520
11 min 13 sec

Civil Engineer Sells Everything but Kitchen Sink, Moves to Bali, Employs 100 People

After a civil engineer learns the ropes of using Fulfilled by Amazon, he moves to Bali with his wife, builds an extension to help him find products, and turns what he's learned into a business that employs 100 people and serves 100,000 users.
App FBA High Profit Reselling Service

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What It's About

A Chrome extension and online app that helps resellers make better product choices!

Business Model
Service
Skills Required
Research & Coordination
Complexity
Medium
Profit Potential
High

Words of Wisdom

Greg likes to say his success has been due to his humble start. He made something that solved a problem, he continued to improve that product according to his customers’ feedback, and he grew organically. No outside funding, no big startup budget—just a grand idea that was fundamentally sound.

Fun Fact

Jungle Scout’s in-depth case study series has become the #1 source of new users. By demonstrating to newcomers how they can get started, he’s build authority, generated trust, and even donated over $50,000 to non-profits.

Notes from Chris

Episode 520
Greg Mercer has always been a tinkerer with a good head for business, and at 10 years old, he painted and sold acorns. As you might guess, that side hustle was not highly profitable, but the next one got more traction. At age 14, Greg launched Pedkey, a working key for motorized scooters, and he received enough traffic to his website that he proudly received a "Cease and Desist" letter from GoPed, a giant in the industry.

The shutdown didn’t damper Greg’s spirits for long, though. He continued to learn after school and experimented when he could, but, as with many of us, the draw of a “regular job" eventually started to overshadow Greg’s entrepreneurial spirit. So when he graduated from college, he settled in as a corporate civil engineer in Pensacola, Florida.

And for a while, he was happy. He had a reliable salary. He was working with talented professionals, and he even got to go out to the oil rigs every now and then. But it didn’t last for long. Greg quickly found himself dreaming of side hustles after work. Then it even started to happen during work...

So in 2013, Greg started selling wholesale items, like hooded baby robes, on Amazon.com. Why baby robes? Well, he would browse various subcategories on Amazon, look for strong sales rankings to determine if a niche was hot, and see if there was a gap in the available products that he could fill with imported items to generate sales. It became all he could think about, and he knew he couldn’t stay at his corporate job for long.

As expected, their business grew and grew. But it wasn’t very efficient… and that little business, as interesting as it is, isn’t what our story is about.

Scrolling through pages on Amazon, creating complex Excel sheets, doing a bunch of math—gathering the data to find products to sell was very difficult and confusing. There had to be a better way.

Greg dreamed of creating an app that could help him organize and analyze the data that was already available across Amazon.com. He figured that if he could crawl and digest that data onto a single page, he could speed up his product discovery time dramatically. It would also likely come in handy for others like him looking to flip products.

So in January of 2015, Greg drew up his plan and found a freelance developer on a gig-for-hire site.

One month later, the Jungle Scout extension for Google Chrome was released, and Greg set the price at $67. His goal was to simply sell ten copies to help make up the cost of development. And he did—on the first day!

But the sales didn’t keep up the next couple days. Greg tried Facebook ads—and they didn’t work. He tried blogging—but writing just wasn’t his strong suit. Then one of his initial customers asked Greg to demo the product for a Facebook group. He did a webinar for 100 folks and got ten more sales. It was clear: webinars were the most effective method for getting sales.

Greg’s idea was validated, but it wasn’t finished yet. He got in touch with his users for feedback, built out more features in the Chrome extension, and saw sales continue to climb as he released more webinars.

Fast forward to early 2018: Jungle Scout has 80 employees, 100,000 users, and aims to open 5 schools through Pencils of Promise and the Million Dollar Case Study. Greg and Elizabeth now live in Austin for most of the year, but still travel a lot and work remotely.

Their goal moving forward is to just keep doing what they’re doing. Entrepreneurship has enabled them to live a life that works for them—and they want to help as many people as possible achieve that sense of accomplishment and personal freedom!


MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:

  • Jungle Scout: Demystify which products will be the best to flip using Fulfilled by Amazon—crack the code and learn more on Greg's website!

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): The model that Greg used to flip products that allowed him to pass on the responsibility of keeping stock and shipping out orders
  • Reddit: The "front page of the internet" where Greg ended up building his launch list
SEE ALSO:

Inspiration is good; inspiration combined with action is better. Now get back to work!

Yours in the revolution,

cg-sig-newsletter


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Resources

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Quote of the Day
"Looking back, if I were to give advice to myself two-and-a-half years ago, it would be to get in front of other people’s audiences as much as possible. It’s a great way to get your product and brand out there when you’re just starting out and lack an audience or email list of your own."
—Greg Mercer #SideHustleSchool

Sponsors & Gratitude

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To infinity and beyond,

Chris Guillebeau