Ep. #1195 - Analyzing Your Amazon Spending
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, Andrew Morgans and Juha Mikkola, Founder of Usko Privacy, discuss analyzing your Amazon spending. Listen to Andrew and Juha talk about why Amazon sellers and consumers need to know and analyze their spending. They also discuss how Usko can help Amazon brands connect with their customers and build a lifetime relationship.
Covered In This Episode
Data is big business when you have the infrastructure with a market size of $2.6 billion in 2022. Big companies can monetize their customer data to make better decisions or retail it to partners or clients. Usko Privacy provides the platform to regular folks so they can get a slice of the pie.
Join the conversation between Andrew and Juha as they talk about living off the grid and sports to break the ice. Juha recounts his journey leading up to building Usko Privacy and the company’s raison d’etre.
They discuss Usko Privacy’s unique value proposition for sellers and buyers, highlighting the importance of analyzing your Amazon spending. Juha describes interactions on Usko and how people can join the community and monetize their data. Finally, Juha reveals what he’s looking forward to personally and professionally.
Start monetizing your data today! Find out how by listening to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- Living off the grid off the island (0:50)
- The Messi effect in Miami (2:50)
- Juha’s journey (6:18)
- Building Usko Privacy (13:20)
- Tracking your Amazon spending (15:40)
- What Usko offers to both the sellers and buyers (17:17)
- Connecting to your customers (23:37)
- Interactions on Usko (26:58)
- How can buyers and sellers join Usko (28:48)
- What is Juha’s excited about, both professionally and personally (34:11)
- Where to contact Juha and Usko (39:50)
- AMZ Innovate in New York (41:00)
The journey I’m on now is building Usko. We’re doing two things: we’re building a marketplace, basically. So on one side, we want to help consumers better understand their Amazon spending to make smarter purchase decisions and make money from their data. On the flip side, this is all about allowing Amazon sellers to connect directly with their customers. So what’s really cool is that customers actually own that data.– Juha Mikkola
[The app] is a really cool opportunity for people that have opted in to be able to direct message them that they’ve purchased something in your wheelhouse or something close to your product and be able to just get in front of them with your offer. I think it provides immense value.– Andrew Morgans
It really is about creating a direct relationship with your customer. It’s something that we’ve kind of lost because of the way the Amazon marketplace is built. What you do right now is keep buying Amazon ads and other ads to stay in front of that customer over and over again. And if you stop for a second, someone else is going to pick up that slot. And the next time they have to rebuy your product, guess where they’re going? They’re going to your competitors.– Juha Mikkola
One of the reasons why we even built this thing is, I looked at my credit card statement, and looking at every spend. It’s just Amazon, Amazon, Amazon. What is this? What are we even buying? Is it clothing? Is it food? You know, and making any type of budget or decisions around that was very, very difficult. So if nothing else, even as a consumer, get the app and understand your spending better. It’s going to make you a smarter consumer and make your dollars go further.– Juha Mikkola
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 0:00
Hey, what’s up Hustlers? Welcome back. It’s Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology. Here’s today’s host of Startup Hustle. Today we’re going to be talking about analyzing your Amazon spending. I’ve got a great founder, as, as our guest today, a friend and colleague as well, who has been creating something absolutely revolutionary in the space and regardless of what it does and how it can help you either as a seller or a customer. It’s got multiple avenues to using the software. Before I introduce today’s guests, a shout-out to our sponsor, today’s episode of Startup Hustle is powered by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And has the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. And without further ado, Juha Mikkola, welcome to the show.
Juha Mikkola 0:48
Thank you. It is really exciting to be here. Thanks.
Andrew Morgans 0:50
Well, what? Welcome back to the US. I know you’re based out of Miami; that’s where we met. But I believe you’ve been in Finland for the last month or so. It’s a family kind of living off the grid.
Juha Mikkola 0:59
Yeah, it’s a very finished thing. So I mean, my background is pretty International. I was born in Finland, but my family lived in South Florida when I was a kid. So I had that kind of Florida experience growing up from kindergarten to fifth grade, you know, and then we moved back home to Finland. And I just love going back there. I got two young boys now, six and a four-year-old, and there’s nothing better than then taking them back to learn about the culture and see what it’s all about. And it’s literally off the grid. We’re in the archipelago, on an island that isn’t connected to electricity; got a couple of solar panels, some 5G for internet for the occasional video call, and then two saunas, wood-burning saunas. So that’s the most important thing for us.
Andrew Morgans 1:39
I love it. And it’s I think about having young young ones like in today’s world, you know, it’s tech. I don’t know how old you are. But I grew up playing outside, and there are video game consoles and PCs; like, my dad had one of the early computers, but really, that wasn’t such a huge part of our life. You know, there was even before caller ID, you know, you had to call a dad to talk to the girl and, you know, or just make plans like a week in advance. You’d know that on Wednesday at two o’clock, we’re hanging out. It wasn’t like getting a text at noon saying do you want to hang out at two o’clock, you know, and so, I bet it’s just amazing for the boys to just get experienced a little bit of life that’s different kind of like, you know, even we grew up even before that, but just seeing another way of living.
Juha Mikkola 2:22
Totally, I think it’s really important. And I mean, Miami is like the polar opposite of what we experienced for that one month in the summer. So it’s really nice for them to have that. And obviously, as a family hanging out a lot more. There’s no iPads, you know, we’re not on screens, and you’re just doing stuff outside, like whatever it might be fishing, you know, we made a little soccer pitch, you know, everybody’s excited about Messi down here. And now that it’s part of the Inter Miami team, so playing doing stuff, like I remember doing as a kid, and I think that’s really fun.
Andrew Morgans 2:50
That’s awesome. Speaking of Messi, a guy, my building friend, we moved into this building, where were Marknology offices, we moved into a kind of an uninhabited part of downtown Kansas City that they’re trying to revive. And so we really picked, we handpick the neighbors so as me, production company on floor to, my mentor in Full Scale on top three on, floor three floor two KC Words. And his company is doing the Apple TV show of Messi. No, like falling Messi like they’re doing that. So if you’re watching that kind of journey on Apple TV, it’s Casey, my friend from upstairs, so I’m pretty proud of him. Pretty proud of them and what they’re doing with that, and he’s been. I’ve just been following his journey. You are in and out of Miami doing everything.
Juha Mikkola 3:37
That’s great. That’s great. Yeah, and I haven’t run into Messi yet. But that’s the goal of everybody in Miami right now is figure out where he lives and go say what’s up, but he’s actually playing with a Fin people don’t realize that, like Robert Taylor is like scoring all those goals have the most nonfinished name, but this guy’s like apparently from Lapland like Northern Finland and I think a British dad and those two are just clicking so it’s cool to see that there’s a little Finnish connection on Inter Miami too.
Andrew Morgans 4:01
know that’s cool. I love it. I actually went to the first year. You guys got a team? I haven’t been like, you know, here in Kansas City. We have Sporting KC, but I actually went with Vanessa Hyung from Wizards of E-com. I was down there doing an event with Carlos. I think you’ve been on a show. Yeah, I love Carlos. That’s great. And they hosted me to have some free tickets. They took me to a Miami game. It was a beautiful stadium, beautiful branding and colors, you know, marketing guy. I’m just taking it all in.
Juha Mikkola 4:31
It’s awesome, right? Yeah.
Andrew Morgans 4:33
I just flew in from Alaska on a trip with my dad and kind of doing that nature thing too. And I went from kind of like they have like hard water there. And I flew into Miami, and then so I went from kind of like that temperature to Miami temperature in the summer, and we went to a game, and everyone was just like dripping. I mean, it was like it was a hot day they won. I think they hadn’t been winning a lot of games; this is maybe like two years ago. Yeah, no, no, they are. But I was there, and everyone was so pumped because it was the first one they had in a while. And I was like, I guess I brought the good luck. It was nice. It was quite the experience. So I’m sure now that Messi is down there. It’s a whole other experience, a lot of fun.
Juha Mikkola 5:17
Yeah, it sounds like you were the messy of that season. Because I looked at their record. Earlier today. I’m like, they did not win many games before he joined him. But no, yeah, it was losing streaks.
Andrew Morgans 5:25
Yeah, I was just like, well, this is so fun. This is new, this is, you know, and then they won. And it was just like, you know how it is. But I digress. I’m sure everybody, our listeners, wants to hear more about what we’re talking about in regard to Amazon spending and E-com. But, you know, no, it’s really nice to have you on the show, especially when it’s a friend. And knowing that we’re building something together is pretty cool. I haven’t shared that with our audience. But I’m hoping to today, and just kind of talk to them about what we’re doing and how it can affect and help them or affect what they’re doing. So let’s talk about before we just get into, you know, the software and what we’re building and talking about spending and how it can help. Talk about you a little bit. You talked about how you grew up. You know, how did you get into business? How did you know you wanted to be an entrepreneur or even get into this kind of field that we’re doing now? Talk to me about your journey a little bit. Going as far back as you’d like?
Juha Mikkola 6:18
Yeah, totally. I mean, I don’t remember ever not being an entrepreneur. So I think as a, as a kid, I kind of mentioned I had that upbringing, where you know, we’d come back to Florida, even after we had moved away. And I remember I filled up a suitcase, buying Matchbox cars and bringing them back to Finland and sold them to my friends because I realized there was an arbitrage where, you know. They were a little bit cheaper in the States, and we had new models and new color waves that they didn’t have back home. So I think I was always just thinking about that, like, hey, what could be a way to, you know, build a little bit of a business? And I think making money was part of it. But I also liked connecting with people, like, you know, when I figured out, like, Oh, this is someone’s favorite car, and this is what they collect and get to know them. You know, it was like, making money was a little part of it. But it’s kind of like that community, and figuring out learning more about people and kind of being able to help them was always really fun. So they guide that experience really early. And then I was really into a sport called floorball, which is like an indoor hockey that’s played professionally in four countries. And that was my first business. I actually already started a club for that in high school when I was back home in Finland. And then, moving to Canada and Toronto, which was my first kind of stop back in North America, I built a company promoting floorball in North America. And that was really cool. We built tournaments with thousands of players, we had televised games, we had hundreds of retailers selling the product at the end, but it was all like true, like, startup hustle. It was just driving a minivan across Canada from school to school, teaching kids how to play, and working with amazing teachers and coaches who are like, hey, we’ll incorporate this into our curriculums. And at the end of the day, we had, like, Hockey Canada on board, USA Hockey, but it took a long time to, like, get that going. And I think I just loved it; it was really, really fun to be building something new. And again, I think there was that element of community; it was like getting to know people, like traveling around the country, like I really loved all of that stuff. And I think there was a moment back in 2014, for me, where, you know, I had been doing it for a long time. And financially it was it was a difficult business, you know, we’re building a market from the ground up. And it wasn’t something that had a huge market; we did actually sell to Amazon in those early days, which is kind of neat. I remember them being one of our good customers, and they would order every product we had in order to stock it. That was loved it because we had some sticks that would sell for like 300 bucks. And I’m like, man, they’re buying even one of these ones. That’s good, you know, that’s a good margin for us. So that was maybe my first Amazon e-com sort of impression that I had. And then I decided, like, I gotta get into tech, like, this is where it’s at. I love this e-com store. I’m running, you know, how can I learn more about this and end up enrolling in a coding school? And this was 2014 when they were just starting; I was always kind of an early adopter and willing to take a risk because I’m like, let’s see what this thing is all about. And through that, you know, realize this is a great idea. Maybe we should start one of these schools, and my wife and I moved down to Miami to start Wyncode, which was the first coding school in the southeast. We were very fortunate, built that to over a thousand graduates, folks working, you know, from Facebook to Google, all the big tech companies. And we were one of the actually the first accredited, or the real world is like from the Florida Department of Education like actually having the rights to like run the school, which most of the other coding schools weren’t doing. And then, as we kind of built that, we got interest from other bigger players in the space, and we were acquired almost three years ago now by BrainStation, which is like the now, I think, the global number one in our space. So that was a cool journey. And then that sporting goods company I talked about, I sold that also along the way. So I was like, okay, I’ve done this a few times, and what’s next, you know, and I think that’s part of what we’re talking about today. But I think as a founder, it’s still it’s, it’s about that journey. But it’s like enjoying that step, whether it’s like the way beginning or getting to the point of exit. Like, there’s so many cool things along that journey that I’m just very fortunate to have been a part of, and it gives me a lot of energy.
Andrew Morgans 10:16
Like how you’ve come at it from multiple sides, you know, from a coding school, after having done it yourself. The E-commerce side of it, understanding like the sporting, and one thing I was thinking of when you were talking about that was the concept of demand generation versus demand capture. I definitely feel like whenever I started my journey in the Amazon industry, on the services side, I was doing demand generation, you know, talking to brands, businesses, and retailers about why they need to be on Amazon, the benefits of Amazon, how to do it. People didn’t weren’t just flocking to Amazon. If that makes sense. Customers were starting to get into it. But even there wasn’t even advertising when I started. So it just wasn’t like, I definitely think that Amazon becoming a major advertiser where people were spending their money, made it get on people’s radars, oh, people are spending money here. You know, different things like that. But at the beginning, man, I think I don’t think enough founders think about when they’re starting an idea or what they’re doing, if it’s in the demand generation, or the demand capture area, you know, because the demand generation is a whole nother ballgame. I mean, it’s amazing because you’re out in front, and you’re kind of doing your own thing, but convincing people about something, you know, is in educating them, there’s a whole lot more education into everything versus just like, we have the best software around to do this one thing that you’re already looking for, and here we are, you know, yeah, just a lot, a lot of different ways about going about it, it’s fun. And it definitely is a bug. Like, As for me, I was just always a hard worker, wanting to be the best at whatever I was doing. Parents were missionaries, and really entrepreneurs, I just wouldn’t have given them a title because, like, when it’s not around business, it’s like they were educated, they were teachers there, you know, that’s kind of how I think of them. But they often went into places that didn’t have what they had like, just like you guys did in Miami, and creative coding school, they would go in and create, you know, Christian schools, or English schools with Christian curriculum out of nothing. And I really realized that I had more of an example than I thought when it came down to, like, you know, just starting something and getting it going. But there’s just energy with that, when I found it, whenever I found e-commerce and started helping people on the side with their Amazon stores. For me, being able to help people pioneer something that no one else is doing or paying attention to finding new ways of doing it. And then the speed, like, you know, to get someone, let’s say you have a coding school in Miami. Probably the sale of getting someone to sign up and enroll and then be approved and then get their funding approved. And it’s a process; selling something on e-com is instantaneous. Yeah, can you know? Can it happen immediately? It’s so it’s so fun that I was just hooked, kind of like a casino. I think like, you know, you’re just like, wow, I want Okay, let’s I want to do this again, I want to do this again. But talk to me about how let’s transition a little bit, like talk to me about how we came across this opportunity. And kind of what made you, what made you like birth, birth this and decide to run?
Juha Mikkola 13:20
Yeah, I mean, I think the journey I’m on now is building Usko, which we’re doing two things, we’re building a marketplace, basically. So on one side, we want to help consumers like better understand their Amazon spending, you know, and be able to make smarter purchase decisions and then also make money from their data. On the flip side, for any Amazon sellers that are listening to this, like, this is all about allowing Amazon sellers to connect directly with their customers. So that’s the really cool part is customers actually own that data. They know who they buy from, you know, they know what these relationships are. But the way Amazon’s been built is they’re preventing sellers from seeing that. So if customers opt into sharing it, you can create this bridge between the two, and that’s really what we’re working on. And that started as an idea about how our personal data is treated today. So it’s something that’s bothered me from really the early days of the Internet. We’re all trading our data or privacy or security for free products, right? And it’s one of the craziest kind of deals that I think society has ever taken, which is like, hey, sure, like give me, give me this free software, but I’ll give up all rights to who I am. And you guys can make billions of dollars every quarter off of my data and on the scale. It’s worked brilliantly for these tech companies. I mean, it’s really the currency of how the modern internet works. And what we’d really want to do is try to change that where the user is the one who’s in control of that data. And then, if you choose to share it, you opt-in; that’s great; then, you can actually get the benefit of not just connecting with a brand you love and learning about a new product but actually getting paid for doing that action of sharing it. So I’ve been building this marketplace for a while now. Working with over 35 Amazon brands that are kind of early adopters, helping us test this thing. And it’s been really, really cool. So if you imagine the platform and the way it works as a shopper, you can download the app; it’s just that Usko.app, login, and it’ll download your Amazon purchase history. You, as a shopper, continue to own that it’s on the hard drive of your phone; we never get it as a company; it stays totally secure. And then you have an inbox where you can read messages that sellers can send to you; when you read those messages, you actually earn credits, which you can exchange for money. So there’s a lot of value there. And it’s very targeted; you can get messages based on exactly what you bought in the past. And if you’re reading these things, you get compensated.
Andrew Morgans 15:40
Yeah, if you’re reading this, it’s not too late as drinks to get involved. You know, we’re talking about analyzing your spending, and you’re talking about how on the customer side, you know, there isn’t a way to really see what you’re spending on. You know, the categories, any of those things, like I literally just went from April to July, and with an Excel spreadsheet from my bookkeeper quoting all of my Amazon transactions because it doesn’t, it doesn’t naturally do that. And as well, like, you know, it might say $700 purchase on a line item on Excel and because that’s what it pulled from the card. Well, within that $700 could be 15 different items, 20 different names, 30 different items. Yeah, so you know, I can categorize laziness as, as a bookkeeper, like categorize it. I’m like, Okay, that was, you know, if it’s in my business that was office supplies, this was a warehouse, this was, you know, laptop, this was cleaning supplies, whatever I’m coding them as, right? But oftentimes, we’re not going all the way into those 15 or 20 things and saying, What was I actually spending on within that? Yeah, yeah, I’m just going to code that one $700 transaction as what was the most things purchased in there. And that’s just not, that’s not accurate. You know, that’s not as good as it could be. And it definitely is not giving me insight. Like some of the other financial planners I’ve had, like mint.com, or some credit cards even have them when they’re analyzing your spending. But I don’t know about you guys, but like, for me, we’ve got probably Uline because I run a warehouse, right? Big, big, big company we purchase from
Juha Mikkola 17:16
I remember them for my sporting goods day, as I bought all my boxes for
Andrew Morgans 17:19
Okay, yeah, like you like free yetis all the time. I’m just buying so much stuff. And I’m buying from Amazon. I mean, there are other companies we pay, like, we have software tools and things like that when it comes down to my business and what we’re purchasing on, I’ve already got a business account there, I’ve got my cards there, I’m telling my controller or my office admin, we buy stuff on Amazon because it’s easier for me to keep everything in one spot. There isn’t a tool that really analyzes that. And this is not even me talking about the Amazon brand or the Amazon seller. This is just me as a customer, Juh. Yeah. And to really break that down or have insight like, that’s the main area I’m buying from my business. You know, I’ve got a four-and-a-half million dollar business, or so there are quite a few purchases on Amazon. Right? Right. Whether it’s employee gifts, I mean, the list goes on and on and on, we pretty much get it done on Amazon. And being able to break that down has immense value. So that’s number one, and then just know where people are, where you’re spending, not even to know where everybody else is. There are so many tools out there for Amazon that’s just, like, oh, this is where people are spending. This is what people are searching for. But what about me? What about me I had a just for context. 14 pages of purchases from April to the end of June. That’s April, May, yeah, three months worth. So, you know, it’s quite a bit that I had to go through yesterday, even encoding all those things out. So that’s a super win. And then on the Amazon side, the brand side of the cut the seller side, being able to see what people are purchasing outside of just scraping tools, I think is really, really cool. Not just seeing what they’re searching for, but then you know, what are all the ways that you spend on Amazon as a seller, right? Even promotional discounts, you’ve got coupon discounts, you’ve got Lightning Deals, maybe Prime Day deals, you’ve got advertising and PPC spend, of course, that’s a major one. And because it’s not like Facebook or Instagram or some of these social channels with advertising, it’s a direct response. It’s this person who looked at a pickleball paddle set, or they search for a pickleball paddle set you’re not able to look at as just interest. And if you have your avatar defined as a brand, you’re not able to just say I just want to show to those avatars, right right? It could be a 12 year old searching, it could be a nine year old searching, it could be a mom searching, we can’t really determine we can’t really say Oh, I just want people between the ages of 21 and 55 because I think they might actually be playing pickleball or you know, those kinds of things. And so, what are the other things we can do to be a little bit more efficient? I think this is where the app comes in; that’s a really cool opportunity for people that have opted in to be able to direct message them, you know that they’ve purchased something in your wheelhouse or something close to your product and be able to just get in front of them with your offer, I think it provides immense value.
Juha Mikkola 20:14
Yeah, for sure. I mean, I think on the seller side, like, it really is about creating a direct relationship with your customer, it’s something that we’ve kind of lost because of the way the Amazon marketplace is built, and I think has a lot of value. Because if you want to tap into that lifetime value of a customer, what do you need to do right now? I mean, it’s like, you basically have to keep buying Amazon ads and other ads to stay in front of that customer over and over again. And if you stop for a second, someone else is going to pick up that slot, you know, and the next time they have to rebuy your product, guess where they’re going, they’re going to competitor. Here, what you can do is, you know, they’ve actually opted in, and you can send them something special, you know, send them a special offer, or check in just how they’re doing or tell them about another product that you know, you have that complements what you sold them already, right. Or maybe you know the cycle, how often they buy, we can tell that from the app and get ahead of that, you know, and message this customer. So I think there’s a lot of value there. And I think the difference to other tools is the fact that these are customers opt-in and, you know, they’re saying, hey, I want to be part of this because it’s my data, you know, and I want to understand it and control it better. And, you know, I will let you use it as a brand. But you know, I also deserve some of that compensation from it. So
Andrew Morgans 21:23
Yeah, and I’m open to getting offers that are relevant to what I care about. And when I’m shopping, and I know I’m definitely, I will opt in to, you know, having cookies if it’s a site I care about. Like, you know, I am like look, I want to get, I don’t want to look at this site every day looking for deals or offers or whatever, like let’s say it’s a shoe site or something like that. But if you guys have an offer for me that you think is great, I trust you enough as a brand or company that I will let you send me, you know, based on my data, you know, it’s like, I personally as an IT guy, I literally went to school for computer science, networking and security on the security side, which has helped me in my journey on Amazon just thinking more like how to be safe secure was Amazon thinking how to think like them as in regards to security. So thinking like that, I am willing to give my data but only to people I trust, right? And so I think there are two brands that I trust. And so thinking about that, and this opportunity, what really came to my mind with just putting on my Amazon Seller hat is with a lot of brands that are around consumables, okay, so we work with like a lot of food brands. You know, we work with a lot of, like, products like that where you know, you’re continuing to rebuy them. And in that case, like Amazon’s program, subscribe and save is a huge opportunity to do exactly what you’re talking about where they’re not coming back in searching for my brand name or searching for the product, seeing other competitors decided to try the cinnamon instead of the brown sugar this time or something like that, right. And you’ve lost them. Yeah. And that’s one of the major disadvantages, will Subscribe and Save. Especially when there’s a high cost of acquisition for a customer. Subscribe and Save really comes in clutches in a way that is the way to have a sustainable business on Amazon. And so just thinking about the app, you’re talking about being able to give people offers, remind them about the products, be like, you know, we do inserts we do. We do direct mailers we do. As far as an agency helping brands do things, we go to a lot of efforts to be able to push, Subscribe and Save and remind people about it. Here’s another opportunity, where if that’s a big part of your business, you can get in front of customers who have already bought from you. And remind them about your savings and things like that.
Juha Mikkola 23:37
for sure. And then you can also message them based on the category and other products they bought. So one of the things about Subscribe and Save that’s, that’s bad is the fact that if somebody already has that relationship with another brand, maybe they bought from you originally, and then they ended up subscribing to something else that’s similar, right? How do you break that pattern right now? You have a way to message them and be like, Hey, here’s something. I noticed you bought my product four times last year, but that was in the first six months. And now, in the last two, I see you haven’t bought it at all. Maybe you’ve gone and Subscribed and Saved with somebody else. Right? Like, here’s some reason to come over to our side and shop with us. Right? So I think that you have the opportunity to use the app. And really, it’s all about giving sellers the ability to like filter through and think, you know, we’ve had sellers do really, really cool things where it could be like, Okay, I want to send a special offer to someone who shopped with me before and it stopped. Or maybe it’s someone who recently just joined; let’s get them to do something. You know, there’s a lot of different ways to kind of filter this and connect with users. And again, it’s all about that lifetime value once you acquire them that first time; how do you make sure you keep that relationship going? And you mentioned insert cards. We’ve also used insert cards as a really cool way to drive the customers you have today to this app. So we’ve done a program with almost 40,000 Insert cards now in the last month where we’re basically driving people from the product purchase to come into the app, and then we create that connection with the brand. And because the brand is helping bring that person on, we’re letting them message that that user for free forever. So we have some really cool partnerships around that. And I think that’s a great way for us to grow the user base of our app as well and bring a lot of value. Because as a as a seller, you really care about most likely the people who buy your products. So this way, you know that people are the ones who buy your product.
Andrew Morgans 25:23
I love it, and like you’re talking about them opting in. And that’s just a big part of it like you’re talking to, this is not like you’re an Amazon customer, and you don’t want to be messaged, this is like, you want to be involved, you want to get better offers, you want to get something more direct and tailored to you. And so you’re saying yes, actually, I do want to talk to you, I’m on this dating app, you know, so let’s be honest, getting out because I do want to meet somebody, right?
Juha Mikkola 25:44
When you’re getting paid. So you’re getting great offers, you’re getting paid. And then I didn’t want to mention on the cookie example you mentioned before, like, in that case, with the cookie, you’re actually giving them your data. In our case, you always own it. So even though you get these messages, that data is always on your device; we never get that so. So you don’t really need to make that kind of privacy, let’s say give away at all, you know, you can still keep it private, but get the advantage of people being able to filter and message to you without knowing who you are. So that’s kind of the magic of how we built the product.
Andrew Morgans 26:15
Even better. I love that. I got a couple of questions for you. Before we do, finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit Full Scale.io. We can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. So back to back to the app and the functionality. As a seller, you know, I know some of these answers. But for everybody listening, you know, talk to me about some of the interactions on the app outside of just like, hey, here’s a $5 coupon or here’s an offer, is there actual dialogue back and forth between brands and customers? Is it kind of two-way, or is it one-way?
Juha Mikkola 26:58
So right now, the way that we’ve built it kind of in this first iteration is it’s one way so that you’re basically as a brand, you’re not having to maintain like a texting relationship with all of these customers that you’ve sent. So it’s kind of a one-way offer. But what you can do is send links. So, for example, if you wanted that customer to go to your DTC website, or go to your Amazon listing, or go and leave a review, whatever it might be, you can track that through your own links and then create a conversation with them through your site or whatever other kind of method you wanted to use. In the future, we might add that it depends on sort of what brands want. And really, we’re trying to build something that brands and sellers are really going to find valuable. Another thing that, from the feedback, we were building and are really close to launching as a marketplace feature in the app. So we’re gonna have customized offers; we’re starting with about 3500 different offers that give us certain really, it’s like described as an affiliate commission to our company to Usko. But we’re actually sharing that with the customer. So what’s happening is the customer can earn cashback through here. So basically, these targeted Cashback Offers are based on what they bought before. So it’s, again, a really cool place to go browse. If you’re a user, and you’re like, Oh, hey, I can see like inflation’s hitting my bill, like, why am I spending more on Amazon, what’s going on? Let me go browse here and see what products I could try that are similar to what I buy today that are giving me cashback and an incentive to actually buy from them. So trying to be very targeted about that, and kind of really thoughtful, but that’s been the, you know, something we’ve had in the works for a while. And we’re really excited to launch with our seller partners.
Andrew Morgans 28:28
I love it. I love it. So outside of just going to the site for sellers and for customers. You know, what’s the barrier to entry to get in getting involved? I think from the seller side is a little bit different. But from the customer side, you’re just you’re going to Usk.com, you’re downloading the app, kind of saying yes to getting your information. And from there, you’re going to start getting offers.
Juha Mikkola 28:48
Yeah, so it’s Usko.app. So .APP. And if you’re a shopper, what I’d like to challenge everybody who’s listening to this is like, try to guess how much you spent on Amazon in the last two and a half years and then go download that up and check it out. And again, you have no risk because we’re not getting access to your Amazon account. It’s only on your own device. And tell me, like, come on Twitter or Instagram or whatever. Tell me how close you were because so far, like I’ve had nobody even get close. I’m guessing this everybody thinks like, oh, I probably spent like five grand or two grand or 20 grand. Seeing people spending 50, 60 grand a year on Amazon. And I think that’s a real eye-opener because it will analyze and give you that information. And maybe you change your shopping habits. Maybe it lets you shop a little bit smarter in terms of what you do next. So definitely go to Usko.app, try it and give us feedback on how that experiences as a seller, the best thing to do is just reach out to us directly. So we’ll work on pilot projects with anyone out there. So far. The best brands that we’ve had are the ones that really are working with us to build the product and build this marketplace, and we’ve done these insert card programs. We’ve done some DTC work, like through websites, to figure out, okay, what are you, your DTC customers? They want me to buy from you once in a while when you have a great offer, but then what do they buy on Amazon? The rest of the time, from your brand or from your competitors, there’s all kinds of really, really cool things you can figure out. So really looking forward to just connecting with brands and building out campaigns, and really figuring out the best use case for everybody to allow the growth of your brand. And really, it’s all about that lifetime value and that direct communication with the customer.
Andrew Morgans 30:25
I love it. I remember when I was a kid, and my dad was someone that had computers very, very early. So he’s missionary didn’t we didn’t really have never had a video game console at the time, but like he was in the computer, so I had one. So we had one right, and we built them; we go to CompUSA or micro center; these are some places here in the Midwest that were just like you could buy individual parts for computers and kind of build your home PC. And he was all about these rebates. Okay, I don’t know, they, they don’t have them as much anymore. But it would be like you’d have to take the serial code or the UPC off the box, have this form to fill out, you’re sending in the box, in an envelope, like with the receipt and all the little things we did to save, you know, or, or get a deal, so to speak. And I don’t know if that’s a Midwest thing or just a Morgan sing, I don’t know. But, like, that was something I definitely remember with my dad; it’s fun to just think about these kinds of opportunities now and how things have changed. But it’s still that same kind of principle of just, you know, making a game of it in some ways that are just like, what are all the ways I can save? What are the ways I can shop better? You know, I have been involved in my finances as a business, and the length of our business; I have a bookkeeper and a CPA and things. But there’s, there’s a several times a year where I just get into the books, and I’m looking for opportunities, just like you kind of talked about how much you think you’re spending? Where can you buy different products? Where can you try to get a deal or a business deal? Or things like that. And I think that, you know, for some people, Amazon is an even bigger channel for their brand than others, especially if they have like a product that’s an auxiliary product or a product that’s like an add-on the marketplace is just like, you know, a huge opportunity for them. So just thinking about that, and I’m like, Oh my God, I don’t even want to know how much I spent on Amazon, I told you 15 pages of
Juha Mikkola 32:19
I can’t wait to see; you gotta guess first, then you’ve actually downloaded the order. So you have maybe some idea,
Andrew Morgans 32:23
but yeah, I do. I check it out. So for all of our listeners, I’ve been involved with Juha; now, I think maybe a little close to a year, maybe a little bit short. Last summer, for sure. And just like some of the ideas of how we’re working with brands and promotion and things like that. So I just want to make that disclaimer that I’m really talking about something that I’m involved with and that I’m trying and I find value in, and I’ve moved around and understanding what the opportunity is and how to make it better. And I know that there are a lot of iterations that are going to continue to grow just like the marketplace where you not only are you getting on there and maybe being able to attend message shoppers, but every Amazon seller, under the sun, is looking for other opportunities to get traffic to their products or to their listings or, you know, diversify. And so not only the in-mail messaging that’s capable but also the ability to, you know, maybe you’re paying for a spot to have your new product during a launch on the front page of the marketplace with a big offer or something like that. All those kinds of little things are what really add up to make the difference in having a successful e-commerce brand. So a lot of fun in that. Okay, so as we get kind of toward the end of the show, talking about how to get involved, how it can help you different ways of messaging, there’s more to it than that. But let’s talk about like one thing that we’re working on as a business that we’re excited about. And then one thing you as a person are excited about as we close out the year that you’re working toward or doing could be a hobby, could be business, could be whatever. And then lastly, like where people can get in contact, message you, follow along, all that kind of stuff. So one business thing we’re working on, they’re excited about development, two personal, and then lastly, where we can get in contact with you.
Juha Mikkola 34:11
Yeah, I love that. I mean, I think on the business side, it’s the marketplace feature. We’ve been working on it for a long time, and a lot of our sellers have been asking for it. So I think that it’s really, really exciting to launch it and see how it goes. We’re all about feedback, you know, and getting basic communication with ultimately, like even though shoppers are the ones that will populate the platform, its sellers who we work with and really work for, so I think whenever I have a seller convo, I probably had like three today. I just get energized. I love getting the feedback, you know, some of the feedback’s amazing, some of it’s like, Hey, here’s what you should be doing. Here are some ideas, and that’s really how we move forward. So I think that’s the most exciting piece for me. I think personally, like, I have a lot of excitement around. We’ve been building a house for the last year and a half. So it’s really fun to go through that process, and Most people are like, Would you really consider that fun, you know, and but we’ve learned so much, I think I’ve always just been really fascinated; it’s been one of those bucket list things, you know, to be like, hey, one day, I’m gonna do this. And it’s been really cool to go through that process and learn a lot about what goes into, you know, development and construction and all of the rest of it. So that’s, that’s been a really cool experience for me. And then I’m also part of something. I’m a huge racing fan. And my dad was actually a professional racecar driver growing up. So I’ve always loved building community, like I mentioned. So we built this group called Box, which is it started as a Miami-based f1 group where over 150 people now get together to go watch races; we have watched parties, and we’re looking at getting a fleet of classic cars that we can share like a clubhouse. And so that’s like a passion project, you know, going on on the side that also, I got to give a shout out to and love doing. So yeah, let’s have fun things. Just work.
Andrew Morgans 35:54
We are up to sync on that. I’m working with Hot Wheels right now. As a brand, there’s a lot of fun stuff we’re doing with Hot Wheels, performance car care. So it’s one of their lifestyle brands. That’s cool. Yeah, I’d love to learn. They’ve got some hot wheel cars, the garage is, you know, you name it. I think they’re in California, I think, as far as HQ, but trying to get involved with different groups. And yeah, you know, car enthusiasts try out the products, maybe send you guys some buckets, they’ve got some really cool stuff. He’s, you know, the founders of that company, were part of some championship race teams and goal. So it’s just been fun. I love cars, but I never had enough money to have the ones I wanted. So I stayed out of it as a hobby. So I’ve gotten a little bit older. But no, that’s, that’s something super cool. And I wouldn’t have known if you hadn’t shared it with me. And the other thing about the house is, I don’t know if you know, we have this in common, but we run quite a bit of Airbnb. I’ve another business that I’ve been building; I think we’re going on six years now here in Kansas City, Kansas is just a really hot housing market. So things from like container homes to just all different kinds of Airbnbs. That’s awesome. And then traditional property management. But something I wanted to just add to that note is you don’t really think about when you’re custom building a home, whether it’s like gutting a house and making it your own, like from the skeleton, or you’re building one from scratch. I remember we did this in the house I live in now, me and my business partner; it’s just two single guys living in this house, like third Bachelors in our 30s. But building businesses, you know, and I knew that we had to be together to do it. So we built this house in a custom way. But it was like thinking about even the trim ends and light switches. And I thought about like what I like in regards to decor and aesthetics. But I never really thought about some of those details that just like you’re like, I don’t know, no one’s ever asked me my opinion about the trim, you know, right. So it was just, it was quite the process. So just really think about all of the fine details of, you know, building a house.
Juha Mikkola 38:01
And I feel like they throw all that that all gets thrown at you out the way and to, and it’s like you’re like so tight. You’re like, let’s just get this done. And oh, by the way, we need like a million decisions right now. And it’s like,
Andrew Morgans 38:11
You’re like, I don’t even care right now. Yes. Give me the haircut, you know, so so. No, that was something that caught me by surprise. The first time was just like, why I’ve always thought I’m a thinker. I’m just an overthinker, like, like, I have opinions on things because I’ve thought about them for hundreds of hours, sometimes before I say something. But this was just not anything I’d ever thought about before. So I remember when I was asked, I was just like, well, I don’t even know where to start, you know. So it is a fun, it is a fun process. And something that’s long enough that it’s a long enough process that it feels like it’s rewarding, going through it. It’s not just like, you know, you say something is done in 90 days like it’s a process that’s
Juha Mikkola 38:53
S bit of like building a business, you know, like you have to have the long-term view, you know, and it’s like, you’re kind of building step by step and figuring it out and learning along the way, right? And then at the end, when it starts coming together, you’re like, Yeah, this is amazing. Like it was worth the effort. So I think that that’s, that’s what I like about it. It’s been a cool process. And my wife and I founded Wyncode together. So we’re, we’re co-founders, and now she’s still with the company that acquired us, like running the Florida market. And I’m doing this so we haven’t been working together. So the house has kind of been like our opportunity to work together, which has been nice, you know, and luckily, she knows what kind of trim we need. So like, I haven’t had to worry about that, that those decisions. So shout out to her. That’s been good.
Andrew Morgans 39:33
Well, it’s just two dudes. So one of us had to make the decisions. You know what I mean? Like we couldn’t delegate that went off. So it was cool. Okay. And then, lastly, where can people contact you? Where can people follow along with the brand? Where can people get in contact with you?
Juha Mikkola 39:50
Yeah, so I mean, our site is Usko.app. So, U,S,K,O.APP. That’s where you can download the app. You can also email us and contact us through They’re also on Instagram with that data, dude. So it’s two E’s at the end. But we got a lot of content around data, data privacy, like what you should be doing with your data, what you shouldn’t. And then, obviously, we also do a lot of stuff around Usko, like how you can actually cash out the credits you earned and how you can make money from the data that you’re sharing within the platform. So that’s a great place to follow along. And, and really just would love feedback. For anybody who is using the app, like I said before, the challenge is to try to guess that spend. And if you get close, like, I’ll be really impressed. Because I think that you talked touched on this before, like, one of the reasons why we even built this thing is, like, I looked at my credit card statement, you know, and looking at looking at every spend, it’s just Amazon, Amazon, Amazon, like, what is this? What are we even buying is this clothing this food is, you know, and being making any type of budget or decisions around that was very, very difficult. So nothing else, even as a consumer, like, get the app and understand your spending better. It’s going to make you a smarter consumer and make your dollars go further.
Andrew Morgans 41:00
You’re awesome. You’re awesome. I think you’re absolutely right. And it’s something that we can all benefit from. Juha, thank you so much for being on the show. One last thing before we go. This episode will be airing before AMZ Innovate. And I know that you know you will be there; a lot of Amazon sellers will be there. It’s a big New York event. You want to just give a small plug on being there.
Juha Mikkola 41:23
Yeah, definitely looking forward to it. It’s a great event. If anyone who’s listening is going to be there, let me know. I’d love to meet up, and we’re going to be basically doing a couple of things there. One that we’ve loved to do, like in a lot of consumer shows, is we’ll throw up a leaderboard of everyone’s Amazon spending and give a huge prize to people when they when they share that amount. And it’s crazy. The numbers that we see there. It’s just kind of like a fun thing. And we’ll obviously be there helping onboard people onto the app and answering any questions; it would be just a fun opportunity to hang out. So please let me know if you’re gonna be there.
Andrew Morgans 41:55
Okay, awesome. AMZ innovate. And lastly, to our sponsor, do you need to hire software engineers, testers, and leaders? Let Full Scale help. They have the people in the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts at Full Scale. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. Juha, this has been an awesome few minutes getting to chat with you and learn more about your own story as well as Usko and what there is there for people to help them with their spending and sellers to reach more customers. Really appreciate your time.
Juha Mikkola 42:25
Thank you. Thanks for the opportunity. This is awesome. Thanks, Andrew.
Andrew Morgans 42:28
And Startup Hustle listeners. Thank you so much, as always; I really appreciate your time and attention. We’ll see you next time.