How To Make Your Amazon Private Label Product Stand Out – Differentiate With Gembah Co-Founder

Interview with Amazon Seller Insights Zack Leonard- Co Founder of Gembah

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Jon Tilley:

Hey guys, it’s Jon Tilley to the here from ZonGuru based here in Los Angeles and welcome to another episode of Amazon Seller Insights. This is a series where we interview experts and it’s really just a chance for us to hear from them to gain their knowledge and use it to inspire our own private label, Amazon business, and a quick shout out for ZonGuru. We are an all in one platform for Amazon private label sellers, and we help you scale through data insights and automation. That’s our sweet spot and you can check us out at zonguru.com with powerful partnerships with amazon.com and Alibaba.com, just check us out. Today we are going to meet and chat with Zack Leonard from Gembah, welcome Zack.

Zack Leonard:

Hey Jon. Thanks for having me excited to be here.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah, I’m excited for this one. I think in a nutshell what Gembah does for our audience to hear is really, bring your product idea to fruition. It’s kind of product design, it’s engineering, it’s finding a manufacturer it’s kind of like that full suite of expertise to bring that idea to your Amazon customer. For me and for our listeners and for me in particular, because I’ve been through this process to be a true private label set up where you differentiate your product, there are so many critical pain points that are important to get right to nail it. And I’m excited to dive in with you and, and unpack those for the audience because, if you get it wrong and I’ve seen it so many times with this idea of differentiating and what that really means, and then how to do it, ‘d love our audience to hear your insight and expertise around that. So, I’m excited for jumping on this.

Zack Leonard:

Let’s do it.

Jon Tilley:

I’ve met with Hendrick, who’s your business partner and had a great conversation with him. Maybe just for everyone here, give us a little bit of your background. How did you get this going, how did Gembah start and just to kind of one on one on that before we dive in.

Zack Leonard:

Sure. So, my background is more in finance, operations, and strategy. I was working for a couple of different companies in the same logistics space. One was called Instacart. They do grocery delivery. I was on the ground floor of that company. I was employee like number 30. I saw them help launch the Texas markets, manage the Texas markets helped create how they did their operational model for splitting up delivery and grocery shopping and helped roll out partnerships with Whole Foods and Costco and all that stuff. So really got to see what scaling a massive company from that level all the way to where it is now, and then went into another same day logistics company in Austin that was more focused on larger than just grocery, like all same day logistics. And so, it really sparked my interest is going further up the supply chain to understand like, okay, well, I’m just doing the last mile, right? What comes before that? And then I noticed that in my research, there was a huge gap between small, medium businesses and the expertise of getting a product launched or creating a new product, or even sourcing manufacturing, just everything further up the supply chain, once you get out of logistics requires a lot of expertise. 

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As you mentioned, you can get stuck along the way. And so, I just thought there had to be a much more linear path to doing that. And that was kind of the notion behind Gembah is we can give you that experience of expertise that you don’t have to have as a full time resource or that you can lean on, when you have a new product that you want to launch for a fraction of the cost of hiring like a VP of supply chain or a VP of product development, that’s just one person. When in reality, you need a full team to manage that process. And it’s a different skill set along the different paths you go. And so, the goal of Gembah is to bring that expertise to everyone in the world. And then beyond that, give you that trusted resource from the second you have an idea to come in and say, Hey, you know, I want to create a cup. Okay, who’s the best designer, engineer, supplier compliance, logistics, all of that, all under one roof, all at the click of a button. That’s the goal of Gembah.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah, it’s a massive, massive need. I’m excited to see how you guys progress and when did you guys launch, how long ago was that?

Zack Leonard:

So, I guess two years ago officially, people in our team, the folks on our team have been doing, the manufacturing team has been doing this for over 10 years. Logistics team has been doing this for 30 years and then our engineers and designers come with a varying degree of expertise. Some have worked at Under Armor, done stuff for Boeing created the Tickle Me Elmo. I mean, like you name it, we can find someone who’s done that on our team. So, it’s, it’s pretty cool to be able to offer that level of experience to our customers.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. It’s such a cool business. I think it’s private label sellers and most of us in obviously the end result, of scaling and creating wealth in a business that brings in cash is great and a brand, but the actual creative creation process of like taking your idea and bringing that to fruition and working with manufacturing, actually creating something is such a cool process to go through with the massive challenges. But the fact that you guys are doing that and creating things is just a super cool space to be in. So, I’m sure you get pretty inspired everyday with the kind of stuff that you go through.

Zack Leonard:

There’s a lot of ideas that when people come to us and talk about it, I’m like, man, I would buy this. Right. I think that’s when, you know, you’re onto something

Jon Tilley:

So real quick, but in terms of your audience, your customer or client mix obviously, you’re creating products, which can be sold on Amazon, but there’s obviously various platforms. These products can be sold on Shopify, big brands, you name it. Where do you see most of your clientele and what’s your kind of mix?

Zack Leonard:

Most of our customers are selling on a combination of either their own platform, meaning Shopify, good commerce, bigcommerce, whatever and or Amazon retail obviously has taken a hit over the last few months. So, we’re positioned a lot in the eCommerce space, which is great, obviously. That’s where most of our customers are selling their goods. I think that’s just in the future where this is going, right. I think everyone’s seen the power of Amazon, the power of building your own website, being able to go direct and not have to pay massive fees to retailers is it is truly where it’s going, obviously there’s benefits to having retail outlets, you get exposure, like you’ve never had before. But there’s costs that come along with that. So, I think it just depends on what the customer wants, but we can facilitate all that, we’ve created packaging and distribution into retail as well. So, I think it just depends on what you want to do and then we sort of align the team based on where you’re trying to sell who your target audience is, et cetera.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. I mean, I think the opportunity on all these eCommerce platforms is kind of simple, but it’s about brand creation and I think it’s an important distinction because a lot of even Amazon sellers even our customers they’re just kind of white labeling the products and selling it on Amazon. It’s great for cash flow, but they’re not truly building a brand, and a brand experience, which is in essence, like an asset value that you can sell one day or whatever. And that takes true focus around the things that you guys do like differentiation, packaging all those kinds of things. We see that on Amazon as well, that, Amazon is a big platform for essential goods or convenience products, but there’s absolutely a niche market for these kind of brand products that can be sold on Amazon or Shopify, or e-commerce or whatever. So that’s definitely our specialty. You mentioned there people bring ideas and you go, oh great, I would use that product, but I bet you, you get like, 60, 70% of that, you’re just like, you guys are out of your mind, let’s do some coaching before, before we move forward, because, people don’t know what they don’t know. 

Like with my Amazon businesses, when I launched back in 2015, I truly focused on creating a unique product. And I was in the lucky position where my brother is a product designer. So, I know your space pretty well and how to, how to create a product that is, that is unique and what that takes. The pain points that I’d love to dive in with you and just kind of, top of mind for me is, is if you’re truly differentiating a product there’s some key things you have to get right and be pragmatic about it and business minded about it. And that’s first of all, it’s probably customer research, right? How do you truly connect with your customer to understand what they want rather than what you think they need? That’s a massive important point. The second is deciding on what to differentiate and what actually moves the needle. Some people come on Amazon, they’re like, oh yeah, let’s change the color, make it pink. That’s not a differentiator. And if it is someone can copy that in a second. Right. 

So, understanding what that is, and then the most important point, which I think I see a lot of people getting wrong, which I’d love to get your thoughts on, we can dive in is over capitalization. So, what is the business price point that your customer is willing to pay? And when you differentiate, what is your actual cost of goods and can you make a profit on that because people don’t necessarily think that through then, there’s obviously the engineering aspect, which people definitely don’t think through that. They think they can just create a product and any manufacturer can create it. You go on like Fiverr and you get some product designer to design your stuff and your manufacturer is like, dude, I can’t do anything with this. What do you mean? And obviously finding the right manufacturer and delivery. So, I like to just dive into each of those and maybe get your assurance and we can just kind of go with the flow.

Zack Leonard:

Totally, absolutely. So, I think the first part you talked about was customer research, right? Making sure that your idea is valid. I totally agree with this. You need to have some way of validating that your product is wanted or the problem that you’re solving is going to be worth pursuing. In the case of Amazon, there’s obviously tools out there like yours that can help with that, looking at search frequency ratings, looking at sales velocity, looking at pricing, distribution, and pricing pressure, ultimately doing the research, and saying, is my product or is this idea worth pursuing continuously? Because that stuff again, if you’re good at the research part of it or use tools to do the research, it’s not as expensive as then going into it without the research and saying, I want to just gung-ho go after this idea and have no validation whatsoever.

Jon Tilley:

There’s also steps throughout the product creation process where you can continually get feedback and continue to scrutinize your product or your idea to the point where at any point you could have an out if you wanted to. I totally agree that you need to do you need to do some sort of research, whether it’s looking for trends on something like Pinterest or looking for trends in the data to show what smaller manufacturers, smaller customers are doing. See if there’s something that sticks out to you and then doing the validation to see that if people are actually looking for this information. Same thing again, if you’re going down the route of trying to make an incremental innovation or slight change to an existing product, I mean, Amazon, again, if you’re selling on Amazon, there’s a ton of data in the reviews that tell you why things are bad, right? So if you’re looking at keywords or search terms or whatever it is, and you find that you feel you have an opportunity that has low ratings associated with it, find out why, why are there, why are people rating this product so low, but it’s still getting a ton of search velocity, right? 

People want it, the products out there are solving it, it’s up to you to go solve it. Right. And that’s, I think a good starting point or a good reference point for anyone who is selling on Amazon specifically, if you’re not selling on Amazon and you’re going down a different route, it’s a much more challenging route. I think you can still use that data to back it up, but you’re trying to create something that’s novel, right? Because if you have your own brand, you have your own market? You’re going on the Shopify route, you’re taking the approach of, hey, I’m not just going to sell something else that anyone else has selling like a white label perspective. I’m trying to build a brand around something that I think is better than what’s already out there. So, if it’s apparel, are you changing, how like Allbirds, they changed the manufacturing process, they change what the source material was, made the price point attractive for a lot of people, right. That hadn’t really been done before. 

So, my point is, as long as you can verify that people are looking for this, that you’re solving something that’s novel. If there’s a way that you can patent it. That’s great. I also use the example of a company, Yeti, which, they made incremental innovations to technology that was already out there. Right? How do I keep my drinks cold? Coolers exist, thermoses exist, but they didn’t last as long as, as Yeti’s do. Yetti’s awesome and the fact that I can put a piece of ice into a one of those, Tumbler’s like, it’ll still be there the next morning when I wake up. So, the technology, all they did was focus on how do I keep the insulation better using the same shapes, molds tools for a lot of the different components that go into it. Right. Ultimately, they were able to get a ton of utility patents around all their products and that not only differentiates, but protects those assets. And so, you know, Yeti last year, I think did close to a billion dollars in revenue, right? So, you don’t have to necessarily come out with technology that’s going to be completely game changing. You can have slight iterations or slight improvements that again, if you hyper scrutinize, how long can I keep a drink cold, maybe the thermos only lasts two hours while Yeti last 12, that’s a huge increase, but it’s changing a problem that may or may not have had been solved. They just proved out that it was a problem that people were pursuing at that time.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah, I think on that example, I think just going back to this customer research, I bet Yeti found this customer pain point, which was people were like, yeah, keeps it cold, but not that long. So, they, they find it and they were like, okay, well, how can we truly create an insulation product that would allow us to get into that thermos and still be there tomorrow morning. So that customer insight came from somewhere and that’s customer research and to your original point, I think market trends and all of those things are really important, but truly understanding what your customer loves and hates and what drives them and understanding who your advertising to and do some research around that, the human emotion side of it and their pain points that is probably, the biggest lever that you need to get right, because if you, if you get that wrong, you can do all the market research and trends and knowing the price point but if you miss it, you miss it. Right. 

And more often than not, it comes down to an incremental change on something that’s there and that is such an important point that you mentioned there because a lot of people tend to throw the baby out with the bath water and they want to create a brand new product in a completely different realm than what it is. And sometimes it works, but product design is an iteration that happens over a few years and through a lot of mistakes, especially on the engineering side and so maybe give me some of your insights around what do you see as, as the most impactful things around product design changes that you can make to a baseline of a product what are the key things that you should look at potentially doing it and most importantly, so you don’t overcapitalize, cause there’s a lot of costs that can come into it. Is there any that jumps to mind there.

Zack Leonard:

Yeah. So, I think all the designers on our team will that have had experience with large brands will tell you that the slightest iteration can make the biggest impact in terms of what the customer could find as, Oh, this looks awesome. Right. Even like, look at the iPhones over the last 10 years. Right. What has been, from a shape size, they’ve tried pretty much everything, now they’re kind of differentiating by saying, I can go with the big or the small version of this iPhone, right? So, they’re kind of giving you a bigger audience for people who like different sizes, phones, whatever, however they like to carry it, et cetera. But at the end of the day, they’re not making huge differentiations from what the existing product already had. Right. So, I think the first iPhone was game changing, right? It was touchscreen completely, all that stuff. That’s a completely novel product.

 But since then, what has been a huge, from a design perspective, a huge change. Like again, we might not notice it to the eye, but having a screen that used to be half of it was a keyboard, half of it, wasn’t making it a full screen that isn’t a keyboard. That’s a huge deal from a software and from an innovation perspective. But to the average consumer, it’s like, Oh, well, great. Now I can now have a full screen. I can watch videos better. But at the end of the day, like that takes years upon years to get to that point, same thing with cars, right? Like it takes a long time for technology and cars to get to a certain point where you’re changing the fundamental structure of a car. And so, like Tesla was a game changer because they put these electric motors that can go from zero to 60 really fast, but it took, how long did that take to get to that point from the inception of cars, like long, long, long time. So, the point I’m making is the slightest improvements on a month or a yearly basis, if you’re launching products on the yearly basis for version two, version three, or what’s going to make, or what’s going to move the needle. So, you’re right. You don’t have to completely come out with a brand-new game changing technology that you don’t need to overcapitalize, as you’re mentioning, you can come out with something that’s going to solve a quick fix on something. That’s very simple. Like Yeti did keep the drinks colder for longer solve that problem don’t change anything else. And you’re still going to have a home run product.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. A hundred percent, yeah. Spot on. The other side of that is not only are the incremental changes impactful to the customer, but any change that you make to the baseline design that, that has been manufactured has a cost associated with it. It’s important for sellers to understand that the difference between visual design and product idea, hey, I created a visual design, actually, something that’s engineered for manufacturing because there’s tool sets there’s tooling costs, there’s all these kinds of things. How do you approach that to be smart in terms of making a fundamental, incremental shift to a product, but potentially ensuring that, that is cost effective from a manufacturing perspective. Any thoughts around that?

Zack Leonard:

That comes down to having really good engineers. I think you mentioned it, anyone can go on to Upwork and Fiverr and make a good sketch or make a good rendering of a product, but it really comes down to engineering and using and deciding where you want to spend the money from a differentiation perspective and where you don’t. Especially when it comes to things like electronics. There’s a lot of technology out there that you can get that’s off the shelf. That’s going to save you costs not only from a programming perspective, but also from a compliance perspective. FCC testing can cost thousands of dollars, thousands, tens of thousands of dollars. If you don’t do it right. If you’re coming up with new program, using new chips, using new technology, that’s never been out there in the market. They have to make sure it’s safe, right? People have to be able to consume it. The battery can’t blow up all that stuff. So, all that stuff has to be tested. 

So aside from just the molds and tooling costs that come along with it, there’s also compliance testing costs that come into, into play when you’re coming out with something like an electronic product. So, if you have a good engineer that understands what technology already exists out there, where you can use off the shelf components or parts, then you can decide where do you want to make those incremental innovations? Where do you want to make those incremental changes? And that’s what just at the end of the day, having a good engineering team to do that. Again, going back to the Fiverr, Upwork solution, most people on Fiverr and Upwork are designers, product designers, industrial designers, they are not engineers. And so, you need to make sure that you’re assembling the right team for the right product that you’re trying to make. And we usually try to, you know, at a high level, break this down into three different types. There’s cut and sew, which is like apparel bags, all that stuff. Typically, you don’t need a lot of engineering with that. You just need an industrial designer who has made a product like that in the past. If you’re adding the next level of complexity, which is injection molding. So, plastics, metals, glass, et cetera, you’re going to want to have a mechanical engineer on top of that industrial designer so they can tell you, okay, this is conceptually how it looks from a design perspective. 

Now I’m going to have a mechanical engineer, look at it from a manufacturer perspective and say, what’s going to bring down the cost from a molding perspective. What existing parts can I use that’s off the shelf that a factory doesn’t have to create a mold for? So, you can get that cost savings right there. And then finally, if you go into electronics, need to have an industrial designer and mechanical engineer and electrical engineer on your team to create that product. Again, it could be multiple electrical engineers. It could be multiple mechanical engineers. It could be multiple industrial designers. And at the end of the day, that’s the type of team you need to assemble to give you the best shot at getting your product out in the market. Because they’ll understand if you have a good one, they’ll understand the compliance perspective to understand the parts that already exist, or technology from an electronic standpoint that already exists, that you can leverage that you’re not trying to change the game on the part that you change, try and change the game on that’s, where you should be spending the money and the molds tooling testing, et cetera.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. And then the third one is the one where if it is electronics, that’s where you need the cash. So, I think probably a lot of sellers listening, they might be like, Holy shit, like this is complex. This is like, what’s the point of even trying to go down the differentiation route. What’s your kind of advice there on if they’re truly private label sellers and they want to differentiate, and they don’t have crazy budgets. How do they start? What are your thoughts on that?

Zack Leonard:

Well, let me make this real for you. I can give you an example of a product that we developed, and the cost associated, and the benefits that at the end or the return on investment that they ended up seeing that we know of. So, a year and a half ago one of our customers wanted to do a bunch of research on massage guns. Cause it was it was a hot search item. We did some research on that. Our research found that there wasn’t really a premium product in the market. There was a lot of people going cheap, not a lot of people going higher from an expense perspective. And the pricing pressure at the time was not as, as crazy as it was now. Now it’s just to brace, the bottom, but at that time there wasn’t as much pricing pressure so that they could launch a product that was premium, that they could capitalize on that market really quick. And so, what we decided was to, to engineer a better battery. So, it lasted longer six hours, eight hours, as opposed to two to four different speeds. 

So, three different speeds at that time, there are only a few guns that did that. Have a premium carrying case. So, use that as a differentiator as well, be able to have multiple attachments that would fit into the carrying case, design that, and then have a quieter motor as well. So better battery power, quieter, motor, better pulsing, multiple attachments, more speeds, carrying case, a premium brand. The cost for them to design that product was somewhere around like 10 to $12,000 from everything because we leveraged a bunch of existing technology where we went bigger, was on making sure that the battery was better mechanically, and everything worked inside the gun. And then obviously designing the carrying case as well, to use premium materials. It took us about 30 days to do all that research design, et cetera. We went in, we found the factory, we went to one of the biggest, the one that [inaudible] use factories with concept. Only mold was on the plastic side. They were able to do a bunch of rewiring and mechanics. Cause we were able to figure that out. So, the production time took about 60 days from the second that we got the quotes back into them getting that. And they got into their warehouse and another 28 days. So, 118 days total to get this product launch, it costs them $14,000 from start to finish. And this product is selling for high six figures or low seven figures. Like that’s how much they made on that product. So, if you’re trying to tell me that a $14,000 investment, plus obviously the capital to place your purchase orders to return a seven-figure product, to give you bottom line value like that isn’t worth your time or investment, what are you in business for? Right. Like that’s a massive gain on a small capital investment on the design and research side of it.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. There’s so much to unpack in that, without kind of like the right strategy and approach and expertise, you wouldn’t get that right. But I think just at a high level, some of the things that stuck out for me and what you said there was one looking at the premium upper end of that market. And I think that’s a really, really good insight that, a lot of private label, Amazon sellers sometimes forget, and when I look at a product category, I falter and I say, Hey, what are the high price ones? Because going back to that over capitalization, I bet you that the actual cost of goods on that massage gun with that premium look and feel wasn’t that much about the cost of goods of the cheap one, but you sold it for triple the price of whatever. So, your margin on that was huge. As a business entrepreneur, when you’re looking at differentiation, that is what you need to get, right. Which is like, how do I find something that doesn’t cost that much, make it a premium product, and make sure I have the margin in there. 

And if you can get that right, you’d just call it. You have a moat around you versus the race to the bottom, which is on the other side. So that’s the first thing that I think that stuck out for me. The second is again, like, I think we covered this, but it’s taking a base of a product, which you’re not changing much on. It’s all the electrical components, the actual tooling, all of that stuff is pretty similar, but you’re changing certain things around either, speed or power or aesthetics. The box, the carrier case, the brand, right. These are things that are super cheap to change, but can have a massive impact, especially if you’re aiming at that premium range. Your turn around time was awesome. So, you took something, and you just tweaked it to make it better and look better and positioned better for a product that at the end of the day has people give a shit about, yeah, so that’s perfect. I mean, it, exactly that idea and concept of what you have is what we need to nail when we launch your product on Amazon.

Zack Leonard:

Exactly. If you were to go to Upwork or something, they should hire an industrial designer, they might make the gun look cool. But at the end of the day, did they know about how to wire things in the gun so that you don’t have trouble when the pulse happens? Do they know which electrical components would pass, FCC testing, UL, testing, whatever you need for whatever market you’re selling or not. They’re probably not going to have that answer. So again, you can pay a good amount of money to do this, or you can pay a little bit amount of money and do it wrong, and you’re going to fail, right? So ultimately you get what you paid for. And this doesn’t have to be, like I said, it doesn’t have to be astronomical costs if you’re the problem that you’re solving is only incremental or slight tweaks to do that. Again, where it gets more expensive if you start going down the route of, I want to create something from scratch, with technology that doesn’t exist, that needs a lot of testing and all that kind of stuff throughout the process.

And look, there’s a market for that though, right? Like there’s a market. Like there again, there are investors or people that have a ton of money that want to do this, but for the audience that we’re talking to right now, I think going with going the incremental innovation route, where you’re taking existing products, you’re using data. If you’re selling it on Amazon, the reviews be your guide. You can make those slight tweaks, then you can decide, Hey, I’m looking at the pricing pressure over the last 12 months, I’m looking at the pricing distribution on page one over the last 12 months. Where do I need to be from a price perspective, you can go look at existing technology or existing products that are on Ali Baba, if you really want to do it the cheap way and say, hey, what are these products being, being sold for on Alibaba? So, you have kind of an idea of what your margin could be and then let the engineers designers, et cetera, kind of guide you in that path.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. And I think the overall advice on that, then, you know what you’re saying, there is like, I don’t think there’s a problem with when you have an initial idea to actually go and, and, and conceptualize that on Fiverr, if that’s where you just want to start, where you just want that rough idea, but don’t expect that to be what you’re going to take to your manufacturer, it’s important as a seller to understand the full process of product design, engineering, manufacturing, distribution, all that kind of stuff and understand what’s needed each of those steps before you jump into your product design idea. Soyeah, I totally agree with you there. I think the other pain point is that you can get something engineered for production, but you can take it to a manufacturer, and they might not be able to build it and have to redo the engineering because their tooling is completely different. So that’s another aspect that everyone has to understand is that when you actually design something for manufacturing, you have to have in mind who your manufacturer is, make that connection in a lot of cases. So that was kind of like a good painting to draw for me when I looked at your services is like, not only do you guys do the product design and the engineering aspect of it, but you actually source the manufacturer that can build the products and that is a massive, massive, crucial connection, because without that, and you guys have a network there where you can actually find the manufacturer to do it, which is, which is huge,

Zack Leonard:

Right? So, we start those conversations earlier in the game so that they, we can kind of build the product, build the excitement with the manufacturing, if it’s something that they’re willing to maybe help bring it to the finish line. Right. That’s great. It should limit the amount of costs that you’re doing through the development phase as well. And they might be willing to lower the tooling down as a result of that. Right? So, they get excited about these products too. They want to launch these products, it’s money in their pocket, especially if they know that you are no big-time seller, you have the ability to be a big-time seller, right? Like you can build that story. As long as you have a manufacturer that you trust you should be able to get a really good high-quality manufacturer to help you throughout that process.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, people are like, one route is to work with an expert, you know, service and product like you guys have and make sure that all the pieces connect, so you can truly create a great product and make sure that you have the capital to do that. So, I think that’s a really important way to go the other way, just at a high level, I think, if you have this amazing idea for a piece of furniture, this cool chair, and like, there’s nothing out there that’s in the marketplace. Understand that to actually create that piece of furniture, you have to find the right manufacturer, tooling, the right stressors engineering. There’s a lot of capital that goes into it. You have to understand how to build it. 

And it might take version four before it’s actually decent enough to take to market. So my advice on that is to say, okay, I have this vision that I want to launch this amazing product let’s say in, yeah, maybe it’s in three years, right and find the right manufacturer who could do that, who have great products already look at easy ways that you could potentially tweak or iterate on those products, launch with some of those, form a great relationship with them, take those products to market. And then they might have the design and engineering team that will work with you along the road to produce the product that you want. So, there’s definitely different ways to, to enter. Some are immediates, but some might take patience and forming that relationship with the manufacturer before you can really get what you want.

Zack Leonard:

Right. Absolutely. Yeah. You know, I always equate building a product to building a house, it’s a similar concept, right? If you go to a house builder and say, build me a three-story house with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and a pool and whatever, what are they going to build? Who knows? Right. You got to go to an architect, engineer, electrical, all the different components. It’s the same thing for building a product, get all the experts into the house and do the research. Like if you like a certain way, a house looks, go to that builder, if you like a certain way at different house looks, go to that builder. It’s the same thing for the manufacturers. If you see products that, you know, that they’ve created before, look at export records, or go get samples from them on products that are similar to what you’ve done and test them out before you make that leap into giving all of your IP to a manufacturer, to try to get into the sampling process. Right? So at the end of the day, you need to have someone who’s an expert through the product creation process, if you’re not an expert yourself that can have those conversations with the manufacturer that can understand what it takes to get something made in mass manufacturing, from a tooling and mold perspective, from a testing perspective, this is going to save you so much time and energy throughout this process, if you do want to go into the leap of creating your own products. Yeah.

Jon Tilley:

Solid. Great. I think we’ve covered a lot of ground there and hopefully I think the goal here was just to really open everyone’s thoughts and ideas to the actual understanding the vision and the process from end to end before really diving into the key pieces of product differentiation is so critical, but you have to really understand the full thing cause otherwise there’s mistakes along the way. As everyone here, I think obviously it’s most important to, to get going and move forward and yeah, you’re going to make mistakes along the way, but there’s so much information out there to really consume before you go down there so that you can lessen those mistakes and partners that you can have. So maybe a thought there from me but like what as a new seller, a private label seller going to Amazon, what’s kinda like your biggest piece of advice for them?

Zack Leonard:

Well brand new seller, it depends on how much capital you have, but if you’re a new seller, if you don’t have capital, I would say, find a product that you can get behind and try to get as much traction as you can. And then when you get to the point of needing to create version two of your product, then go down the route of incremental innovation or getting someone like Gembah involved to create version two, because you have the traction you’re so intimate with your product, you know what the reviews are, you know, where you need to innovate on the data’s already there, it’s a hot product. You better believe version two is going to be even better if you’re solving problems, that product version one didn’t solve. So that’s my advice to someone who’s brand new. If you’re more experienced, then I would say

Jon Tilley:

So, start a quick note on that, on that first-time seller. I think you’re spot on there and there’s a lot that you can do with your brand and your packaging and maybe once you find the manufacturer, a few good conversations around, hey, what are some things that we can try that’s not going to cost anything and bring the other ideas later. So, I’m spot on with that. But go ahead, with more advice, what’s your advice?

Zack Leonard:

With a more advanced seller who has a brand that’s already up and running, then maybe you have a good position on page one of Amazon start looking into version two of your product, right? If you’re not someone else’s, so there’s going to be people who are doing it, I mean, it’s, it’s super competitive. I think there’s over a million FBA sellers. I think 30,000 of them are doing over a million dollars in revenue a year and 40% of those are, are Chinese. So, it could be a manufacturer going direct. It could be someone who’s in China selling, right? So, there’s a ton of competition on a global scale in Amazon. So, if you’re not looking at version two of your product, someone is going to do that. So, I recommend for anyone who’s in that 30,000 or approaching the 30,000, that has excess extra capital, that’s not all tied up in inventory. Or if you want to go down the route and maybe get a way to fund it, fundamentals and tools through Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or wherever it is like there’s more than just your Amazon business to try and get more bottom-line value to your overall business. Right? 

And so, at the end of the day, if you can create more revenue opportunities, create defensible products, that’s what the companies like Thras.io are looking to buy, right? Thras.Io just got valued at a billion dollars, they buy up a bunch of Amazon sellers businesses. They’re looking for defensible products. So, if you’re looking to have that exit, you’re looking to have, or even just, you know, a good cash cow for you, that you have a defensible product from a patent perspective, whatever it is like, that’s a great annuity for you. A product that’s hot that you can continue to iterate on that, one day maybe you want to sell it 20 years from now, whatever it is. But at the end of the day, differentiations of what’s going to have the highest reward for your business after that, in my opinion.

Jon Tilley:

I think, when you’re creating a product that you bring to market that has a moat or a defensible moat around it your goal is to not only protect that, but to make it even bigger.

Yeah. Again, you’re absolutely spot on. I think, when you’re creating a product that you bring to market that has a moat or a defensible moat around it your goal is to not only protect that, but to make it even bigger. Right. And there’s many ways that people can grow the Amazon business. One is once you launch one product, launch another one and watch another one, and that’s attrition, and a successful product is going to happen. Someone’s going to jump on it, do a better job, if you don’t continue to iterate on it, so maybe you’re okay with losing that product in a year’s time, cause someone’s done a better job cause you moved onto the other ones, right. Or the other way is to obviously double down on what you have and focus on differentiating it and guaranteed, you’d launch that first product, there’s going to be head smacking moments where you’ve done a few things wrong and you can get them right. And if you just keep going even a simple, simple, basic product you can in a few good iterations, created something amazing. So and, and that, how easy is that, and once you have something that has demand and you have a foothold in the market, if you can make it better and better and get a patent that’s so easy to just focus on that one thing and you’re creating a true brand. So, I think there’s no time anyone, when you launch a product to rest on your laurels, celebrate the moment and be great, but then put your foot down and keep going, you know.

Zack Leonard:

Lean into it. That’s exciting.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. Cool, man. That was awesome. So real quick, like what’s the best way for people to get in contact with you? What’s the process they would go through? We’re specifically talking to these private label sellers who probably have one product that’s doing 30k to 50 K to 100k a month, how do they engage with you guys?

Zack Leonard:

Yeah. So, you can go to our website, www.Gembah.com. There’s a form you fill out, we have a team that will get in touch with you, be able to consult with you on what we think is the best route, whether it’s incremental innovation, doing research, creating a product, whatever you need, we can help. You can also email info@gemba.com and someone from our team would be in touch.

Jon Tilley:

Awesome. Yeah. And just to kind of remind everyone here, it’s like check out their website cause they break down their prices of their services of where they can help you. It’s the full spectrum. So, if you come in with the right idea and you engage with these guys, you could end up with something awesome that’s not overcapitalized that you can really take to market and make it different. So, I think you guys have a massive, that you’re filling that people should take advantage of. Maybe just to end what’s the next big adventure for you? What you want to tackle, maybe post COVID or whatever it is what’s on the horizon for you?

Zack Leonard:

Well from a business perspective we’re launching our, our platform here pretty shortly. So, everything that we’ve been managing has been not proprietary to us, like from a systems perspective. So, we’re really excited about getting our system up and running sometime hearing in Q three. After that, I mean, we’ll see where it goes. We’re really excited about that. So, and then personally, I think, yeah, it’d just great for all this madness to end Covid craziness, whatever is going on in the world. So, it’d be good to get some travel going again when that’s all said and done. Yeah.

Jon Tilley:

Well Austin is a good spot anyway.

Zack Leonard:

Its 105 degrees and it’s people can’t really do outside and then if you go outside, you’re limited and you can’t, you get to wear mask and all that stuff, you can’t go into the restaurant. So, it’s getting a little crazy.

Jon Tilley:

Yeah. Absolutely. Well, hang in there, man, hang in there. So, I’m sure we’ll connect again, but thanks for that. We’ll touch base soon.

Zack Leonard:

Thanks, Jon.

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