E293: A Deep Dive Into the Life of Jungle Scout CEO, Greg MercerDecember 2, 2019 in Ecom-Crew-Podcast
Today’s podcast is a special edition of the podcast because we have an accompanying video that comes along with today’s episode. So if you’d like to join in and watch me interview my good friend Greg, hop on! If you’re on the road or would rather listen to this episode, we’ll have the normal audio-only version like usual just for you guys.
During the filming of the Five Minute Pitch, I got the chance to really get to know some of the other judges that I shared the table with and one of those judges was Greg Mercer. If you’ve been listening to the podcast since day one, you’ll know that I’ve visited him a number of times over the year, and this time, I got the chance to finally do a 1-on-1 podcast with him where we dive deep into the creation of JungleScout, what were the circumstances that lead him to grow JungleScout to the amazing tool that it is today, and the amazing team that’s he’s managed to put together over the years.
If this is the first time you’ve ever heard of Greg Mercer and JungleScout, this will be a great opportunity to get to know him and the amazing tool that helps thousands of Amazon sellers around the world find their product. Here’s a list of questions that I asked Greg during the interview, for your benefit:
- What came first, selling on Amazon or the JungleScout plugin? (7:11)
- When did you first start selling on Amazon? (8:13)
- How did you find out about selling on Amazon? (8:38)
- What were your initial products? (10:03)
- Where did you get the capital to start selling on Amazon? (11:46)
- What was the plan after seeing the benefits on selling on Amazon? (14:26)
- How did JungleScout come to be after that? (17:07)
- At what point did you start selling JungleScout? (18:46)
- How did JungleScout evolve from there? (20:47)
- How much were you doing on Amazon when you decided to sell JungleScout? (23:45)
- When did you realise that you had to focus more on JungleScout rather than Amazon? (24:25)
- How did you manage to put together such a great team? (31:08)
- What are some of the books that have personally helped you learn more about your business? (33:05)
- What’s the 8 new features that JungleScout released over the past few weeks? (34:17)
- What’s next for JungleScout? (39:13)
If you’re interested to get the JungleScout plugin, you can visit us here to learn more.
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Full Audio Transcript
Mike: [00:00:00] Hey guys, this is a final reminder that today is the last day that Ecomcrew Premium is open before it’s going to close for the rest of the year. If you’re not a member yet, then now is the time to join and save 50% off your membership by using the coupon code “CYBER” at Ecomcrew.com/Premium.
Mike: [00:00:20] Along with all of our courses, webinars and unlimited support, one of our main goals with Ecomcrew Premium is to help our members build connections and friendships that last for years. We have an active private Facebook group with hundreds of members and we do multiple meetups throughout the year. We have multiple moderated Masterminds for sellers, segmented into six and seven-figure sellers, so head on over to Ecomcrew.com/Premium to become part of the Ecomcrew.
Mike: [00:00:47] Again, Ecomcrew.com/Premium with the code “CYBER”, that’s gonna get you 50% off. And again, once this deal closes today, it’s going be gone for the rest of the year. We do not discount Ecomcrew Premium ever, the rest of the year so this is your last chance to take advantage of a really awesome offer. Alright, guys, we’ll see you on the inside and Happy Holidays.
Mike: [00:01:07] The Ecomcrew podcast is great, genuine mentoring. I had been studying many resources for several months to accelerate my knowledge in ecommerce. I have even joined a mastermind of another leader in the space. However, I have since left that mastermind because I felt it was more geared towards making money than really trying to help me learn. Then came my introduction to Ecomcrew through Quiet Light Brokerage. I immediately felt totally different about the purpose of Ecomcrew. The material was so much more usable, an actual real life experience. Finally, I felt Mike’s energy and demeanour is to really help everyone he comes in contact with. Well done.
Mike: [00:01:48] Can’t thank you enough for taking time to write that KnightGallery and now, on with the show.
Mike: [00:01:52] This is Mike and welcome to E293 of the Ecomcrew Podcast. A lot going on the day, if you’re listening to this on Monday, then that means today is the last day before Ecomcrew Premium closes. We only put Ecomcrew Premium on sale once a year. Otherwise, our policy is to never discount it. And so we do it for this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, thinking it’s a great time to get a rush of new subscribers in before the end of the year. This will be the last time Ecomcrew Premium will be open this year. If you’re interested, head over to Ecomcrew.com/Premium. It’s our library of courses, unlimited email support, twice monthly webinars, a private Facebook group and a whole bunch more.
Mike: [00:02:33] Would love to see you on the inside. Again, Ecomcrew.com/Premium. If it’s after Monday, I apologize. The offer definitely closes at midnight on Monday and so we’ll reopen it again probably in late January or early February. And now for today’s main topic, I am so excited to have Greg Mercer finally on the show. I was looking back through the old episodes and somehow, I’m not quite sure how, we’ve never had Greg on the show as a solo podcast. We’ve had him on talking about Five Minute Pitch and we did a couple of other episodes here and there, where Greg was a mystery guest, if you will, or came on the show, but not as the main guest.
Mike: [00:03:13] And so the conversation today is really interesting. It’s a bunch of stuff that Greg has never really talked about before. And I think that because Greg and I’ve become really good friends and we’ve been hanging out quite a bit because of Five Minute Pitch and other stuff. He just really opened up on the podcast about how JungleScout got started, how it’s been running a software company, what it was like selling millions upon millions of dollars, tens of millions of dollars worth of stuff on Amazon and a few other things. And I think it’s just an interesting conversation if you love hearing about how businesses get started and kind of, the behind-the-scenes of all that.
Mike: [00:03:47] It’s really interesting and what Greg has done there is really amazing. I mean, obviously I’m biased, Greg is a friend. We just got to spend another week down in Austin with the team down there. We’re doing a bunch of stuff with JungleScout, with Ecomcrew moving forward and just got to spend more time in his office and just interacting there. And it feels like a home away from home for me, just because I have spent a pretty good amount of time in that office now, have a lot of friends in that office, and it’s amazing seeing the team there.
Mike: [00:04:15] I mean, I’m really just super impressed of how excited most people there are to come to work every day. And I rely on a lot of people there to help with other things. When we do Ecomcrew stuff, there’s a whole filmography section there where people are coming in and doing audio and video and helping with a bunch of other stuff. And it just, it’s cool to see them, how excited they are, how good they are at their craft. And so that’s another thing that we talk about with Greg here today, how he’s built that culture a little bit. And I think it’s a fun conversation. So without further ado, let’s jump into this episode with Mr. Mercer himself.
Intro: [00:04:49] Welcome to the Ecomcrew podcast. The Web’s most transparent podcast from two seven-figure sellers who share the good, bad and the ugly about running an ecommerce business. You’ll learn how we build our brands, find products and develop marketing strategies that will help you start and grow your own million-dollar ecommerce brand. And now your hosts, Mike Jackness and Dave Bryant.
Mike: [00:05:14] Greg Mercer! Welcome to the Ecomcrew podcast!
Greg: [00:05:18] Mike, happy to be here. It’s gonna be fun.
Mike: [00:05:19] Yeah! So this is an interesting environment, usually I record podcasts over the Internet, but we’re actually in the same room together.
Greg: [00:05:27] Real life, its gonna be a whole different energy.
Mike: [00:05:29] Yeah, it’s definitely cool.
Greg: [00:05:30] You know how to do this?
Mike: [00:05:31] I don’t, like I feel like I need like a microphone on my face or something.
Greg: [00:05:34] We can maybe give you like a fake mic or something.
Mike: [00:05:37] Well, we did some other stuff earlier and you gave me like a fake platform to stand on because I wasn’t as tall as you to– I was too short.
Greg: [00:05:43] I wasn’t gonna tell anyone about this! You keep telling everyone.
Mike: [00:05:45] Yeah. Well, you know, you’re going to tell someone at some point. It’s gonna be like up on a slide at a presentation and I might as well just cut it off at the knees. I don’t want to let it get too far.
Greg: [00:05:53] I should’ve gotten some picture proof.
Mike: [00:05:55] Yeah. So it’s interesting because I was looking back. We’ve never had you on 1-on-1 on the podcast. You’ve been on– We did those Five Minute Pitch things where the four of us were together and we had some interesting talks, but never 1-on-1.
Greg: [00:06:08] You’re right.
Mike: [00:06:09] Yeah.
Greg: [00:06:09] I kind of forgot about that.
Mike: [00:06:10] Yeah, don’t take it personally.
Greg: [00:06:10] Why didn’t you have me on sooner, man?
Mike: [00:06:11] I don’t know!
Greg: [00:06:13] I thought we were friends!
Mike: [00:06:13] Well, friends don’t let friends get on the podcast. Like, I didn’t wanna waste your time until now.
Greg: [00:06:17] (Laughs)
Mike: [00:06:18] But I thought it’d be cool to talk about a few things. I mean, you’ve obviously sold a ton of stuff online and we have an audience, people that are Amazon sellers. You also, I think are probably the most well-known software tool in the industry. Everyone knows JungleScout. You were kind of the pioneer in that and we’ve never talked to someone about starting a software company. And, you know, I realize that that isn’t ecommerce necessarily per say, but it is very much a business thing. And, you know, it’s really amazing what you’ve been able to do to grow this from just you, coding, travelling in the world, coding the plug in yourself to growing a company that now has 150ish people in at least three countries, if not four, and then some remote people as well. And so I think we can talk about growing teams and systems to do that and what might be next for JungleScout.
Greg: [00:07:07] Sounds like a plan.
Mike: [00:07:07] Yeah, it’s a lot to talk about.
Greg: [00:07:09] It is a lot of talk about! We’d better get going.
Mike: [00:07:11] So what came first, the chicken or the egg? Was it selling on Amazon or was it the plugin first?
Greg: [00:07:15] It was selling on Amazon.
Mike: [00:07:16] Yeah.
Greg: [00:07:17] I don’t know if I ever actually told you my whole story, Mike, but you know, I got a job out of college working as a civil engineer, that’s what I went to school for.
Mike: [00:07:23] But you didn’t wear a tie.
Greg: [00:07:25] No tie, I’ve never had a job with a tie. I kind of want one just for a day, maybe tomorrow I’ll wear a tie.
Mike: [00:07:30] Okay.
Greg: [00:07:31] Got a job, no tie, but did work a corporate job and hated it. My whole life, I like had an entrepreneurial spirit. I knew I kind of wanted do my own thing. So actually I tried like a handful of just little hacky ways here and there to try to make money. At that point, I didn’t care about doing or like developing some business that I thought would be really awesome or really passionate about. All I cared about that moment of my life was making enough money, so I could quit my day job and the first side hustle I had that started to pick up a little bit of traction or made me like serious money was selling physical products on Amazon. So that’s how it kind of all started and that’s what actually gave me the income I needed to quit my job.
Mike: [00:08:13] Interesting. So what year was that when you were first selling on Amazon?
Greg: [00:08:17] 2012.
Mike: [00:08:19] 2012, so you’re like an OG because that’s a long time ago in an ecommerce space.
Greg: [00:08:23] In the Amazon space, that’s a long time ago, and starting was kind of new.
Mike: [00:08:26] It was new. Yeah. We started selling on Amazon in 2015, early 2015. We were doing ecommerce, selling on our own websites like Schmoes back in 2012. That was a lot harder but, that’s interesting. So, I mean, there obviously wasn’t a lot of information out there about that at the time. So how did you even find out about selling on Amazon at that point?
Greg: [00:08:45] My dad is actually an ecommerce seller and he has his own warehouse and stuff. He was selling stuff through Amazon, but it’s fulfilled by merchant.
Mike: [00:08:56] Okay.
Greg: [00:08:57] And I think he was the one that kind of turned it on, turned me onto it because he was like, I think it was just like, you should check this out because what’s really nice about FBA, you don’t have to get a warehouse like I have, they’ll store your stuff, fulfill it, et cetera, et cetera. So I think he was the one that put the bug in my ear a little bit. And then I started researching about it. And there was some information online about selling on Amazon, of course, but there wasn’t any of these like nicely packaged courses or like sets of information like there are today. You kind of like, picking up a little bit information here, there.
Mike: [00:09:28] Right.
Greg: [00:09:28] Seller central forums or whoever else. And then what was really interesting is I was probably like fairly early in the space to import goods from China, like private label and like from like the– yeah, just like the Amazon private label strategy that we know today. And back then I learned about it through reading this case study of someone importing BB guns, plastic BB guns and selling them on eBay.
Mike: [00:09:55] Interesting.
Greg: [00:09:56] And I was like, Dang, this is pretty cool. That’s how I learned how to find factories on Ali Baba and stuff, and that’s kind of how it got started.
Mike: [00:10:02] Interesting. So what were the like the initial products? Were they like a bunch of disparate, crazy things or were they one brand that was all related together?
Greg: [00:10:10] I’d say the first year, I was selling like a whole bunch of different types of stuff. So I, you know, at first I wanted to try and sell like some wholesale. So I got a few contracts with or set up a few accounts with the primarily did medical supplies. And there was just no margin on that stuff. I tried like a little bit of like the online arbitrage type strategy, where I was like buying stuff at discounts and trying to resell it on Amazon. That obviously has a whole bunch of limitations and problems with it. And then as far as private labelling stuff goes, it didn’t have any commonalities. I had like a Kegel exerciser.
Mike: [00:10:54] Okay, interesting.
Greg: [00:10:54] I had a little bench that you kneel down on when you’re gardening. And I had a couple other– I’m trying to think of like my first like five products, but none of them had anything to do with each other.
Mike: [00:11:06] Okay.
Greg: [00:11:06] At the time, I don’t know if my goal was to try to start a brand or anything else. I think I was like, let me try a few different types of products. See what’s works, see what doesn’t and then I probably actually didn’t have a plan after that. (laughs).
Mike: [00:11:21] Right, go surfing or something like that.
Greg: [00:11:24] Like throw up a few others, see if I can make a little bit of money and yeah, I’m not thinking like, at that point, I was thinking like a few weeks ahead, not like even a few months.
Mike: [00:11:31] Yeah. Well I think it’s interesting how all of us think in our 20s. It’s so fraudy, I think or whatever is about as it goes.
Greg: [00:11:38] Yeah. I was like hopefully one of these just makes me a little bit of money so I don’t have to work this stupid job I hate.
Mike: [00:11:44] Very interesting. So I’m curious cause like obviously you were younger. Where did you get the capital to start just getting those initial products to sell on Amazon?
Greg: [00:11:53] So I’ve had a number of side hustles and in each of my thing, like I kind of stair stepped up a little bit. So I’ve always done all kinds of just weird stuff in my entire life to make money but during that point I had like done like a few like ghost written Kindle books that are making me a little bit of money. And then I started buying and selling domain names and I built like this scraper to scrape a bunch of different sources for like brands or like LLCs that registered, a few other things. I was registering those domain names, then selling them. Looking back, I now know it’s unethical. No, I’m not real proud of that. You might be the first person I’ve told that actually on a podcast.
Mike: [00:12:36] So wait you’re like looking at like the Nevada LLC registry or something, as soon as someone registered an LLC, you go out and buy their brands domain name and try to sell it to them for a couple hundred dollars more than you paid for it?
Greg: [00:12:46] Yes, like legal but unethical. I actually feel really bad about it, looking back on it, but I got– there was a few home runs. So like a bunch of em I’d sell for a few hundred bucks.
Mike: [00:12:56] Right.
Greg: [00:12:57] But I also had a few home runs like this one was this medical device that just raised like a few million dollars of VC funding.
Mike: [00:13:06] Nice.
Greg: [00:13:07] So I think they paid me like forty or fifty thousand dollars or something.
Mike: [00:13:11] Holy crap. Wow. That’s a good way to get started with FDA.
Greg: [00:13:14] Yeah. So I had a few home runs and that was essentially the capital that I used to get started.
Mike: [00:13:18] Yeah, it’s interesting. I think we all have these skeletons in our closet from our early entrepreneurial days and-
Greg: [00:13:24] Yeah.
Mike: [00:13:24] -when you’re younger. You don’t really think of it as unethical, right? You’re like, you’re just looking for ways to make money online and you’re not stealing from somebody or doing something that’s like by the book unethical. But as you get older and you’re in business yourself, you realize, man, like if someone did that to me, if someone like went out and registered JungleScout.com first before, then you’d be like, that would really suck and then you start to realize that maybe that’s not the best way to go about doing things in the future.
Greg: [00:13:48] Totally. Actually right now someone registered the JungleScout trademark in China, ended up costing us like, I think like fifty or eighty thousand dollars to get it back. But, you know, it seems like karma cause like it sounds like that’s about how much money I made out of these domain names. It kind of almost seems fair like what goes around, comes around at this point now that I think about it.
Mike: [00:14:09] Yeah, well I mean it happens. I mean, again, luckily we’re not here to talk about all the embarrassing things I did so…
Greg: [00:14:12] But yeah, ultimately that’s how I got the capital.
Mike: [00:14:17] Yeah, man. That’s definitely enough to, you know, 50k or something. Plus it sounds like it might have been a little bit more on top of that, it’s enough to–
Greg: [00:14:23] Yeah.
Mike: [00:14:23] To get a pretty decent amount of inventory because my next question was going to be, it’s one thing to start selling like a item or two on Amazon, but making enough money from that and being able to make enough to quit your job is another whole story. So it sounds like you had fifty, maybe a hundred thousand dollars that you’re able to put in some inventory and started rolling that in the early days when there wasn’t as much competition. Margins were probably a little better and we’re able to to pull a little bit of money out to pay for your life. So you weren’t really living, you know, an extravagant life at that point and you were hopping around on a plane and living in cheap places.
Greg: [00:14:58] Yeah, exactly. Well, I kept that job, like I was selling on Amazon while I had that job for probably six months. And that’s when I kind of had enough confidence to be like, yeah, like I have a few different ways I can make money. I can make this happen. That’s why I got the courage to quit. And then at the same time, I quit. Well, this was part of the plan, it was to quit, sell our house, sell all of our possessions like we also got cash from that. And then my wife and I, we moved. We started off in the Philippines. But yeah, the goal was to just be digital nomads. We didn’t have anything holding us back. We’re living in low cost areas of the world. For the first year, we only pretty much stayed in like pretty like inexpensive housing arrangements. But also just like inexpensive cities and countries.
Greg: [00:15:42] So, you know, a lot of people associate travel with these high expenses because like if you only get two weeks of vacation a year, like you’re going to use those like going to like, yeah, like awesome places. You’ll blow like thousands of dollars in one week. But for us, like, we were probably living on maybe like $2000 a month or something, like living a high quality of life for that price in these areas of the world. So, yeah, kind of all those things went together to be able to focus on the business more and then also not have to worry about the financial aspects of it.
Mike: [00:16:14] Yeah, so you were living a life in Western denominated currencies, but living in eastern countries and being able to arbitrage.
Greg: [00:16:22] Yeah, great arbitrage.
Mike: [00:16:24] Awesome. So obviously at some point along the way, I mean, I think the next step is, I imagine pretty obvious here, you’re selling stuff on Amazon. You’re looking for opportunities. You’ve obviously already had the talent to write a scraper for domain names. Now I imagine it’s writing a scraper to find opportunities on Amazon. Is that kind of the thought process there?
Greg: [00:16:43] Yeah, that’s essentially how it went. But actually, I didn’t code it myself. I hired a developer.
Mike: [00:16:47] Oh, you didn’t?
Greg: [00:16:47] No.
Mike: [00:16:47] Oh, I thought you– because I know you can code some, so…
Greg: [00:16:50] A little bit.
Mike: [00:16:53] Nothing dangerous?
Greg: [00:16:53] Yeah, not too dangerous.
Mike: [00:16:56] Okay, interesting. So you hired–
Greg: [00:16:57] Funny enough, I just built a scraper like a month ago. That was the first time I built a scraper.
Mike: [00:17:01] We talked about it last night, building a scraper for something, we’ll keep that under wraps but I’m not sure if that’s gonna happen or not but alright, so interesting, so you had the idea and then you were able to find a developer in Poland or something, maybe Eastern Europe or whatever. That seems to be the hotbed for a lot of stuff or maybe it was some place where you were living in.
Greg: [00:17:17] Yeah, that’s the gist of it. So essentially, actually, I was trying to figure out what was selling well on Amazon. You know, there was like rules of thumb people were using. Like, if it sells, if the BSR is a thousand or three thousand, it sells 500 a month or whatever. There’s always like really crappy rules of thumb that weren’t very accurate at all and so I think I was getting frustrated with those, being like pretty like data driven type person. I essentially developed our first algorithms for estimating sales on Amazon and they were pretty crude, but like they were way better than these rules of thumb that were otherwise around at the time because it varies a lot category to category.
Greg: [00:17:59] And then I was paying VAs like I would come up with like product, like a long list of product ideas like 50 or 100. And then I was paying VAs to essentially search for them on Amazon and fill up the spreadsheet with like the top 10 products. And actually that spreadsheet looked like with kind of like what the extension does today, it was like name, price, number of reviews. They use my algorithms to determine estimated sales. So essentially my idea was like, hey, instead of having to pay the VAs to like fill out these spreadsheets, it would be really cool if there is this little extension, you click a button, and it just filled out the whole spreadsheet for you. And it’s like even today if you think about it, like the extension looks like a spreadsheet with columns of data.
Mike: [00:18:40] Yeah, interesting. So I’m curious though, because I mean obviously you wrote this for yourself originally, at what point, how far in the process was it like I’m going to offer this to the general public or was that the intention from day one or is it something where you had a an Aha! moment at some point, like man, this is something people, other people might want.
Greg: [00:19:00] My goal was to sell enough of the JungleScout extension to make back the money that I spent hiring a developer to build it. So I set my sights high.
Mike: [00:19:10] Okay, and that from the very beginning was kind of the intention.
Greg: [00:19:13] Yeah and actually it wasn’t even that much money.
Mike: [00:19:15] Like a thousand bucks or something.
Greg: [00:19:17] Yeah.
Mike: [00:19:17] It’s like cheap to get some of that type of stuff coded.
Greg: [00:19:19] Yeah and it was like buggy and ugly and like, super crappy. So yeah, I think like a few thousand bucks. I was like, man, if I could sell, you know, a few dozen of these, I can make my money back. So that was my goal. And I was like tied in with some FBA communities, like I was fairly active like on Reddit and some of the Facebook groups and stuff like that. So I remember like I built a very early prototype. I just like did a screen sharing, just like asked for feedback in these communities, that like already kind of knew me. I was like, hey, by the way, if you’re interested, like enter your email address in this forum, I’ll let you know, if it turns into anything. Just through that I collected I think like a hundred email addresses. Sold it the day we launched, like a dozen people ended up buying it, I was like OK, this is like it seems like there are other people that are willing to vote on this with a credit card instead of just me.
Mike: [00:20:09] Yeah, interesting and the thing I think that’s a good lesson there of you didn’t go in there on day one, and just started trying to sell this thing. You already were in the community, right? So it’s like you already–.
Greg: [00:20:18] People already knew who I was.
Mike: [00:20:19] You’re providing value. Like, I mean, I see this all the time where people like jump in communities or like I have this new great thing to sell and no one’s ever heard of them and then you’re just like banned, perma-banned. If you already have a reputation and you’re–.
Greg: [00:20:31] Totally if you’ve been helping people in the past year and the community itself, no one minds if you like, yeah, post it like that.
Mike: [00:20:37] It’s definitely just like, a good valuable life lesson in general. So you put this thing up for sale, couple dozen people vote with a credit card, as you say, and buy this thing. What’s the evolution from there? Was it just like version 2 where you start refining or it takes off like wildfire, and next thing you know, like, I don’t care about this Amazon business any longer and I’m gonna start doing JungleScout, how did that transpire?
Greg: [00:20:58] So it’s kind of funny because I was trying, so like my Amazon business was doing well. Like, I kind of had it figured out like I could consistently launch products and most of them would do pretty dang well.
Greg: [00:21:11] And I had like a pretty clear path ahead how to grow that business a lot. And like I felt confident, I knew how to do it. I had done this, you know, at this point like a bunch of times before. So I think I was trying to be a little bit mindful of like not chasing a new shiny object, right. It was like, I don’t know anything about building software. So at first, I was pretty hesitant to spend too much time on it because it’s like, man, this is kind of fun. But also like I want to stay focused on what’s working.
Mike: [00:21:39] Interesting. You’re a unique entrepreneur, because usually the shiny objects are the one that really gets you.
Greg: [00:21:45] Yeah.
Mike: [00:21:45] So it’s interesting that you even had the wherewithal and especially when you were younger, to stay focused for a bit.
Greg: [00:21:50] Yeah, but I think I kind of learned that a little bit, maybe the hard way through like all these other little things I was always trying, like I always jump in to the next thing really quickly but the truth is like for any business to be successful, you have to kind of be all-in on it for like a certain period of time, right. Because all businesses are relatively hard to start. So yeah, I was trying not to spend too much time on it. I think after I sold those first dozen, like a few other sales trickled in over the next few weeks, I was like man, I guess like people are telling their friends about it or I don’t know how people are finding this thing and then I think where it kind of got started was one or two people who were like teaching Amazon courses at the time.
Greg: [00:22:31] I think like one guy, he reached out to me and he’s like, “hey, I found out about this, this is actually really cool. Would you mind doing a video or a webinar for my course?”.
Greg: [00:22:39] I was like, I don’t know how to do webinars, I’m down for it but like sure, it doesn’t look that hard. And from that, there was like 50 people on the webinar and like 30 people or something bought it. It’s like the highest converting webinar ever.
Mike: [00:22:52] That’s crazy, wow.
Greg: [00:22:53] So I was like Dang! That was pretty cool. You know, I just made, whatever, a thousand bucks, a couple thousand bucks or I forget over the course like an hour. I was like man, I should do some more of these webinar things. So I think I reached to like every course provider that I could find. I think they all said like, get lost, except maybe like one other person. But I did another one and maybe not as much success on that one, but still like a little bit of success. And that’s when I was like, alright, it seems like maybe I should try to take this a little bit more seriously.
Mike: [00:23:23] So what year I mean, I’m always trying to figure out chronologically, started to sell in 2012, what year did you make the plugin and what year did you start selling it?
Greg: [00:23:32] That was I started selling it in February 2015.
Mike: [00:23:39] 2015, okay. So yeah, you’ve been selling for a couple of years, your Amazon business is doing well. How many millions were you selling in Amazon revenue at that point? Like early 2015?
Greg: [00:23:53] I think it was probably doing– I was probably doing quarter million a month.
Mike: [00:23:59] Okay, so three million a year.
Greg: [00:24:00] Yeah.
Mike: [00:24:01] Yeah, so I mean at some point, because that’s a decent chunk of change. I mean, you’re netting, you know, 10 to 20%, you’re making 300 to–
Greg: [00:24:09] Back then my margins were actually pretty good too. They were better than that.
Mike: [00:24:11] Good margin such as saying you’re making 600k a year on the 3 million. That’s a big leap to go from making 600k a year to trying to make 600k or more than 600k a year. $29.99 at a time, whatever the extension was so what– there must have been something that happened somewhere along the way, where you’re like, man, like this deserves more of my attention more than what I’m doing over here and making a good amount already.
Greg: [00:24:33] Right. Well I think it was more so just the, like the challenge and like the fun aspect of it more so than, you know, I wish I said like I made these very calculated decisions or like perfectly splitting up my time, how it should be or whatever else. But I think it was just kind of like fun and exciting.
Mike: [00:24:49] So you did have shiny object syndrome maybe.
Greg: [00:24:51] Well, yeah, definitely. At least some of it. And then I think I also, it was also kind of enjoyable for me, I think to, like, teach other people about the Amazon stuff, because I was like, WOAH, a lot of these people are like really bad at this. Like, they don’t understand a whole lot of it. I was like, man, I could really teach them some of the stuff. And I think that was kind of fun for me like in that process. JungleScout was starting to get more just like more well known, more people finding out about it and yeah.
Mike: [00:25:20] Yeah, it’s very cool. And I mean, the thing that I’ve always admired, I mean, in the room that we’re recording in here, you have this YouTube plaque of over a 100,000 followers. You put out all this content ahead of time. And I think a lot of the success had to have come from just being one of the early guys out there providing immense amounts of value, like showing people like steps one, two, three, four, five, like how to exactly go on there and do this stuff and the market’s so deep. It’s really hard to get your head around how big the opportunity is, even with the number of people now and almost 2020 that have come on to Amazon, tens of thousands of people a year jumping in. There’s still a huge opportunity, you know. So being able to articulate that in a way at a time where, you know, way before all these tens of thousand people have jumped on, just give you like so much credibility and clout in the industry.
Greg: [00:26:13] Yeah. I remember when we launched JungleSticks. Looking back, that’d probably be, like that time period. And probably, part of it was because of that case study. It was probably a little bit of a pivotal point in the trajectory of the business. And yeah, I remember that case study picked up a ton of traction because I think there were a few people kinda teaching about it, but they didn’t want to talk about any of their products or anything.
Mike: [00:26:34] Yeah.
Greg: [00:26:34] And I was like, “Watch, I’ll launch a product in front of all you guys in real time and it will actually sell, it will do pretty well”, and it did! It actually still sells really well today. So like “Watch this, I got it figured out.”
Mike: [00:26:46] Yeah, and it’s interesting and we took the same approach with Ecomcrew and I didn’t really even put the two together until we’re sitting here talking about it. But it’s very rare in this space for someone to talk about anything that they’re doing, either they’re talking about it and are hiding behind a facade, they’re not really doing it at all, which we see this a lot or they’re just scared that someone’s going to replicate what they’ve done and kind of come eat their lunch. And for me, it was just like, I don’t want to be that guy. If we’re gonna be doing a podcast, we’re just going to talk about everything open.
Greg: [00:27:14] Yeah.
Mike: [00:27:14] 100%. We’re doing IceWraps, we’re doing ColourIt, we’re doing WildBaby, we’re doing Tactical. Like, here’s all the products we’re launching and here’s the successes, here’s the failures.
Greg: [00:27:22] Right.
Mike: [00:27:22] And you know, it’s more real than just trying to say, like, “just follow me, like everything we’re doing works”, when realistically not everything works. And it’s hard to really believe something if you can’t see under the hood. And so, yeah, I think that it’s just a different approach that works a lot better than just trying to hide behind and be The Wizard of Oz or whatever.
Greg: [00:27:43] Yeah, totally. I totally agree with all of that. With that being said though, like, I remember when we did our second product, once we had a little bit of a bigger following. We did these hooded baby towels and there were probably– man, there were probably like 30, 40, maybe 50 people that just directly copied everything we’re doing and literally within, I remember like a month of us launching, there were like maybe up to 50 competitors launching like the same weeks. So like there is a certain level of that you screw yourself over a little bit like if you have a large enough following. But at the same time, if I were to do it all over again, I wouldn’t do it any differently, all things being considered.
Mike: [00:28:26] Yeah, I’m with you. We certainly had lots of people copy us as well. And there’s a lot to be said for a) being the first to market and b) just it isn’t, that isn’t like those hooded towels were like your entire business. So regardless if someone copies it or not, it doesn’t really matter. And for me, like we were lucky and just fortunate enough that we are already in a pretty good position financially anyway. And for me, the overarching goal is to just to help people and share what we’re doing, share our story. And I also take the approach now that I’ve gotten older and been through a few business cycles, that we’re never going to sell the world’s gel pens and we’re never going to sell the world’s like ice packs. And I know people are going to copy us.
Mike: [00:29:04] And instead of spending all my energy worrying about that, I just worry about what I’m going to keep doing moving forward. And it was definitely a hard lesson to learn that I learned during the online poker affiliate days because we came up with some brand new concepts, things that I spent a lot of time and energy working on. And, you know, I thought I was really smart and that that should be mine. And you realize that there’s nothing you could do to stop people from copying that stuff. I know now that had I spent more energy, worrying more about what I was doing like I did in the early days, instead of worrying about them, I just would have been way better off. And it wasn’t just better off for the business, but just emotionally, because when you get spun up about that, it can spiral out of control. At least it did for me as a game, it’s like (frustrated gibberish) and then you just go in like this, spiral downhill and it just isn’t worth it.
Greg: [00:29:58] Right. Yeah, so true. I remember the first few people who copied JungleScout. I was– I think I just had so many emotions, like pissed, upset, sad, I don’t know, just like all the emotions, just none of it felt good.
Mike: [00:30:12] Yeah, yeah.
Greg: [00:30:13] And then today it doesn’t even really bother me at all. Because I think I just realised that that’s just part of it. Like the way that you like stay out ahead and just like continuously innovate. And they’re just– if they’re just copying everything you’re doing, they’re always kind of a step behind and instead, just stay laser focused on the problems you’re solving, like the people you’re helping, what they need, what you can do to better help them, how you can make your own product better. And that’s like the best you can do.
Mike: [00:30:36] Yeah, and I mean competition like that keeps you from getting complacent. I think it motivates you, keeps you looking at your North star all the time. And it’s natural. You know, and it happens in nature or whatever as well. It’s like, you know, you think about lions or possibly on though in the wild, it’s the same the same type of thing. And, you just gotta keep on fighting and being the strongest guy, so.. yeah. And so, obviously like there’s a lot of stuff that happened between then and what’s kind of happening now. And we only have a limited amount of time for the podcast. So I really wanna talk about building a team because I think that I’m most impressed about you, like I’ve known you now for a few years, we’ve hung out and done Five Minute Pitch and I’ve just known you from the speaking circuit. I’ve seen you grow from, I think like 20 or 30 people, whatever it was when I first met you, to almost a couple of hundred now.
Mike: [00:31:25] And I’m always the most impressed with people that can take this transition of being a solopreneur, to running a small team to like running like a mid-sized company to now like you’re pushing towards another whole envelope. And I guess the reason that I’m impressed by is because I haven’t been able successfully do it. I’ve tried a couple of times. It’s really tough, like managing people and teams like that and being organized and just keeping everyone pushing in the same direction. It is really difficult. So I mean, how have you been able to do that?
Greg: [00:31:56] Good question. I don’t know.
Mike: [00:31:59] Well, we’re done. Let’s go home now.
Greg: [00:32:02] No, I agree with you that like the people who are good at like starting businesses are typically not the people who are good at like operating or like running like larger companies, like there are different skillsets and there are typically different personalities as well. I can’t point to one thing that I think has helped me be able to do this well. I feel like it’s just constant learning, consistently just being humble. Realise that you don’t know anything with just like an open mind and trying to learn from whoever has done that before well, from mentors to just like reading books to listening to podcasts from other founder’s stories, and all the things they did wrong. I think its just like a combination of kind of like all those things of how just I’ve learned what I know today and how I’m still learning to try to get to the next level.
Mike: [00:32:58] Yeah, interesting. So this came up at a dinner conversation or something. At some point over the last week, I forgot, everything’s always a blur. But you mentioned a few books, a couple of books that I’ve heard as well, one or two that I’ve read myself. Do you mind mentioning those? I kind of know what they are. I don’t want to rain on your parade, but if you remember them or not.
Greg: [00:33:16] Let’s see. Was it Scaling Up?
Mike: [00:33:19] Yup, Scaling Up which has been recommended to me by lots of people, I’ve actually read a good portion of it.
Greg: [00:33:24] Nice.
Mike: [00:33:24] Yeah. I just got recommended that book recently.
Greg: [00:33:27] Yeah. The Hard Thing About Hard Things.
Mike: [00:33:29] Another really good book.
Greg: [00:33:30] Great book and then as far as like, leadership and people management, I think the single most influential book for me is Radical Candor. Kendall Scott, I think is her name?
Mike: [00:33:41] Yeah.
Greg: [00:33:41] It’s really good.
Mike: [00:33:42] Yeah, very good stuff. Cool. So I happen to be here at a time when you guys have been going through this amazing initiative, which is awesome to see the energy in the building. It’s been like the eight weeks of eight new features of JungleScout, we’re at the tail end of it. But I think still a very good topic for today on the podcast just for people out there that– you kind of like– I think for me and it’s interesting because I’ve known you and I would think that I would– if any one person would be more up to date about what JungleScout is up to, I feel like it would be me. But you guys have been working on so much stuff, I have no idea. It’s like so cool to see what’s been going on. So let’s talk about like the 8 new things you guys released over the last 8 weeks. Yeah.
Greg: [00:34:23] Yeah. So yeah, I guess this whole thing started because this year in general, we’ve built up our product team a lot, like if we rewind to the beginning of this year, I think we probably had like maybe a dozen or maybe 15 developers where now it’s probably close to like 40 developers and with that, a whole bunch more PNs and UX people and everything else. We have a lot of capacity to like build stuff really fast. And so we had like tons of stuff on the roadmap. But like a lot of these new developers starting kind of like mid year, a lot of the stuff they’re working on is like a whole bunch, it was going be ready around kind of the same period of time.
Greg: [00:35:03] So, yeah, it’s just like a marketing initiative. We were going to do eight weeks of product releases like one per week, which is kind of a really fun thing. It just wrapped up. Yeah, so just to go through all of them real quick, man, I hope I remember them all.
Mike: [00:35:16] I think I remember them, I can maybe help a little bit.
Greg: [00:35:19] The first week was the ASIN search functionality inside of our supplier database. So you enter an ASIN, JungleScout checks a few different records to see what company owns that brand and then matches them up to see where they’ve been importing their goods from. So its like a pretty cool thing.
Mike: [00:35:35] I think you started with my favourite feature off the back, when I saw it, I was like, “Woah, that’s pretty damn cool.”.
Greg: [00:35:39] Yeah. It is cool. The next one we launched, our brand new In-App Academy, so we have like a whole lot of content in app. It turned out really nice, just like well organised, little snippets, high quality information. I’m so proud of that. I think that week three was our new and improved Keyword Scout, so our keyword research tool. So we had a keyword research tool before but didn’t support the EU. It didn’t have historical search volumes, it didn’t have like trend data and stuff like that. So we released that. So it was really cool. A few other things, I’m probably getting the order wrong.
Greg: [00:36:16] But like we released our new sales analytics platform, so it’s just like all your sales data, profitability data, all of like the graphs and the reporting that you wish was inside of Seller’s Central, but doesn’t provide to you. We released that one, we released our– let’s see, our Keyword Rank Tracker. Of course, you put in a keyword, it lets you know where the ASINs ranking for that particular keyword. Pretty proud of how that one turned out. Man, I think I’m going to forget one because I have the alerts and inventory management. And there’s one that for some reason I’m forgetting now, so alerts, like lets you know when if there’s like a hijacking on your listing or get suppressed or get put into the Adult category, whatever else. Inventory management is relatively self-explanatory, lets you know when you need to reorder. And there’s one I’m forgetting.
Mike: [00:37:04] I can’t remember the last one. I had inventory, but I couldn’t remember the other one. I think that maybe–
Greg: [00:37:13] Oh! I got it. It’s called Opportunity Finder. So that’s our newest product research functionality that– a couple years back, we released something called the Niche Hunter. I wasn’t like super proud of how it turned out, just like the data inside of it was just too messy that it never really fulfilled the expectations I had for it. So this was like kind of take 2 at it. I actually am pretty proud of how this one turned out. We’re still making some tweaks, but even right now, like literally within 5 minutes, like you could find a pretty dang good opportunity to sell.
Mike: [00:37:45] Yeah, no doubt and we demo’d that as well. I was like, wow, that’s pretty darn cool and I kind of wished I was at that stage of our business right now because we’ve kind of got plenty of opportunities to work on right now, but yeah, definitely, definitely awesome. The thing that I really love about the direction JungleScout is going is that, at least it seems that it’s becoming like this all inclusive suite of tools to do everything that an Amazon seller would need to do. And for me, I think it’s getting pretty close to being there, being an all-inclusive suite and certainly over the next year, I think it will be. And I’m excited for that too, because I’m sick of like having to like log in to one tool to do one thing, another tool to do another thing and just being able to log in to JungleScout to get it all done is pretty darn cool.
Greg: [00:38:24] Yeah, that’s our exact goal that this is like really the tool that Amazon Sellers need. What we found is most FBA sellers are like the entrepreneur or small business, they would like fall into kind of like those categories and really like this group of people, 1. They don’t want to have to pay for like multiple different subscriptions. They don’t really need super advanced stuff like they always get the larger businesses. They’re storing inventory in all different types of areas. They have all different types of accounting tools and maybe revenue recognition, all this different type of stuff. And like these small businesses, they don’t really need all that. What they’re looking for is like a simple yet robust tool that’s kind of like their command centre to be like running their business. That’s the exact goal of JungleScout.
Mike: [00:39:13] Yeah, very cool. So let’s end it on, what’s next for JungleScout? What’s going to happen in 2020?
Greg: [00:39:18] Yeah, you know, these past few weeks we’re doing a lot of like our 2020 planning and I think you’ll see a lot more around the concept that I was just talking about like we really are making this transition from JungleScout being this product research tool into JungleScout being this tool to not only find new products, new opportunities, keyword research, but also the tool that you’re using to like manage your business day to day, optimise, grow your business day to day. So yeah, really all of our initiatives are really around helping Amazon sellers do a better job with that.
Mike: [00:39:50] Cool. If you’ve been living under a rock for the last several years, you can go to Ecomcrew.com/JungleScout to learn more about JungleScout and Greg, thanks so much for coming and doing this today, man.
Greg: [00:40:00] Thanks for having me on, Mike. It’s been fun.
Mike: [00:40:02] Alright, guys, it’s going to wrap it up for the 293rd episode of the Ecomcrew podcast. If you want to go to the show notes for this episode, you’re welcome to go over to Ecomcrew.com/293 to get to the notes. Leave us a comment if you have one. We’d love to hear from you. Don’t forget again, Ecomcrew premium. This is it, folks for 2019. It is crazy that 2019 is wrapping up pretty rapidly here. It’s nuts. It always feels that way at the end of the year, right? It’s like where did this year go but 2019 is about to be in history books. Ecomcrew.com/Premium. We’d love to see you on the inside, if it’s not quite your time yet for that, no worries. We’ll be there next year for you.
Mike: [00:40:40] If you just want to listen to the podcast and you’re sick of hearing about this. It’s kind of like the NPR fundraising drive. Luckily, that’s over for the year and we won’t be talking about Ecomcrew premium for a while and we appreciate you listen to us drone on for the last few episodes about Ecomcrew premium. It is really the only thing that we promote on the podcast for the most part and we appreciate you guys sticking with that. So that’s going to do it for this episode. Guys, really appreciate your support as always and until the next episode. Happy selling and we’ll talk to you soon.
Outro: [00:41:07] We hope you enjoyed this episode of the Ecomcrew podcast. If you haven’t done so already, please head over to iTunes and leave us a review. It helps more than you know. Did you know that Ecomcrew has a ton of free content, including ecommerce courses? Head over to Ecomcrew.com/Free to check it out today. That’s going to do it for this episode of the Ecomcrew podcast. Until the next one, 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.