Chad Rubin | The Entrepreneurial Spirit of Ecommerce
In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Chad Rubin shares his journey into the Entrepreneurial Spirit of eEcommerce. Chad is the Co-Founder & CEO of Skubana - a cutting-edge eCommerce management platform, shares his life's journey into eCommerce. Over time Chad has developed his own branded products in the vacuum-cleaning and coffee filters categories to great success. Through many trials, errors, and great challenges his online business grew to large dimensions and presented further opportunities for Chad to keep innovating and eventually being involved in other ventures. He turned out to become a co-founder of the Prosper Show - the largest Amazon Seller Conference in the world, and wrote a best-selling book about his entrepreneurial journey called "Cheaper Easier Direct".
Today Skubana is a cutting-edge eCommerce management platform that helps DTC brands grow and manage their online operations. He advocates entrepreneurs to focus on developing businesses that they are passionate about and essentially become an extension of themselves. He believes this approach can be a key factor for long-term success.
Find out more about Skubana.
Find out more about GETIDA
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Welcome, everybody to another episode of prime talk today. I'm really excited to have a special guest this time. We're having a Chad Rubin. He's the co-founder and CEO of Cabana, which is a cutting-edge e-commerce management platform. Plus, he's one of the founders of the prosper show, which we're in right now. This is a part of the prosper virtual show. And he's the author of the book cheaper, easier direct, which really touches on how to disrupt the marketplace and create your own e-commerce empire. So, Chad, welcome to the show. Hi, thanks for having me here. A pleasure. Today's episode is really gonna be all about you is gonna be the Chad Rubin story. So you're gonna share with us, you know who, why, where you're from, your background. Where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? How did you begin your professional career? And without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Chad Rubin 0:57
Yeah, so there's a lot there to unpack. So where should we start?
Yoni Mazor 1:01
Where were you born? Where did you grow up?
Chad Rubin 1:03
I was born in Queens, New York City. My parents, my father owned a vacuum store as part of Queens if I can I think Forest Hill Park. Yeah. My parents, my father owned a vacuum store. My parents were second for they didn't go to college. Right. So essentially, my father on my father's side were all in the Holocaust. So they came here with nothing, and so on.
Yoni Mazor 1:31
So which polling or which area? Oh, God. Wow. So what you know, what's your around with the camera off to the war a few decades after
Chad Rubin 1:40
they came, actually, while the war was happening. So my father's mother was sent on a ship here when she was seven and started working on the factory floor in Canada, while the rest of her siblings have now are now deceased through the war. So they had no education, they worked in a factory, they were entrepreneurs. My father then was also an entrepreneur, and it kind of has run in my family bloodline for quite a period of time. And that really lends itself to what I've been doing on the Amazon site to make this specific around the prosper show on Amazon, is that my parents had a vacuum store. And I don't know if those that are listening, when was the last time they've ever been to a vacuum store. But I took what I knew what I was raised in what I was brought up in, and I modernized it. I took it I made it a real-world application. And we started essentially first started reselling products on Amazon. This is by the way before there were 5 million sellers on Amazon.
Yoni Mazor 2:37
Now we're talking about like about a decade ago or more, right?
Chad Rubin 2:39
Yeah, first-generation amazon seller, I was able to capitalize on that opportunity really quickly. And I started making...
Yoni Mazor 2:46
Let's backtrack a second we jumped into the let's do up again, the top of the game. So we go Park, Queens, one race, and then you guys move there settle there. What was the thing?
Chad Rubin 2:56
Yeah, so we moved to New Jersey when I was in third grade? Which part? So we moved to an area called Westfield, New Jersey.
Yoni Mazor 3:04
Yeah, sure. It's not too far from Madison, I believe.
Chad Rubin 3:07
Now. 135 in the parkway.
Yoni Mazor 3:09
Yeah, I used to live there. So just Yeah, my brother's still there. So I used to live with him. When I first came to America, you know, I'm Fresh Off the Boat. But yeah, so you grew up in New Jersey, essentially, from that point on? Oh,
Chad Rubin 3:21
Yeah. I grew up in New Jersey and was living in an area that we probably should have never been living in. My parents were never making ends meet, barely making mortgage payments, but they wanted to transition...
Yoni Mazor 3:32
The store from Queens to New Jersey or they kept it in?
Chad Rubin 3:34
Georgia was always in New Jersey. My dad was doing the oh my god hours each way. Every day, which was hard on him. So yeah, definitely.
Yoni Mazor 3:43
What was the store in New Jersey? It was in Westfield. Okay, good. So that's it had to get married to the business and go run next door were the stores? Yep. made sense. Okay, good. So you finished high school there. What was the transition for you growing up?
Chad Rubin 3:58
Yeah, I finished high school there. And then I was a first-generation college graduate. So I went to UMass. I went to the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
Yoni Mazor 4:06
Was that what years? did you go there?
Chad Rubin 4:09
In 2001? Let's see. I graduated in Oh, six. I graduated early. So 2003 to 2006.
Yoni Mazor 4:18
Got a 2003 off to Boston or area? Yes. I went to Amherst. Where was that? Amherst, Massachusetts, Massachusetts. Okay, go so you. You stay there. You know you're in. dorms. Yeah. So the New Jersey off on your own for three years?
Chad Rubin 4:34
Yep. That's where I met my wife. By the way. There were college sweethearts. And I graduated early because I was paying my way through college myself. I wanted to just save every dollar I possibly can. So I stuffed all my curriculum into three years versus four years. And I studied finance. So I studied the discipline of finance specifically to build an expertise there because I felt like I was lacking in that I was deficient in that in that category growing up, and so for me the dream was to go to Wall Street and get a job somewhere on Wall Street. I did.
Yoni Mazor 5:09
I also 2016 graduated right into Wall Street. What was the transition? I
Chad Rubin 5:13
graduated and I started. I started working on Wall Street. I got a job as a very low-level associate on Wall Street covering internet stocks, specifically semiconductors,
Yoni Mazor 5:24
But which, which institution?
Chad Rubin 5:27
Yeah, so initially, I started off at a company called Thomas Weisel. So white-shoe investment bank, it took Yahoo public and semantic public. And then I jumped over to another company called freedom in Billings. Ramsey did work there and put in time learned a lot about business a lot about profit and loss statements and balance sheets and cash flow statements. learned how to model and forecasts. And then so your work in New York City in New York City apartment living there also was living on the Upper West Side. And my wife and graduates in 2007, we move in together. And I'm grinding on the street. So I'm working in the best times on Wall Street, right before the Great Recession.
Yoni Mazor 6:15
Oh, yeah. 2008 2000.
Chad Rubin 6:17
Yeah. 2008 2009. I was eventually fired. From my job. 2009, February Friday, the 13th 2009.
Yoni Mazor 6:25
Yeah, you know, companies or banks like Lehman Brothers, more than 100 years in business melted down, as it was shockwaves throughout the system. And I guess that was one of the parts of the reason we got released.
Chad Rubin 6:36
No, actually, I survived three head cuts. And I just me, my boss was let go, I went to Israel for some vacation and my boss was fired while I was on vacation that fired it was like oh, is a headcount, headcount reduction. So I flew back from vacation early to re-interview with a new boss. And me and this boss could not have been polar opposites. And I always believed in. It's not about picking the companies picking who you work for, right does that if that person believes in you and sees growth in you, they're going to invest in you and want you to grow? I didn't have that dynamic with this specific individual. So he actually just let me go, which was the best thing he could have done. And it opened up a huge door for me to start something new.
Yoni Mazor 7:25
Yeah, as I said, from the little dips in life, you know, it opens up a brand new track.
Chad Rubin 7:30
Yeah, when one door closes, another door opens.
Yoni Mazor 7:33
Oh, yeah. So what happened was the next station?
Chad Rubin 7:35
The next station, so I took all my stuff in a brown box. And I told my father, I told my father about it. He drove into the city. And by the way, guys, just before I was let go, I was actually doing a little moonlighting, I was helping them resell their products on Amazon and eBay, I built my website on my free time I'm collusion.
Yoni Mazor 7:55
So this is where during your college years or Wall Street years,
Chad Rubin 7:58
this is during, you know, during my wall street years, I was helping my parents on the side trying to help them stay afloat. I was actually extending them some credit. I was I was really pretty involved in their business, but I was still working this full-time job that wasn't, it wasn't the rainbow that I thought it would be. I dreamt it would be when I studied finance. Got it. Here. There was no gold at the end of that rainbow.
Yoni Mazor 8:21
Yeah, just helping them modernize, make ends meet, and maybe have a better, you know, position, you know, in their business. and off you go. Yeah.
Chad Rubin 8:31
So I am slowly taking him through this journey.
Yoni Mazor 8:36
Yeah, this is exactly. This is the nuance of how you are, you know, in this position that you are today.
Chad Rubin 8:41
And I haven't actually talked about this in a really long time. Like, I'm like living through it by retelling the story of the event.
Yoni Mazor 8:48
Or throwing me on the couch. And you know, you got to air it out.
Chad Rubin 8:51
Yeah. So my father came to pick me up from my job when I was fired. And we pulled up to my apartment, I lived on 78th Street between Amsterdam and Columbus. And we pull up and there's a school right there. And my father says, See those kids? This is like, the most profound thing I think I've got from my father didn't see those kids. I said, Yeah, he's like, they're free. And so are you. Huh. And this opened up a creative opportunity for me to take advantage of what was happening in e-commerce and in 2009. Like, it wasn't anything of what it's like now in 2020. And so, I was okay, you know, I'll help you on the side. I'll help you a little bit. And then I started helping them and started becoming more and more and more,...
Yoni Mazor 9:37
Commuting from the city to New Jersey was kind of the dynamic?
Chad Rubin 9:41
I know that the dynamic was my father who was doing the fulfillment, I was doing more and more or less the marketing and the strategy and the new product, design and development. Then my father passes away.
Yoni Mazor 9:54
Oh my goodness, I didn't realize.
Chad Rubin 9:56
My father passed away. My father passed away way I believe in 22,012.
Yoni Mazor 10:05
So you're ready, what two are years working together? That's point 2000. I got released Oh, two to three years, you're ready, you and your father, you know making this happen. It was this son or this was an illness.
Chad Rubin 10:15
I was pancreatic cancer. So it happened really quickly. And by that point, we already were initiating a direct consumer strategy, but very lightly, and we started going all the way in. So we started manufacturing. At that point, I was only focused on vacuum products.
Yoni Mazor 10:33
Also for these three years. You know, your new commerce, give us a little bit of the breakdown with just Amazon just eBay both, or your Comm. What was the dynamic there?
Chad Rubin 10:41
Well, when we first started, there was no FBA, right? So we were FBM. We were on Volusion. And eBay simultaneously.
Yoni Mazor 10:49
Evolution, if it was if somebody from the audience and the recording hears this, I'm not sure how popular it is today. But back in the day was established e-commerce store it was like almost like a Shopify of the old days.
Chad Rubin 10:59
Yeah. And they recently went bankrupt. So Shopify really put a nail in their coffin. And just like, you know, scale too far quicker than Volusion could, right?
Yoni Mazor 11:10
So essentially, you have you calm your eBay or Amazon three legs.
Chad Rubin 11:15
Yes. So working on those three legs. And eBay was still very prominent at the time and Google people were still doing product searches on Google, and finding items on Google. And so we were multi-channel from the get-go, like, I've always set up the business to be multi-channel, I do believe picking a channel, or just I think choosing between channels doesn't you don't have to write you can be everywhere, if you want 100%, it's not a zero-sum game. It's like I pick Amazon, I'm not going to be on eBay, I was like, I just want to be everywhere, people are on the journey.
Yoni Mazor 11:47
100% This is the value of the fiduciary duty for any retailer, really, your mission is as a retailer is to move products from A to B, that b can be anywhere as long as you have a comfortable ability to do so you have to if something is really gonna cost you a billion dollars just to open up a market, maybe you got to reconsider. But today, with e-commerce, really no excuse, you can really be almost at every e-commerce platform. So that's great. But what was a product you were selling you where you guys were reselling or was your own label or both.
Chad Rubin 12:16
So initially, we were reselling, we were drop shipping, and we moved into our manufacturer on props, we started with one product. And we started in one category, which is vacuum filters, which is near and dear, I was selling vacuums when I was 11 years old, I get my father's store helping out on the weekends and after school. So I knew the vacuum industry really well. And we started there. And I also knew e-commerce really well, because actually, when I was on Wall Street, I was actually my last gate, I was covering internet stocks, I was advising hedge funds and institutional investors to buy sell, or short various stocks in the e-commerce universe.
Yoni Mazor 12:51
It's an interesting angle, you have the nuance of a niche, right vacuum cleaners, but the high level in a Wall Street, you know, bird's eye view on what's going on.
Chad Rubin 13:00
And when you can do that when you take specialized expertise, and something that you were raised with and combine it with something that you've now committed your career to, and mold that together. I think that there's an opportunity to to to, to capitalize on,
Yoni Mazor 13:15
I call it you become lethal. Yeah. lethal.
Chad Rubin 13:18
It's a nice, it's a nice opportunity. So So let's see.
Yoni Mazor 13:23
So we're 2012 you know, your father's passed. And what was the next session there?
Chad Rubin 13:27
The next station for me was moving into where we started really saturating the vacuum cleaner space. And I kept on looking over my shoulder, I'm like, oh, there's gonna be some copycats. Like, there's going to be people that are going to be at my heels, they're going to be taking like coming and competing. There's not really a barrier to entry here. There's no moat, there's no competitive advantage, right. And I kept on looking over my shoulder, nothing was there. And I was okay, let's move into that space though. It's moving to the next product because like if Apple came out of the iPhone and never iterated on the iPhone, Android would have surpassed it. And there wouldn't be an iPhone today. We have to keep moving. You have to keep generating the next new thing product development thinking about where the vision of the company is going. And we moved into coffee filters, which is the next dearest thing to my heart. Now I actually recently quit caffeine which is kind of insane to think about. But I was a very my identity was wrapped up in coffee and third-wave coffee and I was a header wide takeaway. I know about filters and made coffee filters with that. And we started doing that. So we've moved into the coffee.
Yoni Mazor 14:27
And this is why you were this was already 2012 or...
Chad Rubin 14:31
This was probably 2014 right we'd be saturated the market and the car and the vacuum space early with vacuum filters and Bad's a lot of vacuum start going badly. So we started making filters instead and we moved into hoses and rollers and then we moved into coffee.
Yoni Mazor 14:45
And most of your revenue was a young brand or was a?
Chad Rubin 14:49
Brand. Wr stopped doing any reselling.
Yoni Mazor 14:51
Wow, so you completed the task of reselling what around 2014 as well.
Chad Rubin 14:54
Probably 2000 2000, completely detached 100% probably 13 or 14 Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 15:00
Amazing, really great. volution there. That's pretty impressive.
Chad Rubin 15:03
Yeah, a great evolution and much needed, right? Because the reason I knew that there was gonna be disruption as a reseller, right, the more points of, of the train that happened like Warby Parker, had just occurred and bonobos just had happened, like everybody was cutting out the middleman and going direct. There was no need for a reseller in the picture.
Yoni Mazor 15:22
Yep. I think that once again, that's a bird's eye view, why that you washer kind of gave you where you see what the things that are the parts are moving, and you take action before it's too late, or much before anybody else. And you always kind of have a few steps out of the game.
Chad Rubin 15:34
I wish I mean it again, you know, it looks rosy looking back on it. Now there's a lot of pitfalls. There's a lot of troughs that had happened in this adventure. Right. And so it's not always just glamour and glitz. Like,
Yoni Mazor 15:45
it's when you hit a wall.
Chad Rubin 15:46
Yeah, I hit so many walls in this process, whether it's fulfillment walls, right, figuring out fulfillment strategies, whether it's being suspended on Amazon, whether it's getting sued because we were making replacement products to fit manufacturers, vacuum cleaners and coffee makers units. There's so much that went into it that you wouldn't anticipate when you're first coming up with an idea or just being like, hey, there's room for disruption here. There's a problem that needs to be solved. Let's attack it.
Yoni Mazor 16:14
Got it. Wow. And all this who, you know, until 2014, you experienced all that? Up to that point.
Chad Rubin 16:22
I mean, that was consistent through my experience. I think business in general is a combination of highs and lows. And you just got to make sure you can hang on for the ride.
Yoni Mazor 16:31
Got it. Okay, so what transpired in 2014 What was the next session there?
Chad Rubin 16:36
We outsourced my warehouse initially had a warehouse in Harlem. We then moved to Little Fairy.
Yoni Mazor 16:43
Oh, what was the Harlem just seems too random to be true. So what was..
Chad Rubin 16:47
So I lived in, I lived on the Upper West Side. First, we were having boxes with a lift gate being dropped off in my apartment on the Upper West Side. My girlfriend The time is now my wife was like, hey, Chad, this is not gonna happen here. You need to move this somewhere else. So I quickly found a storage unit with no windows on a second floor unit in Harlem and East Harlem, 100 and 21st between Second and Third Avenue. That was an experience.
Yoni Mazor 17:17
You got a fulfillment center inside New York City.
Chad Rubin 17:21
That's how it feels it looks like you know, as I felt and looked like I was hiring high school laborers to come and do help and pick and pack in Harlem. And I even on my way to to the office. I got mugged once, which is interesting. So I had all these experiences I never had before. I'd never managed employees before I never managed a warehouse before. We were growing so quickly that essentially when I first walked into that space, my father in law now who was born on the day my father died so fascinating. He kind of became a new father to me and a mentor and a support for me. He was like, Oh, this space is not so bad. I was no, this space is huge. He's like, he's like, Don't worry, you'll feel fit into it just fine. We fit into it just fine. We grew out of it. So we needed to move to New Jersey to another space in a little ferry, New Jersey.
Yoni Mazor 18:06
How quickly Did you grow out of it? within like a couple of months, honestly, a few months. Look at that. I seven literario across the river across the Hudson. Still not too far. Not too far.
Chad Rubin 18:18
So I was doing the commute a little ferry managing a team of say 20 warehouse people doing pick and pack. And I mean, I was helping them right. Like if they were if they didn't show to work, or if they were high coming to work, right? I needed to send them home. I would be sometimes left unloading containers, smoking cigarettes and trying to figure out how I'm going to do this all by myself.
Yoni Mazor 18:43
My clutching at you clutching over Yep.
Chad Rubin 18:46
So a lot of grid. And then finally, we had enough warehouse employee issues where we lost the warehouse manager. We lost there was a lot of collusion happening and there was a lot of these employees were getting together and went on strike and also have unionized.
Yoni Mazor 19:05
Chad Rubin 19:07
Yeah, it's tried to unionize there quickly. And one of them I had fired, you actually draw drew some anti-semitic things on some boxes in my warehouse. So I fired him. And as he left, he called out he'd stolen the key. The key is to go up and down with the forklift. And he also call any took some other things. He took an iPad, and then he called OSHA. What's up so OSHA is a compliance agency that made sure to protect the safety of warehouse employees or even just any, any, any workplace. And so we had OSHA compliance violations everywhere like we were not. We were growing sort of worldly there were boxes that were stacked high. There were extension cords that aren't supposed to be where they were, and they shut down my warehouse. So what does that mean? When that happens, then that means that only family members go and pick and pack boxes for you or pick and pack.
Yoni Mazor 20:04
Actually do the work. Yeah, get the work done instead of 20 people, you only once you can bring as your immediate family,
Chad Rubin 20:09
There's me, my wife, I father in law, my mother-in-law. And I was like, Okay, this is just not working anymore, right? There has to be a different way. And so it always comes to that crossing point is like, anytime you find a problem as a wedge into an opportunity. And so we had this problem. And I found a warehouse in New Jersey, to solve this problem for me. And by that by this point, by the way, nobody was doing third-party logistics or three pls. Nobody was outsourcing fulfillment, and I was afraid. I said to my wife, I said, Hey, you know what, this might eat up all of our margins, we might actually not be able to stay in business because of the costs associated with us.
Yoni Mazor 20:46
Yeah, it was a huge X factor for you. Because it's an infant. You know, nobody knows Amazon FBA level what he's talking about, they have no clue No, no concept in mind. And you had to break it in.
Chad Rubin 20:55
Yep. So we actually had employees switch over to work for this company, this fulfillment company, and train them. They only lasted a couple of days, because they were very strict about the hours that you work when you come in when your lunch break is it's all driven based on a bell. Right? And that's not what they came from with working at my company, my company just like bootstrap. It was bootstrap. You do what you want, there weren't a lot of processes in place. Right? So we outsource this weakness to the fulfillment center. And that opened up a world of possibilities and opportunity. It's
Yoni Mazor 21:25
Great. So and this is all in 2014 2015?
Chad Rubin 21:29
Yeah. 2000 I think this happened in 2013 2013.
Yoni Mazor 21:33
Got it. Okay. When you say open up all the opportunities, what was always kind of stations?
Chad Rubin 21:38
Oh, yeah. Well, we too by getting rid of the warehouse fulfillment, I was needed to go into a warehouse anymore to pick and pack. So what does that mean, I can now use my efforts on higher-impact activities, like marketing, new channel generation, new product development, all the things that I was really passionate about, that I wasn't able to achieve with a warehouse.
Yoni Mazor 22:01
So focus change from the operation just surviving into growth, let's do all the impactful things that you know, generate tremendous growth, and more opportunities. And you know, 2013, and until when what was the I guess the next question for you or the next evolution or actually.
Chad Rubin 22:18
While this was happening, not only was I thinking about the warehouse piece and outsourcing that, but I was thinking about the software piece and technology. I always knew technology has a competitive advantage. And so while this was happening, I was getting rid of this warehouse or having issues and outsourcing and thinking about the outsourcing of warehouses. I was thinking about how do I run this business in a way that connects to the warehouse, where I can automate a lot of low-value repetitive tasks. And I was having a hard time finding software that can handle my order volume because we were we are doing very high order volumes. And how many units a month, for example, we were doing at the time, roughly about 50,000 60,000 orders a month.
Yoni Mazor 23:01
All right, and how many skewers and how are you in your catalog?
Chad Rubin 23:04
At that time? I don't know the snapshot. I can just tell you now we have about 1500, roughly 1800 SKUs.
Yoni Mazor 23:10
Wow, a lot of variety. Got it. Yeah, right, it's crucial to have the right system in place for sure.
Chad Rubin 23:16
And so we didn't have a system right. And so I always thought that you need to have like there was all these like apps that you can kind of stitch together. But if you're using one piece of software for shipping and one piece of software for inventory and one piece of software for analytics, you've got a massive problem on your hands because none of them talk to each other. And there's no common language to give you the intelligence to operate on. So I was like we need a unified operating system, which was then became Cubana, we started building Cubana out of my own pain. And it was incepted. Or that it was born out of my own pain and started in 2008. We started building in 2013 2014. So the first lines of code 2013 2014 DJ definitely dropped the first line of code in 2013. And we officially went live in 2015.
Yoni Mazor 24:04
So you're in the market alive and well in 2015.
Chad Rubin 24:07
Well live, but we had a motion in software, they say you should always do a minimum viable product.
Yoni Mazor 24:12
Yep. And an MVP.
Chad Rubin 24:14
And the same thing with when you're doing product development to right and even in commerce where you want to have an MVP. And I think that we did a massive viable product. There was scope creep that happened. We started expanding the scope of our product offering and what we wanted to achieve with our vision. And but yeah, so we had a massive viable product in 2015, but still needed a lot more love and massaging to become what Strabane is today.
Yoni Mazor 24:41
Oh, for sure for sure. I mean, the technology development it's a whole pin on its own we could do this discuss that all together. Different I think we probably share the same few bands well as you scale up your technological infrastructure. just takes a while but you mentioned DJ want to give a shout out to who DJ
Chad Rubin 25:00
Yeah, shout out to DJ. I mean, I'm a big fan of hiring people to not just hiring people as I partnered with DJ. He had the vision. I just actually Initially, I just wanted to be an inventory app. Right. I was like, I have an inventory issue. And DJ was like, No, no, no, no, you have more than an inventory issue, right? You have a, a, you need an operating system that puts it all together. And so it was DJ to give him a maximum amount of credit.
Yoni Mazor 25:24
And what's his phone, a digital?
Chad Rubin 25:26
DJ, who Novak couldn't give him the full credit. He said You need to have order management and inventory together. So you can actually properly automate but also have the intelligence to run the business. You need to have a system. And without the order management piece, you don't have a system, you're just another app in the ecosystem. And that actually is a core tenant and a core competitive advantage that we have today.
Yoni Mazor 25:47
Amazing. And how did you When did you come across what was the evolution there?
Chad Rubin 25:50
A friend of mine from college introduced us. He was playing tennis with DJ on the tennis court. And mentioned I had this problem. We tried to solve it without DJ, just me and Ben, we couldn't solve it. We tried to solve it in India couldn't solve it. DJ came in stroked everything outdid the requirements analysis.
Yoni Mazor 26:10
But what's his background DJ says, developer?
Chad Rubin 26:12
He was working at McKesson, which is a health care, one of the biggest health care companies in the United States. And he was actually doing this specific task of actually unifying hospital systems. Different software's...
Yoni Mazor 26:26
Man, he got lucky Chad got...
Chad Rubin 26:29
I mean, it's a combination of luck. I think that's part of it, right being at the right place at the right time, but it's also pursuing that luck. That is, that is a big piece of life.
Yoni Mazor 26:38
The fact that you outreach, you know, you want to have friends that have this pain point, you know, you share, you go to the origin, you know, this momentum generates itself, and then the kind of the solutions come together and the best talent and the best skills. And the best opportunities kind of opened up without you, you know, you realizing it at the moment, obviously, looking back, you can probably clearly identify that. So it's really a show, that's how you DJ came together. And quickly, all the pains that you kind of how he was able to write into code to alleviate that. But seems to me you guys complement each other in terms of the ability to understand the scope of the proposition for the system, you know, going forward because you're focused kind of a European, but yes, he has the ability to open up the scope a bit more.
Chad Rubin 27:17
So anyway, he was the builder and I was the seller, I've always been on the sales and marketing side. And he's been on the engineering side. And that's the division of work in the division of labor that carries out today.
Yoni Mazor 27:27
Yeah, it's, it's, it's a little bit interesting. Just full disclosure, you know, I'm the CEO of one of the cofounders of Akita. I at this point, I find myself as kind of the face and I know putting the sales and marketing Well, my co-founder, Max, Max Born he is right now really hard on the, you know, tech side and development side and making sure that the production and the product itself is you know, superior and the top of the line So, same dynamics kind of feel and I think it's an interesting combination that hopefully, I think for us it makes us more lethal. I hope so. I hope so. You know firstly better to be the same Yeah, for sure. So 2015 you guys launch and take us to the next station is what though? What else happened? Well, 2015 I guess let's lay down two tracks right. There's now that we got the regular retail what I assume you still in today, right? That's kind of traction, right? Yeah, the second track is cabana. So let's dive into scuba. No, well we can maybe touch base on the retail side after afterward.
Chad Rubin 28:23
Well, so it was with Skubana that I was able to automate most of those activities and crucial now has one employee in the United States Kristen, and everything else is largely automated with Steve bought on the operation side. So switching gears back to Skubana, we raised money. One of our early investors was James Thompson.
Yoni Mazor 28:47
Kidding from one of the co-founders of the prosper show by boxer
Chad Rubin 28:50
Yes, he and Johansen really were really at the forefront of Prosper and I invited James James was my FBA account manager back in the day.
Yoni Mazor 29:02
On Amazo? When he was working at Amazon got it.
Chad Rubin 29:05
So we kept in touch and I share with him what I was building and he came in to invest in Cubana and then I came in to invest in Prosper show. So again, it goes bound down. It comes down to relationships and keeping those relationships warm over the course of time. Because you never know where they're going to take you.
Yoni Mazor 29:22
Absolutely and which year did you guys create the prosper show? 2000 I want to say it was 2016 I think so. Yeah. Thanks so first Joe was at Utah than in Las Vegas became a really sensational success. And then I think a year ago or so got bought out by Emerald which is a public company that hosts a variety of trade shows. That's kind of their strength, their core competency. So everybody kind of I guess did an exit there.
Chad Rubin 29:52
But is the brainchild he is the mastermind behind prosper show like know I again I'm all about giving people credit where it's due and Really was James vision that was executed in such an eloquent manner. I don't know anybody else that could have done it in the timeframe that he did it.
Yoni Mazor 30:10
And this is our mind, everybody, these are people that running, you know, multi-million dollar organizations for their own retail activities like Chad plus shout out, you know, scuba and Jim Thompson, once again, x Amazon employee, but create a massive agency, cutting edge top of the line, where he says, what else can be done and what especially what else can be done for this community or for this industry. And that's how they conceive that the trade show of Prosper. And I did, I do believe truly believe that you know, for 1000s of sellers that came over through the years, they're able to do better business because of the structure of this body. And once again, it's it takes that vision, and that will and that thrust, you know, so even though you're successful, you know, running around running big organizations, what else can be done? That's that entrepreneurial bug, but also creating value for others, which is something to admire and pay attention to. Okay, so um, you're also part of Prosper, but you said James, and, and
Chad Rubin 31:04
I, Joe, it was really James, I think Joe is a big part of BuyBox experts, they merged companies. And so prosper was happening. I wrote a book, Amazon was now on the way essentially, it was a gold rush into Amazon at the time, right? So the timing was also really impeccable. So Cubana obviously has a lot of Amazon centricity built into the platform, even though we are agnostic, we're DTC. We initially started off supporting just a lot of Amazon merchants and we've shifted from just supporting Amazon merchants to supporting brands that embrace Amazon as a channel, not just a business.
Yoni Mazor 31:42
So important, it's easy to get trapped and saying, Hey, this is such a, you know, such a fueling environment, the Amazon ecosystem, which it truly is. But if somebody is an entrepreneur out there in the e-commerce space game, it's probably best to be advised that really your chances of survival long term as you if you really build a viable brand for yourself. And that brand is pretty much everywhere in e-commerce. And of course, if you can create arms and legs in brick and mortar even though today is more challenging than ever before, that's never a bad thing. You never know where you're going to get to. And once again, the fiduciary duty of you know anybody in trade or trying to sell products from A to B, you know, reach as many markets as you can. And the way to do it best is when you have a brand when instantly you get recognized you get preferred you have a moment the business mode between Reno brandy and Bambi. And this is kind of what Scoob and I believe is trying to facilitate on a very, very large scale for you know, DTC brands, DTC brands, we recognize this opportunity. Yeah, I
Chad Rubin 32:39
I want to say that we've migrated from just talking about DTC direct consumer selling, to actually direct to everywhere. So it's not just easy more, what you're seeing is a lot of these digitally native brands that initially were created and grew up just selling direct consumer with a Shopify site are now selling wholesale, selling brick and mortar, they have a pop-up shop. There are so many different avenues that they're starting to embrace right now. And that's really the landscape that Cubana plays in pretty heavily.
Yoni Mazor 33:11
So you guys actually laid the tracks for wholesale as well. And on the platform?
Chad Rubin 33:15
Yep, we have an app just like Shopify, we have an app store, and you can click a button and you can integrate to all your CDI providers, we have four that we support on the platform, you can do everything through the app store, it just allows you to add strength to our platform with a click of a button. That's great.
Yoni Mazor 33:30
I was not aware. There we go, you guys once again, that vision, once again, goes back to the core fiduciary duty of a retailer or somebody in trade, reach everywhere, as much as possible. The e-commerce space is a great place to start, especially Amazon. But once you get in and once you become a brand, a really viable route, you have a business model, then brick and mortar is definitely a viable opportunity to still at least not in the United States 85% of the trade. So obviously there's opportunity there. If you guys facilitate that, that's a blessing thing. Okay, so talk to us about any I guess challenges with Skuba and I and over the years you guys are ready for five, six years. What are you know, what was the skill you started you and DJ, and where are you guys today in terms of where you guys located? And how many people on the team?
Chad Rubin 34:13
Were about 3334 people we have who are now officially remote. Not just because of COVID but we're actually going to be remote forward with like hot seats available once people are more comfortable going back into the office.
Yoni Mazor 34:28
So the office is where New York City?
Chad Rubin 34:30
The office was in New York City. We closed it.
Yoni Mazor 34:33
Was our city in New Jersey. I was in New York City 18 between fifth and sixth got Yeah, cuz a town called West New York and New Jersey across the river. I don't know if you know.
Chad Rubin 34:42
Yeah, I didn't know West New York. No, it's naturally in the flat iron district. That's where it was. And now we're fully remote. I mean, we had everybody in New York City. Now. There are 10 people left from what I've counted in the metropolitan area. You got it. Almost everybody really spread out physically where were they living people left people fled people are living back with Their family they're running their life in a very different way. During COVID right now,
Yoni Mazor 35:07
guy but yeah, I probably bet that even though this will happen on a physical scale on the business scale, I think you guys probably saw a great push. It's you know, customers more and more customers coming away because that urgent need to be in e-commerce or at least scale that up.
Chad Rubin 35:21
While there have been billions of dollars that have been shifted from offline retail to online retail, and Shibata was started as a direct consumer platform. And on top of that, just to add a little flavor of Amazon into it, as FBA has been putting restrictions on a lot of brands and merchants especially during COVID. And even right now during the fourth quarter, they needed a new strategy and they needed Cubana to help them execute on their fulfill by merchants strategy, and we allow them to get that set up in no time. What to the sellers of Amazon or both? Well, they can connect to Amazon real quick. And then they can also connect to their warehouses or create their own warehouse in subarna. And literally, run technology lights, you bought it for a fraction of the cost of like an enterprise software that'll give you the same kind of experience like Amazon hitting Amazon shipping benchmarks without by paying through the nose for it.
Yoni Mazor 36:15
And what about SFP you guys were able to of course, for your leading client?
Chad Rubin 36:20
Of course, we support SFP Mershon multi-channel fulfillment, which is shipping from Amazon FBA off-channel to your customer, both FBM and FBA, dropshipping and three PL integrations, all that simultaneously all in one platform all in the cloud, which was unheard of back in the day.
Yoni Mazor 36:37
Yeah, this is a lifesaver, you know if Yeah, a few of you out of the class, have this opportunity ability to get all these great components SFP, which is a self-fulfilled prime, you really have to have the matrix, you know, it's really rigid, if you guys facility that, that it's great. from Amazon to other marketplaces, and let's say you sold on your website or an eBay and Amazon ships it out, you guys facilitate that help with all the tracking and the revenue, and I assume also the profit and loss and reporting. Yep. That's great. And so 2020, you find yourself although with all the physical challenges of COVID at growth momentum, fair to say..
Chad Rubin 37:11
We have been a beneficiary of COVID as really painful to say that because of the circumstance in the backdrop of what's happening in the country, right, but we've definitely benefited because of the shift in our space.
Yoni Mazor 37:24
Got it. Okay. Very good. And how about the retail and you know, more consumers are buying a coffee filter and you know, that can be cleaned up filters are still in the vacuum...
Chad Rubin 37:34
Yeah, we're still in that business still in the entire home appliance parts business. And again, due to COVID. Actually a funny thing. So we started noticing a lot of people were buying our heppa bags.
Yoni Mazor 37:47
And I had no idea why bags are from my...
Chad Rubin 37:48
The bag is a high efficiency particulate arrest vacuum bag that essentially is made of the same stuff that can 95 masks are made out for face coverings on us. And we started noticing people were buying these bags and I had no idea why. So I'm taking a shower when...
Yoni Mazor 38:04
But when did you see the uptick?
Chad Rubin 38:06
Well, January. February was new though it was March It was like mid-March March 18 or something. I had this epiphany in the shower. That's you know, that's most Tiffany's right happen in the shower. Or no? What are you seeing I'm not a singer in the shower, I just sit there and I like to brush my teeth aimlessly? And I get into like this like zone that I can't get out of. And I'm like, my mind is spinning. And I'm like, Oh my gosh, wait a minute. Our vacuum bags are the same thing that's made okay and 95 mass. And there's a shortage in Rockland County, which is where I live in the hospitals where they need PP protection. This is before everyone got on the PPP wave. Well, okay. So I made a donation to the hospital to the frontline workers who have a massive quantity of these bags.
Yoni Mazor 38:52
So you had an in stock available in the area
Chad Rubin 38:55
Insock in New Jersey in the area made a donation nice. I'm super thankful like the head of the director of the hospital reached out. But on top of that, it actually hit the news. Oh, so somebody that was super early on in this PP-making mass, they change their entire factory from making aprons to making masks, the company's called heavily embedded. We formed a partnership where they make the mask and we sell the filter media that goes in the master, they have a pocket for the media. And it was a win-win for both companies.
Yoni Mazor 39:29
So essentially became a supplier to them.
Chad Rubin 39:31
They were guiding people to go to our website. Now if I was never off of Amazon or if I was ever multicolor didn't hadn't hadn't invested and had the foresight of investing into our own brand into our own website, this would have never come about right. In fact, it would have never come about if I hadn't made a donation at all.
Yoni Mazor 39:48
Let me get the context. So you did a donation that opens up to immediate attention and then the opportunity presented itself because of that media attention.
Chad Rubin 39:56
Well, it was a combination of media attention and employee You bought us saw what was happening. We had somehow had conversations with Headley and Bennett in the past that's Cubana, we did a dinner together. And then one thing led to another, we formed a joint venture partnership.
Yoni Mazor 40:12
Chad Rubin 40:15
We've, I mean, it's been a fruitful relationship. And we are now we're now in our third wave, we used to just sell the vacuum bags and people were cutting it themselves. And people didn't want to cut themselves, they wanted it to be pre-cut. So then we hired a factory in the United States and made some to do some cutting for us. Now we're officially making a whole phase three design of the product, which is the packaging and everything pre-made and enclosed. For our customer base. Got it? And
Yoni Mazor 40:45
How do you find yourself managing I guess at this point, all these activities? I mean, how was your day look like? Share with us a little bit. I know, congratulations, you got to know, a baby born recently. So congratulations on that.
Chad Rubin 40:56
15 year old, a 15 month, 15-year-old 15 months old. And that has been a shift in priorities for me and a shift in identity that I always visit identifying. Being an entrepreneur for me was like, that, was it right? my group of friends are entrepreneurs, and everything revolved around that. And now I've shifted into being a father. So
Yoni Mazor 41:19
So how do you balance all that? Right?
Chad Rubin 41:21
Yeah, so routine, I think it comes down to literally habits and routine. And I don't go on, I used to mornings from a little more, I found myself not feeling good about Instagram or Facebook, I watched social dilemma. And so I'm in a routine, right? I wake up early, I spend that time with my son, we have breakfast together every morning, right? We play, we walk, we crawl, we climb, we read, and then I get into my day. And I go straight through back to back. And I try to be as efficient with my time as possible. And making sure that I say no to as many activities that are going to be a high impact on any of the things that I'm pursuing.
Yoni Mazor 42:02
So I'll take it as a compliment. Thank you for I guess, taking the time today to do this. So we're very grateful for you having me on such a pleasure. It's a real privilege. Okay, so. So I think I take it as a big lesson. So how do you identify the things that is going to be less impactful? You can say No, thank you. Let's do this later on. And then you prioritize? And you have a team that helps you with that? Or is it just you pop into emails right away? Do you know what to say no to? What's the demand dynamics there?
Chad Rubin 42:26
So we have some canned responses and emails for No. And then I take a look at my calendar to see like, what's happening on the weekly basis to see where can I optimize my time? There are things that I love doing. There are things that I hate doing, there are things I hate doing, but I need to do.
Yoni Mazor 42:43
You have to do it. Yeah.
Chad Rubin 42:44
I understand that I love doing that I never have time to do and so finding a nice balance. And a lot of that comes down to the process. And speaking up, right being candid with the team saying like, hey, like, I don't need to maybe go on like 20 million webinars this quarter, let's pick and choose the webinars that are going to be the highest impact for the company, and prioritize those. So establishing criteria around that. And by the way, it's hard to read my entire life, right? And so what are the things that I should be doing that I'm not doing? What are the things that I'm doing that I hate doing? And being able to categorize and classify those items in a way that's meaningful and supports and honors where I want to be in life?
Yoni Mazor 43:29
You got it and you think you do you did you try to trickle this into your organization's or there's something you take on your own? And you know, you don't try to impose on any other what's kind of the dynamics there inside the organization because remote, but you have to somehow distill that.
Chad Rubin 43:41
Yeah, you got Gina's journey. I see her here. And with Gina, I'm she's so talented on the marketing team, that I'm always thinking like, how can we leverage her more? Right? And what are the things that she's doing that's eating up her time that we could be using and going like spearfishing finding somebody that does that task? Does it really well, and could alleviate you so you can make the biggest impact on the company. And we're doing that cross-department. Right. So I think this is cross-pollinated. I think this goes back to actually when you're building a company, it's largely a reflection of who you are. The systems that you have in place and the people that you have in place and who you're hiring, and firing and who you're bringing into the family is a large part of of the success of the DNA of the company itself.
Yoni Mazor 44:29
100% and how is DJ for everything or not? Where is he located at this point?
Chad Rubin 44:33
Well, DJ actually so he's moved from New York to Georgia.
Yoni Mazor 44:37
That's where she originated from. That's where it's...
Chad Rubin 44:39
Yep. Georgia. We're about I believe he's living in Atlanta now. Got it. And he actually is just coming off of a three-week I think it was a three-week maybe it was longer. He took he's always had a bucket list item to go cross country. So he went roof camping with his car cross country. And is now actually just a ride back into Atlanta last night.
Yoni Mazor 45:03
Nice. Did you happen to go to Emory or No, he didn't go to Emory. No, he went, I think he went to a state school in Georgia. Got it. And he grew up in Atlanta also, or some somewhere that is up in Atlanta. Yeah. But he's originally our probation. Oh, she was born and raised in Croatia.
Chad Rubin 45:20
He was definitely born and raised there. And then he moved over to the United States, I think in his early teens,
Yoni Mazor 45:26
that I got it. Alright, so yeah, I connected what you said with, I guess the organization is a reflection, you know, a reflection of you, hopefully, the positive things of you, you take the best thing that you have to offer the best values, you know, and work on the ones that you can do.
Chad Rubin 45:38
I do want to say just to add, write a comment to that is like, it also has the worst things to write. And it's, it's important, and that's why if you're hiring the right people at the company, they can you want to hire somebody that you admire, that can elevate and raise the game of your current team or department or company. And I think that so so it's not a reflection of all your fallacies or your flaws.
Yoni Mazor 46:01
So once again, you try to distill the good, share that along, but recognize the ones you have weaknesses, and make sure those weaknesses are not, you know, underneath you with the team as it trickles down, and they have those strengths. And then altogether it just, you know, everybody raises together and the whole value proposition for customers, you know, the solution that you guys are creating the experience that you guys are creating, it's all so positive. So unreached it takes a real team effort, nobody is no one person that can create that. It's an ecosystem, you create that every touchpoint it gets it you know, if you know your consumers, whoever the user is, get that experience and hopefully that makes you thrive for the long term and create long term success. Beautiful, Chad. You know, it's great so far. I mean, your story, thank you so much for sharing it. I had a you know, an amazing experience of running all around. It seems like you're able at some point I'm not sure exactly what to move from the city to Nyack. Yeah, I live in Nyack. Yep. What was that trigger there? I wonder you move before the pandemic, right?
Chad Rubin 46:58
Yeah, we moved here. We have been here for five years. And I just wanted more space countryside hiking in fresh air.
Yoni Mazor 47:06
That's great. Great. So Sherry, you know, thank you for sharing this story so far. So we're gonna you know, put it put things to a close so I'm essentially going to be two things we're gonna close it the first thing is if you know people looking to reach out to you or just your banner, or to get some filters, where can they find you guys. And the second thing will be what is going to be your message of hope and inspiration is for and especially for entrepreneurs listening out there.
Chad Rubin 47:29
Alright, so the first one would be to find me my personal email addresses, chats cubana.com if you're in the market for technology, automate and run your business, of course check us out or send me an email happy to help you in your journey. Also, any filters you can check out think crucial comm if you're interested in more of my story, you can check out the book cheaper, easier direct the course is found on Amazon.
Yoni Mazor 47:57
And in terms of inspiration. I, you know, that's a lot. But you know, let's wrap it up. You know, whatever's on your mind, that's freestyle.
Chad Rubin 48:05
I think that there's always an opportunity. I think there are opportunities everywhere, right? A lot of those opportunities could be resource distractions. And especially if you're doing things under the auspice of making money. If you're truly passionate and your work becomes, essentially you're integrating your work into your life, where it becomes an extension of you and it becomes your hobby. I think that's really powerful. Because when other people see me working, they think I'm working, but I'm actually having fun. I'm doing my hobby. And so I think you shouldn't really think with that mindset of, Okay, well, I don't wanna do this for money, this is actually something I'm super into, that I can dedicate my life to. So for me, I've kept very focused on e-commerce specifically for a good reason. I'm painting playing long-term games with long-term people that are in my community that are in my network, and opportunities from all the time outside of that, and I really just want to double down in that. So if I can encourage other people right now, go after what you're passionate about, and what you know about double down on that. And I promise if you're making other people happy in the process, you're gonna have a positive outcome for you and your family.
Yoni Mazor 49:12
100% agreed. Fantastic. All right, thank you know, the chat. Once again, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story. I found it fascinating. I wish we had more time. Maybe we can do a sequel at some point. But until then, I wish you much more tremendous success and for you and the whole Skuba team and I think crucial team, and you know, stay safe and healthy over there. Hopefully, we'll meet once a pandemic without a little bit.
Chad Rubin 49:38
I also want to just express gratitude for walking me through memory lane and almost allowing me to relive the adventure that I very rarely reflect on because I'm so focused on the future.
Yoni Mazor 49:51
There we go look into the past, I do believe it creates some sort of ventilation and it empowers the self and into the future as well. So hopefully you can Take that energy forward. Thank you again, everybody, for joining us today. Stay safe out there. Until next time.