Ep. #965 - Building A Startup from the Idea Up
Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is about building a startup from the idea up. Andrew Morgans shares the mic with Rishabh Jain, CEO of Fermat Commerce. The marketing experts share their brand-building insights and tips on how to create an impactful marketing strategy.
Covered In This Episode
How can you utilize customer metadata to create effective marketing strategies in a world where data is king? Is there a right way to build a startup from the idea up?
Rishabh is here to share all his insights with Andrew and every Startup Hustle listener. The duo gives us tips on using data for retargeting ads and improving the overall customer journey. They also unveil facts about influencer marketing and the things necessary for the future of e-commerce.
Watch out for more e-commerce and marketing insights. Listen to this episode now!
- How Rishabh’s passion for business started (01:30)
- On failing two startups (07:20)
- Andrew’s inspiration as an entrepreneur (08:17)
- About delivering value to people (10:23)
- The best way to spark change (12:51)
- The Fermat Commerce story (15:56)
- On getting validation outside of your circle (19:41)
- Why did Airbnb succeed? (22:11)
- How Andrew got through his first startup (29:21)
- E-commerce is a business built on data (33:32)
- Retargeting ads and tracking the customer journey (35:07)
- Three things are needed for the future of e-commerce (37:57)
- How to capture your customers more effectively (39:25)
- The Instagram Story vs. Blog (42:18)
- How to build your startup from an idea (46:32)
If I want to help other people, I want to increase the total output of the economy and create value for other people. And I will always create more value than I take. But in order to continue to create more value, I need to drive that business profitably or, at a minimum, revenue.– Rishabh Jain
Training, much like in the footsteps of my parents, that were there on foot and before the digital world, was like teaching English and giving people the opportunity to get jobs by being English speakers. I’m now doing this by giving some e-commerce skills. Something that I had to build myself and learn myself to be able to give to others.– Andrew Morgans
When you’re talking about influencer content, consistency comes from the trust that you have in that influencer. So you want to make sure that not only is the content being driven by the influencer, but the commerce is being driven by the influencer too. That’s what generates really good results for the brands that we work with.– Rishabh Jain
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Andrew Morgans 00:00
Hey, what’s up, Hustlers? Welcome back. This is Andrew Morgans, founder of Marknology, here as today’s host of Startup Hustle, covering all things e-commerce and Amazon. We’re gonna have a lot of fun. This is the new one for me. Today’s guest is going to explain this in more detail. But we’ll be talking about building a startup from the idea up. We’re going to be talking about influencer marketing. We’re going to be talking about, you know, kind of new trends and new ways to improve. I don’t want to give it all away. Before we do, shout out to our sponsor, FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And as the platform to help you manage that team, visit FullScale.io. To learn more, just want to see a cool website and how you can really innovate to show off your team. Check out FullScale.io. Rishabh, welcome to the show.
Rishabh Jain 00:51
Yeah, thanks for having me, man. I’m super excited about this conversation.
Andrew Morgans 00:55
Yeah, me too. I didn’t know exactly. You know everything about your business. I was trying to understand it on my own. And, you know, we’ve talked a little bit before the show, and I’m fired up, we almost took up some of the show’s time just chatting about, you know, some of the strategies and what have you, but your company Fermat commerce, I think I’m pronouncing that right. Let’s start with you a little bit before we jump right into your business. Talk to me about entrepreneurship and your passion for business. It’s something that you had, like, you know, since you were little. Is it something that you fell into? Is it a family business? Where does it start?
Rishabh Jain 01:31
Yeah, yeah. So for me, personally, I always grew up with this idea that I love understanding how the world works. But I also think that the only way that you can scale a table and provide an impact on the world is through a for-profit business. So like I saw over and over again, the only way that you can, like, really help other people is, yeah, is creating a business. So that way, it’s sustainable, and you can actually deliver that impact to a very large number of people. And so that, yeah, that led me down to pads in parallel. One was actually physics. So I love physics, just understanding how the world works, and then business at the same time. And basically, throughout my life, I basically have been toying with the two of those over and over again. Yeah. And then during my, I got my Ph.D. in physics. And then, while I was doing that, I started two companies. Neither of those ended up working out, which we can get into if it’s interesting. But then after that, I decided, hey, I’m gonna go work at a software company, see what this whole software thing is. And then, yeah, I started building businesses and software and built three businesses inside of my previous company. So we had to like an incubation unit and build their new businesses there. And then started Fermat commerce last year.
Andrew Morgans 02:52
How’d you get into, you know, software development after going to school for physics?
Rishabh Jain 03:00
You know, by mistake, I wish there was, like, a really interesting story here. But I was just walking around. And then this guy at this company was like, Hey, man, are you interested in working at a software company? And I was like, dude, I’m not a software engineer. I’m a physicist. He’s like, Don’t worry, don’t worry. Like, we hire people like you all the time. And then I just fell into it. And then, during the interview process, I met this guy who was wearing a graphic T of blazer Converse shoes. And the interview, I kid you not, was like, Hey, let’s just read arrive at special relativity. And I was like, what is happening to me right now? And who are these people? Like, what are tech people actually like?
Andrew Morgans 03:45
Where were you in the world at that time?
Rishabh Jain 03:48
This isn’t 2015. I had, like, come to interview at this company that I ended up working at called Live ramp. And this guy, I was just like, Man, I want to work with people like this. This is unique. It’s unique. And if I’m ever going to do it, now’s the time to do it. Because this is just unbelievable. So what city were you in? So I was studying in Boston, and then the company was in San Francisco. So I moved to San Francisco after.
Andrew Morgans 04:15
Okay, so one I knew I was like, not gonna say I knew I didn’t want to assume. But San Francisco definitely has those types. Like it’s very common. It’s like, you know if I’m gonna wear a dress hat and like some real hipster-like streetwear. In LA, I blend in, and no one gives a crap. You know, here in Kansas City, Missouri. People are like, Where does he get off thinking he can dress like that? You know? So the blazer, the graphic T, the converse, I’m like, okay, that makes sense. Silicon Valley. But also Boston, you said you were like you studied in Boston, and that’s where you went to school.
Rishabh Jain 04:49
Exactly, exactly. Yeah. So I went for my Ph.D.
Andrew Morgans 04:53
Yeah, I went to Babson College for my Master’s Certificate. Very beautiful city. I just like to know where people come from.
Rishabh Jain 05:01
Do you know what I think is underappreciated about bots? So I’m a, are you a runner by any chance? Or a little bit?
Andrew Morgans 05:07
I’m an athlete, for sure. Rogan wouldn’t be my main thing.
Rishabh Jain 05:11
Okay, dude, the Charles River is like a gym. And yeah, like running around the Charles River. I tell this to people all the time because unless you’ve actually been in Boston, you don’t really appreciate how incredible this thing is. Because there’s like a bridge every mile. So you would like to run around the river or bike around the river or whatever you want to do. And you could create any route you want to create. You could do four miles, you can do 10 miles, you could do 20 miles. It’s beautiful. Yeah. And it’s like a spiral run. Yeah. And no, no other city has that. Like no other city has, like a bridge every mile. So you can sort of like, you know, choose your own adventure. It’s actually a hard thing to find.
Andrew Morgans 05:55
I used to love those books. Choose your own adventure.
Rishabh Jain 05:58
I don’t know. Now Netflix is making a Choose Your Own Adventure TV show.
Andrew Morgans 06:04
I know. We’ll see if it’s as good as the books. But I used to love those. I used to love those. And it was so revolutionary at the time. My opinion, like I don’t know, is a very unique idea. But I honestly have that’s like something I learned new today. I didn’t know. No one’s ever talked about the bridges there in Boston. And when I was at Babson, they would pick me up in a black car from the airport and drive me there. And there’s like no reception and no WiFi, and everything I did with the Goldman Sachs program was kind of like a disconnected thing. So I didn’t really have yet to experience Boston to its fullest.
Rishabh Jain 06:41
Wow, okay, well, next time.
Andrew Morgans 06:44
I’m gonna have to check it out and bring my running shoes just to see what it is. Because honestly, like, I’m someone that is very intentional about my inspiration. And you know, where you get it. And traveling is a big part of that, but also like the views and like the inspiration of seeing people out there. Water. Sounds awesome. And my sister just came back singing his praises. So okay, that’s my Boston plug. But, okay, so you like to find software development. And in it, you like to create some ideas, or you create some businesses from the ground up, you’d already failed to before, or this happens like at this company, you’d already feel like startups before.
Rishabh Jain 07:22
Yeah, it failed to service before one was a hardware startup. The other one was actually a software startup. So but it happened to be in science space. So it was like a laboratory data-sharing startup. And that was a big business. It was a big mistake. That thing failed. There’s a company now called Bench Ling, a multibillion-dollar company. It started exactly at the same time that we started our company. Oh, gosh. And we had a founder disagreement. So it was not a market problem. We had a founder disagreement. Yeah, it was a problem. And then Ling grew and is a multi-billion dollar company now.
Andrew Morgans 08:08
Yeah, nothing like that pie.
Rishabh Jain 08:12
Yeah, I know. The best startups are always created in boring spaces.
Andrew Morgans 08:17
I know, I know that to be true. I 100% know that to be true. I was just thinking about getting passionate about that, you know, but I am someone that went to school for computer science. I like, you know, I got a lot of coding languages and my belt, it was networking and security. I got a job at MasterCard, corporate, and networking, in a knock, and you know, worked a year there making more money than ever made as a musician. But because I am also a musician, traveling the US for five years, I realized that I had geographical freedom, but I couldn’t. It was selfish of me. To not care about financial freedom, not only for myself but for everybody else I could impact. And I started just feeling like, sure, I can get away with this. But if anyone asked me for help, I couldn’t help anybody. And that was something you said early, was something that resonated with me, was just like to really make an impact. You know, I grew up in Africa till I was 16. I saw like, you know, the, you know, Congo is 99% unemployment, you know, very, very low living conditions, you know, very poor living conditions. I really saw, you know, how grateful or how blessed we are to be Americans or be in America or being a first-world country for lack of a better word. And, you know, it was something that, like, giving back to others, like, you know, being able to help even at times when it felt overwhelming moving back here and knowing what was going on there was actually like a very hard thing for me, and then having to repurpose that to be like, Okay, well, what do I need, the world can explore, I want to experience new things, and then kind of coming to this realization that like, these things, I’ve avoided like caring about money, for example, because I just didn’t really care about I didn’t want it. Happy without it. I was actually the solution or what I believed could be like, you know, something to help. You know, the world that I left behind, or the world that I know lives all around us. Everybody needs help all around us. And so that was a long way of saying, you know, business and money was something I didn’t even care about or really pay attention to. It has become my ultimate focus because the only way to have abundance you can give, right? Anytime.
Rishabh Jain 10:24
Yeah, I think I think like, there’s a bunch of us who, I mean, I can empathize intensely, actually, with what you’re saying, I, we, yeah, we didn’t talk about it before the show, but I grew up actually part of India. So I saw, you know, all sorts of poverty, like you. For a long time, I was very averse to business and money through high school and things like that. Yeah, so I can. I can empathize completely. And then you’re right, at some point, you realize, man, if I want to help other people, I want to increase the total output of the economy and create value for other people. And I will always create more value than I take. But in order to continue to create more value, I need to drive that business profitably, or at a minimum, with revenue. So that way, I can continue to build more things that continue to deliver more value to people, right. And yeah, it’s at some point, you realize, like, bad, the massive force of good that you can drive with economic opportunity and sound economic models is actually very powerful.
Andrew Morgans 11:39
Totally, like, I’ve worked with a group in India, helped found them since essentially, like a Marknology 2.0 In regards to like, teaching them skills and things we’ve learned at Marknology, to be able to, you know, take those eCommerce skills, working with a group in Africa as well. And these are things that are like free to give, you know, it’s my time, but it’s, it’s education, and it’s just training, you know, training, much like in the footsteps of my parents that were there on foot. And before the digital world was like teaching English and giving people the opportunity to get jobs really, by being English speakers. I’m now doing by giving some eCommerce skills, you know, and something that I had to like, build myself and learn myself to be able to give to others. You know, it’s truly impactful, all the way to going viral for my statements. With Kansas vote. I tried to stay away from politics. But, you know, we had Roe versus Wade, and Kansas had a big vote. And you know, I just made a statement on my Instagram about talking about influencers later, you know, I made a statement on my Instagram about maybe moving states, you know, depending on the vote to be able to protect my company, and the people in it and, and my stance on I said, as a business owner, the best way to impact change is like, you know, choosing who we work with choosing who we build, like what voices do we give, you know, a mic to, and with our taxes, we vote with our taxes, and you know, the bigger your businesses, the more that matters. And, you know, I just made a statement. And it ran, you know, it ran people ran with it, but you’re so right. It’s like, you know, as a business owner, I think small business really runs the world. In a lot of ways. I know, there’s big companies that have changed, but really small businesses that create jobs and small businesses innovating things that, you know, make change in communities. And so I take that very literally. And I know we spent a couple of minutes on it, but when you understand even the why behind people, I think it can change a lot, you know, and it can change a lot about the way you feel about certain things. And for me eCommerce, which is what we’re talking about has been the great leveler, at least in my like, you know, my adult years, it’s made us all kind of May the best man or woman when so to speak, and if you’re good at it, there’s no real boys club that you have to get into or by, you know, entry when I was in the music world, you had the label that had to put you on, you know, now there’s YouTube and Spotify and kind of do it yourself. But it was there’s gatekeepers, gatekeepers, gatekeepers and ecommerce and influencer marketing and things like that has made it where we all have a microphone, and the best of us can get a lot of reach. And I think, you know, we’re going to talk about your company for my commerce and I’m jumping the gun a little bit, but I think that comes all the way full circle and eCommerce is just one that regardless of our backgrounds, or you know where we come from or what that industry was, it found you I know it found you after physics and you know, it’s found me after computer science and music and all types of things. It was like the perfect blend for me where you can kind of come with these creative ideas and help people, and we’ve worked with 300 businesses since we started. And now it’s honestly better than ever and that we get to choose which ones we’re working with, which is like the fun part now because there’s less butt kissing, so to speak, and we’re done. It’s like working with brands. We love building, you know. And that’s a fun spot to be in. It’s a fun spot to be in where you’re getting to kind of build and give back to those companies that you think, you know, have some great founders. So let’s jump back into your story. I know, I went down a little bit of a rabbit hole, but I love sharing, you know, it can be from two different sides of the world, two different perspectives, two different frames of references and going after the same goal. And I think that’s really, really special. Okay, so you’re at the startup, you’re in San Francisco, you’re like, enamored by the founder, the CEO, the guy hiring you in the interview? And inside that company, you build other companies? Is that right?
Rishabh Jain 15:39
Yeah. Yeah. I mean, yeah.
Andrew Morgans 15:43
Well, I mean, so was I good in general, or you were kind of just allowed to do that on the side.
Rishabh Jain 15:48
So that was just my role. So like, basically, it’s a little bit of a convoluted company story. But basically, this company was actually acquired by a much larger services company in roughly 2014. And then they divested the parent company and became an independent public company in 2018. So it was like a reverse sale. So firstly, they got acquired, then they sold the parrot.
Andrew Morgans 16:19
I actually understand how that works. Like, yeah, personally, I’m not sure the listeners would. But if it’s going to be a public type of move, right?
Rishabh Jain 16:26
Yeah, they grew so fast, relative to the company that acquired them, that it was actually a better move to sell the parent. And then the acquired company became the entire company. Which is which? Yeah, it was super interesting that that’s, yeah, that in and of itself was a very fascinating experience. But when we did that, in 2018, we were like, Hey, we need to start expanding our business lines. And so that’s when I became responsible for building new businesses inside of the company. And so we built three new businesses, between sort of 2018 and 2021. And they were all scaling, you know, like, 10s of millions of dollars worth of ARR by the time that I was leaving. So it was, it was an incredible experience to be able to do that.
Andrew Morgans 17:12
Oh, no. And I think when I went from MasterCard to my first eCommerce startup, which was like, I went from, like, kind of like a real prestigious MasterCards, MasterCard, global, you know, like, I’m, I’m a businessman at that point, I went from being a bartender and a musician to like, I like have a legit job, I wear a nice dress shirt. I like you know, I’m doing grown up stuff. And there was a point of it like that was like, I’m from Kansas City, like that was a good company to be in. And I moved to Tampa, I just hated it. Because that environment was like, monitor bank networks, 12 hour shifts, all around the world, basically, certain networks that go down in Brazil or India or somewhere in the US, or contact the banks reroute traffic, so they’re not losing transactions. And you do some cool stuff. But really, that was maybe like 30 minutes or an hour a day, it was 11 minutes of maintaining something. And when I went to the E-commerce company, I was just like, I want something completely different. Otherwise, I’m gonna get out of computer science. I was like, this was just boring. I was like, I went from being on stage to like, sitting in a cube. And I was like, I want to, I was like, it was honestly a very hard transition for me. And I was like, Okay, I’m like, I found eCommerce. It was a startup, I was employee number three, they put me in charge of contacting manufacturers, getting their assets, like the photography and the product list and the price list doing the math and saying, like, could we sell this product can be profitable. And I’d put products up and within 1530 minutes, sometimes I’d get a sale and it was just like, almost that like a casino type of rush. You know, I was just like, This is awesome.
Rishabh Jain 18:41
That first Oh my God. Oh, man, can I can I just have to riff on this. Because, yeah, anybody who’s in the e Commerce Industry, and knows that that first sale from somebody who’s not your friend, is like, it’s a rush. You know, it’s like, oh, my god, there are random people on the internet, in places that I would never have thought of who are buying this now?
Andrew Morgans 19:05
They like my stuff. Yeah.
Rishabh Jain 19:09
And somehow, somehow they’re learning about it, they’re choosing to buy, like, why are they choosing to buy it? Right? So you’re like, all of a sudden, now you get to ask all the fun questions, right? Like, what? What is it about this person that made them buy it, right?
Andrew Morgans 19:25
No, and you’re you and you are already interested in that kind of thing before you found software development and whatever, which was like human behavior and stuff.
Rishabh Jain 19:34
Exactly. Exactly. That’s exactly right.
Andrew Morgans 19:37
No, I haven’t seen anyone frame it that way. But the way you just said it, you know, sparked something in me too, which is like, I am from the bottom like I’m from the dirt you know, as far as like, you know, climbing and building a business and really learning everything along as you go from opportunity. I didn’t even know a single business person. Like when I started out in business, I just knew what I wanted. I was going through a breakup and just found ecommerce and just like went on. All in all I was really trying to pay off school and so I just dug in with an obsession almost like you go whenever you’re in a breakup instead of just like trying to find other girls. Yeah, e-commerce.
Rishabh Jain 20:11
That was me running in like 2013 There was like a breakup, and I was like, that’s how I got to know Charles so well. Yeah, you’re like, I’m doing it, I’m doing it.
Andrew Morgans 20:20
Well, I was like, my, my friend group, if I had like a, what friend group I had, we all kind of from the same cloth. And you know, it’s a mindset thing. A lot of it’s a mindset thing. And you know, I had this idea for a T shirt actually built a brand out of it, I had a t-shirt. And I remember asking, like, 10 of my friends what they thought about it, I probably had, I probably had to dig to find 10 friends, but I found 10 friends and like, what do you think about this idea? And eight out of 10 were like, No, it’s not a good idea. And now I have a brand and I have everything I have. But I actually like that my first tweet on Twitter got reposted by an ESPN blog, it was like a Chiefs Royals thing. And, I sold 350 shirts in a 24 hour period. And this was like, early on, like when I was just trying some stuff on the side. And I just remember that validation that I felt. I got outside my friend circle, right? That kind of doubt me or like, you know, like, because they’re used to seeing things.
Rishabh Jain 21:18
Exactly. So what and what did you feel? Were you like, Who are these people? Why did it work?
Andrew Morgans 21:25
Like, that’s exactly what you’re saying was like, Yeah, well, how do I?
Rishabh Jain 21:28
What should I do next?
Andrew Morgans 21:31
How do I get more blogs or more people to like, and post my stuff like because I didn’t have a content strategy. I didn’t have an ad budget. I had someone like my design and reposted that already had eyeballs. And it taught me a lot. But it was like it was definitely something that was like, You know what, I don’t need validation. Not that I liked them or hated them or anything like that from my, my friend, my inner circle. But it definitely made me start feeling like, just because I’m not getting that validation from these people around me that matter. Most doesn’t mean I’m not onto something big. And that was like, my first love, dreaming a little bit bigger than I had before.
Rishabh Jain 22:13
You know what I think to myself all the time as a founder. Like the number one thing is, how did Airbnb work? Like, even today, it’s a massive company, we already know that it works. And even today, I cannot answer for you.
Andrew Morgans 22:31
Why did I like it? Why did it work? Like you know what I mean?
Rishabh Jain 22:35
Like nothing about the idea makes any sense. Right? Can you imagine it? Like, let’s just go back in time to when Airbnb was getting started. Okay. Somebody walks up to you. And he’s like, Andrew, I have a great idea. I’m going to rent out rooms in like, where people already live. Yeah, where people are already living. And I was like, okay, isn’t that called Couchsurfing? Do you remember couch surfing?
Andrew Morgans 23:03
Yeah, I was in a band. Okay, okay. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, well, okay. Yeah.
Rishabh Jain 23:08
So it’s like, I was like, is that couch surfing? It’s like, well, and then you pay for it is like, isn’t that VRBO? Or like what? You know, like, what, why? Why are you telling me these things that they’re already massive communities for that already work? And they’re like, yeah, they’re like fine businesses. But why? What about this is going to be super interesting. It’s like, no, no, no, the photos are going to be amazing. It’s like, the photos are going to be amazing. That’s you’re telling me that because the photos of the plays are going to be amazing that people are going to want to stay there. It’s like, yeah, man, you got to trust me. You have to trust me that this is the unlock.
Andrew Morgans 23:49
Here’s the thing. I have a random story. I have to tell you this since you brought up Airbnb. I was coming back from Thailand. I was in Tokyo for like, I didn’t get to leave Tokyo. I was in the airport for like a while. And I’m charging my laptop. This was like year two of Marknology. So like six years ago, and I was it was me and like my sister, or like, maybe it was here three because my sister wasn’t there. But we were not. You know, we’re consultants really more than an agency. And plugging in my laptop, this lady comes up and plugs in. She’s like, do you mind if I plug into I’m like, no problem. And we start talking. She’s like, where do you come from? Like Thailand. She’s like, she starts asking questions. And I didn’t know the daughter was coming. She has a daughter that’s super independent and outgoing and it’s like, I bet you didn’t know my mom is like, like one of the founders of Airbnb. Or, like I didn’t I bet you didn’t know my mom was like one of the original founders of YouTube or like, I think it was YouTube and Airbnb. And we had this lady talk to me for like two and a half hours. She was like one of the first five founders of Airbnb. She was super kind. And it was actually Thailand. that made Airbnb start being profitable and actually be a real idea. Okay, so Thailand and because they started in like New York and got shut down, right because they were trying this revolutionary idea in like too strict in the city. And so it was like when they went to Thailand is when the idea kind of blew up and like was all over the place maybe because people are more used to like the hostile environment. I’m not exactly sure. But she kind of explained some of those things. And you know why they almost didn’t make it and why it was a struggle. But for me, I grew up in a very religious, legalistic community, but it was like it was a tight knit Christian community. When we were back in the US and in Africa, we were very tribe oriented. Okay, so like, if you’re American, and you’re living in a place like Congo, or Moscow in the 90s you are family immediately. Okay? Like, if you’re an American man, you would be family immediately. Like, you’d be like, bro, come over, like, you know, when you meet in it’s just like, it doesn’t matter ethnicity race, like you’re just you’re American. That’s what you have in common. And oh, this is like a community of like, we just meet strangers. I’m going to be at their house for Thanksgiving. Or, like, I have something oh my god, I have a bag of Doritos like, Oh my God, Holy Grail. Where’d you get those Doritos? Well, I just like this army guy who gave them to me. You know, you have these crazy stories of things and you just share them with people. Like it’s very common to share them because it’s like a special thing. And for me, I honestly have had a hard time living in such an independent society like the US where everyone’s like, solo dolo and no one shares and like, you know, everything’s real independent like me. For me on the Airbnb side. I was like, yes, like, this is like, this is like a community, this is a tribe, this is amazing. And then having an E-commerce background like because I actually own an Airbnb business, I have like 14, Airbnb s, and a bunch of properties here in Kansas City, a property management business. And so it was like, through the love of traveling that I’ve already mentioned, and discovering Airbnb, and then discovering that I could take trips and make pay for my trip, like leaving the house, and, and an attachment to material items. At the beginning of Airbnb, it was a very specific type of person that would travel on Airbnb. And I think that oh, yeah, trying to bring that circle back to is like, it took a very specific like person used to traveling used to being like, having other people around there things are in there things and being comfortable with that. That really made that work. And then like that I’m selling it to you online, instead of like you seeing it and knowing the brand.
Rishabh Jain 27:38
I think yeah, and I think my moral of the Airbnb story, just to sort of touch back on something you were talking about earlier, is you were saying like, Hey, you get that validation, right? Like, you’re eight for eight of your 10 friends said, like, Hey, this is like not a good idea. And it’s like, Man, I am confident that Airbnb got told that this is not a good idea, like 1000s of times, right? If today sitting here, I still cannot fully rationalize to you how somebody would have said that it’s a good idea. It’s like, as a founder, ultimately, you just gotta have some level of conviction and be like, No, I. And then and then this is the key thing that you were saying earlier, you put it out into the world, right? You don’t first of all, don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t put it out into the world, put it out into the world. And let the world tell you. Right. And it’s like those 350 people, like, who bought your T shirt. I mean, I don’t know where those transactions came from. But it’s like, what if they were from buffalo, right? It’s like, guess what, you’re not going to meet those people in Buffalo in Kansas City. But that’s why you heard from somebody near you that hey, like this is not gonna work yada, yada. And it’s like, Guess what, like, or the Airbnb thing? It turns out Thailand is the place where people have that level of comfort because of the community. Right? It’s like that. I think that’s like the big unlock that you realize, like, holy smokes.
Andrew Morgans 29:07
I can deliver Sergey only. Yeah, I’m not the only opinion that matters.
Rishabh Jain 29:11
Exactly. And like there’s all of these people who are waiting for this product, right? And I can now all of a sudden deliver all of this value to these people.
Andrew Morgans 29:20
That’s how I felt about the Amazon industry for sure. And why I’ve gone so headstrong. I mean, I’m 11 years in 25,000 hours plus, you added my team and we’re at like, 60 70,000 hours as a team on Amazon. What does that mean? Like, you know, some people still even understand what that means. Well, I had certain brands, certain companies early on on Upwork, wherever I got tops in the world on Upwork. So I was getting a lot of business from there. And I saw people from all over the world that wanted something besides their nine to five. They wished they weren’t doing well in retail. No one was coming by their store. This lady in New York with Uptown Girl headwear. That was like making headbands you used to have a lot of traffic wasn’t getting a lot of traffic started looking on Etsy and Amazon are trying to figure it out because she’s just like, I want to stay in business-like, you know, I don’t want to close, and you get some people that are more desperate or hungry than others. And all of a sudden, you know, what I was doing was a lifeline to them. And I saw what it did for their business. So me as the founder had that conviction of like this thing works, even though you don’t believe it. I know it can be a game changer to these companies that have to go to be a little bit hungrier to find business and it can be a lifeline. And that’s what Airbnb is, like, truly, Airbnb helped me get through my first startup years where people weren’t buying into Amazon, and Amazon services and really needing to, like invest their brand in there to be to be good to have great photos have been content to like, have experts help you navigate it. And in those low months, when I was kind of like trying to trailblaze and being too early, Airbnb was my lifeline, you know, I was able to out stay with a friend or a girlfriend and my sister, and in an Airbnb, my my apartment downtown Casey for three or four days and make, you know, six 700 bucks. And that was the difference between paying my rent or not when I was really trying to get this thing going. So it’s just like, I think something I learned early on was like, Look, my opinion. And what I think is cool is not the only thing that matters. And there’s a whole lot of other people that have, you know, different opinions and sell different stuff. I could chat, I could jam on this all day because I absolutely love it. And that’s what eCommerce is like, it’s not about opinion, it’s data. Gotta try exactly how to innovate. Let’s talk about your company. I want to give us some time here. Like before we jump in, and you hold that thought. But before we jump in, shout out again to our sponsor for making this whole thing possible. FullScale.io helps you build a software team quickly and affordably use the Full Scale platform to find your technical needs, and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team visit FullScale.io to learn more. Okay, I don’t know. I don’t know if that thought was still with you or not. yet. I want to jump. Okay, shoot.
Rishabh Jain 32:01
All right. Yeah. So basically, you were saying E-commerce is like a database business. Right. And so this is like, sort of an actually, I promise, I’ll tie in our company and sort of what led to the idea for the company. And so almost everybody in the E-commerce world at this point knows that Apple made this change where you cannot track a user from one website to another, right?
Andrew Morgans 32:26
And basically, it was 14 the iOS 14 update.
Rishabh Jain 32:29
Yeah, well, 14.5 Yeah. Okay. Okay. Okay. Or data people now, right? Data? People’s I gotta be I gotta be specific. The you’re right, yeah, iOS 14, that five update, like app tech, App Tracking and transparency framework, right? So, okay, they said, Hey, you’re not, we’re not gonna allow you to track a user from one website to another. And I was at this ad tech company live ramp that we were talking about a little bit earlier. And being in ad tech, when that announcement happened, I could see, like this future where I was like, holy smokes, what this means is, you’re not going to have data to actually correctly measure and target your users. Right? And, that was like a big moment for eCommerce, like a very big moment for E-commerce, when, like you said, e-commerce is a business built on top of data. And so when you tell somebody, Hey, actually, we’re going to shut off this data pipeline, it actually has a very low, very large trickle down impact.
Andrew Morgans 33:32
And so it impacted my world a ton on the Amazon side, one because if their web sales were doing good, they now were not at least until their team pivoted and figured it out. It pushed a lot of advertisers that were spending a lot on Facebook ads, or Instagram ads, for example, to hey, let me redirect more of my ad spend to Amazon, which is more keyword driven and direct response marketing. They’re already there on the platform. So companies like PPC, like advertising, PPC, media buying on my end all got harder. But the thing I will say is that, as an Amazon expert that dove in that side, instead of DTC first, I’ve never had that data completely available, because Amazon protects it in regards to being able to leverage it for advertisers. So it was something that I’m like, Yeah, I’ve been playing by these rules for a very long time, guys, what’s the deal? You know?
Rishabh Jain 34:26
Yeah, that’s totally, that’s totally reasonable. I would say it’s reasonable. But for one thing, which is they protect the data, but when you buy ads on Amazon to rank on the searches, it’s because they have the data, it is still uses that same data to rank you in the searching and so so actually, from an ADS perspective, Amazon ads is actually does take advantage of all of that data, but because you it never leaves the website. Doesn’t suffer the loss that iOS 14 caused for Facebook and Instagram ads going to the brand’s website? Yeah.
Andrew Morgans 35:07
Okay, yeah. And so the attribution is still there and those things, but like getting the customer data, a lot of that’s always been unavailable, right? Like I can’t retarget them without a specific type of ad that you’re purchasing, which like has a barrier to entry and all those kinds of things. So smaller businesses never touched those. And instead, you’re dealing with just what you have, like what you have right there. And knowing that like retargeting was such a big part of like, you know, off and off, what I call off Amazon, or like, types of advertising, the retargeting, pixel, and all of that being able to track the customer through their journey is like massive in regards to ROI. And so seeing a lot, I saw a lot of companies that literally couldn’t figure it out, couldn’t figure out how to pivot. Was it going through that, and I think I’m going to try to help you transition here was like going through that helps you come up with the idea for this business.
Rishabh Jain 35:58
Okay, that was it. That was the key. That was the key Aha, where it was like, okay, look, some brand. I actually think that the world is not as simple as, Hey, you should only sell on Amazon, you should only sell b2c, you should only sell brick and mortar. It’s like, it’s actually like, people want to sell. Yeah, it’s everywhere, right? It’s like, people want to sell and like, yeah, these are just different ways that people buy things, right. And so the problem with saying, hey, now this thing doesn’t work anymore, is actually just creates a big hole in your strategy, right? And so I was like, Okay, we need to, we need to build new tools. And we need to enable brands to actually directly work with influencers and content creators, which is, you know, the largest, like eyeball. Like, basically, a share of eyeballs when you’re on social or anything else is on influencer and Creator content. And so, okay, how do I actually embed commerce directly into those media experiences? Because that way, it’s a closed loop. And the brand and that influencer, have a clearer understanding of everything that is happening when the consumer is going through that purchase journey. And it does not suffer the same problems that a standard ad, which, you know, it’s like, you’re in one place, and then you go to a totally different place. Standard ads suffer that data loss. But instead, if we build like a distributed commerce ecosystem, you don’t suffer that data loss. So that was actually the moment for me when I saw this apple thing happening. And I was like, Okay, I need to figure out a way to embed the transaction directly inside of the content so that way, we don’t suffer that data loss. And it can become a pillar of a brand’s customer acquisition strategy. And the way I tell this to people is like, look, I think digital commerce, the future of digital commerce is basically going to be like a three legged stool. It’s going to be Amazon or, you know, online retail in general marketplaces. Yeah, exactly. marketplaces, online, retail, in general, social, and then direct and distributed. And this third leg of the stool is this is the leg that I want to help accelerate the future of. Right. I’m not saying that people should not do these other two things, but I’m just saying that, like, let’s be realistic about the fact that all three are necessary, right? Like, can you can you imagine, and again, like, you know, talking about other companies that should not have should not have existed 10 years ago, when Shopify was trying to raise money people were like, but everybody buys on Amazon. 10 years later, guess what? Shopify is half of the GMV that Amazon is. I mean, that is a lot of sales that go through Shopify sub stores. Right, so 10% of all e-commerce goes through Shopify now. But if you would talk to somebody 10 years ago, they would have just been like, what are you? What are you talking about? Everybody buys everything on Amazon. And Amazon didn’t slow down, just to be clear. It’s not like Amazon’s grossly slow down. So like, I just think like, all three of these are necessary in the future.
Andrew Morgans 39:07
If you listen to any of my content, it’s like you’re just regurgitating what I’ve been saying. Because, as an Amazon expert, a lot of Amazon experts are like, keep it on Amazon. If you’re a Facebook advertiser, you like to keep it on DTC so that we can track it. And I can’t prove what’s happening on Amazon. But the ignorance is if you’re running great, top of funnel or like Facebook ads to your website, there’s a certain percentage of that that is coming to Amazon typing in your brand name or your product name. And I’m looking for you there. That’s a fact. And so like, you know, there’s some Amazon teams that are just like showing results to their brands by just doing branded terms. And people don’t even know what’s happening. They’re actually not getting any new customers off of Amazon. They’re just capturing customers that are coming over from the Facebook traffic. And I have a lot of opinions on why I share all that info because I want brands to understand what’s happening when you triple paying on this customer, right like. Are you paying for a Facebook ad? Now you’re paying for an Amazon ad and the Amazon fee? Just to go with it like that’s, I mean, that’s a lot of margin on those sales. So understanding where they’re coming from that attribution play, but all the way down to, you know, is your packaging now designed to have a QR code or your social media on the package that’s also ready for retail that we’re now selling on Amazon. And since we can’t get Amazon customer data, whenever we ship that, are we having them come to your website and register for the warranty? Are we having them share their unboxing? And posting that on social media and joining your followers? Like? What are all the ways you’re tying it all in together? And are you thinking holistically? Are you just thinking like, channel channel channel, and just like you’ve created with your technology, like the ability to go from influencer to a curated experience that’s like someone can buy right there. With, you know, seeing the same branding that goes from influencer to like where they’re purchasing, we’ve been attempting to do the same thing on the Amazon side, which is, you’re on their website, you get this experience, if you are in retail, and meeting these people in person, you’d get the same experience. If you’re on social media, you’re getting the same experience. And if you’re on Amazon, you’re getting the same experience. And trust is essentially what’s being shared between those four those four channels. Bye, bye, consistent consistency, right? And so that’s what people are, you know, have you ever been on like, you see an ad on Instagram, you either like to go to their Instagram account, and there’s like one post, and it’s like, just started this account like 2022. Or like, you fall, you see an Instagram ad and then you go, and it’s like one influencer, and it’s linking you to another one. And you click on that site, and it’s a website, and you’re like, what is happening here, my buying from like, you know, an alley somewhere like I don’t even know. Or you have the ones that like, you know, you see a post you go through and they’ve been creating consistent content for like three years. And you’re like that, you know, the trust factor you have there is so much different than all the others. And I think that’s really what branding is what we’re talking about. And then creating that loop of attribution. Let’s talk a little bit as we round out, just like how exactly your software works. Since we don’t have a visual, I know you have a hard stop here in a couple of minutes. We’ve gone a little bit over. But I would love to just share. I saw it visually before we started the show, but explain to someone how you’ve adapted like, you know, and created this technology to essentially keep them native there on the platform.
Rishabh Jain 42:18
Yeah, so the basic idea is, let’s just say, let’s talk through two examples. So one is an Instagram story. The other one is a blog. Right, so I’ll do the blog first. So if you’re inside of an influencer’s blog, let’s just say they’ve, like, reviewed some product. And then they’re saying, Hey, you can now buy this product. Today. In today’s world, the way that you would do that is you would link out, and then you would go buy that somewhere else. And what we enable them to do is you can buy this product. When you click it, it actually starts to create the cart directly inside of that webpage. So let’s just say it’s a t-shirt, it’s like, Hey, you can buy this t-shirt, I click it, it pulls aside, drover, and you can actually see the item, and you can hit checkout, and you never leave that website you can complete the checkout, and the checkout is placed directly with the brand. And you instantaneously get the order confirmation because we integrate directly with the brand on the back end. So there’s nothing funny happening. You’re actually placing the order directly with the brand’s order management system. Everything is up to date, and you get that order confirmation, you know exactly what to go to for support, and you know exactly who to go to for any issues or returns or whatever it may be. It’s a super seamless experience. You do the same thing on social media. Let’s just say it’s an influencer who’s built some sort of Instagram story. They’re reviewing a product, you click tap to shop, and you continue to see that same influencer. And then, the product that they are actually highlighting is now clickable for you to shop. So you can click it and then start to fill a cart and then actually finish the transaction the whole time. You can like to see, you know, the influencers’ imagery or videos or whatever it may be. And so for the consumer, exactly to what you were talking about earlier around trust and consistency of experience. When you’re talking about influencer content, that consistency comes from the trust that you have in that influencer. And so you want to make sure that not only is the content being driven by the influencer, but the commerce is being driven by the influencer too. And that’s what generates really good results for the brands that we work with.
Andrew Morgans 44:29
I love it. How far along are you guys, you know, as a company, like, I mean, is this something like you have case studies over like this? Yeah, I’m thinking that if people are okay, where can people find out more information?
Rishabh Jain 44:42
Yeah, so we literally just launched a redesign of our website. We’re recording on September 15. We literally just did a redesign of our website yesterday. So you can go to Fermat commerce.com. It has some testimonials on there. But yeah, we’ve been pretty Lucky we started a business less than a year ago. And we already have dozens of brands who are working with us. And we have a bunch of data that shows that we provide a pretty good lift to the brands who work with us and work with us for their influencer marketing or influencer commerce, I should say. And on the influencer side, it’s actually a very pleasant experience as well because we do everything through an iPhone app. So the same place where they post their content is the same place where they create their store, and then they can just embed it wherever they want to.
Andrew Morgans 45:36
I love it. I still have a lot to learn. And where can people find outside of just like email@example.com? Where can people follow you? Are you on social media? Are you on LinkedIn? Yeah,
Rishabh Jain 45:49
yeah, so I’m pretty active on both Twitter and on LinkedIn. So I’m Rishabh MJ on either Twitter or LinkedIn. So that’s the easiest way to find me there. And then we’re just starting to build our social presence for the firm at commerce, too. So we’re at the Fermat app on social media, and Instagram is the best place to follow us for updates on the company.
Andrew Morgans 46:15
I love it. I think we’re gonna see a lot more of this in the near future. And I think you guys are really onto something. So a super pleasure having you on the show. Jamming out some e-commerce talk with me. It’s been a lot of fun. And we have to circle up after the show. Make it make it happen.
Rishabh Jain 46:31
Likewise, man, yeah. And, and, yeah, also, like, just sort of, if I could just circle back to like, you know, what we sort of titled The episode from the idea on its, you know, it’s, you kind of we got the chance to sort of talk about how did we get here to this business from, like, sort of our, you know, quote, unquote, upbringing. Yeah, and I think the thing that I just want to reiterate is the ability to provide this sort of impact to small businesses, like small and medium-sized brands, and small, you know, and growing influencers. These are independent people with independent businesses. And you know, you and I, we get the opportunity to serve them in growing their businesses. And that’s like, really, what gets me up in the morning is like, Okay, we’re here to help these people grow these businesses, whether it’s on the content side, or on the, on the shopping side. And so, yeah, I mean, we should absolutely connect after the show, but I just wanted to re-emphasize that’s the thing that gets us going.
Andrew Morgans 47:32
I love it. And, you know, you never know when you’re going to connect with someone about, and if that’s what we connected about, I’m like, I couldn’t be happier. I love seeing companies that are out there trying, like the half of value, that has a mission statement that is trying to make the world better than they then they, you know, then they found it. And I love building, I love building businesses, I love building brands, and even you know, we’re in the world of, of the personal brand, the personal brand, and brands like, you know, literally being created and led by individuals, which is like, you know, something new and you know, it’s exciting for me, I’m I honestly got my hands dirty and a couple of projects already, so we’ll have to circle up on those. To our listeners, thank you so much for your time and attention, as always, and to our sponsor FullScale.io. Do you need to hire software engineers, testers, and leaders? Let Full Scale help. They’re the people on the platform to help you build and manage a team of experts. Visit FullScale.io To learn more at Full Scale. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you to learn more when you visit FullScale.io. It’s been a pleasure having you on the show, and I’ll see you next time.
Rishabh Jain 48:38
Yeah, man. Likewise, thanks for having me.