Selling on Amazon? Don’t miss this interview.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed an entrepreneur who sells cups on Amazon. He’s making a killing so I interviewed him to find out how he grew his business. When the interview was done, he shot me an email and said, “Andrew, if you really want you to understand how we know what to sell. There’s a tool that we use but the guy who created it doesn’t talk about the software much.”

Well, today I’ve got the founder of the company that makes this software. His name is Greg Mercer. His software is called Jungle Scout. Jungle Scout is a product research tool for Amazon sellers. It helps them spot opportunities for things to sell on Amazon. I’ve kind of given it a short description here, but in the interview, we’re going to understand more of what it does and more importantly, for me, how he built up this company and how well it’s doing and why it’s doing so well.

Greg Mercer

Greg Mercer

Jungle Scout

Greg Mercer is the founder of Jungle Scout, a product research tool for Amazon sellers.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.

A few weeks ago, I interviewed an entrepreneur who sells cups — cups on Amazon. The guy’s making a killing with it, and the business keeps growing. So I interviewed him and I found out how he grew his business. When the interview was done, he shot me an email and said, “Andrew, if you really want to understand how we know what to sell, how sellers like us who sell on Amazon know what we should be doing on Amazon, there’s a secret tool that we use. It’s not so secret, but the guy who created it doesn’t talk about the software much. I think, Andrew, you should have him on Mixergy and figure out what’s going on there.”

So we emailed back and forth, and I’ve got the founder of the company that makes this software. His name is Greg Mercer. His software is called Jungle Scout. Jungle Scout is a product research tool for Amazon sellers. It helps them spot opportunities for things to sell on Amazon. I’ve kind of given it a short description here, but in the interview, we’re going to understand more of what it does and more importantly, for me, how he built up this company and how well it’s doing and why it’s doing so well.

This whole interview is sponsored by two great companies. The first will host your website. It is called HostGator. And the second one will help you grow your sales. In fact, Greg, I know you never heard of them, but I want you to hear that ad because I think you’re going to find it useful in your business. It’s called Pipedrive, but I’ll tell everyone more about them later. First, Greg, welcome.

Greg: Andrew, thanks a lot for having me on. I’m excited to be here. My goal was to make this the best Mixergy podcast in history, and I figure if I can’t get there, then I’ll just pad my stats with a whole bunch of paid traffic or something.

Andrew: I like that, send paid traffic to this interview. Why don’t we start with this if we’re going to make it the best — how much revenue are you making with this thing? How much money can you possibly make with that?

Greg: Two parts, there’s a Chrome plugin. There’s also a SaaS app, Andrew. We don’t disclose publicly our revenue numbers, but I’ll tell you this. We have in the mid-90,000, 94,000 to -95,000 customers or something now. The audience, they can go to our website and back into our revenue, if they’d like.

Andrew: You know I’m going to do that right now.

Greg: Do your napkin math.

Andrew: Plans that start with anywhere from $29 a month to go up to — do I need to both pay for the Chrome extension and the web app?

Greg: Two separate products. You can buy just one, both of them. About two-thirds of our customers end up getting both of them. Another third use one or the other.

Andrew: Two-thirds of the people are paying both. Okay. Let’s take the cheapest monthly plan that you have, $29 a month, right? Multiply that by 12. We end up with $348 a year, right? $348 times what did you say, 90,000 people?

Greg: Yeah.

Andrew: That means $31 million in revenue, but you said only two-thirds pay for the monthly, right? So that means $20,000 comes if everyone is just in the cheapest plan, and many people are signing up for the more expensive plans that go up to $69 a month. So fair to say over $20 million a year?

Greg: Yeah, plus or minus $19 million or so, yeah.

Andrew: Here’s what I want to know. Am I crazy in this math?

Greg: You’re not crazy.

Andrew: In the wrong neighborhood completely?

Greg: Not at all.

Andrew: This is a company that raised no outside funding.

Greg: Zero outside funding. It’s two and a half years old, started in February of 2015. So we’re still pretty young, still pretty small too, in between 30 and 35 employees on the team.

Andrew: And it’s run by a guy who’s barely in the office. You’ve got a nice setup today. You’re recording in a beautiful studio. How much of the year are you in this place where you are versus traveling around the world with a backpack?

Greg: I’m here two to three months out of the year. This is Vancouver. You can kind of see behind me a little bit, maybe some people hopefully working back there. I’m here two or three months out of the year. When we started the company roughly two and a half years ago, my wife and I sold all of our stuff, sold our house and started traveling around. We’re homeless. We’re Airbnb’s best customer. We spend a few months of the year with the team. The rest of the time is traveling.

Andrew: Do you ever wonder if people are recording you when you’re in an Airbnb? I spend time in those places too and sometimes I think, “What are they doing here?”

Greg: Like secret cameras or secret voice recorders?

Andrew: It’s not even secret anymore. How many people have Amazon Show or a Nest Camera? Are you remembering to turn that thing off?

Greg: No. I don’t really think about that.

Andrew: I guess you aren’t worried about that.

Greg: No.

Andrew: I always do. But I still use Airbnb, I love it, especially if you’re doing a team meeting. Imagine if you’re meeting with them in a hotel room. It creates this weird corporate vibe versus you rent a big house. Everyone gets your own room, in the living room. All right. This isn’t about Airbnb. That interview I already did. This is about your business. You’re a guy who started out as a civil engineer and as a side hustle, you did what on Amazon? That’s what led to this.

Greg: Yeah. I was selling physical products on Amazon. My whole life, I had this strong entrepreneurial spirit. I went like the normal American route, went to high school, went to college, became a civil engineer, got a real job working for this corporate company, didn’t like it. I was like, “How do I get out of this?”

I found selling on Amazon as an opportunity at the time. I started selling physical products on Amazon. I did that for a year and a half before I quit my job or something. I was like, “If I can replace my engineering income with selling these products through Amazon, then I’m going to quit my job. I’m going to do the entrepreneur thing full-time. That’s what I was doing. By the time I quit, I think I was making more than I was working as the engineer.

Andrew: What’s the first thing that you sold on Amazon?

Greg: So I sold a whole bunch of random stuff. One of my first products was this — most of them were in the healthcare and the patio, lawn and garden space. I sold a little bench for people to garden with and other weird garden type things.

Andrew: Bench for people to garden with?

Greg: Like a little bench to kneel on.

Andrew: Why that?

Greg: Yeah. So I had this process that I created. I’m a very data-driven person, engineer by trade.

Andrew: Before you even sold a single thing, you create a process?

Greg: Yes. I was like, “I have no idea what to sell. I don’t have my heart set on anything. I don’t want to sell any of these things that I’m passionate about.” I’m like, “What’s going to sell well with local competition?” I was going through that process. That’s how I stumbled upon this. There was a couple people selling these. They’re killing it. It’s not very competitive because it seems like something I could easily sell. Just to clarify, I was getting these products made in China. I was putting my private label or my name brand on it and then just using Amazon as a super powerful channel to sell them through.

Andrew: Buying them. They were already being made by some factory in China, and you said, “I’m going to buy it, but I want them to put my brand on it.” You saw that they would sell.

Greg: Yeah, exactly right. Not like an inventor. This thing was already being made. I’m just buying it from the factory.

Andrew: I see a lot of that on Amazon. I got the iPhone 7+ and the next day I said, “How do I get an extra battery for it in case I need it?” I saw one that looked great, and then I saw another one that looked just like it and another just like it. Every one of them looked the same, but they had a different brand name. I realized there were a lot of people who are doing this kind of thing. So you start doing that. How did that do you for?

Greg: It was doing well. I was confident in it and I was making enough money to quit my day job. This was going to be the money that my wife and I were living off of as we were traveling around. We sold our house. We sold our stuff. We were going to live off this Amazon money. So it was going well.

Andrew: Did it happen?

Greg: Yeah. That was happening for a few months. I still sell stuff on Amazon today, so I’m still making money off it. It was going good enough to be confident to live off it.

Andrew: And the whole thing was done off a laptop because you could find a manufacturer in China who was making something and have them rebrand it. What would you do? You have them ship it all the way to Amazon. Amazon takes over at that point. You pay storage. You pay shipping fees for Amazon.

Greg: That’s exactly right. That’s why Amazon is so cool. FBA, fulfillment by Amazon. So I’m just mailing stuff from China to these distribution centers in the States. Like whenever someone ordered it, Amazon would fulfill it. They do the customer support. So it’s pretty hands off. It was like the perfect lifestyle business for me to travel around. My idea was I just read Tim Ferriss’ book, of course. I was like, “I’m going to sit on the beach. I’ll work two hours a week checking my sales and have the time of my life.”

Andrew: Did it work out that way?

Greg: I found after like two weeks like, “I’ve never been so bored in my life. This is terrible.”

Andrew: I don’t understand that. If the thing is actually working, you’re making money, why are you bored? Why not say, “How do I juice it, get another 20% this week? How do I get people to come to my store? How do I find one of these products that’s actually going to be a big breakout hit, my fidget spinner or something?”

Greg: Yeah. So that’s exactly what happened. But in my head, my idea at the time — I think when you’re working a corporate job, you’re like, “If I can go on vacation all the time, I’d be happy,” but most driven entrepreneurial people, they’re not happy just relaxing, sitting on the beach and stuff. After a week or two, I was like, “I want to scale up this business, start something else.” So that’s exactly what happened. I ended up working more than I did at my corporate job, but instead it was fulfilling work that was exciting to me.

Andrew: Do you remember celebrating with your wife when you realized this was actually going to work?

Greg: There was never like a time where it was like today’s the day we realized this is going to work. It was always like, “It’s working now, but hopefully this doesn’t go away. We need to be living underneath our means.”

Andrew: So even when you got on your first your flight, you sold your house and everything, there was never a sense of, “We did it. We’re actually living this life that we want?”

Greg: You’re right. There was that. There wasn’t like a point in that business that okay, our income is fantastic, but there was a part that we were like we quit our job, we had a house, all this crap, we sold everything and it was like wow, we just took a huge leap of faith here. So I do remember celebrating that, that was exciting.

Andrew: Yeah. When I started Mixergy, things were going kind of okay, and then my wife and I got married and we said we don’t want to live an ordinary life. Let’s get rid of everything and fly to a different country. I remember when we flew to Argentina with our dog and our cat, took a first class flight — 17 hours, you want a nice first class experience. I was excited, but I looked over at her but I realized her excitement was counterbalanced by this sense of, “Why are we in first class?” It sounds like you didn’t experience that. There was never a sense of, “Yay, we’re here, but maybe we’re making a big mistake by taking this big leap.” Was it?

Greg: No. I don’t think so. I was confident when I wanted to do this. That was kind of like the jumping off the cliff I wouldn’t take and I was like, “There’s no turning back. I am not going back to my engineering job. I’m going to do whatever it takes to make this work.” That like lit a fire under me.

Andrew: Yeah. That whatever it takes feeling is such a good feeling to have.

Greg: No doubt.

Andrew: So you say, “I’m going to keep on doing this thing. Was there one big breakout hit before we get into the software?” What was the big one, the one that made the most money?

Greg: There was no big breakout hit, really. I continued to add products. They would all do pretty well.

Andrew: Like what, give me examples. I want to get a sense of what you were selling at the time.

Greg: Yeah. At one point, I was selling braces for people who’d break their wrist or their arms, different gardening tools like an aerator machine, just really random stuff like that.

Andrew: What is it with gardening? Were you a gardener?

Greg: No. I don’t know anything about gardening.

Andrew: I see. So it was just a sense of, “Hey, look, an opportunity.”

Greg: Selling on Amazon, for sure.

Andrew: That’s what your software helps people do, find opportunities on Amazon and if even they don’t care a rip about gardening, if that’s what people are buying and that’s where the money is, they should be finding a way to satisfy that need. That’s what Jungle Scout does.

Greg: Yeah, no doubt.

Andrew: I see. I get the name too. Amazon is a jungle. We’ve got a scout right here that’s going to help get us there.

Greg: That’s it.

Andrew: You started getting open about what you were doing. What was the goal? Why did you start sharing with people how you were doing this thing on Amazon, and at what point did you start sharing it?

Greg: I was always pretty active in the Amazon community, whether like Facebook groups or the Reddit threads. I was communicating to people like that. As far as all my recent webinars, podcasts over the past two years, I do a lot of that to bring in exposure to Jungle Scout. It is really fulfilling to help people, but I guess that’s the underlying reason, to spread the word about Jungle Scout.

Andrew: You’re teaching people to sell on Amazon and through that process, they’re getting to know your software will help them sell more.

Greg: Yeah, no doubt.

Andrew: Going back to before you had Jungle Scout, what’s one or two things you did that allowed you to sell more that still would work today, even for someone who isn’t a Jungle Scout customer?

Greg: Two things. The main thing that I would always do a lot of people wouldn’t is like testing your main image. The click-through rate is very dependent on whatever you have on that main image on Amazon. If you were to look at a whole bunch of my products, you would see a product I publicly launched and I’m selling right now is this hooded baby towel. If you go to Amazon and look at it, it’s like this really cute baby holding this big red bath toy and it draws your eye straight to it. That would be one of the big ones, like making a really good main image.

Andrew: I see that.

Greg: I hear you type in the background. It’s Jungle Snugs.

Andrew: Is this the Natemia extra soft baby bamboo hooded?

Greg: No. Mine’s called Jungle Snugs.

Andrew: The thing about Natemia that got me to pay attention is they’ve got these four lightning bolt emojis.

Greg: That’s good. Amazon recently deprecated that feature. They’re like an OG that got in before Amazon took away that.

Andrew: I see. There’s another one that has favorite gift idea with a heart, but I guess that’s them. What was it called?

Greg: Jungle Snugs.

Andrew: It’s not showing up.

Greg: If you search hooded baby towel, we’re probably in the top row or top two rows.

Andrew: Jungle Snugs did not show up at that point.

Greg: What?

Andrew: Okay. So I see. So you’ve got a baby playing with a toy, and the baby has a bubble on his face. So you paid to have that photo shoot. You sent a towel over to a photographer and you said, “Go find a baby, take a photo of this and give it to me.” Okay. That’s something that will work even today, better photos.

Greg: Yeah, no doubt.

Andrew: What else?

Greg: I guess little hacks that work well today, even if you’re not a Jungle Scout customer, one thing that works well for me, when you’re checking out, you can make a promotion that shows up in the checkout and you can say if you want to purchase two of these, use this coupon to get like an extra 10% off. By implementing that, not that many people do it, but by implementing it, I was able to increase the average order size by like 10% to 15%.

Andrew: I buy on Amazon all the time, literally almost every single day, and I never noticed it. There’s a coupon in there that says if you bought one towel, if you buy two towels, you’re going to get a discount.

Greg: Yeah. It shows up on the checkout page.

Andrew: That’s pretty cool. I wonder if I just missed it. That’s helpful. What about for someone who’s buy ads? Is there anything about tracking the results that’s useful that many sellers don’t know about?

Greg: As far as buying ads, there’s like two platforms on Amazon. There’s the sponsored products. That’s like the standard section that you see on the right-hand side with the sponsored text. It’s a super basic platform. I don’t think there are many secrets.

There is another platform called AMS, Amazon Marketing Services. That’s one that not many people know how to get access to, so aren’t using. The CPCs there are normally less expensive and I’ve had better luck with them. So you register for this thing called like Vendor Express Program. You essentially send one junky product into Amazon, so it lets you in the program. The only reason you want access to the program is to get access to the AMS ads, and then those are really effective.

So when you search hooded baby towel there, you might have seen at the top bar, there was an ad with like three more pictures. It wasn’t like a listing, but it was a different type of ad. That’s the one I’m talking about with the AMS ads.

Andrew: I’m going to admit something. I browse the internet, all of it, with an ad blocker. I’m going to turn the ad blocker off right now for Amazon.

Greg: One of those guys . . .

Andrew: Not that it matters anymore because I don’t go to Amazon’s website usually to shop. I’m on my phone or I tell Alexa what I want.

Greg: Yeah. I got you. I think 70-some percent of their traffic now comes from mobile.

Andrew: I see it, sponsored by Jungle Snugs, 100% for charity. Okay. So there is your ad at the very top, which I ad-blocked off, and this is one of the campaigns you’re doing right now where you’re trying to raise money for charity by selling on Amazon.

Greg: Yeah. That’s exactly right.

Andrew: What about if someone buys ads off of Amazon, anything about tracking people should know? I want to get a sense of what’s working.

Greg: Yeah. From all the testing I’ve done, it’s not very effective. The only way you can track it is by sending traffic through an Amazon affiliate link. I think it’s actually against the terms of service to send them through your own affiliate link, so maybe even a friend’s affiliate link you can use. That’s the only way you can actually tell if someone who clicked through your ad ended up buying the product on Amazon. Amazon doesn’t give you any insight where the traffic came from, who landed on your page.

Andrew: You know, what I heard that’s working as a workaround, you tell me if I’ve got this right. You apparently can create an unlimited number of discount codes. So what I’ve heard people do is they create a bunch of discount codes. They have someone come to their landing page on their site, enter their email address if they want a discount for a product. So Facebook ad, landing page offering a discount, you enter your email address, you’re given a discount code that you go to Amazon and now you’re being tracked to see if you bought or not. Does that sound right?

Greg: Yeah. It sounds right. That does work. If you have multiple promotions, you can tell if someone purchased your product using a coupon code, but it doesn’t tell you which coupon code. So if you’re running multiple promotions, you still wouldn’t know that it was that coupon code used, but you could do that. That works.

Andrew: Can you automatically generate those coupon codes so that you can keep testing each ad on each platform?

Greg: Yeah. In the back end of Seller Central, you can — it’s not necessarily automatic, but you can ask to generate 100 coupons for this percentage off or whatever and those are the ones you can give out.

Andrew: Who takes your photos? It seems like you probably have a hack for getting photos taken. It’s not easy to get a baby photo.

Greg: I think that’s like ProductLifestylePhotography.com or something, something like that.

Andrew: It’s one of those sites, you have an account with them. You send them stuff. You tell them what you want, they send you photos.

Greg: I just send them a sample of each product. They’re pretty good about working with you. I say like, “Hey, I want some cute babies.” If you give enough time, he’ll even give you pictures of different babies, you can pick the one or whatever.

Andrew: I’ve never heard of this. Okay. Could it be called ProDoto? I can’t find it, but I love that there are services. Anything you need, there’s some guy out there who’s going to do it as a service.

Greg: Oh, yeah.

Andrew: Finally, one more thing and then we’re going to switch into how you came up with the software idea. Anything about writing an ad or writing copy on Amazon that you can recommend that works well? I feel like that’s something we can take beyond Amazon.

Greg: Yeah, no doubt. From split testing a bunch of listings and stuff on Amazon, the actual copy doesn’t make that big of a difference, I’ve found. I don’t know about you, but I don’t actually read the copy. It seems like a lot of other people are the same way. I normally look at the pictures and I skip straight to the reviews and see what people say about it.

Andrew: I look at the questions sometimes.

Greg: Yeah. The questions are good too. A little hack there would be you can just have someone you know ask questions on your listing and then you respond to them if you want people to know.

Andrew: That is helpful. I do find the top questions are things I probably should have been asking and somebody’s asking it. Look at the top question for Jungle Snugs, “What’s the GSM, grams per square meter of this towel? I recently bought a similar one but found it a bit thin.” Grams per square meter? Who asks these freaking questions? Is that you? There are two different people asking those questions, and you guys did actually have an answer for it.

Greg: I think the reason they ask that is because one of our selling features is — GSM is like the thickness of fabric, so one of our selling features is like the thickness on Amazon. Maybe even in our competitive matrix thing, we say we’re 500 GSM or whatever. So they might have been looking at other ones trying to see which one was thicker.

Andrew: Okay. I’m going to talk about a sponsor and then come back and find out how you came up with the idea for a software and why you got into a software. The sponsor is a company called HostGator. Let me ask you this. If someone’s selling on Amazon, does it make sense for them to even have a website on HostGator just to kind of rope you into my ad?

Greg: Yeah. Actually, in order to apply for this thing called Brand Registry, which is good for sellers to have, they need at least like a one-page website. So most Amazon sellers will be setting up a website.

Andrew: You know what, frankly, for a lot of things, it’s so easy for me to set up a website. But still, if I have a website up, for some reason, it gives me a tremendous amount of credibility. Like imagine if I said I was an expert copywriter. You go, “All right, everyone says they’re an expert.” But if you Googled me and say my website that said Copywriter Extraordinaire, you’d somehow feel like there was a little bit more credibility there.

So one of the things that I suggest that anyone who has an idea do is just go to HostGator, set up a website for it. It’s so easy to do one-click install of WordPress. In fact, Jungle Scout was, I was going to say started on WordPress. It’s still on freaking WordPress. The whole website is WordPress. WordPress is being used for so many things and it’s easy. One-click install, totally free and you’re ready to roll. If you go to HostGator, they’ll host that WordPress install for as little as $3.48 a month.

So here’s what I’m suggesting. Go check out HostGator.com/Mixergy, where they’re going to give you the discount of up to 60% off and you’re going to get unmetered disk space, unmetered bandwidth, unlimited email addresses, tech support, 45-day money back guarantee and they even have $100 they want to give you. They’ve got a $100 AdWords offer, $50 search credit on Yahoo. So, $100 on Google AdWords, $50 Bing and Yahoo. Go check it out at HostGator.com/Mixergy.

And by the way, you’re going to see the cheapest plans there. If you’re just getting started, start with something inexpensive, move on. Get your business going. If you’re like me, starting a business where you need a lot of traffic, if you’re planning on getting a lot of traffic, which is where we were when we started our bot business, I said, “Hey, look, HostGator, I started with your cheap plan. Roll me up to whatever the top best product you have is.” They did. The best of the best was able to handle over 1,000 people coming to a live webinar at the same freaking time. I love that. HostGator.com/Mixergy.

All right. So, Greg, you got an idea. It’s working for you. You have expertise now on selling on Amazon, getting a little bit bored. Why did you take the step of creating software as opposed to saying, “I’m going to start selling on other platforms or I’m going to start selling on my own website?” Why software? What was the impetus?

Greg: Yeah. Good question. Actually, I’m not really sure why. I wasn’t a programmer. I actually wasn’t very technically smart. I think software always seemed a little bit cool and sexy, right? That’s what you read about on TechCrunch or whatever else. I think I had a little bit of a drive to it. The other reason for it was the process for me personally finding these products to sell was extremely tedious to just crunch all these numbers, like man, this would be like the perfect thing for a software platform.

Andrew: Tell me what kind of numbers you were crunching, what software you use to crunch them.

Greg: Yeah. So I was using an Excel sheet at the time. I was making a list of all these product ideas, right? I had a whole bunch of columns like how much I thought they sold on a monthly basis, how many reviews, how many similar products there were, etc.

Andrew: So if you were thinking, “I want to sell a hooded baby towel,” you would have a spreadsheet that had all the different baby towels on it that you found, how many reviews each one of them had. What else did you have on that spreadsheet?

Greg: Estimated monthly sales.

Andrew: How would you estimate back then how many monthly sales you had?

Greg: Back then, all listings on Amazon have something called a bestsellers rank. Amazon ranks all products in every category, one through a billion. That’s a great gauge of how popular that particular item was. So back in the day, when I was getting started, people had very rough rules of thumb. They were like, “All right, if it’s under 1,000, then it probably sells like whatever, 2,000 a month, 1,000 through 5,000, it probably sells 500 a month.”

Andrew: For each product category you’d need this rule of thumb?

Greg: At the time, the rough rule of thumbs were just across Amazon. It turned out to be pretty bogus, but it was all I had to go off at the time.

Andrew: I see. It may not be accurate as to how many products are being sold, but it is a good indicator of relative sales.

Greg: Sure.

Andrew: So you had that on the spreadsheet. What else did you have on the spreadsheet?

Greg: So number of reviews, estimated monthly sales. I had like how many similar products there were. So when you search hooded baby towels right now, there’s like a lot of similar products, like 50 that look pretty similar. I had that on there. I had the retail price, the price after Amazon fees, so I would know how much money I would get after a sale. I think that’s more or less it.

Andrew: How did you figure out the price after Amazon fees? It’s not just a percentage of sale, it’s also a price per month that it’s sitting in their warehouse, right?

Greg: Yeah. There’s like storage fees. There’s like pick, pack and ship fees and then they charge like a 15% commission. You wouldn’t know from the get-go how long the product was going to sit in their warehouse, but you could figure out the pick, pack and ship fees and the 15%. If you just Google like FBA fee calculator, Amazon has a little fee calculator for you. You can put in the product, put in the retail price and they’ll tell you how much the fees would be.

Andrew: I’ve seen that calculator. I’ve never sold anything professionally on Amazon, but I’ve had stuff I couldn’t return to Amazon. I said I’m not selling on eBay because I don’t want to wait for the seller to buy and then I ship it out to them. I’m just going to ship it to Amazon and Amazon will sell it. It’s a really sweet process.

Greg: It is.

Andrew: This is a lot of back of the envelope math done in a spreadsheet, not fully accurate. Did it help you actually sell?

Greg: Yeah. It was still helpful at the time. It was just very laborious and time-consuming to fill this out. I was like, “I want to sell a hooded baby towel.” I was filling out all this stuff, maybe take like a few hours. I was like, “Crap, this is a terrible niche to get into.” So I go on to the next one. You can imagine you can spend a lot of time doing this, right?

Andrew: Did you do it yourself? Why didn’t you hire a virtual assistant?

Greg: Yeah. I started doing it myself, and then that’s exactly what I did. I hired a virtual assistant. It was still pretty — even at like $3 an hour or whatever, it’s still going back and forth, talking about the niches and stuff. It was still a pretty big hassle. That’s when I spotted this opportunity like, “This seems like something a piece of software could easily do.” Anything you’re still doing on Excel spreadsheets, if you’re doing it every day, that’s probably a good opportunity to be replaced with a piece of software.

Andrew: Right. Doing an Excel spreadsheet on a repeated basis, good idea for software. Even if you use it yourself, it’s probably going to pay off considering what you paid. Talk about what you ended up paying for it for the first version.

Greg: So my first version, I launched it February 2015. We had just sold our house, quit our job, all that kind of stuff. Amazon was going pretty good, but it’s a pretty capital-intensive business to be buying this inventory, so I was like alright, I don’t want to spend that much money on it. I have something that’s working. I don’t want to lose focus of my Amazon business that’s working. I was like, “I’m going to try to get this built for $1,000.” $1,000 was my budget to hire a developer, to build this little extension. I was going to try to keep it really simple to start, WordPress site, hosting, whatever else. I did it for $1,000. I found someone to build this.

Andrew: How? Where did you find someone for $1,000? I’m looking at the first version of your site. How did you find someone to build this?

Greg: I built the WordPress site myself.

Andrew: That I get.

Greg: I just needed someone to build the extension.

Andrew: But the plugin, $1,000, how’d you find someone to do that?

Greg: It was someone in the Middle East. I found them on at the time it was Elance, it wasn’t Upwork yet. Chrome extensions are fairly simple to build. It was a very stripped down version, not like what you’d see today. Essentially, you went to an Amazon page, you hit this little button, a Chrome extension showed up and it looked like an Excel sheet and there wasn’t really like any other features, like you click a button and essentially a spreadsheet would populate. It was pretty buggy. It didn’t work on all the pages like I was hoping it would. It was very stripped down, like pretty embarrassing looking back on it.

Andrew: It was a one-time fee, $69, obviously worked on Mac or PC, though you made a really good point of explaining it to people.

Greg: Are you on Internet Archive?

Andrew: Yeah, I am. What it’s showing is quickly see the bestseller ranks. So I’m guessing I look at a product and I hit a button on Chrome and it tells me what the bestsellers are for this product. So if I were looking at a hoodie towel, what would it tell me?

Greg: It would give you a list of the products that were on that search page with that data I was talking about pre-populated in there. That doesn’t sound that cool, right? But also, the secret sauce we didn’t talk about yet was I came up with algorithms to estimate pretty accurately, fairly accurately to start, how many units these products were selling on a monthly basis. So people like that it didn’t the whole little—it populated the spreadsheet thing, but to have estimated monthly sales numbers that were way better than any of these rules of thumbs people were using, that was what was really valuable to people.

Andrew: Estimated monthly sales. I see. You had better numbers than other people.

Greg: For sure.

Andrew: All right. How did you end up with someone really good from Upwork? I’ve heard so many horror stories for people who were trying to go cheap and ended up on Upwork or what used to be Elance. By the way, I’ve got to tie my shoelace as you’re answering that question. It’s driving me nuts that I’m going to trip as I’m on my standing desk with my shoelace open. How did you end up with someone good?

Greg: I wouldn’t say this person was really good. They were good enough to get the job done for this MVP version. They wouldn’t have been capable to build Jungle Scout as we know it today. I’ll also say that I did have a couple of failed products a few years prior to that, just other little software tools I was trying to build on the cheap and they never amounted to anything.

Andrew: Like what?

Greg: One was trying to compare like Amazon Warehouse Deals. So if Amazon gets damaged goods, they’ll sell it under Amazon Warehouse Deals. At one point, I found out that some of these seem to be really mispriced. So this little charger here, it might retail for like $40, but Warehouse Deals, it seemed to be mispriced for like $2. I tried to build this system that would scrape warehouse deals, compare it to what they were selling for on eBay and then spot the arbitrage opportunities, like, “Oh crap, that’s really underpriced. I can sell it for $20 used on eBay.” That didn’t really work out trying to cheap out with the developer.

Andrew: It didn’t? Okay. What else?

Greg: There were a couple little things. I was trying to hire developers for a few bucks an hour.

Andrew: What about Splitly? When did you create that?

Greg: So Jungle Scout now, we have four SaaS applications in our suite. Splitly we actually purchased and we only own half of it. Then the other two, Fetcher and Jump Send, we created those later on down the road after Jungle Scout.

Andrew: So going back to the ones that didn’t work, why do you think those did not work? Let’s take the one that you just mentioned right now, compare it to eBay, find lower prices. Why didn’t that work? Why didn’t that become the big hit?

Greg: So I had no idea what I was doing from a technical standpoint. I hired someone who was definitely incapable of doing it. I didn’t provide good enough specifications and like clarity of what I was looking for. Instead, I gave him just this concept out of my mind just like written down, “Do this and this and this.” That’s not how developers work. They want wireframes. They want like a thorough understanding of if you click this button, where does it go? If you do this, what happens? Not like someone’s like brain dump in an email of what you think the software should do.

Andrew: Do you think if you had what you envision that it actually would sell or was it also a problem of the product not being the right fit?

Greg: Are we talking about for the arbitrage one?

Andrew: Yeah.

Greg: I don’t know. That’s a good question.

Andrew: You never even got to that point.

Greg: I never tried to sell to anyone. It didn’t even work at all.

Andrew: None of these other products worked?

Greg: No.

Andrew: I see. Your challenge was not just finding the right idea but expressing that idea to a developer and the answer to doing it right was what you told our producer was, “I needed to have wireframes right from the start. I needed to be clear about what every part of this would do right from the start.” What other tips do you have for communicating with a developer when you’re a non-developer?

Greg: Those would be the two big things. I’ll also say that developer is a very in-demand type of job right now. So just like anything else in life, you get what you pay for. If you’re expecting to pay a few dollars an hour and get a top-notch product, it’s not going to work. Good developers are going to be making lots of money. You need a budget to spend to hire these people.

Andrew: Yeah. I think that makes sense. But then again, you ended up paying so little. That’s why I’m surprised.

Greg: Yeah. Like I keep saying, keep in mind that this was very crude. It was pretty buggy. This person also didn’t have like the capabilities to take it to the next level to make a more refined product.

Andrew: Okay. Got it. I’m looking at the sales page here. I see the buy button, buy now for $67. Do you know you didn’t even have a shopping cart page? You would send people out to PayPal to pay?

Greg: Yeah.

Andrew: So we’re talking about like quick, get it up—

Greg: For sure. I didn’t think it was going to work. This was just a little side hustle. I had a successful business. I was like I’m going to build a one-page WordPress site. I don’t even think it has a terms of service or privacy policy. It’s like the most non-legit website ever.

Andrew: What it does have, it has testimonials. That makes me wonder how did you get users? How did you get people to try this thing?

Greg: Good question. I mentioned this a little bit earlier. I was fairly active in these Facebook groups and communities where Amazon sellers were hanging out. So, I came up with this idea. I spent my thousand bucks to have this developer build it. Once I had the very first super crude version, I just shot a little screen share of it. I just said, “Hey, what do you guys think about this? Would anybody be interested in it? I’m thinking about releasing it to the market.”

If you were interested, I did send them to — the original Jungle Scout was just an email capture. I was like, “If you’re interested in learning about this and I do release it, enter your email here.” Just from that one YouTube video and setting up that page, I got 100 email addresses more or less and that was like my launch list.

Andrew: I’m looking at that video right now. It’s good in some ways, but it’s kind of confusing in other ways. You’re showing what the product is, but you’re zooming in on it and I don’t even need the zoom. I’m looking at it fairly clearly on your screen. That’s all you’re doing.

Greg: It’s pretty embarrassing. I have to go back and look at it.

Andrew: It’s on YouTube, published February 20th, 2013.

Greg: I need to unpublish that.

Andrew: I don’t know if you made it—no, it’s not public. It’s unlisted.

Greg: Okay.

Andrew: I see it. It’s just you with your mouse on your computer screen explaining this thing and how it works. I can see what it’s showing. It’s showing average sales rank, average price, average number of reviews and then I get to see each item in this category. So, I get a sense of what brand it is, what they charge, how they rank and estimated revenue. You’re showing what kind of revenue a yoga mat could make.

Greg: Yeah.

Andrew: I get it. I see how you got your first customers. Frankly, it didn’t take that many for you to break even, right?

Greg: No.

Andrew: You said that that first email list, you told our producer, got me nine to ten sales. Boom. You’re basically halfway there.

Greg: Yeah. I was stoked, right? This was a little fun project learning a little bit more about programming, hoping someone would buy it, launch list of like 100 people, nine or ten bought it. At that point, if I never made another sale, I’d have been like pretty happy because I had this tool I want to use myself. I’ve pretty much broken even, life was good.

Andrew: When you’re selling Chrome plugins, you’re selling it on your site. You’re not even selling it using the Chrome plugin store, which I don’t even know if it existed at the time. How do you keep track of who’s a customer and who isn’t?

Greg: That site did have a little bit of a membership system.

Andrew: Yes, I saw a login.

Greg: I don’t think it took—it took you straight to a PayPal page, I think, but then the confirmation where it sent you back to, that was like inside a membership system. You were emailed a password and there was like a download link once you were inside that little membership.

Andrew: You used OptimizeMember or some plugin like that.

Greg: That’s right.

Andrew: Then if I didn’t have it — so, basically, if I gave you my username and password, you could go and download my plugin. That’s how you were protecting it.

Greg: Yeah. Version one, that’s exactly right. That’s all it was.

Andrew: That makes sense.

Greg: I was thinking easy as possible, whatever I could do to get it out there, that was good enough. Like I said, I didn’t think anyone was going to buy it, so who cares if people could share the password.

Andrew: Right. You’re lucky if they’re actually buying this thing. All right. Let me take a moment to talk about my sponsor, one that I think at some point you’re going to want to sign up for. I’m glad you don’t know it because I’m going to open your eyes up to something really cool. And then we’re going to come back and talk about the one thing — that was me punching my hand—that made the sales come in and you’re very good at it.

All right. The sponsor is a company called Pipedrive. The thing that I’ve recognized about companies like yours is Greg, you sell on a landing page. You’ve got a beautiful website. I press a button and I can get started. You do webinars on the bottom. I can press another button and reserve my spot for the webinar. But what you don’t have that I’m noticing more and more people do is salespeople do demos. Do you guys do that at all?

Greg: No, we don’t.

Andrew: There’s no active sales process. There’s a sales process that funnels people on the website, but there isn’t one that involves people reaching out. Now, imagine if you did this — so there are a handful of people who we know are our whales, big people who are going to spend thousands of dollars with us on a regular basis. What if every time they signed up, we got them into a system where our salespeople could keep following up with them and spend a little bit of time, talk to them and maybe even close sales over the phone or by email with more of a personal touch.

Well, if you’re interested in that, there’s software that does this really well. It’s called Pipedrive. What Pipedrive will force you to say is what’s our process for taking someone who’s interested in and could be a whale and talking to them and emailing them and closing them for maybe not like a $69 a month price, but maybe it’s $1,000 a month. Maybe we do a little bit of services in addition. We charge $2,000 a month. I don’t know what it is.

Well, it will force you to say that. Maybe your process is step number one, do a demo with them. Step number two, follow up with them a day afterwards with an email. Step number three, have somebody else give them a discount. Step number four, offer another—I’m trying to think what the next step would be after that. Maybe it’s do a follow up call after they bought. I don’t know what your steps would be for that.

Greg: That’s good enough.

Andrew: Actually, it does not. That’s the worst sales funnel. You’re very nice to say that. I told you before we started do not be nice to me. I don’t want to be nice to you.

Greg: That’s a terrible sales funnel, but we get the idea.

Andrew: Sorry?

Greg: That’s a terrible sales funnel. We do get the idea.

Andrew: Yes. So, what Pipedrive forced you to do is put every single person in its own column — excuse me, put every step of your process in a different column. Whenever someone gets into your system, you create a card for them and you put it in the left most first column of your process. Then as you take action, like you do the demo for them, you move them over to the right. You send a follow up email after the demo, you move them one more column to the right. You keep on moving and collaborating as a team until you close that sale.

We used it when we were selling bot services. We still are using it now for bot services, someone expresses an interest, “I want to get on the phone with them.” Put with them in Pipedrive. Next step, we get on a call with them, step after that, we send them a sample based on what they’ve asked for, step, step, step, step. Each step gets its own column.

It works beautifully with other software that we use, like Stripe for payment, like Infusionsoft, like Gravity Forms. Really great, well done product, helped us grow our sales, helped us manage people like you when we’re getting you to do interviews. It’s really good at saying, “What is your goal, team? Let’s create a process for getting to that goal and let’s all work as a team to get there.”

If you guys are interested, don’t go to Pipedrive.com. Go to this special URL that I’m going to give you where you’re going to get a discount and a free trial period. That is Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. It’s a CRM that forces you to articulate the steps to close sales and then keeps you organized so that you go through your process and close more sales. Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. Create a better funnel than I just described right now, guys.

Okay. The big thing, I think, that helped you grow your sales in the early days was webinars. Am I right?

Greg: It was. Absolutely. Looking back, I wish I was like smart enough at the time to understand, considering all the different sales channels and deciding what was the best, but I had no idea how to get the word out there. In the first few sales, someone was like, “Hey, why don’t you come on a webinar with me and explain how this works to my audience?” I’m like, “Sure, why not? Whatever.” From it, I got a few more sales. I was like, “Okay, this is pretty cool. This is working.” I reached out to a few people. They allowed me to demo it in front of their audience. The early days and even today, webinars are a great sales channel for us.

Andrew: Who would you get to do a webinar with? How did you get people to watch your webinars?

Greg: I would always do it for other people’s audiences early on. So, those would be people who were either running Facebook groups or they had like a class teaching people how to sell on Amazon. I would do it for them. Maybe these are people who are just vloggers and talk about selling on Amazon and we did—I guess at that point, it was like recorded YouTube but they play it to their audience, that kind of thing.

Andrew: Would you split the revenue with them? Is that how it works?

Greg: So the first few, I didn’t even have an affiliate program set up yet. They just thought it was super cool, so they were willing to let me just sell to their audience. Later on when I set up the affiliate program, then they could make affiliate commissions from the sales.

Andrew: You don’t seem to have that much of a margin though, right? If you’re selling a $29 a month plan, I guess you split, what, half of the revenue with them?

Greg: 100% of the first month.

Andrew: 100% of the month. Someone could just make $70 per member. That’s not that much, is it?

Greg: I don’t know. You tell me. Would you be willing to sell it to your audience for that?

Andrew: I don’t know. I’m just getting an understanding of how these things work and what I’m discovering is that it seems to be for info products, it’s 50-50 and the minimum that seems to do well is $1,000 and so it’s like $500 to the person that brings you over.

Greg: Yeah. Most of the people that think that or like top affiliates, they like making the little bit of extra money on it, but I think they’re more concerned with providing a high quality valuable tool for their audience. It’s like, “Hey, I was going to talk about this anyway because this is a great way to find products and stuff, so why don’t I throw in the affiliate link? I’ll get 100% the first month,” that kind of thing.

Andrew: I get that. I think I would care much more about that than I would care about anything else. Are we teaching something useful? And then any extra revenue would be a nice bonus. In fact, I’m doing this interview, I’m not getting jack, right?

Greg: Exactly. The webinars I’m doing for people, it’s like 99% just super valuable, high quality information. Then it’s like, “Also, there’s this tool called Jungle Scout that would have helped out with this and this and the other thing.” So it’s like having me on these people’s webinars, it’s valuable to their audience and they don’t feel like they’re listening to a sales pitch like you would for one of these high-end info product type things.

Andrew: All right. So you’re starting to do that. At what point do you hit your first million in sales?

Greg: First million in sales, good question. I want to say we probably did a million in sales in 2015 the first year.

Andrew: So first year within what, six months?

Greg: Probably by the end of the year. That was like nine, ten months.

Andrew: You told our producer, “The time I realized we were doing really well was when I started to see sales come in even when I wasn’t doing webinars.”

Greg: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: How would those sales come in?

Greg: Good question. Word of mouth, I don’t know. I don’t think we were ranking for any relevant search terms. Mostly word of mouth.

Andrew: Someone might watch a webinar and say to someone else, “I know you’re selling on Amazon. Go check this thing out.”

Greg: Yeah. Or people would just say — one of the things that we did early on that was an awesome growth hack for us was people when they find a product, they’re about to invest thousands of dollars in inventory. They want like validation from other people that it’s a good niche or a good product to sell.

So, often times you would see — I saw a few people do this and that’s when it clicked for me. People would ask for validation for their product ideas. They were showing screenshots, but they were blurring out the sensitive data. So something we did early on was you could take a screenshot of the Chrome extension. We had a little button to do it that would automatically blur out all the sensitive information.

So you could ask for validation on the idea for people just looking at the numbers but not the actual product and of course, we put a Jungle Scout watermark on there and a thing at the bottom. So then all of a sudden, every couple days, I was saying these Jungle Scout screenshot things on the Facebook groups and on Reddit and wherever else. People were just like, “Hey, what do you think about our product? Should I sell something like this?” That was like a pretty good growth hack for us.

Andrew: I could see how that would be really helpful.

Greg: Then everyone would say, “How did you find out how many units the competitors were selling every month?” It’s like bam, Jungle Scout.

Andrew: Yeah. That’s super helpful. That’s what’s nice about software that’s made to be on other people’s sites. You think about Sumo.com, Noah Kagan’s software. Every time I go on someone’s site who uses his software for free, there’s that crown that I’m clicking on to understand where it came from.

Greg: Even if it’s only the tiny blue bar, you still notice it, it’s like that social validation, like, “A lot of people are using this, it must be legit.”

Andrew: Even if you’re discovering it for the first time, you wonder how did someone bring this thing up? How did they do it?

Greg: Right.

Andrew: Most software like yours doesn’t have that.

Greg: Right.

Andrew: You did tell our producer, Brian Benson, who talked to you before the interview, you said, “I was challenged by lack of experience. I wasn’t sure where to spend my time? Should I be blogging? Should I be doing social media? Should I be doing any number of other things that people tell me to do?” So how did you figure out what to do? What did you try that didn’t work? Walk me through that process, if you would.

Greg: If I was rewinding, like getting my mind then, it was like this thing seems to have pretty good product market fit if we want to use buzzwords here. People are buying this even when I’m not promoting it much and stuff. I’m getting great feedback from everyone. I’m reinvesting like pretty much all the money I’m making in sales and making the software actually better.

So it’s like how do I continue to get the word out. So, of course, if you go and Google, “How do I get exposure for my product, drive traffic to my site?” There were like a million things—Pinterest ads, Instagram ads, blogging, SEO, this that, the other thing. There were like a million channels that will show up.

So, for me, I wasn’t very focused. This is some advice I would give myself two years ago is to really double or triple down on what is working for you and not to get distracted with all these other shiny objects. At the time, what was working for me was webinars with people. Looking back, I should have just been contacting everyone I could find and ask if I could do a webinar in front of their audience. Instead, I was like set up a few Facebook ads trying to drive cold traffic, but all I had was this really crappy sales page. Those were not working. Or I was trying to blog, but I’m not a very good writer.

Andrew: You know what, Greg? I get why you would do that. The reason you might want to do that is webinars are a lot of work.

Greg: Yeah. It depends. For me, to get me to sit down and write for like three hours, that’s like pulling teeth. For me to like hop on this webinar with you, that’s pretty fun. I’ll chat with you. It is some work to get it set up and stuff, but this is more my element as opposed to writing.

Andrew: I see. I guess I’m putting myself in your shoes. Tell me if I’m projecting my thoughts on you. I would think I’ll write a few blog posts myself. I’ll figure this thing out. Then at least blogging I can pass on to someone else. But when it comes to doing webinars, it’s a little harder to pass to someone else. They won’t care as much about sales as I will, etc.

Greg: Yeah. That part is true. If you’re doing like live webinars for an audience and it’s not going to have replays, it’s also not evergreen. You’re putting in the work. In a certain way, you’re still exchanging hours for dollars instead of creating really good content that people are going to read for years and years to come.

Andrew: I’m wondering if your current webinar is live or not because I’m on your website today and it says learn product research along with Greg Mercer and the date on there is yesterday’s date. Is that an accident?

Greg: It’s probably an accident. We are experimenting with—I probably do like four or five webinars that we host, like three or four webinars that I host every week and we are experimenting right now with one recorded webinar. There is one recorded sales-based webinars. That might be the one you’re talking about, but the date is still wrong, right?

Andrew: Yeah. I’ll send you a link to it. It’s just on JungleScout.com. You’re doing multiple webinars every week?

Greg: Uh-huh.

Andrew: Every week, even if you’re traveling, you need to find a place with solid internet so you can sit down and actually — you are?

Greg: Yeah. That’s like my number one requisite is like what — we even ask like Airbnb hosts like take a screen shot of a speed test.

Andrew: I freaking wish I had done that. We just did a retreat last weekend. The internet was so freaking slow.

Greg: You’ve got to, man. Amateur hour.

Andrew: I should have known. In fact, Airbnb should not just force people to have photos but also say click this link to confirm your internet and we’ll confirm it for you.

Greg: They would have to do it, and then it would post it on their listing. That would be sweet.

Andrew: That’s just a tough way to make money. How do you get people to come to your webinars?

Greg: So our sales webinar, we get a lot of sign ups. I think we get 500 or 600 signups for that every week just off the traffic to our site. Most of our webinars aren’t necessarily sales focused. Right now, we’re doing this thing called the Million-Dollar Case Study. We do a webinar every Wednesday. We’re growing, launching, growing, scaling a physical products business on Amazon to $1 million in revenue. It’s a philanthropic mission, so we’re donating all the money and stuff. So that also, since it’s like a case study in this long — the webinars kind of build on each other and stuff, a lot of people are following along with the whole thing as well.

Andrew: I would do that as just a podcast or a blog series. Why are you doing it as a webinar?

Greg: What’s really the difference anyway?

Andrew: The difference is that you don’t have to be somewhere at a specific time to do a webinar.

Greg: So you’re just saying you’d be recorded instead of live?

Andrew: Yeah. I’m shocked by your ability to stick with a schedule week after week after week. It’s really tough, right?

Greg: It is tough. What helps me with that is like I just got on there week one and I made a commitment to the audience. It’s like every Wednesday, I’m going to be doing one of these for the rest of the year, the Million-Dollar Case Study, follow along, watch me grow a business to $1 million. So now it’s like I have to get on. They’re looking for it.

Andrew: You’re freaking good, by the way. I’m watching you as I’m doing this, your lighting is good, everything is good. You have a laptop below you and the webcam is right in front of you positioned nicely. Where am I? Where’s my video? On your laptop?

Greg: Yeah, on my laptop.

Andrew: So you have the discipline to look at the camera, to not see my expression as you’re responding so that you’re on camera.

Greg: Only out of the corner of my eye.

Andrew: Yeah. Every once in a while, I see you look down at your laptop.

Greg: I did at one point have like an external monitor that was like right next to my camera. I’ll still always kind of look in the camera but can see you or like the chat box or whatever else. I don’t have it hooked it up to this one though.

Andrew: You just don’t need it. All right. Let’s talk about this thing that you created Called Revenue Kick. What was revenue kick and what happened? Tell me that story.

Greg: Review Kick.

Andrew: Review Kick, excuse me.

Greg: So this is like your producer asked like what is the hard part of the entrepreneurial journey. So one of the huge downsides of this business we have right now is that we are extremely reliant on Amazon. So, Jungle Scout started going really well, 2015 was good. So early on 2016 I found like another kind of problem in the industry that I wanted to solve. That was that Amazon sellers really need reviews. No one wants to buy anything on Amazon without reviews.

At the time, it was allowed per Amazon’s terms of service to exchange a product for free or a discounted product for a review. I could say, “Hey, Andrew, I’m going to give you my Jungle Scout sunglasses here. I’m going to give these to you for 50% off if you leave me a review in exchange.” It’s like, “I’m only giving it to you if you leave me a review in exchange.” That was like okay.

Andrew: Yeah.

Greg: So that was awesome for sellers, right?

Andrew: You can’t tell them what to say, but you could give them something so they could write what they want.

Greg: Exactly right. Leave me an honest review. I can’t say, “I’m only going to give this to you for five stars.” Needless to say, that was a little bit of abusing Amazon’s system. I was giving away like 50 units, 100 units. Week two, I had like 100 reviews. That was awesome as an Amazon seller. Amazon changed that in October of 2016.

This business I built, Review Kick, it was a site that you could exchange your product. The shoppers, of course, loved it, they were on there getting products for 80% off, 90% off, for free, all they had to do was leave a review. It went really well until Amazon shut it down. That was my darkest time in my entrepreneurial journey.

Andrew: When did you find out that Amazon shut it down?

Greg: I was watching someone else’s webinar. It was about Amazon. I rarely watch other people’s webinars. He’s like, “Oh crap, I just got a text that Amazon no longer allows incentivized reviews.” He’s like, “That will be funny how that shakes out.” I was like, “Crap.” This was at 10:00 at night. I was in Spain at the time, so they probably released it like the middle of the day. It was pretty much bedtime for me and this bomb just got dropped. I was like, “What happens now?”

Andrew: Your whole business is closed.

Greg: Pretty much.

Andrew: How much money did you spend on that one?

Greg: I didn’t become profitable from that, but we were able to kind of pivot that into a business that is within Amazon’s terms of service. It actually is still quite valuable to Amazon sellers. We rebranded that. It’s now called Jump Send. You can visit it.

Andrew: I’m on the website now.

Greg: On there is a deals site. Just kind of like you would Slickdeals, I can put my Jungle Scout sunglasses up there for 50% off. People can request the coupon, use the coupon and buy products at a discount. It’s still valuable for Amazon sellers.
Andrew: It’s a completely different business. Now the headline is The Number One Amazon Email Automation and Coupon Distribution Tool.

Greg: Yeah, exactly right.

Andrew: So if I wanted to give discounts to my customers, I would use you. Would it plugin with my current email system?

Greg: So you wouldn’t use your current email system with like Amazon. What that does now is essentially you can think of it as two different parts. One part, I can give away coupons to increase my sales velocity, which Amazon’s important. It’s a major effect over your page rank for your search terms. And then also, you can automatically email your customers. Someone buys something at a discount or at full price on the site. You can send follow up emails to distribute a free eBook or ask them to leave a review or ask them to leave feedback, etc.

Andrew: Using Amazon’s system. I could never collect their email address, never recommend that they come to my site next time, right?

Greg: Correct. Amazon gives you anonymized email address to send to and they monitor what you send there and strip out any good stuff.

Andrew: What percentage of your revenue comes from Jump Send versus Jungle Scout?

Greg: Jungle Scout makes up over 80% of our revenue if you combine all four of our apps, including Splitly, which is technical half ours.

Andrew: Jump Send is phenomenal as an idea. You’re taking everything people need outside of Amazon like email marketing and bringing it to this system.

Greg: Yeah, exactly.

Andrew: And that one, you actually get a really nice monthly recurring revenue, up to $200 a month for that high-end. Then Splitly allows me to do A/B testing? I know we’re over time here but I can’t let you go because I’m too freaking fascinated by you.

Greg: Splitly, A/B testing for Amazon sellers. You can change the main image or change the price or change the title, all that kind of stuff and see which one works better.

Andrew: All right. Well, congratulations on doing so well with this.

Greg: Thank you.

Andrew: You have more than $1 million in the bank at this point? Of course. Personally—I like the smile you gave me at that. So you’re set? You’re saved?

Greg: I won’t have to go back to engineering. I know that much as of now.

Andrew: Do you go to sleep with this fear of, “Man, it’s all going to go away at this point?” I still do.

Greg: It’s starting to subside.

Andrew: Starting to subside. So in the last few weeks, you might have gone to sleep saying, “What did I do? This thing could be the end of me. What if this thing happens?” Do you think that?

Greg: I think a lot of entrepreneurs think that. I’ve had pretty good success in a relatively short amount of time, so it’s like will it ever go away as fast as it came? I like to think no because of all these skills that I’ve developed. Even if Amazon goes out of business tomorrow, I’m pretty sure the skills I’ve gained from this I could create something else pretty cool.

Andrew: Let’s close it out with Jungle Camp. That was one where you guys got to celebrate. What is Jungle Camp? How did you feel having put this thing together?

Greg: Yeah. Jungle Camp is something we do two or three times a year. We’re a remote company. We do have about 10 people here in Vancouver, but other than that, we’re distributed around the world. So, we meet up two or three times a year. We call them Jungle Camps. It’s a really fun time. A lot of times you’ll meet new people you haven’t met before. We celebrate our successes. We plan for the next four to six-month kind of like timeframe. It’s a really cool time.

The reason we talked about that before the production, like at what point did you realize you were going to be successful or you kind of made it? I remember we did Jungle Camp Saigon, I think that was the beginning of 2016, maybe middle of 2016, I don’t know. I was sitting next to my wife.

At that point, there were like 10 people on the team. That’s when it first hit me like wow, this is like a real company now. These people’s lives kind of depend on our paychecks. We’re paying for these people’s lives, the company is doing well, we have this brilliant, smart, motivated team. That’s when it really hit me like wow. This is like a real legitimate, awesome company now.

Andrew: It really is. I’m so excited to hear about the business. I’m glad to see how well it’s doing. I can’t believe a guy who just spent $1,000 on an idea ended up with a business that’s doing this kind of revenue that just looks so freaking polished. I would have thought you had funding at this point. It looks so well put together.

Greg: Thank you.

Andrew: All your websites look good. My favorite design of all your websites is Jump Speed of all of them. But Jungle Scout is the mothership. So, anyone who wants to go check it out should go check out JungleScout.com. Let me know what you guys think of the software and let me know what you think when you go to his webinars.

I’m grateful to you for doing this and to my two sponsors. The first is a company that will help you close more sales. Do not use like a horrible sales funnel the way I described it. Really be intentional about it and allow yourself to keep improving it. It’s called Pipedrive. Check it out at Pipedrive.com/Mixergy. The second is the company that will host your website and it’s called HostGator. Check them out at HostGator.com/Mixergy. Cool, Greg. Thanks for being here.

Greg: Andrew, thanks a lot for having me on. Take care.

Andrew: You bet. Bye, everyone.


  • Parham A.

    Great interview and thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. Member of Mixergy for 2 years now but these days, for each video, I spend another 2 hours taking notes. Thank you both!

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