Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – David Schomer recounts how he started selling Amish products on Amazon. David is the Co-Founder of Firing The Man – A podcast for Amazon sellers and An Amazon Seller himself shares his personal journey into eCommerce. 

David was born and raised in Iowa City, Iowa, on a family farm and worked as a pumpkin farmer at a very young age selling his own farm produce. In 2016 after seeing an advertisement on social media that there was an opportunity to make money selling on Amazon, David began creating his own private label brand. In a brilliant and unusual move, he was able to create a unique brand selling handmade products from the Amish community. 

After selling products online for two years David joined a local Meetup Group for Amazon sellers where he eventually met Ken Wilson. They quickly became prominent members of the Meetup group and launched their own eCommerce Podcast show called Firing The Man. In this show, they document their eCommerce journey by focusing on all the ups and downs and many insights they gained as a dedication to helping the online sellers community. 


Find out more about Firing The Man


Find out more about GETIDA Amazon FBA Reimbursement solutions.


Find the Full Transcript Below


Yoni Mazur  0:06  

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk today I’m really excited to have a special guest. Today I’m having David Schomer. David is the co-founder of Firing the Man, which is a podcast for Amazon sellers. And David is also an Amazon seller himself. So David, welcome to the show. Thank you glad to be here. Our pleasure, really. So today’s episode is really going to be all about you the story of David shomer. So you’re going to share with us, you know, who are you? Where are you from? Where’d you grew up? Where did you go to school? How did you begin your professional career all the way until how you began in e-commerce. So I guess without further ado, let’s jump right into it. 


David Schomer  0:46  

So a little bit about myself, I grew up in Iowa City, Iowa. And my family had a little acre john on the outskirts of town. And I’ve got four younger brothers. So five boys, my family. And we grew up with a family farm. And so I would say some of my like, earliest entrepreneurial ventures happened on that farm. And one that is Of particular note is a pumpkin patch. me my brothers had a big pumpkin patch that we grew, we started with about a half acre and we grew it to about five acres, and we’re selling several 1000 pumpkins a year. And I started that when I was probably like 11 years old. And I loved it. I loved it. 


Yoni Mazur  1:32  

And so far, mostly focus on pumpkin or what was kind of the crops you guys focused on throughout the years.


David Schomer  1:36  

So traditionally, we would have corn and beans. And but my dad would kind of give us some land, that we could plant whatever. And so we planted sweet corn, which is like the corn that you would eat it at a table as well as pumpkins and, and so from very early on, I knew that I liked business. And it’s something that’s like, hard to explain, but I just like it.


Yoni Mazur  2:00  

But would you sell it to you, or what was the Alfredo to cash in on the crop.


David Schomer  2:05  

So here’s the key about pumpkins is people like to pick their own. And so it really ends up being less work, what we had, and believe it or not, we had a coffee can where people would put their money, and we weren’t down there all the time. But people would just come and pick their pumpkin and put their money in the jar. And then they move on. And a lot of people, a lot of people ask, like, did you ever get ripped off and I can count on one hand, how many people may have taken a pumpkin without paying but it was, you know, people were honest in that part of the country. And I would say for the most part. I feel like people are generally good. There’s a couple of outlier and they tend to be on the news. But yeah, so that’s a little bit about like Asia you know, up until 11 I went to a small High School and then


Yoni Mazur  3:01  

I got out sorry to cut you off on this Oh, what was your marketing? How did they know you have a field and they can come You know, pick up their own pumpkins? What were the marketing pros there? 


David Schomer  3:14  

Yeah, so we had just a sign and we lived along like a highway that had quite a bit of traffic. So we just put up a sign. And then on the for corn, this was probably like my first dabbling in marketing. We had a happy hour where if you think of corn like that you buy at a store you have to shuck it, like take the husk off. And so we had a happy hour if you came in bought corn between 430 and 530, we would husk it for you for free. And, and we marketed as the corn happy hour. And we would have quite a few people come in during that period of time and it was nice to chat with them while we were shucking their corn and, and but that was really all of our marketing mostly word of mouth.


Yoni Mazur  4:01  

That is so beautiful. I’ve never heard such early dabbling into business in farming. You know, I don’t think I’ve ever met. So I’m quite honored to learn this about you. It’s really charming, I would say you know, it’s the old traditional business world. We’re gonna touch eventually the e-commerce world which is the new e-commerce, you know, the world of commerce and digital commerce. So it’s I think I find it to be astonishing, amazing that you’re going to bridge that gap between you know, agriculture land, you know, there’s a high there’s a highway you know, you feed off the traffic, you build a business and you feed off of digital traffic. But once again, I don’t want to jump the gun Alright, so I love it. You’re 11 years old, you ever get it from pumpkins into corn. You did a happy hour dabble into marketing. What was the next station?


David Schomer  4:47  

You know, I would say that that lasted up until high school and And like I mentioned I had four younger brothers. So we all worked on this project together. While I was in high school, I had the opportunity to Go work for a small independent business. It was a medical store. So they sold wheelchairs, walkers, C, pap machines, all kinds of stuff. And that was owned by a guy by the name of Jim Nolan. And I would say he was my first business mentor. And he really took me under his wing, you know, I started in the back in the warehouse, you know, cutting up boxes and putting things away. But then he let me come upfront and start interacting with customers and, and I worked there for about six years, throughout high school, and then on and off while I was in college. And that was when I got the taste of what it looks like to work for yourself. And, you know, the jam was, you know, he was an independent businessman when he wanted to go home, he went home, when he wanted to go on vacation, he went on vacation, and I didn’t realize it at the time, but, but that really kind of planted the seed of, of wanting freedom, and, and wanting to make my own decisions and not be tied down by the man. 


Yoni Mazur  6:08  

Give us some perspective on the years, what were the years that you worked for Jim.


David Schomer  6:13  

So that would have been like, 2005, through 2011 was when I was working for him. And, and that was great. I mean, just an awesome experience. And, you know, I think that mentorship, you can read all kinds of business books, but having one mentor or two mentors take you under their wing. That’s huge. It’s absolutely huge. And I think that you know, we, as business people have a responsibility, once we’re on the other side, and we have found some success, it’s time to take some people under your wing, and show him how to do it. And I’ve done that personally, through the podcast, which we’ll get to in a little bit. But, you know, I found that incredibly rewarding. And, and I, anyway, it’s just this the core concept of mentoring, I can’t emphasize how important that has been in my life.


Yoni Mazur  7:06  

Now, the impact seems like it was tremendous for you and you will feel the impulse to, you know, push it forward, which is amazing. Well, we’ll get to that very quickly. But, um, you said 2005, until 2011, to 2008 2009, there was a kind of a big recession that did affect Jim’s story in anyway or form. 


David Schomer  7:27  

I don’t recall, not at all it was, it was recession-proof. Um, you know, if somebody needs a wheelchair, they’re going to go get a wheelchair. And so that was in most of that was done through insurance, and really didn’t see any, any major setbacks there. But it was interesting living through those people on both sides of this store, went out of business, one sold hot tubs, and one sold flooring for new construction houses. 


Yoni Mazur  7:54  

And what was the location, a commercial center, it was just a, on the highway somewhere?


David Schomer  8:00  

Yeah, it was a commercial center. And so that was really interesting, because, you know, over time you develop relationships with your neighbors, right. And in seeing the hot tub business, go out of business, was really eye-opening. And that was, you know, you can read about recession-proof businesses, and, but when you experience that, when you know, somebody that that is selling something that, you know, isn’t a need, it’s a want, and you see them go out of business, it really registers with you that, you know, if I’m starting a business, I need to think about how it will be impacted by the economy. Right. And, and, you know, there are certain businesses that that are more swayed by how the economy is doing and being in that recession-proof business, in looking to my left and right and seeing the neighbors going out of business really had a large impact on me.


Yoni Mazur  8:57  

So your Yeah, the awareness at least as even as an employee, then not otherwise the business by directly gets business-oriented, because you get you got the mentorship from my gym, and settled with you that you know, you’re likely to be on the right side of the coin, economically speaking, in terms of the industry that you’re in selling in medical devices. Alright, that is, this is impressive. You know, experiencing experience for you at a young age, but you mentioned you went to school. So what was the dynamic in terms of school? What are the years you went to school? Where’d you go to school?


David Schomer  9:26  

Yes, so in 2000 would have been 2009. I went to St. Louis University and growing up in Iowa. I didn’t grow up in a small small town but it was smaller. 


Yoni Mazur  9:40  

Iowa falls, right. It was a city.. And then how large is the city or what’s the population there for so we have an idea of New Yorkers.


David Schomer  9:47  

Yeah, so about 100,000 and so, um, you know, I looked at Chicago, Milwaukee, and St. Louis. They were all about four hours away from my hometown, and I wanted to, you know, see what big city life was like. And really like St. Louis University and the campus and everything about it, they had a great business school. And so that’s where I ended up going. And, I always knew I liked business, but I didn’t really know, they had an entrepreneurship major, they had a management major, but I settled in with accounting and finance. And if I’m being honest with you, and, and I’ll share this with you, because I, it’s just a lesson learned. But when I was picking my majors, I googled what business major makes the most money. And it was a tie between accounting and finance. And, and so I couldn’t decide I liked both of them. So I just double majored in accounting and finance. And that is suited me well. But I would share with people that that is not a great criteria for determining what your major is, it is worked for me. But I think you need to dig a little deeper and think about what you’re passionate about. Because, you know, it’s on this Google result, marketing wasn’t at the top of the list. However, if you’re passionate about marketing, you can make tons of money doing it. Right. And great 100%. And so, um, but I, I landed on accounting and finance. And you know, at this time, and I’m not sure if there’s the university setting or what it was, but had kind of abandoned this dream of having my own business, and wanted to go work for an audit firm and just learn more about business. And at the time, a lot of the professors pushed for they call it the Big Four firms. 


Yoni Mazur  11:45  

So that’d be like, the Lloyd, the stuff I got by KPMG. And what am I missing? A PwC prize? All right, we’re in the auditing business also. So it’s my duty to kind of know, the Big Four.


David Schomer  11:58  

Exactly, yes. So yeah, you named the Big Four, I’m impressed. So that was kind of like I had made a pivot and decided that that’s what I wanted to do. And so I, in my junior year, started interviewing. And most of the Big Four firms said, you know, come back your senior year, and I got an internship at a middle-market consulting firm. They did mergers and acquisitions, business valuation, litigation, support forensic accounting. And during that period of time, I worked on a Ponzi scheme case. like Bernie Madoff, what you see on the news, it was a big case, and I loved it. And that happened when he started working on that case, or I started working for the firm.


Yoni Mazur  12:45  

The middle market firm?


David Schomer  12:50  

So that would have been 2012 was when I was working…


Yoni Mazur  12:56  

For no longer in Iowa, no longer in the medical devices, you’re in the auditing world. And if I didn’t know the accounting and finance world, and you’re auditing a Ponzi scheme, what would you find there?


David Schomer  13:08  

Yeah, we found about $25 million that just disappeared. And I loved that process of following the cash. And seeing where it all went, was like putting a puzzle together. 


Yoni Mazur  13:21  

If you don’t mind sharing a little bit of the scheme. Not that I want to give anybody ideas, actually, it’s more like a warning sign, don’t play around. But what was the scheme as far as I remember it?


David Schomer  13:27  

Yes. So it was you would invest with this particular entity, they would promise you huge returns, but they would not pay out your returns for six to 12 months. And, and these returns were higher than you could get anywhere else in the market. And so the people that got in on it early actually benefited in the long term but when these payments came due in six to 12 months, the only way to fund this operation would be to go out and find more clients. And so so this entity would go out and find more clients take their money, promise them huge returns and take that invested capital and give it to the shareholders that they had made promises to six to 12 months prior. And really that always crumbles like there’s not a good outcome there.


Yoni Mazur  14:23  

This is exactly what happened about 10 years ago with made off the same idea you promise chunky returns to high profile investors you know at the beginning was legit actually, but then as he started to bend, you know the rules a little bit and you know, cover-up he was able to do for so long, he has so much prestige because he was ahead of the NASDAQ. You know when he peaked so I know the NASDAQ has gone, you know, obviously the best investor in the world. He is the NASDAQ he is investment right. But so we capitalize on that by you know exactly the model you mentioned where, you know, the new money pays for the old money As long as there’s enough new, new money coming in. To cover for the old, everything works out. But once there’s a shortage, and there’s a bus, everybody, everything crumbles. That’s what happened, I believe 2008 2009 and that when the market really came down, and the weaknesses of many financial firms were exposed, so high level that’s happened to the largest in the world, I believe that the scope there was about 50 billion, and your case you do 25 million, which is also very impressive. Wow, that’s quite an experience. Now, what was the next station afterward? Would you say?


David Schomer  15:27  

So keep in mind, this was not my dream internship, this was not big for an internship, this was something that I thought I put on my resume. And that would help me get a big four internship. And it did the following summer, I got an internship at KPMG, which is one of the big four firms. This is what I have been working for for the last three or four years. And KPMG is a great firm. There are fantastic people that work there. But I didn’t have that same feeling that I had the prior summer working on this Ponzi scheme. We were doing audits and I just again, I don’t want to speak poorly about that firm, because it’s an excellent firm. But when it came to just trust my gut and thinking about what’s the best fit, this middle-market consulting firm was the spot for me. And, you know, I remember talking to a couple of professors and saying, you know, I really liked this job I had last summer and I’m not crazy about you to know, my job at KPMG. What should I do? And most of them said You’re an idiot if you turn down this KPMG offer for a full-time job.


Yoni Mazur  16:35  

So the professors were saying


David Schomer  16:37  

they were they weren’t and in you know, it’s, it was at that time a prestigious position. It’s a very big, firm, very respected worldwide. And, you know, outside of St. Louis, there’s only a couple of other markets that this middle-market consulting firm is well known in.


Yoni Mazur  16:55  

So all I used it, he stayed in St. Louis, that’s where you settled eventually? Correct. Correct. So after your internship, you settled with KPMG, but still in St. Louis, Missouri, right?


David Schomer  17:05  

Yep. Still, it’s still in St. Louis, Missouri, and ended up when it was time to join the workforce full time went back to companies called Reuben Brown, and they are a middle-market consulting company. And I’ve had just a tremendous experience there since I’ve been there for about seven and a half years. And it has been


Yoni Mazur  17:27  

since What 2012? Half of the men are in 2013. Yes, yes. Yeah. So basically, you pivoted you started as an intern, you jumped into KPMG after school, you know, you got your feet wet a little bit just to realize that you like the former. And the better. So you jumped right back into what was the name again? Reuben Brown, Reuben Brown, and yeah, you’re still there, by the way.


David Schomer  17:48  

I am. I am. And so that’s a that’s something that it comes up on on the podcast and we can go ahead and address it here. I am involved in e-commerce I have been for about four years. And that’s it started as a hobby. Just I wanted to earn a little cash on the side. And like I mentioned at the beginning of the interview, I just like business and so you know, there are some people after work, they will binge-watch Game of Thrones, and that’s fine. However, I love business and I work on my business when I’m done with work and I also carve off you know about two and a half hours every morning where I’m working on my business.


Yoni Mazur  18:37  

And so that has you covered in the morning you do the regular job during the day and night time you keep carving more hours into the business.


David Schomer  18:43  

Yeah, so that’s one advantage of growing up on a farm is you discipline my friends. Yeah. You learn to wake up early and wake up at four o’clock.


Yoni Mazur  18:53  

Really? I want them to go to sleep at nine o’clock Wow, cool man give it to you a good job.


David Schomer  19:01  

So there’s a saying Early to bed early to rise makes you strong wealthy and wise and I truly believe that sleep is a good thing definitely but you know you got to adjust for that when you go to bed.


Yoni Mazur  19:15  

It’s kind of almost like a job nine to five nine to four but I reversed in terms of going to sleep you clock into your bed. You get out and then you are you do your own business and a full-time job. Very, very unique position. Yeah, I think I really connected the values that you early on grab from farming, you know, the early rise the soil, the toil, the thing is so powerful that nobody can take it away. And you can you know, working in the professional world seems to probably to this point, like a kids game. Because you know, you’re just my guy now you unsend all the numbers and, you know, granted and crunch it even more in an industry skill is so much easier than you know, using the 10 fingers to do all that brand work plus all that kind of work. It’s probably relieving to some degree. So I guess you have probably had that burned that you know, edge inside saying I can do so much more I know I can do more, I think you probably have that mentality or that thrust. I think it’s, it’s proving yourself because you’re doing in the morning job and then an evening, only grit and passion and fire and flame can justify such discipline, you know? Okay, so seven and a half years and your current job and you focus on auditing and finance or what’s your date, time specialty, and we then will touch your, your business specialty. And I especially want to dive into I guess the constant finding the man what stands behind it, but before we dive into the, you know, the stuff or the stall, and the soloist do stuff that pays the bread.


David Schomer  20:41  

Yeah, so um, I primarily focused on mergers and acquisitions, forensic accounting, and litigation support. And so I, when I finished up with school, I went ahead and took the CPA exam. And as well as taking the CFA exam, Chartered Financial Analyst, and that was about four years of testing between those two exams and, and really set me up well for a career in consulting in the world that I operate in. And so that’s how I’ve been spending my time and, and one thing that I’ll point out is, you know, when people talk about what they get from their job, often they’re talking about their paycheck, right, the cash going into their account. But what I would remind people is that, oftentimes, you can pick up very marketable skills while on the job. And so that’s one reason that I’ve continued to stay on. Even as my e-commerce business, it has a clip seven figures is that I am learning, I am building out my network. And all of those things helped me in my e-commerce business.


Yoni Mazur  21:52  

And, you know, give me a few, I guess, skills, people, you know, most people probably get in their job, but they don’t, you know, appreciate enough or they underutilized. Give us a few examples that you’re aware of.


David Schomer  22:03  

So, you know, I would say my own personal life, I would love to buy a company at some point. And I think about growing and expanding my existing platform. I read this book called By Then Built by Walker Diepel, which is an excellent read, it makes a quantitative case for not starting a business but actually buying an existing business.


Yoni Mazur  22:22  

Book by and Bill by who, by then built by Walker, Walker diable. How do you spell that? 


David Schomer  22:29  

Well, you know, die, p, e. l. It will change the way you think about starting a business. And so anyway, that is something you know, I have had the opportunity to work on probably 50, mergers and acquisition projects. So when it comes time to buy my own business, hey, I’ve got some experience there.


Yoni Mazur  22:51  

Turnkey for you. That’s a great example. 


David Schomer  22:53  

And so, um, but you know, I would say that that’s a very specific example, but just being involved in a successful organization, just seeing how they do things, what how do the leaders How do they approach the staff? You know, how does a company have core values? How does that play in and so I really like my company, and the people that I work for, and I’m learning a tremendous amount? And so I’ve said, from day one, the moment I stopped learning, I’m out, and that hasn’t happened yet. And so I think at some point, and I think at some point, in the future, I’m not sure when that’s going to be I will be doing e-commerce full time. But, you know, this part-time capacity has forced me to be efficient, right? When you’ve got two and a half hours every morning, to work on a business, you get very good at building out processes, and in spelling things out, that is repeatable, and that you can carve off to a VA. 


Yoni Mazur  24:03  

So, let’s know you delve into that. So it will take us to the framework, right? We got four years ago by 2016. You basically had the entrepreneurial bug and it takes you into the world of e-commerce So talk to us about that entrance into the e-commerce and you know, that journey.


David Schomer  24:20  

Yes, so I think it was probably a Facebook ad or something. I don’t think it was someone selling a course, but they just talked about buying something on Amazon. And how it was easy to sell on Amazon and I started thinking about, you know, if, if e-commerce was a stock, I would buy it now. That was what I was thinking four years ago. You know, at that time, and even more so now. People are glued to their cell phones, I mean, absolutely glued to their cell phones and social media and there have been a lot of movies that have come out lately that have kind of highlighted this but you see brick and mortar retail stores, crumbling in it and so just looking at that general trend, it kind of stuck out as something that would be attractive to me. And then I learned about FBA and, you know learned that I didn’t need to, you know be shipping out orders every day to eBay guys.


Yoni Mazur  25:17  

If you have enough to familiar with the acronym is Fulfillment by Amazon Amazon has a fulfillment network or infrastructure that many sellers, Amazon sellers do adapt so this is what appeals to David at this point.


David Schomer  25:29  

Yeah, absolutely. And so um, I knew, and this kind of goes back to my roots growing up in Iowa but I, I grew up in a community with a lot of Amish people. And if you’re not familiar with Amish folks, there is a type of religion that I would say more primitive in that, that no electricity, no internet, is very kind of old-fashioned in the way that they do things. They are tremendous people like in terms of just like, hard-working salt of the earth, like uncorrupted really, by news and technology, just fantast

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