An injury from partying too hard led Chris to create products to help others. This then lead to raising capital from VCs to start Judolaunch a company to help brands scale their Amazon sales channel.
- Intro about Chris
- Raising a seed round
- Using an unfair advantage
- Seed Accelerators
- Different business cultures
- Living in China versus the USA
- Have self awareness through failure
- Lessons Chris has learnt
- What Judolaunch is and how it can help you?
Mentioned in this episode:
We are live today I have my friend Chris Rawlings on the show from Judolaunch, the rockstar that partied too hard. We'll get into that story and a little bit. Chris, thanks for jumping on the show.
Hey man. Oh boy. Yeah, I love that introduction can't wait to explain to people what the hell that means.
Well maybe we'll start there. You're probably most known for Judolaunch and you speak all over the world, which I want to talk a little bit about too. Let's start, why did you launch Judolaunch or even what were you doing before then that led up to that?
The reason that Coran is saying that a party too hard is because I'm assuming this is what you mean Coran and maybe you have a different reason for this but I jacked up my back and got a serious herniated disc while being in a touring rock band called the Waffle Stompers, which you should check out. It's Post-Ska music. Most people don't enjoy Post-SkaMusic but you might it if you're a weirdo like me. I herniated a disk, which caused me to utilize that as a kind of differentiating factor in the brand that I started, which was in the health and personal care space. It was for spinal health and posture improvement products for other people who either had spinal injuries or posture issues. I party a little too hard, got hurt. Then use that as a kind of hey, I'm scratching my own itch with these unique products that I created. No. I was just going to say that brand is what ended up leading me to realize that more help is needed for brands that try to succeed on Amazon. That's how I started Judolaunch was to help companies succeed on the Amazon Platform. Here we are and I’m glad I partied hard.
Yeah, exactly. I think that's a common thing. I think the last few conversations I've had with friends locally have here in Austin have revolved around this scenario where not necessarily partying too hard all the time but something that happens and then as entrepreneurs we feel compelled to either make something better or fill the gap in the market. It's not a choice you have to do it. I thought I'd leave you to tell it because that's quite an interesting story. You went from having the back issue, creating products, selling mostly via Amazon and then Judolaunch helping people launch on Amazon. That's what we're going to jump into in most of today's conversation. The first piece, I guess you saw a gap in the market but then you made a decision that I think it's either you do or you don't get it but a lot of the people that I talked to a lot of our clients at least bootstrapped their businesses that don't go and get capital. You went out and raised a seed round. Could you tell us what was your thinking? What motivated you to go that route and then what other options you thought of at the same time?
Yeah, I believe sometimes it does make sense to raise money and sometimes it actually doesn't make sense. When it does make sense is if you have a large market opportunity that you have the ability to capitalize on in a very quickly and in a very highly scalable way. That's how I feel. If it's software or services sometimes products but if the market opportunity is really big and you can sell it okay this company could be worth $1 billion then you have the potential to raise capital if it's not something that's highly scalable and the total addressable market is not big enough then it's going to be much harder to raise capital. I'm not saying it's impossible but it'd be a very different game than this going the standard VC venture capital route where you raise a seed round that are series A then a series B than a series C. If you want to continue, you can continue all the way to IPO or get acquired. But it's if you want to go the fast growth route you're willing to give up pieces of your business to make the whole business bigger because you believe that a smaller piece of a much larger business is still bigger than the entire piece of a business that you could have grown on your own just on retained earnings.
Exactly. Okay. I get that as a concept. I feel it's easier to say than to implement.
Dude, it's messy.
Will get into the mechanics of it a little bit but since raising capital and along the way, have you ever had any moments where you thought that might've been a mistake or I should have done this a different way? Have you thought about that?
Oh my God, Dude. Constantly I'm always feel like an idiot every day pretty much. Seriously I always feel out of my element. I always feel I'm faking it till I make it yeah I mean well shoot, maybe I should have asked you about who would be listening to this podcast before I decided to be that transparent guy. Here we are anyways. Yeah, it was really learn as you go on. We engaged with 500 startups, a tech accelerator. It was one of the top five tech accelerators in the world. Still is in terms of deal flow in terms of level of activity and capital deployed andyeah, they're right up there with Y Combinator. We engage with them and that was actually kind of my school of hard knocks into this world.
I came from the cashflow five hour work week Amazon business world to this completely whole other universe that I did not know or understand. I was googling what is a series A, what id a series B and I had to figure it out from the ground up and realize all of the unwritten rules not to just the things that you can Google on Investopedia but also the unwritten rules about it that nobody is there to teach you. The scarcity component of when you're raising around you have to make up a completely arbitrary period of time that the round is going to be raised for and a cut off that there's as a scarcity component. Otherwise nobody ever actually wires the funds. I didn't know that. You have to decide and set your own valuation and it turns out there's not really a science to that. Everyone will try to tell you that there is but there's really not in the teco sphere people would just kind of set their valuations and it's either from comparing to other companies similar to them in the space or some very loose present value interpolated from projected future earnings. But most of the time it's not that, most of the time it's lick your fingers stick it in the air, look around you, see what other people are doing and then set that or whatever the lead investor is willing to invest at. Wow. There are many unwritten rules that are really not explained in youtube videos and Investopedia that I only learned and am still learning by doing it.
Did you reach out to 500 startups directly? Did you reach out to investors and accelerate as one to one?
Yeah. Yeah. This is the big is a really big thing that I think I sometimes feel it's my super power in a way because it's whenever there is any kind of formalized process for doing something or getting into something, I immediately ignore it. That's my first reaction and I think everyone, well if everyone did it probably wouldn't work. But I think everyone listening to this since you want the x factor should do that. When it comes to 500 startups the processes, you go to their website, you apply online, you upload a deck, you upload information about your company and then you wait for them to contact you and if they do contact you then you get an interview or something. Approximately 2000 no. I think now it's up to four to 5,000 companies. Every batch apply to get into 500 startups. It's extremely competitive. It's only 1% or less of companies that apply actually get into the program. I did that process but I also went around that entire process in a couple of ways. I reached out to alumni who had been in 500 startups and I asked them I basically pitched them the company Judolaunch, helping companies succeed on Amazon. I talked to another contact of mine who knows the founder of 500 startups or one of the founders of 500 startups and got them to recommend me directly to one of the founders of 500 startups, Christine Tsai. That's really why we ended up getting in was those recommendations from alumni and from the top down, not by applying.
Well and that's something that is a good takeaway though when you want something, when you decide that this is the way forward, don't let one form stop you. Go as hard as you can together, get exactly what you're after.
Exactly. Yeah. Don't follow the rules. I think it was the biggest thing is go use whatever kind of x factor you possibly can. I always cringe when people don't want to use the strengths that they naturally have because they feel it's cheating. If you have I dunno really wealthy relatives or a Dad who's in politics and can get you connections to get into this or that or you're a woman in tech and you can play the “Oh, I'm a woman in Tech Card” but you don't want to play that. You don't want to use your Dad's connections or you don't want to be the woman who claims to be a woman in tech and that's her only identity. Dude, screw all that. Are you serious? Use Your Dad's connections. Be shouting out from the rooftops that you're a woman in tech. Use whatever cards you're dealt and whatever cheats God has given you. Don't squander it man. Absolutely use the cards you're dealt.
Oh 100% 100% I call that the unfair advantage and that's really what you want is an unfair advantage. If you have an unfair advantage, fucking use it. Why hide from it?
How many or don't want it? They're oh I don't want to be labeled as that are on. I don't want to be labeled as just a woman in tech or again I don't want to really want to play that card or I don't want to use my dad's connections. I want to prove that I can do it on my own. What are you trying to prove? What's wrong with you? If I was a woman in tech I’d be reaching out to all the other women VCs and saying I'm a woman. You're a woman in tech it's hard for us women let's do this. If my Dad had political connections I'd ask him to introduce me to that guy. He might invest in my company I have no shame and I feel nobody should have shame about using the cards they're dealt anytime.
Actually that's an interesting point. I think some of it would be fear because oftentimes people put roadblocks in front of themselves to say I couldn't do it because of this. That connections through that parents would say, I didn't want to use them but I didn't make this happen but I could have used that parent connection. Right. It puts you on the hook. If you go full out lean all the way in, you're on the hook. It's either gonna work or it's not and that's scary.
An interesting interpretation. Yeah, there's no excuse. That's a really good point.
Well, okay, cool. I love the 500 startup model where they've got 4,000 or 5,000 people competing for their program. Was it worth it?
Oh my God, dude, I'll do it. Yeah, I would do it all over. Same deal 6% everything. They take 6% at a two and a half million dollar valuation. All companies,no matter what stage you are, how good you think you are when you go and you take the same deal, it's 6% of the company and that's it. The amount of shares they get is calculated based on a $2.5 million valuation converted. I mean, a lot of people would scoff at that, especially if you already have traction and you're well underway and have good resources and connections or whatever. But I can only speak for myself but for me it was a massively transformational, not just because of the cap. They give you a small amount of capital in the form of a convertible note. They give you about a $100K all told net. But the biggest component is the network that you're introduced to other companies and the education. They just school you and it's a school of hard knocks. They kind of treat you like shit. It's being in military bootcamp. You go in there every day and they're like you think you're hot shit. You're nothing.
I read they start off with a sales and marketing hell week.
That's right. Yeah. It's called sales marketing hell week. They go through distribution. It's really focused more on B to B and enterprise. Although they do have some B to C companies. B2B meaning business to business, B to C, meaning business to consumer. If you're enterprise focus and you're selling to businesses, that's a B two B. If you're selling to consumers Amazon business That's b to c. They're mostly focused on B to B and most of their content is about how to sell to businesses, which is good cause that's what Judolaunch does. It sells to ecommerce businesses. They teach you all kinds of stuff about distribution, no distribution channels, how to run an enterprise sales process and sales cycle. Everything, how to structure contracts. They have specialized seminars on different specific paid channels Facebook and Google.
That's one portion of it, right. The sales and marketing then have the entire portion of it that's all about how to fundraise and running a fundraising process and how to get a term sheet written, how to build an investment deck and how to do a pitch. All of that. That's a huge component and a big part of the process as well.
Wow, okay. There's definitely a ton of value that they provide on top of the seed capital and it's all about that. Yeah. Did they actually provide some services as well or is it training and then you go find you still need to engage other people to do those services?
No, they don't really get their hands that they do have EIRs, which is short for entrepreneur in a residence. It's a residence DJ but way less cool. They have those people who are ex entrepreneurs themselves who have had their own successful exits. Who are there to guide you and help you with this stage of the growth of your business. They will sometimes get their hands a little dirty with the company but most of the time it's guidance and knowledge. It's up to you to do the execution pretty much to and that's mostly it.
You were a part of batch of 22 which sounds exciting, I found out online. How many of those 22 companies that you were going through hell week with and the whole process, how many of those are still in business and what could you tell us about the other people that you went through this process with?
Yeah, well a good portion of them are succeeding. We stay in contact with one another and keep each other updated on the progress of our businesses. I know a couple of them have already gone under and don't exist anymore. A couple of them have transformed or pivoted and are either kind of eking along or slowly growing. Then there are a couple of them, just a small handful. There are three or four that I know of that are really just rocketing and there's probably more than that I don't know of. There is a couple that I was in the batch with that now have done really well. There's one Fourth that has a million monthly active users. I mean that's a big number. For paid app, there's a Rever is the Strada mapping runs but this is for motorcycles specifically.
They're doing great. There's a project management software called Core that's really kicking ass and just raised a series A. Some of these companies are doing really well. I mean it is public goods. Again, that's another one that's kind of brandless they do direct to consumer organic bathroom products but they sell in the Bj's model where you get a subscription and then they sell all their products almost at cost once you subscribe to them. There's some really unique companies in the batch and a lot of them are doing quite well. A couple of them are gone under of course it's early stage tech, this what you'd expect. But a lot of them are actually are doing well, which speaks to 500’s ability to pick.
Yeah, absolutely. I guess that's really step one, isn't it getting into the program. That's just the starting line in some cases, not even quite the starting line. You still need to do quite a lot of work and use those connections that you'll give them during that process that you can leverage during that process. When we first spoke, when we first met you are actually based in China and you were looking at going and raising capital again, since 500 startups and since then you've now joined the accelerated SOSV. Why did you go for a second accelerator and how has that process. There's kind of a stigma about this actually in the teco sphere of going from accelerator to accelerator because some companies kind of do that. They'll go just from accelerator to accelerator and kind of it's like never leaving Mum and Dad's house sort of. But yeah, we decided to do a second accelerator program and I gotta say it was actually pretty similar to 500.
It had a lot of differences but in general the things they focus on, it's pretty funny how these accelerators without really speaking to one another and with kind of being competitors to one another they find the same sort of equilibrium where they focus on investment in the process of raising investment and the process of pitching and all of that and they focus on distribution and sales and marketing. The difference was engaging with SOSV is because the arm that we engaged with was called China accelerator and they're based in China. They have Chinese mentality, which is very different than the American mentality when it comes to business and tech and fundraising and marketing. They're way more focused on speed at all costs super duper hyper speed of everything talking, testing something out and getting the results within hours, not weeks.
I'm trying to find an elegant way to say this but I can't find one. I'm just going to say, I wouldn't call it looser morals but way more kind of everything goes. Don't second guess it. Don't let your morals get in the way of testing something out or was it, that's really, that's kind of a harsh different culture. I'm putting a really harshly, but in a way it's things I would kind of be in the grey area for oh is that direct copying or oh is that spam or things where you would really kind of second guess yourself from an American business culture standpoint. The Chinese wouldn't even think twice about, nope we're going to do it. If it works, we're going to do it.
It's a highly practical, highly kind of pragmatic, practical culture and business culture where it's whatever works is what you do and fear of copying or infringing or stepping on someone's toes or spamming. Any of that other stuff that kind of sits in a grey area is just not a concern. There's a really big company that blew up just in the last four years. It's now listed on the American stock exchanges. I think it's on, yeah, I think it's listed on Nasdaq. It's called Pinduoduo and it's worth, I don't know how many billions but well into the billions and it grew that fast just in a couple of years. It was only three years or something that it went from zero to IPO. These guys, this is kind of sort of good example to show how business culture works in China. They are peer to peer ecommerce. The biggest app in China is called WeChat. Everyone has it, use it to pay people to use it to talk to people. It's Facebook, paypal, Twitter, snapchat, all combined into one. These guys were allowing people to sell to their friends through WeChat and other social apps and they blew up. They had all these kinds of multilevel marketing style games where Oh if I sell my friends five of this product and I get one for free or I get a commission of the sales that you make as my friend or whatever. There were all kinds of structures this to incentivise friends to sell to one another for brands. They got crazy fast adoption in these tier two, tier three cities. Not Shanghai, not Beijing but some city in China that you've never heard of but yet it has 10 million people but nobody's ever heard of it thats China for you.
They got a lot of traction in these cities and it turned out this wasn't really kind of published until after they had already listed on American exchanges. It was a vast majority of the products that they were selling were fakes. Well and gotten these kind of tier two, tier, three city folk in China who maybe didn't know the difference or didn't care to buy in mass quantities fakes of really large brands Huawei. It would be Huawei I or something it looked exactly the same, everything was exactly the same but it was not actual.
It came out and it was a big it was a big deal in America that oh, this company is a scam. In China it was , what are you Americans talking about this is how you grow. No it's normal. Yeah. Normal business practice. What are you guys being babies about.
Sounds like a different business environment. You've explained it well and that's really interesting. A little insight there. What advantage did you take away from being a software company based in China? Then we'll fast forward to moving back to the states currently?
Yeah. I mean, the good thing was I don't want to sound as if I'm sitting on a high horse or anything that. There's just different cultural values I think. Yeah, a really good thing about being in China was kind of understanding of how fast things moved there. It was really wild kind of experiencing first hand the dissonance between the way business is done in America and the American teco sphere and the way that it's done in China and specifically the difference in speed. It was kind of good to get that speed incorporated into the culture of the business because we had no choice. We're part of this program. Again, it's the same thing. They treat you like shit. It's like being a military boot camp. You're nothing nothing. Get off your high horse, you're shit, you do what we say because we know more than you. It's really hardcore. It's a hardcore atmosphere and it's very, very stressful. But it's a huge growth experience. I think that speed is probably one of the biggest things that I took away. How fast they move there.
Well, yeah, I think speed is underrated for sure every time someone wants to just dig deeper and deeper into the data, maybe the missing an opportunity. I think there's a happy medium somewhere that you never really know. You're based back in the states what caused the move back to the states?
To be honest with you I feel funny because I mean you're probably the same Coran because you've done quite a bit of traveling and lived in a number of different countries as well. But I feel in terms of I'll say what I noticed being in China is that to me it's clear and I guess time will tell but to me it's clear that the way things operate in China politically, economically just outperforms with America and outperforms Western democracies style capitalism the quote unquote communist capitalism that China hasn't gendered. It's nuts. But it just, it seems to turn out that a totalitarian government and environment outperforms this more free laissez faire kind of economics that we operate on in America because I just saw first hand how fast things go.
I know in China they say it's funny they were saying that well in America when a politician says something everyone says oh well that's not true. If they make a promise or say they're going to do something people are yeah right, whatever. Another promise by a politician in China when a politician says that something's going to happen everyone's oh okay, well that is what's going to happen now because it always does. They just make plans and there's no one to stop them from doing things and they just do it. They have total control and therefore they can move extremely fast. That was crazy to see how quickly things moved there. I felt coming from China back to America going from Shanghai, I was living in Shanghai, going from Shanghai which is the New York of Asia back to New York, the New York of America. It felt as if I was going back in time still paying for things with cash, places that don't accept card. Even using card in China, no one's using their card. They pay with Wechat everywhere you go there's QR codes. Even hobos on the street and street buslers they have QR codes hanging around their neck and you can scan it and pay them via WeChat. Even street buskers and everything, some lady on the side of the street selling coconuts or something, she'll accept digital currency and WeChat payment. The adoption of technology is just rapid. They're if you were to get middle America to adopt, if you're trying to get middle America to mass adopted a technology or a new app it's like good luck. In China everything is digital. Every man, woman and child has at least one phone if not two or three and just operates everything inside it. I mean they're just blasting past economically. I'll say just in that realm there's blasting past everyone else.
I came back because the quality of life to me I just prefer, I mean you can find microcosms anywhere you go and your own community anywhere you go. I'm not saying I wouldn't go back but I think generally I do value freedom. I wouldn't call myself somebody that values privacy particularly but in China it's anything you write is recorded and can be read or played back to somebody at some time. If you say something bad about the president or the government you'll get your account suspended or shut down. I don't dig that is not cool to me. It might outperform economically and I think it will but as an individual I just, I don't dig it.
Sure, I think there's pros and cons. I've spent quite a bit of time in Vietnam over the last six years and although I haven't been there in almost two now. I spent a little bit of time there and I see kind of similarities. I haven't spent a ton of time in China but I loved over there that people would choose to work instead of sitting back and just relax. Housewives would be bored would open a shop and the lady who helped us find a house to lease, she was working three jobs. One was as a real estate agent, one was as a restaurant working a restaurant and actually see it as a student as well. She had all these hustles going on. But then yeah, there's that layer of freedom that's missing. I can see how that would be that would get to you over time and the more you kind of get into the culture in a foreign country that's when it comes up once you really know what's going on.
Right. Yeah. Yep. Exactly. Yeah. Once I really integrated because I was living there for a year well just under a year, about a year. To me I feel that's enough time to integrate and really understand what's going on even though I do have to admit I hung out with a lot of expats while I was there. It was locals and expats but more than half of the folks that I hung out with on a regular basis were expats.
Coming back to the accelerator side of things, the second accelerator you went through is now over and you're back on your own again. I guess running a business what's changed since going through two accelerators and what do you need next or what are you focused on next? Yeah, after we left SOSV that's when we started to raise the seed. Just completing that close and implementing everything we've learned and know everything that I've learned to grow as a business is next. There's definitely no more accelerators in our future. I plan to suss this out and to be honest with you Coran my attitude, I mean, this because you and I've had pretty deep bonding unexpectedly deep bonding sessions. Me and you, which I fucking love and is that's why I hope we'd link up in Chicago at a IRA is next month. But yeah, uh, to me this whole thing has been, I've been making choices from these businesses from the standpoint of learning and growth foremost and the money. Specifically the near term and immediate money and , direct financial impact on myself second, every decision that I've made has been with that set of values first.
If it came down to keeping more of the company or taking more money out of the company versus giving more of the company away or putting more money back into the company to grow it and allow me to have a new experience that I'll take with me for life, for how to grow companies in these different ways. I had the bootstrapped experience with a brand and had the VC experience with Judolaunch and I view it as college on steroids and I'm 31. I wouldn't call myself young but I'm definitely not old. The cool thing about business that I think you and I have already bonded over is the fact that, if you're an athlete you peak when you're I dunno 23 or 24 or something that. Right? If you're an entertainer, you peek in your twenties maybe your early thirties, if you're an actor, same thing, peak in your twenties thirties if you're in business you don't peak until your sixties. You're running full bore with all of your all of the knowledge and successes and failures that have made you the business person you are in your 50s and 60s are your prime.
That's awesome to me. If with the saying always ringing in my head that I can't remember who said it, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln or someone, I think George Washington, if you give me an hour to cut down a tree, I'll spend 50 minutes sharpening my ax. That's kind of the standpoint that I've had 100% whatever happens with these businesses, if they frickin go bankrupt or if they become billion dollar businesses, that's secondary to me learning the art of growing a business and growing a team and motivating a group of people to accomplish a goal and solve a problem. Because then I know once I have that tool set built into my mind forever and you can never take it from me unless you give me a lobotomy then I can use that skill set to grow businesses, solve problems, make money , be free and have an impact for the rest of my entire life.
Wow. I love that dude. That's, that's awesome. It's rare to find someone at 31 that thinks like that. You've obviously gone pretty deep in some peaks and valleys that to understand that in our space with some of the people that I come across, I definitely see a trend of. I forget the term for this, it's not a survivor's bias but it's the opposite where you have one success and you think everything you touch turns to gold. People that succeed in spite of themselves too early or really have very little to do with that success. Then turning around and expecting the world to be a certain way and not realizing that maybe it was timing, maybe it was a marketplace that was driving that growth.
Companies you're talking to for sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, there's going to be a lot that I'm not immune to it.
I mean, I definitely, when I started seeing successes with the brand I'm the man, I'm smart. I had to get beaten down a couple of times and run into cash flow issues and have to take out a bunch of credit cards and I borrowed money from my Dad at one point. You said a lot of peaks and high peaks and low valleys, end up giving you that cool settled, humble confidence that's okay, I can move forward with confidence but I'm not going to be reckless about it. I'm going to do my cash flow projections, I'm going to do my due diligence. I'm not just going to run in guns blazing with a blindfold on shooting out Rambo style.
Right, exactly. That's really where longevity comes from. Someone was mentioning that being rich isn't how much money you make. It's how long you keep it. I think the same is true with business. It's not what you do this year. It's what you're doing 10-20 years, that really matters because one year is one year, one month is one month. That doesn't matter. It's the long game that really plays and that's where you can build the skill set and hone that skill over time.
Yeah, it's true. That reminds me too of um, have you read a Ray Daleo his book by chance principles?
You and I are the fucking same person sometimes. I love it. Ray Daleo his book principles, I actually haven't finished it. I'm about two thirds of the way through right now and listening to it on audio book, you might have recommended it to me. I don't know. It was somehow on my list and I just got to it finally. I know we've talked about books. We talked about Ken Lynn Gones Book and a couple other books that we've read together but any case that what you just said reminded me of that of Ray Daleo because that is the big thing that he always says the most he even has that app for it the pain button where it's yes you will experience pain you'll experience failure.
The odd that he says it in such a less cliche way than I'm about to but it's the most important thing is that you actually go through that experience of pain and that experience of failure, whether it's a small failure, a big giant failure with the self awareness to be able to not just be panicked scrambling out of it and then just falling into the same hole again. But to actually step outside yourself and look around and be aware enough to see what patterns lead you to make that mistake and led you to that failure or that shortcoming and incorporate that into your skill set for the future.that every time you, what Ray Dalio says is every time you meet that challenge again, it's another one of those and you keep meeting more another one of those and utilize the principles that you've ingrained in yourself from these failures of the past to handle those and it becomes an operating system for your brain and your effectiveness in life to be able to always see the world as another one of those. I've experienced some serious hardships with the business in the last two years. A ton of times I thought it's all over, we're totally screwed. It's all over. But continued to walk through the storm and got through that valley into the next peak. Every time I'm sure not to just be the person who's sprinting out of the graveyard and fear and that feeling of running out of the graveyard where you have to run faster and faster and faster because you're just overcome with fear and panic. But to get out of the situation while analyzing what got you into the situation that you can prevent it in the future. That's the art and science right there.
Oh, absolutely. It reminds me of there no pleasure without pain. But also the crazy part about success, any level of success is that it would take a monk level of discipline to break down a success as well as we do with a failure. Yeah. I was mentioning before, some people overestimate their importance in successes but the failures are really the opportunities to figure out what the fuck's going on.
Sometimes you may have done everything right but that could have been something else at play because we don't control every scenario. No, certainly not. Yeah. There's that saying success has a thousand fathers. Failure is an orphan because everyone takes credit for the successes but the failures, it was his fault.
Absolutely.absolutely. It takes a big man to realize that the success wasn't their fault as well. Right, exactly. Exactly. That's the thing and it's true you said market timing, your partner/s, your employees you said it takes a monk's level of humility and rational objective observational skills to be able to recognize what went right that may or may not have had to do with you.
Yeah, exactly. It's actually dealmaking. The larger the deal we get involved in the more I'm realizing that I'm not the critical piece. I can definitely influence things. I like to think I'm useful but it's actually the deal itself that if I step back and pull myself out of the equation and bring the two things together and often moves a lot smoother, we still advise our clients of course and make sure they're doing ok and help them as best we can. But if I remove my ego from it or I've had every experience under the sun, I need to look at this as with a fresh set of eyes and objectiveness for the client and also for the person buying the deal or whatever it may be. But that was a humbling point for me was realizing that I had not as much to do with the success of a transaction that I thought I once had, which was interesting.
Yeah, that is interesting. That’s also very zen of you to be able to not just throw everything that you have at every deal, at every problem, at every juncture. Because that's one thing. I mean, I run into this all the time where I see a big problem in the company and I jump in to solve it and maybe it gets solved when I jump in. Maybe it's more of a challenge to solve it but eh either way I come out of it say once it's solved. I'll come out of it thinking good thing I jumped in there. Shit, it would have been crazy if I didn't jump in there and solve that. But then I'll go back and think again and think okay well what would have happened if I didn't solve it? Maybe I saw the problem first then maybe somebody would have seen it a week after me or maybe it would have gotten to that next level of urgency before it got to the top of somebody else. Priority List who is also in has domain of responsibility in this part of the business. Maybe I'm just spinning my wheels. That might've been naturally a bad use of my time to solve that problem because maybe I could have let that fire burn until it got bright enough for someone else to see it and put it out while I focused on the things that are actually important for me to do as a CEO. And I mean I am far from mastering the art of that, of prioritization and also letting the house burn to a certain degree because everything's always on fire. Right, exactly right. I am learning. I would consider myself a just a little grasshopper learning. I'm definitely learn in the learning phase.
I think we could go on for hours and I'd love to meet some good every time they talk to you, I'm upset about how infrequently we get to chat.
Yeah, exactly. I think you're one of maybe two people that I would consider a good friend that I've never actually met in person
I know. Isn't that true? In this space, everyone calls everyone friends. I remember when we did our podcast. We're actually friends me and Coran. That's a person that I would call a friend. Not Somebody who I shook hands with at a conference. But yeah dude we gotta link up somewhere in the freaking world.
Definitely. We're going to make that.
I really hope it happens in August for sure. We got it. We got to do it.
Absolutely. Well I do have one more question before I let you go doI have time. I know we've gone a little over.
Yeah. Yes. Cool. Yep. I already texted my next meeting.
Oh perfect. Last question for you is if you were to go back and talk to young Chris mini, I don't know what's smaller than a grasshopper mini grasshopper before he started raising capital going out or going out to a accelerators, what advice would you give yourself?
Okay, I would say I've actually been doing a lot of thinking about this recently that very question asking myself that and there are two main things that I would impart the importance up to myself and would want me to change. I mean I'm sure that I could go on forever but really I would have going through these accelerator programs, I said, they're focused on marketing and sales. Marketing sales, hell week and investment in fundraising they assume that your product is already done. It's already the best that there is no work on product at all. I would say that for both of these businesses, I almost hate to say this cause in this world of lean startup and move fast and break things it's almost faux pas. I say this but I would have focused more on product on the process of creating something uniquely great and not just polishing a golden turd, not just sitting away in a cave being a nerdy craftsman engineer making something that maybe no one wants but the process of making something great that is validated that someone does want. It's both great and something that is mass marketable. That's what people actually want. That is an art to be able to create that. I do think that I've made the mistake many times of speeding through that process to get to the distribution part and the marketing part before really spending enough time to validate the greatness of product.
I've been spending my own personal time to rechart that for the future. I'd say focus on product and greatness of product before trying to market it is the thing your marketing even great. That's one thing I would say. The other major thing that I bet you run into all the time, Coran maybe not but because maybe most people out there much smarter than I am. I wish I would have done a lot more of is straight up just boring old cash flow projections and cash flow management much more time accurately projecting financials and projecting, keep performance indicators and attraction metrics out and cash flow specifically and things that will affect cash flow. There are way too many times that I ran into problems in both the physical products business and in Judo where we ran short on cash unexpectedly and that shouldn't happen. You should see that happening a mile away, not just run into a brick wall by accident. The number one reason companies die because they run out of money. If you can see that ahead of time, you can take the action through that tough time because it only takes running out of money once for you to die. In this world money is a company's oxygen and you can't no matter how strong you are, you could be swimming to an island and you can be the most fit guy in the world. But if your head goes under water for more than five minutes you're dead. No matter how strong you are. Absolutely. I would say I would focus a lot more than on that as well.
Well, I've got news, great news for you and that everyone in the world isn't smarter than you. I'd say probably 2 to 3% of people we talk to really know there number's probably, it's probably the most important part other than product market fit is actually making choices and still pay the fucking bills.
Yes. Because you need to play a little bit of defense and budgeting and planning is defense. It's not all about top line sales, more sales, more sales. It's how much money do we have, how long is it going to last and what are we doing to improve that situation?
Yep. It's often a tough thing and something that we want to hide from really because no one really wants to talk about their books. Everyone wants to talk about revenue or how many staff they have or how many users and in software it's not about how much money you're actually making or you even profitable. To go do that next pitch. But if you are profitable and you have a clear path to more profitability, the one thing that all investors want is somewhere to place their money. That'll get a better return than there other opportunities and new startups, that's a risk.
It's fun and exciting. But if you can show someone, here's what it takes, the cost of the cost of acquiring a customer here's how long they stay, here's how much profit we make on that person. I need $1 billion to go make more of that. You'll get it oh yeah, if you give me a machine where I put a dollar, a dollar 20 comes out, I'll keep putting dollars in all day long. I'll sit next to that machine all day and all night, all day.
Yeah, absolutely. That's it right there.
Yeah. I love that. Thinking about product a little bit more, I agree. You don't want to be in a cave on your own doing this. You want to be with your actual customer. Yeah. That would be the one one critical thing. You can't just optimize forever. You still then you don't have a business.
Right. But it just be you crafting something that a few people thought were cool. There is a fine mix there. But I think that's some really good advice that we could pause there. I didn't even get through half of my questions. We'll definitely have to do this again and hopefully in person next time.
Yeah. Oh Man. That'd be great. Yeah, the last time you were in the city, I wanted to get you in to do the recording in person at our office. You sent me a random text without saying who it was from.
Wait what was the Sushi thing. I had a new number I assumed that was something else.
Chris, how can people get in touch with you or do you want people to get in touch with them?
Yeah, no totally. I totally would if they can just email firstname.lastname@example.org that's my email address. That's the best way to get in touch with me and that's the best thing to do. Just awesome. All that goes right to me.
Perfect. Well thank so much Chris, for jumping on the call. I appreciate every conversation we have and hopefully the listeners got some value out of today's call as well.
Absolutely. Oh, and by the way, can I just say what Judolaunch does is.
Yeah, just, just in case people are curious. I mean Judolaunche is both software and services. But I think to the audience that we're speaking to right now the relevant part is we take on the management of the entire Amazon accounts and one of our claims to fame is that we do it in Europe too. We know we take over the active management of the account, including the listing creation and optimization, the customer service, PPC management and optimization across markets. I mean we actually speak to a good amount to companies that do the acquisition of brands and then need someone to grow them and operate them. Also lacking capacity that's something we could ask.
Yeah, that's something we get asked quite a lot actually is how best to take over and manage deals after the acquisition. We'll definitely refer them across to you but one question I get quite a lot. As the advisor in the equation I think what we say sometimes has taken with few heaps of salt. As an operator, as a service provider, how long does it take for you to get up and running on a new brand? Obviously that's how long is a piece of string but could you give us some metrics of how long it takes you to get a handle on a business and be able to actually manage it?
Yeah, no that's actually, it's a relevant question and that is one of the top things that we get asked how long until we're up and running and seeing results because we typically do an account analysis to see okay, what is the state of things? What needs to be optimized from a listening perspective, from an Amazon SEO perspective from a PPC perspective. What needs to be changed in order to move the needle with the current line or at least the current line of or number of skews for Asin’s that we're managing. It's typically four to six weeks before you can really see the needle move there. There are small tweaks that you can do immediately, if the listings are clearly not optimized, you can just switch the main image or add content to bullet points or something where there are immediate shifts. But if we're for instance starting up the European marketplace and we're pouring all the listings over, doing the translations, getting PPC rolling and then getting the feedback loop going finding what's converting best from PPC to incorporate that back into the listing optimization and the SEO to then do more PPC to refine that whole process to do a whole cycle of that. It's really four to six weeks to really see the results of that.
Well, okay, that's interesting. I say this with a little bit of jest but often I see people wanting to come in acquiring companies and assume they can do better than the current owner. We often advise to get the operations handled as is before trying to change anything because you don't really know what you don't know yet.
Get stacist first try all your fancy shit. That is true. If people were, we're acquiring a company, you'd be a great resource then to say hey we're looking at taking over this company, what would it take to get up and running? Then on top of that what optimization could you and your team potentially do.
Yeah, that's right. Yup. Exactly. Awesome. Well, okay, cool. Well let's wrap up. There were just coming up to exactly an hour, which is perfect.
That's awesome. I will definitely hit you up to do a second interview. I can ask the rest of these questions. Oh, 100% absolutely. 100% catch up in person.
Yeah, we have to. I mean at this point dude is getting ridiculous. We got to do that. Exactly. Exactly. Alright, cool. Talk soon. All right, talk soon brother.