19 Mar How Best Friends Grew a $15 Million Dollar Business as The Perfect Business Partners: Nick Young & Fernando Cruz of Seller Tradecraft, FBA Amazon Sellers
Nick Young and Fernando Cruz, a perfect duo taking on the world of Amazon and E-commerce. They’ve been running private label selling on Amazon FBA channels and have been able to scale to a healthy 8 figure business. They are hosts of one of the largest Amazon Sellers facebook group and provide a ton of value into the community and space.
Take a dive into why these two best friends partnered up with each other and have been able to achieve the same goals and dreams together. In near perfect synergy to dominating the Amazon world, learn about why they started their journey and hearing about the ups and downs that they had to go through.
Eric: Alright, well thank you guys for joining on my podcast. This is Eric Chen of the Y Factor. So, today I have Fernando Cruz and Nick Young love to have you guys introduce yourself and give a synopsis or summary of what you guys do in terms of business and then can dive a little deeper.
Fernando: Yeah, so we’re primarily like sellers like on Amazon. We’ve been at it for about four years. Nick and I go way back to the college days, but primarily what we do is we identify like high-margin items that have a relatively low competition and then we’ll actually source those from overseas. Usually China and then import them to the United States and then get them to rank on Amazon.
So we’re usually like in the top few for every, for all the major keywords.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, and so we have like 250 skus now that we sell across like US Canada and the UK, but I mean going back a little bit like Fernando now, you mentioned we know each other in college. He was actually my big bro in college, so we were both in the same business fraternity. Best friends, we partied together all the time and then we actually took our like our first startup job together. So we both were like working corporate out of college and we’re like, you know what this really sucks. And and then we were just like G chatting like not working all day.
It’s like G chatting…
Eric: while you guys are at work.
Nick: Yeah, exactly we’re like this blows like we need to find something different and I just discovered TechCrunch at that time and so I remember sending it to him. I don’t know if you’d heard about it before that, but like we were just talking about it and we just started blindly applying to all the startups in LA and then, you know, finally a couple like a couple months later one of them reaches back out to us and we both interview for him, both got it and then
Eric: were there two positions for that job or…?
Fernando: It was, ok it was three, so it was the most intense like interview process ever. So the way it worked is you like submit your resume and get a callback and you’d get like a phone screening. Yeah, then like I think it was like another in-person interview and then you were invited to apply this like two week training, so it was like two weekends eight hours a day and they run in 10 people and it was like Survivor like we’re like in the beginning they’re like only three of you will get offers.
And I look around the whole team is white and then we’re like the only two Asian people and we’re like we’re f**ked. They’re only taking one like yeah, and then yeah so we competed and then yeah, it was brutal, but like two got offers one more person, but this is for a hundred percent sales commissioned roll.
So I was coming from Finance, so I was like making like a pretty solid salary. Yeah, to like making like 20 to 25 grand a year, it was brutal.
Nick: We’re getting paid like 25 or $30 like a close. I mean, you know, like a lot of our friends that we were crazy at the time because this is before startups were big, but honestly, it was like the best decision we ever made because we realized early on that like we need to think long-term about like if we want to start a business and that’s something that we really like we gravitated towards then we need to learn from people who are doing it and like, you know, Tim Ferriss is like one of our like just shining stars in terms of like our true compass.
And I remember like we emailed [00:03:00] him one time. He’s like, you know what just follow an entrepreneur that you believe in and then that’s kind of something we took to heart and so that’s always been part of our journey and we went from startup to startup and eventually just you know reconnected. I mean, we always kept in touch but just said, hey, I think we’re ready to start a business, let’s do it.
He’s like Fernando’s like down typical Fernando fashion down. Ha-ha so it was (Fernando) start a company. Ha-ha.
Eric: So part of that whole journey, is that you guys left corporate and then went into a straight sales job sales commission, right? So I mean, how long did you guys stay in that job?
Fernando: Well, the company failed after a year so our decision was made for us. But yeah, it was cool. Like I mean we’re there for like three months like I mean this company went from employees of 15 16 or so. It scaled to like 70 people in a year, so we saw that transition.
Yeah, which was cool and we learned yeah some things to do some things not to do a lot of things not to do and so then we both went off to separate companies.
Like Nick went to TaskUs, I went to Any Perk so a pretty fast growing company that just came out of Y Combinator in San Francisco.
Eric: Oh wow. Okay, so I mean you were up in the bay for a little while two years starting. Yeah the startup world. And so I guess at what point in your guy’s life, you know going through all of these startups, like what was that deciding factor, that trigger moment if you guys to say hey, yeah, let’s go start a company together.
Nick: I mean, I think for me like a big part of it was, you know, I’d been there for two three years now at this company and I had a lot of autonomy a lot of responsibility and you know, I built a lot of different things. So number one, I had a lot of confidence now in my ability to just build things from scratch, you know, like in a startup you have this amazing opportunity to just like, you know be told to do something and you’re just given full freedom and creativity to do it.
So I’d done that enough times to feel confident in my ability, but more importantly, I knew like if I stay in this company and went to the next step, I’d get paid like a marginal bit more. Yeah, but I’d be so much more stressed and it wouldn’t be my own company. So in my own mind, I was like look if I’m gonna be this stressed, I’d rather be my own company that that was my perspective going into it and I was like, you know what I’ve always wanted to start a business now is the best time let’s just do it and that was my perspective.
Eric: Yeah and to give I guess the audience a kind of background. What was that as timing or timeframe to say like two years is enough three years is enough like how like was that in? 2012-2013?
Nick: Well we started 2014 is 2014 that we started at. Okay. so after two years it was two years.
Eric: Ok, and then what about you Fernando? Fernando: So for me, a little different like AnyPerk like, I like an awesome like really really awesome experience in terms of like I was employee number two. We had like no product no customers like nothing like the CEO was living in Japan over the first six months. So he flew from Japan to like greet me on my first day and then was like we need customers. And like that was it like literally the and I was like whoa and he’s like, yeah, you’re in charge of like making the company like successful and it was just like he’s like I’m taking care of the tech and you have to like build it.
I was like, whoa, so yeah, so it was like an amazing process for two years like, you know, figure out like, okay what Partners do I bring on? Like, how do I clients? Like how do we like a build a recruiting team and then like marketing customer support? So I handled all of that over like the two years and we ended up scaling to like 50 people and then I was like okay yeah for sure. Like I can do this.
Eric: So you basically were put in a position to basically run an entire company almost from scratch yourself.
Fernando: Yeah with another buddy who I actually had dinner with last night but yeah, the two of us like we had two sides of the business and then like is just go nuts. Eric: And that was before you guys started your Amazon journey.
Nick & Fernando: Yep. Yeah.
Eric: So that in itself. I mean would you guys tell people that you should really get this type of hands-on experience in terms of building a business or is it something people should work on a side hustle first while they’re working corporate or their job or is it to just go all in?
Nick: Uh I mean, I think it depends on your situation, you know what I mean, I think it depends on your appetite for risk and just how much you need to validate yourself.
Before like being comfortable taking that jump and I think like, uhm you know, my perspective is that I mean not to offend people who have MBAs or whatever my perspective is that like (they suck) look I mean as an entrepreneur if you want to start a business is kind of a waste of time, right? Yeah, you’re in school when really the best way to learn to start a business is actually hands-on experience.
So why not learn that on someone else’s dime and there’s plenty of opportunity out there of people like us or people in our situation where it’s like, yeah, we could use additional help. We might not pay you much but that experience that you’re going to get is going to pay off in the long run and I think you know, that’s what you got to think about.
I think you know, a lot of people that I know, you know, they won’t they wish they had done something like taking the step that we did, but the problem was that they weren’t willing to make a lateral move into a lower paying job in a situation that would have been better suited for them for the long term.
And so I think you know if you’re considering that you’re like look I’m afraid to like take a lifestyle cut. Maybe you just don’t want to actually start a business badly enough, you know, and that that was like I think something that was really clear to us from the get-go. Yeah. I think like the earlier in your life that you can take like a big moment of risk like the easier it is because I think a lot of people will make that like transition like later on in life.
Like when they’re like, you know, I’m not even passionate about this like I’m going to do a complete 180 or I’m gonna go back to school and try to figure it out, but I think because we did it when we were so young, we were used to being like oh shit like I like can’t like spend as much money going out and like all the money that I’d saved in finance like is covering my like day-to-day expenses like my rent because I’m making so little like in the startup, but I think if you like get accustomed to that earlier verses like when you have kids or like you’re married and all that kind of stuff you just like you’re used to that like a feeling of uncertainty it makes it [00:09:00] way easier to start a company.
Totally and like yeah going back to like whether you should join a startup or not. Like I think it really to me it boils down to like, can you learn like on your own or like ask for help when you don’t know something because I think luckily for us like a lot of our best friends are entrepreneurs.
So like we are not shy about hitting them up and being like, can we get dinner? Like can you tell me how to build my Instagram or like social media or whatever? And I mean that is like a huge thing like, you know being like humble enough to be like hey, there’s somebody better than me at this and I want to learn as much as I can so that I can go and like execute quickly.
Yeah. Yeah, I think you know, I really want to touch on the point that you mentioned about risk taking early on because I think that’s so important. I mean just to get perspective like, you know Fernando mentioned that we didn’t have the jobs at that first start up that we work at is because they laid us off.
They literally brought in all sales marketing and we’ve just gotten promoted like maybe a month and a half beforehand right? Finally we got promoted. We have a great salary like we’re in these good positions. We have a decent amount of equity, we’re going to be [00:10:00] millionaires and then like like a month and a half later, they place us in a room calling a strategy meeting and just let go the entire sales marketing team.
Eric: This is the strategy. Yeah. (All three joke about the Marketing strategy).
N&F: Yeah so we got let go and it’s like, you know, I remember at that same time, it was a period where I got like go from this job that I loved, you know, I broke up with my girlfriend of four years, you know like and you know and Fernando ended up getting a job to move up to Nor Cal and it was like a terrible time in my life it was really tough, but I feel like when I recovered from that that was so important to me because I end up working at this company, TaskUs, and it was amazing and it just like it made me experience this big part of my life where I got everything taken away, but it also just came back and I think the more comfortable you are with the reality which is, you know, you’ll be okay no matter how shitty the situation is.
Then I think that really just builds into your character as an entrepreneur later down the line and I think if you avoid that, I mean I think you’re just, you know, you’re just afraid to pull off a scab and I mean that’s not really doing a service to you. Yeah, I think that’s a that’s a great analogy.
Eric: So I what would you tell people you know for them to risk losing things like to give them some perspective? How long is that recovery period is it you know, was it painful for you for two months one month two weeks three months six months like what was that recovery process for you to really get your stuff together?
Nick & Fernando: I mean, I think you know resilience is very dependent on the person but I think it’s always shorter than you think it will be. Yeah, you know, I mean that’s been my experience and so, you know, the human spirit is just naturally as long as you accept your situation, you know at some point you’ll be like, okay, you know what I’m over being upset. I’m over being sad. I just got to move forward and just accept it and you kind of grow bigger around the issue and then you grow around it. And that’s really just how you build character and build, you know, yeah just build that really resilience.
Eric: Basically that just have to keep falling and falling to..
Nick: You have to move through it
Eric: thicker skin right.
N&F: Yeah, you can’t move around it you to move through it and I think that’s you know a lesson that we carry through even in our business like, you know, a couple years ago, we have this cash crunch in our business, right and we literally have to lay off like most of our employees in the US and it was really embarrassing because you know, a lot of our friends, you know, they were like, oh, yeah, you guys are doing well blah blah and revenue-wise we’re doing well, but we’re literally losing money every single month.
Fernando: And this wasn’t that long after we threw a massive party. Yeah, but really there with all of our friends. It was called “we’re still in business” like that was like the party because like it was only two of us in the time. So we’re like oh shit. Everyone’s throwing Christmas parties like what do we do just like go eat dinner the two of us that actually you know, what we’re just gonna like rent a mansion and throw a massive party.
Yeah, with like DJs, a photographer like 250 people like unlimited alcohol
Eric: so all out
N&F: it was stupid ridiculous, but not that long later like six months later like we were nearly insolvent, you know, like that’s like how bad it was and we had to make some really hard decisions and I’m like, there’s so many times where on the phone we’re like dude what are we going to do?
Like we were so scared, but you know what like we made the right decisions, we like prioritize and like we worked through it and honestly, I mean it made us such better entrepreneurs totally and it’s like I almost like welcome those situations now I mean obviously like it’ll be really bad when it happens (unknown chatter) you can welcome it, I don’t… I’m haha but I mean, it’s made us way more careful, but it’s really trained us, you know, and I think with any human experience if there is like a negative side to it, you just gotta enjoy it for the lesson that it is, you know, and then you become a better person for it.
Yeah, I think one of the interesting things is that like really early on when like before I even found Amazon like when we’re like trying to build our own website and we were like losing money super super quickly. We were both super committed to being entrepreneurs like I remember like we were talking about it and we’re like, okay, you know at the very worst we can drive for Uber and like we ended up doing that like at night and then it was just like a real like commitment.
It was like, okay like, you know, maybe could bartend at night or whatever. Like Nick was like, well my mom lives close by we can like go live there. I’m sure she’ll be really stoked and we’ll eat for free and like, I mean we were just like, all right, like we’re doing this until we figure it out because like if we go back and like get jobs and stuff like that like it’s not going to be like the same and so.
There’s no doubt in our minds that like if we just kept at it long enough that we would figure it out. And I think that’s like that’s the resilience that we got from working in a start-up right like seeing results from our work, but like I think then the question became for us like, okay well, how long do we have until that happens? You know, and that’s where you know, we started this e-commerce like Shopify site did not work for six months you remember those times and then we had to change because we literally were bleeding money. And then we’re like no we need to focus on making money now.
Yeah, that’s when everything changed. It’s a really is a passion project. Yes, like, you know, like this is something that we really care about and this will be awesome and everything else but when it didn’t make money like the market didn’t respond like you can you know continue to bulldoze through and hopefully like make it work or you can be a little more practical and be like, kind like what Mark Cuban says right, like you know sales cures everything and that was like the thing, we decided to actually create products because we realized that if we created products, we could choose the distribution where before we were trying to be a Marketplace and that was a lot more difficult.
Eric: Yeah, so I want to go back earlier to what you said about you guys really had the idea of just pursuing entrepreneurship. Right? And I wanted to ask you what your definition of Entrepreneurship is in the first place like whether that was the lifestyle or business.
Like, how did you how did you guys define that to even know this is something your chasing.
N&F: To me, like entrepreneurship is when you take like a financial risk for your career. So like if you’re like a musician you like quit your job in corporate and you’re like, I’m going to try to be a musician like to me that’s like entrepreneurial like you’re an entrepreneur because you’re letting go of stuff like your financial security and you’re going after what you’re pursuing whether ya it’s Tech or you know a food truck or whatever like I think as long as you’re taking that financial risk to to make income in a way, that’s not like secure whatever like I think you’re an entrepreneur. Yeah, I mean, I think I agree uh and I think also for me personally entrepreneurship is kind of like it’s like the Matrix taking the red pill or the blue pill, you know, I think a lot of people walk through their lives like just going to work and thinking like that’s what they need to do every single day you know clock in clock out.
I need to make money and there’s nothing wrong with that. But you know, I think the reason why I love Tim Ferris so much is because I remember wanting to be a finance person wanting to be in I-Banking and not even thinking like the only reason why I want to do it is because I would make money it was a prestigious job.
I didn’t even pull back to think about okay, well how much am I actually making per hour and am I going to have the freedom to do the things that I want to do, you know, and I think entrepreneurship to me is a vehicle for being able to really pull back and actually design your life in the way that you want to do it.
Yeah, you know and that to me was a beautiful thing about it was like when I read that book which I highly recommend the 4-Hour work week. I think it’s pretty common knowledge now, but it was almost like a spiritual awakening. You know what I mean like like I discovered like Jesus or something and I was like, oh my God, like I’m thinking about life completely wrong and that was like mind shift.
Eric: So yeah I read that book as well. Right? And that’s also what led me on to this journey to pursue entrepreneurship. So when he did talk about that it was the comparison between being an I-Banker making a ton of money, but you’re working a hundred twenty hours a week right compared to a teacher and if you’re you know dividing up the numbers and they have three months summer break, you know how much you know, is the I-Banker making more compared to the teacher when you have three months of vacation technically.
So I mean for for you guys having to pursue, you know, a finance job right out of college because of the prestige because it was a good job. I mean, what was that turning point or thought process for you to say, you know what it’s okay if I become an Uber driver to pursue what I want or it is okay for me to be a bartender or just choosing some occupation or making that sacrifice to not have that prestigious name or job or title compared to you know, comparing yourself to other people.
Fernando: I think for me it was about like not getting too comfortable because like when I left anywhere I was like head of sales, so like for sure easily if we were like, when we’re starting the company if I just went and did like, you know a head of sales Consulting role or something like that. I could have made a ton of money and not like worried about it, but then I would just be like falling back to like working for somebody else. And so to me like the goal was not to make as much money like it was just like do like Uber or like be a bartender something that I don’t want to do.
Like for the long term to like motivate me more to make the company like like more successful faster like to wake up earlier to stay up later till I get it done because I think if you end up like kind of going kind of back it’s like kind of hooking up with your ex girlfriend, that’s probably not.. (laughter) . But you know what I mean, it’s like you’re not moving (laughter). You’re not moving forward towards like where you should be going if…
Eric: you’re going back with your ex-girlfriend.
Fernando: Yeah, if you’re going back with your ex-girlfriend, you’re not. It’s a bad habit, right? It’s a bad habit. That’s exactly right.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, uhm I think you’re totally right and and like so let me just make sure I understand your question you’re asking like at what point was a turning point where it’s like, you know what I don’t care what people think I’m going to go ahead and do what I want to do exactly.
You know, I don’t I think it definitely helped to have Fernando right like to have him go to our first job together. That was like, you know, I think that made things a lot easier we were in it together. But I think at the same time, I don’t know like that’s a really hard question to answer but you know, I think like I had just read enough books about like compound interest, you know, like can’t like just compounding good decisions and realizing that like, you know, the most successful people I think are the ones that think really long term and really focus on the true outcome of what you want, you know, and I and I think the, you know the Tim Ferris thing just helped me realize like, okay, well like why do I want that like his prestige like a good reason to want something, you know, and if at the end of the day, I have all this freedom like I think actually that was the moment where I was just like, okay, what do I actually value, and what do I think other people value? And do I actually care about those things that other people I expect other people want for me and I realized I don’t even care what this other person is doing.
Why does it matter what they think of what I do because they’re mostly thinking about themselves and I think that was like the turning point for me where I was like, I want to prioritize what I want from me not what I think other people want from me.
Fernando: Yeah, I think one other big thing I forgot to mention is like yeah when I like first graduated from school, I basically just like travelled. I took out like a student loan and then used it to like travel for like five months and just like kind of come back for a little bit and like leave again.
So I went like all over the world and then like and I’d come back. I was in Australia working as a bartender for like two months and then I had like all these groups of friends and everything and like leaving back to go work in finance, and then like that job sucking and I was like, oh man, like what did I do? Like I should have stayed in Australia it was way more fun, so I think entrepreneurship was kind of like a vehicle of going back to that like lifestyle because I knew that if I continued like down this route of finance and it’s all the people like that were like at the top and they didn’t look any happier.
Like they didn’t look like they had like great relationships with their like friends and like family and maybe cause it was just like a job that like paid really well and I was like damn like that is not what I want for myself.
Eric: So compromise wouldn’t be the right word to use but more of you found the balance of being responsible while still having fun, right and that’s essentially what you came back to.
Fernando: Right right
Eric: Got it. So I did want to ask you a question because Nick earlier you mentioned like, you know, a lot of what helped you pursue this business or lifestyle is also because of Fernando right for him being there being part of the startup. How important is it for someone who is starting out to just be on you know, a solopreneur type journey, is it really important to have a team or friends to support you?
Like what’s your guy’s opinion on I know you guys work very closely together for pretty much every aspect of your life. Your girlfriend’s even make fun of you guys saying that you guys are together more than you are with them.
Fernando: Yeah, because it’s true
Nick: but I would say look. I mean, I can’t speak for being a solopreneur.
I have friends that are solopreneurs and it’s really tough. I mean, it’s certainly possible. Obviously, there’s so many circumstances where that’s happened. Right? But you know, I think having a business partner makes things just so much easier during those dark periods. And I think like, you know, there’s one thing I always talk about when people ask me this question and you know a lot of times when you’re growing as a company and you’re making I mean in order to grow you have to make big decisions, right and you know, having a business partner means the difference of being able to make a $50,000 decision versus $300,000 decision because if you’re a solopreneur and you might lose $300,000 and you’re risking $300,000 thousand dollars, you might not take that risk because you’re like, you know what I can’t afford it.
But if you’re with someone else you’re like screw it. We’re both involved. We’ll both figure it out. You know what I mean? And it’s that partnership that inherent intertwined future that you’re like, you know, what we can dig ourselves out of this hole two times faster so we can make decisions that are like two times four times five times as big and I think that’s really like the key and and not to mention like, you know, the decisions that we make we argue like all the time like I mean like all the time, but we’re totally cool like, you know afterwards if it’s really heated we’ll just be like, dude, you know I love you and we’ll just hug, you know, and like I think at the end of day, it’s no hard feelings. It’s really what’s at the best for the business and what’s best for the business is what’s best for us, you know, and I know for me I get more emotional Fernando. He’s very like cool and level-headed.
Nick: And so I mean we just balance each other out, you know, and I think you know, it also flips another decision to but yeah, I’m personally really grateful.
Fernando: Yeah same I mean there’s just no way like, I mean we definitely have like our personalities and that like manifest in different ways, but it’s like it’s really really important I think to have that balance because I’m usually like go go go and like, you know, like really like I guess aggressive and then Nick is like way better at just being like all right. Well, like let’s like slow down, let’s like think about it more and like and then I’ll end up thinking about it a lot more about like, okay well, what do I need like exactly to do it, but I’m like usually just so excited. And so I think that like balance is incredibly important for a business because like I’m sure we would have made a ton of mistakes if we didn’t like have Nick and I’m like there’s a lot of ideas that we might not have executed on if it wasn’t for me.
Fernando: and I think like that part is this huge like yeah, like Nick said, like we have friends are solo entrepreneurs and like my hat’s off to them like it’s hard like there’s like when things are going great, you know, you’re a genius and like that’s fine, but when things like aren’t going as well as you planned like having somebody there that’s like in the trenches with you is like it’s more than just like them like being a smart person and help you through it.
It’s just knowing that somebody’s there with you.
Nick: So huge.
Nick: I mean, you know that moment we had to lay off our employees. I remember just sitting in a bar with Fernando and we we’re just drinking like just looking at the view of downtown. We were like dude, we’re so fucked like you know, but but but he was like, you know what I mean, we’re both fucked together. So it’s like at least I have company, you know, like and like that just makes it so your attitude on dealing with the situation is better. I know personally I’m extremely hard on myself way more than probably Fernando and like it would be really difficult for me to deal with like going through that.
I might not even like have continued on you know, but knowing that for Fernando was there really just you know gives me. You know, we can hold our own experience together. And so yeah, I mean, I think it’s very very powerful. And if you’re asking like should people have a business partner, I would say I mean if you can have one do it, you know and talk about it early on because Fernando and I this isn’t our first rodeo like we, you know, we tried starting like an iPhone case company long time ago.
That did not work out. I ended up having to sell like a bunch of like the the cases to you know someone else for like a discount, but you know, we kept trying, you know kept trying different things. And we you know, it just kind of naturally made us and when we decide to start a business it was like, yeah, I mean, we’ve been kind of planning this all along even though we never really formally talked about it.
Eric: Yeah, you bring up a great point which that leads into the next question on really the number of failures, right? How many times have you fallen? Uhm, and how many times have you gotten back up? So like how many projects or companies or things have you guys worked on before you guys even finally figured out your stride?
Fernando: Well, like full-time was only one other idea. I think but like just like many projects like I mean, I’ve had I don’t know 15 like mini little projects like from probably high school till now maybe.
But yeah, everything from like a tutoring company to a catering company to like selling stuff from Chinatown to my high school. Like I mean, like knives and lighters and all that stuff like everything since I was a kid. I don’t know if I would could consider them like failures other than margins. But yeah, I mean like nothing like to this skill obviously.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah, I mean. Yeah, I have definitely I think my failures probably just like not finishing like some of the projects that I’ve worked on.
But yeah, I mean, I would guess, you know, the iPhone case company was technically a failure because like I mean, we just didn’t follow through on it, you know what I mean? But I think that also said that like we weren’t at a point in our life where we felt ready to follow through on it.
You know, I’m of the firm belief that like if you really want something you will put yourself in those situations and if you don’t you’re fully responsible. Like you just don’t want it enough.
Fernando: Yeah, I think we exactly we didn’t want it enough at the time. Yeah, we were more excited about the new job because they coincide at the same time as when we both left to the startup.
And so I feel like yeah, if it maybe if we hadn’t joined the startup then we would have made the cellphone company work, but yeah, then came down to like timing and yeah just not prioritizing it.
Nick: Yeah. Yeah. We were relying on equity that never panned out.
Fernando: Yeah, I think yeah, I think it’s like there’s never a good time to start.
You know what I mean? Like you hear all the time in our friend group. It’s like oh, I’m about to get married, so I need to plan the wedding or like, oh like, you know, I’m about to move apartments so it’s not a good time or I’m about to have a kid. So like I need to save and it’s like it never gets easier.
Like, you know what I mean? You’re making that hard decision later on in life. When you have more bills more like recurring expenses, like all that kind of stuff. And yeah, I think for those like if you. Like if you really want it, then you should like publicize it and like post it on Facebook and I get that like social like get a bunch of people to fucking like it and then basically like make them hold you accountable because I think if you’re like look by this point, I’m going to do this.
I’m gonna launch like 20 podcast episodes where I’m going to sell 5000 shirts, whatever it is, and then if like then when you go see friends they’re gonna ask you about it, and if you haven’t done shit like you’re going to feel really bad. And like but you need that like motivation because I hear all the time I get messages like hey, like, can you help me with this and it’s like, ok what have you done?
And then if you haven’t done anything in your first your first like inclination is to reach out for like just to get help then like you’re not really being an entrepreneur right. You’re just like you’re following somebody else’s like steps and like I think as an entrepreneur you have to like kind of at some points pave your own way and I think the earlier you learn to do that like the better you’ll be off.
Nick: Totally. Yeah, and you know, it’s interesting because I think Fernando is really good at like externalizing failure. Right? And I think like for me I internalized failure and I think we approach it differently. We found a different way to cope with moving forward on failure right, and I think for me it’s like realizing that failure is part of the process and that kind of training myself to like love it and enjoy it.
You know what I mean like to train myself during those shitty times to like think okay. You know what? There’s like a going to be a good time on the other side. And just realizing that like, you know, the journey is really the way forward and that’s what you should be enjoying, you know, and so that’s that’s I think that’s what’s really important is that you know, don’t think of it as an end goal it’s constant process and you know entrepreneurship to me is the per-, you know, I think you’re going you know, you asked about why right? Like why to me, my why for entrepreneurship is I don’t think there’s any better vehicle for constantly challenging yourself, whether you’re a musician and you’re just trying to be better at your art and you want to perform at these amazing stages.
Or an entrepreneur and you want to like build a business, you know, there’s something that’s always it’s always going to evolve past something that you’re currently capable of and there is an opportunity for you to move through it by becoming better and that to me I think is like one of the ultimate things about being an entrepreneur, you know.
Eric: Wow. Yeah. I’ve I have not thought about it that way. I’ve always thought that entrepreneurship is just you know, you’re putting a goal in mind for some figure but, in terms of building yourself up evolving yourself and keeping yourself for basically being able to adapt to different situations and really growing yourself as a person and pushing yourself.
I think that is really just the biggest key in terms of how to go about upon this journey. Yeah, totally.
Eric: so I wanted to let you guys talk about you know, how you guys even discovered FBA. What is FBA Amazon or what is it like selling on Amazon and really the journey you guys have gone through in building out your business.
Fernando: Yeah I can start, so I mean the journey was that we originally wanted to create our own website for selling products and we realized that was really really hard working with other brands and trying to find customers and then having to handle the support and then shipping those products and it was just really a nightmare and so transition to Amazon FBA and that’s completely the opposite because they already have the customers that have their credit cards saved.
Amazon FBA is actually like a shipping like a fulfilment network that actually will ship all the products to the customer for you. So you just need to get to them in bulk. And then on top of that, they handle of the majority of the customer support they have like really easy to use advertising platforms. So basically if you think about like all the all the different functions that you would need to create an actual e-commerce company on your own, between like the design and like, you know user acquisition and like your products and like shipping they remove a ton of those variables for you.
And so it makes it really really easy for someone like an entrepreneur to go buy a lot of product in bulk from like a manufacturer get it to Amazon and then basically market that product so taking care of the photography, the listing is a key words and everything else.
Nick: Yeah. I mean I can go into like how we kind of shifted into FBA. So Fernando mentioned that we you know, we basically wanted to start this passion project of like, you know a Shopify site where you know, Fernando would close on brands and I’d like, you know put the Brand’s on our website or whatever and these are brands that we love is based around the audience of Tim Ferriss, right?
And you know, our goal is to get as many subscribers as possible so that we can sell them on products that we bring in but it was just, you know, we were barely make I mean we weren’t making it money we were like getting revenue (both talking) we were losing money 5 to 10 grand a month.
Eric: Yeah, oh wow.
Nick: Getting a lot of users, but we realized we’re like look, we’ve only put in like 20K each. We’re literally going to run out of money very soon. So we need to shift and like we’re banging our heads against the wall. I remember every night at eight o’clock Fernando and I, we just this is when we were working long distance, by the way, so it was tough on our relationship.
He was in NorCal. I was in LA we were (definitely long distance). Yeah. I remember just chugging like three beers after like 8 o’clock just so stressed out because I think deep in my heart, I felt like this is going to be really hard. I don’t know if this is going to work as fast as I want to I’m sure you felt that way too.
And so we were like, you know, what like one of our biggest bottlenecks. It’s just working with brands these brands don’t even have that many followers they’re not even that popular. I remember,
Fernando: Yeah, I was like they’re idiots. Yeah, they’re all idiots.
Nick: Stupid. If you’re watching this, sorry. Yeah ha-ha, yeah, so he’s like, why don’t we start our own brand?
I was like, yeah, maybe maybe we could start, you know, like an underwear brand or something like that like just started thinking about margins. And then one day like an Amazon package comes in and I’m like, you know, what like, why do we even think it? Why are you think about starting like a Shopify when we literally have bought everything in the past like month on Amazon like that doesn’t make sense.
What if we sell on Amazon and instead let’s cut through these brands screw these guys. Let’s take their same product and just cut them on price and because they have a brand to uphold, they’re not going to drop the price. Right? Like let’s say Kirkland. Or not Kirkland, Kirkland’s not a good example. Like Rubbermaid, they’re not going to drop the price on a food container let’s say for example because they need to lock in that price for like retail. And so I was like, you know screw these guys, let’s just go direct and then that’s like when we discovered FBA and then we you know, we’re like, okay, you know what the sounds amazing. Let’s just try and so we actually hired a consultant, who had done FBA before. We found him on Reddit.
We’re like “hey, dude, like will you train us?” Like we’re really willing to learn and then he charged us and then we sourced like four products immediately in the first month. We did more revenue than we had done in the past six months combined and we were like, okay like we need to drop everything like drop, whatever shitty Shopify store we created and just like move it over to Amazon and that’s like yeah, that’s kind of where we started. Yeah.
Eric: Awesome. So I know you guys have been working on Amazon the last few years right and you guys have grown the business from what like seven figures all the way to eight figures now and so I know you guys been working on a course to help other entrepreneurs who are interested in the FBA game selling on Amazon starting a brand, so tell us a little bit more about that.
Fernando: Yeah, so so actually we’re both part of a group like online like 250 sellers that all generate over a million dollars a year and through that we met our buddy Anthony, who you also know and he had built like an amazing like or a really strong community at the time I think it was like 25,000 now, it’s like over 30,000 people.
And so yeah, like I reached out to him were like, hey man, like we’re thinking about creating a course, but it would be way better to do it with you. We all bring like different skill sets and we can really like crush this if we work together and like did Anthony it was like super quick he was like yeah I’m down. (talking over each other) Like are you sure? That was quick!
Everyone: Way too easy.
Fernando: I mean, it’s been awesome what we started I think in maybe mid-December is like when we kind of like had the conversation. He moved out to LA like the first week of January and then so he was hanging out like on my couch for like four months and we were just like working on it running our own businesses, but then also just like coming up with the ideas and like the marketing campaigns and everything and yeah, it’s been a blast. It’s been alive for maybe like seven weeks and it’s been like honestly one of the most rewarding things because like launching, you know, 10/15 products a month like it’s really easy now, we have 50 people like we don’t really need like it’s not like revolutionary anymore like we have a system and then so being able to help like new entrepreneurs and kind of like answering their questions and like watching them be able to like, you know live like, you know, same lifestyle or provide for their families or whatever like help them meet whatever their individual goals is way more rewarding for us than it is for us to launch you a hundred new products and so that’s been a cool change.
Nick: Yeah, people ask us all the time like why why did you do this? Like, you know, why are you sharing your secrets? And I think you get to a point where you know, I remember when we were getting to seven figures right? We were just like holding everything close to our chest.
We’re like, we’re not gonna share this with anyone. Even our friends were like, will you teach us to sell on Amazon were like no like I’m sorry, like we’re not going to why would we teach you and it’s like I think we’ve done it enough to where it’s like, you know, we realize it’s so much about execution and the knowledge is out there.
And you know, I think one of the biggest changes for us, was joining in a community right at being open and sharing in this community and realizing how much it impacted our business and I think like that’s that’s the reason why like were involved now. It’s because you know, I’m not scared about sharing like, I mean, we’re not scared about sharing like our quote on quote secrets.
We just want people to be successful because there’s just so much opportunity out there and you know, it’s just worked out, you know for the better for us and yeah, like Fernando said, it’s just it’s really rewarding.
Eric: Awesome. Yeah, so definitely check out, you know, Fernando and Nick’s course. It’s available online.
I’ll provide the link below. They’re part of a great group called Seller Tradecraft that promotes, you know selling on Amazon. There’s a huge community. I’m a part of it. That’s actually how I even discovered you guys is through Anthony within this community as well. So everyone there’s very helpful. So, thank you guys.