Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Troy Johnston talks about his all-in-one suite of growth tools for Amazon sellers. He’s the co-founder, and CEO of  Seller.Tools, and he shares his personal journey into eCommerce. 


Growing your e-commerce business can be difficult. Like most people, you will probably fail at some point along the way. But is all failure a negative? Yoni Mazur from PrimeTalk considers failure and how it can help you actually succeed more in your business.


In today’s interview, PrimeTalk chats with Troy Johnston, co-founder, and CEO of Seller.Tools, a suite of the most innovative business tools available to Amazon sellers today. Seller.Tools was created and built by the most successful Amazon sellers, so they can really understand how to use the data to help you maximize revenue and put your business ahead of the competition.


Troy Johnstone talks about his experiences in marketing and then Amazon selling and how they led him to co-found and create Seller.Tools. If you’re an Amazon seller and are looking to grow and become more successful, then this episode is for you!


Click the link to learn more about Seller.Tools.


Click the link to learn more about GETIDA.


Find the Full Transcript Below:

Yoni Mazur 0:06

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I have a really special guest. Today I’m having Troy Johnston. Troy is the co-founder and CEO of Seller.Tools, which is an all-in-one suite for optimization tool that focuses on growth for Amazon sellers. So if you’re an Amazon seller that’s looking to grow, they have a suite of tools for you. He’s gonna touch more about that very, very soon. But in the meantime, let’s welcome to the show. Troy, welcome to the show. 


Troy Johnston 0:35

Yeah, great. Thanks so much for having me on. I really appreciate it.


Yoni Mazur 0:37

Our pleasure. Our pleasure. So today’s episode is really going to be all about you: the story of Troy Johnston. So you’re gonna share with us, you know, who are you? Where are you from? Where were you born? Where’d you grow up? How did you begin your profession, professional career and how you ended up in e-commerce? So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.


Troy Johnston 0:55

Sounds great. Yeah. Looking forward to it.


Yoni Mazur 0:59

Alright go ahead, you can start. Fire at will.


Troy Johnston 1:02

A little bit about me. And honestly, I’m one of those people. I guess this speaks to my upbringing that when it comes to talking about myself, I’m used to trying to deflect a little bit more and talk about some other things. But yeah, I mean, when it comes to starting from the beginning, I actually was born in Japan. I was a, uhh, military kid.


Yoni Mazor 1:23

Ohh I did not expect that at all. Okay, military brat, born in Japan, your father, your mother both?


Troy Johnston 1:28

Both at that time, were both in the military both in the Air Force. So I was born on base there and spent most of my early younger days in Japan. Great experience. I mean, I have some memories…


Yoni Mazor 1:46

Until which age? Or what age?


Troy Johnston 1:48

I moved. We moved I think when I was about eight years old? 


Yoni Mazor 1:52

Oh so for your first eight years of your life in Japan. Speak any Japanese at all?


Troy Johnston 1:57

Very little, very little. And like my mom, she was helping in teaching speak English there. So taking part in some of that and getting kind of engulfed more in the culture and I wish I had better memories. I have great memories, but there are not as many as I’d like for that experience. 


Yoni Mazor 2:15

Yeah, you wish you could archive a bit more in the database but um, which part of Japan?


Troy Johnston 2:20

It was in…oh man…the name is going to elude me now.


Yoni Mazor 2:25

North? South? Center? Where do you remember?


Troy Johnston 2:29

It was in…oh man (laughing). See this is me not…


Yoni Mazor 2:33

What was the name of the Air Force base? You were living on base I would assume, no? 


Troy Johnston 2:37

On base, yup, on base.


Yoni Mazor 2:39

It was a fort this? Fort that? Usually, starts with the fort right?


Troy Johnston 2:42

Starts… Yeah, it starts with Y? People are gonna be like, Oh, man, you shouldn’t be. 


Yoni Mazor 2:51

Alright, nevermind. If it comes to mind, just let us know. So first eight years of your life, you’re in Japan. Wow. That’s pretty, pretty unique. Eight years old, you guys, you know, you move where? Back to the States?


Troy Johnston 3:02

Yeah, yeah, we ended up moving back to the US. And then really kind of got settled in in the Midwest. Missoula. In Derby, Kansas. We ended up moving back to, and the same trajectory there, where we were moving close to, I remember McConnell Air Force Base was the base there in the area. So we settled into Derby. And that was home for a long time.


Yoni Mazor 3:31

This so this has nothing to do with the Kentucky Derby. Right? That’s a whole different world.


Troy Johnston 3:35

No, no, no. Yeah. This is, Derby is the city. The Kentucky Derby is the race, it takes place in Kentucky. But yeah, yeah, it’s… if you’re familiar with like Wichita, Derby is kind of like a satellite of that area. And you know, it’s still pretty rural being out in Kansas. But that’s…


Yoni Mazor 3:55

Is that where you went to a Junior High, High School? Graduated?


Troy Johnston 3:58

Yep. Yeah, you got it. We really were moving from there. It was, you know, really starting school, and really all the way through to high school. That was home for us. And then what


Yoni Mazor 4:12

What was the next station for you after high school?


Troy Johnston 4:14

Then after high school, we decided to move to Florida.


Yoni Mazor 4:17

“We” meaning the whole family or just yourself? 


Troy Johnston 4:20

No, excuse me, it was the whole family. So it was kind of around the time where I was thinking about, you know, thinking about college, where to attend school. My parents at the time, we’re thinking about being closer to family and you know, as they’re, they’re getting older, sort of settling in and creating roots somewhere else. So


Yoni Mazor 4:40

Oh you know, again, I cannot avoid the cliche if you’re about to retire, Florida is the destination, right? 


Troy Johnston 4:45

It’s like a magnet for….but it’s not bad. I tell you. I mean, I enjoyed the Midwest, but there’s, there’s, you know, it’s nice to never have to warm up your car and scrape your windows and do all that stuff. So you know…


Yoni Mazor 4:59

Got it. And which part of Orlando did you guys settle in?


Troy Johnston 5:02

So we actually ended up on the coast. We settled in…


Yoni Mazor 5:06

I said Orlando, I meant Florida.


Troy Johnston 5:08

Yeah, Florida, which I’m now kind of in the Orlando area, but at the time of that move, we settled in Melbourne, Florida, which is on the coast.


Yoni Mazor 5:18

Is it spelled the same way as Melbourne, Australia. Okay, it this like a twin city or something or some sort of satellite?


Troy Johnston 5:25

No, I mean, like a satellite of, um?


Yoni Mazor 5:29

Of Melbourne or something. Because, you know, I know I live in New Jersey and I know New Jersey is based on the original Jersey Island, you know, in the UK, the United Kingdom, much like York is New York. So just wondering if there’s any resemblance to either Melbourne in Australia, or maybe also comes from the UK where kind of you know, the British Empire is sprawled around the world and got new this is just a copy the name is shut up. You know, there’s London Kentucky somewhere. I’m sure there is. The original London is in London, UK. Nevermind so city city names and affiliations is second round that we are we are the Derby Kentucky or Derby in Kansas. And now we’re doing Melbourne, Australia, and Melbourne, Florida. Some sort of wacky city tap for names. Yeah, you seem yourself to be attached to but… Yeah, go ahead.


Troy Johnston 6:15

Yeah, so I mean, that was the next step. And I ended up waiting a year to get that time being sensitive to like in-state tuition and thinking about college and that type of thing. So when I started going to school, started attending college, local community college, and then moved on from that to attending the University of Florida. So I moved out to Gainesville for school, which was great. Great college, was working through school..


Yoni Mazor 6:45

But what’d you learn in school? What’s your major in school?


Troy Johnston 6:47

So I went into the College of Journalism and Communication with a real big emphasis on advertising. That was really what my, I always knew I wanted to get into, into advertising, which was always really unique, how they structured schools and programs were like, advertising, especially at the University of Florida, where advertising was in journalism and communications, then marketing had this very heavy business, finance sort of bent. And I always just thought there was far more overlap in the two areas. So really interesting now, you know, kind of the school, the programs, the colleges, as I like to call them, kind of the segmented different, you know, study paths is really interesting.


Yoni Mazor 7:34

So you found it to be a cross-synergy between the marketing of journalism, but also on marketing and the business world.


Troy Johnston 7:41

Yeah, yeah. They sort of separated that out. And I thought, you know, when going to school that, you know, there would be, you know, there would be a lot more overlap.


Yoni Mazor 7:51

Synergy? Yeah, it’s all bundled up. But when you go into the business world, you kind of see it as one service, the other, you have your big business, big corporation, even in finance, use, journalists, or whatever it is to market yourself or vice versa. The journalists are using the big businesses to get what they need. It can be a software solution and stuff like that. There’s a lot of cost synergies and many many levels. But in any case, alright, so you graduated, which year?


Troy Johnston 8:18

Yeah, this would have been ’09 I graduated.


Yoni Mazor 8:21

2009 you graduated, fresh out of college. So what’s the next station for you? 


Troy Johnston 8:26

Yeah this is where there’s, I think, for most I had a lot of uncertainty, you know, going down that path and being used to working, I was working two jobs in school, put myself through college.


Yoni Mazor 8:35

What kind of jobs? Just as a side note, what kind of jobs? Random jobs?


Troy Johnston 8:39

So I was working at, I was actually working at Best Buy, and I worked for Best Buy for like, nine years that was always steady, and I was serving a bunch of different roles. You know, I was…


Yoni Mazor 8:50

Did you do Geek Squad at all? They had the Geek Squad back in the day.


Troy Johnston 8:53

They did, they did. I didn’t do Geek Squad. I feel like I did like everything except that you know, I stocked shelves I did the..what do they call it?  I think…


Yoni Mazor 9:02

So you really came from the brick and mortar world and you know, no joke for you. You have probably, you know, nine years of experience. That’s no joke and a giant retailer that are still around so it’s pretty impressive. And what was the second job?


Troy Johnston 9:13

And then in school I was actually worked at the Independent Florida Alligator. It  was the..


Yoni Mazor 9:19

The what? Independent? 


Troy Johnston 9:22

Florida alligator. So it was the school’s newspaper. Yeah. Pretty well known, very popular for a college newspaper. And I had you know, we had dedicated sections as account executives to sell different ad space, to supplement some of the articles. And then I had the restaurant guide that I had to oversee where, you know, we were covering local businesses, local restaurants, you know, dining highlights, their menus, those types of things. And that was a good experience. Definitely 


Yoni Mazor 9:54

Great experience. You got brick and mortar and journalism slash advertising. That’s…and you know, dining. A lethal combination and a few have multiple ways you can probably at that point just open them all and, and sell everything about them all. But you go… Alright, so 2009, I just wanted for context reasons, you know, it’s kind of, you know, it’s a major financial crisis that was, you know 2008 happened. And 2009 was kind of a tough year because financial global crisis, I believe they call it FGS, some financial global crisis or something. So 2009, you find yourself at a crossroad after college and looking for the next station? What was the dilemmas back then? 


Troy Johnston 10:31

Yeah, it truly was. It was really tricky times to sort of have a lot of certainty as to what the next move was, and be so abrupt. I mean, I actually continued working at Best Buy, I’d moved away from Gainesville. So the paper was no longer, no longer any of my work at that time. So, ended up moving back home, and being with my parents, working at Best Buy. And then, you know, kind of looking at what was solid, local immediate options to find emploYoni Mazorent. So my first, my first job out of college was as an administrator, administrator, admissions representative for a, it was a for-profit school, it was Kaiser college, which was actually Kaiser University, which is pretty prominent down here in Florida. They specialize in a lot of medical, different medical kind of, education.


Yoni Mazor 11:25

They’re familiar, they’re affiliated with Kaiser industries, that’s a big corporation for the healthcare industry, I believe, right?


Troy Johnston 11:30

I don’t think so. They’re not affiliate…like Kaiser Permanente. They’re not affiliated with them, they’re kind of their own. And they’ve, you know, it’s a very interesting niche in terms of, you know, being in Florida, being medical focused, being a for-profit college, and there’s been a lot of ups and downs, I think, in that industry and for that company. And so that was a little bit out of necessity, needing to find something to kind of, you know, to jump into something for… 


Yoni Mazor 11:58

Yeah, you need a career path, so, you know, this is, you know, this is all the doors are open for, you know, for me, so you pull the lever and you get in, and how many years did you stay in with Kaiser?


Troy Johnston 12:07

That would have been…it would have been…I want to say it was about three years


Yoni Mazor 12:16

So around 2012? Right? Yeah. All right, I guess the next station, what was it? What happened after that? 


Troy Johnston 12:23

So, yeah, I was working there. And then exploring more, let’s say, specialized career paths, you know, something that really fit in the vein of what I was doing in advertising. So, you know, at that time, my then girlfriend, we were, you know, talking about taking things more seriously, we were looking at, you know, sort of broadening the scope of areas we’d be willing to, hey, we need to move to find an opportunity because of the, you know, the landscape, the economic landscape. So that’s what brought us back actually to the Midwest. I ended up… My wife, actually, my now wife, took a job over the phone that was going to take us back to the Midwest.


Yoni Mazor 13:12

Midwest, in the Wichita area? Once again, the same area?


Troy Johnston 13:14

it was actually in Kansas City. Kansas City. Yeah,


Yoni Mazor 13:18

Which side? The Missouri side or the Kansas side?


Troy Johnston 13:20

That was on the Missouri side. 


Yoni Mazor 13:24

Got it? Yeah, it’s cut in half or something, right? Kansas City, it’s kind of a unique town.


Troy Johnston 13:27

It is because it has that melding and there’s kind of nuances to either side, but it’s also, you know, kind of up and coming. You know,


Yoni Mazor 13:35

It’s a Boomtown for sure.


Troy Johnston 13:37

Yeah. There’s a lot going on there. four sides of the town, it is and some of the the arts and the really cool things that they do quite well. So that was interesting to kind of take…


Yoni Mazor 13:51

So love took you back to the Midwest and to Kansas. Is that fair to say?


Troy Johnston 13:56

Yep. So, and we, both, my wife has also studied when she attended UCF here, was studying marketing, advertising…similar vein…it was kind of the way in which we sparked up some interest and…


Yoni Mazor 14:10

You said which? UCS?


Troy Johnston 14:12

UCF. So University of Central Florida? Yeah. So that was really, and again, she was working in Kaiser here with, different campus. But through training was the way that we kind of synched up, we had the common interests, that was kind of what sparked things from there. Yeah. And then that led us back to Kansas City. And I’ve found that I couldn’t take a job quickly enough to come on as a project coordinator at that time for an advertising agency.


Yoni Mazor 14:44

And this, once again, this is 2012. You’re in Kansas City, and you’re jumping into the world of advertising. This time with the hardcore advertising agency. What did you do there?


Troy Johnston 14:53

And so my role was as a project manager, and they really siloed off the project managers to oversee different creative teams. So the connection, the company was a platform agency, and they did marketing and advertising for for-profit schools. So that was kind of the connection with Kaiser where there was a little bit of a, you know, the trajectory made somewhat sense where I could say, Hey, I’m I was in the trenches, I was doing admissions, you know, we were doing marketing at the ground level. I want to come in now and, you know, be a project manager for, for this agency. So, I came in and, you know, we would do traditional advertising, we do collateral, we do that kind of thing, but where I ended up kind of landing was on the video production side of things. So I would, you know, I would do everything on the project management side to define the scope of the project, define the budget of the project,


Yoni Mazor 15:45

And what were the clients? What kind of clients were you guys working for?


Troy Johnston 15:49

So, it would be as if like Kaiser University was coming to an ad agency, that would be the platform at the time would do all of their, you know, do all of their advertising, depending on the scope of their contract, of course, but would do some of their advertising. So we’ve done like, we’ve done TV commercials for Kaiser while I was there, ironically enough, and then other, you know, mostly for-profit schools,


Yoni Mazor 16:13

So the nature of your position was creating these advertising videos for for-profit educational institutions.


Troy Johnston 16:22

Yeah, yep. Yep, video production, whether it was, you know, graphic videos, whether it was, you know, we did some pretty intricate stuff, like we use, we would use, you know, spots in Kansas City, and, you know, do these videos with graphic elements, and they’d be really built-out, pretty high production value. So it was really cool to see. Because, you know, up until that time, the idea of, you know, video production, and, you know, thinking through the entire team that you need, whether you need a gaffer or director of photography, like all of these different production team members. Yeah, it was, it was really cool, really cool to be able to see that and as a project manager, a lot of moving pieces. So it was, it was a good way to kind of get deep into that activity. And I think for me, give me a lot of confidence as somebody that could….


Yoni Mazor 17:10

So first time in your life, you’re in position to kind of a leadership position in a serious organization, commercial, you know, organization making ads, and so forth. So that’s pretty great experience to get there. And how many years did you stay in that role?


Troy Johnston 17:23

That was just about, I want to say, about two and a half years.


Yoni Mazor 17:26

So around 2014-2015. 


Troy Johnston 17:30

Right around there.It might have been closer to two years, because then we were back in Florida, by 2014. So about two years.


Yoni Mazor 17:39

So 2014. And moving back to Florida, what was the next station there?


Troy Johnston 17:43

So from there, sort of a reset, my wife found a job, and then I reset, and I was looking for opportunities here. And kind of had to do a lot of, you know, a lot of digging to find good opportunities at that time. And ended up synching up with a digital marketing agency that focused on hoteliers, kind of kind of entrenched in the travel industry. Same and similar role. In this case, it was a project manager, the pivot being focusing on digital solutions. So website build-outs, doing SEO…


Yoni Mazor 18:23

Was the travel industry worldwide, or was more a locale, a Florida locale? What was kind of the scope?


Troy Johnston 18:28

It was worldwide, it was really, it was really cool, because we’d work with, you know, the Four Seasons, the Hyatts, these luxury boutique hotels. So you know, every, every week or so you would see these just amazing locations, and then you would figure out, hey, well, how do we make a website that conveys this and, you know, bring in those assets and make sure that the process was seamless for people to book for some of those experiences. So that was that was really cool as well. 


Yoni Mazor 18:54

So how long did you stay in that role?


Troy Johnston 18:56

That would have been about a year and a half. About a year and a half I was there.


Yoni Mazor 19:06

Yeah. 2015-2016. That’s where you meet your next station.


Troy Johnston 19:09

About 2000– about 2015, because this is where it starts to bleed into where Amazon FBA kind of crept in. Yeah, where I was looking, still at the time, even more so than back in Kansas City, was looking at different side hustles different ways of you know, making some extra income. And that’s really where you know, FBA came into the equation.


Yoni Mazor 19:31

  1. That’s when FBA came into your life. It’s…just for context for selling on Amazon, through FBA, which is Fulfillment by Amazon method. So tell us, let’s dive into

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