E237: Asia Trip StrategyApril 4, 2019 in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
Dave and I always liken our Asia trip planning to a tumor – it starts small at first but as the travel dates get closer and closer, the anxiety gets bigger and bigger.
We love going to Asia, especially Hong Kong, but there are little idiosyncrasies that make the trip a pain in the rear end. One of these is the internet and everyone who’s been to China knows what I mean.
That’s why Dave and I decided to sit and talk about our upcoming Asia trip. We’ll be talking about our plans and itineraries and tips and strategies to make the trip a lot less stressful. If you’re heading to Asia yourself, you’ll find these tips invaluable.
Some conversation points:
- How to get fast internet in China without using a VPN
- The best way to improve your relationship with your manufacturer
- The importance of meeting up with your remote staff
- Hong Kong mastermind
If you’ll be in Hong Kong on the 26th, you’re free to join us in a meetup we’re doing in the evening. Send us an email to [email protected] to let us know you’re coming.
Thanks for listening! Until the next one, happy selling.
Full Audio Transcript
Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 237 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with me today. I’m recording this intro from Austin, Texas as a part of the EcomCrew roadshow. If you haven’t heard about the EcomCrew roadshow yet, head over to EcomCrew.com/roadshow to find out more about it. It’s basically me traveling around in the RV, and interviewing EcomCrew listeners or entrepreneurs that do ecommerce and trying to help them in a fashion that we’ve done like with the Under the Hood, but on turbo charge mode, in person spending a couple of days in person doing that.
The next stop on the road show is here in Austin, Texas and then on to Dallas, Texas. So again, if you’re interested in doing that anytime in the future, go over to EcomCrew.com/roadshow. And while I’m talking about things to go check out, go over to EcomCrew.com/free. All of our free resources are over there. I haven’t talked about that in a while. But we have several mini courses over there that are 100% free of charge, no credit card, no gimmicks or anything like that, EcomCrew.com/free.
All right, today my buddy, trusted partner in crime David Bryant on the podcast, haven’t had him on for a while. So we just dreamed up something to talk about that we thought you guys might find interesting, which is just what we plan on doing over in Asia over the next couple of months. Personally, I’m going to be gone April 19 through basically the last day or two of May we finally get back to stateside. So it’s a long trip going to China, Hong Kong – sorry I’m not going to China. I’m just used to saying that every time; you have to find out why I’m not going to China this time.
I’m going to Hong Kong, the Philippines, I’m actually going to get to visit Tokyo on the way which is really cool heading over to Miami to speak at Sellers Summit and stuff and then heading to Mexico City. But anyway, all the details of that are in this podcast. So I think you guys are going to enjoy that if you just like following along with what Dave and I are up to in the world and where we’re going to be. So if you don’t find this stuff interesting, the next one will be more impactful. But I do know that a lot of our fans just kind of like an update of what we’re up to, and things of that nature. So that’s what this is really about. And I hope you guys enjoy it.
Mike: This is Mike,
Dave: This is Dave.
Mike: And welcome to this edition of the EcomCrew Podcast. Dave, it’s been a minute since you’ve been on man. I know it’s been about a month. So with you kind of traveling the world now it’s harder and harder to find times that coordinate for us.
Mike: Yeah, but I think we have a good system here. We found this new software that allows us to record our files locally. So the audio is going to be better even if I have bad internet like I do it right now. And hopefully this will work out but we wanted to do a podcast today about our Asia trip because it seems like every six months, Asia is in the forefront of our mind because we’re over there for Global Sources Summit or the Canton Fair. And then typically, what ends up happening is these trips kind of grow like a tumor and become bigger and bigger. And I’m over there for like six weeks this time and want to talk about that. I know you’re over there for a while as well. So what do you think about talking about some Asia strategy?
Dave: Yeah, let’s do it. It’s funny, you mentioned that your trip is six weeks this time because you swore the last time we were in Asia together that you will not be going to Asia ever again for more than a week or two. And I think this is your longest trip over.
Mike: Yeah. Well, so I think that I said China, first of all, I don’t know what it is. I mean, I don’t want to make it sound worse than it is right. I think that I tend to get a little bit crazy when I tell my stories. But the truth is I’d rather not spend time in China. If I could spend time elsewhere, I’d rather be elsewhere. It’s not that bad, though. I mean, it’s little things that drive me crazy about being in China. And by far and away the biggest one is just access to the internet. It drives me crazy, like not readily having fast, free, open whatever internet. And we all run online businesses. So it’s really difficult not having internet.
And I can tell you right now I’m recording this from a remote part in Texas. I have the same feeling right now. So it isn’t China necessarily but when I do get on the internet, at least in this remote part of Texas, it’s not blocked. So I don’t have firewalls.
Dave: Yeah, I think the only solution to that is you have to be roaming at all times in China because if you’re on roaming, then you don’t get censored, and you do get relatively fast internet. So that’s kind of the resolution I’ve come to respect. You have to fork over that two or three times your internet bill for the two or three weeks that you’re over there and just live with it and get inundated, uncensored internet.
Mike: So this time, and we’ll see if this is like a crash and burn or ultimate fail thing but we switched to T-Mobile. We were on AT&T for years. If you’ve listened to this podcast for any length of time, you know that I absolutely hate AT&T. But it wasn’t — I wouldn’t bite up my nose to spite my face kind of thing. It was more whenever we would go over there, it’s $10 a day per person to use the internet with AT&T and with T-Mobile it’s free and it’s included. So I’m hoping that we go over there and the bill isn’t any larger than it typically is on a month while we’re in the United States.
Dave: They’re giving you free roaming in well, anywhere in the world I guess.
Mike: Yes. It’s basically there are certain countries, it’s not everywhere in the world, but it’s China and Hong Kong are included in that it. Yeah, it’s free roaming, you have the same data that you would have back home and we each get 20 gigabytes of personal hotspot data and unlimited just data on our phones. So it should be basically no problem using the internet over there for as long as it’s not blocked. I don’t know, I mean, that was the thing with AT&T. I know that whatever cell network they were picking off of I was getting unblocked internet. So we’ll see what happens with T-Mobile, I might get over there and be really frustrated. But so far, I’m excited about it.
Dave: Yeah, that’s interesting because when we were over in China for about a year, that’s what I did with Google fee at the time. They were pretty much the only cell phone provider that allowed basically free roaming. And it sounded great when we were over there but I think they kept it out at about five gigabytes and after that, it was back to its normal, I think 10 to $20 gigabyte rate. So still worked out to be three $400 bill, but if you’re getting truly unlimited internet over there, I mean, that’s extremely good deal.
Mike: Yeah. So we’ll see. And I’ve just realizing this particular trip, I’m not actually going to be in China, I’m going to be in Hong Kong and Philippines. So we’ll have to test the China part of it later. But I’m going to definitely be in Asian. We’ll see how it goes over there.
Dave: It’s funny, the only country arguably with worse internet than China, the Philippines.
Mike: Yeah, the internet works fine in the office, though. It’s just on the phone and the cab or wherever else that might be, it’s definitely a struggle.
Dave: Yeah, it’s pretty slow.
Mike: I mean, the good news is though, when I’m over there, with the Philippines crew, I mean, if I’m out of the office at a time where I would want to check the internet, all of them are with me, usually. All my employees are with me, we will be out at lunch or dinner or something and I’m not really wanting to check the internet that exact moment anyway. So it works out, it’s not really that big of a deal for us.
Dave: Yeah, well, I mean, away from the internet or at least good internet for a couple of weeks isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
Mike: I don’t know about that. So let’s talk about the strategy, I mean, how things have evolved. I mean, I know for me, when I first started out going to Asia, the strategy for me, was heads down to the grindstone. It was all about nothing but looking for products and for manufacturers, mostly at the Canton Fair, because that’s what we were going and spending our time out. And for me, things have definitely evolved and changed quite a bit since then. And I’m curious how that’s changed for you as well. So I mean, you’re heading over there, you’re actually going to be over there just as long if not longer than I am. Let’s talk about what you’re going over there for, there’s some business or some personal stuff combined. We’ll just kind of talk about all that so people can kind of get a feel for what you’re doing.
Dave: Sure. So no, I’m not really anywhere close to as long as you are, I’m not crazy. We’re only over there for about two and a half weeks. So I think we leave on April 13 and come back at the end of April, so not nearly as long as you. And like usual, when we go over there, normally I’m going over there with my wife and our daughter and half of the time is going to be visiting family and our family lives in Beijing. And Beijing is one of those funny cities where the first time or two you go to Beijing, you absolutely hate it, but over time, it really grows on you. So, I used to absolutely being in Beijing, but now I actually look forward to it. It is kind of the cultural capital of China.
I don’t know if this feels more authentic than any other city in China. So yeah, we’re there for a week. And I definitely don’t have any problem spending a week in Beijing now, maybe a year would be a different story. But yeah, we take it away from this visit family, and then from there I’ve strategically planned where our suppliers are, and I strategically tried to have a couple of suppliers actually based in Beijing. Now they’re not actually manufacturing in Beijing, but they have offices in Beijing. So at least I’m able to go visit the office staff there, the sales reps, some of the other reps there, talk to them, have lunch with them, visit them in person and like you know Mike, when you get together in person at this, things get resolved so much quicker than hearing things through email, or even WeChat or even the phone, just being face to face with them expedites everything enormously.
Mike: Yeah. So I’m curious, you said you used to kind of hate going to Beijing but now you like it, what’s changed? What specifically changed your frame of mind with that?
Dave: Well, I think after you travel around China so much, and especially if you’re doing sourcing in China, you’re going to a lot of these basically factory cities. And anyone who’s ever been to kind of a factory city in China knows that they’re not the most pleasant cities to be in very often, even more port in Beijing. It’s just a lot of industry going everywhere. And even some of the other cities like Shanghai and Guangzhou, they’re relatively new cities with not necessarily a lot of history and most of the population is actually not originally from those cities. They both kind of traveled in from their regions.
So this has kind of a, I don’t want to say phony, but I guess not authentic feel where Beijing I don’t know, there’s as every Beijing wall will remind you when you’re there, there’s 5,000 years of history in Beijing. So there’s a long history, and it just kind of feels like the center of China. I guess, the equivalent would be for America is that Washington, DC is kind of the heart of America, arguably, maybe in New York. But if you haven’t visited those two cities, it’s kind of hard to get a pulse for what American culture is. And I think Beijing is kind of the same thing.
Mike: Mm-huh, yeah, it makes sense. And in Shanghai, or not Shanghai, I think actually Shanghai, because I’ve been to Shanghai. I haven’t been to Beijing. I feel like Shanghai has a lot of cultural properties to it. It’s not as new as Guangzhou. Guangzhou to me has almost like a similar to like a Russian — it doesn’t have the same feel but just similar to like a Russian feel of just like it’s just beautiful. There’s been cities I’ve been to in Russia where just like — it’s like the buildings are like all the same, Poland was like that. There was a period where that was communist control. They just put up a whole bunch of buildings look the same that doesn’t really have a lot of…
Mike: Culture, character is probably, yeah exactly. But I tell you what’s changed for me? Because the reason I ask this question because I used to feel the same way. I actually didn’t really enjoy going over there and I enjoy it more and more each time. And the thing for me that has made it more enjoyable, number one, we know so many more people now in e-commerce, mostly because of EcomCrew, obviously. But when I go over there, the first time I went over there, I didn’t know a single person, it was hard to even do a meetup and so the nights were kind of lonely and boring. And it was just like the whole thing was just a drag. But now, I spend at least half my time hanging out with other ecommerce people, pretty much like every meal I’m hanging out with somebody, there’s also a bunch of meetups and stuff.
That certainly makes things better. You all kind of commiserate and joke about the show and everything. But also I’m a big relationships guy and I’ve really enjoyed building relationships with the manufacturers. I enjoy going to see them. And once a year, basically, we’re over there and ask them how their family is doing, how things have changed, how their business is doing, hangout and have a few drinks with them, although this year I’m on the no drinking thing, so that’s going to be hard to explain to them especially the way that I carry myself over in China where they get your drunk. But I don’t know, I’ve enjoyed that more and it’s been less of a grind.
And the other thing I was already mentioning internet. The internet situation is way better than when I first went over there. The first time I went over there, I guess it was about four years ago. Even AT&T cell phone was completely blocked. So you’re laughing at me so…
Dave: The internet has improved in China. Well, I’m hopefully I’m wrong. It’s been pretty steadily bad.
Mike: What’s improved to me, at least from the first time I went over there, it was completely blocked the first time I went over there. And I had to use like Express VPN to get around to even on my phone. It was just a struggle the entire time versus the last few trips. I’ve just used my phone as a hotspot. And yeah, it’s expensive as you mentioned but it at least works. And I know that it’s reliable.
Dave: Yeah, yeah. And you talked about meeting with suppliers. That still I think, for me one of the harder things to do in China. I think the difference that I have is that my wife has actually absolutely refused to be involved in my company at all. And it’s actually kind of a joint decision, we we’ve kind of deliberately tried to keep our business life separate. So normally visiting the suppliers, it’s me on my own. And it’s a struggle sometimes when you’re having to meet with these factory owners, and a lot of times they bring some of the other employees and there’s very limited English and it’s almost harder to talk in a limited English than know English because you’re having to really kind of dumb down what you say and speak really slowly, which is hard for me and I don’t speak very clearly to begin with. So I’m really having to be conscious about how I talk, slow it right down, simplify things. And I find it’s a real long day, when you do this for eight to 10 hours.
Mike: Yeah, it is mentally exhausting. It’s amazing, you kind of just mentioned, but it is definitely very difficult talking — we joke it’s called Chinglish or whatever you’re trying to talk half Chinese, half English. It is definitely mentally exhausting doing that all day long.
Dave: Yeah, whatever helps, if you have a business partner that you can bring or a friend Mike, by the way, if you’re not busy in the middle of April, come on up to Beijing with me. But if you have somebody to bring with you, it really helps just because it’s less mentally draining when there’s two of you and you can both kind of take turns, I guess, slowing down, you’re talking, speaking clearly.
Mike: If you need to rely on me slowing things down when it comes to talking, you’re in trouble.
Dave: Okay, bring Michelle, your wife; she can translate for me then.
Mike: So for me, this trip, it isn’t about going to visit manufacturers and going into China, we just didn’t have enough time. This this year, in particular, there were some hardline dates that I had to deal with. Number one, I have a mastermind in Austin I have to be at the first week of April. The second week of April I’m extending in Austin, the company that’s buying ColorIt is in Austin. And so I’m going to spend time with them and then I’m going to do an EcomCrew roadshow in Dallas. And then it’s like, okay, from that date, until I have to be in Miami to speak it at Sellers Summit, those are the only days I can be over there. So like, I had to cut the trip down a little bit. And then the six weeks I was talking about includes coming back to Miami and doing that, basically traveling for six weeks.
So I had to pick what was most important at the time. And for me that was spending some time in Hong Kong, going to speak at Global Sources Summit, because they invited us to speak there and I wanted to do that. We’ve made — we’re going to be there together, Dave, which was important to me to make sure whenever we have an opportunity to be in the same city that we can do that. So that was important to me. And then Abby and Muffins from back in the Philippines office are coming to Hong Kong, which I know they’re super excited about. And that was important to us as well just for the four of us all to be able to spend some time together. So I prioritized that.
And finally, I wanted to spend two full weeks in the Philippines office this time. And in order to accommodate that I had to chop off some time out on the China part of the trip. But I’m going to spend two full weeks in the office with our Filipino staff; we have 13 people over there now. And I think that just like the relationship with your manufacturers, you can’t forget your relationship with your employees. And it’s important to them, it’s important to me to be over there, at least a couple of weeks a year.
I’m going to try to do this more than once a year if I can. But I notice a huge difference from right before I am there to after I leave, just there’s the feel, maybe it’s just in my head, but it definitely doesn’t seem that way. But it seems like everybody gets a lot of me being there. And I also spend a lot of time training them and showing them particular things that I want to get done as an initiative for the next six months. So that’s kind of the plan that I have for China at this time — not China but Asian, I should say.
Dave: Yeah, yeah. I think you’re going over the Philippines. Unfortunately, I’ve never actually had the opportunity to go over to the Philippines and kind of meet with the VAs and just because of time constraints. But I think that’s true, bringing our VAs over to Hong Kong has been actually I think is pretty ingenious because, number one, it saves us the time and hassle of having to go to the Philippines and get lodging there. And number two, most Filipinos have never traveled out of the country even going to Hong Kong, which is relatively close, that’s still a pretty big chunk of money for most Filipinos.
And for us, I mean, we’d much rather at least in my case, I’d much rather spend a little bit of extra money, bring them over there and save my time cost of going over the Philippines. I know Abby and Muffins; hopefully they don’t – I guess it’s obvious they listen to this podcast, but I think it’s been a little bit like Christmas, waiting in anticipation for Christmas for them going over to Hong Kong and hanging out in this new country for a few days. So I think it’s been kind of a good proof that we’ve been able to offer them.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, for me, I love doing stuff like this for other human beings. I mean, I’ve been fortunate to be in this position before. I will probably have a better time or more fun time while they’re there than they will because I love being a tour guide. I’m already looking forward to just showing them around and making sure they have a great time in Hong Kong because I know like you said, they they’ve never left the Philippines. And the Philippines obviously is it’s a great place, it’s a — I love spending my time there and great people, great culture, but on the economic scale, it’s on the lower end.
And you go to something like Hong Kong which is on maybe the number one country in the world or very, very close to it top three or five for sure when it comes to that. And I mean, it’s going to be — it doesn’t matter how many movies you watch or how many YouTube videos you watch of a city like that. I mean, there are — the biggest building in the Philippines or at least in Cebu where they’re from is like six stories. And then you go see 100 story building and subways and tunnels and bridges and like all this infrastructure that’s just absolutely insane. And I’m sure that for them it’s like oh my god, this is incredible.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. And I guess they must be in their 20s or 30s and what every 20 and 30 year old want to do? They want to travel, so giving them those type of perk I think it’s a pretty good that we’re able to offer as a company.
Mike: Yeah, and the other thing that Filipinos love is to eat in the food. And I can’t think of a better place in the world to go to than Hong Kong when it comes to that because I, oh man, the food in Hong Kong is just absolutely incredible.
Dave: It is especially compared to the Philippines — sorry, Filipinos again. But the food selection in the Philippines is it’s hard to compare it with Hong Kong. Hong Kong, it’s absolutely out of this world for the different varieties of cuisines that you can try. The Philippines is a lot like a bastardized American cuisine just a lot of fast food.
Mike: It’s hard to get a plate that isn’t meat or rice.
Dave: It’s true.
Mike: All right, cool. So let’s talk about your plans. I kind of went over what I’m doing over there for the few weeks I’m in Asia, what are you doing when it comes to family time and work time?
Dave: Yeah, so for what time, one of the big kind of mind shifts that I’ve had in the last couple of years is in product development, just do in batches, do it two or three months a year, develop all the products that you want to develop for the next 12 months, rather than doing one product in April, then developing another one in June and a couple of months later doing it in August. So I try to do my production in batches. And I did basically 10 different products that we worked on late last summer. And now they’re finally all kind of being produced and coming into port and being available for customers.
But like most people know, when you produce a new product, what happens you have all these issues that kind of crop up with them. And not major issues but things like for example, we have this stainless steel product, and they’re shipping all the nuts and bolts with that product loose and it’s been scratching that piece of stainless steel in it. So just being able to sit down with the suppliers now and kind of go through some of these issues. And I basically have an entire page of different issues that I want to talk with them about face to face.
And being able to sit down with them not only the sales rep, but potentially the factory manager and people who can actually handle the production a little bit more than a sales rep, sit down with them and explain the issues there kind of live and explain why this is an issue. It just solves these issues so much quicker. And no matter how many photos you send through email, just being there and talking about the product actually in your hands helps so much.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, I could not agree more. The biggest successes we’ve ever had as a company have come from exactly what you’re talking about, just being able to sit there face to face and go through things. In particular, our gel pens, I remember like this major breakthrough we had when we were — I was frustrated trying to get that product developed. And we went over there. And in a 30 minute meeting had everything solved and we ended up adding the refills in the box, which was part of our huge success based on being there in person and talking about it because I had that idea while we were there. And we were able to talk through how we wanted to add them in there. And just you can’t replace this.
I mean, I feel like every week in Asia that you’re there is easily the equivalent of three months back home, maybe even more. I think you get — one week of your time over there is equivalent of trying to get three months’ worth of work done back and forth internationally.
Dave: Yes, I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, totally, I think it’s probably even a bigger multiplier than that. I think it’s probably more like six months. And just aside from the terms in terms that you save shipping days back and forth. Yeah, and I don’t know, the communication barrier is so much less.
Mike: Yeah. So what else are you doing over there?
Dave: Now in terms of sourcing actual new products, that is really kind of on the shelf and I’ll hopefully get over to China again in the fall, just again, because we have 10 to 15 new products, which have kind of just hit the shores in the last month or two. I just don’t think it’s the best use of the time to spend all the time that I am over in Asia trying to source new products. So now it’s kind of refining those products, which we’ve kind of had the first beta versions of, and getting those up to, as you would say, Mike, a five star product.
So that’s where a lot of the time will be spent. Just bring over a bunch of the products that we have and talking about them, figuring out ways to make them better. And normally, when you make those incremental improvements, it goes through on your sales and just the improved reviews. If you get an extra half star review, that can mean five figure difference in income for a month. So yeah, just really trying to get those products up the snap.
Mike: Yeah, I mean, if you aren’t continuously trying to improve your products, I think you’re missing out on an amazing opportunity. So I love what you’re doing there with that. We’ve had a lot of products over the years that we’ve been able to get from a three and a half star up to four or four star to four and a half. It’s hard, it’s really tough to get a five star product. I wish that a 4.7 star product was a five star product, because we have so many that are right on that line. But in statistically, mathematically, it is very, very difficult to have a five star product. But it’s easy to have a four and a half star product if you put the extra effort into it. And I like what you’re doing there.
Dave: So while you’re over in China, or I guess you’re not over in China, but are you doing any product development at all in Asia or is it strictly kind of a relationship maintenance trip for you?
Mike: Yeah, this is definitely the relationship maintenance trip. And it just kind of worked out that way. It’s again, because we’re in the process of selling one of our businesses and just kind of getting everything reorganized in terms of we broke out each business into its own company where we’re going to spend the next basically six months or maybe even nine months, just getting everything in perfect order, because I felt like the last three years of our lives and every aspect, business, personal just like everything has just been in complete disarray in chaos, the chaos of doubling every year. It seems really like a really fun and cool story when you’re like oh man, like our business doubled last year.
But anybody that’s been through this through any length of time realizes as you’re going through that lots of stuff is just falling through the cracks, and you’re not doing this or that or whatever, as good as you could and realize that you’re leaving money on the table, because you’re just — there’s only so much time in a day. So a lot of what we’re going to do over the next several months is just reconcile that and get things as smooth as possible, build the best foundation possible before we hit the next growth phase. And also, I think it’ll be great for me personally as well, because without a doubt, I’ve talked a lot about this on the podcast. I mean, it’s been really stressful. I mean, it’s been just insanely stressful going through that type of hyper growth.
And having several months to just detoxify a little bit, take a deep breath, get everything so I feel like it’s on solid ground where I don’t have to think about it any longer because our staff is taking it over will be good. So yeah, it’s mostly going over the relationship building with some manufacturers, relationship building with more EcomCrew students and staff that are going to be over there, and probably most importantly, relationship building with our Philippines team. So it’s mostly that for me.
Dave: Kind of on that note too, the main manufacturers for ColorIt, have you kind of told them what’s going on with it?
Dave: And the new owner coming into town? Yeah, that would have been a great opportunity actually, it’s too bad the buyer couldn’t have come over to you with Asia, that could have been a great opportunity. I know when I sold my previous company, that’s one of the things I did was sat down with everyone together with kind of the suppliers. And again, it just made things a little bit easier just in a transition perspective. But it’s sometimes hard to organize, obviously getting everyone together in one room initially.
Mike: They are talking about coming over to the Philippines, though. Well, I’m there for the two weeks in the Philippines. It’s not solidified yet. And by the time this podcast comes out that decision will have been made. So we’ll see what happens on the future here. But I am trying to talk them into coming over there. I think that that’s even more important. The manufacturer relations are definitely important but employee relations are even more important.
Dave: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I mean, I can’t think of any better way to transition a new buyer into a company than just sitting down into a [inaudible 00:29:06] hotel for a week or two and just kind of bashing things around with 13 employees.
Mike: One of the things that we didn’t bring up on this podcast here that I’m super excited about over there is also the mastermind that we’re doing. That’s already sold out. So this is not a plug for the mastermind, but I had a blast last year doing that. It was the first time we did any type of live events. I always — my fun level when it comes to stuff like this is equal to how I perceive how much value people in the room are getting out of it. And just based on the comments and how people were reacting, it seemed like everyone got like just or most of the people got a ton of value out of being there, an opportunity for them to meet other like-minded entrepreneurs, kind of commiserate about the trip over to Asia, and some of the other things going on in e-commerce but also just ask help on something that they’re struggling with and getting not only your perspective and my perspective on it but the perspective of up to 20 other people that are in the room to help them.
And it’s just fun to see how that kind of progresses and transpires there in the room. And it’s interesting to see how the struggles are — it’s they all repeat, there’s a lot of similar struggles that all e-commerce businesses go through. And I think a lot of it in some ways, humans are weird creatures. Knowing that other people are going through the same thing and you’re not alone can just make you feel more comfortable and confident in what you’re doing right. So I think that that’s another thing that’s pretty cool that comes out of it.
Dave: Yeah, the other thing that is great about the Hong Kong mastermind as well is, if you do a mastermind locally in America, or Canada or wherever, sometimes people have kind of very different ecommerce businesses. There may be some drop shippers in there, there might be private labelers, you might just have a wide variety of people. But when you bring everybody together in Hong Kong, mostly everybody is there because they’re already doing business in Asia and they’re probably manufacturing some type of product, whether it’s a patented product or a private label product, but people have some kind of some common thread there, which sometimes you don’t always get in local masterminds.
So that’s really the great thing I think that we experienced last year during our mastermind, was everyone there could kind of — everyone kind of got each other I guess. And they all had, like you mentioned similar struggles and similar issues that they’re facing. And so yeah, I think we did a pretty good job of catching lightning in a bottle, so to speak.
Mike: Yeah. And I think that the plan is to do it again next year. And I think that also, the plan is to do one of these up in Vancouver this summer. So we’re going to start planning that at some point. But our goal is to do more and more of these types of events in the future. We do not want to do like the 150 or 200 people in a room and as a bunch of speaker type events. That’s not — that just isn’t for me. I don’t mind going to speak at those things but I don’t really want to run an event like that or aspire to ever do anything like that. But I love the small, niche events that we get to really get to meet people and learn about them. I think that stuff is awesome.
Dave: Yeah, the funny thing is as we were trying this, and this happened last year too, we’re basically in 25 people together in the beginning. And so it’s like, oh man, can even get 20 people? And the big fear is that you’re going to get four people to register, that it’s going to be me and Mike and two other people showing up. But again, like last year, I don’t know, something about it people are attracted to, I guess, doing a Hong Kong mastermind or an Asia based mastermind, this one filled up pretty quick, even without really any promotion at all. I think when you actually did mention it on the podcast, it was sold out at that point. So it’s kind of encouraging that again, the interest level that people have in these things.
Mike: Yeah, no doubt, no doubt. All right well, we’re basically out of time but there’s one thing that you didn’t mention yet, family time. I think you mentioned to me that you’re going to Disney World in Hong Kong, is that’s still true?
Dave: Well yes, a big debate. We went to Disney, first of it’s Disneyland.
Mike: Oh excuse me. I didn’t mean to insult.
Dave: Disney World, we were there last year. So now there’s actually two major amusement parks in Hong Kong, Disneyland being one of them. Ocean fun Park or Ocean Park being the other one so on I guess the south side of Hong Kong and Disneyland is on the north side. So Ocean Park, I actually went there many, many years ago. So that might be where we kind of go to this year. That I don’t know. It’s hard to pass up Disneyland over there. So it’s going to be one of the two, either Ocean Park or Disneyland.
Mike: Got you. Cool. Well, I hope you guys have a great trip. Have fun. I’m looking forward to seeing you. We’re going to be catching up. What day do we catch up with each other, is it the 25th I think is when we’re first going to be there together or something along those lines in April? So, looking forward to spend some time in person with you, as always, and then obviously, Abby and Muffins are coming over. So all of us will be one big happy family minus the Dave Couillard who I wish was coming again this year. But he was a smart guy and decided that he didn’t want to travel 10,000 miles this year, just to come over and hang out for a few days. But it should be fun as always, I’m looking forward to it, man.
Dave: Yeah, and I promised in memory of Dave Couillard to leave my shoes and other accessories lying around the apartment just kind of rub him a little bit the wrong way.
Mike: But you’re not staying with us, you’re staying with your family so you can bring as much couple of other places you want.
Dave: I know, I know. I can still come to your guys’ hotel and leave my stuff all over the place.
Mike: I’m not giving you okay, not going to happen.
Dave: Well, we have to reconsider this trip.
Mike: All right, we’ll see in a few weeks.
Dave: Yeah, see you then.
Mike: All right guys, that’s going to do it for the 237th installment of the EcomCrew Podcast. Again, thank you guys so much for all your support. It means the world to Dave and I, really is appreciative. If you do have a chance to head over to iTunes and leave a review, we appreciate that too as well. Don’t forget to check out our free resources over at EcomCrew.com/free and always you can get to the show notes if you go to EcomCrew.com slash the episode number. In this case, that’s 237, EcomCrew.com/237. All right everybody, until the next episode, happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.