In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Seth Broman – CRO of YardLine – talks about unleashing the growth potential of Amazon sellers, and also more information about his life’s journey. #sethbroman #amazonseller
About Seth Broman of YardLine –
Yardline is marketplace-agnostic, working with professional sellers on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, Shopify, and others. Our leadership team’s experience generating over $20 billion of cumulative originations means Yardline can move fast to tackle our borrowers’ primary pain point: securing the capital they need to accelerate growth.
Yardline’s technology-driven approach allows us to meet e-commerce sellers on the platforms and marketplaces where they run their businesses. Our unique Capital-as-a-Service solution democratizes access to capital, making it simple for platforms and marketplaces to serve their sellers with financial solutions that let them get back to business.
Find the Full Episode Below
Yoni Mazor 0:05
Everybody welcome to another episode of prime Talks. Today we’re having a special guest. Today I’m having Seth Roman. Seth is the Chief Revenue Officer or CRO of your line. And your line is a leading e-commerce funding and seller success provider. We’re going to talk more about that very soon. But in the meantime, Seth, welcome to the show.
Seth Broman 0:23
Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:25
A pleasure really, I was kind of looking for this for a while now, to be honest with you all the time with the shows and the events. We get together it’s all nice and games. But finally, we have the, you know, the opportunity to, you know, to check your story out because today’s episode is going to be all by you the story of set Brahman, you’re going to share with us pretty much everything.
Yoni Mazor 0:43
You know, who are you? Where were you born? Where are you from? Where did you grow up? How do you begin your professional career, station to station until we reach out to where you are today, especially in the world of E-commerce? So without further ado, let’s jump right into it.
Seth Broman 0:57
All right, let’s do it.
Yoni Mazor 0:59
Alright, so let’s start from the beginning. Where were you born?
Seth Broman 1:01
I was born in Manhattan. I was born at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City in the early 1980s 1983, if you want to get specific about it, just to show my actual age out there. But I was born in New York City at the time, my family, and my parents, were from Brooklyn, originally Brooklyn and Queens.
Seth Broman 1:19
And they had already made the move with most of those people that they grew up with from New York City to move it out to the suburbs. So they were living in a town in central New Jersey called Millburn, New Jersey at the time, I think you’re familiar with that area, Monmouth County. And, you know, I went from the hospital straight to straight to the suburban lifestyle with any new-born baby that you could hope for, you know,
Yoni Mazor 1:42
Nice and while you’re growing up your parents were can industries were they involved with.
Seth Broman 1:46
So that probably feeds a lot into my backstory a little bit. My dad, my dad was always the consummate professional career, you know, making the commute from Central Jersey to New York City to be an accountant. You know, two hours each way wasn’t glamorous to me, it wasn’t a glamorous profession, but that was, you know, sort of the safety net of our family was having a salary to fall back on.
Seth Broman 2:13
And, you know, probably around the time I was six, seven years old, they started a small business so so they started going into on my mom’s side of the family was the family business of bridal wear. And they opened their bridal shop in New Jersey, where, you know, my mother ran the day-to-day of the business. And my father, you know, did the books and was there on the weekends. And, you know, growing up I
Yoni Mazor 2:39
spent, like a storefront real storefront.
Seth Broman 2:41
I mean, it was at a retail storefront right on Route nine and in Marlboro, New Jersey selling bridal gowns and prom dresses, and all the stuff that goes along with
Yoni Mazor 2:51
That. That’s so sweet, I guess. But what was the name of the store? It was
Seth Broman 2:55
Called a Roberts bridal was very original. My mother and my father Robert, they spent a lot of time and thought, you know, they’re not marketers by trade by any means. And they came up with that name.
Yoni Mazor 3:06
It does sound like Americana. And Robert sounds very kind of, you know, good old American, you know, kind of design and traditional stuff, I guess for, you know, family for the occasion. It’s good for everything. So even though they’re not specialists, I guess the lines. I mean, the stars ever lined up to it to put the numbers together and make it sound, you know, pretty well.
Seth Broman 3:23
Yeah. Worked out for a while, at least until it didn’t work out anymore. You know.
Yoni Mazor 3:27
So yeah. How many years? Did that affect you growing up? What was the fallout?
Seth Broman 3:32
Yeah, so it was a place that as a kid, I spent way more time than any, you know, young boys should spend around dresses, I guess. But at the end of the day, it was the place I would end up after school birthdays, it was a place that I would often be dragged to when I didn’t want to, you know, stop playing video games or watching TV or playing sports.
Seth Broman 3:57
And that gave me a perspective on what my adult life could look like, right? Being an entrepreneur, in some ways, a business owner, dealing with the struggles of a small business owner and operator. My parents, you know, ran that business and expanded it and grew and had some strong years until they didn’t anymore and I think it was probably around the time I was 12 years old.
Seth Broman 4:24
So I think the business was, you know, operating eight years or so, somewhere in that range before you know, they just couldn’t keep up with the low price competition that was coming around the corner and had to close business and it wasn’t you know, impact fully negative on me. I think it was a relief in a lot of ways. You know, the financial burden of a failing business is stressful. And you know, you have on one side of the family economics you know, as I mentioned my dad’s salary coming in and sort of paying the bills and then you know, anything that was coming in a lot of it too much of it was going back To keep the business afloat and
Yoni Mazor 5:01
Let me get this straight for these eight years, he was still keeping a job.
Seth Broman 5:05
Oh yeah, he never stopped working his job, he was working seven days a week, he’d, you know, be out the door before the sun was up to get on an early train into Manhattan. He’d be home, you know, seven o’clock every day. And you know, Saturday and Sunday he was in there working, you know, trying to try to make every buck they could
Yoni Mazor 5:26
What a killer I guess combination effort on both of them. Okay, say yours. And then you about 12 years old but and your formative years did you do yourself anything that was an entrepreneur in nature or for the most we tagged along to what they’re doing and absorbing that entrepreneur spirit,
Seth Broman 5:42
not really at that age outside of, you know, shoveling driveways for 20 bucks, and, you know, cutting the grass to get some money from my parents, you know, that that was the extent of it at that age. You know, my first real foyer, you know, dip into the entrepreneurial spirit would have been later, you know, when I was in college in my 20s. And it wasn’t the most glamorous entrepreneurial spirit.
Seth Broman 6:08
But, you know, I remember, you know, always trying to find a way to make a couple of extra bucks throughout high school and college and you know, whether it was we used to go to a bar and they would always give out free Zippo lighters if you’d have to
Yoni Mazor 6:25
Well, that’s it, let’s set up the premise. So you went to college, you graduated high school in the marble area, and you’re right in Monmouth County to go to school,
Seth Broman 6:33
And I had one option for my parents, I’m very fortunate my brother and I were very fortunate, my parents gave us the opportunity that if we did well in school, they pay for Rutgers. And back then Rutgers wasn’t very expensive. And so in hindsight, I’m tremendously appreciative of the opportunity they gave me. But, you know, I realized that you know, I think one day I went to the tuition office because I had to drop off a check. And his son, it was like, $4,000, for the semester, I was like, that’s it. That’s it. And I was like, I can’t complain.
Yoni Mazor 7:05
Just give some kind of context here. So it’s New Jersey State on college university, Rutgers University it was pretty, pretty good university, actually, by the way. So only if you’re a New Jersey resident, you will get that rate. If you come in from outside New Jersey, you’re going to be blasted with a different rate. But so you’re on the impression that you pay the full rate, not as a resident,
Seth Broman 7:23
I have no idea I knew, I knew that my brother wanted to look at Syracuse. And after my parents saw the cost of going out of state, you know, to Syracuse in a private school, and they said, Sure, you can go if you want to pay for it, I pretty much knew my options were either Rutgers or Boston at that point.
Seth Broman 7:40
And to be honest, I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to go to college, I felt like at that point in my life, I didn’t want to have a traditional nine to five, right, I didn’t want to do what my father had done all his life in terms of commuting into the city and grinding and the stress and all that I didn’t understand the opportunities that were out there. You know, growing up in high school, especially in college, there’s, you know, today it’s a lot better, but back then, there were many entrepreneurial entrepreneurship programs, there weren’t many ways that you could look at, you know, different ways that you can approach a career outside of becoming adopted, become a lawyer become a business professional, or become a trade professional, right.
Seth Broman 8:27
And I was very, I was very open to, you know, living a life as a trained professional, whether it was, you know, something I was going to do with my hands which let’s be real that probably would never have happened, or it was something very specific but I was very, I was very warm on going to college and doing that but I’m glad I did because I learned a lot of life lessons and spent a lot of time that helped me become the person I am today.
Yoni Mazor 8:57
So too so why was he started Rutgers University started to start stopping no one so 2001 doesn’t want you to Rutgers and then and Rutgers law school you mentioned you have your entrepreneurial kind of you know, for four years for a while was awarded
Seth Broman 9:13
Everything and it was a little bit of e-commerce my first time getting involved in E-commerce. So we’d go to the bar and they’d be given out Zippo lighters if you signed up you gave me the information that gives you a free sample letter and I’d walk out of there with I don’t know half a dozen letters every time and I immediately the next morning go on eBay list the
Seth Broman 9:35
Zippo lighter for sale five bucks eight bucks 10 bucks you know back then it was all bidding you’re bidding only there was no buy it now or anything like that. And so, you know, it’s probably making you know, at least what I was spending at the bar that night and then some just doing that and that was one of the first things that I remember in terms of building my own little business and doing my little side hustle is what we would call that now but you know, that that was the
Seth Broman 9:59
The first thing and then you know, throughout college there were always different things, not things that I’m necessarily proud of I remember we started buying cigarettes online from Europe at one point and just selling them all around college and doing all different things, we would buy the DVDs and then make copies of them and sell copies of DVDs, whatever it was to make an extra 510 bucks, went back in those days,
Yoni Mazor 10:21
As to federal crimes, can’t hurt and will try to make an extra buck as a broke college student, I have to say, but
Seth Broman 10:28
The limitations of
Yoni Mazor 10:30
The statute is good, but it’s good. I appreciate the candor. So okay, so what’s your next question? After Rutgers?
Seth Broman 10:39
So I graduated Rutgers, and well, actually, before I graduated rockers, I’ll tell you, another interesting thing, you know, I got injured my freshman year of college, I broke my leg, got a bunch of surgeries, and had to effectively take a year off. And now, I sat down, and my dad, my dad turned to me, and he’s like, look, you know, you’re not really like in love with the school thing. It’s not your thing. And was, I went to school initially for an engineer, and I wanted to become an electrical engineer what I wanted to do was get my engineering degree and then go to law school.
Seth Broman 11:11
That was because, at the time, my father was working as the controller and a patent attorney for rights, so he was the controller there. And, you know, frankly, it’s sit down and say, Hey, look at what these guys are making on their patent attorneys. They, they do that? How do you do that? Right? And you see these numbers, right, you know, which ginormous was, you know, you know, incomes for these individuals. I said, how do I make that kind of money? He said, well, you go to engineering school, you get an engineering degree, and then you get lost. And so I went to engineering school, I wasn’t I was very passionate about engineering, I thought, you know, I was very, very into everything there was about specifically electronic engineering.
Seth Broman 11:48
And it was a grind, it was very difficult. It’s very challenging. Rutgers had a great engineering program. But it’s probably about a year or two in and then I had an injury that, you know, my father sat me down and said, Do you want to do this? Like, do you want to keep grinding? I see you’re stressing, you’re working. And I was working, not full time, but I was probably working, you know, 10 to 20 hours a week on top of school to help pay the bills. And, you know, he sent me that saying, why don’t we just cancel this?
Seth Broman 12:15
Why don’t you stop and let’s invest in a business together? Let’s start a franchise, right? You know, this was before the subway was a big thing. And he said, let’s go find out more information about this. So that we looked at a bunch of different options at the time. And I realized that you know, seeing what was happening with my friends, and my brother, who was a few years older than me also followed the same path of rockers. And he went, he went to more the Business Route. You I made the decision that I said, let me finish this. I can finish this. Let me get it done. I ended up changing my major to economics, got my degree in economics, and realize that I wanted to go down the path of saying how much money can I make doing this as a career. Right? How much can I make us business professionals?
Yoni Mazor 13:02
Okay, so right after college, and he graduated, you got your economics degree, what’s the year, and what’s your next station? What are you starting to do?
Seth Broman 13:09
It’s 2006 to 2006. And I got a job before I even graduated, working at Citibank and Long Island City, Queens, you know, the big city building out there, and right across from the end, right to the 59th Street Bridge. So I graduated from college and I got a job there. I think I was making 50 grand a year, which was great. Yeah, I was I was super pumped about that I wasn’t so pumped about having to get on a 6:30 am bus from central New Jersey every day, take them out to port authority than getting on a subway and going across the Queens working a full day and then having to make that commute back. So
Yoni Mazor 13:48
What do you do for Citibank? What was your role there?
Seth Broman 13:51
So I was in their customer experience, department. And what that meant was, it was essentially what’s become now a lot of their payments, rewards programs. So if you think about it that way, it was about how it was really what started the payments rewards program. So it was all about, you know, the different stuff that you get as benefits as a credit card holder with a credit card today.
Seth Broman 14:15
That was really what I was focusing on there. And I took that job, really, essentially wanted to hit the ground running and I thought, I’ll be able to transfer. If I don’t like this, I’ll be able to transfer it to something I do like more business-focused, maybe more finance-focused. And I took the job saying I can do it. And I loved it. It was great. It’s a lot of fun. You know, great people. I was working with a great team. And this was again in 2006. That was when they started contracting. Right. That was the beginning of the Great Recession. No early signs, that the Great Recession, the recession started happening.
Seth Broman 14:53
And by no means weren’t they coming for me. They were paying me enough to worry about me but what happened was my boss Most of the time, took an early retirement package. And so that changed everything. I went from really enjoying what I was doing is not working for somebody I didn’t care for. The work became more monotonous, it was less, and it was less lively.
Seth Broman 15:14
And I said to myself, I got to get, I got to find something different. This is actually what led me to my career in small business lending, right? So about the same time that my boss had taken that early retirement package. You know, I reached out to friends and family and said, I’m looking to do something different. If anybody has anything in mind, let me know. And through my aunt, I was connected with a company that’s called Merchant Cash uncap. And that company was formed in 2005. And in early 2007, I interviewed and took a position there as an underwriter working on small business financing
Yoni Mazor 15:50
The merchant cash and capital, Merchant cash and
Seth Broman 15:53
Capital is not a great name either.
Yoni Mazor 15:55
That’s why not bad MCC August 2007 you’re there but you’re an underwriter? That’s a little bit of a different role and dynamic. You’re not on the experience side, you’re actually on the left for the debt side, the game.
Seth Broman 16:09
Right. So if you think about it, what we were doing is we didn’t classify at the time, but we are underwriting the revenues of small businesses underwriting the credit worthiness of the business owners, trying to understand what that business was going to do on a go-forward basis, very, very, a very archaic approach to trying to project what that business was going to do in terms of revenue and cash flows on a go-forward basis. But we’re also a bunch of 27 years old sitting in a bullpen figuring out as we went along. And so it was very much analytical, it’s very much understanding, okay, how’s this business doing?
Seth Broman 16:47
What’s the healthiest business looked like, but it was also very much sales, he was getting on the phone with the small business owners asking the questions that you needed to understand. And then also, when we got them approved, and we wanted them to move forward the financing, more often than not, it was us presenting the offer to them and saying, Hey, here’s what you’re approved for. And, you know, this was pre-recession. And it was a very subprime product, it was a very expensive product. And so there was a lot of salesmanships involved at that point too, you know, being able to take that customer from somebody that was just applied to somebody that became, you know, a funded client.
Yoni Mazor 17:22
You got it. And what was your next station after MCC? Well, I
Seth Broman 17:25
Was at their company for a long time. So that company rebranded to this site. And it changed a lot of how it operated going from a very small business that was focused on providing growth financing to small businesses to becoming an online platform. And so the platform we developed was one of the first of its kind that any small business can go to, it was a very digital-first business, it was online.
Seth Broman 17:50
And we often, you know, compared ourselves to the Progressive Insurance of the space where you can come to our website, see our posts, see our options. And through API calls, you can see all our competitors’ options at the same time. And we were okay. If you took our offer, we’re okay, if you took our competitors’ offerings, right, it was just a matter of whether or not we were going to put it on our balance sheet and generate revenue from it, or we’re going to broker it out and get paid a referral fee. So that was what we did up until the business assets got sold off in 2017, after a really tough time being able to raise additional equity.
Seth Broman 18:23
So I was there for 10 years and started on the risk side of the business. After running the underwriting department for I don’t know, three, or four years, I decided I needed to start doing something else. And I moved on to the partnership side of the business and I essentially built out the department where we started working with strategic partners and commercial loan brokers and all these different types of businesses that would be able to bring us essentially those applicants.
Seth Broman 18:53
And, you know, I did that for another four or five years building out a team. And when that was pretty well established, I moved over and I helped take over and grow our direct sales channel. So at the time when I took over, we were maybe 30 people or so, you know, combination of salespeople, you know, and admins and all the support staff sales ops, what have you. And we quickly grew that channel to nearly 100 salespeople and off so we went from doing, you know, a couple of million dollars in monthly originations to you know, north of $20 million pretty quickly there.
Yoni Mazor 19:32
Chipotle very nicely. That’s pretty impressive. Now the targeted clientele was, was the national was original, what was
Seth Broman 19:40
The most heavily focused on brick-and-mortar businesses. You know, we didn’t know what to make of E-commerce businesses at the time, we well, I’ll probably say we don’t want to do them just because, you know, we will look at them and say there’s no skin in the game or it’s a fly by night business or they’re probably a drop shipper, right? All these things that we would look at as a negative If, when in hindsight, we look at those and say, Wow, that’s a great business to be in for a lot of different reasons.
Seth Broman 20:05
But that wasn’t the way we understood the risk of the business. We were looking at businesses that had skin in the game, had inventory, had employees had all these things that said to us, they’re here for a long time, right? And at the time, that’s really what it meant to be in business, and to be successful is to have those things. And that’s changed a lot over the years. And so a lot of restaurants, lots of retail, brick and mortar businesses, personal services, business services. You know, that was the primary focus of the businesses we were targeting, up until that business, like I said, got sold off in 2017.
Yoni Mazor 20:40
All right, so I got sold out to 17, what was your next station?
Seth Broman 20:43
I was fortunate enough to work closely with one of the companies that we were referring a lot of the clients to a company that was called strategic funding source, but it’s since rebranded to capital. And, you know, thank thankfully for that for me, from them, right, they allowed me and a bunch of my staff members to sort of pick up what we’re doing at this slide, and move it over there.
Seth Broman 21:06
So I brought over, you know, about a dozen of my top sales guys with me there. And we helped essentially grow up what became their direct sales arm. And so, you know, they were very much focused on an outside sales strategy, and they still are, that’s a big part of the business for them. And they’re good at that. And, you know, through myself working with both the chief revenue officer, there, were able to quickly grow their direct sales arm again, from, you know, a couple of million dollars in originations monthly to, you know, tax.
Yoni Mazor 21:41
Nice, but once again, the same idea has been refined, because in a way, they’re kind of a competitor slash partner, because you guys more, you know, your lender, but he also kind of a search engine platform,
Seth Broman 21:51
kind of model, same model, right, focusing on small-medium businesses, they had a big focus on medical, which is finding, right, so we were looking at a lot of medical practices and doctors that were looking for financing to grow their business, but you know, much more sophisticated in terms of risk and how they analyze risk. And the way they use data,
Yoni Mazor 22:12
And physical meaning that took more risk. I’m sorry, that when he says they’re more sophisticated, meaning they’re willing to take more risks, and risks, because we’re able to understand a bit better the
Seth Broman 22:23
analyzing the different data points, and I like they were they would be able to do different types of data regression models around different risk points and understand, okay, very quickly and easily. What should we be testing? What are we trying to do? Right? It’s more of a data science approach to risk, then, you know, the way we were doing things of this face of
Yoni Mazor 22:43
God, okay, so you’re there for how long? What’s your next station?
Seth Broman 22:46
Right up until COVID? Right. And so I’m there, you know, March of 2020, COVID happens. And we got back from what was our President’s Club, you know, on a Monday. And I think on Friday, we said, everybody goes home, bring your laptops, and we’ll see on Monday, but just in case, bring your laptop with you. And nobody went back to the office after that. And so that was, you know, mid-March 2020. The world shut down as we know what happened, I don’t need to go through all of that.
Seth Broman 23:19
But it was very challenging, six months after that, right, it was a lot of trying to understand if we should be funding businesses, right? Who do we want to fund? And how are we going to do it? Again, e-commerce was not the focus at all, it’s all brick and mortar, a lot of medical, right? I don’t think a lot of people would go to the doctor unless they got COVID. During those times.
Yoni Mazor 23:43
Yeah, they said one of the most dangerous jobs back in the day was being a dentist, because you’re in people’s mouths. And that were the main contracting vessels. So that was kind of a big risk. And
Seth Broman 23:51
so we at first halted the entire funding side of the business, we stopped doing anything. And we started to understand where we can open back up and do more, but then, the majority of the company’s resources shifted from, hey, let’s deploy new capital, or let’s deploy capital to our existing customers to hey,
Seth Broman 24:12
Let’s work with the customers that are in trouble right now. And how can we help them and so there were a lot of different ways we’ve worked with the existing customers, you know, got very involved in the PPP program, the paycheck protection program to help small businesses get access to that free money from the government if they were eligible for it. And it was just a very weird time of say, and so that was,
Yoni Mazor 24:37
You know, troubling time to turbulence.
Seth Broman 24:40
Yeah. And so as we got through that, and on the other end of it, you know, for us, the timing worked out pretty well, where I said, Man, this thing could have just gone upside down like that, right, everything. Yeah, now, I was saying to myself, I need to start thinking about what’s next for me and I started Looking at other options out there, and through a colleague, I was reconnected with an old biz fi colleague of mine named tumble that to who was the Chief Operating Officer at business pi when I was general manager and running sales for the company.
Seth Broman 25:16
And yeah, we sat down and we had a conversation, he started telling me about a business that he was starting with his partner, Ari harlots, who, you know, was starting a company focusing on providing financing to e-commerce. And not only was there this whole new industry that I was sort of thinking about now, but I was also introduced to a company called THRASS CEO, and I was trying to digest exactly how that THRASS CEO model of acquiring businesses translates into financing businesses.
Seth Broman 25:49
And the funny thing about it is they’re very much the same and how they look at these businesses, right? It’s a little bit different when you’re giving somebody you know, millions of 10s of millions $100 million to acquire an asset. But the root of it is looking at an asset and projecting what kind of sales we expect that business to do on a go-forward basis. Right?
Seth Broman 26:10
How much revenue are they going to generate, and, you know, connect party and Tomo and spending a lot of time talking to them? Ari was very passionate about two things, one, being able to get first-party data, right, being able to look in a seller central account, or pull data from the seller central account, and get actual information that, you know, if you’re looking at providing funding to a small business, you’re relying on them to produce right here, you can go out and get actual data. The second thing that he was very passionate about was the Amazon flywheel and the ecosystem and how all these small businesses operating on Amazon had, you know, infinite potential. But if you talk to most of them, they were just limited by capital. Right. And I just
Yoni Mazor 26:57
Want to step into here with our Horowitz a few points to make there’s we had him on the show, he has his episode, fascinating stuff. Guy, serial entrepreneur, check it out. But one of the many things but one of those things, he was one of the nucleus teams potassium ratio, is the largest brand aggregator in the world, especially eCommerce, I think there are a few billion dollars, I think around 3 billion based on a $10 billion valuation.
Yoni Mazor 27:20
So he’s part of that nucleus team. So after you started, you know, kind of stress yo, he, like Matt said mentioned, he had the passion and vision, understanding and knowing that most of the growth potential of Amazon sellers, e-commerce sellers is simply because of lack of funding or lack of cash, mainly, because you mentioned earlier, brick and mortar stores, brick and mortar businesses, that’s the old model, you know, you know, you know what, you know, and it’s all you know, you can’t wrap your head,
Yoni Mazor 27:49
the lender side on what’s going on with E-commerce. So even though this great potential, you’re not unleashing the full potential of things, even for your own lending business, because you don’t know what you know, what kind of KPIs or key performance indic