EP 31 - Will Moffett - Expert Tips on E-commerce Entrepreneurs Scaling and Growth
|Awesomers Origin - We'll talk to an Awesomer about where they came from, the triumphs and tribulations they have faced and how they are doing today. An Awesomer Origin story is the chance to hear the backstory about the journey our guest took on their road to become awesomer. These stories are incredibly varied and the takeaway is that awesomers come in all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, creeds, colors and every other variation possible. On your awesomer road you will face adversity. That’s just part of life. The question as always is how YOU choose to deal with it.
|Will Moffett is an entrepreneur, partner, and builder. He has built many private label products within the physical product industry and structured large teams from around the world importing from China. In addition, Will and Partners started an inventory crowdfunding platform raising millions for e-commerce sellers nationwide. UpFund.io
There are many ways entrepreneurs can save money and avoid debt by leveraging new tools and resources.
On today’s episode, Steve introduces Will Moffett, founder of Upfund.io. Will is an entrepreneur, partner and builder of all kinds of different businesses. He's built many private label products within the physical products industry. Here are more lessons on today’s podcast:
The why process and the idea of identifying what you don't want in life to find out what it is that you truly want.
Will’s personal experience with the proverb “seek and you shall find”.
His list of recommended books.
And how Upfund helps E-commerce entrepreneurs scale and grow their business.
So subscribe and listen to today’s episode to find out how you too can maximize your finances and avoid debt.
Welcome to the Awesomers.com podcast. If you love to learn and if you're motivated to expand your mind and heck if you desire to break through those traditional paradigms and find your own version of success, you are in the right place. Awesomers around the world are on a journey to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. We believe in paying it forward and we fundamentally try to live up to the great Zig Ziglar quote where he said, "You can have everything in your life you want if you help enough other people get what they want." It doesn't matter where you came from. It only matters where you're going. My name is Steve Simonson and I hope that you will join me on this Awesomer journey.
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1:15 (Steve introduces today’s guest, Will Moffett.)
Steve: You're listening to the Awesomers.com podcast episode number 31 and as always you can find the show notes at Awesomers.com/31, that's Awesomers.com/31. Today my special guest is Wil Moffett. Will is an entrepreneur, partner and builder of all kinds of different businesses. He's built many private label products within the physical products industry and to do that he structured large teams from around the world including China to bring in that import and supply chain process all the way from China, private labeling, making your own brand all the way into the United States. And he's done that for a number of years now very successfully. He took a little pause because Will and his partner started an inventory crowdfunding platform that's helped raise millions of dollars for E-commerce sellers nationwide. That's called up Upfund.io. We're going to talk in detail about how that concept works, why it's really interesting for especially entrepreneurs who are trying to scale quickly but finding cash flow is a challenge and as always we're going to have fun. Okay Awesomers we're back again. Steve Simonson today joined by Will Moffett. Will, how are you buddy?
Will: Hey! Wonderful Steve. How's it going man? I'm so glad you invited me. Oh man, I'm thrilled to be here.
Steve: Will has his own podcast, FBA millionaires. What's it called?
Will: Yes, FBA millionaires.
Steve: That was a one-in-a-million shot there. Let me just say. But I've had the pleasure to be on Will’s show before I recommend, everybody go check it out, subscribe. It’s a very interesting business that we're going to talk a little bit about today. Plus we're going to talk about his origin story which is one of my favorite things to do. But Will maybe you could take us, just give us a general summary of kind of what you're doing today, what takes the most of your time and and those types of particulars.
Will: Yes, so this day and age I have partnered with some friends. We have Upfund.io which is a inventory crowdfunding platform for Amazon sellers. We've been doing that since, whoa, it's been over two years. I think late 2015, yeah going on maybe three years; 2015 to 2016. So that's been keeping me pretty busy. I did kind of take some time off of Amazon, that's how I originally started. But recently I've been getting back into it. I found that even though I still understood Amazon and I started getting into tech, a big part of me loves Amazon. I missed it and I miss the money too. It's good you know, good income so it's like why did I just stop? So I just picked it back up, learning more and it's important also with Upfund to know what's going on out there and to understand what's the pain so we can better solve problems through tech. So yes that's that's what I've been doing.
Steve: I love it. Well it always is so much easier when you're kind of stuck in the soup with the rest of the the frog, so to speak right. As the temperature goes up, it's like hey we better figure out how to jump before the temperature gets too hot.
Steve: You know having a live laboratory of your own selling, methodology, your own product, whatever the case may be - whether it's E-commerce or Amazon, doesn't matter to me. But it helps keep you limber, keep you loose.
Steve: Gosh, there's only a certain amount of hours in the day so gosh what's a guy to do? There's only so much we can get done so in a minute we're going to dig into your origin story but one of the questions I had is, what gave you the idea to start your Upfund crowdsourcing kind of inventory, financing? It's a very unique splice of kind of the crowdfunding and the need of you know cash flow and inventory. What the idea Genesis come from?
5:05 (Will talks about how Upfund came to be.)
Will: Yes, so when we first originally started with Amazon we grew really really fast. And it was a little as extremely fast and this was back in 2015, so what we did is we had an issue finding money for this growth and we had money, we had credit, we had everything we needed to go to a bank and say we thought to get money right. Well the bank took months to get back to us and when they finally approved us they said they wanted collateral you know. And it's like you see our inbound, our you know our payments coming in bi-weekly, you see we have money, you see we have property. What is the big problem you know with just giving us a small room? So what we said was after that we didn't take the money and we just said, “Okay let's build our own platform.” We had some pretty savvy and smart partners that are in the tech industry, me personally, started with Amazon. Sorry for the background. I'm in a city here.
Steve: Yes no problem.
Will: Police and fire trucks and everything but yes so we decided to go ahead and build something that we felt that if we needed it, other people would need it also. And it was a challenging project and we generally like to take on challenging products because you know - hey what else is there to do?
Steve: It keeps you loose right?
Will: Exactly. So we want to do something big and so we went out to start Upfund and within two months our CTO was able to put a MVP together and we did our first demo which went horribly wrong.
Steve: That’s how all demos go. I will direct you to Steve Jobs. There are many times he walked down on stage and stuff would just simply not work right and one of the first lessons I learned in tech, probably, well not probably. Definitely back in the early 80s when I was studying computer programming as a kid, my teacher told me it will never work the first time and boy I've tried to prove him wrong ever since and I've never been able to prove him wrong. It never works the first time. We're going to dive more into that story and talk about kind of where they are today but first we're going to take a quick break and we'll be right back.
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Steve: Okay we're back again. Steve Simonson here on the Awesomers.com podcast and we're talking to Will Moffett with Upfund.io which is a unique crowd-sourced inventory solution and I find it very interesting. We're going to talk and dig into that but I always like to start kind of where you came from, your origin story Will. And so let's start at the very beginning - where were you born?
8:46 (Will talks about his origin story.)
Will: So I was born in Oakland, California.
Steve: So are there any natural tendencies towards the local sports teams? Are you open on the sports front?
Will: Well I used to be really into sports, 49ers, and until I started business then I didn't have any time to watch sports anymore.
Steve: Isn’t that funny. Me too. I used to be a big Dallas Cowboys fan as a grown up, as a kid, and even a young adult but I haven't watched a game of any kind in a long long time because I just don't have the time.
Will: Yes we're trying to buy a football team right?
Steve: That's right. Honestly it can be more fun keeping score on our own game than watching somebody else try to make points. So how about your parents? What did your parents do? Were they entrepreneurs or some other trades?
Will: So I grew up in a single family household. My mother, she did job to job you know. It was pretty tough for you know my mom back back then as I'm an adult now and I have my own family and children I understand how much she did for me and how much she had to go through to keep me on the right path. So yes she worked in the medical field and my dad he was on the other side of the railroad track, so he was doing other things but he is now a very great man. He is on the right side of the railroad tracks.
Steve: That's good.
Will: So my mom right now, these days they're doing wonderful, my mom and dad. They’re such a blessing to me, great people but yes they they were able to to put some good values into me. I didn't have everything I wanted you know as a child, didn't have much money but it's what made me the hungry, humble and driven person that I am today.
Steve: Yes, I love that and I think that's a good lesson for all Awesomers out there. It doesn't matter you know kind of what you come up with and there's a whole difference between wants and needs right. Clearly you didn't starve to death so you know you got on the other side of it. You know the values and the accomplishments that you've made I think it's reasonable to give a shout out to that upbringing and you know how it got you here. So I think that's very good. Any siblings - any brothers and sisters for you?
Will: So I have one sister, she's ten. So my mother, father they're not married but he did marry a younger woman so I have a sister. She's awesome, she's an Awesome and so me and my sister, and I have two kids and a beautiful wife and they are what drives me everyday. Just you know to see their faces and be able to see them when I get home from work. It's just it's very inspiring.
Steve: Yes, for sure. You know we always talk about the kind of finding your why and of course there's the business why, but there's a personal why which I feel you know a great amount of effort should go into whereas I think a lot of entrepreneurs and Awesomers get sidetracked with this idea that well my why is less important. I just need to buckle down, I need to carry the heavy load. But really when you get your why and you know that it's much more attuned to you know kind of relationships and family and finding things that make you happy and although financial wealth can be instructive and instrumental to help some of those things, it's not the end goal. At least in my opinion. So I like where you're coming from there. How about University? Did you spend any time at university?
Will: Yes so I went to an HBCU Tuskegee University in Alabama okay so that was great. I was actually supposed to go to the military and I ended up getting accepted at the last minute. Funny because where I was raised, I didn't even consider college so it was just funny. I ended up running into a teacher said, “Oh you should apply to some colleges down south.” And I was like, “What? I've never heard of it.” The HBCU is a historically black college so it was founded by Dr. Booker T. Washington.
Steve: So, historical reference…
Will: Yes, 1881 was when the school was built and so my applied system schools down south and I just you know I got some letters back and I said, “Hey mom, I'm not in the military anymore. I'm going to college.” I was like the only person in my family to go to college so you know nobody really talked to me about college though it was just something that I was able to explore and that’s what's so cool, that you know, wherever we are in life, you know at whatever stage, as long as we are able to listen to other people talk - if I heard somebody talk about college, you know nobody talked to me about college but I heard about it right. It calls me to act and apply, even though I haven't talked to anybody about it right. It's the same thing as what we do in business right. I learned about Amazon because I was talking to somebody and they said, someone said, “What is this Amazon thing?” and that's what made me act. It's these things in life that makes us you know, if we act on what we hear and we are exposed to, we can do you know, great things that we didn't know we could do.
Steve: I think that's really well said and you know one of the foundational differences kind of between my version of my nomenclature of an Awesomer and a normie, and I got no problem with normies. I love normies and many of my friends and family are normies, but they will listen and they may continue to want, they just don't act. And that's kind of one of the defining differences. If you don't act, you know you are the sum of your actions at the end of the day. And for all the people who say, “Gosh, I wish I had more of this or I need more of that or freedom, time, money, whatever it is - that it's really in the context of their actions, they probably are where they are because that you know they acted or they fail to act and it's, I don't know maybe a rude awakening for some people but that's just the way it is and it doesn't matter where you are, where you came from.
Will: The whole thing is though that today you guys you can turn that around today by just acting and not just acting randomly but acting with direction right, with a mentor or somebody with books or you know some type of wise counseling. Sometimes it's going to take a lot of figuring out but if you can get some assistance through knowledge or wisdom from some type of source, it helps ease, it makes the journey a little shorter.
Steve: Boy I think that's really sage wisdom. I hope everybody's taking clear notes. You know, I have some friends and and I love them, they're great, we have a great time but they'll send me internet memes all day long right. And oh hey, that's hilarious that's really funny. I rarely even have time to get through them all but it's like, gosh I wonder how much time you spent on you know learning a new skill or trying to develop some particular direction you know in your life versus sending me these funny memes all day. And then believe me these cats are funny, I got no love lost for the cats, they're amazing but it's not a super revenue producer and it's not even a freedom producer. I think very wise wisdom from you. So how did you like your university experience and what did you study? What was your specialty?
Will: I loved it. I first went for aerospace engineering and found out that math wasn't my strong point, except for money, but so I decided to go into business and when I went into business I was able to do some cool things. I was able to purchase my first home while I was in college and and I was able to you know, I sold things, I started a photography business. Actually I didn't do the photography but I had a photographer and handled the money. It was always hard for me to sit in a classroom and learn about something without physically doing it. So if I took a real estate class, I figured out how to buy a real estate. You know, I picked up the phone and called somebody that I felt knew real estate or they may have been a millionaire in real estate and I say, “Hey you know I'm in college. Can you help me buy a property?” I mean within two weeks I bought a property and so that's really what it is guys. It's you know you want something, you just go and get it and there's going to be bumps, there's going to be a lot of nose, but you know it's a numbers game. You know you call 200 people, you know you might get three people and out of those three people one person falls through. That's what you're looking. It's no easy way out.
Steve: Yes, I love that. Our natural wiring as humans I suppose is to look for the easy button, to look for that silver bullet but they really don't exist you know. And even the things that I feel the luckiest and the more fortunate to have experienced are usually the culmination of a bunch of other things that have happened over time in particular relationships and things that we've you know kind of put equity into overtime, relationship, equity often pay so I love that. Did you ever have a proper first job? You know or some job out of college that you look back on and go wow that was a good time?
18:10 (Will shares his first job at a water park in California.)
Will: Yes, at fifteen my first job was at a water park called Waterworld here in California and I was I was handling a garbage, I was the trash man. I just walked around all day and deal trash but you know I took pride in it and I went every day and I was the best trash man I could be.
Steve: Besides the potential for Kevin Costner and the Waterworld guys to come out the water park I loved that job because it reminds me of one of my favorite stories that I used to describe Awesomers even though Awesomers in my world are often entrepreneurs just because that's the world I hang out in. Awesomers come in every you know walk of life and it was John F Kennedy he was touring the the Kennedy Space Center, it wasn't called Kennedy Space Center at the time by the way, but he's down in in the area, they're launching the you know all the rockets up and getting ready to go to the moon and so forth and he just sees this janitor and he's just hustling man, this guy's hustling. He's mopping the floor and he comes up to him he says, “Hey you know I see you're working your tail off here. What's your job? What's your key function?” He's like, “Hey man, I'm putting a man on the moon.” The vision and that guy's an Awesomer in every possible way because he saw the big picture vision. So it really is you know, whatever you're going to do, do the best that you can do at it and you'll always come out ahead. I love that first story. Not my first job, but my most recent proper job, I was a janitor while I was in college and I also took out in the trash but I had other duties as well. So your specialization I respect.
Will: What's cool about that, what I learned is that, you know I didn't like it and I didn't want to do it but there is something that I learned about myself is, I had this thing with endurance right. I can handle anything. It's summertime, it’s hot, I'm dealing with trash. There are beautiful women out. I'm a teenager, nobody wants to be... you know but it was the whole thing of learning right. I learned that I never want to do that again. I learned that I would do anything to never go back but you know it's those things where you know we find out what we don't want by exploring a lot of different things right and when we keep eliminating what we don't want, we start moving into things that we do want which creates you know our ideal situation.
Steve: Yes, that is very well said. So anybody who's ever joined the Awesomers.com little mailing list where we just send out free stuff from time to time, that the why process goes through this idea of identifying what you don't want in your life right. That's the first step to figure out what you do want. You say, hey I don't want this in my life and then you figure out your barriers or obstacles to eliminating those things from your life and then you overcome those. It's a smart thing and actually my first business after I dropped out of college because I was too poor was to partner up with a guy in a janitorial company. So I kind of knew what I was doing from a technician standpoint and then I just do it, went a little deeper and decided to buy half the company.
Will: So there you go, that's how you do it.
Steve: Yes, it was fun but I still was happy to exit that company, you know decades ago. So let me say, so the other question I had is you know, was there a defining moment kind of along your path from that point either you know being the trash guy or being in college to now where you said when this switch happened you know things kind of started going my way? Anything you can think?
21:55 (Will lets us in on one of his life’s defining moments.)
Will: The switch happened and was when I had my first child. I was an entrepreneur and when I was dating my wife she always knew I’m an entrepreneur and you know it's one of those things where it's like, “Hey babe, support my dream” or like you know I'm always on some new random thing, I'm trying to do something and my parents was like, “Why don't you just get a job?” My grandmother she worked all her life, “You need a real job.” You know everybody's telling me and I'm like I just can't. Like I try and not quit because I got some new business idea like one day I had an idea to have a funnel cake shot and I worked that Sherman, Sherman Williams paint and like I had an idea and quit the same day but I opened the shop. I opened the shop and I quit the same day. But I opened the shop and that's how aggressive I am. So it's just this hill right, up and down, peaks you know - low lows, high valleys and like this right. There was never any consistency up right until finally you my wife was pregnant and she said, “You know what are you going to do? You can't keep doing this right? You know because now I'm involved and you know you're sending us up and down like a yo-yo” and I said, “Okay I'll quit.” I said I'll quit, I'll go get a job. I'll be normal 9 to 5 and and we'll just ride off into the sunset I guess but something was weird about it right. I still was uncomfortable because I knew it's not me but I was willing to make that sacrifice for my wife and I didn't want my kids to have to go through those things right. I ended up talking to a friend and my friend was like, “Oh my brother is making $50,000 a month on Amazon” and I said “Really, what is he doing?” And you know he was just like, “He's doing like retail arbitrage, he's going to Costco and he's closing stores and buying stuff from Amazon.” I was like huh and I'm thinking in my background my wife you know and I'm like “Yes, I'm not going to do this anymore.” And I said okay this is my last chance and so I didn't tell my wife I took out like a loan. I took out like a small three thousand dollar loan, I think from Lending Club and I did a private label product which now I probably you know like dude I was making some big chances. It'll become a success my first product, like literally within a month and a half, I was like at 40k net because my product price was only three dollars and I was selling it for $34. My profit margins were crazy. You know this doesn't normally happen Steve. Your first product you know you usually got to fill a lot. It's a numbers game right. You got to run through a lot of products, test them all just to finally get a product and when you gotta get it, it's a lot of optimization then with competition and all these different things just to get it profitable. And it just happened and that's how I knew it was nothing but God because if it didn't work, if my mom wouldn't, my wife would have killed me. So I told my wife. It started to succeed and then that's when I got my partner. I told my partner because I first I messaged him like when I first had my baby I was like, “Is there any way, I took out this loan I got 3,000 bucks, how can I flip this? How can I flip this in the you know in a month or two or whatever?” And he’s like, “That's what everybody's looking for.” And then that’s when I found out Amazon and I told him about it. He was like, wow, you know and then he jumped in and then that's when my company started growing. But that was it right when I was about to fail, my last opportunity, I gave myself a chance.
Steve: I love that defining moment and I love the fact that it's so much of that story is interwoven with relationships right. Relationship between your wife and yourself, the relationship between you and your new baby, the relationship between your partner and whomever else mentioned that their friend was selling on Amazon. All of those were relational but again I think one of the defining characteristics of an entrepreneur is the idea that you know persistence pays. That you know there's hope around the corner and that you're willing to put the puzzle together and this is a big deal to be that too many especially younger entrepreneurs and I'm not speaking of age, I'm speaking of experience. When you're just starting out in business, when you're just starting on your own, you kind of wish somebody else to just show you show up and tell you how to do everything. But that's not actually what teaches you right and to quote the old, I think it's some biblical kind of reference, but you know you feed a man a fish you eat for a day, you teach a man how to fish, you eat for a lifetime. And that's the point of what Awesomer is and entrepreneurs are able to flip the script on. No, I don't want to eat for a day. I want to eat for a lifetime. To be sustainable and I want to develop a lifestyle of freedom or you know whatever your objectives are so I love that. What a great defining moment.
Will: And it's so important Steve I mean this whole, so our success depends on experiences right. Nobody can tell you anything to make you successful. You can give me all the private label products ideas I want. You can say, “Will here's a successful private label product. I want you to have it. It’s successful for me.” And I may not be able to make that private label product successful. It's all about, it's a deeper experience and you know it's just that you guys, everybody has to just keep trying different things. Try harder, try a different way, try to go around, try to ask somebody you know like when I first was wondered at a situation with my wife and trying to figure out what I was going to do, I was reading my Bible and like spirit said, “Seek and ye shall find.” And I was like “Seek and you shall find? I need an answer!” Like I don't got time for this stuff. So I was on a mission and I seeked and that's how I talked to my friend. I was asking people things like this, what's going on here, and calling people up. I'm looking on the Internet, I'm seeking, seeking, seeking and things were coming to me and I was actually going to create a finance interesting enough, I was going to create a finance company, finance brokerage company where I was just going to pretty much resell finance from a commercial lender. Just resell it for a commission and that's when I was like physically building and then when Amazon thing came up. So seek and you shall find, it's the experiences you know and even if you did come upon money, if you don't have experience with handling money, you will lose it. I know my friend always told me like when I came into Amazon, it was just a lot of money. He told me you know when I first started, he's like you know, if you're a billionaire live like a millionaire. If you're a millionaire live like a thousand-aire. Well if you're a thousand-aire you probably should be living well under your… But it's the experiences right, because I still didn't get it even though somebody told me that right. So you know you're getting this money dumped into your account, what do you go do? What does a broke person do? They go buy a nice car right. They go get the biggest this and the biggest that right. Well you're not so much of a thousand-aire, a millionaire anymore. You got bills right and then you know these bumps on the roads come, you know Amazon's algorithm slaps you upside the head so you know it's just experiences and the only thing I can say guys is just you know experience as much as you can. Force yourself to experience. Always be open, never close the door and enjoy the journey, it’s a hard journey but enjoy it because you can literally do whatever you want.
Steve: It is quite a literal fact that you can do whatever you want and that if you don't enjoy the journey, then you're going to have you know, I got a spoiler alert coming, our destination you know six feet under and regardless of afterlife or not on this earth there's coming to an end. Why not enjoy the journey and you can engineer the journey to make it enjoyable along the way as well. Clearly lessons are baked in there, a lot of good stuff. Do you have a best day? Maybe professional life, best day that you’re like, “Man when this happened, I achieved this particular milestone. I did a little victory lap.”
30:00 (Will talks about the best day in his professional life.)
Will: I would have to say besides you know Amazon that was a huge victory, I guess maybe when my wife quit her job and she was able to quit her job.
Steve: And this was a result of you being able to generate enough. Take care for the whole family right.
Will: Exactly and she doesn't have to work anymore and she was able to stay home with the kids and that was huge for her and it was huge for me. A lot of pressure, no pressure guys. But that's a lot of pressure. So what it taught me is that you know her values is to train our kids, you know she wants to be there for them, she wants to train them and mold them herself right from great little people to great you know adults. And my job is to facilitate that however I can so if I'm lacking, it's a challenge to me you know as a husband, as a father to make sure I make their dreams come true. So that is what drives me to keep creating new experiences, to keep seeking and finding, to make it to a new level you know keep growing new levels.
Steve: Yes, I definitely like that. So how about you know over time you know because you've gone from that genesis of the idea on Amazon into kind of a probably topsy-turvy world of Amazon. And then you've gone into the fine tech space, FinTech, I suppose they call it financial technology. Was there ever a time between when you are like “Wow this is a real thing!” Now are you like, “Oh this is too much for me. I got to give up. I want to walk away. I'm going to go whatever you know, maybe go back to the trashman job, whatever it is.” Is there a time you said this is too much for me, I want to walk away?
Will: It's always too much. That's the thing. When you're in business, I've never experienced, well okay I've experienced times when things got easy, but around the corner there's something hard coming right. Our job as entrepreneurs you know we get paid to solve problems you know that's what we do our job isn't an easy road. If it's too easy then you're probably not doing something right or you're not growing. Something's wrong or something's about to die, maybe a business, so our ability to earn is all about our ability to solve problems. I have a problem every day. As soon as I wake up, you know it's a phone call or email or something I have to fix right. I'm a problem solver. I've accepted it and there's nothing that can happen to make me feel sad, there's nothing that can happen. I've been to the worst places in business okay so there's nothing that can happen to make me say, “Oh man I'm a failure,” or this or that. No, it happens. All I know is that sometimes business work, sometimes it doesn't. It was going to be a hard time coming around the corner, I need a solution for every phase. If it doesn't work, I need a pick golden parachute. This is real. Everything is strategy, t's like if you think about the show Game of Thrones or something right, this is real that's what business is. It's literally chess pieces and you always know somebody's trying to take your money, somebody's trying to dominate your company, somebody's trying to move in and somebody’s trying to do something even if it's on Amazon, somebody's trying to take over your product, somebody's trying to do something weird and all it is is chess pieces. So the sooner you realize that you know there's opposition every day that's after you, the clearer you can understand how sharp you have to be. And if you can just remember that I have to be sharp, I have to be honest, I have to be honest every day right there's nobody else that can do it but you. You know you think you can outsource it, you can outsource it but you better be watching that person that you're outsourcing to right because something they're doing something wrong. You know they could be doing something right but who knows it's your business. If something goes wrong, it falls back on you. It's your family that's going to feel that pain. So yes everyday I feel that but it's something that I'm conditioned for right. I'm conditioned to solve problems so to me it's fun now right because every day I know that I have something new to do, a new challenge, a new problem to solve and because I'm able to solve problems it's a new opportunity to make more money.
Steve: Yes for sure. I think that's very well said again. That the fact that you know the entrepreneurs job, to kind of rephrase what you said, is essentially just to solve problems all day. I mean honestly if there weren't problems, then we don't add much value right. If somebody could just you know, oh I sent three thousand bucks to this guy in China and they send a product and then Amazon sends you a check for 40 grand, everybody would do that right. And there's nothing to that, if we don't figure out a way to add value which is overcoming challenges and obstacles. And it reminds me of a Thomas Edison quote, I'll paraphrase the best I can, but it's like you know, “I didn't fail. I just tried 10,000 ways it didn't work and then I found the way to make the light bulb.” And so if if each of us go well, I tried this and it didn't work, so I'm a failure. Or this idea is no good and you walk away, you're missing the point. The journey was that was one step and you've got to take more steps and you've got to tweak and adjust and pivot and do whatever you got to do. That’s how it works right. I mean there's just no way around it. You have to be persistent and you have to work through problems. I think that's really good advice and the recognition that you know it can be challenging, it can be difficult and when problems come up and lightning bolts always strike that there's there's you know, you may get some time period that you don't get a lightning bolt but they're coming and you know you won't like it. It's an unwelcome surprise.
Will: I mean growth is a lightning bolt. I mean your success is a lightning bolt. You think you're going to be a millionaire or billionaire is going to get easy? It's going to be harder. You got more people to manage, you got a particular finances, you gotta make sure you're growing, nobody's still in front, you gotta... you know it gets harder. You got family asking you for money. How you going to deal with that? How you can tell them no, you're going to tell them yes? More success brings on more responsibility so accept it now and do it.
Steve: I don't remember who the great philosopher was, perhaps it was Shakespeare but he said something to the effect of, “Mo Money, Mo problems.” And I'm pretty sure that that is absolute truth. Having been on quite a path in my time, over my 30 years in business, I've seen all kinds of you know, kinds of ups and downs and all the pluses and minuses that go along with each of those valleys and peaks.
Will: I’m trying to be like you Steve.
Steve: I could tell you some stories, it would make your skin crawl and then I would say, it's still worth it. Before we take a break, we’ll talk a little bit more after the break about kind of Will’s future predictions where he sees things going not just with the FinTech piece but also Amazon, may be a larger E-commerce in general but we're also going to talk you know about his company a little bit and make sure that people understand how that thing works. And maybe I'll share some experiences I've had with it. But before we do that, do you have a favorite tool or an app or process or something you use day to day that you like cannot live without?
39:05 (Will recommends books he can’t live without.)
Will: That I cannot live without? I would have to say probably I think might be best to recommend books because the knowledge that I've obtained, I can't live without and a lot of that knowledge allowed me to find everything else. So books that I recommend, some books that I read guys, number one - the Bible. I love proverbs, of course the Lean Startup, a lot of people read that. But if you guys are Amazon sellers, the Lean Startup actually can fit into any category whether it's Amazon and you know the Lean Startup for launching products is awesome right. You know you just read that book and just think Amazon right, bow, you're done. I also like The Richest man in Babylon, the 10x Rule, The 4-hour Workweek. Keep that in context guys. The E-myth Revisited, The Blue Ecean Strategy, The Compound Effect and Primal Branding. Those are some of my favorite books. As you obtain knowledge from friends and knowledge from books, things, you're able to put these things together and so when you have experience, you you have these things archived and it's like, “Oh I remember when I read that book.” And I put it in and my friend told me this and you can make a wise decision.
Steve: That's a really good list. In our show notes everybody, as always, at the top and at the bottom of the show, we'll announce the link that you go to grab this episode and we'll put all the contact info and every waye to find Will and this company and we'll also try to get those books in there. A number of those books I've read but I really do agree with Will’s premise that you know all you're doing is you're gathering a bunch of breadcrumbs. When you read these books and when you listen to the podcast or any other knowledge, method of trying to gain knowledge, you're putting all these breadcrumbs together and later you're going to figure out the pattern of the trail they take you to and sometimes the books will make sense years later. And you're like hang on, I remember this. And you may even dig that thing back out and kind of go through it again to freshen up but so many times these lessons are not necessarily meted but they do I think in aggregate generate knowledge or equity as I like to say. So we're going to be right back after this everybody and we're going to again talk about Will’s future predictions and so you're not going to want to miss up.
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Steve: Okay back again everybody. Steve Simonson here talking about the Awesomers.com podcast topic of the day and we've got our special guest Will Moffett with us and we're talking about all kinds of things; Will’s origin story as well as his company and I want to talk a little bit about kind of how Upfind.io works well because I do think that it's a common problem especially for entrepreneurs who are trying to grow quickly you know. Success can be an obstacle right. Success can hamper you because cash flow is king and you know when you're trying to figure out, most of the the startup entrepreneurs don't understand how to get terms from the Chinese companies, they don’t understand how to negotiate you know either lines of credit, you know inventory lines of credit or other things when the things arrive so they're dealing really on a hand-to-mouth cash basis which can be very very problematic. So how have you guys, I know how you identified the problem because you lived it but how have you gone about trying to solve it?
Will: So what we found is that you know with a private label, the lead time and shipping time is just the killer. You know it just sucks. You're throwing I mean especially if you have a successful product, I mean you're ordering 10,000 units or something a fast mover you know. I mean you're talking about $100,000 order right you got to cough up 30% of that and then it's like you gotta wait 60 days or so and then you better hope you still have inventory to keep that thing move once they get in because if not you're going to have to cough up some more money to get that product moving again. Or lower your prices to get you know, whatever it is you're going to be losing money if you run out of inventory. So with that, we created the system to where you won't have any payments during your lead time and shipping time. You can adjust these times if you're a wholesale or a private labeler or whatever strategy you have. You can kind of create a timeline to where you know you can kind of arrange your finances in the proper way to where you're only paying when that product sells and and that's pretty much the concept of it. Another concept that we have is we like to talk and educate people on staying out the debt trap and it's so easy to get in debt with Amazon and a lot of people don't understand how you can easily get into debt you know. I mean having a failed product or if you're always running out of inventory and you have to know relaunch every two months. That could kill your business. Or if you're out of stock for say two months, you just blew, you could have made 15 grand right or 20 grand you know. It's a whole bunch of little things that people don't understand like not calculating your profit margins and you know it's just so many ways you can lose money. And we like to educate people on on how to properly structure your finances and so we actually have a very aggressive payback schedule. You know we generally like people to pay back within 5.5to 6 months if their structure and their finances are right. They should be able to because what we found ends up happening and if you can control this yourself then kudos right but a lot of people just don't. You take out a loan, 50 grand, 100 or whatever you're paying back the normal scheduled payments as soon as you take it out. Your product is out to sea, it's in China and it's coming to the US right. Your money is not working for you then prime day comes. You didn't pay that money back, You got to get more money because you got some money tied up right. So now you actually just doubled your interest all right and then if you don't pay that back fast, Christmas is coming up - hey you you just tripled your interest! And it's just smart to kind of just keep it clean right. You know if you can and this all about how you do business and how you structure your finances in your situation, you just have to figure it out. Everybody's different, everybody has different strategies but you know we believe in and we learned this because one time we got in really bad debt. And we took Amazon lending and they gave us just this large chunk of money but something ended up, this is a long time ago, something happened with the product or I think we started getting into tech and we stopped worrying about Amazon. We’re like, “Oh we're going to quit Amazon” or whatever. And you know I wouldn't look at Amazon for maybe a week or two which is horrible guys. Don't ever not focus on your Amazon business or competition will eat you alive. And so eventually our products was just dying, they were dead and we still had this Amazon loan and we were actually paying out this loan and just paying off the loan right. It wasn't even really selling and so you know, we got to be careful of those things.
Steve: It's a really good you know lesson that there are so many ways you can kind of compound your jeopardy I suppose right. It's like I'm okay about taking risk and I think we should be smart about risk but the reality is the more that you kind of double down, triple down on you know the next loan, the next big event - you're always floating this bigger chunk of money. And I will say that you know in some cases, it's better to just grow a little slower and just you know kind of have a pace and a patience about the growth strategy. One of the things I like about how you guys have done it is you basically have some, I won't describe your technology but as I understand it, a seller can go to you and say, “Hey, here's my Amazon account.” And they give you some kind of credentials that allows you to verify their account. They say, :”I'm looking for this much money to launch a product or replenish your product.” Or whatever. And you guys do some kind of work in the background to make sure that that's a reasonable deal for the marketplace. Is that discussion right? Maybe you can fill in some blanks?
Will: Exactly. We understand when somebody's overreaching right. Or they are just compounding debt or whatever it is. Or just like what they want is not reasonable for growth. So our system based upon our experience, we built the algorithm that will understand what they actually need to grow. And if they don't fit our system, they don't fit our system right. But we have a great track record for funding successful sellers and the people who are not so successful you know generally they don't make it with us. Or it might be somebody that looked good and then you know we may not have been able to fund them and then you see later on their business is gone. It's pretty cool that my partners, they were able to build something special. I wish I could, maybe I should educate people more on the importance of like what we do and how we do it. The people who use us frequently they understand but some people you know they email us and you know it's like well, “You know I don't get this.” And it's simple - we're all about you know not racking up a bunch of debt and in growing, being successful and just making sure we stay in business. We, I mean both you as a seller and as a company.
Steve: Of course long-term, it doesn't help you to see sellers go out of business. You want them to come back and so you know I always like to draw the the delineation between simple and easy right. It is simple, the concept and the premise and the way you guys execute it is extraordinarily simple. I think very well done so kudos to you and the team. I've been in as an investor to their side and through some money and a series of projects and then I watched how you know all those came back over time and I think you guys have a very high ratio of you know loans. You know, loan to pay back. You do share any of those types of stats or how's that way?
Will: Yes, so it's not considered a loan. It's really considered, it's a consignment deal with investors. So we had to have a crowd of investors and they all invest in Amazon sellers. Nobody knows your product, there's no information about you to the public. It's all you know the investors trust the fund, that we're picking the right Amazon sellers to fund. I'm sorry Steve in your question…
Steve: No, you're on the right track. So that we are leading towards the idea that it's not a loan, it's a consignment deal. And that you guys have put this technology in place that helps qualify but it really is to me it's like what's the rate of payback? I mean you know how big is the fail rate? Because I could tell you some Bank stories that make you you know go nuts.
Will: Actually right now, 0.66.
Steve: That's amazing.
Will: We have to stay on top. Like that's the thing. We're still in start-up mode right. We see when something's coming and we put out the fire like I'm the solution guy remember? Guys like fires every day but but because of that we're able to you know keep the company nice and steady in and out of growth and so in our underwriting process, you know we're able to see who are the clear winners and who may not fit our model.
Steve: I think that makes perfect sense. We'll probably have Will on again in the future and we'll do an Awesomer authority piece where we kind of dive into some of the details but I just wanted from my perspective just share that if you're a seller and you feel that you're constrained by cash then it hooves you, it doesn't hurt you to go check it out and see if you qualify. See if it makes sense to you because the premise is you know whatever amount of money that is raised for this consignment inventory is paid back as the product sells so there's a cash flow centric and cash flow friendly methodology to the payback which makes investors say, “Okay well you know given the high rate of pay back and the reasonable interest rates, you know maybe I should take the risk.” And maybe my understanding is correct, maybe it's not, but I think you have more deal flow, is that fair to say?
Will: Well it goes up and down, back and forth but we have a lot of investors. Yes, we have a lot of investors and it just goes back and forth. One minute we have to find more investors, one minute we have to find more sellers. But we're generally always investor heavy. It's just a lot of people in the world with money. It's interesting, before I started this company, I didn't understand so many people had money. I mean guys I think that it’s just important for all of us to understand, to always look at maybe our life in our
situation. There's a big world out there. With a lot of things going on and there's a lot of opportunity and we just got to grab a little bit.
Steve: Often, I would tell people, stop buying things with your own wallet right. And I learned a lesson very early on about you know trying to buy things with my own wallet. I had a custom carpet store after the janitorial company, it evolved into a flooring company and a carpet store. I had a guy came and he says, “Hey, I'm looking for carpet for my whole house and I had just gone through this showroom.” I just bought it from a guy and I'm like these prices are way too high. This is you know, I'm embarrassed to even see these prices but I didn't have time to change him and so I'm showing the guy the carpet. He's like, “I kind of like this.” And in my mind I'm feeling guilty. I'm like nobody can afford this because I can't afford it. So he ends up, “Yes I love this. I want this for my whole house.” And it was like a ten thousand dollar carpet job which was like probably more than I made in a year at that time right because I was just hustling and so already the lesson was being learned, like oh maybe people can afford this. And then he goes, “Oh by the way, I've got my rental house next door. Let's do that whole house.” Great, so my mind is completely blown and never again will I buy anything with my own wallet no matter how big that wallet is or how small it is. Somebody else has a bigger wallet than me. I love you know all this time you've been able to spend with me today. Well I really appreciate it. Before we go, I'd love to hear any predictions you have about whether it's Amazon or the FinTech space or just in E-commerce in general. Anything you wish to share with Awesomers out there?
Will: What? Oh my goodness I can go on and on so I guess I'll just start with Upfund. With Upfund, we have heard you guys out there. We understand and we know that a lot of international sellers have issues with funding money and we've been trying to crack this code for a while. We do have some ideas that can securely fund the whole entire... You know the E-commerce industry is a two trillion dollar industry right. That's far bigger than just the US alone so do the regulations and laws and things a lot of people and just risk. You know a lot of people aren't able to go international across borders but there's some pretty savvy ways out there that it can happen. So we're working on some cool ways to facilitate the world, so that's been on Upfund’s mind. As far as E-commerce, Amazon, that's not going anywhere. Amazon is here to stay. There's always going to be opportunity, whether you have a Shopify website, whether you sell on Amazon, whether you sell on eBay. Wherever you sell, there's always opportunity. Adapt, grow and make it work. There's always going to be adversity. There's always going to be challenges. It's always going to get tighter and tighter every year but that's what making money is all about - finding solutions right. So I think that I have nothing you know, specifically to say about E-commerce but there's opportunity for everyone. You got to figure it out. Talk to guys like Steve.
Steve: Well again sage wisdom delivered by Will right there. Talk to Steve. I will say this for those Awesomers out there listening. As always the Empowere E-commerce cooperative is something where I put a lot of energy into as a non-profit member on cooperative. Anything that I ever do where people are like, “Hey you have an affiliate this or have an affiliate that.” I don't do any of that stuff personally. Anything and everything goes to this nonprofit member-owned cooperative and there are solutions in the making for inventory financing once you have the product inside the building you know, inside a third-party warehouse or your own warehouse potentially. There are solutions being developed to help people source products with terms as long as the orders are sufficient sizes. Writing terms for a two thousand dollar starting orders are not super efficient because the paperwork involved in these types of things. But as they get bigger, we really want to see you know multiple bites at the apple right. Helping people establish terms and understanding how things work in China better and then helping them you know get bridge funding in whatever format, the crowdfunding for example that I love from Upfund. And then even tail financing, that you know could be for your ongoing inventory that you're holding stock on. In many cases in my past, we've been able to turn that into a bankable asset and the key is, and we'll talk about this earlier, the traditional banks are worthless when it comes to helping entrepreneurs of this size and of this nature right. They just are not going to help you. The time, their understanding, every part equals ignorance. There's just no way they're going to get there, certainly not in a compelling, systemic, large sustainable way. But I think other people who are using technology to help solve this and that includes guys like Will and others like him that are able to say you know what if we put these you know barriers in place to try to make you know keep out the riff raff and we you know try to push towards success and educate people ,we're going to have more successful positive outcomes and that's what we all want. We all just want positive outcomes.
Will: That's right. I love it.
Steve: Alright. Will, listen. Any final words of wisdom for our game?
59.40 (Will shares his final words of wisdom to Awesomers.)
Will: Yes, guys just go out there and get it. You know like Steve was saying earlier ultimately, look 100 years from now, we won't be here. Hundred and thirty years from now, we won't be here so while we are here, make the best of it. Let's do something big. Just something great. Get out of your comfort zone. This world has so many cool things going on. So many people are doing cool things right. And you're capable and if you don't believe you can do it, find somebody who can and see if you can help them right. Just think about what you want and go for it right. You might fail. Most people do but keep going. I promise you, if you never quit, at some point you're going to succeed right It's a numbers game, it's a time game, experience game. It's all about finding solutions and the only time things are going to be easy is, like my friend said, the only time things are going to get easy is if you just quit. File bankruptcy and just go do nothing. Go sit on the corner, you know become a bum or something right. That's the only time it's going to get easy for you right. I believe that there's something for everybody so we just have to figure it out.
Steve: I definitely agree with you Will. I also believe in the world of abundance. There's something out there for everybody. You just have to make your path and like what I said earlier, just act. Just go. Just do something and that numbers game will eventually catch up to you in the right way. You'll find your hook. Awesomers out there listening, we will be right back after this.
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Steve: This is another great example. After you know speaking with Will and learning more about his origin story to really reflect on the idea that you know Awesomers origin stories are just so different right. Everybody's got their own background, their own place that came from their own challenges. But really any of us that just take a moment and you know listen, we can identify and go, “Oh man, that's pretty tough stuff. I had something similar.” Or you know I think it was a lot easier. However you decide to internalize and listen to these origin stories my hope is that you will reflect that. So often challenges are going to come up and Awesomers just don't stop. They're persistent, they just keep going and Will's a great example of that because you know he's always on the the front edge of trying to figure out what's next. And using his, you know financial tech company to try to build a way to help sellers overcome a standard problem, what another great example of that Amazon ecosystem dropping out yet another business model, another type of business. They were able to apply a very unique concept which is kind of financial crowdfunding with a very common problem. Which is getting enough stock to buy your product on Amazon. And by putting controls and systems in place and really be able to put something unique together. So to find all the show notes, all the relevant links, things like that - go to Awesomers.com/31 and the reason why? This was Awesomers episode number 31. Awesomers.com/31 to find all the show notes. It's right there for you.
Well, we've done it again everybody. We have another episode of the Awesomers podcast ready for the world. Thank you for joining us and we hope that you've enjoyed our program today. Now is a good time to take a moment to subscribe, like and share this podcast. Heck you can even leave a review if you wanted. Awesomers around you will appreciate your help. It's only with your participation and sharing that we'll be able to achieve our goals. Our success is literally in your hands. Thank you again for joining us. We are at your service. Find out more about me, Steve Simonson, our guest, team and all the other Awesomers involved at Awesomers.com. Thank you again.