I did not care about the quality of the product, which in hinds sight was just an absolute mistake. At that time it was just you know get the product over quickly, start selling it, and start making sales, which did happen, I did make money, but you know if I had to use the criteria that I have now for picking a supplier I would have done a lot better.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Okay, and we’ll touch on that soon, on your criteria now and what you’ve learned since then. But one last question on kind of the start of your journey: did you ever have a moment where you thought, “Okay, this is going to work.” You mentioned before that you, yes you did make money, but when was the moment when you knew, okay this is big, this is going to be big, I know this is going to work, and I’m going to keep on doing this. When was that?

 

ADI:

Well, you never really know if it’s going to work or not until you put it out into the market, right? So it could be the best product, in your opinion, in the world, but until you put it out in front of the customer, and the customer decides to take our their credit card and purchase, you haven’t really done squat. So the moment for me was when I actually did put up the product on Amazon and you know, I made my first sale. And it didn’t really even take a lot of effort. I worked on optimizing it and got the first bunch of reviews. I made my first sale within 6 or 7 days of going live. That’s when I knew I had something going, and just double down and invest into a bunch of other products.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So you kind of, just after that initial point in time, you kind of realized oky I’m gonna go all in

 

ADI:

Yeah

 

CAMERON:

Because I recognize that what I’m getting from this and that it works. Right?

 

ADI:

Yeah, and you know just compared to my previous experice selling in ecommerce, it’s a lot easier to sell on Amazon just because the traffic is already there and you’re just tapping into Amazon’s power and putting your product in front of the customer, so speed of execution to me is probabl the #1 thing that I would emphasis. I mean if you see something that you even have and inkling that it’s working, double down on it, I mean, do no wait around because if you’re gonna wait around, someone else will double down, and you’re just going to be left behind. And you know, as soon as I started seeing some sort of traction, I just doubled down. I air shipped a whole bunch of other products. I did not care about that immediate margin that I was losing out on by air shipping, but I wanted to get in front of the customers get my rankings up and so yeah that’s what I would say about that.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Did you test the market a ton while you were … so you said follow the inkling, right? And so did you just see a market and because of your experience with selling before say “Okay, I know this is worth the risk, like maybe it’s not going to work,”

 

ADI:

Right.

 

CAMERON YODER:

“But I see these metrics and I know that the market’s going to work.” Did you test that market out physically, like did you order a small amount of products at all, or did you just jump straight in, ordering a decent amount of inventory in the market full force?

 

ADI:

Yeah, the product that I picked cost only about a dollar a unit, so I was able to order 1,000 units so it was a small thousand-dollar order. And so in terms of the risk, I hadn’t really taken a huge amount of risk. Yeah, and the product was light also so I didn’t really need to wait for sea shipping. I just air shipped it over for a couple hundred bucks. You know, essentially from the moment I had placed the order to the time when I was live on Amazon was, I would say, 30 to 35 days.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Wow.

 

ADI:

Yeah, and because this product takes 15 to 20 days to manufacture and then after that the air ship did it after which it went to Amazon, so like I said it was just speed of implementation and had I sea shipped it, who knows how much further that would have delayed everything.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Do you think that’s still possible for sellers now? Like do you think that ability to just go head-on, straight-on into a market is still alive today?

 

ADI:
It’s alive, yes. I mean, it really just depends on … it comes down to you as a person. If you are willing to just execute quickly and not wait around, you might stumble along the way but you’re gonna be that much further ahead than somebody that waits 6 months and then finally gets a product out. It just comes down to your risk tolerance. If you are willing to take a bit of risk and know that the reward is gonna be waiting for you the sooner you get there … Like if I told you that the next 10 products that you launch on Amazon, there’s gonna be one that generates $100,000 a month for you. How fast would you want to get to that? Right?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah

 

ADI:

That’s the thinking that I had is, you know, I could wait 3 years or I could wait 4 months. And I just decided to take the approach that I’m just gonna go all in because sooner or later I’m gonna hit my homerun. And in my case the first product wasn’t the homerun. The second one was, and that product didn’t end up getting to 80 to 90 thousand dollars a month in revenues. And how I just waited around, that wouldn’t have happened.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I think that’s interesting because we do, I feel like a lot of sellers hear about successful sellers who made a homerun with their first product and then because of that first product, they were able to carry through and keep going. But you, you kind of kept your head up and you kind of kept going until you opened that 10th door or that 20th door that had that good product to sell.

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean you just have to believe that it’s gonna work out for you, and if you’re being smart about it, if you’re following the data, as Cam says, you know, you’re eventually going to run into a product that’s going to make you a good amount of money. And now it’s just your choice whether you want to get there sooner or later. And in my case I am willing to double down on what I’m doing and try to open all those doors as fast as I can. So that’s what I would encourage everyone to do as well. See what your risk tolerance is, make an educated decision, and then just dive in.

 

CAMERON YODER:
That’s good. I love it. So kind of moving back a bit to manufacturing. So since you’ve started your journey, what are some of the biggest road blocks that you’ve run into, considering everything to do with manufacturing.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so since I’ve started the biggest roadblock that I’ve run into for my business has been related to running out of stock. The absolute worst thing you can do as a seller is run out of stock because, you know, it takes a lot to get a product into Amazon and get all the rankings and reviews and optimize the product. And if you run out of stock for any reason that is just not acceptable. And for me that happened for a bunch of reasons. It was just mis-planning. I had the funds available. I just had so many skus that I was dealing with that I lost track of which products were in stock and which products weren’t. And so that lead me to hiring somebody who their only job is to make sure that we are fully in stock all the time. I would say the biggest roadblock in my case has been that. I’ve had some other roadblocks. I’ve dealt with some suppliers that tried to screw me that were just scammers. I’ve even had a supplier who tried selling my product on my listing on Amazon because they had the artwork, and so I’ve dealt with a bunch of issues. The way I look at them is they are just temporary setbacks. You just kind of have to work one of them at a time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s interesting. So talking about the amount of skus that you handled. When, was there a specific amount that everything started to get super overwhelming that you couldn’t necessarily handle it yourself?

 

ADI:

Yeah, I would say as soon as I was at a dozen products at that time, it just becomes a lot for you to juggle everything just in your head. The room for error is just a lot smaller at that point. It also depends on how many units you’re dealing with. If you’re selling a higher priced item—if your item retails for $60, to make the same amount of revenue, you don’t need to sell the same amount of units in which case you’re not going to need to watch your inventory as closely, but in my case I’m moving a lot of units because the price points are lower, and so for each product, at any time my initial orders with suppliers are anywhere from 4,000 to 6,000 units. That adds to the lead time; that adds to inspection of the goods and everything. So it really also depends on which niche you’re in and what your product portfolio looks like in terms of retail pricing.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So as you continued to grow, as you added skus to your list, and again kind of expanded on capitalizing, or bringing someone on to your team to handle all of that inventory and timing, but on top of that, as you started to grow your sku count, I’m guessing that you started to increase the number of manufacturers that you were also in touch with. Is that right?

 

ADI:
Well you would think that, and initially it did happen. But what I’ve learned over time is to cut down the number of suppliers that I work with. For example, last year I was working with 8 suppliers. This year I’m working with 3 suppliers with actually double the amount of skus.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Oh wow.

 

ADI:
And you know there’s really a handful of reasons for that. One is it just saves a lot of time. You know, you’re not communicating with 8 or 10 different suppliers at any time on What’s App and Skype and email. So it reduces a lot of the communication, which the communication can delay a lot of the stuff as well. The other thing is they can consolidate everything for you. So when you’re shipping, rather than shipping from 8 different locations, now I’m having only to ship from 3, which also saves on customs and duties and handling and everything. And for me the biggest benefit has really been—because I’m ordering such volume—I can go back to these suppliers, the 3 I’m working with and say “Hey, I’m getting a lot more business. What can I get in return. And you know, it just comes at a price at that point. So I’ve been able to cut down on price by as much as 30% per unit just by consolidating my volume with these 3 suppliers. Because at that point you become a bigger client for them.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So do you think that a seller’s goal should be to establish themselves in … let’s say they’re selling skus across multiple different niches, right? If he or she has a supplier or manufacturer that only focuses on kind of one specific niche, then should he or she try to focus on finding a manufacturer that is pretty wide spread and will be able to manufacture an array of items if that’s what they’re interested in?

 

ADI:

It would be hard to find that kind of a supplier. For example if you are in, for example Beauty category, and you are working with a supplier, it’s going to be really tough to get that same supplier to make electronics products for you. What I would do in a case like that is I would find an agent, which I’ve also done. If you find an agent, you will … the obvious biggest reason of finding an agent is you will save a ton in terms of communications. That one person will be the contact for you and all these suppliers, especially if you have different categories you’re selling in. So in terms of communication, it’s gonna cut down a lot of time for you. Second is, you’re never going to be able to negotiate as well as a local Chinese person will be able to. Because that person will get on the phone and they will just hammer it out and they will bring down the pricing by as much as 20 or 30 percent. Generally agents will charge you 5% of the order fee, so if you’re order is $100,000 they’ll charge you a $5,000 fee, which might seem like a lot, but if you compare it to what they are saving you, it’s actually not a lot. So if a person is in that situation where they’re not tied to any particular niche, I would prefer to go just with an agent because they will save you a whole lot of headache.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Was there … would you recommend … is there any specific time that you think would be best to bring an agent on in terms of the level of sales that they’re at or just in general at any time if that’s what they’re interested in, which would be kind of diversifying in many different niches.

 

ADI:

I would say today is the best time. Because you know the great thing about a lot of these agents is they only charge you based on the order. So if they do a whole bunch of work for you and you don’t actually go through with it, you don’t have to pay them anything or at least that’s the case with the agents that I’ve found. So I’m only paying them if they’re able to save me money, and you know, in that case you’re not losing anything out of your pocket, even if you’re starting with a small order of $2,000. 5% of $2,000 is like, what, $100? Right, so you’re saving yourself a whole lot of time and money. So I don’t think there’s any wrong or right time in terms of bringing an agent on. It just depends on your own preferences. Personally I find that with an agent, if you find them and you trust them they’re going to have your back; they’re going to save you time; they’re going to save you money. And overall, there’s just no reason to not have an agent.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good. Changing gears a little bit, there are sellers that do swear by traveling to meet their manufacturers in person, and so my next question to you is a.) have you traveld to meet your manufacturers and if you have what was your experience like? Was it a positive one? Was it a negative one? What benefits did you both receive from that experience?

 

ADI:

I have gone to China, although I don’t think you need to make a trip down to China to source a product. You don’t need to do that at all. I went there because just this year I was placing a significant order of a product, it was like 400,000 units, and I just wanted to go there in person, make sure everything was going fine, and you know, in terms of going there, you don’t need to be there. But the reason I would go there would be, once you have a sizable amount of orders coming through, let’s say you’ve been working with a supplier for some time, and you’re placing a decent amount of volume with them, going there has a couple of benefits. First for me, I just wanted to go there, check out the factory, and just see the working environment is, how the workers are treated and things of that nature. Second, meeting in person as far as the business is concerned … you’re going to have a much harder time trying to get credit terms with these suppliers just over Skype or What’s App than if you were to go there, not only meet the suppliers, the agent they are working with there, but … You know, when I went to see these factories, in pretty much all the cases I ended up going and meeting the President of the company, and when the president of the company has met with you and they tell the sales person, “Hey, let’s give this guy some credit terms.” That’s a lot more effective than you asking for credit terms just as a blind face over the internet.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. Yeah.

 

ADI:
So in my case, I didn’t really go there expecting this, but this was just one of the benefits that came out of it was … generally when you’re placing an order with a Chinese factory, they are going to want you to pay everything up front before your goods ship out. The next level to that, which you should always try to do, is have them extend credit terms until the goods arrive at your port, so if you are shipping out the goods today, and the goods are going to arrive at LAX in less than 20 days, let them know, “Hey, can you ship out the goods and I’ll pay you in 15 days.” So that’s like the second version, but at this point the credit terms that I have with my supplier, simply because I was able to go to China, are: I pay them 15 days after the delivery in the US, which just again saves so much capital for me. I’m able to invest that into growing the business. Overall it’s just … why wouldn’t you get credit terms if you can?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right. Are there any other credit terms that you think would really benefit sellers?

 

ADI:

In terms of suppliers?

 

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah, in terms of suppliers.

 

ADI:

I mean, in reducing that whole initial down payment, some suppliers if you’ve been working with them for some time they will bring that down. I think originally when I started out they were asking for 40% up front. This time I only give 20% up front. And that’s an extra 20%, and let’s say my order is $100,000 that saves me an extra $20,000 that I can put into launch a couple of new products. And so I would say there’s a couple of things, you can ask for a lower deposit, the second thing you can do is try to see if they will let you pay before the goods arrive at port, so you’re not paying everything up front. Most of the Chinese suppliers will not do that, just because that’s just their rule and things like that, but if you’ve been working with them for some time, which is another reason to just stick with a supplier if you can, rather than just switching around, is because you build that solid relationship with them. And in, especially in China, relationships are everything. If they have no need for … even a year, that might not be enough. But even working with them for a couple of years, that’s when they really start to warm up to you. And you know, if you get the chance to go down there, definitely try to negotiate terms. Tell them, “Hey, I’m willing to sign and negotiate a contract that you might want that I will pay you on time.” But I would say, just in terms of the delivery dates, try to see as far as you can extend the credit terms.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, that’s good. I think that information is really beneficial, actually for … just across the board. For people starting or people in the middle or high level. It’s good for people to know because often times I feel like many people don’t necessarily think about it. Or they don’t even necessarily think to ask when really all they have to do is maybe ask in a strategic way. But also, just kind of put it out there.

 

ADI:
Yeah, like I mean think about it, my whole trip to China probably cost 2 or 3 grand. And in terms of going there, not only did I get further discounts because I straight up asked the president of the company, I was like, “Hey, look: I started with you, my first order ever was $20,000, this year I’m placing order in excess of $200,000, don’t you think me increasing your volume by 10 times should allow me to get some sort of discount?” And right away, she was like, “Hey, give this guy 10% off.” So on that sizable order, you know, I paid my trip off 6 or 7 times over, just by being there.

 

And that would not have happened had I not stuck with the supplier for awhile, with this supplier, I’m probably manufacturing 20, 25 different products. And had I dispersed all of that amongst 3 or 4 different suppliers I wouldn’t have that buying power to negotiate a deal with her. And that’s why, if you find a supplier that you can trust, that you’ve been working with for some time, that you know is going to be around for awhile, try to consolidate as many of your orders with them because it’s … at the end of the day it’s going to be a win-win relationship for both of you.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right. No, that’s good. So kind of moving on a little bit, let’s move on to a different question, let’s keep on going. How is—just broad overview—how is your sourcing process, your manufacturing process, different now than from when you first began.

 

ADI:

Yeah, so in terms of when I started versus today, my criteria has changed significantly. When I start talking to suppliers now I have a very strict criteria. First is they have to be very honest and transparent with everything they’re doing. So the first thing that I ask them is—before even pricing and anything like that—is are they willing to have inspection done? Are they open to factory visits? Are they open to signing agreements with me, confirming delivery dates? Because if they’re not willing to do that, then they don’t trust their ability to deliver or they might just be a trading company, which I’ve actually run into that issue too where it was just a paid factory, and they were just talking as though they are the actual manufacturer.

 

CAMERON YODER:

So before you even talk about money or prices or anything like that you ask those questions?

 

ADI:

I ask those questions, and those questions are more important to me because I have friends who lost 50, 60 grand just on an order that was a faulty product because they forgot to get the inspection done. And if … you know I may not get inspection done, but I’m going to ask the question in a way where it sounds like for sure I’m getting inspection done. I give them a date, I say “Hey look, if I place an order with you by the end of this week, 35 or 40 days from now, my agent, which is this and this company, is going to be coming to your factory to inspect. So I may not actually send the agent, in most cases I don’t, it’s almost like a bluff. I’m calling their bluff to see if they’re gonna be okay with that. And you’ll find that the good ones they’ll say “Hey no problem. You can send anybody in.”

 

And the other thing like I said before, running out of stock is probably the worst thing you can do when running your business, so you want to have things in writing with these suppliers. Where … I basically at this point tell them, “Hey look, you tell me when you’re going to be ready to ship by because based on that I’m going to send you by down payment.” If you tell me it’s going to take 30 days, I expect to [inaudible] in 30 days. If you don’t think it’s going to be 30, if you think its’ going to be 45, just tell me. And as soon as they confirm that, I put it into a written agreement, send it to them, and they agreement outlines that if you’re late by a day, every day that you delay by, you have to reduce the cost of the product by 2%. And you know, that really gets them going in terms of get prioritize my shipment or somebody else’s who doesn’t have an agreement like that in place.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Has anyone ever, any manufacturer, ever refused to sign a document like that?

 

ADI:
Yeah, yeah they have.

 

CAMERON YODER:
In that case, would that be another factor, another filtering factor for a manufacturer? Like okay, if you’re not going to sign this then, I don’t want to work together.

 

ADI:
For sure. I’m not telling you to sign something you … like you’re telling me the days that you’re going to take, like if you think it’s going to be 60 days, tell me 60 days, but stick with that. All I’m asking for is transparency.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Right.

 

ADI:

And I’m not saying you have to manufacture in 30 days, I’m asking you what it’s going to take. And if they’re not willing to sign that, I mean, that’s just a red flag for me. Like if for example, I have Q4 coming up and this guy can’t really promise me that he can deliver in time, I’d rather order from somebody else who will. And the legitimate suppliers who know that they’ve got enough man-power in their factory to be able to produce the order in time, they will say yes to that question.

 

So you want to ask them up front, “Hey, are you … I’m going to be sending an inspector, is that okay? I’m going to be coming in for a factory visit, and are you willing to sign the agreement for delivery date?” So those are the initial questions. The couple of other things that I look for is the product portfolio. It is so much easier to work for a supplier who can supply you with a whole range of products, for example if you’re selling supplements and you’re selling Vitamin C, if this supplier can make Vitamin C and also Vitamin D and Vitamin B, that’s so much easier than trying to go through that whole process of negotiation and seeing how good they are. So just seeing what their catalogue is … one of the first things I ask them is just show me your entire catalogue. I might not be ordering all of them, I might be ordering 2 or 3 products, but I just want to see what you have so for down the road, it’s going to make my life easier. I’ve often times gone with suppliers who had a bigger and better catalogue than the suppliers who were giving me better pricing because a lot of people don’t factor the cost of time into all this, and it can just take up too much time to work with multiple suppliers.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s a long-term strategy. I do feel like it is, it’s hard for people to think longer term. And finding a manufacturer with a large portfolio like that is definitely a long-term move, which I think is very important if you’re very serious about the Amazon selling game, then that would be a move to think long-term instead of short-term.

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean if you’re not thinking 2 or 3 or 5 steps ahead, you’re not planning for success. If you just want to be a 1-product seller, that’s completely different than actually wanting to build a brand that is long-term. So you don’t just have to think about this product, you have to think about okay what is the company that I’m building? What is the portfolio going to look like? You have to walk backwards from that, and if your partner, which in this case would be the supplier is able to supply your entire portfolio, guess what, you just saved yourself a whole lot of time because when it comes time to re-order the second product, you’re not gonna have to go on Alibaba again and do all of that again. You can basically just message your supplier on V-Chat or Skype and say, I also want to order this product: here is the artwork for it. So you definitely want to think at least a couple of steps ahead because that again will save you a whole bunch of time and really that’s a real way to build a company is not to look at product by product, but to look at what you’re building and plan backwards from there.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. That’s good.

 

ADI:

And then in terms of … that’s the criteria that I look for now, but another thing that I’ve noticed recently in terms of what’s going on with the manufacturers, I’m seeing a lot of factories are coming directly to consumers on Amazon. And I touched on this earlier, but I had one of my suppliers who I am no longer working with obviously now; they took my products and shipped the to Amazon under my account. They started competing with me. So that’s another question you want to ask them right away in the beginning is “Do you guys happen to sell on Amazon?” And you want to ask it in a way where you’re not being suspicious, you know, because you dono’t want them to lie to you. And if they say “Yes, we’re selling on Amazon,” you know, you want to be careful with that. You want to make sure they’re not going to come and sell on your listing or I even had my friend who was also selling in the same niche as me, I offered to tell them who my supplier is. She contacted the supplier asking what the dye line for the product would look like so they could make their own packaging, and this guy sends my artwork over to my friend.

 

He had no idea that I’m related to this person, so he’s sending my artwork out to my competitors. So I messaged him right away, I was like, “Hey, what the hell is this?” So you don’t want somebody like that. You want somebody you can trust. If somebody is willing to do that behind your back, it’s just one strike and you’re out. So ask them if they are selling on Amazon already because that is what I’m seeing a lot happen lately too. They’re just going directly to customers, and essentially what you’ll be doing is—they’re already selling on Amazon—is you’re sourcing from your competitor. And you know, that competitor may not have your best interests in mind. So if they say they sell on Amazon, I’d try to find another supplier.

 

CAMERON YODER:
So I feel like. So the market has kind of changed. As Amazon has increased in popularity, I would say that the door just for ecommerce in general has opened up to a lot more people than probably maybe 3 years ago even. It’s a very short period of time, but a lot more people are in the game now, and so as a result I do believe that maybe as a result or part of a result of that is manufacturers selling products that they produce on Amazon. But in the manufacturing market as a whole, from what you’ve seen—because you’ve been in the game for a long time—how has everything changed? Like how has manufacturing and the process of someone from here selling online, being in touch with a manufacturer, how has that whole game and the market changed over time.

 

ADI:

Like here in the states, you mean?

 

CAMERON YODER:

Yeah, speaking from the perspective of people here in the states, how has the game changed?

 

ADI:

Yeah, I mean 100% you’ll find that if you reach out to a supplier they will have clients who sell on Amazon, and this was not the case 2 or 3 years ago. The whole business of selling on Amazon has kind of just exploded, as you mentioned, and pretty much every category that you can think of, sellers have gotten in and so you know, that’s been a big change for better or for worse. But that’s also lead overseas suppliers to come in as well because they can see the opportunity, and they say “Why shouldn’t we go directly to consumer?” But I mean, the competitive landscape has definitely changed. And it will continue to change. Every year that somebody waits to get into the selling on Amazon game, they’re only shooting themselves in the foot because, guess what, next year it’s gonna be harder than today. It’s a great opportunity today, like it might be more competitive than it was last year, but I’m seeing guys get in today, starting to make a killing 2 or 3 months after they get in. So even though it might be more competitive, there’s a bunch of different niches where you can get in, and obviously Viral Launch has all the tools for that. It’s never too late to get in I would say.

 

CAMERON YODER:

I would agree with that. It might be more difficult, it’s probably going to be more difficult down the line, but it’s not going to be impossible.

 

ADI:
Think about it just like this. A simple way to think about competitive landscape is, if you take for example Vitamin C, right? Two year ago, the average review rate, or the review count for the top 6 people when you search Vitamin C, may have been 1,000 reviews or 800 reviews or 600 reviews. Today that’s … that average has gone up to 3,000 reviews or 4,000 reviews. Guess what. In 2 years from now that might be 10,000 reviews. And to be able to get in as a new seller, it’s just going to be that much harder. So what you want to do is you want to find those niches where the average review counts are not as crazy high. And you can establish yourself as a top dog in a couple of years from now. And there’s still a lot of products and niches that you can get into where the top dogs don’t have a whole lot of reviews, so that’s just like 1 tidbit I would say, when sourcing products, try to avoid products where you’re seeing a whole lot of sellers already that have been established for some time.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Of course. That’s good. So talking broad overview again, what—because we’re kind of narrowing down here, we’re kind of ending, getting close to the end of our time but—what would you say are 3 key practices that sellers can start implementing right now to help their manufacturing and just selling process in general right now?

 

ADI:

Okay, there’s a bunch … I would say first: know who you are working with, and try to find somebody who is going to be a long-term partner. Try to figure out, is this going to be somebody I can see myself working with for the next 2 to 3 years? And you know, ask the right questions to determine that. Then negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. Try to negotiate as hard as you can on the price because that extra 30 or 40% savings that you see, and you know you would be surprised, you can get 30 to 40% off on top of what they quote you in the beginning. Because that’s just their listing price. And there’s a few ways to do that. I’ve even gone as far as creating V-Chat groups with a couple of different suppliers and just let them butt heads. And I’ll see who comes out on top and go with that. The best way that I’ve found though, if you happen to have a friend who speaks Mandarin, get them on a Skype call with a supplier because they’ll do a lot better in terms of like negotiating. Another way to do that is just to find an agent in China. That again is a little bit harder if you’re just starting out, but you maybe will find one when you go there and you visit them in person. In my case what I’ve done is I’ve actually hired an ex-supplier to become my agent. So I had somebody who was working for the company that I used to source from, and you know, she was moving to a different province and whatnot, and she was going through a bit of a different period, so I asked her, “Hey why don’t you just come work for me?” And eventually she just started doing everything in terms of creating my FBA shipments from China, ensuring all the carton labels are put on properly …

 

CAMERON YODER:
Smart. That’s smart.

 

ADI:

She actually, because I mean, you know one thing I’ll tell you is these guys work way harder you’ll be able to find here in the US. Second is they are so used to getting paid on commission, so they’re base salary generally start from like $400 to $700 a month, and they make only on top of that what they’re able to help you in terms of like profits or orders. So you’re actually saving a lot, and you’re finding somebody who’s just a gem, who knows the Chinese market inside out, who knows the whole selling on Amazon situation, and they can be trained on it. Like creating a new shipment and putting carton lables on and things like that, you know if you can find somebody who’s already there, who knows it, that was one of the things that’s really helped me as well. And then you know beyond that I would say make sure to have some written agreement with the supplier, especially when you get into bigger orders, you could really … I mean at this point I get insured for every shipment that I get from overseas because I’ve had a couple of shipments where the goods got damaged in transit, and you know, I just lost 8 or 10 thousand dollars because of that. So I get insured for that. You may not need that right at the beginning. But definitely have an agreement in writing for when they’re going to be shipping the goods out because the last thing you want is delays on your end because that affects your business, not theirs. And you know, another best practice, I guess this would be for more the medium term, ask for credit terms, and all you have to do is ask for it. Even if that means they extend 15-day credit terms, which means you pay them before the goods arrive at the port, that can really go a long way.

 

CAMERON YODER:

That’s good. Final question here. This is touching on you. Final question, and then we’ll take off. What are you specifically looking to do next when it comes to manufacturing and what are your next steps as a whole in the selling process in general?

 

ADI:

I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve put a good system in place, so I don’t have to go around looking for suppliers and do the whole find-a-supplier thing. I have suppliers at this point who can make any product that I tell them, you know, I basically have to tell them, “Hey, these are the ingredients that I want in the product,” and they can formulate it because the 3 factories that I work with now, they’re really large, and they can, you know, they have the capability to do that. That’s one system in place. The other system in place is I have somebody on the ground working in China who helps me do basically everything I need. They schedule the shipments, they will coordinate everything with … through the suppliers. And you know, the whole sourcing from China thing for me at this point is just … it takes maybe an hour a week because I deal with this person that I have there. She does all the work. I just have my employee. I let her know what needs to be ordered and how many units, and she handles the rest in terms of like placing the orders, creating the shipments, packaging and cartons and everything. So I think it’s a sweet spot that I’m in, and it can definitely be achieved by anybody.

 

CAMERON YODER:
That definitely takes a lot of trust. It takes a lot of trust. I’m sure you’ve built that trust and that experience with that person, but I’m sure it’s a hard spot to get to but again since you are in such a sweet spot, I’m not going to say that you haven’t worked hard to get there. Like you’ve gone through a lot to get to this sweet spot and where you’re at right now.

 

ADI:

That’s true. You know, I’ve actually made 3 trips down to China. This person is actually my friend now, so I mean we talk about stuff other than business too. So you know, and just it does take time, so you’re not just overnight just going to find this person that’s going to be able to do everything for you on the ground there. But just start with small steps. Try to find a good manufacturer, and if they can meet all the criteria that I just mentioned, I think that’ll hopefully save you guys time and some money too.

 

CAMERON YODER:

Well Adi, thank you—seriously—thank you so much for being here. Thank you so much for talking about your experiences, what you’ve learned. You’ve obviously been in the game a long time, and you’ve learned a lot. So thank you so much for sharing everything with us.

 

ADI:

Hey thanks Cam, it’s been an honor, and I mean a lot of stuff that I’ve learned is directly from you guys at Viral Launch, so I … it’s my honor, and hopefully I was able to help out.

 

CAMERON YODER:
Hey everybody thanks again so much for joining us here on Follow the Data. As always if you had any questions about what we talked about with Adi, leave us a message at (317) 721-6590. If you’re finding value in this content at all it would mean the world to us if you would subscribe and leave a rating or a review. Until next time, the data is out there.

BONUS: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy (Follow the Data Ep. 11)

Follow the Data BONUS Episode: Announcing Product Discovery, the Best Product Finder in the Galaxy

We’re excited to announce the launch of Product Discovery, our latest software tool, and the best product finder in the galaxy. Tune in for a bonus episode where CEO Casey Gauss talks about why this is such a revolutionary release.

Finding a great product to sell on Amazon is vital to the success of your Amazon business; that’s why we created Product Discovery. Just enter your business goals, and filter for a list of personalized product ideas. You can find ideas by looking at individual products whose performance meets your aspirations, by looking at keywords and product markets with the metrics you desire, or by scanning top-performing brands and categories for the products that are driving their success.

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Or to learn more about Product Discovery,

 

 

Sourcing: How to Find a Product to Sell on Amazon (Follow the Data Ep. 10)

Follow the Data Episode 10: Sourcing: How to Find a Product to Sell on Amazon

In order to take advantage of the incredible gold rush happening on Amazon, you need a great product to sell. And in order to find a great product, you need a rock solid sourcing strategy. This episode is all about the what a successful sourcing process looks like and how to find a product to sell on Amazon.


 

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Listen on Stitcher / Listen on Google Play

 

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • The first thing you need to do before you begin your search for profitable products is set your goals. Look at a few products whose performance you want to emulate, and look at the calculated upfront cost using our FBA Calculator to determine what is realistic for you and your budget. 
  • Can’t think of any good product ideas? Look for inspiration online, browsing sites like Pinterest, Fancy, or Wanelo, or use a tool like Product Discovery that will do the heavy lifting for you and save you time. 
  • Make sure you do your due diligence and perform some market research before committing to a product. Our market research tool, Market Intelligence provides up to 2 years of historical data so you can look at sales, price, and review trends.

Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS:

Hey, guys.  Just to give a heads up, this episode is targeted to our more beginner-level sellers.  In order to take advantage of the incredible gold rush happening on Amazon, you need a great product to sell.

CAMERON YODER:

But sourcing the wrong product can be worse for your business than not selling at all.  In order to turn a profit you need a rock-solid sourcing strategy.  I’m Cameron Yoder.

CASEY GAUSS:

And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 25,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CAMERON YODER:

We’re embarking on a brand-new series about sourcing, a pillar of success for any Amazon business.  In order to compete with growing competition you need a high-opportunity market and a quality product at the right price.  This specific episode is a little more geared towards beginners.  However, our next couple episodes dive deeper into mid- to high-level content.

CASEY GAUSS:

On today’s episode we’ll talk about how to set realistic goals based on the capital you have to invest, how together a wide variety of potential product ideas, how to ensure that your product is in a good market and finally, how to determine which products are right for you and your business.

CAMERON YODER:

Casey, I love topics like this because even though it’s so simple, I – and even though this is geared towards beginners, I think there is value in this for anybody to, again, just take a seat, think about where you are, where you were and where you want to be and to think about and write out your goals for where you want to go.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, you know, I imagine we’ve said this before, but probably the number one reason we see sellers fail is because they are jumping into the wrong product markets, or they make bad sourcing decisions.  And so kind of the intention with this series is to help steer people away from that. 

So yeah, so let’s jump in.  First we want to talk about setting your goals.  First, let’s talk about kind of where people go wrong here.  So I think the easiest place to, or the easiest way to identify it is, you know, really at the end of the day people would just go and see, hey, I know people are making money with this product.  I am going to source it.  End of the story.  You know, they’re not taking into account, okay, how much money do I have to invest?  How much money am I hoping to make?  How arduous is that process going to be of taking my product from conception to getting to that level of success that I’m seeing other people get?  You know, they’re not asking all these questions, and these questions are absolutely vital to having success, or at least having the expectations set appropriately so that you, you’re able to achieve them. 

So you know, our lead developer, he always says that reality is your expectations versus what really happens, and so if you get into a market expecting to make $50,000 a month because you see other people doing it but you only make $10,000 a month, well, you’re probably not going to be very happy.  But had you have expected to make, you know, $8,000-$10,000 a month and you’re making $10,000, well you’re going to be really excited about that.

CAMERON YODER:

You kind of outlined the goalsetting aspect, right?  One of those first questions that really helps people along the right path is how much money do you have to invest?  Really you’re taking a seat and you’re looking at okay, if I’m looking to get into fidget spinners, do I have enough money to get into this market? 

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so too often we see, you know, sellers are trying to buy as much – they’re maxing out their budget for this Amazon business in their inventory.  And so basically – and this is a big problem, right?  So let’s say you have a $5,000 budget.  Well, these – a lot of sellers will go and spend up to $5,000 on inventory and getting it into Amazon.  What they don’t account for is well, now that’s just, you know, a tenth of the battle.  That’s the easy part of the battle I’d like to think.  The rest is how do I – or I’m going to have to spend money on marketing materials, you know, a la product photography, getting your listing written, keyword research, some software tools around helping you get up and going and optimized, and then marketing to get that product ranking.  You’re going to have to, at the very least, be spending money on sponsored ads or some form of marketing to get your product, you know, in front of people. 

And so if you’re spending all of your budget or close to, you’re going to have a very difficult time getting that up and going.  So you know if you have a $5,000 budget, and you need to be very honest with yourself about this, but yeah, let’s say you have a $5,000 budget.  You need to be allotting a lot of that budget to marketing expenses.  And so maybe spend half of your available capital on inventory.  You really need to look at the numbers.  You need to look at the market and be honest.  You know, what is the barrier to entry?  How much does each widget cost?  What are the fees associated with each sale?  And you know, how many units do I need to purchase in order to be able to be somewhat aggressive in order to have enough stock?  Let’s assume things go well and you’re selling 1000 units a month, and it takes at least 60 days from the time I placed an order until the time it’s in FBA.  Are you going to be able to have enough inventory to pay for, you know, 70 days of sales?  These are all questions that you need to, you know, be asking yourself.

CAMERON YODER:

Casey, let’s say – let’s say someone’s coming in with $5,000.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:

What qualities should they be looking for in a market if they’re just getting into a market for the first time and they have like that $5,000?  What should they be looking for?

CASEY GAUSS:

So don’t be looking at those markets, or at least not right now, don’t look at those markets where you know you’re hoping to make $50,000 a month because, you know, you’re going to need $20,000 of inventory.  You know, you’re going to need a significant amount of money to invest, right, or at least, you know, significant in this example.  Anyways, so you know, look for those markets where your potential is $5,000 to $10,000 a month, maybe a little bit more.  But you really need to make sure that the barrier to entry is low because with $5,000 you don’t have a ton of budget for marketing.  So again, if you spend $3,000 on inventory, well, that allots you $2,000 to get some professional photos done, maybe get a keyword tool or two to help maybe have you write the listing.  And then you have to have a good budget for sponsored ads.  You have to have a good budget for marketing for running giveaways or however you’re planning on getting this product ranking.  But that’s even for a small market where the opportunity is $5,000 to $10,000. 

And a lot of people like to kind of steer away from these markets because it’s not as sexy.  Everyone wants to get into the markets where, you know, I can make $100,000 a month, or you know, these guys are just making insane amount of money on this one product.  But you know, in reality those are very vicious markets.  If it’s not vicious yet it will be very soon.  So I am actually a big fan of these, you know, unsexy markets where I’m only making $5,000, $10,000 a month but you just go really wide and you get into 10 of those markets.  The barrier to entry is generally low, or make sure that it is.  You’re not spending a lot of time or resources fighting competition.  You just get in, you dominate pretty easily and you just move on to the next one, and you know, you line up 10 of those markets, and now you’re doing $100,000 a month.  Now you have a million-dollar business.

CAMERON YODER:

As you said before, expectation versus reality.  It’s really easy to look at those, to watch those YouTube videos or those articles that talk about oh, hey, I made $1 million on Amazon with X product and think oh, this guy is making $1 million a year selling one thing, where I mean that’s, that shouldn’t necessarily be your expectation going into Amazon selling.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah.  Cool, so yeah, next, looking – you need to set realistic expectations for how much money you’re hoping to make.  Again, make sure you’re considering the net as well because it’s very easy to not pay attention to margin and get into a product where, you know, you’re selling a lot of inventory but you’re doing it at a very low cost just to drive traffic and you’re not actually making any money to reinvest.  And so that is very important.  Make sure you’re paying attention to margins.  You know, a lot of people like to kind of throw out these numbers around you should look for this margin versus this margin.  You know, as long as you’re thinking of the long-term strategy I’m actually an advocate of being open to any kind of margin.  If you’re excited about $0.10 on the product but you’re doing just an insane amount of volume, or this is helping you play into some bigger narrative around, you know, I’m using my Amazon traffic to fund my, I don’t know, outside business – I don’t know, but anyways, I think there are scenarios in which case all margins work so long as you’re being very cognizant of what is going on.  If you’re not aware that $0.10 of margin per unit sold is not very good, well now you’re in trouble.  So a really take a look at that.  You know the nice thing here is that you kind of get to control everything here, so if you are looking for a product where the margin is X, those markets exist.  You just have to be willing to put in the time to find it.  And we’ll talk a little bit more about that later.

CAMERON YODER:

This is if – if step one in setting your goals is asking yourself the question how much money do I have to invest, then this would be a comparable step two in asking yourself okay, now that I’ve established how much money I have to invest, now how much money do I hope to make, right?  And with this you’re looking at the long-term market, the long-term market trends, I guess, that really help paint that picture.  You’re also asking yourself in this, in the question of how much money do I hope to make, you’re asking yourself okay, are my goals realistic based on the amount of money that I have to invest?

CASEY GAUSS:

You also need to look at kind of what the end goal is here, right?  So am I just trying to cash flow and make a bunch, you know, as much money as possible as easily as possible?  Well, the answer there is you may want to just go and pick out all these great diamonds in the rough, all these opportunities.  So hey, this product in beauty, I could profit $10,000 a month if I get into it pretty easily.  Competition isn’t very high, so I’ll source this.  And then next thing you know there’s something in pets where you can do the same, and then in health and household, and then in automotive. 

And so I’ve seen people be really successful here.  I’ve not seen a successful exit of a product line like this.  Part of the reason being is not because people are not interested in them.  It’s because I don’t know as many lines that are doing this.  But you know the biggest seller that I know doing this, they’re doing around $30 million a year, and they’re just sourcing everything that has high opportunity for them.  And so it’s working very well from a total revenue perspective.  Could they easily sell?  To the right, you know, private equity firm, for sure.  But I think it’s not as easy, and your multiple will be lower.  The areas where I’ve seen the highest multiples on brands that sell, let’s say that, you know, this is your end goal.  Well, then you want to build a cohesive line of products, in which case you need to not just be looking at one particular product, but you should probably go line up at least a few that you know have good opportunity for you to get in there, the barrier to entry is not too high, competition is not, you know, insane, and you can go start with product one and then go to product two, product three.  You have a decent kind of roadmap ahead of you.  And this will really, again, kind of dictate where you get started as well as where you are going.

And then kind of the last thing is how much time are you looking to invest?  You know, do you have another job?  Is this a side hustle, just something you’re just, you know, doing on the weekends or whatever?  Or are you looking to replace your full-time job and dive all the way into this?  Or are you full-time here, in which case that will kind of dictate, you know, the products that you get into.  And you know, ideally just because opportunity cost is so high, meaning that, you know, for every dollar you’re investing right now in your Amazon business you’re getting $10 back, you know, let’s just say, versus, you know, in some other market, some other opportunity you’re investing a dollar, and maybe you’re getting two, three dollars back.  The opportunity is just so high in Amazon that spending time doing other things or wasting time doing this is just not worth it.  And so you should always be looking for those products where the 80/20 rule easily applies.  So what’s 20% of the work that’s going to get me 80% of the results?  Move on, you know?  Go to the next product.  Do the 20% of work, get 80% of the results, and then, you know, move on to that.

CAMERON YODER:

It’s also really important to ask yourself how much risk you’re willing to take or you’re able to take right now.  Like if you have a family or if you have other people to take care of, then how much time can you put into this, and how much time are you willing to invest?  And how much risk are you willing to take?  Those are all super important questions.

CASEY GAUSS:

Just because you have $1 million of free cash laying around – one, hit me up.  No, I’m just kidding.  But you know, you shouldn’t just dive all the way in.  I think that you should dip your toe into the water, understand kind of the marketplace, how everything works, what are market dynamics, and then start to iterate from there.  Once you really figure it out, okay now let’s start investing more money.

CAMERON YODER:

So we talked about setting goals, the question of how much money do you have to invest, how much money you do you hope to make, building a product, a cohesive product line, and how much time you’re looking to invest.  Now we’re going to dive into specifically finding product ideas.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so this is something that we’re becoming more and more passionate about.  I think a great place to start, although I have a counterpoint to this, is just looking at products that you’re passionate about, right?  Like you understand those markets better than anybody.  You can stay on top of trends, which are great opportunities to really build a business.  But yeah, look at markets or, you know, products that you’re very familiar with.  I will say that counter to that, generally we see the people that are the most successful are people that are actually not very passionate about the markets that they’re in, and the reason being is a lot of the time the people that are passionate about this, they make emotional decisions.  And so it’s the emotional decisions that can, you know, sometimes lead to bad decisions or less profitable decisions.  The guys that have the most success or, you know, the individuals, men or women, that have the most success are those that are not particularly passionate about their products.  They just really understand how to identify great market opportunities.  They know how to pull the levers to success when it comes to Amazon, and they’re just able to, you know, really, really push forward.

CAMERON YODER:

I think I can offer a unique perspective on this actually.  So back in high school I did something called retail arbitrage, okay?  So I would, back then I would go to Goodwill or just other stores in general, buy something for super low and then flip it on eBay, of all places.  EBay and Amazon, actually.  And during this time when I was getting started developing this a little bit more it really just helped pay for some stuff in high school and helped pay a little bit my way through college, but I got some really good advice as I was just starting to get into everything with flipping online, and it was someone who had been doing it for a little while, doing retail arbitrage, and he told me hey, Cam, just as you’re starting out look into the things that you’re passionate about.  They might not be the best things to sell, but because you’re passionate about them you will be more interested and will not lose your interest as quickly as you might be if you’re not as passionate about it. 

And so, Casey, everything you said I 100% agree with.  I do think, though, that there is something that holds your attention more about if you’re just looking into markets and you’re looking at what it means to sell on Amazon or if you’re looking into products that you might want to source, looking into categories that you are passionate about or is going to help really get you in.  Now it’s important to understand then what makes a good market, what separates a good market from a bad one because if you’re passionate about a market it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s going to be a healthy one to get into or one that’s going to really help you make a lot of money if that’s what you’re wanting to do.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, no, I think that’s a good point.  Cool, so, and you know another way is if you have a manufacturer or are aware of manufacturers, or you can go find manufacturers on sites like Alibaba, hit these guys up.  Ask them for their product catalog and just see what they offer.

CAMERON YODER:

You can find their product catalog online.  You could just to go to their product page and look through their whole list of what they offer.

CASEY GAUSS:

Oh, well there you go.  So and this is not necessarily a plug for Viral Launch, but whatever.  One great way to kind of just sift through those catalogs really easily is you can do it yourself or have a virtual assistant.  Just go take those product ideas, plug them into Market Intelligence, which is, you know, our market analytics tool, and you can see oh, this is a four-star idea, five-star idea, one-star idea.  If you have a great rating okay, now I know that I need to look more into this market or those stats.  You can just really cruise through and amass, you know, a good potential products idea pretty quickly.

CAMERON YODER:

Literally, so browsing other internet sites, like if you just even check Pinterest, or if you check Instagram, basically keeping your mind’s eye open to okay, when I see a product look it up on Amazon.  Look it up on a research market tool, Market Intelligence, right?  So even if you’re walking through the store, just be in a mentality, a mentality mode of hey, I’m going to write down this list of products that I never thought would be successful to sell on Amazon, and I’m going to check out the market just to see what it’s like.  That’s just helping you expand your mindset on what is even possible to sell on Amazon.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, and another thing, there’s other tools.  You know we have one launching here really soon.  Again, not so much a plug, but just an opportunity.  We have a tool called Product Discovery.  Jungle Scout also has a tool that allows you – you know, we’re tracking tens of millions of products, both of us, and basically you’re able to filter these, you know, massive Amazon product catalogs based on, you know, what you’re looking for.  So you know, I’m looking for a product that is doing at least $20,000 a month in this category and is fulfilled by Amazon, or merchants or whatever.  Yeah, and then we’ll just show you.  Hey, here are thousands, or tens of thousands, or maybe 20 products that all fit your criteria.  Hey, you know here’s maybe the starting.  You can look further into this.  Basically it’s just a shortcut to kind of sifting through Amazon data to understand what’s working and what’s not.  Is it always the best?  No, I think that there is no necessarily best answer.  Just whatever works best for you is kind of that answer.  I think it’s worth, you know, trying out pretty much all of these just to, again, to get a taste for yourself, and depending on what market you’re looking to get into or are already into, the more opportunity to find something good.

CAMERON YODER:

So we’re talking about, again, this whole series is about sourcing in general, and we’ve gone through goals.  We talked through finding a product idea.  The next comparable step would be to look further into those markets, to narrow down your product ideas.

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so we call this the validation stage.

CAMERON YODER:

Right, right, yeah, validation.  Casey, what should people look for when they’re looking to narrow down their search in this way?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, you know, I think we’ve kind of talked on some of these points a little bit in other podcasts, but really –

CAMERON YODER:

Just like a broad, I guess –

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, yeah, so just a quick overview.  You know, we want to look at market potential.  So don’t look at any one particular ASIN in a market and expect to replicate that ASIN’s success.  You should be looking, you know, at the averages or high averages of a particular market.  And when I mean market I’m talking about a, you know, the products that are ranking for a particular keyword.  So let’s take grill brush as an example.  Please do not source grill brushes.

CAMERON YODER:

Don’t do it.

CASEY GAUSS:

Terrible idea.

CAMERON YODER:

Wintertime, huh?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, I know.  Anyways, so search grill brush.  Of the top, you know, 20-some products, fifty products or whatever, preferably you know really page one to be honest, but anyways, what are the average monthly sales?  And those of the kinds of numbers that you should be expecting, not what is the top seller or the highest volume seller doing?  Don’t expect that.  Again, it’s all expectations versus reality, and we want to help you set your expectations appropriately.  Next is kind of the barrier to entry, and we think of reviews as kind of being that barrier to entry, like we’ve talked about before, so really we look at this thing.  Should be called reviews to sales ratio.  We call it sales to review ratio because it kind of flows a little bit better, but anyways, really what this is is a calculation of potential versus, you know, how much work am I going to have to put in to get there?  So you know, on average let’s just say on page one if all the sellers were selling 1000 units a month but they had 1000 reviews, that would be a sales to review ratio of one, meaning like that’s not that great, but it’s not too bad, versus a market where everybody had 100 reviews and they’re selling 1000 units a month.  That’s a sales review ratio of 10, and that just means like you don’t need to gain as many reviews in order to sell at market potential, which you know, is more opportunity for you to get in quicker, hit market potential, easier and kind of move on to the next product.

CAMERON YODER:

What about red flags?  What should people – what are some red flags that really pop up?

CASEY GAUSS:

Yeah, so if Amazon is kind of dominating the market, so you know if, you know, 40%, 50% to 70% of the listings are all sold by Amazon, generally that could be a red flag, meaning it’s going to be more difficult to compete against these listings, or there’s a reason why Amazon is selling them.  Again, looking at brand names so it doesn’t matter who is selling them, but again, if a significant share of the market is held by these brand-name players then there’s probably a reason for that, meaning that there’s a chance that people are buying these products for a particular reason from brands.  So there are products where – maybe it’s diapers or whatever, bottles or I don’t know, something where people want these brand names to be their manufacturer.

CAMERON YODER:

So okay, we talked about goals.  We talked about finding a product idea, validating your product idea.  Another aspect is contacting – and the next step, I guess, would be contacting a manufacturer, right?  And so finding a manufacturer is actually a huge aspect of sourcing.  We’re going to have a full episode for you next week all about it.  I go in depth with a very high-level seller about his experience with manufacturers from finding a good partner to negotiating from low-level strategy to high-level strategy.  No matter where you are, no matter where you’re at in the process I think you’ll find something useful in our conversation. 

Well, that is all that we have for this week.  Thank you so much for joining us on Follow the Data.  Join us next week for that manufacturing episode.  For more insight and reliable strategies for taking your Amazon business to the next level, subscribe to the podcast and check out the Viral Launch blog at viral-launch.com.

CASEY GAUSS:

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes.  Your feedback helps us reach new listeners and is super helpful as we develop the show.  Huge thanks to those who have already written reviews, as well as called in and left us a voicemail.  It’s super exciting to see your enthusiasm for what we’re doing, and we can’t wait to bring you more valuable content.

CAMERON YODER:

Thank you again so much for listening.  And if you want to be featured on the show feel free to leave us a voicemail and tell us your thoughts on today’s episode, or ask us your Amazon questions.  Our number is 317-721-6590.  Until next time, remember, the data is out there.

 

About the Amazon FBA Seller Podcast:

Viral Launch CEO, Casey Gauss, and Amazon Seller Coach Cameron Yoder bring data-driven insights to the Seller community in their weekly discussions.

On the show you’ll get the latest Amazon selling strategies and best practices based on the company’s experience launching over 22,000 products and working with over 5,500 brands. Casey and Cam will bring you up to speed on the latest Amazon news, share stories of success and failure, explore the difficulties of entrepreneurship, and discuss the way Amazon is changing retail.

At the center of the show is the Viral Launch commitment to offering reliable information to today’s entrepreneurs.

Be Thankful: How Positive Thinking Can Help You Grow Your Amazon Business (Follow the Data Ep. 9)

Follow the Data Episode 9: Be Thankful – How Positive Thinking Can Help You Grow Your Amazon Business

Taking a break to be thankful can feel like a waste of time. But studies show that positive thinking is a key component to individual success. Join Viral Launch CEO and co-host Cameron Yoder for a discussion on how positive thinking can help you cultivate a success mindset to grow your Amazon business.

Follow the Data Show Notes

  • Reason #1 to be thankful: Prime Day 2017 was huge with more than 60% growth over the previous year. Can you image what 2018 is going to be like? Check out our summary of Prime Day Stats to get a better idea of just how huge this day was.
  • Reason #2 to be thankful: Prime membership is becoming more and more popular with estimates that over 60% of American households have a subscription
  • Reason #3 to be thankful: Amazon is still growing. With stocks soaring, there’s a chance that Amazon will become a trillion dollar company sooner than originally predicted.
  • Listen to Barbara Fredrickson explain her broaden and build theory and the research behind the powerful impact of positive emotions.
  • Check out this article from Entrepreneur about how a positive attitude can influence your success.
  • Want to be on the show? We’re working on an episode that features our listeners! Leave us a voicemail at (317) 721-6590 with stories or questions about your Amazon business.

 

Podcast Transcript

CASEY GAUSS:
Did you know that positive thinking can broaden your mindset and increase your ability to generate ideas?

CAMERON YODER:
Taking a break to be thankful can feel like a waste of time. But practicing positive thinking might be the most powerful tool at your disposal as an Amazon seller. I’m Cameron Yoder.

CASEY GAUSS:
And I’m Casey Gauss, your host for Follow the Data: Your Journey to Amazon FBA Success. In this show we leverage the data we’ve accumulated at Viral Launch from over 25,000 product launches and our experience working with 6500 brands to help you understand the big picture when it comes to Amazon and, more importantly, the best practices for success as an Amazon seller.

CAMERON YODER:
This Thanksgiving we’re bringing you a special edition episode about the role that positive thinking and thankfulness can play in your Amazon business. Whether you’re just beginning your Amazon journey or already have a serious operation on your hands, there’s a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

CASEY GAUSS:
We’re talking about what it means to be thankful, the science behind positive thinking and how staying positive and being thankful for what you have can help your Amazon business.

CAMERON YODER:
Casey, I’m actually really excited about this episode just because it’s so unique. It’s so different. We’re talking about how positivity relates to success as an Amazon seller, and not just as an Amazon seller, but success as a person in general, right?

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and for those of you who don’t know Cam, he’s probably one of the most positive people.

CAMERON YODER:
Life is good, man. Life is good. So we’re talking about what it means to be thankful, and a definition – and this isn’t like the, the definition of what it means to be thankful because I think there are many definitions. But what does it mean to be thankful? Thankful, being thankful is the ability to recognize the full worth of something and be grateful for it. So, Casey, what are you thankful for?

CASEY GAUSS:
Dude, I’d like to think of myself as a person with a lot of gratitude, so you know, I just have an insane amount to be thankful for. Everything from my family, you know, having an amazing wife, having, you know, kind of the company of your dreams at the age of 24. Like I don’t think that ever in life I cannot be thankful for everything that has happened to date. And so, you know, I just think that we have an amazing team. Everybody is just working on all cylinders so well. Yeah, you know, I am thankful for Amazon. I am thankful for the current state of the economy to allow us to be where we’re at. I mean, I could just go on and on. But yeah, I guess that pretty much summarizes it. What about you, Cam? What are you thankful for?

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah. No, I mean like you said before, I’m generally just a more positive person. I didn’t used to be that way, but I don’t know, I guess I quickly came to realize that life is too short to really get hung up on the differences or hung up on just stuff in general, and so I’m super thankful just for – I’m 22, and the opportunity just to be here and doing this literally right now is, it’s just awesome. And just meeting people, I’ve been able to go to a lot of conferences over the past couple months to meet a lot of Amazon sellers and just people in general. That’s been an amazing experience. I’m just thankful for, I don’t know, this opportunity and every single opportunity that comes every single day.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah. So, what do Amazon sellers have to be thankful for this year? You know, I think there are so many things, obviously.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s a lot. It’s a lot.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, kind of like the top list that we want to talk about, Prime Day 2017 was absolutely insane, the biggest sales day in Amazon history in one day.

CAMERON YODER:
That’s huge.

CASEY GAUSS:
Brand Registry, 2.0, helping sellers to protect, you know, their listings, as well as just getting a leg up on those that are not in brand registry with enhanced brand content, early reviewer program, headline search ads, you know, and I think it’s just going to continue to compound. But thank you, Amazon, for giving us these new features, and we’d love to see more.

CAMERON YODER:
Another stat, there were – or 62% of American households have a Prime subscription. And this is from 2017. That’s – that’s a lot of households. That’s more than half.

CASEY GAUSS:
Oh yeah, and you know, it’s just so awesome because that means that’s that many more people that are going to come and buy your Amazon products. And that’s that much larger of a market that you can sell to.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, that Prime badge, that FBA man, that’s huge. It’s huge. Amazon is also, it’s growing at an astounding rate. So a couple weeks ago Amazon’s stock surged about 13% because their growth is outpacing predictions.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, it’s just crazy. And you know, for the longest time everyone was saying, you know, maybe 2020, 2021, Amazon will be, will represent 50% of e-commerce sales. But it’s looking like that – they could cross that milestone, you know, next year, which again, just means more opportunity to sell more products and just grow your wealth, grow your business, leverage that growth to then go build a business off Amazon. I mean there’s so many opportunities here, and I think that we all kind of just need to be thankful for the work that Amazon is putting in because that helps make our businesses so much more valuable.

CAMERON YODER:
Right, right. Then there’s also, oh man, huge, huge piece of news that everyone was talking about, speculating, still speculating about, but Amazon’s expansion into the acquisition of Whole Foods and the potential or possibility of one day – of people getting their products into a brick-and-mortar store as a result of this is insane.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and so even if we are not able to get, you know, third-party products into Whole Foods, I mean it just means more Amazon customers, I’m assuming more Prime subscriptions that are using Amazon in –

CAMERON YODER:
More growth, more growth.

CASEY GAUSS:
– yeah, in additional ways. And so it’s just incredible. There’s so many positive things going on in Amazon and, you know, we’re all benefiting from it.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s really easy to get bogged down by the specifics of everything you do as an Amazon seller. And really all this news for Amazon really, I don’t know, it just helps keep a vibe of positivity going up, and it shows that this past year in 2017 Amazon has come a long way even though they were huge before that. But it also just shows that they’re on a pretty good path moving forward into 2018.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
So okay, now we talked about what Amazon sellers have to look at as just positivity for Amazon in 2017, but we’re going to break down now kind of the science behind the effect of positive thinking and really just kind of thankfulness in general. So I was going to break it down a little bit to give you some insight into what positivity means for you as an Amazon seller. Barbara Fredrickson has a theory called the broaden and build theory. Now the theory is this. The theory is that negative emotions can cause you to narrow your mindset and your scope of attention in a fight, flight or freeze response to feelings of anger or anxiety. So just to kind of go over that again, basically negative emotions cause your mindset to narrow. And kind of the antithesis of this is that a positive mindset really opens up your mind to newer possibilities.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, so if you remember back to us talking about kind of, you know, this ever elusive silver bullet or sellers getting focused in on, you know, what are these hacks, and I think that maybe this pertains to this specifically, right, so like –

CAMERON YODER:
Yeah.

CASEY GAUSS:
– you know, when I’m in fight or flight I’m just looking for that one little piece of saving grace that is going to take my business, you know, to the moon and back. And you know, what we’d like to think is, or according to the data, and we’ll get into it a bit more, you know, if you’re focused on positivity you’ll be able to take that step back, think of the bigger picture and really kind of disseminate what does it take to build a successful business. And that is not these little hacks. Again, it’s doing everything really well. So kind of just a cool way to tie in some of this awesome data around, you know, positive thinking and success and relate that back to Amazon.

CAMERON YODER:
Exactly. Like the negative mindset is going to create more opportunity for sellers to kind of try and reach and grab at things that aren’t necessarily going to help just because seemingly it’s the best thing that’s in front of them, again, that fight or flight method. So basically negativity really causes people to react, or can cause people to react in a manner that they don’t really think about what they’re doing before they do it. But going back to positivity, so positivity or thankfulness can cause you, the theory states, to broaden your perspective and increase your attention so that you see a wider range of perceived possibilities. So this more open mindset really enables positive thinkers to discover creative solutions, build new skills and ultimately be more successful than negative thinkers just because they’re broadening their mindset. So instead of being so – so I would describe the silver bullet mentality as more of, at least, a narrow-minded approach to business.

CASEY GAUSS:
For sure. And you know, a lot of people say that, you know, what’s the most valuable asset to your business? And a lot of the time it’s you, and people forget that, you know? And so yeah, I just think that this is very applicable.

CAMERON YODER:
Being narrow-minded is relatable to the silver bullet mentality, while positivity is related to learning more or widening your gaze and just learning and building new skills. To add onto this further, there was a study done that was conducted basically to support this theory. In this study each student watched a film that evoked a series of emotions. So there were five films that were showed. Each student watched a single film. The emotions that each film was supposed to – were supposed to convey were amusement, contentment as positive traits, neutrality as kind of the middle line, and then anger or anxiety as the negative traits. So each student watched these films. And then after the film the students were asked to fill out a questionnaire that asked them to list all of the things they wanted to do in that moment. So they watched these emotional, these films that evoked emotion, right, and then they were asked to write down what they wanted to do in that moment.

Now there were 20 blank lines for these participants to fill in. So interestingly enough, the students who watched the films that elicited amusement and contentment, so the more positive traits, came up with more action items on their questionnaire. So more things that they wanted to do in that moment, more. And the other characteristics, the ones that watched the more negative films that evoked a negative emotion did not come up with as many items as the people that had watch the positive films.

And then – after the films – they were shown a visual picture, a visual representation of shapes, okay, so just picture a bunch– you’re handed a piece of paper and on it are a bunch of shapes. And you get to look at it for a little bit, for a small period of time. That paper was taken away, and they were given basically another paper, and they were asked to identify the shapes that were similar to the ones they had seen before. So in this specific study the people, the students that had watched the negative emotional films remembered the smallest visual components of the shapes that made up the image that they had seen at first, and the positive thinkers remembered the overarching theme, or the overall form of the configurations but not necessarily the smaller shapes. The conclusion was at the end that thinking positively tends to help you keep a global or big-picture perspective.

CASEY GAUSS:
So next thing I kind of want to relate it to you, your Amazon business and how positive thinking can help you to be more successful. So I think the biggest one is just that, you know, Amazon is so dynamic, and things are changing so frequently, and the people that have success are the people that are really willing to be, you know, adaptable and to kind of fit whatever needs to happen. You know they’re not focused on the past. And so, you know, employing positive thinking allows you to be very nimble and say okay, here’s this new challenge. Now let’s take what we’ve done in the past, our knowledge and our expertise in the team that we have, if you have a team, and let’s apply that to this new landscape moving forward versus, you know, negative thinking would be so focused on, you know, this sucks, it’s not going to be as easy to have success. You know, I wish things were the old way versus, again, the positive thinking is you’re rolling with the punches. And that’s exactly what you have to be doing in order to, you know, be successful on Amazon because that is inevitable. Things are going to change. So yeah.

CAMERON YODER:
You’re also – so you’re also developing – as an Amazon seller you’re developing a lot of new skills as time goes on. And I want to read this quote from the study before, just because it’s, I don’t know, I think it speaks to Amazon sellers in general. And the quote is, “Researchers have often noticed a compounding effect or an upward spiral that occurs with happy people. They’re happy, so they develop new skills. Those skills lead to new success, which results in more happiness, and the process repeats itself.” So it’s compounding happiness on skill basically, like you are, by having an air or a mindset of positivity you are increasing her ability to develop these new skills by being an Amazon seller, which being an Amazon seller you’ve already developed so many skills, like team leadership even is just one skill that has resulted for a lot of people from Amazon, or different selling methods, or business in general. And there are so many more skills to develop by selling on Amazon. Maintaining that positive mindset is going to help you develop those skills further.

CASEY GAUSS:
Yeah, and you know obviously as a fellow business owner there’s a million things that are going wrong. There’s always going to be fires, not just related to Amazon making changes, someone that you hire doesn’t work out, or you know, oh, your manufacturer is giving you issues, or you know, there’s a million things that can go wrong. And dwelling on those things or, you know, turning very negative or even turning that negativity against yourself, I know that’s very easy to do, you know, that’s just not going to help you to have success. And so always be positive about the future. At least what helps me is I’m always so excited about what is going to come or, you know, the bigger picture of Viral Launch and what we’re trying to achieve. And that really helps you to, you know, go through the kind of valleys or those tough times.

CAMERON YODER:
I definitely want to encourage you to focus on big pictures. So a big picture mentality, for example, would be hey, it’s going to be okay. We have tomorrow to wake up to. If something goes wrong, that’s okay. You have tomorrow. You have next week. You have next month. This Amazon game is a marathon. And it’s not a sprint. So you have all of this time in front of you to allow you to not have to get stressed out and sucked into unproductive pursuits that are just going to cause more stress. So stay committed to the big picture, whether that’s hitting the million-dollar mark or making your first sale. Basically, basically there are a lot of different things that you can focus on, but one thing that you have control of is your mindset. And if you choose to focus on your shortcomings and entertain ideas of failure, then that might be what you live up to. But if you entertain ideas of positivity, you reap what you sow.

CASEY GAUSS:
That’s all we have for this week. Thank you so much for joining us. We’ll be off next week over the holidays, and we encourage you to take a break yourself. Spend some time with the people you love, be thankful for what you have and what you’ve been able to accomplish so far. Also it’s just nice to, you know, take a step back, breathe, read a little bit, challenge yourself and just think of the bigger picture because that is ultimately the roadmap that you need to set to help you achieve success.

CAMERON YODER:
Yo, eat some delicious food. If you’re listening to us and you’re international I say go buy a turkey, you know, get in on this Thanksgiving thing. Go buy turkey, you know, make some good mashed potatoes. It’s going to be a good time. You never know. That moment of contentment could really make the difference in success or failure of your business.

CASEY GAUSS:
Thanks again for tuning in. Don’t forget to leave a review. Please, we all know how difficult it is to get reviews on Amazon.

CAMERON YODER:
It’s so hard.

CASEY GAUSS:
The same is true for podcasts. Guys, we need you. I’m just messing, but it would be awesome. We also kind of, you know, just love to hear what people have to say. So if you want to be featured on the show leave us a voicemail at 317-721-6590. We’d love to hear from you.

CAMERON YODER:
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Until next time, remember, the data is out there.