The following is an edited transcript from our Livestream interview for our ‘In the Ring’ podcast on July 30, 2020, with Josh Walter, Co-founder, and CEO of BrandJump, an eCommerce marketing services company.
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John Suder: Today on ‘In The Ring’, we have Josh Walter. He’s the CEO and co-founder of BrandJump. BrandJump was launched in 2011, and over the last nine years, has become the leading eCommerce sales and marketing firm in the home furnishings industry.
Josh was also recently recognized by Home Furnishings Business Magazine, one of the leading publications in the home furnishing space as a 40 under 40 leader. They recognize the 40 top leaders in the industry under, at 40 years old.
Josh, welcome to the show.
Josh Walter: Thank you very much for having me guys excited to be here.
John: Why don’t you give a quick bio and tell us a little bit about yourself.
Josh: I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and went to undergrad at the University of Iowa. After a very fun college experience, but very cold winters, I came back to Southern California, received my JD MBA at Pepperdine in 2008. While I was a member of the California bar, while I was in school, I decided that I didn’t want to practice at all, but instead, I found a path to really building and growing my own business.
So I co-founded BrandJump about ten years ago. I still live in LA with my wife and two young children. I have four, and five-year-old girls, and they both have me wrapped around their fingers since the day they were born.
John: I want to circle back to how you got from law into e-commerce, but first, why don’t you tell us a little bit about BrandJump and what it can do for eCommerce merchants?
Josh: BrandJump is in eCommerce sales and marketing. We’re not an internet retailer, and we don’t buy and sell products. We’re a services company, and we work for manufacturers exclusively in the home furnishings and home furnishings industry by creating and executing their wholesale e-commerce strategies.
Our clients are manufacturers of lighting and furniture. The core customers are majoring in our retailer throughout the US that sell those products, whether it be Wayfair, Amazon, Target, Home Depot, etc. So we are charged with growing the business of these retailers on behalf of the manufacturers that hire us.
We have a merchandising team. We have a creative team and a channel management team. We get the product online. We build content. We create marketing opportunities with these inanimate internet retailers, ultimately, really what the goal of driving the strategic partnerships between brands and retailers to maximize volume potential.
And what really makes us unique is that our team comes from the eCommerce space– former merchants and buyers. We have a deep understanding of how to best engage each partnership. In short, you can think of us as the wholesale e-commerce arm on behalf of the manufacturer clients that we work with.
John: Can you get a little more granular and talk about precisely what you give to the merchant? Like, what is a good example? When you say a marketing program or some content, what type of content do you guys generate?
Josh: From a merchandising standpoint, manufacturers give us the product information that they have. Specs, imagery, etc. We enhance that information. Then, we load it into each of the individual internet retailers, formats that are required, whether it be a vendor central seller, central Wayfair’s portal, Home Depot’s portal, or whatever it may be. Our creative team enhances that content. We also work with about ten different freelance copywriters.
They’re managing, building out the brand’s store, doing content. We’re helping with product descriptions when they need to be tailored to specific internet retailers. We do product titles to help from an SEO standpoint. From a marketing perspective, where those internet retailers have, buyers, and category managers, we are specifically engaging them and driving the strategic partnership.
Whether it’s fulfillment opportunities or promotional opportunities – because we work across different styles, categories, brands, and price points, we make recommendations to the manufacturer as to how they should partner and drive their businesses with these retailers. Then they make those decisions, and then we execute that strategy on their behalf.
John: So here’s the question – how did you go from law school to getting into furniture eCommerce specifically?
Josh: I went to law school, not entirely sure what I wanted to do with my life, but I knew that if it was something to do with a business that the law degree would help, and it was something in law; obviously a law degree would be important. A couple of years into the law program, I decided to get my MBA because I was much more interested in the business route.
And through that, I decided that I wanted to find an entrepreneurial run business that I could learn, grow with, and then basically scale. Long story short, I joined a small decorative lighting sales agency in Southern California about a year and a half before BrandJump was born. In the decorative lighting business, manufacturers have agencies that are geographically based all over the country.
And those sales agencies are responsible for growing manufacturing businesses in multiple channels. So brick and mortar health, hospitality, restaurants, office spaces. At that time, 11 years ago, our Southern California agency was also responsible for eCommerce because manufacturers at that time considered them retail.
I was personally responsible for growing the businesses for a handful of smaller, not retailers that are geographically based in Southern California and the owner of this agency, and I quickly realized that the needs of these retailers were far different from brick and mortar retailers and that the traditional agencies were not supporting them properly in other parts of the country.
We started by speaking to our lighting clients about managing all of their eCommerce businesses across the country, based on our success with those in Southern California. A number of them gave us a shot, and with the person that I worked for at the time, we formed BrandJump together as a separate entity.
Now ten years later, We’re in multiple categories within the home and work with about 30 manufacturers and 75 to a hundred internet retailers.
John: Great story. It was not a direct line from law school to business, but I know a few, ‘almost lawyers’ who did the same thing. And in every example, they made the right choice. They thought, ‘Oh, I’m going to do good things.’ And they went, ‘Oh, it’s so boring’. They’re very successful business people, so maybe there’s a correlation there.
What are the benefits of centralizing an eCommerce channel management strategy? That’s a lot of words there, but if you could break that down for our audience.
Josh: As I mentioned earlier, manufacturers in the home furnishing space, have traditionally had their territory reps manage their eCommerce accounts. And what this meant was for a very fragmented strategy all over the country. And while each of these internet retailers, as you guys know, whether it’s Amazon, Wayfair, Home Depot, and others, they all have independent strategies.
There’s a real need to centralize the management of their businesses in terms of what’s required for manufacturers to support them. So, when you think about merchandising and there, these are things that wall, they should be tailored. Each internet retailer must still be consistent from the source.
So product information, imagery, descriptions, they need to come from one place. And if they don’t, the brand can be represented considerably differently, all over the internet. So from a branding standpoint, centralization is key. And when you think about marketing strategies, it’s equally as important.
Each retailer has different marketing strategies and different events, but a centralized approach allows for much more control over how the brand is being promoted, where, and then how that impacts other channels of distribution, which are very sensitive in the brick in the home furnishing space when it comes to, like contract and hospitality and whatnot.
John: I’m going to speak more on that creative side of it – do you find a client and say, ‘Your brand assets may be suffering. We’re here to help’ or do you just kind of say, ‘all right, that’s what it is, and we have to work with it.’ How involved do you get in that?
Josh: I would say that it’s somewhere in the middle. The brand, they have their images and their specs. They have some form of descriptions, and we certainly enhance those and tailor them to the needs of our mutual e-commerce partners. There are some internet retailers that require five bullet points, you know, versus three. There are some that require keywords on the back end versus keywords on the front end.
And we take what we have. And we are forced in many ways to enhance it. I would say part of the future of what we want to be as a company is we want to, at the brand level, work to enhance it even more. You know, making that information SEO friendly across all channels so that we can then take that information and then tailor it.
So right now, we’re doing a hybrid of that, but we have a little group room to grow there over time.
John: One more design question. You have a client that hands you what I’d describe as ‘not optimal’ assets. Maybe it’s some subpar photography. Do you have to sit them down and say, perhaps we have to reshoot this? How do you work around that?
Josh: Absolutely. We serve as their wholesale eCommerce arm, so if we’re not actually doing something like taking the images ourselves or, whether it’s traditional photography or CGI, we are providing best practices. Something that we’ve done is we’ve taken best practice image decks from a Wayfair or Amazon or Overstock or others.
We’ve basically taken that, combined it, and turned it into our own version that we can share with a manufacturer so they can really nail it on all fronts. So very much a part of our job is to act as consultants to help them elevate their game. And then we’re executing, how that works its way into the eCommerce channel. Even if we’re not actually specifically taking the photos.
John: I know a lot of other categories that could benefit from this type of service. Have you ever considered branching out or starting a different subsidiary? Why just furniture? Is that because you can be the specialist in that area, or is it you haven’t branched out into other segments yet?
Josh: When we think about a five-year plan, and how we can and how we continue to scale our business. There’s absolutely a consideration of looking at product categories outside of the home. That said, we work within a ten year period, which is quite a long time from an eCommerce standpoint; we’re only working with 30 manufacturers.
Our investment with each of these clients is tremendous. And we really attach ourselves to them, and we become almost like internal employees, and we really become their full-scale eCommerce team. And with 30 manufacturers across five different categories, that leaves an immense amount of room for growth for us.
Even within the home and in order to maintain a profitable business model or one way to maintain the proper business model is not necessarily, exponentially expanding our customer base. So within Wayfair, if it makes up a considerable amount of our business or a Home Depot or a Target or Walmart, well, they certainly do carry other product categories.
We’ve gotten so specialized within the home that it makes a lot of sense for us. And there’s so much room to grow by just tacking on additional brands that those specific internet retailers carry. So as opposed to that, we’d have to hire a bunch of other account managers that are specialized with other internet retailers if we went into the fashion category, for example.
I think that it’s not a 2020 strategy, particularly with what’s happening, you know, from a COVID standpoint and the demands, so to speak. But certainly, as we look towards, maybe back half of 20, 21, 20, 22, it’s something that we’re definitely going to consider.
John: It’s definitely not a one size fits all thing. So something that may work in the furniture channel might not work so well in fashion or other types of categories.
Touching briefly on dealing with the COVID situation, how are your customers responding to this ‘new normal’? We’ve watched eCommerce explode over the last 10–12 weeks. How is the furniture space fairing? I would imagine you have a lot of bored people shopping and a lot of remodeling. I would think that category is really exploding right now. What’s your take on that?
Josh: It’s exploding as well, for some of the reasons that eCommerce is exploding overall. But then there are also some additional specific reasons why home online is so strong.
And I think that that’s really evidenced when you look at the performance of companies like a Wayfair or Overstock who specialize in that category. And, you know, if you think about it, and I’ve shared this with friends, online retailers of home, they couldn’t have dreamed up a more advantageous situation for them.
Think about it for a second: If you’re an internet retailer at home, if you’re like a Wayfair, for example, could you come up with a better way to grow your business than to say, ‘what if there was this situation where everybody’s at home?’ ‘A tax deadline was delayed until July 15th, and then there was a stimulus.’ Putting more money into people’s pockets that were employed. People can barely go on vacation. They’re spending less money on restaurants. They’re certainly not going to concerts and sporting events. And on top of that, they’re confined to their homes and will be working from home forever. So if you are lucky enough to be employed, you have more discretionary income for home purchases, and you’re staring at your home that needs improvement.
So, we’ve seen this translate. Our business in May was up 35%. Our business in June was up 50%, and that’s across 30 manufacturers in all different categories of home, and July seems like it’s coming in or around 40%. And the trends aren’t generation specific either.
It’s not only millennials that are moving into their first homes and having families. And, you know, that was already a growing segment. We’ve read that 12% of people over 65 are now moving online. Amazing, right? I was at my parents’ house the other day, and my mom was shopping for an umbrella and, you know, she’s in that age range.
And where do you think she was looking? She was looking at Frontgate. The challenge for her was while it was the only place that she was going to look, she still was having trouble trying to figure out how to navigate the site. There’s obviously an element of adoption that’s being forced there.
And I think that I would end it by saying, the way our brands are responding is that the channel conflict that they once dealt with is diminished tremendously. They’re extremely supportive. The handcuffs that we had on us in some cases are being removed. And right now, one of their biggest challenges is making sure that they have enough inventory for the channel.
John: We’ve other clients of ours and other segments, dealing with supply shortages while their businesses are literally blowing up. It’s a strange place to be in.
Josh: Yeah, certainly is.
John: COVID realities aside, what are the trends you see in eCommerce today?
Josh: So, I think that COVID non-COVID, you know, a business out there, regardless of the industry, we’ll have to have a digital presence. You know, anybody that got away with it prior will really struggle irrespective of the size of their company and regardless of how great their brand is.
And as I mentioned earlier, that the change that we’re experiencing is not generation specific like it, otherwise once was. In terms of trends, I think that something that we are all together on already seeing in the news is that it’s those large brick and mortar retailers that will survive.
We don’t need to talk about the ones that are obviously going away. Those that are surviving and are very strong, they’re going to decrease their physical footprint considerably in terms of the number of locations. And then probably the size of those locations over time.
I think that the other thing that’s happened is that the product page online. There was a time that it was really picture and price, and it’s really moving to best in class digital packaging that is truly unmatched in a store. You know, multiple images, videos, 360-degree views, augmented reality.
Eventually, when I think about home, like virtual reality, would be an incredible thing. I mean, augmented reality has already been a game-changer, but virtual reality would just be nuts. I think speedy delivery law, you know, during COVID customers have a higher tolerance for longer lead times right now.
I think really short term speed delivery is really going to transcend all product categories.
If manufacturers can’t figure out how to get into that one, two-day delivery, regardless of category and price point I think that they’re really going to suffer. Lastly, I think that smaller, pure-play internet retailers are really going to struggle, and they’re going to fade away. Those that really only competed on price. There will still be smart, small curated niche sites that have a voice in that because they’ve learned to talk to their customer. But if it’s really something where they’ve just done a good job, you know, as a seller on Amazon or through Google shopping and whatnot, where they once could have a business out of it. I think that that goes away completely.
John: That’s a good point. You have your niche chains like Restoration Hardware, and those smaller stores that sell very expensive high-end stuff, I think, will always exist. But I think the ‘mom and pops’ and the small chains are either going to have to use that smaller footprint or just go away completely, which is unfortunate.
One thing that always fascinated me about furniture eCommerce is that it always seemed to be challenging in that consumers are traditionally hesitant in buying something as big as or as important as a sofa. And now that barrier has broken down. Is it just from trial and error? How do you think we got here?
Obviously, when you say first in class digital packaging, where you’re talking about VR and things like that, that lets you get closer to the product, but it’s still not the same. I always had a problem with buying a mattress online because it’s a thing that you’re going to use all the time, and you can’t touch it.
How do you overcome that hurdle?
Josh: I think it’s some of the things that you’ve said, but it’s really a convergence of a number of different things that internet retailers have done. To truly elevate the shopping experience and focus on the customer. When you think about the furniture industry, it is a very SKU-heavy long-tail industry.
It’s not like it’s three great toasters that sell a hundred million units a day. Right? So most plans that we work with have between 5,000 and 10,000 unique SKU combinations, and that doesn’t even include the custom ones. So we work with a custom upholstery manufacturer, and they have around 10,000 fabric options.
So you can imagine exponentially what that looks like. Internet retailers, they not only offer selection, but their searching tools and their filters and algorithms have gotten smarter and smarter. And home is a very personal shopping experience. It’s not like buying a new computer monitor; it’s a considered purchase. And going somewhere online that not only gives you the chance to select. Price point, size, color, material, but also as a product page that has AR integrated into it. So the customer can see what a coffee table looks like while they’re sitting on their couch in front of their couch. And if you combine that with the customer review element, it allows you to remove some of the ‘touch and feel’ factor that you reference.
Put that all together and you can ship a $5,000 sofa in two. It’s hard to consider even thinking about going back to a store once you’ve tested the waters there. And I think that now that people are tasting that that otherwise would not have because of the COVID, that forced things that are happening.
I don’t see things going back to where they once were.
John: I totally agree with that. Let’s talk a little about marketing. We noticed that BrandJump took advantage of the captive eyeballs at home and sponsored a webinar series that was aimed at the manufacturers in players in the home furnishing space. Would you like to tell us a little bit about that?
Josh: Yeah, I’d love to; thanks for asking. So with all the challenges that are taking place in the industry, and you know what we were just talking about the growing evidence of an accelerated behavioral shift online. We felt that there was really an opportunity to help, to try and better educate the industry on the key components of creating an eCommerce strategy.
We kind of did an eCommerce 101, but then it transitioned into strategies that became more complex depending on where a manufacturer was in their embracement of eCommerce. So we started with the fundamentals, how to set up your eCommerce program on the front end of product storm and pricing policies. How to select the retailer like who do you want to partner with? And then things to consider when thinking about what resources required to upload products online. The second webinar was operational best practices. Backend strategies that include inventory feed management, transactional processes, replenishment, forecasting, and then even thinking about how to achieve two-day delivery if you don’t have multiple fulfillment centers yourself.
Our third webinar was online content marketing strategies, enhanced content promotions. And how to partner with internet retailers at the channel level when your driver promotional campaigns, and then how to work with them individually and how to mix all of that together.
We were blown away by the attendance. The time was obviously right. We had attendees for retailers, for manufacturers, and we have like leadership teams of these that were attending. Pretty exciting for us.
John: That sounds really good. What’s your overall customer acquisition strategy? What’s the thing that you sell them, and how do you find clients?
Josh: We have a pretty specific client profile. In the early years, as we were building the business, we pounded the pavement, we went to a lot of trade shows.
We would speak to manufacturers that we believe were a good fit – it was really a numbers game. We still specifically targeted certain manufacturers as we grew. Our model’s uniqueness allowed the word of mouth and referrals to become critical to our growth.
And then over the last few years, we’ve really shifted to more of a strategic, proactive, outbound marketing strategy through a really excellent PR firm that we work with. And they’ve really helped us build our brand and the home furnishings industry outside of just that little lighting category that we started in terms of how we actually speak to them and what we’re selling.
So to speak, it’s selling a channel management strategy. What makes our business model unique is that we are looking at how do you take a five to $10 million online business across 15 different internet retailers and grow it to 30 million. That’s very different than others out there that have similarities to us that are Amazon specific agencies. They’re specifically trying to grow an Amazon business. Ours is really about how do you take this channel and make it much more significant. And our team comes from that space. We have four people from Wayfair, one from Amazon, one from Overstock, three from One Kings Lane, three from Target. We have hired a team around the country that understands what’s ‘under the hoods’ of these retailers. So they can better drive and create the path of least resistance to help these manufacturers really grow.
That becomes the ultimate selling point is, is really this kind of turnkey approach that we can offer a manufacturer.
John: It sounds like your team is a big selling point there in that they have experience in the channel. Do you compete against traditional advertising agencies or who would be your competition since you are so focused on one channel? Who would compete against you?
Josh: In terms of our core model, this channel management business, we primarily operate as the eCommerce arm on behalf of these brands, and we execute the merchandising creative and the daily marketing strategy from an eCommerce standpoint. We have not found a direct competitor to that model. Now that said, there’s a lot of competition with aspects of the model. So we use a PIM in our merchandising strategy. There are tons of PIMs out there, like a Salsify, and others.
John: Briefly explain to our audience what a PIM is.
Josh: A PIM is product information management, and we are actually about 85% of the way through our implementation of bringing technology into this technology or business. What it is, is a centralized platform. You can store all of your digital assets, suspects, imagery, et cetera. It allows you to have a better understanding of what you have and what you don’t have. That’s required to get products up online to certain retailers. It helps you organize information better. And then some of the really good PIM software systems have connectors or API APIs where they can work directly with the internet retailer so that once you build out those specs and imagery, it’ll create a certain degree of automation to connect directly into Amazon sellers, vendor central and seller central. You change something on the PIM, and it’s automatically reflected across the board. It’s not necessarily uploaded, but you can track that.
Bart Mroz: It depends on the PIM. Are you building PIM? Is that what’s kind of what’s happening or you’re just going to integrate to other pins that are out there?
Josh: We have found a PIM of dozens that exist out there that made the most sense for a model. It’s not so that the PIM is not proprietary, how we’re using it in integrating into our overall business. That’s the proprietary aspect of it. So I think that going back to your question of like, what’s the competition. We manage Amazon businesses on behalf of brands. There are Amazon specific agencies. They compete against us for that piece of it. But the channel management part is what makes us most unique.
John: Let’s talk about your business. I understand your company is private. Are you looking for investment or are you just plowing everything back into the business and trying to grow organically? What’s the plan?
Josh: I would say primarily the latter. We are private; we’re fortunate not to have any debt. You know, a mentor told me a long time ago that ‘debt is the enemy and should be treated as such.’ I’ve always, you know, kind of taken that to heart. But that said, we’ve been really focused on reinvesting the cash flow into both talent and technology.
Especially as of late with technology and I would say, never say never for outside investments, but we enjoy being in a position where we are the ones that control our own destiny.
John: Yeah, I agree with that. So what are the big challenges or pain points that BrandJump is facing right now? I mean, besides the COVID thing and businesses exploding, what kind of challenges do you have in front of you?
Josh: Yeah. With COVID, our risk factors have changed quite a bit. So as it stands today, our single largest risk is the; I hate to say this, the solvency of our clients, right? So we may be managing 20% of the manufacturer’s revenue, but if the other 80% is struggling, you know, our risk is that they’re eCommerce businesses. Don’t keep them afloat. Thankfully the home furnishings in general has picked back up over the last 60 days, which is really nice and kind of interesting given some of the things I said earlier across all channels.
Our concern is less than over the last 60 days, but COVID is from over. So we’re watching things pretty carefully. I would say that right now, our biggest challenge and pain point is profitably and adequately managing the growth of the business.
We have an extremely high cost of labor. And then obviously the technology investments are significant as well. We’re continuing to really invest to meet the demands of our clients, which are only growing, given the acceleration of what’s happening right now. And it’s, you know, it’s a delicate balance.
John: So I’ll mark you down as cautiously optimistic. It gives me another question here. What advice do you give merchants during this strange time? Someone that is struggling – what kind of advice do you give them? Is there any kind of sage wisdom, or do they just ‘cross their fingers’ and hope everything’s going to be alright?
Josh: No, not necessarily. I think that for manufacturers, specifically in the home category, don’t wait to invest in your commerce business. I know the industry in many ways has been scared to embrace it because of how vital brick and mortar is in this channel, right?
Again, to your point earlier, touching, feeling like that does matter to a lot of customers. So brick and mortar is still a huge piece. If you can’t invest in a fully integrated economy at the time, at this time, like you can still dip your toes in the water and, you know, perfection is the enemy of progress.
So get in and do it. Secondly, while there’s still a significant amount of unpredictability in demand, eCommerce has become more predictable, and not having enough inventory has become a huge problem. And the most sophisticated retailers out there, they have really great forecasting tools that are seldom used by manufacturers that are a little bit less sophisticated.
So if manufacturers are going to decrease their purchasing because their overall monthly demand is lower than at least, don’t take broad brush strokes, right? Like take a scalpel and really think about what you’re going to decrease your inventory.
Bart: Yeah. I mean, it’s this whole thing just took everybody out of whack basically.
John: We totally agree. There’s so many opportunities now to get online and with less friction than there used to be, Bart and I talk about this all the time, it’s like just put an Instagram page up and sell from there. If you’ve got this niche product – it can be anything. The barriers have dropped. There’s just no reason why anyone shouldn’t be investing in digital right now.
Now we’re going to talk a little bit about you, Josh. Being an entrepreneur is challenging work; managing your time and energy is critical, especially now, or working from home. It’s even more important, especially if you’re married and have kids. So any tips or experiences that you’d like to share?
Josh: Yeah, I think tips for, for entrepreneurs, specifically, the work is endless. COVID no, COVID, you know, as an entrepreneur, you are there to lead, inspire and grow.
There’s always something you can be doing. You know, one of my favorite Mark Cuban quotes is, ‘work like there’s somebody working 24 hours a day to take it from you.’ So this is something that motivates me every single day. And I always think about that- how do we make sure that we survive and thrive again, regardless of COVID? But that said, you know, there’s a balance there.
And I think you need to really give thought to why are you working? So probably fulfillment, financial freedom, more time with your family, you know, and other things. I try to balance the motivation with why I’m actually working. And for me personally, a big part of it is spending time with my family.
I make sure to focus on that now. It’s the journey, not the destination. Thinking you’re going to have more time in 10 years is not realistic. Taking care of yourself and your family, and for me in order to do that, a huge part of my time is spent on just building and refining a great team.
The team is what drives the business to me. Having a best-in-class team allows me to balance that I need to see my wife and kids every morning, every night, and on the weekend. I would say that one of my favorite Steve Jobs quotes is, ‘it doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do.’ We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do. So for me, it means to build a great team. Hire them to take risks, make mistakes, and make decisions.
John: That’s great, you sound like a good manager.
So what’s the best advice you’d give an entrepreneur or startup right now? What’s the best advice to give someone who has an idea and is struggling to move their idea forward?
Josh: Yeah, it’s tough. And you know, particularly in this time, but I think that the advice that I have is, is applicable, you know, COVID or no COVID. The first is the importance of business mentors. I’ve had about five mentors over the last 10 years and each of them still play a different and equally important role in both my business life and my personal life.
Ranging from a mentor that I met in school that helped me design this kind of oddball path that I’m now on. That somehow worked to my now business partner, particularly the early years. And an industry-specific consultant that’s evolved into an executive coach for me.
Even my family, my parents, my wife, I think that learning from somebody else’s experience who has done what you are aspiring to do. It’s not only humbling. but it’s powerful and I think that it helps with, with the heartache during the lonely times of, entrepreneurship.
And it will prevent you from making some mistakes along the way. And the other thing is, and this is a Jeff Bezos thing, which I love. Build lots of small buildings, not just one tall building. He said, ‘if you decide you’re going to do only the things, you know, you’re going to work. You’re going to leave a lot of opportunity on the table. So what it means is you gotta try things, play small bets.’ Some of them will grow. Some won’t; it’s the only way to evolve as a company. But that said, I think the caution, particularly during, you know, this odd time that we’re in is I’ve learned my lesson and not placing all of the exciting bets at the same time when you’re funded, and you want to be debt-free.
It’s important to try things, but also understand your financials and make sure that you’re managing cash flow properly.
And getting back to the entrepreneurs right now in this special time – my favorite quote as of late is ‘Never let a good crisis go to waste.’ I think there’s a lot of opportunities out there. For people who have ideas and what you said about mentorship and feedback, I think it’s really critical, especially in business that people should really look to others and try not to do everything on their own.
John: What would you do if you weren’t doing this, Josh?
Josh: If you were to ask me ten years ago, I’d probably tell you some type of corporate law and, in that regard, because of the amount of work that went into the education, not to mention the cost. You know, I’ve kept my license. I still pay my $500 a year bar fees as painful as it is. And I still do the continuing legal education courses. But you know, with the last ten years and the experience that I’ve had, there’s been great times, there have been really challenging times, you know, working with a team to build something out of nothing.
I’ve now had the taste of building growing. And collaborating with an excellent team working with high-level talent. I could never go back and not do something like this. You know, I don’t know the industry would be maybe health and fitness infused with technology. I don’t know. But for me, whatever it would be, I would need to find out what has a stake in that business at this point.
John: Yeah. You know what, it’s funny. I asked this question on all of our interviews, and it’s always very similar. It’s like, I don’t know if it will be this thing I’m doing now – but it would be similar. You have to have passion for what you’re doing. It seems to be a consistent thread.
Bart: That corporate law stuff comes in handy.
John: Oh, when you can also say ‘I’m not a lawyer.’ And then you catch yourself and say ‘Oh, that’s right. I am’.
Josh: Sometimes I actually do forget, like, wait a minute. I am one.
John: Final question: What is the last thing you bought online?
Josh: There may be some irony in answer to this question; The other day on Amazon, I bought Sticky notes.
I manage my life in Microsoft outlook. But I need to have some sticky notes to write. I write down that random stuff, but when you’re in the middle of a meeting. You’re in the middle of a thought or whatever; something pops into your head, I don’t have time to digitize that all board full of sticky notes so I can like, so I try and integrate, I write them into outlook and create tasks, you know, once I build up more than five. Still, I have to have those handy and I just bought a bunch of colors the other day.
John: I’m right with you on the sticky notes. I’m someone who’s fallen off the wagon of GTD. Getting Things Done is the methodology of getting it out of your brain and put it somewhere. I’m a little bit ADHD, so these things are a lifesaver.
Finishing up, is there anything you’d like to promote?
Josh: The webinars series that we talked about earlier in three, one-hour sections, it really covers the full spectrum, regardless of where you are in creating an eCommerce strategy.
On the wholesale side, not the BDC side, which we could do a whole other topic on that. But, in selling to internet retailers, for product selection, choosing the right partners promotions two-day delivery, it covers quite a bit in a short amount of time.
And it’s accessible from the homepage of our website.
I hope you guys come look at it.