In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Andrew Morgans, Founder & CEO of Marknology discusses creativity leads to eCommerce greatness. Andrews owns a leading eCommerce agency, and he shares his life story and his unexpected way into eCommerce.
From his early childhood growing up in Africa and other parts of the world, on to working for MasterCard, all the way to discovering the power of eCommerce and never looking back. Learn how Andrew’s rich and colorful background along with his passion to innovate helped him face business challenges successfully and experience continued growth.
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Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazur 0:05
Hi, everybody, today I have a special guest. I have Andrew Morgans from Marknology who is the founder and CEO of Marknology, which is a leading e-commerce agency. So, Andrew, thank you so much for coming to our show and being with us today. Today we’re gonna, you know, touch your story and what’s what are you about? Because you’re definitely an interesting character that’s out there in the e-commerce space, doing some amazing things. So first of all, you know, how are you? How’s everything?
Andrew Morgans 0:34
I’m great. Thanks for having me on the show. I’m excited to be here. You know, we’ve been a partner we’ve been to for a while. And it’s fun to do some content together. And I’m all about this as an influencer, getting the chance to be. I really only like to push things or even refer to things or mentioned things that I’m actually about. You know, so having a partner on a podcast and being able to push that lines up perfectly. I’m super stoked to share any value that you guys bring with my e-commerce network.
Yoni Mazur 1:06
Well, in today’s session, the value will be actually you, what are your story? We wanted to get to know you. You know, yeah, what’s authentic about you and how you got to this space. So, you know, let’s, let’s get, you know, without further ado, let’s get right into it. You know, tell us your background where you’re from your journey into the professional world and the world of e-commerce. Shoot us your game.
Andrew Morgans 1:28
Andrew Morgans 1:29
I don’t know if he knows how long-winded I am. That’s a loaded question. Take your time. Okay, so my answers are a little bit interesting. I was actually born in Montreal, Quebec. And then before I was three years old, I was living in Cameroon. My parents marooned
Yoni Mazur 1:49
in Africa. Yeah. Cameroon Africa. Yes.
Andrew Morgans 1:51
Wow. We’re French missionaries. That’s why they were in Quebec. They were there seven years. I think learning French and immersion school.
Yoni Mazur 2:00
How’s your French by the way?
Andrew Morgans 2:03
It’s horrible. So I’m, I live in Kansas City. So in..
Yoni Mazur 2:07
How’s your Cameroonian? What’s the language over there? Cameroon..
Andrew Morgans 2:10
Cameroon, Cameroon. They speak English and French.
Yoni Mazur 2:13
I got okay. So no, like native language over there.
Andrew Morgans 2:16
So I guess if I speak anything, it’s really like pidgin English. And I’m not going to do that for everyone here. But you know, imagine a kind of surfer lingo with some Ebonics that kinda end up with pidgin English. That’s why it’s really cool. So, Cameroon, then, and back and forth, we would come back to Kansas City, even for small amounts of time and raise money. See family,
Yoni Mazur 2:38
Kansas City has two states, right? There is Missouri and the other half.
Andrew Morgans 2:40
And yeah, Missouri and Kansas. So it’s already part of you, and I’m in Missouri, but I literally can walk to the state line from my office. So I actually have an apparel company as well. Okay. And, you know, some fun things we do with that brand is just uniting Missouri and Kansas, were one city, you know, we’re one, we have some, you know, the streets might disagree with me in some ways about the differences, you know, between the two cities, but the people, you know, you’re Kansas City, Missouri, Kansas City, Kansas, we’re all the same, we’re the same, we go through the same things together.
Yoni Mazur 3:17
So, the message of the brand is, you know, basically, a board is just a lot on the map. But we’re still one as a culture as a society as humans, we’re all one. That’s pretty much my message.
Andrew Morgans 3:25
Exactly. I mean, I’m wearing an equality shirt for the show today. Just to, you know, somewhat subtly tell people what I’m about, you know, growing up in Cameroon, Botswana, Moscow, Russia, Congo until 2001. I was 16 years old, and Congo when we came back, crazy, crazy upbringing in regards to perspective and exposure and seeing, you know, 99% unemployment in the city of 12 million people in Kinshasa Congo. Well, you know, it’s just perspective, you know, and so as an entrepreneur, and I think I’ve always I’ve leaned on a lot of that, that I that perspective, I had when I was younger, to understand that I’m privileged to be able to work hard, and opportunities everywhere around me when there’s people around the world that don’t have opportunity. And for me, it wasn’t just like, you know, a blog that got to me and emotional or, you know, something like that, a movie, it was like, real life, you know, these are my friends. These were like, kids I grew up with, like, very real relationships. So, I didn’t know that early on, you know, as a young man…
Yoni Mazur 4:30
It was probably natural as it is for any child to grow up, I guess. Yeah, in retrospect, you definitely have an incredible upbringing, which is unique with your point of view that I’ve probably never met before. And and I’ve seen, I’ve seen people I’ve met some people around. So yeah.
Andrew Morgans 4:49
Being a missionary kid, especially in places as dangerous as Congo, Congo is very, very dangerous that it was a war why we were there. And I won’t take too long on this but like, you know, had friends that I was shot. I was kidnapped for a day with my father.
Yoni Mazur 5:04
You were kidnapped for a day with your father.
Andrew Morgans 5:06
I was the rebel officers picked us up.
Yoni Mazur 5:12
So let me just start to barge into this but tell me just for anybody listening, you know, enlighten you know, our knowledge about this what was the war there? What was it? Who’s against who and how did you get involved by being kidnapped?
Andrew Morgans 5:23
Okay, so it’s a long story and please know and hold me to facts with history right?
Yoni Mazur 5:28
Just a nutshell like the, you know the dumbing down a bit?
Andrew Morgans 5:32
Well, there was, um, you know, a few years before that there was the war in Rwanda and the Hutus and Tutsis and they were, you know, racial tribes.
Yoni Mazur 5:41
Two tribes. Yes.
Andrew Morgans 5:43
Made by Belgians in the past, and so divided these people, and then they hated each other, and they were killing each other, the losing army. Guess where they went to Congo? Okay, so they rebel against the jungles of Congo. So a lot of countries around Congo, it’s one of the biggest nations in the world, as far as land and you know, rain forests and things like that. So surrounding countries as they have wars, those losing armies run into Congo, and it creates a very dangerous environment, because it’s not just Congolese, it’s, you know, all the nations around it. And so, you know, they teamed up with some Congolese rebels that wanted to change things in Congo, because Congo has been under one of the worst dictators in all of the time named Mobutu. He had been taken out, but there’s a new leader and the people weren’t happy, right? So 99% unemployment in the capital city, you can kind of understand why. And so the rebels were, you know, coming for the city coming for the government. And we were in the capital city, it was too dangerous to leave the city to go into the jungle at all. You know, there are a few Marines there in the city, but not really protection, things like that. So why were we there, the President was killed? Rebels took the city. It was a wild time, right? It was wild..
Yoni Mazur 7:05
So basically, you got to kind of buy the rebels.
Andrew Morgans 7:09
I think that these were just unpaid soldiers. I’m not sure if they had aside, even I think they have just had guns and weren’t getting paid and saw an opportunity and took it,
Yoni Mazor 7:22
Did they get paid?
Andrew Morgans 7:25
They didn’t get paid big..
Yoni Mazur 7:27
They got something that was a simple business transaction is like, you know, we’ve seen these people that foreigners maybe have some sort of value we can get by holding, you know, holding him up for a while. I think that worked out.
Andrew Morgans 7:39
I think that that could be the case. And one, you know, one can’t really say But I would also say that, you know, we’re going through crazy times right now, right? And people are literally scared to be near some people sometimes and you know, just different things. And there was a lot of that fear, then, you know, just desperate times call for desperate measures. And you know, if you have a gun and power and you know, those, there’s, there are people there, there are people on the other side of the world that live with a different code than all of us. And you know.
Yoni Mazur 8:11
Andrew Morgans 8:12
People who can use children for soldiers and things like that. They don’t think they were not even in the same mindset as them, you know…
Yoni Mazur 8:18
For you know, any, you know, here in America, it’s pretty much these kinds of concepts and reality, a reality of life. It’s, it’s like outer space, really. So you really experienced something that is very, very different.
Andrew Morgans 8:32
Very much like outer space, very hard to relate, you know, I find myself relating with immigrants, I find myself relating with foreigners, I find my
Yoni Mazur 8:39
Underdogs in general, I would say.
Andrew Morgans 8:41
Anyone that’s had a hard time, you know, because how can I explain something as wild as probably only read in a book, you know, soldiers might relate to me, but I wasn’t a soldier. You know, I was a missionary kid, right? 16 years old, or whatever. So, I mean, that’s one story, but there was a lifetime in Africa. Right. And I think
Yoni Mazur 9:01
Your upbringing is pretty much a whole book that could be written, but, you know, let’s, let’s, let’s get forward into, you know, being brought up by the world as the Saudis of the world and to professional life business.
Andrew Morgans 9:16
Yoni Mazur 9:17
So with the shops, you know..
Andrew Morgans 9:19
Africa goes to Hawaii goes to University, and I started going to school in Hawaii. And then a family emergency. We had moved to Hawaii after Africa is a good transition spot for us. And then after Hawaii, we moved back to Kansas City. And when I moved back to Kansas City, I finished my degree up computer science degree in networking and security. And I got a job right. I’ve been touring playing music for four years. I leave that part out.
Yoni Mazur 9:48
What do you play which instrument?
Andrew Morgans 9:50
I play bass. Nice. I play bass and I was in we were a pretty big band, you know like we would tour played 96 shows one
Yoni Mazur 9:57
One year, wow.
Andrew Morgans 10:00
That’s a lot of shows for you know, for someone in school and working on there and supporting them so..
Yoni Mazur 10:04
That’s pretty much that third of the year. It’s very intensive.
Andrew Morgans 10:06
Yeah, it was, but it was actually my first business I think.
Yoni Mazur 10:10
Andrew Morgans 10:11
I was doing it full time, right I was creating shirts and branding and products, songs or products, right and merchandise merge merchandise, we were booking shows I was b2b relationships. It was branding it was, you know, efficiencies and systems when you’re traveling on the road setup takedown, we were creating checklists, and you know, all types of stuff, I didn’t really realize it was my first business. But I think that it taught me a lot about branding and marketing that I’ve, that I’ve, like, leaning on. As I’ve grown my own business, I think.
Yoni Mazur 10:43
There are two key elements there, obviously, the entrepreneurship of, you know, creating accessories and marketing, you know, materials and products. But the second thing will be your ability to perform the confidence needed to perform out there. Because, you know, by doing that, you’re able to, you know, put yourself out there and in all these dimensions, and connect. So this is a very, very powerful instrument for the digital age to put yourself out there and make it and have some sort of underlying product or service that represents that they can connect to immediately as soon as possible. And then they get the value out of it, because you know, it solves whatever it needs they have. And obviously for you, it provides a stimulus for productivity. So you can, you know, let your art and also make an income, which is also important these days.
Andrew Morgans 11:29
No, I couldn’t agree more. I mean, during this time, like before, graduating college, like I’ve been a professional painter, or to a surf shop working in a warehouse, you know, obviously a professional full time musician. You name it, I’ve done the work, I’ve been a landscaper in Hawaii, you know, like not scared of hard work, you know, and we’re having that second or third job. Probably much like a lot of other immigrant families, you know, that are just doing whatever it takes.
Yoni Mazur 11:59
This is interesting, you see yourself ultimately, as an immigrant at this point?
Andrew Morgans 12:02
If I’m allowed to define myself, mentally Yes. I know, as I’m the weirdest mix, I’m a white African soul, you know, with, you know, finances and kind of learning America’s culture at 17 years old, that’s when I started learning the culture. I relate to that, at least.
Yoni Mazur 12:23
At this point, because effectively you were out of the game, I guess, the Western world or the American game or the society game up till 17, you’re just completely away. So you have to kind of pick up very quickly from that point on.
Andrew Morgans 12:37
It’s backward, you know like most people fight to have these rights or, you know, the freedoms that we have. And people will fight for generations, they are here for their families, and I was someone that was born into that privilege and born into those blessings. And then, you know, took our knowledge to the world, so on, you know, through my parents. So just meaning like, it’s kind of backward to be a, you know, white American, a white male, American boy, I’m going to those places that everyone else is trying to get out of just a weird perspective, but something that’s been great for e-commerce and entrepreneurship and, and all of those things.
Yoni Mazur 13:15
Okay, so, your first actual business was, you know, the music business being in a band, what was the next step for you?
Andrew Morgans 13:21
So I got a job at MasterCard global, as in a knock, which is a Network Operations Control. So monitoring a lot of banking networks, was kind of a cool kind of sci-fi a little bit, you know, high security. And pretty, you know, it’s a prestigious job for a young guy out of school. I was making more money than I ever had, but I was miserable on the inside, I was bored. Within a few months, I’d kind of learned the ropes. And you just sit around watching cops with subtitles and wait on, you know, networks to break and I’m not an I’m not someone to just watch and react. I think I’m more of a creator and a builder. And so I’d gone from playing music full time and touring and traveling and being poor, right but being free and creating revenue, having money, more financial stability, but being just dead on the inside and not being fulfilled. So after that job, I took a jet for my first e-commerce job.
Yoni Mazur 14:24
What was it? What was the first start-up?
Andrew Morgans 14:25
I was employee number three, they hired me because of my experience, you know, and my personality. I think my experience with computers is not e-commerce, right? And they said like if MasterCard hires him, we’ll hire him kind of thing. And we put car parts online. So it was like, you know, eight years ago or so. You couldn’t even really get car parts online. You had to call the shop, tell them your car, you know, get a part number. Then they would tell you what to order. You go pick it up, you know it Wasn’t it like, you could go and browse and buy and like those kinds of things. So I was, I won’t take too long. But this is really where I learned e-commerce the hard way I was I was contacting manufacturers getting you to know, part lists, or calling mom and pop shops that didn’t even have stuff online, you know, getting their products that come to where we were, we take photos of them to write product descriptions, and put them up and we’d be the only one that had access to this outside of calling these people and, and our websites grew like crazy. And Amazon grew by over a million dollars that year, and I knew that I was the one finding all these parts, putting them all up, you know.
Yoni Mazur 15:37
This was 2012?
Andrew Morgans 15:41
This was 2011 to 2012.
Yoni Mazur 15:44
Alright, so essentially, you’re jumping to start up, you help them map out the catalog, so it to put into their own.com website. And additionally, also, you know, open the offerings out on Amazon, quickly that the same trailing year, you guys broke the million-dollar revenue mark with Amazon and assume the website also was getting traction.
Andrew Morgans 16:03
Yes, it was just growing. What I was doing, is essentially taking 1000s of like parts and using Excel and concatenating descriptions and bullet points and, and things like that for content that had never existed, you know, large category,
Yoni Mazur 16:18
Large catalog activity, just aggregate everything and put it out there and give it a push.
Andrew Morgans 16:23
So if you understand how Amazon works with a lot of templates and e-commerce works with templates and uploading products through that type of stuff, I was kind of placed early on in you know, without giving I wasn’t being given a calculator I was being given like go figure this out kind of old school way. But I feel like it gave me a very strong foundation for how e-commerce works.
Yoni Mazur 16:45
Yeah, the framework of mass data which is content and essentially in its heart this content you’re describing a product and utility of a product although it’s not so attractive as fashion products you know, you’re selling car parts like you said to give you the foundation so later on if you have to aggregate all that data to make it more appealing what would that you know, appeal of you know, fashion brand that was easy to do because the technical level you know, really how to do the aggregation of everything.
Andrew Morgans 17:11
I just knew if it was going to be a hard project or easy project based on like creating something from scratch you know, now right and we were doing everything from drop shipping from some of the biggest like you know, car part manufacturers to private labeling our own product from China to buying from distributors, more like a wholesale relationship, we had a mixture of kind of all three things going.
Yoni Mazur 17:37
So you had a nice triangle, a nice delta. Where you guys resell, private label, wholesale.
Andrew Morgans 17:42
And so I was, you know, I was lucky to be in kind of the driver’s seat at a young company, trying to help them figure all this kind of stuff out and all those problems. Though it was growing, you know, the boss is happy, you know, but also I’m working crazy crazy hours. And you know, just having a blast doing it. But once I discovered e-commerce after having gone to school for networking, I was just like I was in e-commerce. To me, it’s, it’s the name, the reason for the name for my company. It’s the mixture of marketing and technology, it was, you know, the marketing and the creative side from like, let’s say the band, right, and music, side of Andrew. But then the technical side of what I went to school for and what I like, you know, my dad grew up, like, I was probably 678 years old building computers with my dad from scratch. So like, being around computers and technology was very comfortable for me. You know, intellect-wise, even though I liked the creativity side, e-commerce to me was like, wow, I get to use both of these things. And you know, for work, this is awesome.
Yoni Mazur 18:48
So kind of embodies infusions, what you stand for, which is, you know, marketing and branding stuff, along with the knack for technology. So but you’re pretty much you’re, you’re kind of the poster boy for that feature, right, in a way. Okay, so you were doing great, I guess you tasted the forbidden fruit or tasted the apple of e-commerce and the power that has behind it, and what was the next step for you?
Andrew Morgans 19:13
Yeah, so I, I, I’ll be honest, like, I never I didn’t even know what the word entrepreneur meant. This space was new to me. I didn’t know that it existed before I stumbled across it. So for anyone listening, like I didn’t have this massive plan, you know, the plan was to make it as a musician. The backup plan was this degree I got as a backup plan. And now I’m using it, you know, so I left a startup, I actually moved to Tampa for that startup. And so I went from Kansas City to Tampa, and then back to Kansas City in 2012 13, I think so. I started working at a company called us toy company, and they’re medium-sized retailers. Quite a bit bigger than our startup and they hired me as an e-commerce manager. So I was a brick and mortar, or they had eight stores, five brands, you know, we were trying to grow e-commerce. So they did a lot of catalog business, actually. And if anyone’s in this listening, as been in business, that’s a huge, huge problem to solve transitioning from a buyer base, that’s probably aging out and using catalogs to now using your catalogs, just look you up online to make that purchase. And, you know, attribution of all those things. It was a problem to step into for sure.
Yoni Mazur 20:40
Got it? Okay. So you went to that company, and you were infected? What would you accomplish with them?
Andrew Morgans 20:45
Okay, so the CMO CIO was really sharp. And he knew that we needed to focus on e-commerce, brought me in just as dedicated resources and said, hey, let’s figure this out. I really want to grow eBay, Amazon, the website, affiliate marketing. So I came in and started giving all those areas attention. And really, I mean, while we saw growth, and I could talk about e-commerce all day, we had been on Amazon for several years, sewing about 2 million. And we grew to 3.3 million that first year I was there.
Yoni Mazur 21:18
Nice. 60 Bumper.
Andrew Morgans 21:20
Yeah, right. And when you’re the only person doing the work, you know, it’s you, you can be part of a team in a different career, where there might be 10 of you, and you’re all collaborating. And I’m not to say the guy shipping the product and also helped me in e-commerce. That’s not what I’m saying. But I mean, like,
Yoni Mazur 21:36