How Mixergy helped an offline entrepreneur generate $40K/mo. in one mall kiosk

Today’s guest had a business that sold merchandise in a mall. He sold candy, spatulas, that kind of thing.

I invited him here to talk about the crazy experiences he had selling in malls, and to understand what we could learn from his offline experience to bring it online.

Today’s guest is Sean Violette.

Sean Violette

Sean Violette

Mall Kiosk

Sean Violette is an offline entrepreneur and a Mixergy Premium member. If you’d like to connect, you can reach Sean at


Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey there, freedom fighters. My name is Andrew Warner, I’m the founder of, home of the ambitious upstart. I actually don’t exactly know where this interview is going. Look, I’ll be honest with you, I’ve done a thousand interviews with entrepreneurs, most, almost all of them have been in tech, almost all of them have been software, almost all of them have been online, and almost all of them have had, like, these huge breakthroughs. I’m talking hundreds of millions of dollars, and . . . anyway.

Today’s guest is someone who’s completely offline, and very proud of it. In fact, one of the reasons we connected is because he told me he had this offline business. And before he even told me that, he was in the comments of one of my past interviews, and he criticized our research and said, “Andrew, your numbers are wrong.”

You know I love that. I want people to catch when our numbers are wrong, when our research is wrong. First of all, so that the rest of the audience can see if we’ve made a mistake. I want everyone to get accurate numbers from Mixergy. And second, because I want to understand, what did we do wrong? What could we do to improve for next time?

And we went back and forth. I don’t think there was anything wrong in our data, but there was something interesting in the story that he told in between the comments about our data.

Today’s guest had a business that sold stuff in a mall. Candy, spatulas, that kind of thing. I invited him here to talk about how that went, to see the crazy experiences he had selling in malls, and to understand what we could learn from his offline experience, and maybe we could bring it online.

And this whole thing is . . . oh, wait, before I say this whole thing, I should introduce you to him. His name is Sean Violette. Sean, usually I give people a company name. Do you have one that you want to introduce here?

Sean: Not necessarily on that one, because, like I said, I’m kind of moving past that one right now.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Is there a way for people to connect with you, or should we talk about that later? Let’s hold on.

Sean: We can talk about that later, yeah. I have an email, yeah.

Andrew: Okay. All right. First I’ll say that this interview is sponsored by And, you know, I was thinking the other day about how Mixergy started. Mixergy, the interview site. It started because I had this invitation business that wasn’t really doing so well, but I kept hearing about bloggers who were doing fantastically well.

So I said, “You know what? Why don’t I just start this separate thing. I’ll call it And I’ll just start blogging.”

And so I got a hosting package, I installed WordPress on it. At the time, it was really difficult. Today with HostGator, that’s, like, one click and it’s up and running. And just in the evening — one evening, actually — while my wife was doing something in the kitchen, I just sat and played with WordPress. I installed this theme and that theme. And it didn’t really matter what I installed or what I did, because nobody knew that it even existed. There’s a setting in WordPress where you can’t say, “Don’t even broadcast this to the search engines.”

And so I got to play on my own and have fun again, you know? And really experience what an idea can be like if you’re just sitting there at home and playing with it.

And at some point, I liked it. I actually started to feel so connected with it that I published it as a blog. Again, And since it was this little thing, I got to play in public with it, and do some interviews, and start writing on it. And then that became a bigger and bigger thing, and eventually it became so much fun, and such a big thing, you know? All these interviews that I did, all these posts that I did on, that the invitation site wasn’t going well, so I closed it up. And I took everything that was on blog.mixergy and I made it into Mixergy, and that’s what you guys are hearing today.

And the reason I tell you that is because it all started with this little tiny site that was an experiment that I played with publicly, but online, instead of on a piece of paper. So once I liked it, I could hit “publish” and it was fully available for everyone to see.

If you have an idea like that, don’t just keep it in your journal, don’t just write it down on a napkin, or on a piece of paper, or on your iPhone, or on your iPad. Get the site. Experiment, play with it. Set it to private, so no one can see it but you. But allow yourself to have fun with it in the evenings. Get carried away with the fantasy of it, with the idea of it, to see where it goes. And then if you’re happy, you can click a setting and make it public so everyone else can interact with it.

Or shut it down and move on. It’s not the end of the world if you do that, either. And if you want that, I recommend that you go to They’ll give you a great price on a hosting package. They’ll make it really easy for you to build your site. You can do it using lots of popular platforms. I chose WordPress, and I’m happy with it, because now I have a developer who will help me build on top of WordPress.

And if you use HostGator, your price will be cheap, it’s easy for you to opt out if you decide that it’s not working for you, and it’s easy for you to scale if you see that this is your main gig, the way Mixergy has been for me.

So if you have one of your ideas, go to, and just put it out there, play with it, see what happens. I’m really grateful to them for sponsoring, and for giving anyone who goes to that link a deep discount on hosting.

Sean, welcome.

Sean: Yes, sir. Thank you.

Andrew: You’re a critic of mine. I love that. You heard me do a sponsorship message. What’d you think of the sponsorship message?

Sean: It was a good one. It actually made me think, like, I was listening to an interview, and I had to snap back. Wait a minute, wait, here I am.

But it’s actually funny, I was just on HostGator’s website. I have HostGator for my domains that I have. And I’m getting a totally separate one for the software I was telling you about to run on. And I was looking at different packages, and, I mean, literally, it was, like, not even an hour before we got on the call, I was cruising HostGator. So I’ll use your, I’ll use that link.

Andrew: Cool. Yeah.

Sean: Next time.

Andrew: Mixergy. And frankly, my biggest goal is for anyone who’s listening to be able to publish something great, and to do something big with their lives. If they happen to use my HostGator account, great for me. If they happen to use HostGator, great for HostGator. But whatever works for you guys works best for me. I just happen to like them, and I’m glad to hear, Sean, that you do, too.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah, they’re great.

Andrew: All right. Sean, how much money can you make, what’s, at your height, when you’re standing there at a booth at the mall, what kind of revenue can you do?

Sean: So you’ve got to, I guess, keep in mind it’s not necessarily . . . I had workers working for me. So, you know, during the holiday season, there’s no reason you can’t do $100,000, easy.

Andrew: What did you do at your height?

Sean: This one that I just did that we were talking about, that was 45, and that was . . . $45,000, and that was awful. It had a whole, essentially . . .

Andrew: $45,000 a month was the awful one? What was the best one? The one that generated the most revenue in a month?

Sean: That was the Sportula one, and that one was . . . you know, while we’re saying a month, you’ve got to keep in mind, the holiday season is essentially, you know, Black Friday till Christmas.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: You’re talking, that’s about it. So best one was the Sportula one, and we probably did right around 75, about, $75,000.

Andrew: $75,000, okay.

Sean: Yeah. So . . .

Andrew: And the reason that you’re talking about the holidays, and making a point of bringing that up, is you can do that over the holidays, but you can’t do that on January 10th.

Sean: No.

Andrew: You can’t do it from January 10th to February 10th.

Sean: No, yeah, you’ll go down quite a . . . I mean, you’ll go down insanely fast, put it that way. We don’t, we pull our kiosks in January, because it’s not even worth it.

Andrew: Okay. All right. Let’s see how you got into this.

Sean: So I was just looking for the big score, that’s it.

Andrew: You had a digital marketing agency.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Which meant that you did what? Give me one example of one project that you did for one client.

Sean: It was just a very, very standard, you know, websites, marketing. And basically, and that’s exactly what we did. We ranked PPC accounts, did a lot of SEO, some blog marketing, like, content-type marketing. Just stuff like that. Just, again, a very standard digital agency.

Andrew: And give me an example of one customer that you would buy ads for on a pay-per-click basis, or do SEO for.

Sean: Yup. So we had, like, a gutter company that . . .

Andrew: A what company?

Sean: Gutter.

Andrew: Gutter.

Sean: They installed gutters. Yup.

Andrew: Got it. Okay. All right.

Sean: And then, they had a pretty good-sized PPC account, because it was driving a ton of sales. And we had a pretty good landing page set up, and . . . landing pages set up, and . . . yeah. So, and again, we saw the revenue they were doing, so it was like, wow, okay, this works, you know?

Andrew: And there’s something about that that made you say, “I want to do my own product.” What was it?

Sean: Well, actually, so . . . again, so we had that agency, and then another thing that we did was we actually . . . this is totally random, but we rented a drive-in movie theater during the summer season. And that was all us. So we had employees. We had up to 13 employees then. It was me and a business partner, by the way, who owned the company, but, digital marketing company.

And so we had our taste in running a business, as well, outside of just the marketing agency. Because, you know, the marketing agency, while it’s a business, this was totally separate. It was retail-type stuff. Again, promotion. We had a huge Facebook fan page for that company.

And it was just fun. It was just a fun type of business. It wasn’t quite dealing with clients and stuff. It was a little different, put it that way. And so, and we loved that part, we loved running the drive-in. But at the same time, it was a seasonal business. So in the summer, shut down, and then in the winter, you know . . .

It’s kind of how everything started, like I was explaining about, you know, cruising Craigslist, looking for a new business to buy so that we could run the business on the side, and then, but still do our marketing stuff. So that’s kind of how . . .

Andrew: Can you actually cruise . . . if I go to Craigslist right now, I can find businesses for sale there?

Sean: Oh yeah. Oh yeah.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: What part of Craigslist are you finding businesses for sale in?

Sean: Oh, I’d have to look it up right now. I haven’t looked in a little while. But it’s, I’m pretty sure it’s just under “For Sale,” and then there’s a business section, or . . .

Andrew: Okay. I’ll see.

Sean: I’ll have to look. I’ll have to look, yeah.

Andrew: I had no idea this was even available. I see real estate for sale. Oh, I see for sale, and now if I scroll, can I see business . . . oh, yeah. Boy, it’s been there, center of the screen, this whole time, and I had never noticed it.

Sean: Well, it’s kind of mixed in, though, because it’s business supplies.

Andrew: Right, yes.

Sean: But then there’s actual businesses.

Andrew: Like right here, I can see, I can buy discount furniture for my bar. I can buy a scanner to, a bar code scanner for my business. I can buy . . .

Sean: There you go.

Andrew: . . . a stove. Got it. Okay. And so somewhere in there was a business that you saw.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: What was the business?

Sean: It was a candy kiosk in the mall.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So it was literally that. It sold candy that you would scoop with a little scoop, put it in a bag, and weigh it, and then, you know, get out.

And so I was looking, there was actually a dog grooming company, all those things, and I was like, “Eh.” This kiosk is something we know a little bit. It’s retail. I had retail experience in the past, as well.

And so we basically met up with the guy and negotiated a price. One thing led to another, and we bought that business, which came . . . this was the saving grace. It came with his lease. It came with all the kiosk, all the candy, all that, and then his lease, which was really, again, the only thing that we did well out of that whole deal was get that lease.

Andrew: Why? Why is the lease so valuable?

Sean: Because he negotiated crazy rates for . . . and, like, I’ll explain a little bit later if you want, but rent is your biggest killer during the holiday season, because, like, the operators, the mall, makes a big chunk of their money during the holidays. So rents are outrageous for, you know, those months.

But where his lease was, he was a longer-term tenant, he had a longer lease, so it was, like, dirt, dirt cheap.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So you did well. And that’s just pure profit, so . . .

Andrew: By the way, this Craigslist business search is so riveting for some reason.

Sean: Addicting.

Andrew: I can’t stop scrolling. I’ve got to put it away, but before I do, I’m bringing it up just so I have an excuse to keep looking at it. There’s a mobile boutique fashion truck clothing business store . . .

Sean: There you go.

Andrew: . . . where it looks like one of those mini-buses that you take a tour through town with, but it’s painted all pink, and it’s opened up to show clothes out of the back.

Sean: Well . . .

Andrew: That’s a business that you can buy for $12,000 right now. All right, so that’s, I’ve got to put that away. All right, so you got the . . .

Sean: Yeah, if Mixergy doesn’t work out . . .

Andrew: It’s what?

Sean: I said if Mixergy doesn’t work out for you, there’s always Craigslist.

Andrew: Or maybe if it does. Maybe it’s the brand extension I’ve been looking for.

Sean: Sure.

Andrew: Everyone keeps wanting me to sell a T-shirt. Maybe I need to sell it out of a pink van.

Sean: Oh God. Well . . .

Andrew: Right? Imagine I pull up to South by Southwest with that? People will buy it.

Sean: That would be great. That would be great.

Andrew: What did it cost you to buy this business?

Sean: So I think he had it listed for, like, $7500, which was ridiculous. We’re like, “We’re not paying that.” And I think we were all, like, jazzed up when we got it for, like, $3500, and we talked him down to.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: We were like, whoa, we pretty much, you know, talked the pants right off of him. That was crazy.

And then it just was a quick reality, because I’m, you know, we don’t know for sure, but his numbers, we got, you know, spreadsheets, all that. Not even close.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Not even close. Yeah. I mean, he was so off . . .

Andrew: And for $3500, who are you going to sue?

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: It’s not worth it.

Sean: Yeah, yeah. And . . .

Andrew: Like, how are you going to prove it? All right. So you got your . . .

Sean: So . . . yeah.

Andrew: So you got the little, the cart, the one on wheels. You got the plastic . . .

Sean: No, this is, like, an actual, it’s on wheels, but someone sits at it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sean: And it’s got, like, you know, a whole, like, you don’t necessarily roll it around.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: But you do have to take it out of storage, and bring it out in the morning, and put it away at night, or not?

Sean: No.

Andrew: Oh, not even.

Sean: You just put, like, a cover over. Just, like, a canopy cover.

Andrew: Got it. And so you actually own the . . .

Sean: But, I mean, it is pretty big. It’s . . . yeah, it’s, like, 10 feet wide.

Andrew: And you own the physical thing?

Sean: Yeah. And they call it, like, 360 retail, 360-degree retail. It’s right when you’re in the mall and you’re walking down the center. It was one of those kiosks.

Andrew: I’ve seen that. All right.

Sean: Yup.

Andrew: So you’re in there, your new business. What month of the year is this? To give me a sense of how close to the holidays?

Sean: Oh man, this was probably towards the end of the year. We probably started in September. Not certain, but around then. Had it for a few months, and saw it doing awful. And we’re like, “Oh, this is not . . . we just blew that much money.” We’re paying . . . we had employees, because we weren’t working it. So we’re paying employees.

And then the holidays were coming, and I said to my business partner, I said, “Hey, Rod, we’ve got to figure something out for the holidays, because we can’t sell candy. Like, that’s not going to fly.” And he was on board, too. He was like, “Yeah, we’ve got to do something.” And so . . .

Andrew: By the way, there . . . you and I are hard workers, we’re hustlers. If things don’t work out, we want to push them to work out.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Did you find yourself trying anything to turn the candy business around at the mall?

Sean: Yeah, we tried a bunch of different types of candy.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So we would try, like, you know, something that was unique, that you wouldn’t necessarily think. But, you know, when it comes down to it, you’ve got to think of the . . . I can’t think of the right term for some reason. Like, the average sale price. Someone’s buying a bag of candy, it’s probably going to be $5, you know what I mean? Like, that’s not that much. And $5 worth of candy is actually a decent amount of candy, when it comes down to it.

But a little kid, you know, that’s what, he’d say, “Oh, mommy, I want some candy.” She’s like, “Yeah, here, sure, here’s,” you know, $4. And it’s like, oh, great. So you need a lot of customers to be doing anything. I mean, the margins are crazy on it, but still, it’s not . . .

So we did try, like you’re saying, new things. We actually even made a gift basket. Like, a little put together kit for, like, $10 or something. You know what I mean? Something just to jazz it up a little bit. But it was, there was no saving that one, let me tell you. There may be, but not by us.

Andrew: Wow, all right. That’s pretty sad. Were you starting to bum out?

Sean: Yeah, well, a little bit. It was more like, you know, kind of the reality of, like, wow, you know, we just spent $3500 . . . you know, we just wrote a check, $3500, like, that fast, and it’s gone. And, you know, we still, again, had employees, and we still had a lease. That was the killer part, too. We’re like, no, even if we shut this down, we’ve got a lease we’ve got to, you know, figure out. We have to just break it or something.

Andrew: You have to keep paying the rent . . .

Sean: Right.

Andrew: . . . every single month.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah. So that was not good.

Andrew: Did you guys fight with each other?

Sean: Not really. We had, I’m pretty low-keyed, and we got along really well.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Totally. Yeah.

Andrew: So then, of all the different things that you could do, where do you come up with the idea for the next one?

Sean: Good, good question. We, the mall actually . . . what happens is, say that you have a product that’s doing well in other malls, or you want to expand it. You basically create, like, a sales sheet. It’s, like, a graph. It’s probably one that you’ve seen, the graphic, and it’s got some sales numbers and all that. And basically what they do is they give it to the mall person who’s in charge of the management, the rentals, and they say, “Hey, do you think you have any operators that might be interested in carrying our product?”

So we knew the girl really well, and she knew we were two younger guys, you know, probably figured we were into sports. So she brought it to us and said, “Hey, I’m going to ask you guys first, do you want this?”

We looked at it, and we were like, “Hm, this isn’t terrible.” And then that first, the whole story is, we read the flier wrong. It looked, I could have swore it said a minimum order of, like, $25,000. And we’re like, “We’re not putting in an order . . . ” You know, we just got done selling $700 a month in candy. We’re not putting down a $25,000 deposit to get . . .

Andrew: And this is for, this is just so people understand.

Sean: Oh yeah.

Andrew: We’re looking at spatulas that are meant for barbecuing that have, cut inside them, logos of sports teams.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: Like, I could get the New York Yankees spatula.

Sean: Oh, that would be a bad one. You should get the Red Sox instead. I’m from Maine.

Yeah, so anyways, that’s exactly what it is. And it has, like, a bottle opener on the other side.

Andrew: I see it, yeah.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And there are line extensions, too. I can get the tongs.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: The grill-a-tongs. I can get the coasters. All right.

Sean: Yeah. So . . .

Andrew: So you saw it and you said, “$25,000? Forget that. I just blew all this money to get the space. Now you want me to spend $25,000? No, take this little brochure and hand it to somebody else here in the mall. I’m done with you.”

Sean: Pretty, that’s literally pretty much, we said, “No, you know, we’re not doing that,” you know? “Tell them to . . . you know, go find someone else.”

And then she actually brought it back to us, like, pretty much after. She’s like, “You guys aren’t . . . just make sure. You know, they’re doing really well in other malls.” And again, she was more or less our friend at that point.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sean: Because we had known her. And she was around our age. And she’s like, you know, “Just double check, you know, they’re doing really well in other malls.” And they’re actually absolutely killing it, that company, now. They’re on, like, the cover of the SPREE, which is Specialty Retail Report, and all that.

And so we took another look and saw the actual minimum order was $5000. So we’re like, “Oh, whoops, read that wrong. I don’t know where the 25 . . . ”

Andrew: Even $5000 is a big commitment. If you don’t make this work, you’re going to have $5000 worth of spatulas at your house.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah, but it’s a risk, you know? I don’t know.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: We, again, keep in mind the, we weren’t starting from scratch. We had the lease already going. So, you know, we’re like, “Well, we’ve got to find something.”

And my mentality has always been, for products in the mall, is it has to be, it has to appeal towards women, because they typically spend. And that’s just the stats. And then it has to be within a impulse purchase. And so basically, of course women would be buying the spatulas for their husbands, and even the guys would be buying for guys, too. But it fit really well in that.

And then we sold them for $24.99, which is exactly, you know, if you’re walking by a mall kiosk and you see something, you know, what’s $24.99? During the holiday season, that’s exactly what a gift would cost, you would expect a gift to cost.

Andrew: Makes sense.

Sean: So it fit those two criteria, yeah. And so we put our order in. And I can’t remember, I think that was in, like, October. And it was funny, I built out, like, physically built the display unit and all that. We’re in our office, and I had, we had a scale saw. This was, like, an office there. Like, if I was in your office right now building something with a scale saw, drill, all that, building the box.

Andrew: Which office is this?

Sean: This was for our marketing company.

Andrew: So in the marketing agency . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . you guys are getting on the ground, and you’re . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Are you handy enough that you can saw together something like this?

Sean: Oh my God, I’m telling, I’m from Maine. I’ve got, you know, I can do . . . I was just building a retaining wall this weekend [inaudible 00:20:00].

Andrew: What’s a retaining wall?

Sean: Oh, the dirt was kicking out this wall that the previous homeowner built, and I basically tore it down, put some new bricks, tied it in. Yeah.

Andrew: Oh yeah. I have no idea how to do that. So that just comes naturally to you.

Sean: I grew up working on, like, a farm, working on all things. I mean, way northern Maine, up in the total hillbilly country, so . . .

Andrew: Okay. Are you in Maine right now?

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Yeah. We’re right near Portland, so, that’s where I moved. But, yeah. That’s the Portland mall, that’s the one we went to. That’s where we did the kiosk.

So yeah, anyway, so that’s what we did. We ordered the $5000 minimum order . . .

Andrew: How do you know which ones to get? That would be a problem for me. I mean, I see . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . NASCAR options, I see patriotic options, NBA, NFL, collegiate. It’s impossible to figure out, there’s so much.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: I guess you just look for all the local teams?

Sean: That was their suggestion. And to be honest, that was my, that was our biggest hurdle, I guess, was figuring out . . . because, like you’re saying, there’s golf. There’s, like, a guy, golf.

Andrew: Right.

Sean: There’s, like, a cop one that has handcuffs. There’s all kinds of ones. And, you know, how do you go? Because around here, you know, Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics. Which, they didn’t have the Celtics yet, though. It was just Patriots, Red Sox. You know, we got a ton of those, but you can’t necessarily just have those. Because, like you’re saying, there actually is a lot of New York Yankee fans, as well. That was actually our third best-seller, unfortunately. Just kidding.

And so, anyways, so that was the biggest thing. So we ordered a lot of each. And as I was saying, before we got on, you know, we didn’t know what we were doing. I mean, that’s flat out, it was too many products, we didn’t necessarily know, so we ordered a bunch.

And then the Patriots ones would blow out just this fast. And Red Sox, same thing. So we tried to order a ton, but it’s a 10-day turnaround, and we’re talking about making money in a short amount of period, and now I’ve got to order a ton more.

And so it was not great, but we still ended up doing, yeah, like, mid-70, 80 grand for those.

Andrew: 70, 80 grand.

Sean: Yeah. And that, and we did awful with ordering, that’s why. That’s why I’m saying that one was, like, yeah. There was a lot of potential in that one.

Andrew: There’s a lot of potential because people were willing to buy, but if you get it wrong, you’re stuck with them.

Sean: That, exactly. So come January 1st, you know, what do you do with 5000 Patriots spatulas sitting in your . . .

Andrew: What did you do with 5000, or however many you had?

Sean: We actually didn’t have that much left, because again, ordering wasn’t great. But my business partner actually bought me out of that business, and he kept going with them. He actually . . .

Andrew: So he’s now selling spatulas at the mall, or his people are.

Sean: Yes.

Andrew: He is.

Sean: And he’s selling hermit crabs. How about that one?

Andrew: Hermit crabs at the mall?

Sean: Yeah, and he’s killing it with it, too.

Andrew: Interesting.

Sean: Yeah, I know. He’s got three kiosks he’s running now. He’s been doing them now ever since, so whenever that was . . . it’s been a couple years now, at least. He’s straight through kiosk.

Andrew: What about this, Sean, that you have to hire all these people. That means you have to do payroll for them. Who does payroll for you?

Sean: We did. We basically called . . . we have a . . . it’s a somewhat small bank around here, and they were super nice to us, and we would literally call them and say, “Hey, Andrew had 40 hours this week, you know, Sean had 25 . . . ”

Andrew: And the bank would do your payroll for you, and they would withhold . . .

Sean: Yeah. Um-hum.

Andrew: . . . would withhold and all that. Okay.

Sean: They would run it, we’d get the checks. I mean, it’s just like a normal payroll.

Andrew: Wow.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: All right. And who does scheduling of people? This is all the stuff that bothers me about retail. My dad was in retail for a few years.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: He went from wholesale, he said, “Let’s try retail, because I see how well other people I sell my clothing to do.” So he got into it. And there’s inventory. People are upset because the sizes aren’t in stock, or there are too many of this size. You end up stuck with a lot of things. You end up having to deal with people’s schedules, which is a pain in the butt. You have to do all that.

Sean: Yeah, so, yeah, that was a lot worse this past year when I’m working easily a, you know, full-time job making all the product, as well. Because, yeah, that’s a whole nother ball game we can get into.

But this last one, yeah, it was more so that my business partner was a little bit more involved with the kiosk, and I was maintaining the marketing clients.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: So, you know, I absolutely did anything we needed done, but in terms of the scheduling, you know, he was the one more kind of hammering that out. And . . .

Andrew: What kind of money were you guys pulling in again? You said $70,000 for the month?

Sean: Yeah, for that . . .

Andrew: Seventy.

Sean: For the spatulas, yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: So if you do $70,000 for a month.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And basically, it’s one month a year that you do it, and then the rest of the year, we’ll figure out what happens in a moment. But . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: How much of that is profit?

Sean: Well, that’s the tricky part. So the Sportula, the . . . yeah, Sportulas, was not a great profit margin. I mean, the gross profit was, like, 50%. And, you know, you’ve got expensive mall rent to pay, you’ve got employees to pay, you’ve got all that. So, you know, we might have made . . . we didn’t make a whole lot on that at all, on the 70. Probably less than 10, I’d say, total.

Andrew: Less than 10.

Sean: If you combine everything. Yeah.

Andrew: And then the two of you have to split it up.

Sean: Exactly. Yeah.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: So, and again, that was exactly what made me want to do my own thing, you know, whatever, one year, two years later, basically, is I wanted way higher margins. And of course I wanted to do it, you know, for myself.

Andrew: You do that . . . tell me about the le- . . . isn’t it weird? Sometimes I catch myself and go, “I’ve got eyes . . . ” You know?

Sean: Whatever.

Andrew: It’s strange, because in normal conversation, I don’t notice it. In fact, I don’t usually notice it at all. But I’ve been listening to different podcasts lately, and I’ve been hearing these weird sounds, you know?

Sean: Um-hum.

Andrew: That I guess for some reason, because the person’s in my ear, maybe, in my head, maybe because I’m not doing anything but listening to them, all these little sounds just come through. That’s why I should stop paying attention to other people’s weird sounds, because then I notice it in myself.

Sean: Yeah, but no one notices that stuff.

Andrew: Nobody notices until you start to.

Sean: You might, but yeah.

Andrew: That’s why the person who’s, like, the biggest critic of everyone else is always so hard on themselves.

Sean: Oh, I know. That is me to a T.

Andrew: You know, and their life is hell.

Sean: That is me to a T. Don’t even worry about it.

Andrew: Really?

Sean: Oh, bad.

Andrew: What do you criticize yourself about?

Sean: Bad. Oh, just, like, those kiosks, for instance. It’s like, you know, I’d be like, “How could you be so dumb to think that a candy kiosk could work? Like, you think you’re a good businessperson.” You know what I mean? And it’s stuff like that that, you know, you . . .

Or even this past one. You know, that was a big risk. I mean, I took a lot of time, a lot of money in this, and I’m like . . . anyway, I, you know, pretty much lost, you know, a little bit. It was close to break even, but . . .

You know, at the end of the day, it’s like you’re beaten down, and I’m just like, “How could I possibly make that decision?” Like, I usually make good business decisions, you know? Like, typically, in what I’m doing now, everything. But, yeah, little things like that. Or if I’ll do, like, even something dumb like, you know, if I trip on something that’s right in front of me, I’ll be like, “How did you not see that? Are you stupid?” Do you know what I mean? I’m just bad.

But, oh well.

Andrew: How are you feeling about being on camera now? Are you evaluating yourself a lot?

Sean: No. I was evaluating before we got on the call, maybe, a little bit, but actually . . .

Andrew: What did you evaluate?

Sean: Just to make sure the lighting was good and stuff. It’s not great, but . . .

Andrew: I see you got a haircut. That’s a really good haircut.

Sean: Ah, a little while, but thanks. My favorite barber shop ever, Goodfellas. It’s great.

Andrew: I need one of those. My haircut just stinks.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: You know what I want to do? I want to go back to just buzzing down my hair on my own in the shower. I used to do that.

Sean: I used to do that.

Andrew: Right?

Sean: Yup.

Andrew: Life is easy that way.

Sean: That was the good times, yeah. Oh well.

Andrew: But now I’ve got a wife. I say that and, you know, if I want her to keep up her looks for me, I’ve got to keep up my looks for her.

Sean: Right.

Andrew: And if that means that I can’t buzz my own hair in the shower, then I’ll give it up.

Sean: Yeah. Worth it.

Andrew: All right. You do this business . . . wait, tell me about the lease. Give me a sense of what the lease cost. How much a month?

Sean: Okay, so, yeah, so . . . so during the — and this is pretty standard — during the year, it was, for this one, it was $700 a month, which is, like, outrageously cheap. Outrageously. I mean, it’s at least over $1000 now. Like, now, if you don’t have . . .

We’re like, okay. During the holiday season, it was either . . . I’m trying to think. It was either $1250 or $1500 a month. And I can’t remember. I think it doubled, so I think it was, like, $1500. But again, for us, we’re like, “Wow, that’s expensive.” And everyone else that we talked to were like, “That is the, that’s unbelievably cheap. Like, shut up and take it.” You know?

Andrew: That’s tiny.

Sean: So, like, that’s nothing. Just a quick reference. This past year, I paid $6500 a month for a lease, so that’s . . .

Andrew: You went on your own, with your own product idea.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: All right, let’s wrap up this Sportula business by just saying . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . how much did you get when you sold the business to your partner?

Sean: It was only, we had only . . . I only sold my part for, like, eight, something like $8 grand, or something like that.

Andrew: $8 grand. All right, so you made a little bit of money.

Sean: Yeah, it wasn’t . . . oh, yeah, yeah, no, I walked away happy. He, you know, it worked out for him, as well. We were . . .

Andrew: Was it a 50/50 ownership?

Sean: Yeah. Yes, at that point it was 50/50, yeah.

Andrew: What was it before?

Sean: I started out, like, it was 70, I had 70, he had 30, because I basically started it. I approached him for a business idea, basically, and then he kind of liked it. We became good friends, and then he joined. And it worked out well for, you know, whatever, almost two years.

Andrew: And that’s when you heard, or somewhere after that is when you heard a Mixergy interview with a man named Justin Winter.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: What was Justin Winter doing that got your imagination, and frankly, so many other people’s imagination? He started out with everyone . . . it started out with all of us, me included, saying, “What?”

Sean: I know.

Andrew: “What idea is this?” And then what was it about the idea that got you excited, that made you say, “Oh, that’s the idea”?

Sean: Yeah, so it’s the whole . . . there’s a ton of them now, but the ring, candle with a ring inside of it. And it can be valued from, you know, $10 to $5000. And . . .

Andrew: Yeah. So as you melt the candle . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . you start to uncover that there’s a ring hidden inside of it. And the ring could be incredibly valuable . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . or it could just be pretty and free.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: But either way, you want to see what it is, and . . . right.

Sean: And you get a good candle out of it. Like, you know, I know their candles, our candles, are, they’re soy candles. They smell great. I mean, we get tons of compliments on just the quality of the candles, as well. So it’s kind of a win/win, you know?

And so basically, again, I heard that, and I said, at first I was like, “That’s kind of a dumb idea.” And then the more I thought about it, I was like, “Wait a minute.”

So then, okay, a quick backpedal. I thought it was kind of dumb, whatever, kind of went on. So I kept listening to Mixergy, so . . . and then I was like, “You know what?” I was getting comfortable in this job that I’m doing now, and I said, “I’m going to, I think I’m going to do my own kiosk this year.”

And so I was trying to think of products, and it just absolutely clicked. Like, “Wait a minute, that Justin Winter, that candle thing that the guy . . . ” So anyways, I even went back and, you know, searched, and checked out the transcript and stuff, and, to kind of just refresh my memory. And I was like, “Wait a minute, this is all something I could do.” Like, I could do myself. Like, I don’t need to . . .

Because my worry was that . . . my original plan was to create a product that I could do exactly what Sportula was doing, then go to other malls and say, “Hey, it’s doing well here.” You know, pick it up . . .

Andrew: Right.

Sean: . . . and kind of expand that way. That was my whole plan. And that’s why, again, I was like, “Oh, he’s killing it online. I’ll let him do that, whatever. You know, he’s got a way head start.” But he wasn’t really doing anything offline, and I wasn’t really interested in necessarily wholesaling type, like, myself going to a bunch of stores. My play was that. So, to do the kiosk thing.

So I did that. I went right to one of the, Michael’s, the craft stores.

Andrew: Um-hum.

Sean: Bought some candle-making stuff, made my first candles. Like, wow, that was pretty easy. Like, I think I can do this.

So I did a quick run during Mother’s Day of that year. That same buddy that I talked to, I sub-leased his kiosk. I made 600 candles. Which is a decent amount when you’re making them with a little Presto pot that’s, like, this big, eight at a time.

Andrew: I can’t believe you’d make it yourself.

Sean: Yeah, in my basement.

Andrew: But I guess, like you said, you’re handy.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah. Sometimes I’ll run myself ragged doing things. But, so, yeah, so I made 600 of them, yeah, in our basement, and I carried . . . that was the funny thing, is we lived right in Portland, so it’s a pretty congested area. It’s not a huge city, but, like, big enough. I had a palette, a truck, back up a palette, drop it right on my driveway. I carried down, like, 11 boxes of, you know, 50 pounds of wax, like, down through a bulkhead, all the jars, to make 600.

And we tried during Mother’s Day, and it actually did well. It did quite well. We did, like . . . it was, like, a two and a half week trial that we set up, and we did, like, over $5 grand in that. So, in that time of year, just for Mother’s Day, just introducing to the mall, I mean, that was a pretty good sort of, like, piece . . .

Andrew: $5 grand is good, compared to $70-plus for spatulas?

Sean: That time of year. For that time of year.

Andrew: Really? So Mother’s Day is that slow in comparison? But I guess, you know what?

Sean: Oh God, yeah.

Andrew: That’s because people who buy for mothers aren’t that . . . they don’t go to the malls.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: It’s mothers who might be more likely to be in there.

Sean: Yeah. And . . .

Andrew: I have no idea. I’m just making stuff up, actually, now that I think about it.

Sean: No, and we did it, and I actually worked the kiosk a few, like, that whole weekend, basically, when it got started, because I wanted to talk to customers a little bit and see what they thought. And I asked every one of them, you know, “Are you buying this, who are you buying this for, yourself, for your mother?” And almost no one was buying it for their mother.

So I was like, all right, well, people are buying it for themselves. Like, they definitely like the idea. And then the other cool thing was that people kept saying, “Oh, those are those candles with the rings in it.” Like, you know, because they apparently, you know, they didn’t have that much brand awareness, but they had category, I guess. You know, people at least knew of them. I was like, “Yeah,” you know, it’s these, these are the candles. So . . .

Andrew: So they heard about some company that did it, but they didn’t know the name of the company, and . . .

Sean: Right. Exactly. So . . .

Andrew: I see. Yeah, yeah. So you got to benefit a little bit from that.

Sean: I was like, and he’s doing . . . so basically, Diamond Candles was doing all my online advertising, so if someone wanted to come and buy them in person, they’d see, you know, the kiosk.

And, so all signs pointed to it would be a raving hit in the, during the winter. So I kind of went all out, is what happened. And I got made, like, thousands of candles, myself.

Andrew: Yourself.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Why not hire someone off of Craigslist to do this so you can focus on something else?

Sean: Well, I’ll explain that. Because we . . . it was a pretty interesting time, let me tell you. We sold our house in August, okay?

Andrew: Who’s we?

Sean: Sold the . . . my wife and I.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: And two kids. And so we sold our house, moved in with my parents, because it sold faster than we thought. The house we were going to buy kind of fell through. It just basically went off the market faster than we would have thought.

So we had a newborn. We moved into my parents’ house. My father was extremely nice to let me make candles on his section of the garage.

Andrew: I bet.

Sean: I’ve even got pictures. I can send them to you. Hilarious. I got, you know, enough stuff to make, again, 3000 candles. I worked full-time, came home. I would literally have my mother or my wife turn on . . . I would load the candle machine before I left for work. On my way home, I would have them turn it on so that it could be warm by the time I get there, eat supper, it’ll be ready to melt, and I can make more.

So I kind of got it down to a science where I could make about, like, 105 a night. But then I’d get done, if I started right when I got home, I’d get done about 10:00 at night, and then I’d have to go to bed and kind of do it again.

Andrew: This sounds insane.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And you’ve got kids.

Sean: And then think about hiring a full staff. Because I had to hire a staff, and do payroll, and everything else, on top of that.

Andrew: To sell it, or to make it?

Sean: No, to sell it.

Andrew: To sell it.

Sean: Then they had to . . .

Andrew: Okay. So you were . . .

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: . . . still committed to making it yourself?

Sean: Oh yeah. It’s one of those things . . .

Andrew: Why “oh yeah”? Why are you so . . . so I’ve done stuff like that myself, and I hate myself for doing it.

Sean: Yeah. Maybe one day, I’ll learn.

Andrew: Is that what it is? Really, you just, it’s just the way you are. You have to get started and do it yourself.

Sean: Yes. And I have a hard time sitting around. Like, as much as, as crazy as that sounds, like, oh, you know, non-stop, I was totally happy doing it. I like working. I like . . . not necessarily . . . well, I do like what you would consider working, I guess. Just because I just feel, I like feeling productive. I don’t mind physical stuff at all. I mean, on weekends, I’m non-stop doing physical things.

And that’s, because I sit behind a desk all day, pretty much, for my day job. So being able to go home and do that, like, all night, was kind of nice, to be honest.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: But I guess that’s just the way I look at it.

Andrew: All right. You’re doing it, you create the rings. What’s the most expensive ring that you put inside of a candle?

Sean: We had one with a retail value of right about $5000.

Andrew: $5000. How much did it cost to get it?

Sean: But you . . . a lot less, put it that way. A lot less.

Andrew: Why can’t you say? It’s been so long. Oh, you still have the business?

Sean: We still have it. It’s pretty dormant right now.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah, no, we . . . I can find deals. Let’s just put it that way. I’m good at finding deals.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: And . . . no, but actually . . .

Andrew: And it was a real diamond ring. Actually, you know what, and saying that it’s a real diamond ring is not that hard, because you just get these little pieces of diamond, and you can suddenly call whatever you stick it in a diamond ring.

Sean: Yeah. Yeah.

Andrew: All right.

Sean: No, the other things that we had actually were quite nice, too. And, you know, as much as I talk about this being, like, a pretty big failure, to be honest, but, you know, it was an unbelievable learning experience, so . . . like, I, yeah, I’ve come away with so much knowledge, and everything else.

Andrew: Why do you consider it a failure? Because only $5000 on Mother’s Day means you can’t build a big business off of it?

Sean: No, because the 45 during holiday season was not enough to want to basically put all the effort into it again.

Andrew: Sorry, so it was $5000 for Mother’s Day, and then you kept the business going until Christmas and the holidays.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And at that point, it did $45,000.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And when you do $45,000 . . .

Sean: It did over 50.

Andrew: Sorry?

Sean: What’s that?

Andrew: When you do $45,000 or so, how much profit do you get for that?

Sean: I didn’t make any profit on that. That . . .

Andrew: How much did you lose?

Sean: It was actually pretty close to break even. It was, like, maybe, like, $1500. Something like that.

Andrew: Okay. All right.

Sean: But the thing is, I have a ton of supplies still at the house, because I was anticipating making. So if I were to sell all the supplies I had, we would have made, you know, a ton . . . quite a bit of money, put it that way.

Andrew: I see.

Sean: And it’s very frustrating, because it should have happened. Because, but, you know, again, you can’t change the past, I guess.

Andrew: Why are you drawn to offline businesses?

Sean: I’m not . . . actually, like, we were talking before, the one I’m currently doing now is completely online, 100% online.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: It was only because I saw an opportunity for . . . I knew the kiosks, I knew how well it, the candles were doing online. And so I said, “This is totally, you know . . . ”

Andrew: See, if you could be the Sportula of candles, then you’ll . . .

Sean: Exactly. Exactly.

Andrew: . . . do really well. I see.

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: You just kind of happened to get into this. It’s not that you’re so committed to offline businesses as a . . .

Sean: No, not at all, not at all.

Andrew: . . . as a rebuttal to the online world. All right.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Um-hum.

Sean: I was just going to say, pretty much anything, other side hustle I’ve done has all been online.

Andrew: So what’d you learn from this?

Sean: Everything.

Andrew: What’s the number one thing you got?

Sean: 100% number one thing was sourcing in China, 100%. Because . . .

Andrew: So no more making . . . if you had to do it again today, you wouldn’t do the candles yourself at home in half of the garage. You would go to China. Where would you . . .

Sean: I have a full garage now.

Andrew: Sorry?

Sean: I have a full garage now, so that . . . we own our house now. We moved into our house. But . . .

Andrew: So where would you go? If I had to go and have somebody in China make candles for me, I don’t know where to go. Let me see, China . . . no, I can’t even Google that.

Sean: No, it wouldn’t be . . . you could if you want. But it wouldn’t be to make the candles, actually. It was to buy the rings. That’s what I meant.

Andrew: Oh, okay.

Sean: So the sourcing was to get the rings. I mean, they weigh a ton. Like, one candle alone, I think it came to, like, two pounds. So you couldn’t do it with shipping.

Andrew: I see. So you can’t make candles in China.

Sean: No.

Andrew: Especially when you’re selling it for [inaudible 00:40:08] bucks.

Sean: No, and that was another thing, another reason I like this idea, because it kind of safeguards you against competitors. Because you’d have to be crazy, like myself, to do it, you know? You can’t just have someone place an order for 5000 candles and kind of come in.

But, no, but anyways, it was the sourcing. And I basically developed a relationship with an agent over there, and him and I work together now on multiple products. So, yeah, that was a huge, huge takeaway. Because, again, it’s becoming extremely handy for me now.

Andrew: Okay. Wait, let me do candle rings. Let me see how many other people now are doing candle rings. Oh, he’s number one.

Sean: Oh, there’s quite a bit.

Andrew: Sorry?

Sean: There are quite a few now.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sean: It’s pretty . . .

Andrew: Do you think he made a mistake to do the interview on Mixergy, to talk about how well he was doing with the candle business?

Sean: I wonder that sometimes, to be honest. And not necessarily even just him. Other businesses. And I even know one guy that, in a Dynamite Circle Watch. I’m sure you’ve heard of that. They, he did interviews, and he basically said that exact thing. He’s like, “I’m not doing any more interviews, because . . . ” His product, though, was pretty easily replicated. But they’re still doing well, but he just, I don’t know what happened, to be honest. He didn’t elaborate. But I don’t . . . I don’t know.

Andrew: It’s hard to say, because frankly, when you talk about how well you do, you do bring on all kinds of competitors. On the other hand, I’ve also talked to . . . there’s one entrepreneur who comes to mind. He created this business that does, that makes it easier for customers to send out emails. So your software should focus on servicing your user, not on clearing all the hurdles for getting deliverability for your email.

And he did it, and he was doing well, and he kept himself really under the radar so no one would know how well he did. And then someone else got funding, SendGrid got funding for it.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And suddenly people discovered SendGrid, and they thought, “Well, SendGrid has money in the bank. We could trust them with our business. We could trust them with our customers.” And SendGrid got all the attention, because people trusted SendGrid because they had money in the bank.

Sean: Um-hum.

Andrew: And by the time that happened, it was too late for the other entrepreneur to catch up. Sometimes it helps to say, “Here’s how big I am, and you guys can count on me, and even though I don’t have funding, here’s what we’re doing that makes us a dependable business.” And other times not. You have to know what point in your trajectory you’ve got to do it.

Sean: Yeah. And it also . . .

Andrew: So I don’t know his story. But I know he’s a fan, and he stuck around with Mixergy for a long time afterwards. I haven’t heard from him in a while. I bet I will now.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: But he seemed happy with the interview.

Sean: Yeah. Nice. Yeah, no, and I think there’s something about, you know, like, in terms, for Justin and, like, Diamond Candles, just being first to market, too. You know, it’s going to, that’s hard to beat. Can’t beat it. But, you know, I’m sure he’s still doing quite well with it, so . . .

Andrew: All right. So you get in it, it’s not right. What do you do with your lease now that you’re committed to $6500 a month?

Sean: No, actually, so what happened was, that same buddy, he basically sweet talked a deal for me to . . . and all he did was negotiate a lease for me to get the cart, actually, right next to him.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: And it was actually in a pretty primo spot. And so . . . but, yeah, the leases went up like crazy all around his.

Andrew: So you didn’t have to pay $6500?

Sean: No, no, no, I did.

Andrew: You did.

Sean: But it was only for those . . . yeah, it was for November and December. So two months total.

Andrew: Oh, okay, it was just a two-month deal.

Sean: But it was, yeah, I didn’t have to do anything before, and I didn’t have to do anything after. That was the big thing.

Andrew: What else did you learn? So you learned how to source things from China. What else did you learn that’s helpful?

Sean: Just, I mean, how to manage 100% my own employees. Like, at the job I have now, we actually have, like, 180 employees, and I’m pretty much, like, the #2 guy. Which, but it’s just different. It’s not my business, you know what I mean? Exactly what we were talking about.

Andrew: Why are you doing this? You’re working at, where is that? There it is. It’s an in-home care agency for seniors.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Why are you doing that instead of the digital marketing company?

Sean: Because towards the end of that digital marketing . . . another reason why we were looking for other businesses is we were getting kind of tired working for clients, in general. They were getting a little bit needy, and it was just kind of, it was almost like we got ourselves a job, you know? We traded a job for ourselves, and we’re like, “This isn’t any fun.” You know?

And so, but this, where I am now, I mean, I have, like, full creative, like, you know, I can, if I have an idea for something, I can do it, you know? Or I can pitch it, or, you know, we talk, you know, numbers. I mean, it’s exactly, it fits my character very well, put it that way.

Andrew: Okay. All right. And you have another idea. You’re doing it on the side. That you want, you’re willing to say something, but not everything. And so I feel like we should wait on it till you’re more comfortable. Fair?

Sean: No, no, I’m comfortable. It was the product that I didn’t want to say. The direct product. So, like, example like we were talking before, like, I didn’t necessarily want to say it’s a volleyball. But all it is is private labeling on Amazon. And there’s actually fairly a good-sized, like, sub-culture on it. So . . .

Andrew: So you buy something from a Chinese factory.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: They put your label on it, you ship it over to Amazon.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: When someone buys it, like I do, using Amazon Prime, Amazon ships it out.

Sean: Yup, exactly. And I’m totally hands off.

Andrew: And you take risk on inventory, but that’s it. Risk on inventory, and you have to pay Amazon for storage, but that’s it.

Sean: You only pay Amazon storage after a certain amount of time. So if you sell out of your inventory, you don’t pay anything for storage. But there’s FBA fees. But they handle all the customer service, returns, shipping, everything. It’s, like, it’s ridiculous, to be honest.

Andrew: Where’d you read about this?

Sean: Interesting, another podcast, actually. I was on my way home from visiting the in-laws, and it was one of, very large podcast that interviews people, and . . .

Andrew: You can say what it is. I have a feeling I know who it is, but I . . .

Sean: Smart Passive Income.

Andrew: Yeah.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: I’ve heard him talk about this. He did an interview with someone who does that?

Sean: Jessica La Rue.

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Yeah. And she’s a little bit different. She does what’s called retail arbitrage. So basically going into a store, scanning stuff, seeing if it sells, if you can sell for more on Amazon. Very simple. I mean, it’s arbitrage. Then you ship it in.

So I said . . . it’s exactly the same as what we were talking about. I said, “Wow, this seems pretty easy.” So I went and tried it, and it took off like wildfire.

And then, basically, I moved, before I talked to April, I was essentially moving out of the retail arbitrage part, going to stores. Because, like, it’s fun. I still like finding deals . . .

Andrew: When you say “wildfire,” what’s wildfire? How much revenue are we talking about?

Sean: That’s the one that was selling, the first . . . I wish I had my screenshots. It was, the first full 30 days I did it, I did, like, $3500. And, I mean, I wish I could explain to you how little work that involved. Like, especially coming off of just working like an absolute dog before.

Andrew: In this, in the mall?

Sean: In the candles, and . . . because I actually did work, like, on some days, I had to cover [inaudible 00:47:20] . . .

Andrew: Right, right. And you know what worse than working in the mall is you making the candles. Not worse, but it’s more work.

Sean: Exactly, yeah.

Andrew: I see, and so, wait, but those are two days. Give me, like, an average. An average month, how much do you make by selling this stuff?

Sean: For what? For the, Amazon?

Andrew: Yeah.

Sean: Oh my God. If I would have kept going on that one, because I basically started looking at private labeling. It’s the same type of thing, but you’re selling your own products instead. But I was . . . and I was telling my wife this. So I said, “That was my first month ever even knowing at all what I’m doing.” I said, “I could easily do $10 grand a month if I put a little bit more effort into it.”

Andrew: So why didn’t you continue with that?

Sean: Because I started focusing on private labeling. Which is essentially the same thing, but it’s a lot more scalable, is the easiest way to say it. And the margins are huge compared to . . .

Like, say on the $10 grand, if you do a month, you might keep 30%, 25, 30%. So you make, like, $3 grand, and that’s . . . I mean, that’s net, but you do have to roll it in. But private labeling, you could be 50, 60% margins, and it’s extremely scalable. I make one call . . .

Andrew: All right. But this is all speculative. We don’t know yet how well it’s going to do. It just feels like you’re on the right track with this.

Sean: Yes, exactly. Correct.

Andrew: All right. Did I sound too negative when I say it that way?

Sean: No, no, no. Nope, nope. It’s been, it’s way too early. You know, there’s not enough data, really, to be honest, if . . . it’s not a long-term thing. But there’s a lot of . . . there’s, like, a couple of podcasts where it’s started to take off, and it’s been kind of written a few other times, like, on publications, I guess you can say, that say, like, this is the new gold rush, is Amazon private labeling.

And so, anyways, that’s kind of, like, and what we were talking about before, that’s what I’ve been working on. But I have this, like I was telling you, software that’s going to be sweet, that’s just getting done. And it’s my first soiree into having software built for me. And I could definitely credit Mixergy for giving me the kahunas to do it. Because, besides, I would not have even tried it.

Andrew: What’s the software that you’re doing?

Sean: It basically is going to allow people to research products, and the big kicker is, right now on Amazon, you can search the top 100 best sellers. Because it has what’s called the BSR, best seller rank. You can search that. And it essentially is telling you, “These items sell amazing,” okay? I sold . . .

Andrew: And so your software is going to spy on Amazon ratings to tell people . . .

Sean: Exactly.

Andrew: . . . what they should be selling based on what’s selling well now.

Sean: They should be . . . exactly.

Andrew: Got it. So if I would have had this a few months ago, I might have discovered that coloring books for adults were really huge . . .

Sean: Yup.

Andrew: . . . and gone to a printer, made coloring books for adults, because how hard could that be? And then sold them in there, and maybe not been #1, but I’d be #5.

Sean: Yeah, ex-, yeah. And you would sell, if you’re number . . .

Andrew: Did you know that, by the way? That coloring books for adults are so big?

Sean: I saw that. That’s crazy. That makes sense. [inaudible 00:50:07]

Andrew: I tweeted something about it, I said, “Can anyone believe this?” And I got a few responses from people who said, “This is old news. Yeah, it’s exciting. I actually do this with my wife at home.”

Sean: Awesome.

Andrew: Go figure.

Sean: Yeah. No, but anyway, the . . . because right now, again, you can easily see the top 100 products, but the software that I’m going to, that I have, and it . . . I was just messing with it the other day. It’s sweet. You can see, basically it opens the book on Amazon. And people have been wanting that type of thing, because everyone . . . I’m in a bunch of the groups, and people keep saying, “How can I see past the top 100?” So it was basically a pain point. It was the same thing for me.

And I was like, “I know this is possible. I know you can do it.” Because, you know, it’s just number right there. So I commissioned someone to make it for me, because I wanted to see it for myself, so I could, again, better help research for my products.

And a bunch of . . . I put it out on one of the groups and said, “Hey, I can do this. Is anyone interested?” And I got a bunch of people responding. “Oh, I’d love to see it.” So I was like, ooh, interesting. It’s kind of a totally thing I just did for myself.

Andrew: That’s an interesting idea. I like the idea.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: I’m surprised no one had done it before. Amazon’s been out there for long enough, and their rankings have been helpful for long enough, that I would have thought someone would do it. But since they didn’t . . .

Sean: Yup. There’s stuff that’s kind of close to it, but this is pretty straightforward and, like I said, just kind of opens the book.

Andrew: Well, I don’t know if you heard it, but in the background, there was some noise coming in. Yeah, it’s Slack. In one of my past interviews, I said, “I’ve got to see Slack, and what it’s like for just chatting with people.”

And this guy created a . . . I suggested that he create a Slack community so I could finally be invited to someone’s Slack community. And he did, and we named it “Japanese Salariman.” And now Japanese Salariman is making noise throughout the day as people post in there.

Sean: Nice.

Andrew: Anyway, that’s what’s in there. That’s what that noise is. You don’t want to create a Slack group. You’re going to give people an email address for them to connect with you. What’s the email address?

Sean: It’s actually just my name, so S-E-A-N, Sean, and it’s @PL, as in private lable,

Andrew: Okay.

Sean: Yup.

Andrew: All right. Let me actually . . . plspy. I want to see what’s on there right now.

Sean: There won’t be anything.

Andrew: All right.

Sean: Quite yet.

Andrew: I see. “This theme is not yet activated. Please enter your license key to activate the theme.” What’s the theme you got?

Sean: That one’s optimized press, but I’m not using that.

Andrew: Okay. All right.

I’m going to end this by reading a couple of different comments that I see in the podcast. I’ve been suggesting to people that they leave comments. Let’s look at what the most recent is. I was looking at most favorable, but that’s no way to do things.

All right, here’s the most recent. Rob3611 says, “Andrew’s an interesting mix of an interviewer. Well done.” What does that mean? Is that a positive thing, or is that a negative thing?

Sean: No, I’d say that’s great, actually.

Andrew: All right. Frat E. Lee says, “Andrew’s truly authentic. I feel like I have known him forever. He asks very prying . . . ” Did you feel pried? I don’t feel I pried enough with you.

Sean: No. And, like I said, I don’t have anything to hide, and I’m pretty laid back, so you can pry all you want. It doesn’t bother me. I don’t know.

Andrew: Does it bother you that you’re working full-time at a senior place instead of . . .

Sean: No.

Andrew: . . . instead of being an entrepreneur? It doesn’t bother you at all?

Sean: No. Because . . . it really does not. And I can’t say that with any more conviction. Because first of all, one, I really do feel entrepreneurial here, to be . . . that’s one thing that’s pretty big. Second, I’m always going to have a side hustle. It really doesn’t matter exactly what I’m doing. Just keeps everything interesting for me. And . . .

Andrew: How am I the only one who’s always bothered that I’m not doing enough? When I’m here and I’m having a conversation with you, I’m fully present, except that now somehow Japanese Salariman just keeps going off in the corner.

Sean: [inaudible 00:53:59]

Andrew: I’ve got to turn that off with Slack. But the rest of the time, once I’m done, I’m going to go walk out of the office here for a moment to get my breath, and then prepare for my next meeting. I know as I walk around and go, “What the hell? Why do we only have Rob3611 doing a comment? How do I get even more comments?” Frankly, why do I even care about comments? Such a petty little thing. Shouldn’t I be thinking about bigger . . . you don’t have any of that?

Sean: No, not really.

Andrew: All right. Let’s see what Frat E. Lee has to say. Frat E. Lee says, “Andrew’s authentic,” and Frat E. Lee continues to say, “I feel that if I read the right things, spend the right money, and worked hard, then, and only then, I’ll be entitled to an infinite amount of success. I don’t usually give reviews, but I know this is a great investment of my time. I’ve started to download all the episodes to give me a jolt during my work day and when I work out. If you want to truly get into the mind of entrepreneurs in an informal sense, then this podcast is for you.”

I do believe we got into your mind. I think that I got a good sense of the way you work. I think I got a good sense of the way you think. I think I’ve got a good sense, frankly, of . . . your mind bounces a little bit, right?

Sean: Oh, absolutely, 100%.

Andrew: All right. I was going to read more, but I’ll save them for future interviews. The reason that I’m reading all this is to thank the people who have put comments up on iTunes. It’s a small thing, but it does have a lot of impact. For years, I just didn’t pay any attention to it, and as a result, so many other people who do really crappy podcasts, really crappy interviews, end up getting tons of comments and tons of ratings on the iTunes store, and then people go and watch their BS interviews where they say nothing, right?

Sean: I know. I know.

Andrew: “What is your favorite color?” There, that’s an interview that, they do that. They spend five seconds coming up with a list of questions, they ask five million people the same questions, then they spend, you know, after they’re done with their five seconds of the interview, they spend the rest of the day, what is it, 24 hours . . . wait, 23 hours, 59 minutes and 56 seconds, marketing it. And as a result, people watch their freaking interviews instead of mine.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: And . . .

Sean: I’m with you. I’m with you.

Andrew: I’m pissed. All right. Will you . . .

Sean: I mean . . .

Andrew: . . . after this interview is done, will you leave me a comment? It doesn’t even have to be a positive one. I think iTunes will penalize me if I ask you to do a positive. You can even be negative [inaudible 00:56:14].

Sean: No, I will do a positive, I promise.

Andrew: All right. I will appreciate it. And everyone out there, please go read his comment in the iTunes store, search for Mixergy, and see what Sean has written. And while you’re there, please leave me a comment. I know it’s a really goofy thing to be asking, and we should all be doing things that are more elevated than that. But if it helps, I’ve got to say it. We need more ratings.

Sean: Yeah.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of Mixergy. Subscribe if you’re happy, and make sure to connect with Sean if you want to. Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, Sean.

Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.