What Investors in the European Market Look for When Buying FBA Private Label Brands
February 22, 2021
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- Riccardo Bruni explains why FBA private label businesses have become a hot commodity in recent years
- How the increased interest in FBA businesses is affecting Amazon entrepreneurship
- What inspired Riccardo to start investing in private label Amazon brands?
- How Amazon founders differ from traditional entrepreneurs
- What Riccardo looks for when evaluating brands to buy
- The role brokers play in the European market versus the US market
- How Riccardo’s firm, Heroes, helps private label brands prepare for a sale
- Riccardo’s experience building capital to finance his investments
- The software tools Riccardo uses to make his operational work more effective
In this episode…
Over the last couple of years, many investors have started buying and scaling FBA private label brands. In light of this, entrepreneurs are entering the Amazon marketplace with the intent of eventually selling their businesses. However, not every seller or brand is prepared for a successful sale.
When acquiring private label businesses on Amazon, one of the main things Riccardo Bruni looks for is an established brand. As he says, a large product portfolio is less important than a cohesive brand that consumers love. That’s because a brand with great reviews has the potential to experience massive growth and become a category leader.
In this episode of the Buy Box Experts podcast, James Thomson interviews Riccardo Bruni, the Co-founder of Heroes, about what investors in the European market are looking for when buying FBA private label brands. Riccardo explains why he and his brother decided to start investing in Amazon brands, how Amazon founders differ from traditional entrepreneurs, and what makes his company different from other players in the market. Stay tuned.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Buy Box Experts
- Controlling Your Brand in The Age of Amazon: The Brand Executive’s Playbook For Winning Online by James Thomson and Whitney Gibson
- James Thomson on LinkedIn
- Riccardo Bruni on LinkedIn
- Alessio Bruni on LinkedIn
- Helium 10
- Jungle Scout
- MBM Commercial
- Disruptive Advertising
Sponsor for this episode…
Buy Box Experts applies decades of e-commerce experience to successfully manage their clients’ marketplace accounts. The Buy Box account managers specialize in combining an understanding of their clients’ business fundamentals and their in-depth expertise in the Amazon Marketplace.
The team works with marketplace technicians using a system of processes, proprietary software, and extensive channel experience to ensure your Amazon presence captures the opportunity in the marketplace–not only producing greater revenue and profits but also reducing or eliminating your business’ workload.
Buy Box Experts prides itself on being one of the few agencies with an SMB (small to medium-sized business) division and an Enterprise division. Buy Box does not commingle clients among divisions as each has unique needs and requirements for proper account management.
Learn more about Buy Box Experts at BuyBoxExperts.com.
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Welcome to the Buy Box Experts Podcast. We bring to light the unique opportunities brands face in today’s e-commerce world.
James Thomson 0:18
Hi, I’m James Thomson, one of the hosts of the Buy Box Experts Podcast. I’m a partner with Buy Box Experts and the former business head of the selling on Amazon team at Amazon, as well as the first account manager for the Fulfillment by Amazon program. I’m the co-author of a couple of books on Amazon including the recent book, Controlling Your Brand in the Age of Amazon. Today’s episode is brought to you by Buy Box Experts. Buy Box Experts takes ambitious brands and makes them unbeatable. When you hire Buy Box Experts, you receive the strategy optimization and marketing performance to succeed on Amazon. We also support investors with due diligence services. Go to buyboxexperts.com to learn more.
Before I introduce our guest today, I want to send a big shout out to the team at Disruptive Advertising. For off Amazon advertising, Disruptive Advertising offers the highest level of service in the digital marketing industry, focusing on driving traffic, converting traffic and enterprise analytics. Disruptive helps their clients increase their bottom line month after month. Go to disruptiveadvertising.com to learn more. Today, our guest is Riccardo Bruni, co-founder of the UK based company Heroes, a firm that buys FBA businesses. Riccardo and his brother Alessio founded this firm in 2020. After a series of successful entrepreneurial ventures, they have taken roles as bankers and operators and bring those skills together to found this company. Riccardo, welcome. And thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.
Riccardo Bruni 1:48
James, thanks a lot for having me.
James Thomson 1:50
I want to start with somewhat of an obvious question, FBA private label businesses are a hot commodity these days. What do you think has happened to create this recent interest in such businesses that have been around since the start of the Amazon Marketplace?
Riccardo Bruni 2:04
Yeah, it’s a great question. And we’ve certainly seen an incredible influx of capital into into this space. And we always talk internally about an emergence of a new asset class almost right. And, and what we will we find ourselves in is that will be actually more capital being deployed into this into this category going forward, and we will see more players, whether it’s in the US or in Europe emerging and doing similar things to us, I think what we believe will actually happen sooner rather than later is a specialization of each of these players, similar to what we’ve seen in private equity or venture capital, players focusing on specific categories, specific sizes, right, only focusing on asset classes above 10 million in size or below 10 million below 1 million, I think we will ultimately also see as almost venture like players and focusing on FBA brands, which have only been around for three to six months, maybe on the on the platform and see great trajectory and, and offering them a way to quickly exit and, and monetize their, their their short journey, and I think will be a very different business model, there were probably 50 to 70% of those brands will will go toward zero and only 30% will make it but that’s how it was investors will generate returns. And I think we will even see sort of turnaround investors, right? turnaround cases where businesses who once been great and in button diamond players in their respective categories who’ve had, for whatever reason, their downward trajectory, to acquire those and try to get them back to the shore, back to the point where they where they used to be. So I think it’s an incredibly exciting space. And we will see a lot of movement and a lot of a lot of things happening going forward. But we’re really at the infancy of of that market as a whole. Really answer your question, right? Why do we Why have we seen this space evolve in such a short period of time, even though that that category has been around for, I think, for such a long for such a long period of time. And there’s obviously a lot of players who actually have been doing what we’re doing for much longer than we have, who actually started doing this pretty much at the same time when Amazon took this decision to open up its infrastructure and allow third party sellers selling. And I think obviously COVID has massively accelerated interest in in this space. I think it’s, it’s, it’s no secret that we’ve seen an incredible acceleration of e-commerce penetration as a result of COVID. And with that, obviously a space which has seen tremendous attention and, and tremendous trajectory, which then also, I think, means that a lot of investors looking at the at the space and trying to get exposure to it. Meaning the way we do it is a very attractive form for for a lot of investors to get exposure to this to this asset classes as we as we call it.
James Thomson 4:42
If I think back to maybe five years ago, if you met an FBA seller who had sold his or her business, that that was a very, very odd situation to have. today. When I talk with FBA sellers. Just in the last year, everyone’s realizing Wait a minute, I actually am building something thing that if I do it properly, somebody’s going to want to buy this from me. So I’d love to get your thoughts on. How do you see all this new interest in investing in businesses? How do you see that affecting the types of entrepreneurial entrepreneurial behavior around building FBA businesses? Do you see different types of people deciding to get into the space to build the private label brands? Or do you see the behavior of the existing private label brand sellers? evolving in some manner?
Riccardo Bruni 5:26
Yeah, again, great, great question. And I think what we what we’re seeing is that that there’s no one size fits all model, right? from the from an entrepreneurial perspective, I think what holds true for every single brand builder out there, why FBA FBA builder out there is that they are true to intrapreneurs. Right, and they may not be intrapreneurs, in the sense of the world where I’m coming from, I have a background in venture capital. And but they’re true intrapreneurs. And they’re true fighters. And they’re going out there and taking risk. And they’re trying to find out what products could be loved by My customers. And they iterate on those on those on those customer reviews and iterate on, on the product in itself and ultimately build brands which are locked by by their customers and establish themselves as category leaders. I think what we’re seeing is that those brand builders obviously get more sophisticated as more capital also gets deployed into the into the market. And it also attracts a new and new kind of intrapreneur. Right people who find this an incredibly exciting category and incredibly exciting marketplace and, and realize that what we see now a shift, which has been always happening over the last last 10 to 20 years, but now mash accelerated as well of COVID. Where I think a lot of people are, I can no longer doubt that this shift is happening and see a huge opportunity to also go into into into this and launching their own brands. I think there’s obviously a huge knock on effect, a domino effect of all those people who have sold the FBA brand to go out there and share their story and tell about them having monetized through their exit. And that’s actually what we’re what we’re seeing as well that especially people who we’ve bought their brands off, who either refer us to other people who they would love us to speak to and say, Hey, we had a great experience. But Heroes you shouldn’t speak to my friend who is who’s also built an FDA brand, but we see is also a domino effect, to incentivize or really give other people a kick to say, hey, you could build your own business on Amazon that now Amazon has built an incredible infrastructure and has invested billions of US dollars into this infrastructure and keeps investing billions of US dollars into this infrastructure, which is the most sophisticated in the world. And they have taken this conscious decision to open it up with third party sellers to operate on it. And I think more and more people are realizing how attractive that is as a as a platform.
James Thomson 7:47
So Riccardo, you didn’t grow up as a private label Amazon seller, but you have been drawn to the space to tell me a little bit about what it was it was enticing about moving into the space as an investor. But also, what are some of the unusual things that you’ve discovered about these types of entrepreneurs?
Riccardo Bruni 8:03
Yeah, so my background is in venture capital and investment banking. And what I’ve seen, especially over the last couple of years, was that an incredible amount of money was invested towards direct direct to consumer businesses, towards business and founders who had without a hypothesis around a certain product and wanted to launch that into the market, you know, on the, on the on the consumer. And we’ve seen the likes of Warby Parker in the US, Casper, etc. Sure. Now, some of which have been very successful, others haven’t been very successful. And especially lately, over the last couple of years, we’ve been talking almost about a direct to consumer crunch. It’s just the crunch, where we realize very often that this business model was completely flawed, people raising venture capital funds to build out a business model, which wasn’t proven yet and spending billions of pounds or millions of dollars into into ads on social media platforms, which were incredibly exciting. But those business models were very often most of the time not profitable, and cashflow burning. And what we what we realized was that the Amazon world, while it may not be as attractive from the outside, and that has never attracted capital from a venture capital perspective, and to build brands on the Amazon platform was actually the true the true validation of the market. Right. Amazon has moved beyond being a platform and it’s the market. And what we’re seeing is products being sold on Amazon and they’re being validated by the market. So I guess what I’m saying here is we’re flipping around the entire formula of raising capital to build something which may or may not be successful in which may or may not make consumers may want, right? When we look here at what do consumers want, and what do consumers love today? There’s no doubt there’s no doubt about that. And we often we often find ourselves in in discussions where we look at at certainly FBA brands and we you know we ordered the product and we do almost sort of organically product testing. You know, we say we don’t like this material, we don’t like this material, but something we cannot argue with. It’s those 15,000 positive reviews This product has on the Amazon platform, and number one ranked On the category, right, we can we could spend hours a days discussing and and get a third party involved into the product testing for us. But it’s the number one leader in the category in 1000s of units are being sold on a daily basis. And to me, that means a clear validation of the product market fit, people love the product, right? They’re loving their day, and they will
James Thomson 10:19
guide me, please, Riccardo, I’m sorry.
Riccardo Bruni 10:21
Yeah, that’s, I think that they love it, they love it today. And we of course, have to build a hypothesis of whether that that defensibility will sustain going forward and product will, will consumers love that product going forward. And that’s I think we’re, then the whole the combination of that, but the investment angle comes in, right to say, we need to build a hypothesis around certain categories and certain products, and, and make decisions of whether we want to acquire this business or not. And because we form long term views, we don’t acquire businesses with the intention of selling them on we buy businesses with intention of operating them and, and, and owning them for the for the long term,
James Thomson 10:56
as you’ve been meeting private label sellers, people who are often 1 to 3 person operations, and what are some of the surprising things that you’ve learned about this type of entrepreneur? I think,
Riccardo Bruni 11:08
as I, as I said, before, they are true. entrepreneur. Right. And you know, but my background, again, is in venture capital, and we have had a very narrow view of, of what an entrepreneur looks like, right. And there’s certain, it’s not that we had a checkbox or sorry, a checklist to go through and say, you know, each founder had to check these little things, and then that makes a true incremental, but the truth is, that’s very often the venture capital viewpoint over what is an entrepreneur. And there’s certain things that entrepreneur he should have done, or are certain characteristics, which show a certain level of dedication, obsession, even towards, towards building a business, right. Whereas here, these, these entrepreneur, we’re dealing with, they probably wouldn’t make it past past that checklist of, of those venture capital to produce, but they are true entrepreneur, right. And they, as I said, before, they have taken a risk, and a lot of a lot of these people are taking all the savings they have and in order to invest it and research it into a product and they send it to a supplier and far east of in China to get a product back. And, and and only to iterate on that product and to fail, right, a lot of people failed. Now, what does it mean to fail or fail? We, I think what’s important is what we’re seeing, the majority of people takes this as a learning, right and doesn’t give up and takes us right each of these data points and the product not setting is also a data point of we you can turn around and say look, I’m smarter today, because that product didn’t sell, let’s try to find something what sells and let’s take those product reviews we’ve been getting from the consumer to improve the product and maybe launch something which might work and would take a different angle, take a different pricing strategy, use a different product. I think that’s I think it all boils down to that being a an incredible people out there. And and with an incredible level of dedication and incredible level of obsession and customer centric, this is that what what we love, and that’s what we love speaking to these people and, and partnering up with them, and, and seeing whether we can be they can help them and, and scale those businesses that they’ve built further.
James Thomson 13:13
So when you look at all these companies out there that are these entrepreneurs building their companies, at what point do you start to get interested in a company? I’m sure you’re shown many, many companies, lots of opportunities to buy companies, but only a small portion of them are going to be interesting to you. So what can you share with us around some of the high level things that you’re looking for that start to get you interested?
Riccardo Bruni 13:37
Yeah. So far, such a big starting point is its brand. And, and when we say brand, we really, we really mean that. So we stay away from products with great reviews, we’re looking for brands, which with great reviews, but that does not necessarily mean a huge product portfolio. But it can also be a small portfolio of only three to four SKUs. But a brand which has established themselves in a respective category does not mean it needs to be the category leader. But it needs to be have the potential to become the category leader to to set itself apart from other players in the in the category, whether that’s through better product, better content, better photography, better brand, better customer service, better, a better description, a better packaging, and all these things are really, really, really important to us. And if we see those elements of that happening, I think they’re sort of clear indications of that really happening and your senses really a consistency and coherence between the products they’re selling. Right? So if it’s a it’s a baby brand that all those four or five products are, are coherent, they’re consistent, they adjacent to each other, right. It’s not a an iPhone case and baby blanket, right? And even though they carry the same brand, there’s no there’s no, there’s there’s no stickiness, but between those two products, right. And that’s what that’s what really what we’re looking for now, of course, there’s a lot of other characteristics in terms of size and in terms of respective categories. We focus on to just give you a sense, we would love to see a business’s generating more than more than a million US dollars of sales on an annual basis, we would offer businesses which are profitable. We’d like businesses in certain categories, baby pets, homework, kitchenware, sports, outdoors, Garden, DIY, etc, are there certain categories we would prefer to stay away from? Not not because we don’t believe that great brands are being built there. But just because we don’t feel confident enough to participate in those respective categories, either because they’re too competitive or too complicated or too regulated. Right. And again, I think it probably is also something which is which is very specific to the European market. Which is, which may not be the case for for the markets. But certain products is inherently more difficult to sell cross border and import into, into specific jurisdictions in Europe, and others are.
James Thomson 15:56
So Riccardo here in United States, many of the aggregators are focused on using brokers as a primary source of deals. Tell me a little bit more about what’s happening in Europe, what the role of brokers is, and how does your company leverage that channel for for finding potential acquisitions.
Riccardo Bruni 17:41
So we suddenly have brokers, similar to the to the US market, and from our understanding as brokers are not as dominant as they are in the US market, I think for for a number of reasons, mainly because the European market is significantly more fragmented. And I think it’s difficult to have a presence in across all those respective regions where localized language skills are often necessary to actually be able to build relationship with it with the sellers. So I think my understanding is brokers play a significant more important role in in the US today than in comparison to Europe does not mean that I believe that brokers will play an important role in Europe going forward, I think it goes back to what I mentioned before, this is an emergence of a new asset class, right. And we’re really at the infancy of that, I think as as a result, we will see more, more capital and more players like ourselves participate in this asset class, but we will have also other characteristics, which are, which we’ll see in other classes happening into space. And that’s in the form of brokers, advisors, consultants, to who will emerge and now we have all the acquisitions we have done up until today, have been sourced by our by ourselves, have, we have not gone through brokers and I think it’s, it’s is what I what I just mentioned around there, we want the language goals, it’s really, really important that if we speak to an Italian brand, if we speak to us French brand or Spanish brand that we do have those in house in house skills and the ability to, to to meet those entrepreneurs and a level and be able to speak speak in their native language, build a relationship selling a business is a is a very emotional undertaking. And it’s an I think it’s significant more difficult than just partner with a with a broker and set it through it through a platform. It’s obviously a very time intensive fun, right? And I think what what people really often want to ensure is that the buyers of those businesses also looks after that business, right? Where we’ve been we’ve been we’ve seen cases where we’re sellers have sold their business to us despite coming in at a low lower valuation than someone else. But well they felt confident with us and that they felt Heroes was going to look after the brand and ensure that the brand lives on and and flourishes under our under our under our umbrella, so to say and I think that’s that’s, that is Really important to a lot of a lot of centers and where the human where the human direct relationship is, is, is going a long way with this.
James Thomson 20:09
So let me ask you this, when you talk to some of these private label sellers before they’re ready to sell, what are some of the things that you wish more private label sellers were doing to get themselves properly prepared for an eventual sale?
Riccardo Bruni 20:24
Yeah, so we actually don’t think about, we don’t believe in the notion of someone has to be ready to sell. Right? It, I think it’s almost, you know, the pressure is on us almost. But we have to, we have reached out to a seller, I didn’t, and we have to justify to ourselves, why we reached out, the last thing we want is, is to reach out to people and waste their time, right, they have better things to do than speak to us only, only for us to dig, dig around information and identify whether that’s a business, which is interesting for us or not. So we have to do our homework first and desktop research. And there’s great tools out there. And as you know, obviously, obviously, Amazon as a whole provides an incredible amount of data points, which we can leverage and assess whether a business is likely going to be interesting or not. And that’s really where we would we would only speak to sellers and approach that we do actually see this could be a great fit for us and be at a stage which which fits our our investment or acquisition criteria. So we don’t we don’t really believe in putting and putting, you know, sellers under pressure and say, hey, you’re not ready to sell. It’s really, if it may just mean that you are too early for Heroes. But this does not mean that you’re not ready to sell your business, you are ready to sell your business when there’s a potential buyer out there who is willing to buy your business
James Thomson 21:41
through. It’s interesting, because here in the US, there’s a whole industry around getting companies ready so that they can be able to go to market. So how do you get your books in order? How do you get your operations in order? How do you organize your data? How do you have the answers for the first 25 questions that every prospective buyer is going to ask that all of that is necessary in some situations, but whether it comes out in a formal perspective document versus comes out as part of conversations over time, where you’re getting to know the company and learning about them, and they’re learning about you. It’s an interesting dichotomy of approaches.
Riccardo Bruni 22:19
Yeah, no, 100%, I think the way we look at it is that, that it’s also part of our responsibility to get the seller there, right, that if we, if there is a willingness on both sides to engage further, our role, we’re no longer sitting on opposite sides, opposite sides of the table. And it’s us Heroes against the seller, and we’re looking to buy your business, rather, let’s we’re sitting together on the same side of the table and say, let’s let’s try to make it happen, and how can we make it happen? And you know, you if your books are not an order, let’s work together on getting your books in order. If there’s no data room set up, we provide you with a list of items, we need to see if there’s a if you don’t have a certain contracts lined up. That’s for us is are we happy for that? And are we happy to take that risk? But can we speak to a person X or Y to get more clarity or comfort around certain things, but it’s never about us against someone else? It’s rather us together? How can we solve this, this problem going forward and figure out whether there is a partnership to be struck? in the future? I’d say we don’t believe in the notion of you know, using being prepped in it for it for an interview. Right? It’s almost, it almost feels like you’re you’re giving the the potential buyer the answers they want to hear. Right, what we love is his genuine conversations. Right? And the conversations we often have in the first instance about centers, it’s not about what’s your revenue? What’s your margin? How many SK use you have? But who are you? And why did you build this business? And and and why are you potentially thinking about selling the business today? Right? And and what were the biggest struggles you have? And and how can we help but very often, very often, we we have a first initial conversation now as a result COVID video calls. But we’ve we realized and to begin together that this is likely not going to be working out an acquisition. But how can we help you? We’ve seen a lot of other businesses, and we’ve seen a lot of processes. And we have an in house team and branding, marketing, supply chain, finance, legal tax, how can we help you like, you know, we’re here, we love the ecosystem, we would love to contribute to the ecosystem and build a stronger ecosystem. And if there’s problems you’re struggling with, and chances are we’ve seen the same problems, right? How can we help you and this this does not mean just I just want to be clear about that. This does not mean that we that we pass on confidential information from from other one set or to another setter, by no means right? But it’s just how can we how can we apply learnings that we’ve had to someone else, even if we don’t end up acquiring the business?
James Thomson 24:53
So let me ask you this. You’ve talked a little bit about this, but I want to hear more about how do you view Heroes being different For many of the other companies in the same space that are looking to acquire private label sellers,
Riccardo Bruni 25:04
okay, I’ve seen full transparency, a little insight into into what others are doing. And we are, we’re focused on our ourselves, we’re not looking at others that guidance or try to differentiate ourselves. We do everything organically how we think it should be done, and, and what we think is the best way forward. Right. And I think a lot of the things I just said, is really what, what, what is important to us as Heroes, and but we want to stand for and what is what we want to also transpire to the to the settlers out there is that we’re not investors, you know, yes, we have raised capital for the purpose of acquiring brands, but we don’t see ourselves as investors, we’re operators, and we want to build those brands together with you, or we want to, we want to acquire those brands, and but we want to ensure that those brands live on, and that they live on into into the future. And, and that’s really important for us to take this this human approach and build the human relationship with the sellers, right and get to know them. And that sometimes means that we jump onto a train or in a car, that’s pretty COVID and get to know them. And that’s what we do, we have to get in front of the sellers. And we also want to not only because we want to get some information out of them, that’s not the point. But we want also the seller to get to know us, and to ensure that they have the comfort to say, you know, what I really liked, I really liked Heroes. And I’m really confident setting, setting my business, my business to them.
James Thomson 26:31
Let me ask you, this, you you worked in banking, and you may have learned how to raise capital while you were in that space, but raising capital, specifically for your own business and getting investors to believe in you. That’s a very different set of issues. What What can you share with us around this journey of building enough investment capital so that you could go off and build up build Heroes?
Riccardo Bruni 26:55
Yeah, I think something to obviously bear in mind is that, um, you know, we’ve been extremely fortunate enough to raise capital and to have investors on our side who are who are supporting us in what we’re doing. And we’re extremely grateful to have amazing, amazing people who’ve joined us and believed in what we’re doing and saw this same opportunity. We saw and shared the same values we saw and in the ecosystem. And I think, looking back, and I think Don’t be Don’t be floored by by some funding announcements and, and great amounts of capital being raised. And that’s, that that is almost that it was tough. It was it was not easy, right, we raised that capital throughout, I mean, the middle of COVID I remember, we had a lot of investors, saying no to us, right. But I think what what is even more important is how this is not a capital game. This is this is not, this is not about who can raise more money than someone else. This is an operational game. Right. And I think that’s what that’s what we have learned very, very quickly, the hard way, right, where the second you buy your first business and you start operating the same business, that the first business, you understand, it’s not about m&a here, it’s not about issuing term sheets and acquiring businesses and closing businesses. Because yes, that’s our skill set. And that’s what we what we can do and where we go. But it’s really about once that business closes as yours, you have a responsibility, right you have to operate that brand and you have a responsibility not only to yourself and to your investors but I think more importantly you have a responsibility to as the previous owner right to take on that business I mean that sweat and tears went into that business right and five, six years into building it and you have the responsibility to keep that alive and ensure that this business moves on but you also have an A you have a an obligation towards the consumers consumers love that product and you want to ensure that the consumers can keep buying the product and and can enjoy them enjoy themselves having having that product right. And I think that’s the difficult part here that’s a really really really difficult part where we have to build an operational machine in order to get it right and and that’s where we invest heavily into an operational team on both on the tech side of things and the supply chain side of things on sourcing on on legal tax finance right all these things but and bearing in mind a current FBA owner old current FBA owner is wearing all those hats day in day out, I think incredible job right, an incredible job. And I think, I think you know, given given your background and the Amazon agency, you know, you guys understand the complexity of the European market. And you understand the the complexity of of having to have it you have to translate your products, you have to think about packaging upon regulation, about certifications about but import duties about VAT registration, etc. A lot of complexities and the current owners are wearing all these hats. We have to do it in a scalable manner, and have specialized functions for all of these, but buying one brand, and two brands and three bands for brands is not four times It’s complicated. Operating for brands is probably 30 times as complicated as just running one brand, right. So it really, it really grows exponentially, to operate more and more brands. And that’s what we understand capital and doing m&a. That’s, that’s almost the easy part. But operating those brands, that’s the really hard part.
James Thomson 30:20
As an operator, that’s what I do day in, day out. I can’t agree more with you in terms of what you’re saying. It’s, it’s fascinating. Some of the conversations I’ve had with investors who have bought Amazon brands recently, they don’t realize that on day one of owning that brand, they are flying the plane, the plane is already in the air, they must keep flying the plane. This is not a situation where you want to continue my story, you can’t land the plane and say, let’s get training before we take off the plane and start flying again, the plane, the plane is flying, and you’ve got to be ready to go. And often that that initial handoff, realizing oh my goodness, there’s a lot more issues here that we need to look at than we ever expected. Can we just send some more inventory into Amazon and call it a day? Well, maybe for a week. But you know, in week two, you’re going to discover there’s performance issues, there’s listings, issues, there’s advertising issues, all those things come into play. And yeah, when you think of the entrepreneur having to put on all those hats every single day, maybe they’re good at some of them, maybe they’re not so good at others, to the extent that you can come in as an investor and bring best in class thinking on all those different areas that certainly gives the brand more opportunity to grow. And that that’s an exciting situation for a brand. Let me ask you this. As you’ve gone through this journey, inevitably, there have been software tools or consultants or companies that you have partnered with and used to help make this journey this this operating journey more effective. Tell us about some of the tools that you use today that you’re particularly glad exists in the Amazon ecospace
Riccardo Bruni 31:56
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s, that’s, I think, an amazing, amazing evolvement of an entire ecosystem, which has been built on Amazon. Right. And I think it’s what I mentioned before Amazon has moved beyond being a marketplace, it’s, it’s become the market, right? And we see an incredible amount of of players emerging who are sitting on top of that marketplace and building an ecosystem around it. Right. And whether that’s software, whether that’s agencies, whether that’s consultants, I think it’s a it’s an incredible, incredible space and we find is a lot of people are very helpful and you reach out to them. And you know, everyone is happy to jump on a call and exchange notes and very often even free of charges, it’s people people love it people love getting together and just sharing I think some of their some of their some of the, of the war scars right. I think you just mentioned a couple idx listings and trying to get right trying to get the stock into the Amazon warehouse, it seems so easy, right? from the outside. It’s It’s such a it’s such an you acquire, you acquire a brand and you click a button. And, and that’s it. Right. And I think where what we’re seeing is that, obviously, software is a is an incredible enabler and facilitator of what we’re doing on in from all all aspects, right? You know, we in our team, obviously, on the both on the, on the investment side of things, right, and that’s where, where I spent most of my of my time identifying and sourcing investment opportunities. That’s where it is, you know, we use Helium 10, Jungle Scout, Data Hawk, you know, just just to name it just to name a few to really get a sense of what’s happening in the market. How are How are players evolving? What categories do we see an incredible trajectory and right on the super powerful tools being built and built by incredible, incredible people with incredible teams. And some it’s centerboard Great, great software which we use to analyze businesses to keep track of our own businesses. Some of these of these softwares are equally used by by our operational and marketing team to just ensure that everything everything runs smoothly and and because I think without those without those tools, we couldn’t right and i think it gives us a kind of hand in hand to the complexity of these of these businesses. And that we need to ensure that we stay on top and that we partner with the right people and the right consultancies and the right software providers to ensure that the airplane keeps flying so to say. I think equally on some externals we’ve been working a lot with with MBM Commercial unit UK. Caroline is amazing. Anyone anyone looking forward for legal advice on the on the Amazon FBA side especially from an m&a perspective to really get get in touch with with her and, and Dan Liddell from selling my books amazing as well. I think AI software which 1000s of Amazon sellers are using to ensure that they stay on top of things and That everything runs smoothly in the backend that I can actually focus on on the things that matter, right. Building and scaling your favorite.
James Thomson 35:09
Riccardo, I want to thank you for joining us today on the Buy Box Experts Podcast. For those of you who are interested in learning more about the Heroes Company, please visit make heroes.co. Please join us again on the next Buy Box Experts Podcast. And now to finish today’s podcast I’d like to share some final thoughts. For third party sellers to be successful on Amazon, a critical lever will be soliciting feedback from customers. We at Buy Box Experts are really big fans of the team at eComEngine and it’s tools that help Amazon sellers to simplify the process of messaging customers of Amazon orders. To learn more, go to ecomengine.com. And with that, I want to thank you for listening today and I look forward to joining you next time on the Buy Box Experts Podcast.
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