E528: Running an Ecommerce Business from India

Mike catches up with Aaron Hughes from Ecommerce Wala after the visit to India to talk about Aaron's background, how he got started in Ecommerce, and the differences between working with a team vs. online. 

Today, we're joined by Aaron Hughes from Ecommerce Wala. 

Aaron and I met during the India Sourcing Trip, and he was by far, one of the most different while still being from the US.  

I wanted to invite Aaron over to the podcast today to talk about how his ecommerce journey ended up in India, the cultural and ecommerce differences between the US and India and his company Ecommerce Wala. 

Audio Timestamps: 

  • Introduction – 0:00 
  • How Aaron Hughes' life lead to India – 2:47
  • Getting over the differences between US & other countries – 5:32
  • Aaron Hughes' Ecommerce Background – 9:12 
  • Going all-in on Ecommerce – 11:32
  • Working in-person vs online – 16:52
  • Upcoming technology worries – 19:52
  • How Aaron and his wife met – 22:46
  • Adopting in India – 24:12 
  • Growing a team to 60+ people – 25:35
  • Ecommerce Wala and what they do from India – 27:15

Video Timestamps: 

  • Introduction – 0:00 
  • How Aaron Hughes' life lead to India – 2:34
  • Getting over the differences between US & other countries – 5:41
  • Aaron Hughes' Ecommerce Background – 9:41
  • Going all-in on Ecommerce – 12:22
  • Working in-person vs online – 18:04
  • Upcoming technology worries – 21:25 
  • How Aaron and his wife met – 24:39
  • Adopting in India – 26:17
  • Growing a team to 60+ people – 27:50 
  • Ecommerce Wala and what they do from India – 29:43

Aaron, thank you again for coming on the podcast. We'll definitely meet up when you're in Las Vegas for a holiday. 

If you're interested in hiring from India, or hearing more from Aaron Hughes, you can check out his LinkedIn profile here. 

As always, if you have any questions or anything that you need help with, reach out to us at support@ecomcrew.com if you're interested. 

Don’t forget to leave us a review on iTunes if you enjoy our content. If you have any questions, send us an email at support@ecomcrew.com. We'd love to help you in any way we can. 

Thanks for listening!

Until next time, happy selling! 

Full Audio Transcript

Mike Jackness (00:01.782)
Hey Aaron, welcome to the Ecom Crew Podcast.

Aaron Hughes (00:05.773)
Hey Mike, thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Mike Jackness (00:07.434)
Yeah, great to have you, man. Super excited. Just seeing your face here brings me right back to a couple of months ago when we were in India and hanging out. So it's fun to touch base again.

Aaron Hughes (00:21.121)
Yeah, if only we would have sang that duet, you know, this would have been, I think, more meaningful, but we never got the chance.

Mike Jackness (00:26.802)
I tried, I asked you first, so it was on you.

Aaron Hughes (00:32.834)
Yeah, it's my lack of music knowledge.

Mike Jackness (00:36.643)
Music knowledge is not a problem for me, music ability on the other hand is a little bit of a problem.

Aaron Hughes (00:44.442)
I think you did pretty well out there on the stage.

Mike Jackness (00:48.198)
It was a fun time. I've been talking a lot about the trip with friends after coming back and people that have nothing to do with e-commerce. I have a lot of friends here in Vegas. It's always interesting trying to explain the experience of being in India to somebody in 30 seconds or less because they don't really want to hear too much. They're just being nice. How was your trip kind of thing?

It's hard to explain. I mean, it's a pretty crazy place.

Aaron Hughes (01:19.277)
Yeah, it's a lot to unpack because a lot of people in their mind think of, you know, slumdog millionaire and there's a whole lot more to it. As you know, very diverse place.

Mike Jackness (01:24.237)

Mike Jackness (01:28.214)
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And so we'll get into that here in just a minute, but like the main reason I wanted to have you have you come on the show, you know, the fun thing for me going to these events is meeting new people. And the challenge for me these days has been like, I ended up going to the same events over and over again, so I don't really meet a lot of new people anymore. But on this trip, like besides Dave and my wife who came with me, like everybody was basically new.

And so that was a lot of fun. And I hope no one else that was there is listening this. No, nothing against anybody else. But you were my favorite. I loved hanging out with you. Just a genuine, cool dude. Yeah, I mean, it was just a blast getting to know you. I mean, like, we couldn't be more like two different people and different backgrounds and stuff, but like, it just goes to show you that like, none of that stuff matters. And I really wish that more people would be just open-minded and…

Aaron Hughes (01:56.581)

Mike Jackness (02:24.438)
and open their hearts and just, you know, not make everything about, I don't know, dividing and whatever. And just, I just, just an awesome dude. So I really wanted to have you come on the podcast and talk about your background and like how you as a, you know, Midwestern or ended up in, you know, a half a mile, a half a world away in India. And it's just a really cool background.

Aaron Hughes (02:47.725)
Yeah, I mean, I can give the kind of high level, I guess, of how I even got to India and even got the Amazon space. But yeah, I agree. I loved hanging out with you guys. It was fun to get to know you and Dave and your wife and just, you know, kick it on the Bollywood night. But yeah, I'm originally from Arkansas, a small town outside of Little Rock, Arkansas. So the natural trajectory, of course, was India, right? So that, you know, not typically the job path forward. But

Um, you know, I went to the university of Arkansas, pig suey, if any Razorback fans are watching this, but, um, everyone pretty much from college goes to work for Walmart or some vendor for Walmart. And so I, I didn't, I I've always gone against the grain. Like I love wearing Crocs. I love zip off pants. I love whatever the culture says is, is stupid, you know? Um, and so I had a family.

Mike Jackness (03:28.22)

Aaron Hughes (03:43.985)
friend that owned a company that sold collegiate game day merchandise. So they have licenses for, you know, all the major universities and they source mainly from China, uh, but wanted to kickstart their operations, uh, outside of China. This was before ever anyone else was talking about it. And so I wasn't experienced at all, uh, but the family knew that I wanted to do something internationally. And so sent me to India to figure out how to find suppliers here that they could buy merchandise from.

So my original job into India was sourcing products for other companies. And then I started working for a general sourcing business after that, but I first landed in 2014. So almost nine years ago now in Hyderabad, India, which is South India, but kind of in the middle, a little bit South. And had no, yeah, just had no clue, had no clue about anything in India.

Mike Jackness (04:31.722)
Right. Yeah, that's awesome. Yeah, go ahead.

Aaron Hughes (04:40.841)
honestly didn't even Google much. I was just a typical single guy shooting from the hip throwing spaghetti against the wall and just trying to see what stuck. But yeah, that's what brought me here originally.

Mike Jackness (04:52.238)
Had you traveled internationally before? Was India like your first out of North America kind of thing?

Aaron Hughes (05:00.057)
I went to Mexico as like a teen, like a maybe when I was 13, that was pretty much it. Like I've never even been, I think we talked about this in Delhi, like I haven't even seen much of the US. I've never been to Vegas. I've never been up north anywhere. I've been to California. That's as crazy as I've gone in the States.

Mike Jackness (05:04.714)
Yeah. Okay.

Mike Jackness (05:09.078)

Mike Jackness (05:17.866)
It's just amazing to me because like, I don't know, if I had never left the United States, and I think you kind of want to do something a little safer first, quote unquote safer, in terms of like, it's not as dramatically different than what you're already used to. And I think that, because I've been, I don't know, traveling is like my hobby. So India was my 58th country. And I think of the places that I've been that have been,

the most dramatically different than when I'm used to day to day. India's got to be either at the very top of the list or very close to it.

Aaron Hughes (05:54.157)
Well, I was actually talking to someone the other day who was telling me like, man, I can't believe you've like thrived in India for this long. Because when you look at this culture index, India, there's not many countries that are the antithesis of each other. India and the U S actually are opposite on like every point on the spectrum. And so it is kind of interesting that I have made it this long, because it is such a different culture to the U S but I'm more like, so one of my heroes is Joe dirt, Joe dear Tay as they like to pronounce. So,

Mike Jackness (06:07.885)

Aaron Hughes (06:23.961)
Life's a garden, you gotta dig it is one of my life mottos. And it's like sink or swim, you just gotta go for it.

Mike Jackness (06:30.73)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think when I look at India, it reminds me a lot of Costa Rica in a lot of ways in terms of like, you know, where they're at on the third world country scale or whatever. And so when we when we moved there, when we first got down there for like the first year, I'm like, this is freaking awesome. Because like, no one has to pay attention to any of the rules. And you just like, the lines on the road are kind of a suggestion, the stop signs are just merely there's a suggestion and red lights, you know, whatever you just drive however the hell you want. And if you

this actually never happened to me, but like a lot of my friends had it happen and I was prepared if it did, but like if you did actually get pulled over, it was like 20 bucks and they just like let you go kind of thing. And, you know, for the first while I was like, this is just, it's like driving in a video game. Like this is absolutely amazing. But after a while, like you realize like why you like the things that you're used to, like people actually stopping at the red lights and people staying in their lanes, you know, for the most part.

Aaron Hughes (07:10.734)

Mike Jackness (07:30.318)
I don't know, it just, it wore on me. And so it's interesting to me that, that you just kind of have rolled with it. Now that you've been there for so long, I would just imagine there's some hump you get over where like, that's home. And when you go back to the U.S., it's almost like weird.

Aaron Hughes (07:46.969)
Yeah, for sure. There's definitely like a honeymoon period where everything is amazing. And then you hit this wall. It's like what happens in a day where you realize, wow, this is really annoying that, you know, they do it this way. And I'll say India now compared to nine years ago is a lot easier to do life because I used to have to go into the phone store to pay my bill. You know, I used to have to go into offices to do stuff. Now everything's online. And so it is a lot more easier to do life.

Mike Jackness (08:13.23)

Aaron Hughes (08:15.473)
There's a lot of perks like I could hire a full time nanny, like we have a full time nanny with our kids and things like that. But, you know, with that, there's obviously some growing pains and things with that nature. But now that I'm here, it is it takes me a while to adjust back to the States because I am used to kind of the way of life here. I in the States frequently, because I'm in a small town, Arkansas, it's very often that I'm on a road with no other cars around.

Mike Jackness (08:41.507)

Aaron Hughes (08:41.837)
And so very often I will get into the wrong lane because I'm just used to India. And you don't think about it. There's always cars, there's always people. And so that's my problem going back to the States.

Mike Jackness (08:44.594)

Mike Jackness (08:49.44)

Mike Jackness (08:52.846)
I had the same thing happen. We lived in the Cayman Iowans for a year as well, which is they drive on the other side of the road, but obviously you can't compare it to India in any other way, because it's like very quiet. The biggest road's like one lane, but you do drive on the other side of the road.

And you just kind of forget about it becomes second nature. And there was one moment where I was in my cousin's neighborhood in New Jersey. I used to go up there to visit my grandma every year and stay at his house. And I pulled up his bar in his car, pulled out the drive when I'm like driving down the left-hand side of the road, like not thinking anything about it. And then all of a sudden there's like a car heading on me. It's like, oh crap, like got to get over. I mean, it wasn't really close to an accident or anything, but I had just completely, you know, all these things just become second nature without you even realizing it.

Aaron Hughes (09:25.501)
Thank you.

Aaron Hughes (09:33.785)
Right. The guy in New Jersey is like, who is this jackal over here?

Mike Jackness (09:37.982)
Yeah, exactly, exactly. Cool. So you, you arrive in India 2014, you're, you're doing the sourcing for someone else and you're working for the sourcing company. And so I, I'm kind of connecting the dots here. I guess, as you're working for the sourcing company, you're like, man, I can probably do this myself and why not start some of my own stuff online rather than then do it for somebody making them rich.

Aaron Hughes (10:01.229)
Yeah, I didn't get into Amazon, like a lot of folks who, you know, take a guru course or whatever. Um, I, you know, I was in the industry. I was seeing these manufacturers make these awesome products. And one day I was like, man, why don't, like, why don't I just try a side hustle? Uh, you know, I heard about Shopify. I was like, I can put up a Shopify store. Oh, it's going to be super easy. I'll just get people to my website and, you know, make a ton of money.

And I realized, oh crap, this is like really difficult to get people to your Shopify store. And at that point too, my products weren't even good. Like I had just taken stuff on the side of the road at like leather shops here. They weren't even like really produced by legit manufacturers. And so I was still learning to myself of like, man, how do I create like a quality product that people want? And then also how do you get eyeballs on it? And then a friend of mine mentioned to me like, hey, you know, Amazon, you can sell your goods.

on Amazon too, why don't you try it? And I'll be honest, I was a dumb dumb. I didn't even know people were doing that. I thought Amazon was for Nikes of the world. And so that's when I started diving deep. I mean, that was, I guess, 2016 or so, when I started diving deep into Amazon. And I did everything myself because I'm a learn by doing kind of guy. So I stickered my first products, I shipped a box of wallets to Amazon. Oh, and I started in leather wallets, which is like…

you know, a big no for most gurus of like, Oh, it's too saturated. That's just, I just sold products I like. And so, um, that was in 2016. And then I started getting sales and at first I was just selling relatively at a break-even point, cause I just wanted to test the theory of like, will this work? And started to realize, yeah, it will work. Like I can create a business and run it from the other side of the world. Um, Amazon takes care of like all the annoying things that I can't do because I'm not there.

Mike Jackness (11:28.098)

Aaron Hughes (11:53.961)
And so from there, I just started adding skew by skew and growing. And I've never done, I have technically three brands on two seller accounts. Now I've never done it full time. I have a team now that, you know, works with it. I mainly do about five to 10 hours a month of work on my actual brands and it ebbs and flows based on the season. But yeah.

Mike Jackness (12:19.294)
Interesting. And so you start selling your own stuff on Amazon. I mean, at what point did you say, okay, I'm going to go do this full time and leave the other gig?

Aaron Hughes (12:32.889)
Well, that was so instead of going full time on my brand itself, what we did was me and a local partner of mine that I'd hired with my brand. Um, really like, I love just the idea of like social entrepreneurship, like creating jobs that impact communities because you're not just giving a job to one person, it's also their extended family that is, you know, being positively impacted by that. And so I wanted to create.

like a people company, essentially, which Thursdays, I really regret that. But we started an agency called eCommerce Walla. And that was in a little over four years ago. Now we started that. So that was where you can essentially say I went full time into Amazon and eCommerce. So I'd work on my brains a little bit, but I would basically train my team to do all the things that I was going to do on my brand. So we started building a team.

that would do like all the SEO, keyword research, like graphic design, all that stuff in house. I more so just orchestrated it. And then we started working with agencies and brands. And then I started just continually adding SKUs as I went myself, going to the trade shows in Delhi and finding suppliers. So it's been almost five years now that I've been kind of full time in that e-comm space.

Mike Jackness (13:48.17)
Yeah. And I think it's a natural transition. It makes a lot of sense. I mean, it's very similar to what we've done in the Philippines, just a different jurisdiction, but another developing country where cost of living is significantly lower in terms of US dollars for similar labor in the United States to get it done in the Philippines is a fraction of the cost. So it's pretty natural to move a lot of operations there. And then you can

you provide them a high quality job and a better quality of life and everybody kind of wins. And so you're immersed in this culture, just happened to be in India, very similar circumstances where your cost of living's cheaper or the wages are less. And so you can hire someone there for significantly less to do similar jobs that a Westerner would do. But these are all like highly educated people. Obviously English is the first language.

Aaron Hughes (14:41.073)

Mike Jackness (14:43.746)
And you're physically right there, which is a huge win, because you can physically keep an eye on them, train them in person, do team building things with them, which I think is super important. I was always a half a world away, so I can only go fly over to Philippines once or twice a year at most, and spend a week or two at a time, and it just, it sucked. And so you're able to be there and go do fun things with them, which I think is really cool.

Aaron Hughes (15:10.885)
Yeah, right now we have a team, I think we're about 65 strong. Even in the last like 10 days, I think we've had like seven or eight people join our team. But we were very opposite of a lot of people and I'm not saying it's a good or bad thing. I just, I'm a big in-person fan because it's really hard for me to train people remotely because I'm more of like a specialist. So if I'm on a task, I'm not thinking about anything else in the task. And so for me, it's just really good.

Mike Jackness (15:26.754)

Aaron Hughes (15:38.257)
for our people to be in the office, rub shoulders together. And like we've got seller central account managers. So like if one person, we have one guy who's really strong in flat files and one guy who's really strong in something else. And so they can easily cross pollinate if they're stuck on a task. But we actually developed, like built our own coworking space for our company. And then we rent out the rest of the office space for kind of future plans for our growth. But.

But yeah, I love being in person. We do a lot of fun things together. We just went to an amusement park for our four year anniversary with our whole company and all that. So that was a good time.

Mike Jackness (16:15.814)
Awesome. Yeah, that's very cool. Yeah, it's interesting. I think it's, you know, I think it's generational. I think it's definitely an age thing. I'm, you know, I'm a little bit older than you, but like you're certainly older than kids these days coming out of college or whatever. And I don't know, I grew up in a time where we all went to the office and it was like, there wasn't even, you know, back then there wasn't even an option. You know, you couldn't work from home because there wasn't Zoom and there wasn't really…

Aaron Hughes (16:39.59)

Mike Jackness (16:42.714)
We had Citrix, which allowed us to remote dial in and get some stuff done. But IT security was a thing and the internet just wasn't as fast. And it was just generally known that you were going to come in and work. And all these little things happen when you're in person that you just completely take for granted. And I'm pretty introverted. A lot of people are surprised to hear that when I say that or always call BS on it. But like

As much as I'm a people person and I love, like, you know, I am kind of an extrovert, but it's like, I have to push myself to do it. Like if left to my own devices, I would just sit at home and like, you know, with relatively few people and not do it. But even then, you know, I realized the importance of like human communication and interaction. And during COVID, I was starting to get like a little stir crazy. Like just, you know, not being out and talking to people. Certainly took me a lot longer than some of my other friends who are like true extroverts.

Aaron Hughes (17:17.094)

Mike Jackness (17:38.774)
But I don't think it's healthy to just sit at home by yourself in some small apartment somewhere and never physically talk to somebody. It worries me how acceptable this has become, because I think it's just going to degrade society even more. Because you just forget how to interact with people. It's wild.

Aaron Hughes (18:03.341)
Yeah, I actually saw on LinkedIn the other day, how a lot of folks are saying, people who work remote, like are, are going to be a lot less likely to become CEOs. And one of the things I think we forget is that being with people, like it can be messy, but it makes you a better person. So like we have inner, we have workplace conflict all the time. And by working through that, those are all like the leadership development moments for our people. So if you're remote,

Mike Jackness (18:14.786)

Mike Jackness (18:21.259)

Aaron Hughes (18:31.041)
you really don't have those instances really. I mean, I guess you can. But I think in the moment, those are really annoying and they're nuisances. But when you think about the long term growth of people, that's how you develop as a leader. And so for me, I think there's a lot of intangible things. And we so like you said, too, it's working remote, there's a ton of benefits. And like we have people all the time from different states who

have issues pop up that need to go home. And so, hey, great, like you can work remote for whatever time period. So we allow for that flexibility, but our default is, you know, in the office because I just think there's a lot of intangible pros of it.

Mike Jackness (19:10.142)
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I don't know, it's, I feel, I definitely feel my age, you know, I am now, I have the perspective, I think of being older, but not too old. And, you know, but not, you know, being younger still, but not too young kind of thing. I'm like in the middle there. And so, you know, I think about a lot of things I used to hear my parents or grandparents say. And I'm like, oh my God, like, you know, I'm turning into them in some ways. And also just,

that this happens at every generation, right? Like everyone thinks the younger generation's like messed up in some way. Like this is like all through human history as far back as we can think. And so it's natural for the world to progress. And I, for a lot of it, I adopted with open arms, but there are a lot of things that are alarming. Like I said, I mean, it's the social aspect stuff alarms me. I think some of the other technology stuff coming on a pipeline, you know, just…

Aaron Hughes (19:48.731)

Mike Jackness (20:09.302)
will make us less and less sociable. You think about like having robots around or AI or whatever, and just like being able to rely on other things other than like you figuring it out. I don't know, like I just think it, I feel like we're heading towards the movie Idiocracy where it's just like people are getting dumber and dumber and not smarter and smarter. We're for, you know, basically every generation was smarter than the last and more capable than the last. And all of a sudden we've like, I think hit the top of the mountain in our.

or staring down at the bottom of the abyss all of a sudden. Hopefully we don't go into it.

Aaron Hughes (20:43.513)
Yeah, it's an interesting point to just the fact that we're never going to have to memorize anything anymore, because everything will be like this AI pin, we're talking about the new phone, it's like everything is at your fingertips. And so to a certain degree, it's like we're not going to be leveraging our brain for a lot of challenging things, because we can just default to whatever is there. So I do think there's a level of like, man, we need to continue to challenge ourselves and to be creative and to do things that aren't.

Mike Jackness (20:53.053)

Aaron Hughes (21:10.525)
you know, I think in today's culture, we're obsessed with the hustle culture and like being efficient. And I think there's a level of like, man, you can efficient, efficient yourself to death, like, life is not meant to make efficiency of every second of every day, like, yes, let's be efficient, but leave time for the unexpected. And like, you know, I maybe I sound a little silly saying that, but it's just like, I read the book, Buy Back Your Time, and it's an awesome, awesome book. Learned a ton from it. But

I think if I followed his regimen of like double booking things and like reading a book in every cab, I would just, my brain would explode. Sometimes I need a little mental space just to do nothing, you know?

Mike Jackness (21:51.358)
Yeah. I mean, there's other books that will talk about that, right? Where they're like, you need deep work and you need just quiet time and these things. And I actually more agree with that. And this day and age where it seems like at every moment of every day, there's just noise everywhere. And more so in India than over here, like literally noise everywhere over in India. But yeah.

Aaron Hughes (22:01.67)

Aaron Hughes (22:12.817)

I don't know if you can hear, can you hear the fireworks going off through my headset? Okay, there have been a couple loud bombs the day after Diwali, so there's still some noises going on.

Mike Jackness (22:19.199)
I can't, no, that's not picking it up.

Mike Jackness (22:27.606)
Very cool. Yeah. It's I wish I could be there for something like that. I think that would be just so neat. I one of my favorite memories of living in Costa Rica was always on New Year's Eve and everybody there would launch fireworks. And we lived up on the side of a mountain and could see the whole like central valley of San Jose. And man, it looked like it looked like a war zone. It literally looked like bombs are just dropping everywhere because it's just like there's flashes going off like nonstop for like over well over an hour.

And man, I really, I miss that experience. So just seeing something like that in India, I think would be really, really cool. And those are things that you gotta be there just at the right time and we weren't quite at the right time.

Aaron Hughes (23:03.893)
Yeah. My wife and I actually got engaged on Diwali, like in 2017 at a palace that overlooked the city is like on a hill. So we could see kind of like what you were just describing with the hydro bad war zone. So, but it was pretty cool. It was pretty epic.

Mike Jackness (23:19.382)
That's awesome. Yeah, that's like a great segue into another one of my favorite stories from India was actually how you met your wife, because you were both living in India, but like didn't meet in India. And that just so random to me.

Aaron Hughes (23:32.953)
Yeah, so she is from a small, in India, they would call it village in Arkansas. So our homes are only an hour away tops, like maybe 45. But she is two years older and went to, my wife is like a brainiac, like went to the University of Tulsa. I was like your kind of mid-level marketing guy. And she was working with a similar company in Bangalore. And so we actually cross, what's the word? Like we hung out at a couple of different,

industry conferences. And so I got to know her there and then kind of just took a shot like my you know, Joe Dirt Hero and just went for it asked her on a date we dated long distance for a while. But I remember her playing like a country playlist one time before she even really knew who I was. I was like, Oh my gosh, she loves country music. Like, she lives in India. Like, like, did I just find the unicorn, you know? And so, yeah.

Mike Jackness (24:28.831)
Yeah, sounds like it.

Aaron Hughes (24:30.829)
Our first date, our first couple of days were in Thailand, which is another one of my favorite countries. So yeah, we got married and have two wonderful daughters and, you know, are living the Indian dream over here.

Mike Jackness (24:42.314)
And you guys also adopted another kid, which I thought was another just heartwarming story because it's a lot to take care of, you know, a healthy kid, but you guys adopted a disabled kid, which is just tons of work. And oftentimes these kids are just cast to the side in society and not thought about, which is just amazing that you guys have put the effort. It makes me want to be a better person. I was just like the whole time, I'm like, man, this guy is like such a better person than I am. I need to work on myself. It was a pretty cool story.

Aaron Hughes (25:12.997)
Well, no, yeah, I mean, we don't take any credit for anything. It's not us really. We've been changed in a lot of ways by our faith and different things. And so we don't take credit for any of that, but we have a daughter, Kali, who was born in Hyderabad. So, you know, she's looks like an American, you know, little girl, but people get confused because they ask her like, where are you from? And she's like, India. And they're like, what are you talking about? You're not from India.

Mike Jackness (25:37.039)

Aaron Hughes (25:40.333)
And then we adopted our second daughter, her name's Pahi. She's from the Northeast India. So we have had her for a little over two years. She's technically still an Indian citizen. We have to switch her citizenship over. But yeah, we've had her for two years and yeah, it's been amazing. It's been super, super challenging, but also, you know, she's changed our family for the better for sure.

Mike Jackness (26:03.786)
Yeah. Cool. So we're at that time, this happens I feel like every episode when I'm like talking to someone cool like we're, I could just keep talking, but I got to be respectful of your time and I want to switch gears a little bit and give you a, you know, just a few minutes to talk about a little bit about your agency and if people are interested in that, how they can get a hold of you for that. So you mentioned, I think you just said you, was it 60 people you just got to? Four years and I forgot the number of people that you, you just hired like seven more people you said. It was 65. Okay.

Aaron Hughes (26:30.425)
So about 65, yeah. We have about 65, yeah. Yeah.

Mike Jackness (26:33.378)
some reason that number was in my head. It's funny that number, it's when we had the largest company I ever had, we had 66 people at our peak. So you're right there. I know what that feels like. It's an interesting moment because you start to get to hire other managers at that point and can do the more, you get to go back to doing fun stuff again. I felt like at that point I got to

be the chief culture manager kind of thing and then be the visionary guy. And there was someone else that was actually like dealing with managing the employees and making sure they were doing that stuff. And it was a cool time. I enjoyed it. And it sounds like you're on a trajectory to get way bigger than that, which is awesome. And it makes sense because again, I mean, there's lots of people out there that, you know, because e-commerce is a low margin business. It's very difficult to hire

Aaron Hughes (27:24.484)

Mike Jackness (27:25.482)
to do this stuff in the Western world and still make money. It isn't that I don't want to hire someone locally here in Las Vegas. It's that I legitimately, under no other circumstances, like you can slice it any way you want, I cannot afford them. I can hire one person here, or I can hire five people abroad and get five times the work done and get what I actually need to get done. It's just the way that it is. I mean,

Aaron Hughes (27:38.253)
Yeah, exactly.

Mike Jackness (27:55.202)
the internet or just globalization, competition, etc. has driven our prices down, our retail price we can sell to a customer down, and we're left with no other options. So I think more and more people are going to be looking abroad to do this stuff and you're in a perfect spot for that. So what are some of the things that you do? What does it cost over there to hire you to help out? Kind of talk about a little bit of that for a minute.

Aaron Hughes (28:24.345)
Yeah, and you're exactly right. What you were just saying, we're in the same spot. You were just describing of like, man, I can, we have an awesome, like leadership team and management team. And so I'm kind of aim at that place where I can dream again and start to kind of focus on culture, because that is a big part, big passion of mine. But we essentially are an agency for agencies and bigger brands. So we are not a typical boutique agency that just manages brands.

We do that, but the majority of our revenue comes from a subscription model. So you could hire a part-time graphic designer, a part-time content writer that does data dives or helium 10 keyword research and writes your listings. And then we also have our seller central virtual assistant. So that do pretty much anything on seller central and vendor central. But those are our kind of three main services. We also do PPC and house because we do manage brands. But.

Most people that come to us are at least million to $10 million brands and then agencies who are offshoring a lot of the actual optimization of their clients. So we'll get in there and optimize a hundred SKU brand, like redo all their SEO, redo all their graphic design. And you can basically hire in increments of part-time or full-time. So we have some agencies with like, you know, two and a half, three full-time people on our team. And then some agencies usually just start out at a part-time person. I just got off the phone with a…

guy who hired a part-time VA with our company. But the cool thing is all of our pricing's the same. It's 600 bucks for part-time and a thousand for full-time, which to be frank is honestly very competitive to where if you were to just find a freelancer individually and pay them, because there's a little bit of difference in price negotiations there, but, and it just goes up from there in prorated amounts. But.

Mike Jackness (30:15.793)

Aaron Hughes (30:15.865)
Yeah, so we've got our team of 65 is basically split up into those three categories. We've got a big team of designers, content writers, and then account managers.

Mike Jackness (30:24.318)
And so when you say part-time in this instance, you mean just 20 hours a week, kind of like halftime? Is that what you mean?

Aaron Hughes (30:29.929)
Yeah, so a lot of companies out there like Design Pickle and whatnot, you know, they say like unlimited design and not to be honest, I really, I really don't like that gimmick because it's not unlimited, you're basically paying for the same exact thing you're paying for part time or full time, you're going to get basically a number of hours. And so part time just means like four hours a day is like whatever we can get done, we get done. And typically, we're going to write like a unique listing in that time.

Mike Jackness (30:36.043)
Right, yeah.

Aaron Hughes (30:57.233)
create like an A plus layout in that time. And then full time would basically just be double that, eight hours a day. And we work, you know, Tuesday through Saturday, India time and have off on, you know, the major Indian festivals. But other than that, it's like, you know, it works well because when you go to sleep, our team is working. And so when you wake up, you have the work, give some comments and then, you know, upload it. But yeah.

Mike Jackness (31:22.09)
Yeah, it makes perfect sense. And you were just kind of saying, like, it's kind of similar to hiring directly. I mean, as someone that's done this both ways, and the thing I like about this model is, A, you're the one going on to find the people. That's actually quite a bit of work. You're training them, like you have a whole group of people there that are experiencing this stuff every single day. And so like the knowledge is coming from both you and that, you know, from your side, from your team, and then also the person that's hiring them, you can like, both of you can like be

dumping knowledge on this person, you're managing like their time off or like if they leave or other things that like you just kind of take for granted until the stuff comes up or if they have like other family issues or etc. And so like I just I don't know like I see both sides of the coin. I think that having someone else that's there managing that and it's just like you're it's one less thing you have to worry about. It's quite intriguing. So yeah, it's not surprising how you've been growing.

Aaron Hughes (32:16.697)
Yeah, you know, I've talked to a lot of I've talked to a lot of agencies who are really hesitant because they're like, Hey, I want to keep everything in house because that's my value. And maybe it's just because the marketer in me but to be honest, like that doesn't make sense to me because you're freelancers you don't like they could leave you tomorrow and then you're left with nothing. So the way that our company works is like

Mike Jackness (32:25.014)

Mike Jackness (32:38.904)

Aaron Hughes (32:41.069)
our company is tied to you, not necessarily the person. Ideally the same person's working on your account, but we have your SOP, so if this person goes AWOL, the next person, you won't even notice it, you don't have to worry about hiring them, the next person just goes up into the seat. And so if you think about long-term growth, we're more incentivized to stay forever, like as long as we can. So I never really understood that point, but that's one of the perks about us, is we basically handle all the HR nightmare, so that you can just focus on.

Mike Jackness (32:53.908)

Aaron Hughes (33:09.861)
you know, running your business and trying to grow your brand. And then like you said, we, we know with a lot of agencies, a lot of times we're training them because we're like cross pollinating from all the top agencies. So we learned a lot of great SOPs. And so, you know, we, we've showed a lot of companies data dive and they're like, Oh my gosh, like, this is amazing. I didn't even know this tool existed. Um, so it's kind of cool to be able to like help get some of them to that, that point as well.

Mike Jackness (33:20.946)
Exactly. Yep.

Mike Jackness (33:34.302)
Absolutely, yeah. Cool man, so if people wanna reach out to you if they're interested in this or anything else you're up to, what's the best way for them to get ahold of you?

Aaron Hughes (33:43.513)
Yeah, for sure. They can, you know, add me on LinkedIn or my emails, Aaron at ecommerce walla.co. I can share my details with you, Mike. But yeah, email or LinkedIn are probably some of the best ways to get ahold of me.

Mike Jackness (33:56.702)
Okay, yeah, Eekhamswala. Aaron, man, I can't thank enough for coming on. I hope our paths cross against me. And if you're ever in Las Vegas, I know you haven't been here before, but if you ever come out here, let me know. And next time I swing through India, I'm definitely coming to Harjitbhad to come visit.

Aaron Hughes (34:10.641)
Oh, I'm coming for the next Taylor Swift concert in Las Vegas. You know, you convinced me. So I'll holler at you when I'm in town.

Mike Jackness (34:16.986)
Okay, fair enough. She took a four-year break between tours last time, so we'll see how long that is, but I'll keep that in mind for sure.

Aaron Hughes (34:26.093)
Yeah, thanks a lot for having me on Mike. It's been a pleasure.

Mike Jackness (34:28.884)
Awesome Aaron, thank you man.


Michael Jackness

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.
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