Boosting Healthy Living Products on Amazon FBA with Sarah Dajani
Boosting healthy living products on Amazon FBA with Sarah Dajani - In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Sarah Dajani - VP of operations - Boosted Commerce - Sarah shares her journey into the Amazon FBA space. At Boosted, we are acquiring a select group of Amazon-based brands & private-label FBA businesses that are uniquely positioned for growth in 2021. Boosted is committed to transparent and speedy transactions – in less than 45 days.
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Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of primetime today. I have a special guest. Today I'm having Sarah Dajani. Sarah is the VP of operations at Boosted Commerce. Boosted Commerce is a special company. It's an e-commerce aggregator, focusing on purchasing Amazon businesses in the better for you living space, which includes a bunch of categories like food, health, and wellness topicals. And, you know, things that are really good for you. So Sarah, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for having me. Great to be here. Our pleasure, really. So today's episode is going to be the episode of Sarah, the journey all about you, you're going to share with us. Where are you? Where are you from? Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How'd you begin your professional career all the way to where you are today. So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it. Sounds great. Thanks. Alright, so let's begin. Where were we born?
Sarah Dajani 0:58
I was born in Florida. We grew up in Florida out on the beaches actually on a little island on the Gulf beaches. It's called Treasure Island.
Yoni Mazor 1:08
Did you grow up in Treasure Islands? It sounds like a theme park or something.
Sarah Dajani 1:13
Well, it sounds like a theme park. And in fact, it's not too far from Disney World. So I had a really charming upbringing. There was very much Island life. Everyone was laid back. I spent weekends on the beach. You know, it was a great place to grow up.
Yoni Mazor 1:30
That's amazing. So is this considered the Orlando area?
Sarah Dajani 1:34
No, it's not considered the Orlando area is considered sort of the Tampa Bay area. So very warm, balmy, it's a big retirement community kind of fits the slow vibe very different from where I am now in San Francisco.
Yoni Mazor 1:50
Gotcha. San Francisco. I was there not too long ago, a great place. But okay, so your parents what kind of industries where they're involved in? What brought them to Florida or that place, for example?
Sarah Dajani 1:59
Yeah, I know. I mean, they were just sort of hardworking Floridians in the academic and medical spaces. So I mean, nothing particular to Florida, but they you know, they loved it there. It was warm. It was sunny, you know, is a great place to sort of call home.
Yoni Mazor 2:18
That's great. So Alright, so you grew up in that area and during school, or did you do anything that was entrepreneurial? Any special things? You did activities, sports, community health, and wellness, and Beauty?
Sarah Dajani 2:30
Oh, yeah, no, yeah, sure. From the moment I started schooling, I was sure I was gonna end up here. Yeah, you know, growing up in Florida, it's, um, it's one of those places where you, you've got to do sports to kind of have a social life. So I mean, yeah, it was, which is, in a way, it's great. Because you learn how to work as a team, you learn how to function under pressure. A lot. So my true love was basketball. But I also, you know, got to try out volleyball, swimming, track and field. Tennis.
Yoni Mazor 3:09
You were playing, what was the framework you were playing in basketball? Was it the school team or was it just a league?
Sarah Dajani 3:17
Yeah. It was the school team as the varsity school team, you know, Junior Varsity and then varsity school team. And what was your position? Did you play which position? I was forward? I was tall for my age. So I was the de facto forward.
Yoni Mazor 3:32
You know, me, I know, I don't even know, I never played for a team. So I played whatever position I ran on the court for that moment. I love basketball.
Sarah Dajani 3:41
Yeah, yeah. It was a great sport. It was a great way to be part of the Florida culture. I mean, everyone's outdoors all the time. My school was a really small school, but it was all outdoors. I mean, I said, except for the classrooms, the classrooms themselves were just like, literally just rooms dotted around a big open outdoor courtyard. And so we had lunch outdoors, all of our breaks were outdoors. Even our lockers were outdoors. Yeah, yeah. So it was, I mean, it was just an outdoor lifestyle. What’s the rain situation. Does it rain alot? Yeah, it rained, it rained a whole lot. So when it would rain we would have the classrooms all like these, these elevated sort of sidewalks with just a little awning over them. So all the kids would eat there or if it was really bad, they put us in the gym and we'd eat lunch in the gym.
Yoni Mazor 4:38
Yeah, so I'm glad to hear this is a gym which means you played basketball in the gym, not in the rain. Correct?
Sarah Dajani 4:42
Right not in the rain, but our practices which were brutal. Were outside in the Florida weather so that was tough.
Yoni Mazor 4:51
Pretty intense. Wow. Alright, so a side question. What's your team? You know, basketball team.
Sarah Dajani 4:57
Oh, I As I go into the Miami Heat, although I have to say that I'm not a big professional basketball follower, I played it a lot when I was younger and I still love playing it, but I never really got into following the NBA too much.
Yoni Mazor 5:13
If you're in the business, it's hard for you to kind of follow it. I hear what you're saying. But what about w MBAs? Agnostic? No agnostic, like no, gotcha, gotcha. All right. Good. So sports as part of your life, which creates discipline, a community approach, working in teams, that's really good. You graduated high school and this is the same place all this is in Treasure Island. A place to call home?
Sarah Dajani 5:37
Yeah, no, it was great. It was all in Florida. I was really lucky to have a good school, you know,, applying to college and all of that. Part of it is about working hard and studying and getting good grades and stuff,. Part of it is about having a good college counselor. A lot of people just aren't getting you know, in their high school. I had a college counselor and in my school, I was very lucky. She was fantastic. And she taught me how to apply to colleges. So I applied and got into a handful and ended up going to Princeton University up in New Jersey.
Yoni Mazor 6:21
Not too far from me. I'm in Teaneck, New Jersey right now in the studio. Oh, great. So yes, Princeton is part of Jersey in a way. It's also a small trivia, I think also Jeff Bezos, that's where he attended as well. Right?
Sarah Dajani 6:34
I think so. I think you are right. Yeah, Princeton's got a pretty kind of fancy alumni roster, including actually Michelle Obama, which she doesn't talk about very much. But she did mention it in her book Becoming so I was pretty happy to read.
Yoni Mazor 6:53
So I think also Albert Einstein back in the day, that's where he also taught or something like that.
Sarah Dajani 6:58
I believe he taught there. Yeah, Princeton has a very strong mathematics and physics program. I actually went into Princeton wanting to be a math major. It was my thing in high school. And when I went, all of the students were something called Math Olympians, which basically means that they would compete in international competitions on math. So for students like me coming from a high school...
Yoni Mazor 7:29
It seems like they invested their time in math instead of basketball, so you're like, Okay, I gotta I gotta pick it up.
Sarah Dajani 7:34
I was out of my league, I thought I could go to Princeton and learn math and just get better and better. And it wasn't. The competition was insane. I mean, my classmates, for their further junior and senior thesis were writing textbooks with professors. And so these people were just incredible in their fields.A lot of the students were coming from around the world. Yeah, yeah. It's one of those programs where you do get students from all over the world, which obviously, I mean, that's one of the great things right, and you've got people from all over the world, and you're really competing
Yoni Mazor 8:13
So you’re competing on a global level, with top of mind the world. Everybody is aspiring to go to Princeton, which has a famed, you know, Mathematical Sciences section, or division in the university. So it's a good, interesting place to begin getting a high level education. So why did you start in person? I want to start attaching chronology into the mix.
Sarah Dajani 8:32
Yeah, sure. I started in 2005, at Princeton.
Sarah Dajani 8:37
Got it. So 2005 straightaway into getting a degree in math, or what was the mindset?
Sarah Dajani 8:42
Straightaway into math, I started with multivariable calculus and linear algebra, sorry, not linear algebra. But we started going into vectors and multi multi dimensions pretty quickly with my first set of classes. And I just realized very quickly that I would have to dedicate all of my time to studying math, and eventually follow the path of being an academic or someone you know, at some very highly technical, you know, Corporation focusing on mathematical applications, usually in physics. And in fact, that's what my exams were, they were kind of these questions, asking, you know, about theoretical applications of the mathematical principles, we learned about physics problems. And I wasn't interested in physics. So I had to within the first couple of years figure out, you know, what I wanted to do, it's what everyone does in college, right? You kind of go in there thinking one thing, you end up doing something else. Sounds like a classic case. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Well, by the end of my time at Princeton, I had dabbled in international relations, public policy, history and journalism. And what I had discovered was the ideas of, of what our global economy was creating in the world. And what it was creating was a lot of income disparities between different populations, especially when you see certain countries that are really technologically advanced, they're raking it in right, their GDP are phenomenal. They're able to create value at a rate that's really different from, from, from other countries, kind of similar to what you're seeing with Amazon, and what it does with technology versus the brick and mortar retail companies. But when I saw that I, you know, I got interested in how do we alleviate poverty in places that don't have access to the kinds of things that we have the privilege to have access to.
Yoni Mazor 10:55
this is all during college, you had this epiphany or this, so that was drawing you to look into that.
Sarah Dajani 11:02
Yeah, it was through one class call that I took, I only got around to taking it my senior year. And it was called social entrepreneurship. And it was taught by a visiting preferred professor from the University of Berkeley, California, Berkeley, California. If I remember his name correctly, I believe his name was John Danner. And what he talked about was all of these new businesses that young people were coming up with, to help raise the income of those who needed it most. And it was, um, you know, they would come up with, you know, lights that were solar power that would provide, you know, evening time, light and villages in Africa, which would, you know, drastically increase people's ability to produce and make income and increase safety and, you know, improve health outcomes and all sorts of stuff, just from like a solar-powered, you know, powered lamp. And I got, I got really interested in that, because I've been studying all of these public policy methods of improving income abroad. My senior thesis was on USA ID initiatives abroad.
Yoni Mazor 12:09
What's USA ID
Sarah Dajani 12:13
USA ID, is the governmental agency in America that provides aid packages and relief packages to countries abroad.
Yoni Mazor 12:21
So USA, they also call USAID or just ID? Yeah, you can. Yeah, yeah. Some people call it USAID. Yeah, as well.
Yoni Mazor 12:28
So on a global mission to eliminate poverty, and then through all countries, and supplied any kind of aid that, you know, the superpower also knows the United States can aid.
Sarah Dajani 12:37
So, you know, if, you know, what happens is that often these aid packages are limited by the same inefficiencies that, you know, any sort of government initiatives are limited by, and that's what my, I learned through my senior thesis, we had everyone in prison history to the senior thesis that is that's around, you know, 200 pages long. And that's kind of what I discovered with this class on social entrepreneurship. I was like, wow, the private sector is to save the day private sector solutions to these global problems. So I started getting interested in that problem as college was over, I had to get a job.
Yoni Mazor 13:16
Okay, why did you graduate? Let's put some time stamps into that.
Sarah Dajani 13:19
- I graduated four years later, in 2009.
Okay, what was your first station? I just want to put context out there 2009, the major economical kind of collapse of the subprime mortgages that went bust. So at least the finance industry in the economy has gotten kind of sluggish, what was your first position? 2009 after college?
Sarah Dajani 13:37
Yeah, that was a tough time. I mean, I remember it the year before going to Lehman Brothers for a recruiting event.
Yoni Mazor 13:45
If you guys are asking what Lehman Brothers? Exactly. That's a big banking firm that was over 100 years old that got melted away due to that, you know, financial disaster of subprime mortgages that collapse. Well, yeah, so that didn't work out with Lehman Brothers. That's a good thing. It didn't work out. But where? Where did you find yourself in 2009, in your first job after college?
Sarah Dajani 14:04
Well, so I, I kind of did the same thing I did when applying to colleges, I tried to apply to a lot of things to make sure I could get something good. And so I went two routes. One route was I applied for a bunch of academic scholarships, like the Rhodes Scholarship, the Marshall scholarship, and that my aim with those scholarships, was to try to take all of the training, I had gotten an international policy, and then move it forward through academia to start really developing these ideas of how do we build bridges across countries to really help people that are most in need. Those are really competitive scholarships, and the people I was competing against were remarkable young people. The second group of applications was basically all consulting. Alright, that's good. Okay. And that's a very typical postgraduate path, because it essentially teaches you the skills you need to learn business. Learning how to think sets you up on a career path for success without narrowing your focus at all. It's really a great sort of first step postgraduate. And what happened was I got far in my scholarship applications, but I didn't win any scholarships. And instead, I actually got a great job at Bain and Company.
Yoni Mazor 15:19
I was about to say BCG Boston Consulting Group, or Bain. And that was kind of my two guesses.
Sarah Dajani 15:23
Yeah, you know them. Yeah, they're sort of the big three, and that was one of them. McKinsey is one of them? A third or give me the big three. Yep. McKinsey is the third. Yep. And so what I did was I just launched me into the first phase of my career. I look at my career in three chunks. The first phase was this sort of learning the basics of the business phase, right. Like, at the end of college, I realized private sector solutions to public sector problems, right. But I had no idea about the private sector, I had been doing all policy work. So then I was like, okay, gotta learn about business when it's a Bane. And then that was boot camp that was heads down, you know, work, Excel modeling, you know, research calling companies trying to figure out so I was able to work in both the Dubai offices and in the Silicon Valley offices. So you want to live in Dubai? Yes. I want to live in Dubai. Oh, when was that? That was 2009. So that was right after the financial crisis hit and all the USPS offers were getting rescinded. I decided this is the right time to go to Dubai.
Yoni Mazor 16:36
So early beginning with Bain early beginning, you already got launched to the Middle East to Dubai. Yes.
Sarah Dajani 16:41
Yeah. Right right away. I mean, I had never lived outside. You know, I grew up all my life in Florida. And then it was like New Jersey, New Jersey was a culture shock for me, by the way...
Yoni Mazor 16:52
Really, okay, okay, we got to stop for a minute to talk about that. Living in New Jersey. Now. I'm not a native but I'm gonna be here for quite a while so I'm not sure what was the shock for you. So what was the shock from Florida to New Jersey?
Sarah Dajani 17:04
It may not be what you're thinking Yoni. But the reason I was shocked at the diversity, just a crazy amount of diversity. I mean, you're getting people that New Jersey race, right. It's New Jersey, New York, essentially
Yoni Mazor 17:17
New York. It's cosmopolitan. You got everybody from everywhere, just together. Yeah. Oh, man.
Sarah Dajani 17:23
It was incredible. I mean, like I said in Florida, if you wanted to kind of fit in you had to do sports that were outside all the time. It's hot. But then, going to New Jersey, for me, was a culture shock. But think about it, I remember my first time ever in New York City, age 18. Eyes wide open. Oh my God, we went to the M&M store. My roommate took me to Chinatown. And we ate Peking duck. I mean, this is for me...
Yoni Mazor 17:53
That was your real treasure island, not treasure. Island, on one hand, was a big Treasure Island when you're 18. It was a culture shock how international it is how diverse it is, how robust it is, it's very eye-opening to any person, honestly. But they're coming from Florida, where it's, it's much more I guess homogenic and, and laid back. And it requires you to play sports. And you can find yourself in so many ways. This area, you can be sports, it can be academics, can be being an intellectual, being a plumber, whatever it is, there are all communities around that as well. Exactly. And then to go from there to Dubai.
Sarah Dajani 18:29
Now talk about an international city, right? I mean, I think it's hard for a lot of people to truly understand Dubai, how international it is that there is no real main language there. Right. Like everyone speaks English, because they're kind of like, Alright, we'll get by with English. But you hear everything you feel here Hindi, Urdu, Filipino Arabic, everything you hear out there.
Yoni Mazor 18:55
The main language there is trade and cooperation, global trade. Exactly. It's a major global trading hub. And as long as you have, you know, the goods to sell, and to buy and sell and great global business, I guess you do pretty well there because every language is available for you to connect.
Sarah Dajani 19:11
Exactly, exactly. And I went out there with the mission to teach myself about business to really, really learn about business. And so I remember I got off the plane, and I got in a cab and they took me to the hotel that they had put me up in. Now this is like more than 10 years ago now. Right? So Dubai was still heavily under construction, which means there was a lot of sand everywhere. Oh, my taxi can't figure out how to get to my hotel because the roads aren't built yet.
Yoni Mazor 19:42
Really so 12 years ago is that rule? Today is like a major beautiful skyline. You have the Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world. I think it's celebrating its seventh year. Yeah. So you're right at the verge of you know, explosion for Dubai. So it's a bit more rustic than we imagined it today.
Sarah Dajani 19:58
Yeah, yeah, I would go rustic Yeah, more than rural, I would call it a little bit rustic. And this was part of this is a part of town is near media city that was still an t calm, which is an area that was really still under construction. So it was all said everywhere. So the guy drops me off at a gas station that's like, kind of got a few barriers between me and the hotel. And I get my bags, right. It's an international trip, and I'm moving internationally. So I have like two or three huge bags. And I have to drag them over these barriers and into this hotel. People are barely speaking English because the hotel is run mostly by Indian guys there. And so they were speaking mostly Hindi. And I just was like, what, what am I doing?
Yoni Mazor 20:44
That's good. That's a good experience, though. It makes you build your character.
Sarah Dajani 20:48
It builds character for sure. And so and so those first couple of years at Bain in Dubai, you know, I was just learning all the basics of business. I was at Bain for three years. So part of it was in the Silicon Valley office, I did a transfer.
Yoni Mazor 21:07
So hold on, hold on. So three years old. So let's dissect it right. So how long was it Dubai trip or Dubai?
Sarah Dajani 21:13
The Dubai trip was about a year? A little over a year? Yes. Sorry. Sorry. Dubai was a little over two years.
Yoni Mazor 21:21
So okay, let's hold that thought for a second. And then the third year was Silicon Valley, San Francisco, Silicon Valley. I gotcha. So in two years, did you pick up any language besides picking up the world of business, which is probably tremendous for you as Dubai is really on the rise? Did you pick up any languages? Any other skills?
Sarah Dajani 21:38
Yeah, I actually already knew how to speak Arabic and French, when I went to Dubai. And so I got home from school or what was it? Yes, I'm at home. My family speaks Arabic and French. And I got to actually learn that in Princeton, they had really great programs there.
Yoni Mazor 21:57
Hence to me, that could be from North Africa or it can be Morocco. Algeria, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt.
Sarah Dajani 22:03
I'm a mix of sorts living in North Africa. But primarily, I would say Egyptian. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 22:10
Nice. Nice. Very good. So full disclosure, my father's from North Africa, but a little bit west of there is Tunisia. So it's also very possible they speak Arabic and French. So I do Arabic. I don't speak French yet. Okay, great. Well, Tunisia is a gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous country. So you felt more comfortable in Dubai, so that decreases your, I guess levels of stress, because as you know, I guess it's supposed to be Arabic, the national language of Dubai, but it's very international, so almost a million notice it. So French, also a very international language. That's great.
Sarah Dajani 22:47
I happen to be in a Dubai office that was actually started by the same Paris office. So everyone in the office book French, and the senior management was all French. So that kind of again, you wouldn't think about it thinking of Dubai, but I got huge French exposure there as well.
Yoni Mazor 23:05
That's great. That's very nice. Alright, so we're popping from 2009, to about 2012, where you finish your, your vein journey and what was the next station for you?
Sarah Dajani 23:14
So that kind of ended. The first part was kind of what I call the first chapter of my career. And the second chapter was entrepreneurship. So right, I finish the first two chapters.
Yoni Mazor 23:25
Hold on so lets touch the first two chapters. Actually, just to make sure we're on the same vibe.
Sarah Dajani 23:29
So the first chapter was that kind of consulting phase where I'm learning about business.
Yoni Mazor 23:33
Second is actually doing business.
So the first chapter was 23:34
Yes, the second is actually doing business. So this is where I decided to enter the third. The third chapter is where I am now is kind of more in CPG, executive roles,
Yoni Mazor 23:45
Consumer consumer product goods, being on the entrepreneur side.
Sarah Dajani 23:51
Yes, yeah, exactly. So the second part of my career really started after Bain. And it was the time when I was still young, still very mobile. And I'm really excited to execute on the vision that I had kind of gotten a taste of at the end of my college career, which was this social entrepreneurship idea. And so what I did was I asked for a leave of absence from Bain and I got a scholarship. It's called the Fulbright program, where you get to go on to another country as a US citizen and do a research project and they give you a stipend and everything. And so I did a lot of research on which countries I wanted to go to. I wanted to go to a country that had a big agricultural sector so I could work with farmers, and I needed some sort of social business. So I picked Georgia as a country. Not too far from Dubai. It's pretty good. Yeah, not too far from Dubai. The reason I Chose the kind of the agriculture section is that it was that data that was trying to figure out what sector to focus on and I kept finding myself coming back to food over and over again. I had, you know, visited Paris a couple of times and was really obsessed with the food scene there and the pastry scene in particular, which we'll get back to but that's what that's what I was really in love with. So then when I did this research project, I said food, you know, and I got to spend a year really working closely with farmers in Jordan, in Jordan andd I traveled outside of our men a lot and one bush
Yoni Mazor 25:37
And what pushed you to Jordan and what was special unique about Jordan for you to pinpoint you know, that place?
Sarah Dajani 25:42
So Jordan's topography is incredibly similar Believe it or not to Italy's to some regions of Italy and they have olives, pomegranates, they have all of this really beautiful agriculture and very, very, very high-quality products like Jordanian olive oil is really, really beautiful. But the Jordan's agriculture as a whole actually focuses mostly on tomatoes.
Which is counterintuitive to the typography and their ability to really scale something right.
Sarah Dajan 26:15
Yeah. And actually to the amount of water the country has tomatoes are very limited resources, pensive crop. So I went in there, and I was like, Okay, I met up with all of these farmers that were in Co-ops and stuff. And they would I saw these huge vats, they would get the pomegranates, they juice them, there'd be these huge underground vats, where they would boil the pomegranate juice for days until it became pomegranate molasses. Right, this is a beautiful product that a lot of people use, actually. But it's not well known in markets abroad. And I started getting these ideas of Wow, these sort of agricultural products, these agricultural inputs, have great market opportunities outside of these countries. And I started asking the farmers, what are your issues, right? Like when you get into any sort of policy work or any sort of income, poverty alleviation work, you have to ask a lot of questions, rather than assuming you have the answers. Because it's easy to get into that space of I'm here to help you sort of this arrogance that comes with approaching this work. And it never works to approach it that way. You got to always ask the people what, what they know and what they learn. They always know more than you do. And that's what I found the farmers were kind of like, Look, one woman came up to me, she's like, you're from America. I said, Yeah, she was like, sell my products in America. She said, Look, I spend all of my days growing these herbs here, and I put them in these boxes. And I try to take them to Market. But you know, the middlemen kind of what people do as farmers will get in their trucks with the goods, they'll try to drive in time, then the main city to sell the stuff, then someone will stop them and say, listen, the prices are crazy low, it's not worth your time sell it to me at this price. And I'll take it from you. And they get taken advantage of in that way. Right?
Yoni Mazor 28:10
Right, so, and not mortgages are centralized two forces. They're not open. They're not sophisticated. They're not robust. And they they're getting the short side of the stick of sounds like,
Sarah Dajani 28:20
Right, right, exactly. And other countries like India have solved this with apps and things that give them farmers real life prices of commodity pricing in the city, so that they don't get taken advantage of there are solutions to that in the social entrepreneurship space. But in Jordan, it hadn't been implemented at all. And in fact, they wanted to get their products out into higher priced markets. And so I said, Okay, I'm going to build a business around them. And so I started with a bunch of different business plans, and then eventually found a business partner to help me out. And we started developing the business plan. So then the Fulbright was coming to an end. And I was like, Okay, I have the makings of this business plan. I've got my research folder full, you know, I've got the beginnings of a business plan, but I really need to develop this more. And so, two things happened. I was applying to schools to try to figure out, you know, how I could really get this off the ground and I got into pastry, school and Business School. And I decided basically to do both. So I went from Duke finishing my research grant, to doing pastry school in Paris. And you can kind of see this cut comes back to my fascination and admiration for Parisian food culture. I kind of noticed that Jordan was similar to Italy and typography, but didn't have this wonderful, you know, this kind of cherished ideal of their food. And so I found that market opportunity there. I said okay, if I go and I learn the techniques of Parisian pastry. I apply those techniques to the input goods I find from Jordan and I can create a value added product and just sell it for luxury market prices abroad. Brilliant. So then I did that. And when I went to pastry school, I went to business school. In California, The pastry school program was for a summer. I did basic pastry certificate at Le Cord dans bleu in Paris.
Yoni Mazor 30:30
Whats it called again, slowly. Le Cord Dans Bleu. there you go. That's like the CIA. That's like the CIA of France. This is a call on every institution of America. Right?
Sarah Dajani 30:44
Exactly. That's the one that Julia Child made famous. She was affiliated with the code of the. And so I learned how to make croissants. I learned how to make galette, I learned how to make a ton of, you know, delicious stuff. And then went to business school. And in business school, I spent all my time doing things like, developing the recipes. Right. And I was at school, I went to Stanford Business School.
Yoni Mazor 31:16
That's right, in California,
Sarah Dajani 31:17
In California, right. And so what I did was, I used my time at business school to further my understanding of business, which I had gotten a good basis in consulting, but then also to like, specifically develop my business plan. So I was with all my business school classmates, I made them fresh pastries on a weekly basis, I call it proof of concept. Exactly, exactly. And I, and I, and I would I would do focus groups with them and all of that, and, and, you know, spent my time learning that learning that area, and it started getting a little bit exposed to as well this concept of like, how do you create an effective online business to market your products and you know, D to C was exploding and all these cool new direct to consumer companies where, you know…
Yoni Mazor 32:09
Hold on, hold on, let me get the timing straight to understand like the pipe. So you finished at Bain in 2012. And then you go for one year, Jordan, so you are already glitching it to 2013 14. You go back to California, Stanford. So you're what this is to 2014 to 15. Where you are...
Sarah Dajani 32:26
2013 is when I started at Stanford Graduate School of Business. And that was a two-year program. So I graduated from...
Yoni Mazor 32:32
You were managing Jordans at the same time, because you spent about a year.
Sarah Dajani 32:38
No Jordan was prior to that. So that 2012 was kind of like an academic year. So it's 2012 to 13. And then the summer was pastry school. And then the year following that was the academic year following that was the beginning of business school.
Yoni Mazor 32:51
Got it, so Stanford for all along how many years? It was a few years. That was from 2013 to 2015. Exactly. Got it. So you're talking already 2015 we were applying everything together and having that D to C direct to consumer, you know, trajectory. That was the timeframe.
Sarah Dajani 33:07
That was the timeframe. Yes. So and so that the business, so and then the and then after that, I launched my business with my business partner in London. And so that was..
Yoni Mazor 33:20
In a nutshell who was a business partner that you had, and how did you guys connect in the first place?
Sarah Dajani 33:25
Yeah, that was a business partner who I had met actually through the Stanford network. She had been a student at Stanford as well. And so that's how we connected and what was her role in the partnership? And you're in the US, right? Right. Yeah, her role was involved a lot in the packaging, the marketing, the sales. So a lot of the positioning of the product. What was your role? What was your job? Well, I was, I was the chef, I developed the recipes, I baked the genius, they're brilliant. The magic, listen, you know, there's creative genius and brilliance in all parts of the business, for sure. But I appreciate the vote of confidence.
Yoni Mazor 34:06
That's the aspiration. That's the dynamics, right?
Sarah Dajani 34:10
Yeah, it was baking. For me, it was I was split between, you know, baking a whole heck of a lot and, and running the food manufacturing, and then also doing kind of the finances and the strategy around that. So that, you know, really, I would say made use of my education at business school and pastry school and that in that business. And so, you know, if you remember my goal for this business was to help farmers abroad, improve their income. That was the goal. And so, we went out, we launched the business and we had actually really a great commercial success. We sold, we got our dream client on board and we sold into the Harrods department store.
Yoni Mazor 34:56
Harrods to help the people out. That's, I believe in England. One of the most upscale luxurious stores like maybe what's the equivalent in the US of Neiman Marcus or Lourdes and Taylor?
Sarah Dajani 35:08
Yeah, I think it would be like a Neiman Marcus or yet sort of like Macy's on Fifth Avenue was like Saks Fifth Avenue or Yeah, I think Avenue Exactly. That's a big client. It was a big client. It was a really big client. And it was just so hugely validating for us. And, you know, just a really big win for us to be able to do that. And I remember the day that they first put our products on the shelf, and we had a huge display, and we had visual merchandising artwork next to it and everything.
Yoni Mazor 35:41
How many stores when you guys launched there?
Sarah Dajani 35:43
That was it. So it was the main flagship Paris store, it's just one route, one really big store. And then we had kind of like a list of clients building up after that, because that's sort of your kind of your marquee where you go and launch and then you kind of expand out from there in London. And it was a very emotional experience for me to see our products there. It was really exciting. But I remember actually that someone on the floor at Harrods, one of the shopkeepers there, grabbed us and told us listen, if you guys can get an influencer, that she told us about a group of influencers that have that hired shoppers just happened to follow said, you can get an influencer to post one thing about your product, we will rearrange the layout of the floor at Harrods to showcase your product because it just creates so many sales. Right. And this is the first time that I got a very tangible experience of digital marketing. What kind of impact it could have, not only with an influencer caused your company to succeed in store, but the store actually changed its layout to promote your product better. Right? You're stronger. It's a great tip. Yeah, so is the retail shelf there like we were when we had our spot on the retail shelf. And we knew that with digital marketing, we could win that retail shelf and even expand literally expand the physical space about retail.
Yoni Mazor 37:08
The product launch at Harrods that was already 2015 or 2016?
Sarah Dajani 37:10
What was the timeframe? Now I got to think for a little bit. I think it was 2016 2016 Yep. Good. So 2000 you launch you trickle into more stores? Well, yeah. And so then what happened though, is that we had very strict guidelines about our startup. We said it needs to succeed in our goals, which is of course commercial success, but also being able to serve the needs of those that we wanted to serve. And the other piece was that you know, it needed to be able to be profitable, and to allow us the lifestyle where you know, we were able to actually live comfortably in a city that was extremely expensive London.
Yoni Mazor 37:52
Okay, if I can bud to get into here what was the product and how did it help? The mission? Their whole purpose is the layouts as you please?
Sarah Dajani 38:00
Sure. Yeah, the product was seven different products. We had loaf cakes, like a date loaf cake, a pomegranate molasses loaf cake, so it was from what I saw...
Sarah Dajani 38:12
Exactly. I did a set of butter cookies called Laura Yuba that are made with ghee and powdered sugar. And we had..
Yoni Mazor 38:22
I like French rabbis think it's Arabic for jam, right?
Sarah Dajani 38:27
It's it I I'm not familiar with the use of it as jam but it does, we did actually have some of them that were stuffed with jam. So there might be a linkage there it was it's this very soft cookie that the client serve is like almost powdery. It falls apart in your mouth. And we had I think either eight or 12 flavors of it. And then we had other things I was making honey candy we had merengues Rose meringues.
Yoni Mazor 38:55
Where were these products produced or made or source at least maybe the ingredients that's how you fulfill the mission?
Sarah Dajani 39:00
That was the thing is that we were we first were doing everything small scale and then as we started to expand, I started reaching out to these co-ops and farms that I had made contact with during my research and I started asking them how can we source your ingredients pay you right prices that are reasonable for us but for you will be like maybe 4or 5 times what...
Yoni Mazor 39:24
It’s like Fairtrade. I think they had this in coffee in the past decade where you know the coffee growers and around the world were the president and the creator of fair trade. I think Starbucks was also part of that. It's a fair trade if you're not gonna get the short side of the stick, you're gonna get an opportunity to do something that is long-term and viable for you as a farmer.
Sarah Dajani 39:43
Exactly. Yeah. And I had Fairtrade as a big inspiration for me, something I'd studied a lot at policy school. So that was kind of a thing that also pushed us in that direction. But it turned out after we spoke to the farms after we looked at this increasingly have clients that there was not a scale that we could reach, where we could actually create a tangible impact and difference in their lives. You know, it's always super difficult. Number one, when you're an entrepreneur to prep, find product-market fit, right? It’s super difficult, we did that it is super difficult to go from launch to liquidity, right to find profitability. And then on top of that layering a social goal. And you really have your work cut out for you. Oh, yeah. And we weren't going to be able to do it. The writing was on the wall. And so we made a difficult decision that a lot of entrepreneurs have to make, which is you don't put good money after bad.
Yoni Mazor 40:39
Got it. Okay, so what was the next station for you?
Sarah Dajani 40:45
So after that, I came back to the States, I came back to the Bay Area, something about the Bay Area had really spoken to me between my you know, my stint at Bain, and then also Business School. And, you know…
Yoni Mazor 41:01
So you went back into the Bay area from living in London. Exactly. So we went back to the Bay area where he was at.
Sarah Dajani 41:08
I believe it was closer to 2020.
Yoni Mazor 41:17
Alright, so you give this project, what three to four years, right? The project you're launching.
Sarah Dajani 41:21
We gave it, all together, we put in several years into it. Yeah. And it was, I mean, it was the actual timeline and growth and plan to actually get to profitability we were very strict about but yeah, we put quite a bit of time in it.
Yoni Mazor 41:40
You’d say until about 2016, all the way to 2020. That was kind of the lifecycle of the venture?
Sarah Dajani 41:49
I'll have to kind of think about it a little bit more to get the exact dates, but it was something it was around in the late 2010s when we decided to kind of wrap things up, and I moved back to California. And it was at this point, you know, I really didn't want to give up on the business idea, right? Like any entrepreneur knows that like you kind of get through it and you feel like well, I did it, you know, I want to do it again. And so I started thinking to myself, well, how can I position myself to be even better at this the next time I take a go at it? And so something you know, what, from my experience has stuck with me, which is what that Harrods you know, the shopkeeper had said, but she told me about that Instagram influencer and how that can really change your presence. And so I decided, you know what, I'm going to go back into this sort of food space, I'm going to focus on the consumer product goods, and I'm going to get really smarter digital marketing. And so that was my next step. I went into organic, I joined a company that sold organic baking products. And I joined as the marketer there and a few weeks into the job. The CEO approached me and she told me, I need you to also run our Amazon business,
Yoni Mazor 43:13
So Amazon comes knocking on the door. Yeah, exactly. She told me Amazon is getting important. And this is why this is your 2020 when you're already back in California, the Bay area?
Sarah Dajani 43:22
This was not it was earlier than 2020. It was earlier than 2020 and probably around 2018. So 2018 you still have your own business, and you're doing marketing for another company. And then Amazon comes knocking or you already got we had wound up the business by that point. And we were getting into the CPG kind of the third chapter of my career, which was a sort of CPG executive piece.
Yoni Mazor 43:47
Got it. So 2018 Amazon comes knocking on the door, but you're working for this organic food company. Got it so take us there, what happened?
Sarah Dajani 43:54
Yeah, so so then I all of a sudden became an Amazon business manager and I was owning every part of the business from, you know, making sure that the manufacturers were completing products in time getting it two or 3 pm that we weren't going out of stock making sure that we weren't getting charged backs from Amazon, you know, it's not at this point, I think your listeners know the whole rigmarole.
Yoni Mazor 44:22
Well, let me make a differentiation. So you are selling to Amazon, Amazon says a purchase order so you are a vendor to Amazon, right.
Sarah Dajani 44:30
We approached it from both angles. We did both the vendor Central and Seller Central.
Yoni Mazor 44:37
So first-party seller too. So you get a purchase order from Amazon and you sell them also and also sell on amazon seller central as a third-party seller. You get the full thrust of the hybrid model. Very good.
Sarah Dajani 44:47
Yes. Yeah. Yeah. So I learned both systems. I learned what it really takes to sell on Amazon and then at the same time I am still running everything in digital marketing. So all of that stuff, the Facebook ads, Instagram had just started launching their Instagram ads. So that was becoming a big thing, you know, SEO, SEM. And then we're still doing traditional stuff, couponing, all of that. Some things started clicking for me, during my time there, which was that, you know, we had a real opportunity to expand our revenue, by owning this digital shelf on Amazon. We were already at 1000s of retailers, you know, in grocery stores. And so we had our spot on the physical shelf. But we could really stake a claim on the digital shelf. And we what, what I started to see was that you could get incredible growth by being on the digital shelf at Amazon,
Yoni Mazor 45:54
I love the fact that you call it a digital shelf. That's what I usually call it when I give lectures about you know, what's the difference between brick and mortar and selling online is brick mortar, you have a physical shelf, you gotta fight for it. But your digital shelf is selling online, and you have to, it's a different approach to completely different you have to know to play that game,
Sarah Dajani 46:12
We have a totally different approach. It is kind of, you know, to kind of keep this thread through sort of my career story. After this organic Baking Company, I then went to a company that did personal care and beauty that had just been acquired by Procter and Gamble. Okay, so I got to basically see how Procter and Gamble did Amazon. So you worked for Procter and Gamble. Yes, I did. And so what were the years you worked there? I worked there for a short time just before COVID hit and the office structure changed? It was in 2020, I believe it was like 2019 2020.
Yoni Mazor 46:57
Yeah. Did you stand the barrier to move to Ohio, Cincinnati or anything like that?
Sarah Dajani 47:00
No. So the brand was owned by Procter and Gamble, but we did go to Cincinnati, and you know, got to sit with the Amazon team there. We did a, we got to see all of the r&d facilities, that project I mean, I was in awe. That was again, kind of amazing company. Unbelievable. It's kind of like when I was 18 years old in New York City for the first time. I was like, you guys are legit, you know, you guys are top of the Fortune, literally, top of the food chain is top of the food chain. And I felt again, this, like the immense sense of privilege is a recurring theme of this privilege. And how do we use that privilege to really, to really do what we need to do in society? But I felt this immense, immense sense of privilege around being able to see the startup world right with this, not only with my own startup, but then with this organic baking startup and like hustling and seeing that growth on a digital shelf, and then like seeing it also in this massive fortune 500 company. And to go back to the point we were making about the digital shelf, right? It became really clear to me like through those experiences, a couple of things became clear. One was that historically, everyone focused on the physical shelf, and do it on the physical shelf. If you win that spot and target. You won your customers because it was all about foot traffic, how many? How many people are flowing through those stores? And then how many inventory turns are you getting? Right? Yep. And then when you started to think about the digital shelf, it was completely different. Because the digital shelf is not about the number of feet that come through the door. It's about the number of impressions. And so the question becomes, not only do you own that space on the digital shelf, do you have that ranking in the search results? But do you also have the ability to drive the impressions to that digital shelf and draw what is driving impression man, it's digital marketing? It's that influencer at the head shop shopkeeper was talking about it's those Facebook ads and then Instagram ads and now Tick tock, you know, and all of that. It's a completely different way of thinking about your business. You don't talk to target, you know, as a fortune 500 company, get your spot on the shelf and say, Great, we're set. No, you have to get your spot on the digital shelf. But get those impressions going. Maintain your ranking, make sure that the algorithm is working for you and that you're working for the algorithm, and that with big companies where the retail shelf in the physical shelf is so valuable. for them. The digital shelf is incremental. It is an incremental business, right? It's not the core business.
Yoni Mazor 50:03
Your main aim as well, like supplemental, you know? So they don't take it as seriously as they should, because there's an opportunity to explore it.
Sarah Dajani 50:13
They take it as seriously as they can, in the sense that they don't want to lose customers to the digital shelf. But there they have, they have fought to get their space on the physical shelf. Right?
Yoni Mazor 50:28
They're so vested, so vested in that position, it's hard for them to put their head out and say, Okay, let's talk about this in a fresh way. Okay, so I want to head into I guess, Boosted. Was that the next station after Procter Gamble?
Sarah Dajani 50:38
Exactly, exactly. So. So once I made that realization, I saw that one of my friends from business school had joined Boosted, and I reached out to him. I was like, What are you guys doing? And he told me, we're growing. You know, the next generation of CPG, businesses focused first on winning up the digital shelf. And I was like, Wow, that's awesome.
Yoni Mazor 51:02
All the all the right keywords, you know, we're talking about the right keywords.
Sarah Dajani 51:05
All the right keywords, and I, you know, coincidentally just to kind of, you know, complete another thread through the story I had, I had been keeping in touch with those farmers and those co-ops back during my research days, and one of the Co-ops had had a group of goods and they asked me to figure out a way to help them sell it on Amazon, they said, actually, if you can sell our products on Amazon, that will help our farmers the most because that is the biggest marketplace in the world. And so for me, this all came together and Boosted Commerce, right? It all came together as like, here's a group of incredibly smart people, with two entrepreneurs with a background in digital marketing and retail, with a full team of platform experts who really understand Amazon who see the digital shelf as core not supplemental, or incremental, and who are growing brands that they view as, you know, the next generation of consumer product goods brands. And so that's, I was sold, you know, I was like your
Yoni Mazor 52:14
Your type of pastry was handed. Exactly, exactly. Right. Very good. So okay, so thank you so much for sharing, you know, you know, everything so far I want to kind of package to see if I got everything correctly before we get to the last part of the interview. Okay, so born raised in Florida, starts you know, school 2005 and Princeton, started kind of the the medical level, but you flipped it or pivoted during your school years into, you know, international relations, and also, you know, business and entrepreneurship, you graduate 2009 right into the business world, doing consulting for Bain, all the way up to about 2011. You also tasted the world of Dubai for two years, which was incredible for your experience and seeing things grow on the global level. And then it took about a year into testing Jordan, right, in discovering as part of your entrepreneurship spirit. What are the opportunities there and Nortel co-ops communities farmers, and also then later on visiting pairs and connecting to the patient world, which was a passion of yours and the whole scene in a culture of food and dining? And then you move back to San Francisco. You are on a mission to create your own brand, you launch it, you have a partner in London, this goes all the way until about 2016 you test your success, you reach profitability, you have Harrods and other retailers working with you. And then in 2016 you know, third part of the mission wasn't so viable in terms of scaling food when helping others and the communities and co-ops I guess you move into your next station which is working for you a company that does organic foods, right so you get your experience there for about two years and then you move over to to work for Procter and Gamble until you find your your current pastry which is everything. Everything all your values your experience and your although all the years that you package all your you know, your business dealings just made sense to you. So it's a turnkey decision to go in. And to the CPG or consumer products goods with Booster Commerce, which focuses on health wellness, for the community, good for the people. And so there we get everything correctly so far. A great, great summary. All right. Very good. Just to make sure we got it right. All right. So at the end of the episode, I want to touch on two things. So the first thing if somebody wants to connect with you and learn more about you, where can they find you? And the last thing would be what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Sarah Dajani 54:47
Yeah, so if anyone wants to reach out to me my email is Sarah@boostedcommerce.com, you know, feel free to email me and I'll be happy to help out how I can And, you know, my message to entrepreneurs who are out there, I think, you know, it's, it's a particular privilege to be an entrepreneur and to be able to really pull yourself up by the bootstraps and determine your own destiny. It's a privilege, but it's also a tremendous responsibility. And it can at times feel burdensome, and even feel crushingly difficult. And I think that can be particularly true now, you know, with COVID, and the pandemic that everyone's going through. And so, um, you know, my point and my message to entrepreneurs is to realize that you always have partners out there that you can reach out to, for support. Those partners can be in your network if you're an FBA seller, you know your network very well, you've got your groups and you know, your mastermind groups and all of that, that you can talk to, but even in the case of wanting to sell, right, even the people that you sell to can be your partners and really help you take your career to the next level and become your advisors, and part of your future career trajectory. It's certainly something that we try to do, and I hope it's something that entrepreneurs kind of feel can give them some relief in the very hard work that they're doing.
Yoni Mazor 56:27
So if I could package it, you know, it's tough and challenging. take a leap of faith and feel free to reach out there's a lot of good people out there willing to help you including Boosted Commerce. Beautiful. Sarah, thank you so much. I hope everybody enjoyed, stay safe and healthy. So next time.