AMAZING AT HOME: Today we’re featuring Ryan and David in this Volume of Seller Portrait, hi guys thanks for joining us!
Ryan: Hi, thanks for the warm welcome
David: Hey, it’s good to be here.
Amazing At Home: Great! So on today’s volume we’re gonna try something different. Instead of being the interviewer, I’m gonna let Ryan and David take over and both play the role of the interviewer and the interviewee.
So gentlemen, the floor is yours…
RYAN: Thanks. I’ll go first, so Dave please tell us a bit about your background.
DAVID: I am David, I am 36 years old and I am originally from Canada, I moved to Munich with my wife a few years ago to work as a pilot for a German airline. Oh and we have two beautiful children together.
RYAN: I’m Ryan. I’m also from Canada and my studies brought me here. I have completed my Masters and PhD here in Munich and now I am a fulltime scientist. I met Dave three or four years ago throughFacebook group for Canadians based in Munich. Then the Amazon stuff followed later.
DAVID: Yeah and now we’re living in the same town here in Munich. Which is kind of fun because we’re basically neighbors.
RYAN: Cool, so Maybe you haven’t heard this question before but,how did you first realize that you wanted to sell products on Amazon?
DAVID: It’s actually a funny story, it started as a new year’s resolution. I remember it was 2018 going on to 2019. I had watched a YouTube advertisement that went something like “Hey, sign up to our online course on how to become an Amazon seller and FBA”. I had always wanted to create my own products and learn how that whole process works. So I challenged myself to have a product live by the end of 2019.
RYAN: Yeah, I remember this but let’s be honest, it started as a get rich quick scheme,
DAVID: It was a get rich quick scheme! At least that’s what I thought it was back then. I thought there’d be no work required. And speaking of getting Rich, I did read Rich Dad, Poor Dad, which I totally loved. The author always spoke about assets and trying to build your assets. That’s when I realized that for me to get rich, eventually, I’m gonna need assets and what better assets to have than my own product or my own business? So that’s how I got started on this journey.
RYAN: And was that what appealed to you with regards to starting your own business and having your own private label?
DAVID: Well kind of. I wanted to leave a legacy behind and I figured one of the best ways to do that would be by creating a brand and venturing into private labels. But what appealed to me initially, was the satisfaction of checking off a task off of my bucket list.
I made a promise to myself that I was going to challenge myself and succeed and I wasn’t about to break that promise. And also, the lucrative part of it, the thought of just making money while sleeping was intriguing.
RYAN: Did you start selling straight away? Or did you do some learning first?
DAVID: I am a big believer in learning first so that you can have a bit of a background on everything. This was all new to me, I didn’t have any history in e-commerce, sales or anything related. I didn’t know anything about creating a brand, suppliers, or business logistics. So I decided to do an Australian based course which gave me a good overview of the industry. However, my biggest goal was to go live as soon as possible, because I realized that the real learning would only come once I was live. So I started selling right away.
RYAN: Yeah and I remember you telling me that you’re going to do this expensive course, from Australia, and as your friend I wanted to support you but in the back of my mind, I thought you were crazy, but I’m glad I didn’t voice that.
DAVID: This is funny, because a lot of people doubted me. I remember even my family and friends kept asking me things like: “Are you sure you want to do this?”
I had so many people tell me that it’s probably a scam, or “It doesn’t seem like it’s gonna work”. And “Why would you even do it?”
And one of the hardest things I had to try to overcome was ignoring that negative voice that was discouraging me and making me doubt myself. There were times I had dialogues with that voice and I would ask myself: “Are you sure this is the right thing to do? There’s a lot of money. I’m investing in starting this product. I’ve never done this before. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
But you know, what kept me going was my confidence in my ability to learn something, and in my determination to get it done.
RYAN: When exactly did you start? And what model did you choose in particular?
DAVID: So I started the course in 2019, I also started setting up the company, and I decided to do a US based company with the plan of exiting at one point to set up a single member LLC.
This took some time because of the IRS getting an EIN number, the ITN and all. I also had to fly to the states to open a bank account.
And so I chose the private label model for my business and by the time I launched my product it was 2020 February. Right as Corona hit. I got in right before the real shutdowns started taking place and this kind of helped me focus on figuring out a way to sell without worrying about any of the logistical nightmares at that point.
RYAN: Okay and speaking of logistical nightmares, what were the biggest challenges you faced before you started selling?
DAVID: I battled with self doubt, and the learning part of it was also challenging. Taking in a lot of information at once trying to categorize it in my brain was hard because I learned the process piece by piece then implemented what I learned immediately as I moved along. I learned about branding designs, getting a company logo made, and then registering it.
I knew that registering a trademark would take months. So I did that right away and after that I learned the next steps and implemented them. So the biggest challenge was learning while doing it at the same time and trying to make sure that I don’t make mistakes along the way.
RYAN: And now for the best question. When did you first hear about Amy? Like when did you come across Amazing At Home for the first time?
DAVID: Well, unfortunately, I found out about Amy a little bit too late. I had just gone live with my first product. As I mentioned, my objective was just to go live as quickly as possible. I just wanted to go live, and then I would worry about everything else after. I didn’t even know what listing optimization was. I didn’t understand what keyword research was, search volume, or demand. I knew none of that. And then our product wasn’t selling, which is where you came in…
RYAN: Yes, I remember you were telling me stories of how you have this product but you’re having a tough time selling it. I went home that night and just went down a YouTube spiral and did some research on “how to sell better on Amazon” and all that. And that’s when I stumbled across Amy Wees and one of her awesome videos about listing optimization, and thought to myself, “Dave’s got to see this. Maybe this is helpful.”
DAVID: Yeah. And then you sent me a link and I have got to tell you, the timing was perfect. Because of Corona, my flight schedule had gotten reduced. And when I talked to Amy she said to me: “Okay, I’m starting the optimization course, beginning of April”. Which was great cause I had April off. So I took the course and in the meantime, I asked for her assistance in rewriting my listing because she is the expert and I wanted to learn from her.
And it’s been a totally great experience, the impact her input has had on our business has also influenced the way I thought about selling on Amazon and selling products. I realized that it’s all about search engine optimization and keywords. And as a seller you have to look at it from the customer’s point of view, the pain points, selling benefits and not just features. So that entire mind shift definitely was very beneficial for us.
RYAN: And looking back, I think that’s the point at which I also became interested in the business. As a data scientist, I never thought I could sell products or venture into e-commerce entrepreneurship. But once I saw that the business was formulaic, and based on procedures, analyzing data and keyword analysis, I was sold!
And so that’s when you and I started having really late nights of diving down rabbit holes of keywords, search terms, rankings and everything to do with listing optimization which totally changed our approach to Amazon.
DAVID: Yeah, definitely!
RYAN: Since you’ve started selling what has been the most challenging part of the process for you?
DAVID: The order with which we did things was maybe a bit backwards, the fact that we launched then learned after, posed a couple of hiccups along the way. And the most challenging thing at that point was, after doing Amy’s course, when we realized that there was no demand for this product specifically on Amazon.
You can’t really create demand, and we still had about 500 units that we had to sell. So that became kind of the most challenging thing when we first started selling. We had to figure out how we were going to sell those last 500 units at least at breakeven point to try and get some of the money we invested back.
RYAN: I have to agree, realizing that we still had a lot of inventory to sell and finding a way to make it all work out for the better was challenging ‘cause like you mentioned, there’s always a doubt in the back of your mind questioning if you can really do this. But until you actually launch those products and know that they’re successful, there’s always gonna be doubt.
DAVID: Yeah especially because you are expecting a return on investment, like the hours we spent working and all the excel sheets and systems we created and we still made no profit for the time that we put in.
RYAN: I was just going to say I remember many late nights where we stayed up until midnight building these crazy Excel sheets to do a lot of the analytics for us. We were so hard pressed for time, with full time jobs and using time we could’ve spent with family to build these processes instead, getting to see them in motion was a very fulfilling part of the journey. And I guess that leads into the next question, which is what has been your biggest wins since then or what was the most satisfactory part of this journey?
DAVID: We kind of define our goals as we move along. So the initial goal was to get live, get my brand out there. From there we wanted to break even, and then we said, can we take our learnings and launch new products that will actually make us money, then we launched two different products. And both of them were a success, right? And then, we hit the first 10,000 a month mark, and we were impressed.
Then we set the next goal and said, let’s make 100,000 in a month, we hit that mark and now we’re aiming even higher.
But the funny thing is that the most satisfactory part of that entire process wasn’t even the financial success, even though that helps. But it was validating our process, the fact that we had designed and thought of this from all the different courses, research and lessons. That’s been the most satisfactory part because it gives us the confidence to launch more products with bigger initial orders because we have confidence in our strategy and approach towards the business.
RYAN: What do you think our top goal is with the Amazon business now?
DAVID: I think we concluded that we just want burger parties. Like you know how we always celebrate with some barbecue burgers.
RYAN: Yeah! Every time we hit a milestone, I’m sending a I’m at Dave’s front door with burger patties and buttons ready to go.
DAVID: Because we want to challenge ourselves, for the next goal, we want to do a million dollars revenue in 30 days. I know it sounds crazy and it’s crazy for us too but then we realized it’s just numbers, we can work these numbers backwards. And so we did, then used that Excel sheet that guides us.
And we asked ourselves how many skewers are going to need to sell to meet our goal, and how many units are those going to have to sell a day or a month? And at what price point? And then we just worked backwards. And we realized that it might be achievable, so we’re going to try and make a million in 30 days before the end of this year.
RYAN: My past self from a year ago would have thought that this is crazy. But one of the things I’ve learned about this whole process is setting your goals high, because the worst thing that can happen is you achieve them. Set that bar higher, because you’re gonna reach for it, and chances are you’ll make it. A year ago I would have never dreamed that we would have hit 10k in a month, 50k a month or 100k in a month, it’s unbelievable but it’s not impossible.
DAVID: Especially when we were selling one unit a day right back at the beginning.
RYAN: Exactly! And it’s hard. Back when we launched these two new products, as you said, we were still thinking small. And gradually we said okay, we need to think big with these products. Once we started doing that the results followed
DAVID: Yeah exactly! That’s it. You just have to continue giving back. We’ve been lucky enough to be invited to all these different mastermind groups to meet and engage with different people. They saw our work and we started exchanging info with them ‘cause it was valuable and we saw that it was helping people.
Now we’re actually turning our process documents into a side business where we can sell the info. There’s so much valuable data out there, especially on Amazon and others platforms like helium 10, but it’s not always presented in the easiest way to gain to understand and absorb, so we just cleaned it up, and turned it into this awesome and comprehensible portfolio of Excel sheets to help other sellers.
RYAN: Alright, if you were to do this all over again, would you do anything differently?
DAVID: Get a treadmill. I gained some weight doing online sales. It’s lonely here.
RYAN: Get a standing desk.
DAVID: Yeah I should get a standing desk! So what would I have done differently? I think I would have changed my approach, I would have done Amy’s course before selecting my products. But obviously I didn’t know about Amy’s course back then, and I didn’t even know about keywords or listing optimization, and all that.
But now we know not to pick products unless we know that there’s a demand for it, we now know that the keywords validate it, the search volume validates it, and we need to be unique enough, or talk to the customer enough to differentiate ourselves for a successful product. And like I said, we’ve proven that our method works, so we have three new products that we’re gonna launch in two weeks. We’re super excited to validate that again. But that’s the only thing I would do differently, just change the order of events.
RYAN: Yeah, absolutely. I have to agree with that keyword research from the get go. And just understanding that you can’t create a search volume on Amazon. You have to let what people are searching for and all those keywords dictate that decision for you instead of following your heart. Although listening to a healthy amount of your gut might be helpful sometimes. So, where do you see FBA going in the years to come?
DAVID: It’s hard to say but I do see a shift, Amazon is now focusing more on brands. So I definitely think registered brands are going to get a lot more rights, privileges, and attention from Amazon, which is a good thing because we’ve had so many problems with hijackers, and counterfeits now that we’re successful. So I actually favor that anticipated shift.
But I think it’s important to set up a solid customer base, have a good solid brand going, a brand story, products that line up with that brand and cement yourself so that you can prevent big time sellers from coming in. Because you know, Wall Street is getting the attention of Amazon small FBA businesses and they’re putting a lot of money in so there’s gonna be a lot of money coming into different niches.
So just getting your foothold in there and not just trying to compete on a small level, but trying to get scaled up big enough, maybe through some funding to actually get a nice foothold in your niche.
So Ryan, is there anything you would say to new sellers coming in since you joined me when I was already halfway into the industry? So what would you say now to someone else starting out?
RYAN: I feel like when you start out, there’s a lot of voices. And I think we’ve all experienced that you can find many people in the Amazon world, in the forums and on YouTube. But, you need to find the voices that you trust for each of the areas. Amy is one of those voices, when it comes to listing optimization, and a lot of the Amazon basics, Amy is a great voice for that. So my advice is, find those voices that you trust, and let them guide you. And don’t be afraid to hire your good buddy, because then you guys can do it together.
DAVID: For sure. And I would say the same thing. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Other people have been there and learned. So pay for their knowledge. If you don’t pay for that knowledge, you’re going to pay for mistakes, and they can be way pricier. So don’t be scared to invest your money in learning from the right people.
But don’t forget to do your background checks to see if they’re the right deal. If they align with your thought process then learn as much as you can and just go live because the real learning begins when you go live and ignore the voices. Even successful 7 figure entrepreneurs like us still have those voices. Our goal is eight figures by next year and we’re still doubting every step of the way. And we have imposter syndrome all the time. It’s crazy but it’s normal. So enjoy it.
RYAN: Exactly! And That’s it from us today guys, thanks for having us!
AAH: All right! Thank you guys for your awesome input.
And hat’s it for this second edition of Seller Portrait. We want to thank David and Ryan for being part of the Amazing at Home community and sharing their story.
If you’d like to be featured on seller portraits, please send us an email (amazingathome.com/contact) .
Leave us a comment about what inspired you most about David and Ryan’s story.