Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Jay Lagarde, the founder, and CEO of eComEngine, discusses laying the foundations of Ecommerce SaaS & staying innovative. eComEngine is a leading marketplace management platform.


As an e-commerce seller, you might become a bit mystified by all the marketplace management tools that are available to you out there to help you understand your business better. The things that are important as an Amazon seller are pricing, inventory management, and feedback. The next question is whether there is one place where you can find all of these tools and more. Yoni Mazor of PrimeTalk discusses the tools that are necessary for you to help keep your business moving and developing in the right direction.


In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Jay Lagarde, the founder, and CEO of eComEngine, a suite of tools designed to help accelerate your growth. Since 2007, eComEngine has helped tens of thousands of Amazon sellers in over 100 countries automate their management processes, grow their revenues, and become more efficient.


Jay Lagarde talks about his journey from a policy analyst up to the creation of this long-standing e-commerce management platform. If you’re an Amazon seller keen on investing in yourself and your business in order to see better revenues, then this episode is for you!


Visit eComEngine for more information.


Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.


Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor 0:05

Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I’m really excited to have a special guest. I’m having Jay Lagarde. Jay is the founder and CEO of eComEngine, which is a leading marketplace management platform. Jay, welcome to the show.


Jay Lagarde 0:20

Thank you very much. Really, really glad to be here today and inviting me on and looking forward to chatting. I’m not…I don’t know that I’ve ever done an interview quite like this. When somebody wants to…Normally, people want you to tell it…talk about software, but you want to talk about entrepreneurship and all that sort of thing. So it’s kind of cool, and I’m looking forward to it. 


Yoni Mazor 0:43

Yeah, I think it’s gonna be fun and awesome. We’re gonna hopefully take you down memory lane on a few things. But yeah, as you touched. This episode is not gonna be necessarily on software, although it could be. It’s really gonna be the story of you. The story of Jay Lagarde, you know, so you’re going to share with us, who are you? Where are you from? Where’d you grow up? Where’d you go to school? How did you begin your professional career, and so forth? We’re going to touch all these stations. And hopefully, we’ll get to where we are today. So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.


Jay Lagarde 1:09

Well, I have to confess to you that this sounds boring to me. Because I already know the story. And it’s like, why would anybody want to know this? But, but, yeah, so…So you want me to start when I was born or what? 


Yoni Mazor 1:22

Yeah. When were you born? You’re born in?


Jay Lagarde 1:24

It’s all good. Yeah. No, I grew up in New Orleans, Louisiana. So, really interesting town. I’m sure most people are familiar with that town. You’ve heard stories about it, if they’ve never been there, but I did live there. And they’d go to the French Quarter as a young person. And the drinking age, by the way, in New Orleans, at least at the time, was far lower than 18… the actual, the official drinking age was 18. But the 


Yoni Mazor 1:53

In New Orleans? What year was that?


Jay Lagarde 1:55

In New Orleans, Louisiana, but the effective drinking age, the actually enforced drinking age was significantly lower.


Yoni Mazor 2:01

Yeah, but what year was that you’re talking about? Which year is it roughly?


Jay Lagarde 2:04

Oh, the early 80s, early 80s.


Yoni Mazor 2:07

So, the early 80s, New Orleans, really was legally 18. I didn’t realize there’s an area in the states that it’s only 18 interesting. And like you said it was very flexible.


Jay Lagarde 2:16

Yeah at the time. Things were different. Yeah. It definitely is known for being kind of a party. Wild crowd city. There’s, you know, Mardi Gras is there every year and so it’s you know, it’s kind of where I grew up.


Yoni Mazor 2:28

That’s pretty wild. Did you watch the show Treme? I don’t know if you heard of the show, Treme? It’s on HBO. It’s…I think David Simon is the creator. He’s the guy, the creator of Oz and the Wire, like top level HBO shows, but Treme is actually kind of the story of New Orleans, especially after the hurricane. Yeah. It deals a lot with Music and Musicians. Because it’s a very musical town. It’s kind of the heart and soul of jazz music and


Jay Lagarde 2:55

Yep. There’s a birthplace with all new york of jazz. Yeah.


Yoni Mazor 2:59

So it touches those elements. So I watched it. Good episodes.


Jay Lagarde 3:03

Louis Armstrong. Harry Connick Jr. If you’ve ever heard of him, he went to my high school, he was a year younger than me. And he ended up leaving early, he was bored, wanted to go to the Juilliard and get a start on his career. High School is boring. And so that’s, you know, one small, you know, the well-known person that went to my high school. So yeah, so after high school, I went to school in Virginia. Richmond, Virginia. And it’s interesting, I started out thinking that really what I want to do is be an engineer, I really like math and science. And I thought that was what was real, the most important things and the numbers that that’s where it’s all at. But, you know, what I found is that I spent my first year as an engineer at the University of Virginia, and then I but I only had one elective all year. And my one elective was in economics, economics 201, you know, microeconomics. And I look back on that year after the summer when I got home, and as you know, I was my fondest class that I enjoyed the most all year long.


Yoni Mazor 4:12

Why is that? What do you think that is?


Jay Lagarde 4:14

Why, because engineering was something that I did, but and I, because I thought it was the right practical thing to do, but I didn’t enjoy it as much. And so what I found is that is that the, you know, when I looked at my schedule for the following year, it just was all engineering, you know, it’s all the good stuff. It is all good, but, and then I looked at the catalog and looked at all the other cool stuff. And I was like, No, there are too many other cool classes I want to take. So I switched and studied and majored in the liberal arts.


Yoni Mazor 4:50

So is it fair to say that it opened your horizons a little bit? You thought you know what you like, but then once you hit… 


Jay Lagarde 4:56

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think I think that’s a story of a lot of entrepreneurs. That’s more on the educational side, but they don’t necessarily unless you grew up in knowing you were going to be an entrepreneur, you sort of figured out, oh, yeah, it’s kind of cool to run your own business and kind of create something new. So yeah, to me, it was, you know, going into a liberal arts program and doing graduate work in liberal arts, I did graduate work in philosophy, which is kind of, you know, not very common, but it’s just very much thinking.


Yoni Mazor 5:30

Like, so what kind of philosophy did you connect to this point?


Jay Lagarde 5:33

I was a student of really a very historical program, but my emphasis was in early modern philosophy. So that was my specialty area, early modern political philosophy was my area.


Yoni Mazor 5:49

So there’s a part of you as a philosopher, correct? At this point?


Jay Lagarde 5:51

It’s in there somewhere. Yeah.


Yoni Mazor 5:54

We might dig it out throughout the process. Okay, so what year did you graduate? 


Jay Lagarde 5:59

I got out of undergrad, I graduated in 88. And I got out of…I did an ADD, I never did finish my dissertation. But I finished everything but the languages, the comp exams, and I said well, I can make more money and do more stuff. If I’m not, you know, wearing the professor hat. So it just seemed more interesting and more viable from a financial perspective at the time. So I ended up working for the state of Virginia, in Richmond, which is where we still are.


Yoni Mazor 6:29

What do you do for the state?


Jay Lagarde 6:31

Oh, I was a regulatory analyst. And so I was a regulatory analyst. Kind of a policy and legal analyst for the state for over 10 years. 


Yoni Mazor 6:45

The whole 10 years, from 88 to 98?


Jay Lagarde 6:48

A little bit later than that, I’d have to look at the dates. It’s like 98 and maybe started in 92-94 or something like that. 


Yoni Mazor 6:56

So hold on, you graduated in 88, what’d you do for all….


Jay Lagarde 6:59

No no no, that was undergraduate. That wasn’t graduate school. I did graduate school after that, and then almost finished my doctorate. I thought I was going to finish but ended up deciding it was more fun just to work. And so. So I was a policy analyst. And one of the cool things about, you know, in addition to doing a lot of learning a lot, a lot about federal and state laws, and really diving in deep and getting to know the state agencies and the experts there and all the things they were doing for, and of course, we were there to kind of challenge them and try to coach them to do better.


Yoni Mazor 7:36

But what was the spirit of the times? I guess the years were 92 to 2002. About a decade.


Jay Lagarde 7:40

Yeah. 2004 Yep, yep. 


Yoni Mazor 7:43

Right. And what was the spirit of the times? Any special like, projects, or cases you remember working on?


Jay Lagarde 7:47

Yeah, totally. And so one of the things that really got me into this current job was really, we in the very beginning, early days of the internet, we created, I along with, you know, like my colleagues, we ideated, we came up with an idea. And then we managed to secure funding to hire a software team to create really the first regulatory e-rulemaking tool. And so what it I, you know, the regulations are all over the world, they’re in the EU, they’re in the US, they’re everywhere. And it’s administrative law, it’s not the law passed by Congress, but it’s the law passed at the agencies or by the bureaucrats or wherever you want to call them. And so and so there’s a whole big process around creating these laws, they have to go out for public comment, they have to go through different sections, you know, the agencies need to respond to the comment, at least, that’s the way it is in the US and federal and state level, probably like that in the EU as well. And so we created this process, where we took this whole process to, you know, all of the external parts of the process and all of the internal parts of the process, you know, like legal review by the attorney general’s office, and etc, etc. All the different hoops needed to go through and all the public comment process, collecting public comments and all that we put that all online, we created structured mailing lists where you can sign up for exactly the notifications you want. And it was a pretty cool tool at the time it still is but it was the first tool of its kind as far as we know, anywhere. And so we won some national recognition. We had federal agencies watching us and they were thinking about their own thing but then we had some other countries come in and visit us. It was kind of cool to come visit us at Virginia. So that really got me into the idea of the internet and technology is a really, really powerful way to, to enable processes to enable accountability to enable transparency. And it was just kind of an eye-opening experience. To see what the internet could do and what technology you could do. And so…


Yoni Mazor 10:04

So at this point, is it fair to say that on the dime of the state of Virginia, you got thrown into the digital age or the digital space, or digital age. Right? So you guys created the foundations for knowledge, the authorities, and then the state, at least on the state level, or the government infrastructure level, to digitalize, you know, everything that’s going on. So and so all these components, all these nuances of bureaucracy, it’s all digitalized, and hopefully streamlined and becomes more efficient. Which today, you know, we’re in 2020, where you can, you know, we have, you can do many, many, many things online, renew your licenses, like so many things can be done online, you know, all the court stuff is being done online. I guess in the 90s, it was kind of the early foundations that were set. I guess for you, yeah, you and your team at a part of that, at least on the state of Virginia level. But like I mentioned, you have outside bodies coming in to examine what you guys did, to be able to mimic that or take from it to build on their own. So we probably had kind of a worldwide effect.


Jay Lagarde 11:02

It was a blast. And it was, you know, I’m sure it would have happened. Otherwise, we just happen to be at the early phase of this. And it was, you know, a lot of fun. And, you know, in a sense, I liked everything that I did for my job, but that was the part that I liked the best. And so, I really enjoyed creating this and was, you know, really glad that our, you know, our agency in the state of Virginia, you know, we’re willing to allow us to do this because it was..


Yoni Mazor 11:29

What was the name of the agency? Is it still around?


Jay Lagarde 11:34

It was a central budgeting agency for the state of Virginia. And the tool was called the Virginia Regulatory Town Hall. And so it was a neat, you know, a cutting edge tool in the day. I can’t speak for its current state, but in the day it was cutting edge.


Yoni Mazor 11:51

But you were working physically where? In the Capitol buildings, the Capitol area, because you know, Richmond is the capital of Virginia.


Jay Lagarde 11:59

Absolutely, yeah, I worked right across from Capitol in a building


Yoni Mazor 12:01

So the whole complex, the Capitol Complex alright, Very nice. So what was the next station after the state of Virginia? Where do you go? 


Jay Lagarde 12:08

So, you know, the interesting thing is, I, my wife was, you know, got to be interested in e-commerce before. I mean, I knew about it. But it was kind of neat, but I really hadn’t engaged in it. And, and she was…she had created an account on eBay and was starting to have fun on eBay. And she introduced us to…


Yoni Mazor 12:32

And what year was that?


Jay Lagarde 12:36

I want to say 2014. You’re a good historian, you’re really challenging me here. I think 2014


Yoni Mazor 12:44

I try. That’s how I keep track of the story, like this. Yes.


Jay Lagarde 12:46

So 2014 and I’m not the best historian, but that’s good 2014. And so she was piddling around, I was like, Whoa, that is pretty cool. And so I got on there like, this is great. This is the internet, this is just like what we did, you know, I was always calling the town hall e-commerce is my term for it. But now I was really doing e-commerce. And it’s kind of cool. And so, you know, I started finding things in my garage that I wanted to get rid of. And I was like, This is real money. This is really cool. And so I really got into it from a technology perspective. And I started you know, looking into the toolsets that are out there for eBay, I started playing around, started testing some sales on eBay, and just learning how the system worked. And just really, you know, mesmerized by the whole concept of this global marketplace, taking place through eBay. And then I took a look across the street and I saw Amazon and I wanted to go check that out. So I got on Amazon, I started messing around with Amazon in 2014-2015. I started messing around 2004-2005 I started messing around on Seller Central.


Yoni Mazor 14:02

But let me ask you this, you still had a job or you were…?


Jay Lagarde 14:06

I transitioned off from my job at some point in there I decided to go all-in so here’s the interesting story. I first started out just playing in sales, right? Playing in sales. And I was working with…I just had hooked up with an early Amazon consultant at the time, somebody whose company had been bought by Amazon, and he had friends at Amazon and he knew a lot of stuff about what was going on and how it was working and so he convinced me just you know a few little things and so you can really make a living doing this, I said Really? This just sounds like fun. He said no, no, you can make a living I said well that’s cool. And so… 


Yoni Mazor 14:46

How did you guys meet? How’d you guys know each other? What was uh?


Jay Lagarde 14:48

I was just looking for somebody…I was looking out for experts because I wanted to learn more about it and I connected with this guy.


Yoni Mazor 14:54

Where’d you look for experts? Like yahoo groups?


Jay Lagarde 14:57

Internet. I just found him. Yeah. So he was out there and so we connected and I got to know his little team a bit and, and so yeah, so he convinced me that I could make money. But then what happened is that I had created my own homegrown system to manage all my orders to manage my inventory feeds from different suppliers, to adjust pricing, to adjust inventory. I had this system that was cobbled together in what I would call not anything to write home about. But it was really good from a functionality point of view.


Yoni Mazor 15:36

But this is for Amazon Seller Central or Vendor Center?


Jay Lagarde 15:38

It was for Amazon. I had, I had bought some systems to work with eBay, but I didn’t create my own. But at that point, I was really getting into the Amazon, and I felt I had more leverage, I could do more high volume. And I could leverage the things that I was good at, whereas eBay’s more one-off. For Amazon, I was able to get more high volume leverage through automation. And that was where I was…


Yoni Mazor 16:02

But you were selling there on Amazon as a third-party seller or as a vendor?


Jay Lagarde 16:06

3rd party seller, I started out as a third party, so not Vendor Central. Third-Party seller, just regular Seller Central stuff very early days. Um, and, and so I was, um, I loved it because I liked eBay too. Don’t get me wrong, we, you know, we’ve supported a lot of customers on eBay. But in fact, back in the day, but what I really loved about Amazon is just the seamless catalog and the way it was set up. And just the way you could, you know, just you know, with a few touches of a button, you could update, you know, 100,000 skews, and boom, you know, it was great. And so I was sort of a one-man show, I was literally that, you know, the guy in the garage, the proverbial guy in the garage, I was just doing my own thing. And I bought tons of suppliers and moving stuff around and doing all kinds of things, buying some things dropshipping some things at a third party warehouse, and, you know, having a blast, but during this time, my colleague who was with this consulting firm, he started hooking me in with his clients, and some clients that we had found ourselves, and so he would bring us in, because he wasn’t a technology guy I was and he started saying, Can you solve this guy’s technology problem, because if you can solve this technical problem, then I can sell more consulting services. So it was a win-win. If I could set he says they won’t buy from me because they can’t deal with the volume. And it’s like, that’s your just this is my, this is my thing. So I loved that. So I would call these people and talk to them and then solve them. So we were, I had hired a few developers at that point and a graphics person. And we were still, you know, very much a garage-type company. And we were doing, you know, we were doing, you know, custom engagements. for customers, we were solving their problems. We were building Amazon Web stores at the time, which were very, you know, I say complex, they were an interesting thing that Amazon had come out with and experimented with for a while. And we were, you know, quote, unquote, authorized partner on that. And so there’s a lot of interesting things that happened at the time. And you know, interestingly enough, Amazon recommended us for a very, connected us with a very large client of ours, a very well known very, very large company, because Amazon was trying to convince them to build their thing on an Amazon Web Store This client that we work for, for a period of time they were going after a big federal contract. And you know, I don’t know, a bazillion dollar federal contracts or whatever, I don’t know what it was. And it was in Northern Virginia, so I had to commute up there to go meet and all that. So, we did this for a while and, and helped them, you know, model out this web store concept and did comps and everything for it, but it was kind of part of our story, because we were..when they got the contract when they got this big federal contract. They said, Okay, now we’ve got the contract. Now we can write you a long-term deal. And they said we’re going to write you a long term deal. You can come to all this, you know, create web stores for us and do all this stuff. And you know, y’all are great. We’ll take you in as a sub on this contract.


Yoni Mazor 19:24

So they were worried about the contract. So that was kind of creating a hesitancy on their side to lock it up. But the moment they got the contract they kind of unleashed with you guys, right?


Jay Lagarde 19:33

Absolutely. They hired us as one of many firms to help them…to help them get their proposal in. So we helped create part of the proposal that was then submitted through the, you know, federal contracting method.


Yoni Mazor 19:49

So you helped them with this contract with the government contracts?


Jay Lagarde 19:52

Yeah, we did our little part and the Amazon web store was part of that deal and so they ended up getting this contract and they called us up They said, Okay, now we’re ready for you to start doing more work for us. So you’re gonna have to, you know, hire more people and all this. There’s like a lot. Yeah, I pulled everybody in the company. Said What do y’all think? I mean, this is real money, you guys, this is guaranteed money and everything else is risky. You know,


Yoni Mazor 20:15

How big was the team? 


Jay Lagarde 20:18

Oh, we may have had five or six people at the time. And this is real. I said, if we do this, we were guaranteed payments of so many hours and buyers, you know, bills, and everybody is like, we hate that that is so terrible. We don’t want to, we don’t want to work on this kind of project. And I was really? Well, it isn’t my favorite either, but, I said, but it is real. And we will be around for a while. So now that’s going to take away our best people, and they’re all going to be focused on this. And it’s very frustrating to work in this type of a bureaucratic environment where you know,…


Yoni Mazor 20:50

And what year was this? Is this all 2004-2005?


Jay Lagarde 20:53

Ah, I would say this may have been 2006 or seven, maybe six, something like that. 


Yoni Mazor 21:01

But for two or three years already, you’re selling yourself right. And you established…


Jay Lagarde 21:04

Oh yeah, I’m doing retail, doing retail, and doing consulting. And I would say early phase platform building. I wouldn’t call it full-blown SAS but multi-tenanted, you know, SAS is multi-tenanted. And you can call it SAS, but


Yoni Mazor 21:25

So there are three business tracks, right? Retailing, consulting management, or whatever you’re doing with IT consulting? And the third track, early seeds of creating SAS?


Jay Lagarde 21:38

Yep, you got it. And so the decision we made at that point was that, you know, I said, Look, I said, Okay, we are going to, I will turn this down because we don’t want to do it. Now. I’m sort of with you there. I certainly don’t want to be doing all this full-time. And I have to go, where are we, where we have the energy, what we’re good at. And I said, so we’re going to be good at SAS. And that’s what we’re going to do. And we’re not going to look back, we’re going to make it work. We’re going to serve Amazon customers and so forth. And so that that is where we committed ourselves.


Yoni Mazor 22:10

So you turned down that

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