Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Brandon Fuhrman, the founder of AMZ Innovate, shares how to launch an Amazon business and his personal eCommerce journey.


Building an Amazon or e-commerce business can be a terrifying proposition for anyone. But one trick is that you need to network and build up a support system around you of people who have been in the same position as you, and can understand and help you move forward. Yoni Mazor of PrimeTalk discusses the New York City Amazon Sellers Meetup Community and the reasons why you should get involved.


In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Brandon Fuhrman, the founder of the networking event called AMZ Innovate, which offers incredible hands-on experiences, innovative hacks for your business, unique tactics, and invaluable tips for all kinds of Amazon sellers. This incredible event also allows you the opportunity to meet other sellers from around the country, and possibly the world, so you can expand your own network.


Brandon Fuhrman discusses his unique journey from a young website developer, to a budding e-commerce seller, to a lawyer, to the event coordinator. So if you’re an Amazon seller who’s looking for the missing piece to your puzzle, or you want to scale your existing business, even more, to move into the Million Dollar Sellers Club, then this episode is for you!


Learn more at Amzinnovate


Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.


Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor 0:06

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I’m really excited to have an interesting guest and a good friend. I’m having Brandon Fuhrman. Brandon is the founder of AMC Innovate, which is a leading Amazon seller conference based in New York City. Usually, the conferences are in September towards Q4. And he’s also the Amazon New York City Meetup Community Group leader. So essentially, he rounds up all the Amazon sellers around the New York area once every two weeks, once a week, something like that? Once a month? 


Brandon Fuhrman 0:36

A little more than that, once every six, eight weeks, yeah.


Yoni Mazor 0:39

Once every six, eight weeks, and they have great meetings and, you know, sellers interact and learn a lot. So Brandon, welcome to the show. 


Brandon Fuhrman 0:46

Thanks. Great to be here.


Yoni Mazor 0:48

We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. So I’m so happy I got the chance. All right, great. So this episode is really going to be the story of you: the story of Brandon Furhman. So you’re going to share with us your background, who are you? where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school? So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.


Brandon Fuhrman 1:02

So I grew up in East Hanover, New Jersey. Yeah, I went to school at George Washington University. You know, when I was in high school, I would say I built my first website with a friend of mine, Jeff. And we were like, this is like, in the early days of the internet, you know, there was almost no other websites, I think…


Yoni Mazor 1:19

What year was this just to have some context? Where year was that? 


Brandon Fuhrman 1:23

Like 1995 or so.


Yoni Mazor 1:24

25 years ago, you build your first website? 


Brandon Fuhrman 1:28

It was so long ago, yeah. I looked it up online, like a three-week period where I had a website that was more popular than Amazon. But I beat them online, I guess. They had a really crazy logo. And so our first website was like, going to be like a really easy place to like, find links to like newspapers and weather and business. And now it seems pretty like, you know, okay, that exists. But like back then there was almost nothing there. So it was kind of a big deal. You know, if you went to Yahoo and clicked on the weather because our name was club.net, there was literally AccuWeather and then like, maybe BBC weather then like us, because it started with C and it was just alphabetical order. We should’ve called ourselves like an aardvark or something, but


Yoni Mazor 2:06

Triple-A Weather.


Brandon Fuhrman 2:08

Yeah, but we were near the top. And, you know, and so we got a ton of traffic, and we had like a really kind of popular website, but we were in high school, so we just didn’t do anything with it.


Yoni Mazor 2:16

So you were what? 16-17?


Brandon Fuhrman 2:18

Yeah, maybe if that. Maybe 14. Yeah, NCSA Mosaic, cool site of the day, which was like a big honor back then. But we didn’t do anything with it. So we, you know, we were in school, we were busy with our, you know, work and whatever. And I went to school, graduated with a degree in international business and marketing, and traveled a bit, lived in London for a few months, and then came back and started working at this place Campus Food, which was a precursor to Seamless.


Yoni Mazor 2:44

So what year did you graduate?


Brandon Fuhrman 2:46

I graduated college in ‘03.


Yoni Mazor 2:48

In ‘03 and then right away, you started working or you took a year off?


Brandon Fuhrman 2:53

I went to…I worked in London for a while. Yeah, it was like a work abroad program. Did that for a little while. And then I started working at Campus Food once I got back in the city, which is like a precursor to Seamless, Grubhub, that kind of thing. But it was way too early for that kind of idea. But it was still successful. Because you know college students were online ordering food. And they were like, basically, the only kinds of people that were. This was 2004, 2005ish, I guess I would say, I left that to do a startup with a friend of mine, that just we never got off the ground. But it was also like in the food space. So it just never really worked out. And then I launched a…my own website, an oil painting website called ownapainting.com. And this was, basically my first foray into e-commerce. After that, where I would, you know…


Yoni Mazor 3:37

Give us a year. Give us a year.


Brandon Fuhrman 3:40

This was ‘06, I would say.


Yoni Mazor 3:42

Okay, 14 years ago, ‘06, you know, what was the name of the website? Choose Painting. com?


Brandon Fuhrman 3:48

ownapainting.com. But basically, it was hand-painted reproductions of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, that kind of thing, if you want to get a portrait of yourself like some people got to like the Last Supper with like, their friends in it, you know, pictures of dogs, like you know, in famous paintings, you know, self-portraits, all that kind of stuff.


Yoni Mazor 4:05

Did you do it on demand, or you had stock you had inventory? 


Brandon Fuhrman 4:08

We had both and it ran and I did okay with it. And I did it for a while, you know, concurrent to that, I had hired an SEO company. And they did terribly. So I did SEO myself or…


Yoni Mazor 4:19

Define terrible. Give us a little bit of that experience. Let’s touch that for a moment. 2006ish again? Or?


Brandon Fuhrman 4:26

Yeah, 2006ish I hired a company and they were doing work looking for things like prints and things that were just not even related misspellings. Like, they basically outsourced it to an Indian company, who didn’t know my product, didn’t even care about spelling, they’re paying like $2 an hour, and they were charging me a lot more. So I nixed that pretty quick, learned SEO, and started consulting with that on the side. I did that for you know concurrently, I guess with my site using the money there to kind of help growth and it did okay for a number of years and I did that for you know, a decent length of time, you know, around but it never really grew to where I wanted it to grow. But it was fine to me, I made a living. I was okay with it. But it never grew to…


Yoni Mazor 5:05

Was that your core income back in the day?


Brandon Fuhrman 5:06

Between the two, between those two businesses, absolutely. Yeah, you know, Google had made some changes to their algorithm. And I was like, not happy with how that happened. So around 2000 what would it have been? 2008? 2009? I went to law school part-time during all this. I was running two businesses and part-time in law school. 


Yoni Mazor 5:26

So the two businesses just to get it straight was ownapainting.com and SEO consulting? Put it all on top. You’re in law school.


Brandon Fuhrman 5:32

I’m in law school part-time. Yeah. 


Yoni Mazor 5:34

And what school? Rutgers Newark. Yeah, it’s a good extension there. Yeah.


Brandon Fuhrman 5:39

So I did that. Living in Hoboken. It was a great experience. I’m really glad I went, right before I went to law school, I went to some conference in the city where they had a bunch..it was like, people selling art online. And they were like, and, you know, I started networking before and there are all these major galleries there, there was like the Saatchi gallery, and you know, these auction houses and just like these, you know, huge businesses and just like me with my, like, stupid website that I do myself. And, you know, as it started they go, you know, who here has sold, you know, $500 worth of art online? You know, I raise my hand and like, know, some other people raise their hand? No, what about 1000? There are like, noticeably fewer hands, but about 10,000. And it was like me and like two other hands. No, but I was like, all these people. You know, I’ve been beating my head against the wall trying to sell art online. And all these people have all their resources that they could ever want at their fingertips. And like, I’m not selling them. But this is like the best I can do. Like, this is not the right place to be this.


Yoni Mazor 6:32

Oh, wow. That’s a major discovery on your own to realize it. Yeah, basically, the threshold you thought, you…there’s so much more to go. Yeah, but then you can go for the industry leaders, you realize, you know, you’re probably pretty much at the peak. And maybe you should find another venue for it. 


Brandon Fuhrman 6:47

Yeah, yeah, basically, I guess that’s it. My e-commerce thing is over, I’ll do some SEO consulting. But like, you know, I’m still making money off the website. So like, it’ll be a good side income. I’ll go into law, that’ll be that. So in law school, um…


Yoni Mazor 6:59

So let me just ask you this. You had these two businesses, what compelled you to go to law school? What was the trigger for you?


Brandon Fuhrman 7:04

I wasn’t making as much money as I thought I should have been using those two. And really, I wasn’t sure what my path should be, to be honest, like I, you know, I still loved e-commerce. But I knew that that site wasn’t going to get me where I wanted to go. And I knew that SEO was something that was like getting harder by the minute. So like, I knew that either, you know, I’d have to grow big or get out and like, I really wasn’t enjoying that anymore.


Yoni Mazor 7:28

But when you signed up for part-time, what was the expectation? How many years and what would be the cost for you?


Brandon Fuhrman 7:33

It was like, it was four years, it was basically for like six o’clock till like nine o’clock every night. So it really wasn’t too too bad. Four days a week, four days a week.


Yoni Mazor  7:46

Four days a week, and what was the budget for you for this, I guess for this. uh…?


Brandon Fuhrman 7:49

This was around like, like 12 grand a year. 


Yoni Mazor 7:54

So that’s about a $50,000 investment for yourself. 


Brandon Fuhrman 7:58

Yeah, for four years. State school part-time. But, but yeah, no, I thought that you know, if nothing else will have that, you know, I can either fall back on that. And I knew I had a lot of internet experience. So I thought that I can be pretty valuable to someone in that, you know, the capacity of law related to the internet and that kind of thing


Yoni Mazor 8:14

Makes sense, yeah.


Brandon Fuhrman 8:15

I kind of thought that, you know, I’ll pursue that I still have time to pursue my other sites and anything else, any other projects I want to do. But like, you know, in four years, I’ll have my degree, and that’ll be that and I can go and work and do whatever I want to do. During law school, I started selling my books on Amazon.


Yoni Mazor 8:31

That’s how I got into Amazon!


Brandon Fuhrman 8:34

They gave me a lot more money than the bookstore did. And it was easy to keep buying and reselling my books, I’d buy them for the next semester, sell those and they kind of cancel each other out more or less. Yeah, um, so it was a pretty great experience that I kind of realized the power of Amazon. But my current business wasn’t really conducive to Amazon. So I couldn’t really do it. You know, I can’t sell like hand-painted paintings that take two months to complete on Amazon. It just doesn’t work.


Yoni Mazor 8:59

That’s more like the Etsy kind of approach these days, you know, a little, you know, today, that’s more customized, artsier, you know?


Brandon Fuhrman 9:07

Yeah, exactly. You know, I couldn’t really sell that there. But I started selling some, like, dropship kids furniture on there, dabbled in that a little bit, saw the power, but really, it wasn’t. I knew that the dropship model, at least for me wasn’t working out. 


Yoni Mazor 9:20

So let me get this straight with the time. So you started 2009 in law school, and right away started selling on Amazon 2009?


Brandon Fuhrman 9:27

No, no, no. I would probably say I started selling my books around 2000 you know 10 or so I guess. And then I started you know, transitioning to try other stuff. Maybe 2011 2012 I guess I would say.


Yoni Mazor 9:36

So you dabbled more and more into the Amazon platform? And actually, trying to, you know, do drop shipping and, you know, actually, engage more in e-commerce on the platform? 


Brandon Fuhrman 9:46

Yeah basically. Yeah. And I tried selling kids’ furniture, but it was very hard because one: it was hard to manage the inventory and the expectations of Amazon. And Amazon didn’t make it clear at that point, like about account health or like you know, you could cancel orders, you know, things like that. So I had no idea what I was doing. Did not work out well. So I kind of you know stopped doing that. But you know, in Law School I finished. I studied for the bar. I passed the bar. Yeah, I graduated and passed the bar.


Yoni Mazor 10:13

What year? 2013 as planned?


Brandon Fuhrman 10:17

Yeah. 2013 I guess yeah. And then, you know, started working on a different e-commerce startup for a few months and a friend that I had been carrying around that also didn’t work out and then I was kind of lost for a little bit because I you know, I was like, I guess I’ll go into law but I really my heart wasn’t into it.


Yoni Mazor 10:34

Were you still running ownapicture.com? And SEO still?


Brandon Fuhrman 10:42

Yeah, I was down for like one client at that point, that I’d lose pretty soon thereafter. So what I did was I kind of was like, you know, in the wilderness a little bit, looking at law stuff, not really that into it. And I started doing online arbitrage on Amazon, which was very successful, at least for arbitrage as far as you can take online arbitrage.


Yoni Mazor 11:02

What was your model? You’d go into like, stores or you work with suppliers to get brand name items and reselling them on Amazon?


Brandon Fuhrman 11:07

Yeah, yeah, I was just reselling from…buying from one online store selling that item on Amazon, basically. And…


Yoni Mazor 11:13

This is still 2013?


Brandon Fuhrman 11:15

Yeah, yeah, around there. Yeah, I guess. And I figured out, you know, a couple of stores where it was like, the minimum amount of work for the maximum return where I would sell like, you know, $200 items, or $250 items that I could get for like 160 with Amazon’s fees, I would net-like and with all the cash back rewards in the credit card, I can get like 30 $40 a purchase made them sell 10 to 20 of those a day and you know, kind of in business with very little work really to get that done. So I figured that out and was doing really well with that and I was pretty happy. But I knew that that was not going to last forever either. 


Yoni Mazor 11:47

This is where you buy the stock. It’s FBM, it’s fulfilled by merchant it’s not FBA correct?


Brandon Fuhrman 11:52

Yeah, yeah. fulfilled by the merchant. You know, I buy it on the site. They would say it shipped, I would put the tracking number, copied it, and paste it into Amazon, it would go out, no problem. But I knew it wasn’t like you know, gonna last I just was kind of in the wilderness a little bit. And then I got an email from when I was in the SEO world I was, you know, part of a group called StomperNet for those who are out there. And it’s like really old school.


Yoni Mazor 12:11

How do you spell that? StomperNet? How do you spell that?


Brandon Fuhrman 12:13

S T O M P ER Net. It hasn’t been in existence for like 10 years now. But one of the old people who was involved, send an email out being like, hey, there’s this course. ASM. And you know, I’ve been hearing good things. Um, you know…


Yoni Mazor 12:25

ASM is the Amazon Selling Machine course, something like that? 


Brandon Fuhrman 12:28

Yeah, or Amazing now as it’s called, man, it’s like you just and they were like, you just private label your own products. And I was like, Oh, well, that’s what I’ve been missing out on. I just do my own product. What am I doing here? Yeah, yeah, this is crazy. And I already know how to do that from, you know, the oil painting stuff that I was doing. I was buying them all in China. Like this is Yeah, that’s the missing piece. Yeah, exactly. So like, even before I bought the course, but like, I just needed that one piece of information to be like, Oh, no, that’s what I need to do, that’s the missing piece of my life. So like, yeah, I took the course. And I started selling on Amazon pretty shortly thereafter, I sold like


Yoni Mazor 13:01

Hold on, you took the course in the years 2013 or 14?


Brandon Fuhrman 13:04

I don’t know, it was Anthem 4, whatever year that was. Years kind of start to blur at this point. But, but I took the course and I was still doing the arbitrage stuff and launched my first product. And it was moderately successful. 


Yoni Mazor 13:17

So you launched your product which year? You should remember at least that.


Brandon Fuhrman 13:21

I launched it in 2014. End of 2014. Yeah.


Yoni Mazor 13:24

And you had a trademark when you launched it, or it was all set up properly?


Brandon Fuhrman 13:27

No, nothing was set up properly. I mean, at that point, I’ve been through a few businesses that didn’t work out. So I was just like, let’s see if this works before I do anything. 


Yoni Mazor 13:34

Before you invest more into the foundations of the brand, let’s call it, let’s create traction on a listing for my own product. If it works well, I’ll create the infrastructure underneath it.


Brandon Fuhrman 13:45

Correct. Yeah. And it started doing reasonably well. And I launched you know, a couple of other products that were doing okay. And then, I got married at the end of 2014, August 2014. And we decided for 2015 that we were going to…my wife and I were gonna do a honeymoon. And you know, she worked at a school so we’re just gonna go for the whole summer, saving up a lot of points. We did the whole thing. And you know, we were looking where to go. And my wife really wanted to go to Asia, like let’s go to Asia. And I’m like, wouldn’t it be fun if we stopped in like Shenzhen and Dongguan? Like, it’s just part of our trip, wouldn’t it be great? And she was like, I’m not sure about that. And I was like,


Yoni Mazor 14:21

That’s good if you want to source some electronics or some gadgets, you know?


Brandon Fuhrman 14:24

Yeah, yeah. And I was like, Listen, we’ll stay at the nicest Hotel in Shenzhen. Like the nicest hotel, we can find. It’ll be the first step on our trip. It’ll be great. We’ll go right from Hong Kong and she was like, Alright, fine. So we stayed at the St. Regis Shenzen, a beautiful hotel, it was stunning. If anyone ever goes to Shenzhen, it’s like the best hotel may be that I’ve ever been to. So we stayed there and we sourced for a few days. It’s actually my wife’s favorite part of the trip because like all of our factory contacts, took us out to eat at all these great restaurants and gave us, you know, the wining and dining that they do when you’re in China with locals and stuff and it was a lot of fun. But when we were there, I found, you know, a bunch of products that I wanted to sell immediately. So like while we’re on it, so we found them, we got the samples over on the trip, we placed the orders. And when we got back in, you know, like early September, you know, we continued with that, by early October, they all pretty much launched like three or four products. And they were like, all successful, like right then and there for Q4 that year. And from there, I was just off and running.


Yoni Mazor 15:20

And this was 2014 or 2015? 2015 got it. So you got married in August, by September, you’re in China. And then in Q4, you launched three, four products, you hit the flywheel, and did it run into 2016? The flow and the traction or you didn’t stick out or anything? 


Brandon Fuhrman 15:39

Of course, I stocked out. Yeah. But you know, I was, you know, I managed as best I could. And, you know, I knew that they were selling and I was like once they started selling really well. I would just double down on those products, started launching new products. Not really moving fast enough, but I understand that the model was gonna work for me.


Yoni Mazor 15:53

Great. And did you sell it on the same account that you’re doing arbitrage or you have two separate accounts one for..?


Brandon Fuhrman 15:58

The same account, the same account. I phased out arbitrage probably like early-mid that year. Yeah.


Yoni Mazor 16:06

Got it. Cuz you mentioned that you know, we’re doing the arbitrage we’re not too, you didn’t have a good handle on this account health you know, and stuff like that.


Brandon Fuhrman 16:13

No no, with arbitrage I did. I didn’t have a good handle on account health when I was doing the drop shipping. But the online arbitrage stuff, I was doing really well with that. But it was a risk to the account for sure. Because you know, when you saw FBA, you know, there were no health issues. So you know, every once in a while there is stockout that would be in trouble. And that would be like, you know, we like steering the plane from like, you know, crashing to like back up again. And it just wasn’t worth it at that point.


Yoni Mazor 16:35

Yeah. And when you got your own product that was your first time basically entering into the FBA format, right, fulfilled by Amazon.


Brandon Fuhrman 16:41

When I had my first product, yeah. But I, you know, I actually had sent in, before I did my first product, just like I just went to like, Costco and bought like some like salt or something, just random stuff. Like I know, it was like, there’s stuff that’s on Amazon that just

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