Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Chad Rubin shares his journey into the Entrepreneurial Spirit of eEcommerce. Chad is the Co-Founder & CEO of Skubana – a cutting-edge eCommerce management platform, shares his life’s journey into eCommerce. Over time Chad has developed his own branded products in the vacuum-cleaning and coffee filters categories to great success. Through many trials, errors, and great challenges his online business grew to large dimensions and presented further opportunities for Chad to keep innovating and eventually being involved in other ventures. He turned out to become a co-founder of the Prosper Show – the largest Amazon Seller Conference in the world, and wrote a best-selling book about his entrepreneurial journey called “Cheaper Easier Direct”.

Today Skubana is a cutting-edge eCommerce management platform that helps DTC brands grow and manage their online operations. He advocates entrepreneurs to focus on developing businesses that they are passionate about and essentially become an extension of themselves. He believes this approach can be a key factor for long-term success.


Find out more about Skubana.


Find Chad’s book on Amazon.


Find out more about GETIDA


Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor  0:06  

Welcome, everybody to another episode of prime talk today. I’m really excited to have a special guest this time. We’re having a Chad Rubin. He’s the co-founder and CEO of Cabana, which is a cutting-edge e-commerce management platform. Plus, he’s one of the founders of the prosper show, which we’re in right now. This is a part of the prosper virtual show. And he’s the author of the book cheaper, easier direct, which really touches on how to disrupt the marketplace and create your own e-commerce empire. So, Chad, welcome to the show. Hi, thanks for having me here. A pleasure. Today’s episode is really gonna be all about you is gonna be the Chad Rubin story. So you’re gonna share with us, you know who, why, where you’re from, your background. Where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school? How did you begin your professional career? And without further ado, let’s jump right into it.


Chad Rubin  0:57  

Yeah, so there’s a lot there to unpack. So where should we start?


Yoni Mazor  1:01  

Where were you born? Where did you grow up?


Chad Rubin  1:03  

I was born in Queens, New York City. My parents, my father owned a vacuum store as part of Queens if I can I think Forest Hill Park. Yeah. My parents, my father owned a vacuum store. My parents were second for they didn’t go to college. Right. So essentially, my father on my father’s side were all in the Holocaust. So they came here with nothing, and so on.


Yoni Mazor  1:31  

So which polling or which area? Oh, God. Wow. So what you know, what’s your around with the camera off to the war a few decades after


Chad Rubin  1:40  

they came, actually, while the war was happening. So my father’s mother was sent on a ship here when she was seven and started working on the factory floor in Canada, while the rest of her siblings have now are now deceased through the war. So they had no education, they worked in a factory, they were entrepreneurs. My father then was also an entrepreneur, and it kind of has run in my family bloodline for quite a period of time. And that really lends itself to what I’ve been doing on the Amazon site to make this specific around the prosper show on Amazon, is that my parents had a vacuum store. And I don’t know if those that are listening, when was the last time they’ve ever been to a vacuum store. But I took what I knew what I was raised in what I was brought up in, and I modernized it. I took it I made it a real-world application. And we started essentially first started reselling products on Amazon. This is by the way before there were 5 million sellers on Amazon.


Yoni Mazor  2:37  

Now we’re talking about like about a decade ago or more, right?


Chad Rubin  2:39  

Yeah, first-generation amazon seller, I was able to capitalize on that opportunity really quickly. And I started making…


Yoni Mazor  2:46  

Let’s backtrack a second we jumped into the let’s do up again, the top of the game. So we go Park, Queens, one race, and then you guys move there settle there. What was the thing? 


Chad Rubin  2:56  

Yeah, so we moved to New Jersey when I was in third grade? Which part? So we moved to an area called Westfield, New Jersey.


Yoni Mazor  3:04  

Yeah, sure. It’s not too far from Madison, I believe.


Chad Rubin  3:07  

Now. 135 in the parkway.


Yoni Mazor  3:09  

Yeah, I used to live there. So just Yeah, my brother’s still there. So I used to live with him. When I first came to America, you know, I’m Fresh Off the Boat. But yeah, so you grew up in New Jersey, essentially, from that point on? Oh,


Chad Rubin  3:21  

Yeah. I grew up in New Jersey and was living in an area that we probably should have never been living in. My parents were never making ends meet, barely making mortgage payments, but they wanted to transition…


Yoni Mazor  3:32  

The store from Queens to New Jersey or they kept it in?


Chad Rubin  3:34  

Georgia was always in New Jersey. My dad was doing the oh my god hours each way. Every day, which was hard on him. So yeah, definitely.


Yoni Mazor  3:43  

What was the store in New Jersey? It was in Westfield. Okay, good. So that’s it had to get married to the business and go run next door were the stores? Yep. made sense. Okay, good. So you finished high school there. What was the transition for you growing up?


Chad Rubin  3:58  

Yeah, I finished high school there. And then I was a first-generation college graduate. So I went to UMass. I went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. 


Yoni Mazor  4:06  

Was that what years? did you go there?


Chad Rubin  4:09  

In 2001? Let’s see. I graduated in Oh, six. I graduated early. So 2003 to 2006.


Yoni Mazor  4:18  

Got a 2003 off to Boston or area? Yes. I went to Amherst. Where was that? Amherst, Massachusetts, Massachusetts. Okay, go so you. You stay there. You know you’re in. dorms. Yeah. So the New Jersey off on your own for three years?


Chad Rubin  4:34  

Yep. That’s where I met my wife. By the way. There were college sweethearts. And I graduated early because I was paying my way through college myself. I wanted to just save every dollar I possibly can. So I stuffed all my curriculum into three years versus four years. And I studied finance. So I studied the discipline of finance specifically to build an expertise there because I felt like I was lacking in that I was deficient in that in that category growing up, and so for me the dream was to go to Wall Street and get a job somewhere on Wall Street. I did.


Yoni Mazor  5:09  

I also 2016 graduated right into Wall Street. What was the transition? I


Chad Rubin  5:13  

graduated and I started. I started working on Wall Street. I got a job as a very low-level associate on Wall Street covering internet stocks, specifically semiconductors,


Yoni Mazor  5:24  

But which, which institution?


Chad Rubin  5:27  

Yeah, so initially, I started off at a company called Thomas Weisel. So white-shoe investment bank, it took Yahoo public and semantic public. And then I jumped over to another company called freedom in Billings. Ramsey did work there and put in time learned a lot about business a lot about profit and loss statements and balance sheets and cash flow statements. learned how to model and forecasts. And then so your work in New York City in New York City apartment living there also was living on the Upper West Side. And my wife and graduates in 2007, we move in together. And I’m grinding on the street. So I’m working in the best times on Wall Street, right before the Great Recession.


Yoni Mazor  6:15  

Oh, yeah. 2008 2000.


Chad Rubin  6:17  

Yeah. 2008 2009. I was eventually fired. From my job. 2009, February Friday, the 13th 2009.


Yoni Mazor  6:25  

Yeah, you know, companies or banks like Lehman Brothers, more than 100 years in business melted down, as it was shockwaves throughout the system. And I guess that was one of the parts of the reason we got released.


Chad Rubin  6:36  

No, actually, I survived three head cuts. And I just me, my boss was let go, I went to Israel for some vacation and my boss was fired while I was on vacation that fired it was like oh, is a headcount, headcount reduction. So I flew back from vacation early to re-interview with a new boss. And me and this boss could not have been polar opposites. And I always believed in. It’s not about picking the companies picking who you work for, right does that if that person believes in you and sees growth in you, they’re going to invest in you and want you to grow? I didn’t have that dynamic with this specific individual. So he actually just let me go, which was the best thing he could have done. And it opened up a huge door for me to start something new.


Yoni Mazor  7:25  

Yeah, as I said, from the little dips in life, you know, it opens up a brand new track.


Chad Rubin  7:30  

Yeah, when one door closes, another door opens.


Yoni Mazor  7:33  

Oh, yeah. So what happened was the next station?


Chad Rubin  7:35  

The next station, so I took all my stuff in a brown box. And I told my father, I told my father about it. He drove into the city. And by the way, guys, just before I was let go, I was actually doing a little moonlighting, I was helping them resell their products on Amazon and eBay, I built my website on my free time I’m collusion.


Yoni Mazor  7:55  

So this is where during your college years or Wall Street years,


Chad Rubin  7:58  

this is during, you know, during my wall street years, I was helping my parents on the side trying to help them stay afloat. I was actually extending them some credit. I was I was really pretty involved in their business, but I was still working this full-time job that wasn’t, it wasn’t the rainbow that I thought it would be. I dreamt it would be when I studied finance. Got it. Here. There was no gold at the end of that rainbow.


Yoni Mazor  8:21  

Yeah, just helping them modernize, make ends meet, and maybe have a better, you know, position, you know, in their business. and off you go. Yeah.


Chad Rubin  8:31  

So I am slowly taking him through this journey.


Yoni Mazor  8:36  

Yeah, this is exactly. This is the nuance of how you are, you know, in this position that you are today.


Chad Rubin  8:41  

And I haven’t actually talked about this in a really long time. Like, I’m like living through it by retelling the story of the event.


Yoni Mazor  8:48  

Or throwing me on the couch. And you know, you got to air it out.


Chad Rubin  8:51  

Yeah. So my father came to pick me up from my job when I was fired. And we pulled up to my apartment, I lived on 78th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus. And we pull up and there’s a school right there. And my father says, See those kids? This is like, the most profound thing I think I’ve got from my father didn’t see those kids. I said, Yeah, he’s like, they’re free. And so are you. Huh. And this opened up a creative opportunity for me to take advantage of what was happening in e-commerce and in 2009. Like, it wasn’t anything of what it’s like now in 2020. And so, I was okay, you know, I’ll help you on the side. I’ll help you a little bit. And then I started helping them and started becoming more and more and more,…


Yoni Mazor  9:37  

Commuting from the city to New Jersey was kind of the dynamic?


Chad Rubin  9:41  

I know that the dynamic was my father who was doing the fulfillment, I was doing more and more or less the marketing and the strategy and the new product, design and development. Then my father passes away.


Yoni Mazor  9:54  

Oh my goodness, I didn’t realize.


Chad Rubin  9:56  

My father passed away. My father passed away way I believe in 22,012.


Yoni Mazor  10:05  

So you’re ready, what two are years working together? That’s point 2000. I got released Oh, two to three years, you’re ready, you and your father, you know making this happen. It was this son or this was an illness.


Chad Rubin  10:15  

I was pancreatic cancer. So it happened really quickly. And by that point, we already were initiating a direct consumer strategy, but very lightly, and we started going all the way in. So we started manufacturing. At that point, I was only focused on vacuum products.


Yoni Mazor  10:33  

Also for these three years. You know, your new commerce, give us a little bit of the breakdown with just Amazon just eBay both, or your Comm. What was the dynamic there?


Chad Rubin  10:41  

Well, when we first started, there was no FBA, right? So we were FBM. We were on Volusion. And eBay simultaneously.


Yoni Mazor  10:49  

Evolution, if it was if somebody from the audience and the recording hears this, I’m not sure how popular it is today. But back in the day was established e-commerce store it was like almost like a Shopify of the old days.


Chad Rubin  10:59  

Yeah. And they recently went bankrupt. So Shopify really put a nail in their coffin. And just like, you know, scale too far quicker than Volusion could, right?


Yoni Mazor  11:10  

So essentially, you have you calm your eBay or Amazon three legs.


Chad Rubin  11:15  

Yes. So working on those three legs. And eBay was still very prominent at the time and Google people were still doing product searches on Google, and finding items on Google. And so we were multi-channel from the get-go, like, I’ve always set up the business to be multi-channel, I do believe picking a channel, or just I think choosing between channels doesn’t you don’t have to write you can be everywhere, if you want 100%, it’s not a zero-sum game. It’s like I pick Amazon, I’m not going to be on eBay, I was like, I just want to be everywhere, people are on the journey.


Yoni Mazor  11:47  

100% This is the value of the fiduciary duty for any retailer, really, your mission is as a retailer is to move products from A to B, that b can be anywhere as long as you have a comfortable ability to do so you have to if something is really gonna cost you a billion dollars just to open up a market, maybe you got to reconsider. But today, with e-commerce, really no excuse, you can really be almost at every e-commerce platform. So that’s great. But what was a product you were selling you where you guys were reselling or was your own label or both.


Chad Rubin  12:16  

So initially, we were reselling, we were drop shipping, and we moved into our manufacturer on props, we started with one product. And we started in one category, which is vacuum filters, which is near and dear, I was selling vacuums when I was 11 years old, I get my father’s store helping out on the weekends and after school. So I knew the vacuum industry really well. And we started there. And I also knew e-commerce really well, because actually, when I was on Wall Street, I was actually my last gate, I was covering internet stocks, I was advising hedge funds and institutional investors to buy sell, or short various stocks in the e-commerce universe. 


Yoni Mazor  12:51  

It’s an interesting angle, you have the nuance of a niche, right vacuum cleaners, but the high level in a Wall Street, you know, bird’s eye view on what’s going on.


Chad Rubin  13:00  

And when you can do that when you take specialized expertise, and something that you were raised with and combine it with something that you’ve now committed your career to, and mold that together. I think that there’s an opportunity to to to, to capitalize on,


Yoni Mazor  13:15  

I call it you become lethal. Yeah. lethal.


Chad Rubin  13:18  

It’s a nice, it’s a nice opportunity. So So let’s see. 


Yoni Mazor  13:23  

So we’re 2012 you know, your father’s passed. And what was the next session there?


Chad Rubin  13:27  

 The next station for me was moving into where we started really saturating the vacuum cleaner space. And I kept on looking over my shoulder, I’m like, oh, there’s gonna be some copycats. Like, there’s going to be people that are going to be at my heels, they’re going to be taking like coming and competing. There’s not really a barrier to entry here. There’s no moat, there’s no competitive advantage, right. And I kept on looking over my shoulder, nothing was there. And I was okay, let’s move into that space though. It’s moving to the next product because like if Apple came out of the iPhone and never iterated on the iPhone, Android would have surpassed it. And there wouldn’t be an iPhone today. We have to keep moving. You have to keep generating the next new thing product development thinking about where the vision of the company is going. And we moved into coffee filters, which is the next dearest thing to my heart. Now I actually recently quit caffeine which is kind of insane to think about. But I was a very my identity was wrapped up in coffee and third-wave coffee and I was a header wide takeaway. I know about filters and made coffee filters with that. And we started doing that. So we’ve moved into the coffee.


Yoni Mazor  14:27  

And this is why you were this was already 2012 or…


Chad Rubin  14:31  

This was probably 2014 right we’d be saturated the market and the car and the vacuum space early with vacuum filters and Bad’s a lot of vacuum start going badly. So we started making filters instead and we moved into hoses and rollers and then we moved into coffee.


Yoni Mazor  14:45  

And most of your revenue was a young brand or was a?


Chad Rubin  14:49  

Brand. Wr stopped doing any reselling.


Yoni Mazor  14:51  

Wow, so you completed the task of reselling what around 2014 as well.


Chad Rubin  14:54  

Probably 2000 2000, completely detached 100% probably 13 or 14 Yeah.


Yoni Mazor  15:00  

Amazing, really great. volution there. That’s pretty impressive.


Chad Rubin  15:03  

Yeah, a great evolution and much needed, right? Because the reason I knew that there was gonna be disruption as a reseller, right, the more points of, of the train that happened like Warby Parker, had just occurred and bonobos just had happened, like everybody was cutting out the middleman and going direct. There was no need for a reseller in the picture.


Yoni Mazor  15:22  

Yep. I think that once again, that’s a bird’s eye view, why that you washer kind of gave you where you see what the things that are the parts are moving, and you take action before it’s too late, or much before anybody else. And you always kind of have a few steps out of the game.


Chad Rubin  15:34  

I wish I mean it again, you know, it looks rosy looking back on it. Now there’s a lot of pitfalls. There’s a lot of troughs that had happened in this adventure. Right. And so it’s not always just glamour and glitz. Like,


Yoni Mazor  15:45  

it’s when you hit a wall.


Chad Rubin  15:46  

Yeah, I hit so many walls in this process, whether it’s fulfillment walls, right, figuring out fulfillment strategies, whether it’s being suspended on Amazon, whether it’s getting sued because we were making replacement products to fit manufacturers, vacuum cleaners and coffee makers units. There’s so much that went into it that you wouldn’t anticipate when you’re first coming up with an idea or just being like, hey, there’s room for disruption here. There’s a problem that needs to be solved. Let’s attack it.


Yoni Mazor  16:14  

Got it. Wow. And all this who, you know, until 2014, you experienced all that? Up to that point.


Chad Rubin  16:22  

I mean, that was consistent through my experience. I think business in general is a combination of highs and lows. And you just got to make sure you can hang on for the ride.


Yoni Mazor  16:31  

Got it. Okay, so what transpired in 2014 What was the next session there?


Chad Rubin  16:36  

We outsourced my warehouse initially had a warehouse in Harlem. We then moved to Little Fairy.


Yoni Mazor  16:43  

Oh, what was the Harlem just seems too random to be true. So what was..


Chad Rubin  16:47  

So I lived in, I lived on the Upper West Side. First, we were having boxes with a lift gate being dropped off in my apartment on the Upper West Side. My girlfriend The time is now my wife was like, hey, Chad, this is not gonna happen here. You need to move this somewhere else. So I quickly found a storage unit with no windows on a second floor unit in Harlem and East Harlem, 100 and 21st between Second and Third Avenue. That was an experience.


Yoni Mazor  17:17  

You got a fulfillment center inside New York City. 


Chad Rubin  17:21  

That’s how it feels it looks like you know, as I felt and looked like I was hiring high school laborers to come and do help and pick and pack in Harlem. And I even on my way to to the office. I got mugged once, which is interesting. So I had all these experiences I never had before. I’d never managed employees before I never managed a warehouse before. We were growing so quickly that essentially when I first walked into that space, my father in law now who was born on the day my father died so fascinating. He kind of became a new father to me and a mentor and a support for me. He was like, Oh, this space is not so bad. I was no, this space is huge. He’s like, he’s like, Don’t worry, you’ll feel fit into it just fine. We fit into it just fine. We grew out of it. So we needed to move to New Jersey to another space in a little ferry, New Jersey.


Yoni Mazor  18:06  

How quickly Did you grow out of it? within like a couple of months, honestly, a few months. Look at that. I seven literario across the river across the Hudson. Still not too far. Not too far.


Chad Rubin  18:18  

So I was doing the commute a little ferry managing a team of say 20 warehouse people doing pick and pack. And I mean, I was helping them right. Like if they were if they didn’t show to work, or if they were high coming to work, right? I needed to send them home. I would be sometimes left unloading containers, smoking cigarettes and trying to figure out how I’m going to do this all by myself.


Yoni Mazor  18:43  

My clutching at you clutching over Yep.


Chad Rubin  18:46  

So a lot of grid. And then finally, we had enough warehouse employee issues where we lost the warehouse manager. We lost there was a lot of collusion happening and there was a lot of these employees were getting together and went on strike and also have unionized.


Yoni Mazor  19:05  


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