AS 48: Chad Rubin built an 8 Million Dollar/Year Revenue Empire from Crucial Vacuum, Crucial Air and Crucial Coffee
24 Aug 2016
Chad Rubin comes on the show today! He started Crucial Vacuum in 2008. Crucial Vacuum along with his new brands, Crucial Air and Crucial Coffee reached a revenue growth of over $8M in 2015. In 2013, he co-founded Skubana, an all-in-one intelligent e-commerce platform.
What you’ll learn:
- Chad Rubin’s empire growth from start
- Brand strategies Chad uses
- E-eCommerce channels Brad leverages
- Website deployment strategies
- Customizing your e-Commerce store for success
- How Walmart & Jet affect the eco-system
- How to always be one step ahead
- How Chad switched from
- Work life balances
- How to build products that solve problems
- Lessons Chad has learned throughout the way
- Warehouse vs. Office strategy
- Product validation testing
- Automation and scaling of his business
- To-do lists
- Morning routines that Chad uses
- Foundation businesses
- -Product Research
- Sourcing & Manufacturing
- Managing Sales Channels
- Social Media & Marketing
David Aladdin: Great to have you on the show Chad. Let’s go to the beginning of Chad Rubin before the empire became what it is today. What year did it begin and how?
Chad Rubin: Sure and thanks for having me on the show. Hi everybody on Periscope and everyone that’s listening in. My journey really began my parents were entrepreneurs in their own right with a vacuum cleaner store as I was growing up. They were really doing not so great, Walmart showed up not so far from where they were and the dynamics of purchasing changed. I never wanted to actually own my own business, so I decided to go onto Wall Street because I saw them struggle and making ends meet or not making ends meet. I decided to go onto Wall Street and I started covering internet stocks, giving advice to hedge funds, investors to buy, sell or short various stocks like bank rate, or Amazon or eBay. I said to my parents; “you guys need to be really getting on the internet.” They never did. I decided to start a direct consumer business.
David Aladdin: I feel like I’d have done the same. My parents are old school.
Chad Rubin: For sure. I started directing consumer business and then I subsequently have started Skubana which is a software business. I’ve been really moving focusing really solely my life on eCommerce.
David Aladdin: What year did you jump into Wall Street?
Chad Rubin: Wall Street, I graduated college. I’m dating myself right now.
David Aladdin: That’s good we like to build a time-line see how things progressed.
Chad Rubin: Sure, 2006 which the market was booming. I started on Wall Street, I graduated college earlier and went to university in Massachusetts in Amerhest and worked on Wall Street up until getting laid off in 2009, Friday the 13th.
David Aladdin: That dip in the economy actually affected your decisions?
Chad Rubin: The dip in the economy actually didn’t quite impact my decisions. The dip in the economy changed the way I viewed my work, life balance and also about me I was never about picking my job. I always pick my boss. My boss was let go who really was out to help me and see me thrive and I got a new boss who had no intention of seeing me thrive and grow. He wanted to keep me down with a glass ceiling. For me actually a lot of things changed but losing a boss who I respected changed my direction for the better.
David Aladdin: In 2009 you were pivoted and you started taking life into your own hands, right? You started making your own path through life, you own businesses. Is that when the eCommerce stuff started to happen?
Chad Rubin: I was working on it during the office hours. I was working from 7:00 am till 2:00 am and I would squeeze in a little bit of my own ideas into my corporate life and that’s how I moved and migrated into being an entrepreneur and building up my own business.
David Aladdin: That’s how it starts. I know like myself I used to do the eight-to-five and then the six-to-two am and so I can totally related to that. I’m guessing during the after-hours phase you’re starting to pull in money. Is that correct?
Chad Rubin: Yes.
David Aladdin: When did you pull the trigger on finally quitting your job and going full-time?
Chad Rubin: Actually I was fired from my job which was the best thing that ever happened to me. That door closed another door opened and I started making income. When I first started I started making income right away. You have to remember that back in 2008 was before Amazon got extremely, extremely competitive and there was all these courses out there that taught private labelers how to copy other sellers that are on Amazon today. Amazon wasn’t this sexy machine making thing that it is today. It was a different environment.
David Aladdin: What do you see the differences between now and then? You’re actively still selling on Amazon I think I checked some of your brands out, correct?
Chad Rubin: I’m selling Amazon it’s all automated. I now have actually hired a second employee for my business. I have two employees running a very, very large business not just on Amazon because I know you focus on Amazon but I sell on 18 different channels.
David Aladdin: Awesome, let’s get into that in a little bit. We do focus fully on Amazon but we do, do the whole eCommerce expansion that Skubana actually server. Amazon is the first platform we also focus on the website as our secondary core platform and then from there it would be great if you could share advice specifically on how you expand it into other channels. What channels work the best?
Chad Rubin: Let me answer your first question which was how are things different? Back in the day and it was just 2008 and it’s only been eight years which is actually a lot in the world of eCommerce. Essentially there wasn’t as many private labelers, there wasn’t many at all actually. People were still figuring out the internet and Amazon’s marketplace which is like the “Wild-Wild West.” Now public and very open, there’s so many Amazon sellers out there, there’s over two million. The dynamic has certainly changed on Amazon and it’s getting harder-and-harder to make money on Amazon today.
David Aladdin: I agree and disagree with that because I feel there’s so many different ways you can go into Amazon. Specifically lately I’ve gone into new categories and I’ve noticed the absence of competition in some of them especially within certain categories and types of products. You might only have four. For example the product was a pencil there might be only four to five pencil brands that are selling and that’s not a lot of brands when you’re serving an entire country. When you first started did you see a lot of competition? How did that go?
Chad Rubin: No, there was no competition when I started. That’s why I’m saying that; yes it’s nice to make money on Amazon but you have to go after niches. You can’t go after a spatula anymore or a silicon mat or garlic press and be; “okay that’s my niche.” Because that’s not niche enough right now and in the environment that we’re playing in on Amazon which is only strong or survive environment. That’s why I think 2016 is you need to start finding product that you want to move into that are niches. Also that solve problems it’s just becoming very commoditized right now.
David Aladdin: When I was looking you up I noticed you have an entire design office rather than a warehouse. Is that correct?
Chad Rubin: I have an amazing office in New Jersey that I did design. It’s design it’s fun it’s a very playful environment, yes.
David Aladdin: Can you describe the office rather than because most of the people won’t be able to see the image. I would say it’s very designer friendly. It’s almost like a Google office, right?
Chad Rubin: Totally just like a Google office we have LEGO, we have nerve guns and we have an Espresso machine. We have a phone booth, everyone takes off their shoes before they come in the office and it’s like a Dojo.
David Aladdin: Do you guys wear suits to work or no?
Chad Rubin: Very opposite, we’re very casual. We want people to feel comfortable like they’re at home. That’s how we designed the office we want you to feel like you’re at home because this is where you’re spending a ton of your time. Maybe even sometimes more than what you’re spending at home.
David Aladdin: I love that I could see myself creating some type of environment in the future for employees to come and love to work rather than come to work and do their eight hours. I think that was an awesome move by your part. What about the warehouse versus the design office. What is the mentality there?
Chad Rubin: I did have a warehouse and I outsourced it in 2013 and it was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my business. It wasn’t even my decision actually my wife was; “Chad you’ve got to get rid of that warehouse like immediately.” The difference was I used to be managing a team of warehouse employees in the metropolitan area and it’s very difficult to manage that certain type of warehouse employee and that many of them. Instead we let a company who focuses on operations and picking and packing and FBA prep to do what they do so we focus on building our business and building our brand and adding listings.
David Aladdin: Interesting. How big was your warehouse at the time?
Chad Rubin: I want to say it was about 5,000 square feet.
David Aladdin: That’s pretty big.
Chad Rubin: Our ceilings were 42 feet high, we had super high ceilings and we stacked, stacked and stacked.
David Aladdin: Your design office now how many designers do you have in place?
Chad Rubin: They’re not just designers I would say that they are operators at heart. They’re builders and operators a lot of people here know how to use Photoshop and know how to do design but we have a mix. We have a very interesting mix here. It’s like an incubator. We have Skubana employees who a lot of them I brought over from my eCommerce business. Then we have our crucial employees. We have two people who are crucial both know how to do design but both are actually doers, right. They get shit done.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk about hiring employees for your business. What type of requirements did you set these guys to go through?
Chad Rubin: Look we it very casual. We have a lounge in our office space where we bring them in and the requirement is really; you’ve got to want to hustle. That’s really it and you have to have some self awareness as well. We like people that have a founder’s mindset. With that there’s a lot of things that we look for when we are hiring but we try to ask questions that get to the heart of; like I said; self awareness, founder’s mindset, hustler. Do they want to really work their butt off and make more money and if so our interests are aligned.
David Aladdin: Awesome. It’s good to know. Let’s pivot into design. What kind of products do you look for? How do you design for your future up and coming products?
Chad Rubin: I am a firm believer and I don’t if you actually saw ahead of this interview that I came out with a book called; “Cheaper, Easier, Direct.” In the book I talk about a three step process which is validation. How do you discover and idea first? How do you validate it? How do you execute on it? A lot of it is around my secret sauce and how I’ve built my Amazon business today to where it is. To answer it quickly and succinctly for you the discovery and I’m trying to take a large book that’s all encompassing and really trying to narrow down to the raw good stuff for you.
When you discover a product, for me not only do I look at the amount of reviews but I also want to be solving a problem and I try to read reviews on Amazon and understand the customer narrative before creating the product. A lot of Amazon sellers are like; “how many reviews does it have? It’s doing well” or it’s in this big, big niche that’s very, very large and a very large category. That’s my first step is I look at reviews I understand what the conversation is like. What’s the customer narrative like and then I go forth with my other processes.
David Aladdin: Makes sense. What have seen that failed because you’ve launched a lot product? What products did you see that weren’t really working or didn’t fit your product line?
Chad Rubin: You don’t always hit a homerun. I have over I think 2,000 listings on Amazon and I’m all my own brand which is a lot.
David Aladdin: It takes a lot of the list. For one listing itself I’m spending days optimizing and product images and descriptions and making sure it’s directed towards my target audience with 2,000 listing I can’t even image.
Chad Rubin: How many listing do you have?
David Aladdin: Currently I have five, maybe six on schedule it hit around 17 before October.
Chad Rubin: Great.
David Aladdin: It’s been a lot of work in the process. You’re hitting about 200 times more about 15 times more.
Chad Rubin: Well I have a whole team in place but I’ve also been doing this for quite a long time. Look the listing creation is difficult it’s a time consuming process but the idea is that if you automate the operations of your business you can focus on actually your core competency whether it’s building listings or brands. That’s a higher value activity.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk about that. What tasks do you actually leverage other people to do?
Chad Rubin: A: I try to see what I can automate with technology. I build the software that will literally algorithmically create you a purchase order awaiting your approval. Instead of going through all your data, you have seven listing and you’re going to have 18. That’s quite easy to manage and you can probably forecast correctly. You’ll probably use some spreadsheets, you’ll figure it out but at the end of the day if you have a lot of listings and you sell on a lot of channels. All that velocity going into each marketplace to see how many you’re selling and trying to forecast based on that it gets very difficult.
We use a technology stack and we use Skubana to automate that process. That’s just one example. Skubana will create you a PO at the right time, at the right place, at the right price, with the right quantity awaiting your approval with a nice bow on top. We are built for larger sellers, people who have more complex issues that they’re struggling with. Maybe multiple warehouses they’re selling on 20 different and they need an operational system to run their entire business. That’s where we come in.
David Aladdin: It creates a PO and that PO gets sent to the manufacturer?
Chad Rubin: Once you authorize it, it gets sent to the manufacturer then through permit.
David Aladdin: It automates them, I see. That’s pretty repetitive that process.
Chad Rubin: Another process is I used to have employees looking at all my profitability’s across all my channels for each SKU and it used to be very time consuming and now we’ve automated that. For every channel you sell on, for every SKU you have you know exactly what you profit is with every fee associated with that product. Whether it’s FBA fees, your pick fee, your pack fee, your storage fee, your long-term storage fee. Your return fee, your processes that get sold for every channel not just Amazon, we’re not a one-trip pony. We allow people to sell on multiple channels, that’s our focus.
David Aladdin: Very cool, it must have been like a nightmare to program
Chad Rubin: It was a nightmare to program. Actually I partnered with a great guy we have been building for three years. We hustling art building his business and it’s a lot of fun.
David Aladdin: The one I was messaging you before I went to the site Skubana and it was very solid I could tell there was a lot of energy and effort and thought that went especially into the front-page, pretty cool.
Chad Rubin: Sure.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk about your onsite customer acquisition. When someone arrives on one of your actual sites rather than Amazon or some other eCommerce, what type of strategies are you using to get them to purchase?
Chad Rubin: A couple of things out of the gate. We learn a lot from people who are already crushing it in eCommerce. I don’t even go into retail stores anymore. I shop online but I shop online knowing it’s easier and more convenient but I also want to know what the best practices are because these people already have teams in place and Have Spent A Lot of Money Figuring It Out. Why Reinvent The Wheel? You Go To A Website Like Chubby Shorts for example and there’s a phone number right there, right on their page. For us we have a phone number right on our website.
Anybody can call and talk to an expert on vacuums any day of the week. We have a live chat. When they’re on page the live chat pops up and boom you can now converse with somebody to help you walk you through the process. All of this is all about trust. You are being upfront with your phone number. You’re being upfront with a live chat you’re doing everything you can through the buying journey to make it easy for the customer where it’s a no-brainer and they want to buy from your site.
David Aladdin: A lot of this stuff you’d think it would be common sense but a lot of people don’t do it and I guess in respect to the phone number and the live chat. Do you have some type of service that you use where people are responding to that live chat or do you outsource that to a virtual assistant? What’s your strategy there?
Chad Rubin: We have a customer support team. We have two in the Philippines that do emails and phone support for us. We’re using Zopim live chat as our live chat service, a way to communicate. We’re using fusion XSellco Fusion for our CRM essentially if someone emails in they get 10 responses that we set up and all the data orders and everything is pushed through our App Store into XSellco Fusions CRM software.
David Aladdin: XSellco Fusion. Whenever I talk to bigger business sellers you have your virtual assistants down and you’re outsourcing on points.
Chad Rubin: Definitely.
David Aladdin: I’m always curious how you guys have your systems setup I’m scaling my business properly as well same with our audience.
Chad Rubin: Is this your fulltime job?
David Aladdin: Yeah.
Chad Rubin: Amazon?
David Aladdin: Yup. Let’s go back to that what year did you start fulltime on Amazon and your eCommerce business?
Chad Rubin: Right when I really got let go on the street which was 13th of February. Friday the 13th 2009 that was fulltime.
David Aladdin: Was it really Friday the 13th?
Chad Rubin: Yeah. It was two weeks after I got engaged to my wife …
David Aladdin: You’ve been fulltime selling for eight years, is that correct?
Chad Rubin: Yeah, yep. I was doing a lot of stuff before in the back-ground.
David Aladdin: A lot of entrepreneurs they start random business, they shoot businesses, they create business that they hope that that will work and they won’t stop doing it until one actually works? Did you just hit the right business right-away?
Chad Rubin: I think it’s a combination of a blessing and being in the right place at the right time but also putting in a lot of time myself and hustling. I would attribute it to it was the early on days of selling on Amazon. Also just like I was working from seven to two am on Wall Street I was working even harder for myself and I’m continuously working hard. That has not stopped.
David Aladdin: I talk about it a lot in our Podcast. It’s like playing a game of soccer that never ends. You enjoy and it doesn’t feel like to you. I think you fit that mold. Is that correct? You don’t see it as work its continuous fun?
Chad Rubin: This a recreational hobby for me that happens to be making money for me. Also I was grown up my parents, like had to grow up very, very at a young age. My parents were struggling and literally we would be eating dinner and cash and money and what are we going to do? How are we going to pay the mortgage was part of my adolescence? I don’t really know anything better if you grow up and you’re loved all the time, that’s your language you’re speaking love. I grew up on business and I speak a language of business.
David Aladdin: Let’s pivot and talk about your brands and your brand strategy. You started out with Crucial Vacuum, that’s correct?
Chad Rubin: Yep.
David Aladdin: I noticed you have a lot of very custom products, very specialty products, niche products within the vacuum industry. Can you talk more about that the strategies that you used there and why you did it?
Chad Rubin: Well I think unsexy businesses are sexy businesses in a way and it counterintuitive but it’s true. It’s like jumbo shrimp. I kicked it because I knew about it. I knew about the vacuum industry from my parents. That was my foray into the business and then I knew about eCommerce because I learned about it on Wall Street. I took what I knew and not what I was passionate about but what I was brought with and I mixed it together to move into this business, that’s just how I started. Since then we’ve expanded like you said I have multiple different brands and I have replicated the same success in many other verticals. When I first started nobody was doing this and now there’s tons of copycats. It took the first copycat six years to do what I was doing.
David Aladdin: That’s awesome. That’s actually incredible that you had that much time between your first brand and then the copycats coming in.
Chad Rubin: Now it’s about three month lead time now on Amazon till people copy you.
David Aladdin: Not even. What are your strategies around copycats? Do you do anything to deal with them? How have you been dealing with them?
Chad Rubin: It’s a very interesting topic but for copycats alone there is nothing you can do because they always under-price you. The only thing you can do is build a brand, make really good listings and maybe believe and copy your listings. There’s what I call “the Amazon Tribe Guest Cycle.” Over time certain tribes do dies and wither away in terms of profit margin or the prices is so low where you don’t want go anymore.
For me my strategy really is doing what Wayne Gretzky suggests which is; “you always want to go where the puck is going, not where the puck is.” I’m constantly innovating. Big companies do this all the time you look at Apple they were first company that made the touch screen phone. They knew they only had a six month lead time until Google copied them and Motorola copied them. By that point they were already doing the iPhone II, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera so you know how the story unravels. They’re constantly iterating, constantly going to where the puck is going versus staying stagnate where everything is today.
David Aladdin: Do you have an example of product that was copied a lot. I want you to tell your product that wasn’t and then how you reiterated on it to prevent the competition from keeping up?
Chad Rubin: It’s not really reiterating on a product itself. You could reiterate on a product and you can make it better or you can make it more premium or you can make it more deluxe. For the purpose of this conversation it’s about moving into products where there’s not a lot of people doing it. Like you said you’re going after very niches, of niches, of niches. I might go after Reddit sometimes and go into different hobbyist groups and see what are they complaining about? My drone part is really expensive. I’m like; “okay drones that’s a very interesting marketing it seems like there could be some replaceable stuff there” there could be something I could help with add value with. That’s how I come up with a lot of the products.
David Aladdin: Interesting. At what point did you decide to create your next brand? I guess a lot of people always want to focus on one brand what made you decide that you wanted to start to product label brands?
Chad Rubin: The problem is and maybe this is a nugget of information to help your audience. That when you’re building a brand you have to think broad and if you think myopically and very narrowly like Crucial Vacuum did it really pigeon holed you into; okay Crucial Vacuum. I thought that it was going to take me years to disrupt the vacuum industry and that wasn’t the case. I would suggest people build a brand around a common, something where it gives you flexibility and it allows you to be nimble to do other things. You know you’re going to be doing this right now you never know what’s going to happen a year from now or two years or three years.
David Aladdin: So true and one year, what you were doing last year is probably completely different than what you’re right now. Especially with all the revenue that you’re generating you’re making new decisions with the cash flow.
Chad Rubin: Yeah, yes for sure.
David Aladdin: I’ve actually had a lot of insights lately based on new found cash flow. Can you discuss your decisions how they changed from when you didn’t have much cash flow to when you did have a lot?
Chad Rubin: Nothing has really changed I’m always very scrappy. I’m always very humble and again growing up with nothing I think I’m always looking in the rear view mirror and seeing that. The only thing I can tell you to do with cash flow is constantly reinvest in your business which is reinvesting in yourself, being very disciplined and reinvesting.
David Aladdin: Today’s sponsor today is AMZ Secret VIP which is keyword; King Product Hunter in a data analytic tool to better optimize your Amazon listing. Stay tuned about a big announcement coming soon. Talk about the sales channels. What types of sales channels are you leveraging? I know you said 18 in the beginning which ones do you see performing better than others and what are some of the emerging markets that we should be using?
Chad Rubin: Sure, the first one obviously everyone knows Amazon so we don’t really need to talk about Amazon but there is life after Amazon. I believe in building your own brand. I believe in building your own shopping cart whether you use Shopify or Bigcommerce or Magento combo.
David Aladdin: You use Magento, right?
Chad Rubin: I do use Magento, yes.
David Aladdin: Is there any reason why? I’ve actually never touched that software before.
Chad Rubin: It’s heavy with customizations and I want to really own my own store front instead of using the software as a service for it. If I had to do it today I probably would be using a SaaS shopping cart platform out there like Bigcommerce or Shopify but Magento allows you to do customizations that you can’t normally do in Bigcommerce or Shopify because they’re closed platforms. Your own shopping cart would be important but on top of that you have the likes of Walmart and Jet.com.
Walmart just opened up their marketplace and they’re growing tremendously. Jet.com was acquired by Walmart but was growing tremendously. I look at selling online like playing Monopoly you want to be on every piece of the board to win. If you’re on Amazon right now sure you’re getting good traction it’s super competitive but there’s life off of Amazon where people are shopping offline. I want to be everywhere where people are shopping and that’s part of my strategy.
David Aladdin: I recently expanded to the Rackuten. Is that how you pronounce that?
Chad Rubin: The Rackuten, yes.
David Aladdin: I recently expanded to that market but then I looked up stats it’s mostly a Japanese audience. Do you find that the same case?
Chad Rubin: Rackuten first of all it bought by … it used to be called Buy.com and they’re very focused on electronics again I don’t know what you sell. Focusing on electronics and I do think that there’s a lot more. I don’t think you’re going to see a ton of traction there especially with only six products especially if it’s not electronics. But Jet and Walmart are aggressively trying to build these marketplace businesses and compete with Amazon and so I think you would have a better place in those marketplaces.
David Aladdin: Interesting. I actually not on Jet or Walmart, I’m guessing you are, right?
Chad Rubin: Yes.
David Aladdin: Would you be able to say what percentage of sales comes from those channels?
Chad Rubin: I can tell that only right now 50% of my revenue is coming from Amazon. I think that’s a good healthy number to be at.
David Aladdin: That is a very healthy to be at.
Chad Rubin: You never want at 100% of anything right. You want to be diversified. Imagine if you put your life savings in one stock. You’re fully exposed so you want to diversify away from; you want to have a diversified portfolio of income coming in from any different sources and that’s partly of building a true business off channel, off Amazon.
David Aladdin: Before this interview I was listening to. . . you had this YouTube video. You were talking about SCO and how you’re not supposed to create the exact same listing between the marketplace website’s like Jet.com and Amazon.com. Can you go more into detail about that?
Chad Rubin: Yes, it’s all about trading unique content. Number one; marketplaces are all very different. What required on Amazon or what moves the needle for Amazon is different than what moves the needle on Jet or Walmart or any other marketplace. The second thing is that if you’re building a brand and you put the same content on every single channel, the same exact content. That’s duplicate content which is a big no, no when it comes to organically ranking. You need to treat market places and especially your shopping cart. For you own shopping cart that’s where you put the most robust, unique share-rated content because that’s the value of people when people come to your site you want to create an experience for them. It’s not the vending machine approach that you experience on Amazon or on eBay.
David Aladdin: When I was listening to that I was expecting a sales-pitch on that YouTube video but the whole time I’m listening to SEO organic research. With websites it’s the same thing if you create post and you just shoot them across their websites and post them you get penalized and they just don’t rank as well. With products I agree it’s going to have the same effect and I awesome to hear that kind of advice come first.
Chad Rubin: It’s a super rooky mistake. A lot of these brands are building their brands on Amazon and off Amazon with the same content using a listing tool and pushing. They’re spraying and praying. They’re pushing the same content and expecting it to work but like you said; you spend so much time optimizing your listing. If you’re going to optimize your listing and really work from scratch on a listing and build it from the ground up. Why are you using a listing tool if you’re going to go in there and change everything anyway? That’s what I’m talking about that’s a high value activity. You want to automate the low-value activities as best as you can.
David Aladdin: It’s like buy low – sell high.
Chad Rubin: What was that?
David Aladdin: It’s like the concept buy low – sell high except when it comes to eCommerce, automate low – do high.
Chad Rubin: Exactly.
David Aladdin: Hopefully I said that right. What other high tasks are you doing that should not be outsourced?
Chad Rubin: Here’s what I would suggest to people because everyone has their stuff that they want to get rid of. Everyone has a to-do-list. I’m sure you have a to-do-list, but I bet my bibby that you don’t have a don’t-do-list. You need to look at your life and your calendar and sit with your calendar and do an inventory of what you’re working on today. What are the things that you’re spending your time on that you absolutely hate? The things that take you so much time that are maybe repetitive or you don’t want to be doing and try to find alternatives to that whether it’s technology or whether it’s human help to automate.
Whereas your time is best spent building listing, or building your brand, or meeting your goal, you said you wanted to build your listing from eight to 18 or seven to eighteen or whatever that number was. That’s where you should be spending your time because you might be able to triple that by getting rid of some of the repetitive low value activities.
David Aladdin: The funny thing is when I hear you say that; when I compare my brand to your brand I feel seventeen is such a small number now compared to the 2,000 that you have. This whole time I thought 17 was a lot.
Chad Rubin: There’s no judging, some people have two. I’m working my butt off to do it. I’m constantly curating new products, going to China that drives me tremendously. On top of that I have automated my eCommerce business. I’m focused really on my software business right now. That’s my 100% dedication focuses, I talk to sellers like yourself all day long and I show them how there is a way to build a business off-channel, off Amazon. A lot of them are just 100% on Amazon.
David Aladdin: The funny thing is a lot of people aren’t even on Amazon. Most of the retail world hasn’t gotten there yet. I feel like a lot of brands aren’t even on there that have great products.
Chad Rubin: Some people actually have a great business off Amazon, that’s what I’m saying there is life off Amazon. Look at Chubby Shorts, I think they have a really cool brand and they’re just on Shopify. They sell short, shorts a cool design with a very interesting experience when you shop on their site.
David Aladdin: I’m actually looking at their website.
Chad Rubin: They’re very cool-
David Aladdin: They’ve got their brand-
Chad Rubin: Signup for their newsletter, check it out. It’s super interesting, they have a Shopify play list and they really are an aspirational brand versus selling some sort of commodity. Imagine if that’s replicable and duplicable on Amazon.
David Aladdin: It reminds me of that brand that got bought out the Dollar Beard Club or the Dollar Shave Club, one of the two.
Chad Rubin: The Dollar Shave Club.
David Aladdin: They’re making a big statement about something. It’s serious and in a serious tone but not so serious. It’s very cool. Do you know the owner of that website?
Chad Rubin: I’ve been in touch with them but I don’t know him personally.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk about, before we go into the software side. What did you do to create 2,000 listings that’s no small task? What things did you expedite about that sequence?
Chad Rubin: I think building a foundation is important, an operational foundation. I think hiring the right people is important. I think going after the right product range is important. There’s so much, it takes so much to build a brand. There’s not one thing that got me to 2,000 listings. It was over time a lot of sweat, a lot of hustle and really doing my research and my diligence.
David Aladdin: I find listing on other web-platforms takes a significant amount of time and/learning curve, from marketplace-to-marketplace. When it comes to that do you have a special person for each marketplace that does that task? Or what do you think would make that process easier?
Chad Rubin: We have one person, literally I have my second person at crucial now. I have a marketing person and I have an operations person and they share the responsibilities of building up the brand, the websites and the marketplaces, everyone has a shared common goal. A lot of these sellers out there today think there is some sort of silver bullet to finding the right product what category to get into. The pay all this money for product research courses, they pay all this money for product research pools and software. I didn’t use any of this software doing this.
David Aladdin: I see what you’re saying, there’s a ton of courses nowadays that people are trying to get you to buy. I’ve actually never used a course either. A lot of webinar products to, I don’t know if you’ve seen them? What’s your vision moving forward with Amazon and with software? I guess let’s do one at a time.
Chad Rubin: The vision moving forward with Amazon is the continuously get crowded on the marketplace. You need to solve problems you need to be going after where nobody is. That’s what I think should happen on Amazon. We don’t need more garlic presses on Amazon. That’s number one. For software again I think there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to capitalize on a lot of these sellers that are new to Amazon selling and they’re going to target their fears for example; product research. I think product research tools are important but that’s not the only thing. There’s using technology and then there is also using your brain. You need to actually use both to decide and be practical about what you want to make and manufacturer.
David Aladdin: In terms of the software you’re creating. What type of things do you see need to be solved with selling on all these different channels?
Chad Rubin: It’s like building a house you need to have the right foundation. A lot of these software’s out there are really just features. They only work on Amazon they’re a one trip pony where they only do one thing. We take all the features and we created a solution. We allow you to run your entire business after somebody checks out across every marketplace and every shopping cart. It’s scalable software that empowers you to literally scale your revenue but also make sure you’re making money at the same time. Nobody else is doing this today.
This is a very sophisticate software really built specifically for a medium to high volume seller who has a lot of marketplaces, a lot of warehouses, a lot of users and a lot of orders and they want to automate it with technology. They’re not just a FDA seller and we do multi-channel fulfillments. We do five different fulfillment methods. You can multi-channel fulfill. You can do a PL, you can print shipping labels, you can drop-ship we bring all your FBA orders in. We do everything else you need. Inventory management, purchase order algorithmically, vendor management, analytics all in one platform. All in the Cloud, nobody has that.
David Aladdin: How long did that take to make?
Chad Rubin: DJ is the co-founder and partner in the business and he came to my warehouse in 2013, right before I outsourced it. He was; “oh my god, I thought there was going to be robots here in your warehouse.” I’m like; “what is going on?” I showed him all the software that was there and there’s a lot of software that says they do what we do. And essentially they’re big misses and there was a lot of fragmentation. There was a software that does inventory, there’s a software that does shipping, there’s a software that does purchases orders and you still need spreadsheets and then you don’t have any unified data. DJ approached me and we decided to work on this together and we were; “why don’t we create an-all-in-one system to manage our entire business fully focused on direct consumer confidence, selling online.”
David Aladdin: That’s definitely a huge undertaking mainly because a lot of businesses focus on smaller parts of it. It’s one thing to build a piece of software and it’s another thing to make sure it works the way it’s supposed to work. I guess to be able to put all of that together I’m sure there must have been some challenges. What do you guys struggle with?
Chad Rubin: What do we struggle with at Skubana or-
David Aladdin: Yes, when you’re creating such a massive product like Skubana. I’m sure there’s tons of problems that come up that you guys are trying to solve every day. I guess how you guys manage the network flow and processing all the different types of systems that you have in place?
Chad Rubin: That’s a pretty large question. I would say my biggest problem right now is there’s two groups of people. You have the people that have tried all the other software’s in the market and are really, really cynical. A lot of these software’s over promise and under-deliver and they been burned. They’re like; “wait a minute you’re claiming to do this are you sure you’re the real thing?” We need to literally Jujitsu a lot of the BS that’s out there and literally show people and hand-hold them through the process of; “hey we are real. Out software can support your business it’s not just a bunch of smoking mirrors.”
“This is not lipstick on a pig and we’re the real thing.” That’s a big challenge for us. That’s like a branding thing is how do we cut through a lot of the noise because there’s 20 different players out there in the space? All of them are fragments. That’s big for us and I’m not trying to chop down their tree. For me I want to win and I want to help sellers. That’s why I wrote a book. That’s why built the software. That’s why I teach in New York City I’m all about wanting to help people and not lose money, time or hair which I’ve lost plenty of.
David Aladdin: Let’s talk more about you the entrepreneur. How does your day look like, are you more of a night person or more of a morning person?
Chad Rubin: I’ve been working on my schedule for a long time thinking about it I run two businesses and I also manage some real estate at the same time. Things are insane it’s really, really hard. My wife is a yoga instructor and actually she a yoga studio owner. She’s an entrepreneur too.
David Aladdin: That’s awesome.
Chad Rubin: It’s interesting so we’re constantly working on. What was that?
David Aladdin: I was going say is her studio connected to your design office?
Chad Rubin: No, no, no sometimes she uses some of my employees help out or do a photo-shoot. It’s separate but we lend each other a hand we’re both partners in life, in business in everything. For us, for me I’ve been focusing a lot on how do I build the life I want to live and what do I need to do to do that? There’s more to life than just running a business. Whether I want to be giving back? How do I want to be taking care of my body and my health and the future and building a family? I had a nice long week, my wife went away to yoga festival and she also volunteers at a camp for Cohn’s and Colitis and had a week to literally spend and think about how do I improve my life when I’m not working as much but I’m more efficient in the time that I am working?
David Aladdin: I feel like that question is the golden question.
Chad Rubin: It is the golden question. For me I decided that everyday up until 11:00 o’clock is my time. I should not book anything during that time. So far it’s working, so I spend the time either reading or I can go to the gym. I can meditate.
David Aladdin: Up till 11:00 am?
Chad Rubin: Up till 11:00 am, my assistants do not stencil anything on my calendar.
David Aladdin: Before 11:00 am that’s the educational hours, or gym it’s you time. Is that correct?
Chad Rubin: Up till 11:00 o’clock is my time and sometimes I need to compromise it but I typically try not to comprise it.
David Aladdin: What about any books that you recommend? What Podcast do you listen to or what you do for education?
Chad Rubin: I read I really like to dig into reading. Podcast for me it’s a lot of time and feel like there are a lot of pretenders out there. A lot of proclaimed gurus in the space, I just like to read a great book. What really got me started on my journey was “The Four Hour Work Week.” I think that’s typical but then I’ve read a lot of other books, like “Virtual Freedom, Gary Vaynerchuck.” “The Thank You Economy,” “Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook” which was a game changer. I also wrote my own book, “Cheaper, Easier, Direct.” I like a lot of self-improvement books. That’s what I gravitate towards.
David Aladdin: I side note. What do you think of “The Four Hour Work Week?” I think it’s not realistic.
Chad Rubin: I don’t think it’s realistic but I think it’s a nice mindset and also I had friend that actually told me they just read it and he was inspired by it. I think in itself is inspiration from a book that do wonders and change the game for you and the course of your destiny as you progress in life. The principals to me are intact. I like the sound of it “The Four Hour Work Week” but it’s not where I’m at right now. I think Gary Vaynerchuk is the actual opposite, he’s like; “you need to be working from this time and that competitive advantage and you’ll beat your competition.” I think there’s actually a nice balance in the middle. I think Gary V is on one end of the spectrum and I think Tim is on the other.
David Aladdin: Pretty much yeah.
Chad Rubin: I think these should be balanced which is healthy.
David Aladdin: Where do you see yourself? I feel like you’re more on the Gary V side, what do you think?
Chad Rubin: I’m probably, yeah I would agree.
David Aladdin: We’ve got about five minutes left is there anything that I missed out, anything that you want to say? Any closing statements? You should see it I had a guest on the show the other day and he … I don’t know where he came up with it but he had this ridiculous closing statement. It was like a speech. Now I actually ask … someone comes up with a killer closing statement again.
Chad Rubin: I think if you’re a seller that’s only selling on Amazon today and you want to exist and build a legacy. I would suggest not just primarily only on Amazon but building a brand. I would probably focus on problems and they come up with your ideas and your new projects focusing on new angles. Look for new innovations and be self aware, look at vulnerabilities around your life and your business and see how you can execute on them. I think that’s the way you’re going to win and build a winning business not just on Amazon but in eCommerce in general.
David Aladdin: I’ve noticed throughout this Podcast it’s not all … one of the key points that you’ve been mentioning it’s not about selling on Amazon. It’s about diversifying your products or more like your brand in different spectrums of the web.
Chad Rubin: Amazon is a great place to start but you don’t want to finish on Amazon.
David Aladdin: Awesome. Chad it’s been awesome having you on the show and thanks for sharing all your expertise and your time.
Chad Rubin: Of course happy to be here and thank you so much.
David Aladdin: Thanks. David Aladdin, Chad Rubin, out.
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