Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Michael Jackness and Yoni talk about finding success & purpose in Ecommerce. Michael is the co-founder of EcomCrew, a platform that supports e-commerce sellers, shares his personal journey into e-commerce.


As an e-commerce business owner, one of the best things you can do is join a community of like-minded people who really understand the e-commerce universe and the struggles and challenges you might face in it. Finding that sense of belonging will also help to inspire and motivate you to improve and develop your business. Yoni Mazor of Prime Talk discusses the types of communities available out there for e-commerce business owners.


In today’s episode, Prime Talk has teamed up with Michael Jackness, the co-founder of EcomCrew, a platform that provides useful advice and a sense of community to Amazon sellers. EcomCrew is a community of over 2000 members where you can find useful and actionable advice to help you grow your own business.


Michael Jackness shares his inspirational e-commerce journey starting from his first post-high-school consulting firm to his online poker affiliate business to EcomCrew. So if you’re looking for motivation and inspiration to get your business either off the ground or scaled into something bigger, then this is episode is for you!


Learn more about EcomCrew!

Learn about GETIDA’s Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.


Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor 00:06

Hi, everybody, and welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today we’re having a special guest, we’re having Michael Jackness. Michael is the co-founder of EcomCrew, which is a platform to support e-commerce sellers. So Michael, welcome to the show.


Michael Jackness 0:20

It’s good to be here. Happy to do this with you guys.


Yoni Mazor 0:22

Our pleasure, our pleasure. So I’m a little bit excited here because, you know, we just met just a few short moments ago. I see good things, I kind of hear good things, but it’s always best to hear from the source. So today’s episode is going to be all about the story of Michael Jackness. So you’re gonna show …


Michal Jackness 0:36

Yeah, we paid all those people to say those things. So don’t read too much into it.


Yoni Mazor 0:39

Wow, anyway. I love your budget. Yeah. That’s great. That’s great. So today, we’re really gonna focus on your story. You’re gonna share with us: who are you? Where are you from? Where did you grow up? How did you begin your professional career, station by station to where you are now? So I guess without further ado, let’s jump right into it.


Michal Jackness 0:58

Sure. Yeah. I mean, as the years go by, the story gets longer and longer. It used to be, you know, I graduated high school last year. And that was about it. So


Yoni Mazor 1:08

Take your time, you got all the time. Don’t worry.


Michal Jackness 1:10

Yeah, I mean, I’ve been an entrepreneur, pretty much my whole life. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, my parents owned some stores and stuff growing up. And…


Yoni Mazor 1:20

Like give us some names, give us some context. So what state are you in? Which town? Are you in this country? Where, I mean, which country?,


Michal Jackness 1:24

Yeah. Well, we were….I was in the Washington DC area. So I grew up in the Washington, DC area, Northern Virginia, and lived there pretty much my whole life until we started, like, our first online business. And then and then we left, which happened later on, but right out of high school, I started a consulting business doing computer consulting, because I mean, I was a kid of the 80s and 90s. And computers were just becoming prevalent then and luckily, you know, I had a PC and I was playing around with that, and was one of the few people on my block at least that knew how to use one of these damn things.


Yoni Mazor 1:59

So when you graduated high school, what year was that? 


Michal Jackness 2:04

1990….Jesus, man that’s horrible. Uhh 1994.I had to actually think about that. Wow. That’s…


Yoni Mazor 2:09

Yeah, we’re gonna dive into memory lane, and we’re gonna extract all these memories out of you.


Michal Jackness 2:12

That’s when you’re, you know, you’re getting old. I literally had to think about that. And there’s a funny story behind that, I’ll tell you in a minute. But yeah, I graduated 1994.


Yoni Mazor 2:21

So 1994, you graduated out of high school, right? You’re in, you know, Northern Virginia, in the Washington, DC area, you know, and you essentially open your first business, and it is selling computer parts?


Michal Jackness 2:31

It was called Discount Computer Consultants. And what I did was just help people with their home computers, you know, I would go in and install, you know, word perfect for them or whatever the hell existed back then.


Yoni Mazor 2:43

Basically, yeah, the fundamentals of the PC that we all rely on today, that early early. I mean, not that early, early, early 80s, I would say, the 90s is a bit more mature, but still it kind of clunky. 


Michal Jackness 2:54

I mean, this was pre-Windows, right? More floppy disks, I mean, there were hard drives, obviously. But all the software came on floppy disks, or, actually, at that time, they were literally floppy disk, and then the three and a half inch disc came along, and it’s hard to even think back that long ago. But yeah, I mean…


Yoni Mazor 3:11

The screens were kind of green, you know, monitors, right?


Michal Jackness 3:13

It was around that time.


Yoni Mazor 3:17

That’s VGA, 486 types of computers probably.


Michal Jackness 3:19

Yeah, right in that time, you know, some VGA monitors came out. So we actually had, we actually had some color screens by them. They weren’t just amber. But yeah, I mean, it just, you know, computers were foreign to a lot of people, you know, but they knew they wanted one in their home. So I started, just like, through friends and people kind of knew that I was into this stuff as a kid. It just was a hobby for whatever reason, I was into that and a bunch of other hobbies as well as a kid. But yeah, I mean, I knew there was…


Yoni Mazor 3:48

So you opened a business instead of going to college, or this is before you went to college, you went to college at the same time, what was the dynamic there?


Michal Jackness 3:55

I opened the business instead of going to college, and I shouldn’t even say instead of going to college, going to college was not ever really an option for me. I mean, you know, I just didn’t have the grades and didn’t really care about school. I was already kind of like an entrepreneurial, hustler type mindset.


Yoni Mazor 4:12

So hold on, so that’s your first major business? But you know, up until the age you are, you know, the moment you’re 17 or 18 years old, what are we doing that you can identify as being an entrepreneur back back in those days?


Michal Jackness 4:23

Well, you know, yeah, my parents owned some, some stores and stuff. So growing up, I was helping with those things. Yeah, I think that the moment that I kind of, it wasn’t just just that, but it was kind of married with a moment that I really remember. I was going to go get a job at a computer store, a local computer store in town called CompUSA. It’s actually a pretty large computer store.


Yoni Mazor 4:47

It’s still around, right?


Michal Jackness 4:48

I think they might still be around a much not sure. I’m a Mac guy now. So things have changed a lot of my life. But yeah, I went down there and asked if I get a job and He offered to hire me at like 5.25 an hour, whatever the hell it was, it was, you know, something ridiculous. And I was like, you know what I think I can do better on my own. I think I can, if I can get just two hours a day of work at $20 an hour as a consultant, you know, finding people, then I’ll be doing just as well and then have more hours to fill and make more money. And so that was my, I actually can remember back to the exact moment, it’s where…it’s, I think it’s the only other time of my life I applied for a job, which is also kind of weird, I didn’t take the job, but I did apply for that job and was awarded the job. But…


Yoni Mazor 5:35

I find that a little bit interesting that you mentioned in your school, you weren’t the highest rates, the one who isn’t that sophisticated, but when it came the moment for you to understand the mathematics of things, pretty simple too. I can do this for 5.25, you know, slave myself or find something that is unique, that I can probably excel at, and, you know, make a better living, and I have a better setup for myself, and that compelled you, that pushed you? And I guess from that moment on, I didn’t really look back, and you just opened the business, you know, consulting and helping with the computer industry? And it’s kind of early days, it’s pretty interesting, how you were able to, at least that mindset of putting yourself in the right direction.


Michal Jackness 6:13

Yeah, I think, you know, a lot of, you know, I was always really strong at math. Math was never a problem. For me, the grades in school were more from I was just bored, you know? And, I have ADHD, and it’s hard for me to sit still, hard for me to focus in the classes, you know? Public schools taught to the lowest common denominator, like, I would get that two plus two equals four, like, let’s move on to the next thing. And there’s still a half an hour later, trying to draw chalk on the board explaining why two plus two equals four. And I would like fall asleep in the back of the class and get in trouble. And no one could quite understand this is you know, back at a time where these types of things weren’t really diagnosed, I didn’t have you know…I was in public school. And this is where I think that, you know, now that I’m older and understand the way the world works better that you had, maybe I’ve been born in a really affluent family and was in private school and had better attention, life probably would have been very different. But, you know, in the public school system in the 90s, where this stuff wasn’t, you know, identified, I’d come home, my dad would hit me for falling asleep in class and say, pay attention, son, and I’d be like, you know, I’m bored. And like, you know, it was just a different time and just the way it was.


Yoni Mazor 7:18

There were different tools. And I said, yeah, hopefully, I want to believe as a society, we have, you know, adopted more tools and more ability to enhance the experience for the younguns, who are in the educational platforms and systems, you know? But between you and I, we can probably agree that, you know, learning is a never ending process, right? But after that, it’s really all up to you, and you got to channel stuff to the right places. Of course, that’s what part of the things you guys are doing is heavily focused on educating, you know, entrepreneurs and e-commerce sellers, we’re going to get to that. Okay, so I want to start moving the storyline along. So in 1994, you’re in the computer business, what was the next station for, you know, how many years were you stayed in that position until you will find the next track?


Michal Jackness 7:56

Yeah, I mean, I was doing a computer thing for quite a while actually. So I had this consulting business started, I started migrating kind of from home user customers to some business customers, I got lucky that one of the home customers I was working with also owned a business and so like one and started working on their stuff on the office and kind of realize that, you know, business owners had more money to spend on this type of stuff, and also got more value out of having computer technology in their offices when they were previously…


Yoni Mazor 8:25

So you were able to b2b or add another layer?


Michal Jackness 8:29

Mostly B2B, pretty much eventually got rid of all the home user stuff and went to business. And eventually, I ended up getting a client that was doing basically the exact same thing I was doing. They were another consulting company, they were a little bit bigger. And they had this client that was in Northern Virginia, where I lived, and they were based closer to Baltimore, which is geographically only, like 30 miles away. But in Washington, DC traffic, it’s like 17 hours away. So they were just like, will you go take this client for us, you know, and we’ll pay you your standard rate or whatever, they were marking my rate up, which I was fine with, and go help them? And I was, they were just one of my stops on my weekly, your monthly journey. And eventually they offered me a job, which was really interesting, because I always thought that like that would never happen. I would never want to take…


Yoni Mazor 9:21

A job as an employee or just a contractor?


Michal Jackness 9:23

As an employee, as a full-time employee. They were a growing company. And they were like, We need a full-time mike and they offered me this job. And the money was really good, but it wasn’t quite as much as I was making doing my own thing. But at that moment, I was starting to get kind of burnt down and frustrated doing my own thing.


Yoni Mazor 9:44

The hustle a little bit. Yeah. So what year was that when they offered you the job?


Michal Jackness 9:47

That was in 1998.


Yoni Mazor 9:49

So four years into the mix. A job opened up? You took it?


Michal Jackness 9:53

I did take it. Yeah, and I’m glad I did. You know, one thing I thought that it would be a learning opportunity. That was one of the main reasons I did take it. And I thought, you know, it’s time to kind of just get into something a bit more stable, I’m getting a little bit older, I was like, ready to like, kind of do my own thing. And I wanted that stability. Like, it was difficult to, like, get an apartment to rent with the way I was doing things. And…


Yoni Mazor 10:14

Yeah, there  is a moment where, you know, you’re hustling and they give you some oxygen to have some stability, at least. And then you schedule your, okay, so how many years did you stay in that position? 


Michal Jackness 10:24

I stayed there seven years. It was a long time.


Yoni Mazor 10:26

Way to go, you know, from 98, until what 2005?


Michal Jackness 10:32

2004 was when I left.


Yoni Mazor 10:34

  1. Alright, so stayed in kind of the same position, or you grew inside the organization?


Michal Jackness 10:38

Yeah. So while I was there, I mean, things…It’s funny, I had the same title. From day one to the day I left, I was never, you know, in corporate America, typically people are so title hungry, and all these different things. I just never cared about that. I was like, you know, call me anything you want. As long as the pay keeps on increasing, and responsibilities are increasing, and I’m learning, I’m gonna be happy. And that was definitely the way it was. I mean, it was a really fast growing company. For me, it was super exciting to be part of all of that. I was a fly on the wall at basically, every moment. I got promoted to the executive team, I got more and more responsibility, my responsibilities grew outside of IT. I was a part of like, the whole operations of the business.


Yoni Mazor 11:21

So you got immersed. You got immersed in it, you know, with tremendous experience, tremendous know-how, you know, track record of, you know, performing well, and in the highest levels and standard. So that’s a good package to leave with. So, let’s bounce into 2004, what was the next station?


Michal Jackness 11:34

Yeah, so I mean, while I was still working at this job, the entrepreneurial bug was still always there, you know, the side hustle type thing was always there. I was actually selling stuff on eBay, you know, in 1996-area, started doing that when eBay was just kind of coming to be, and was like a power-seller on there. So I had this side hustle doing that. And the parts important because when it up happening is that the thing I end up doing, the next business I created was kind of launched off of eBay, which was I was really into playing online poker. And one day I’m just playing online poker, and I find out about affiliate marketing, they had a link on the bottom with affiliates. I didn’t know what the hell that even meant. And it said, if you send one to nine players a month to us, we’ll pay you $65 a player, if you send us 10 or more players will pay you $75 a player. I remember there’s like it was yesterday. It’s funny, I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday but 20 years ago, I remember this moment.


Yoni Mazor 12:31

Yeah, it’s a pivotal moment. Milestones, yeah, humans tend to kind of absorb. But what year was that when you saw that poker opportunity?


Michal Jackness 12:36

That was 2000…end of 2003.


Yoni Mazor 12:39

Got it. So you still with that company 2003. Now even though you had a customer, you know, online selling in your belt. 2003, this poker opportunity presented itself through affiliation, and what’d you do?


Michal Jackness 12:49

I was like, I don’t know that many people, I’m not going to be able to…I can get 10, 15, 20 people maybe to sign up. But I’m always…I’m thinking bigger, like, no matter what it is. 1000s of players and millions of dollars, you know, kind of immediately, whatever it is, right? And so I was just like, Well, let me maybe take this eBay asset that I have, and try to figure out a way to like, marry it to online poker. And so what I did was I created buy-it-now auctions for a penny to give away a free product, which was the most popular poker book at the time. And as the payment instead of paying any money, you had to sign up for online poker. And it worked pretty well. You know, I got a….


Yoni Mazor 13:34

So hold on…What’s the package you buy for a penny?


Michal Jackness 13:37

It was on eBay, an eBay auction that was…the cheapest you could do was a penny for buy-i- now. Right? And in terms of like payment, it was in order to get this free book, basically, you have to,


Yoni Mazor 13:50

You’re able to create that payment. So basically, you’re able to connect the checkout process to this, I guess you built this funnel where the..


Michal Jackness 14:00

It wasn’t a part of the checkout process. It was, you know, it was on the page. You know, when people read like, I want to get this book for a penny, here’s what I have to do to actually get the book for a penny. And then after they completed their auction, I would send them a link. Not everybody did it. Some people complained. And eventually they ended up shutting it down because it was ultimately against their terms of service, which I didn’t realize at the time. But it got me started, which was the important thing because like you need that initial traffic to get you going.


Yoni Mazor 14:29

Yeah, so you found immediate traction by doing great this combination until you got busted for TOS. Got it.


Michal Jackness 14:36

Yeah, exactly. And that took a while. Took like three, three months, four months, maybe for eBay to finally shut it down. But by this point, a couple of really important things happened. Number one, I contacted the poker room and I was like “is what I’m doing okay?” I wanted to make sure that I can offer something for free to incentivize them to sign up and they’re like, yeah, that’s fine. And I also asked them like, Can you give me more money if I send you a lot more traffic? And they said, If you send us 200 players in a month, we’ll pay you $200 a player. And I was like, holy crap, like, that’s not…we’re not we’re really going to, you know, obviously some substantial money. And so, again, the way my mind thinks it isn’t just like that I can make more money per player that I sent them, but I can give them a better gift and get even more attention to this. So we started giving away or I start giving away a set of free poker chips instead of a book. And if you think to like…


Yoni Mazor 15:27

But where’d you do it? On eBay, on your website? 


Michal Jackness 15:30

This was still on eBay, at this exact moment. So this is now early 2004. If you can think back to that time, poker is like the biggest explosion in America. Everybody wants their own set of poker chips to have their home poker tournament. And I’m giving away a set of poker chips, people want to also play online poker. It was like a match made in heaven, and it took off like wildfire. eBay ultimately ended up shutting our account down. And it’s actually sometimes funny just how you create your own luck, or you get lucky in life sometimes. But we had been working on making our own website because I felt like that was the way to go. It wasn’t that I thought that eBay was going to shut us down. I just thought that like, I wanted to have my own platform. I wanted, I knew some stuff about


Yoni Mazor 16:13

Yeah you can have the experience of, you can just, you know, create your brand identity doing that. Just makes much, much more sense. 


Michal Jackness 16:19

Yeah, yep. And so…one night at like, 2am, we launched this website. And at this point I had partnered with my cousin to come help me do the fulfillment, because he was a DJ on Washington, DC morning radio. And so he had a 6am to 10am shifts slot. Yeah. And when he got done, he would come over to my house, and package up all these poker chips, because I had a full time job. I couldn’t, I couldn’t keep up with the demand. Like when it was 10 a day, I would just go home and do it. But now we’re doing 100 a day or more. I just couldn’t even remotely keep up with it. So he was coming over and doing that. And he calls me like..I had just gone to bed at 2am launching the website. He calls me at like five something in the morning on his way into the radio station, saying like eBay just shut our account down. And so like, we had this like three hour overlap of like, we got lucky. It was like we had just launched this website. And so what we did…


Yoni Mazor 17:11

So really perfect timing. 


Michal Jackness 17:14

Yeah, perfect timing. I mean, couldn’t have been more lucky. And we emailed all of our customers at that point from eBay, and said, Look…


Yoni Mazor 17:22

I just want to remind you for context, what’s interesting with eBay, I don’t know, it’s just today, I assume it’s still the situation, they actually give you access to their email. So this is required especially on PayPal, you see the images, you’re able to harvest that and you launch a website and boom, you reach out and say, Hey, remember, you bought with me? You had that experience? Now we have a website and so on. So right, that was kind of the dynamic.


Michal Jackness 17:41

Yeah, exactly. Exactly what happened. So I sent an email out. And this is back when people actually open up their email, because there wasn’t really spam and all that crap yet. And so we sent an email that said, Look, we just launched this new website, we have another poker room that we’ve added. So even though you’ve already signed up, now you can go get another set of poker chips, or a different free gift if you want. Or we also launched an affiliate program of our own, we’ll pay you $20 for everyone that you sent to us. So we went from like doing a couple 100 of these in a month to a couple of 1000 because like I mean, it was like overnight, and this was in like, April of 2004.


Yoni Mazor 18:20

2004 got it.


Michal Jackness 18:22

Yeah. I put my notice in to quit my job on July 1. It was pretty quickly thereafter that it was time to move on.


Yoni Mazor 18:31

I got it. Okay, so 2004 July 1, you’ve given notice you got your online website growing in the poker communities. But this is really kind of a you know, it’s all e-commerce related. You know, this, all this commerce is happening online. Okay, and what was the next station for you? What happened next?


Michal Jackness 18:49

I mean, there were some big moments in there, I mean, first of all, we decided to leave Northern Virginia, my then girlfriend and I, but then I in, I proposed to her before we left, I was like if I’m gonna ask someone to move across the country with me, as I should probably put up or shut up. I asked my girlfriend to marry me. We moved to Las Vegas. Which was like the center of the poker universe at that moment.


Yoni Mazor 19:14

Total sense. Yeah, that makes t

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