Danny Carlson | How a Near-Death Experience Led Him Into eCommerce

Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Danny Carlson, Founder & CEO of Kenji ROI - an eCommerce agency, shares his life story and how a near-death experience led him into eCommerce. 

 

Danny grew up in Vancouver Canada and worked as a carpenter in construction sites. He felt that he needed to take serious action in order to get more out of his life but just kept on with his routine. It wasn’t until Danny had a near-death experience when he finally took action, quit his job, and started selling on Amazon.    

 

Since then, Danny has evolved into opening his own successful eCommerce agency - Kenji ROI. Today, many established brands are looking to expand into eCommerce. Danny has remarkably catered to this growing trend and is now in a turning point of propelling his agency to new heights.  

 

Find out more about Danny & Kenji ROI: https://bit.ly/2WnfdzL

Find out more about GETIDA here: https://getida.com/

 

Find the Full Transcript Below

Yoni Mazor  0:05  

Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of prime talk today. I'm really excited to have a special guest, Danny Carlson. He's the founder and CEO of Kenji ROI, which is an e-commerce agency. Dan, how are you? Welcome to the show.

 

Danny Carlson  0:23  

Oh, good to be here caught up real bright and early. It's 5am over here in Bali. So I salute you on this side of the world as you

 

Yoni Mazor  0:30  

I salute you unbelievable all over there. 5am. Really, I really appreciate your time. And the fact that you woke up this early, I asked you before we started recording, but the background, it's real, right. It's a, you know, it's 100% real. It's, it's beautiful. You know, from my perspective, it looks really cool. So I like the VA that's over there in Bali, right, Bali is in Malaysia.

 

Danny Carlson  0:53  

It's right next to Malaysia is in Indonesia, it's the little island that really nothing is happening with COVID. Here, there's like other parts of Indonesia, where there's a bunch of crazy stuff going on here. But Bali is known for being a bit of a mystical Island and has always had, you know, some mystical natures to it. So maybe, maybe that has something to do with it. We're just...

 

Yoni Mazor  1:13  

I mean, that kind of background looks magical. So if anybody is listening, I do recommend you to hop into the YouTube channel and take a look at the video just to get a glimpse of Danny's background. And that's a little bit of the taste of Bali and Indonesia. Okay, this is basically your show today. Uh, Danny, you know, we want you to share your story. You know where you're from your professional background, How'd you end up in e-commerce? How'd you become a business owner? Your challenges? Oh, and without further ado, let's dive right into it. Go ahead.

 

Danny Carlson  1:46  

Yeah, so I am definitely a different interesting background. I didn't have any kind of business background or anything. When I started my first business. I actually was a carpenter, even when I was still in high school, so I actually might last year of high school in grade 12. I went to carpentry college, to start to become certified to be a carpenter. So we're..

 

Yoni Mazor  2:06  

Where in Indonesia or like, what's that? 

 

Danny Carlson  2:09  

That was in Canada. 

 

Yoni Mazor 2:11

Yeah. originally born and raised in Canada, right. 

 

Danny Carlson 2:17

Born and raised in Canada. Yeah. Yeah, I lived in Vancouver for like six years before Indonesia. But I grew up in a small town outside of Vancouver, maybe like four hours outside the river. 

 

Yoni Mazor  2:25  

Whats the name? What's the name of the town? 

 

Danny Carlson  2:28  

Kelowna BC. Kelowna.

 

Yoni Mazor  2:34  

Sounds a bit like Corona ish. But yeah, it's Kelowna.

 

Danny Carlson  2:37  

Yeah, I'm sure there's lots of Corona. Joe Scott on Kelowna right now. But yeah, and, and I was a carpenter, actually, for six years before I started my first business. So from 18 to 24, I just worked as a carpenter. And I, you know, I'd like some things about it. But I really did not like working outside in Vancouver. It rains a lot in Vancouver. And carpentry really, is something that caps out at about, you know, $30 an hour, which, you know, it's not terrible money, but it's not like great money either. So the only way to make more than that was to start my own construction company, and, you know, start taking on some big contracts and stuff like that. And I just looked at what was ahead of me, like all the examples that I had in my life of people who had done that, literally 100% of them were not people that wanted to be like them, they just weren't happy people. And sure, some of them made six figure salaries, but most of them just hated their life, or they were alcoholics, or they, you know, they just were not what I wanted to become. kind of rough is rough and tough. Right? Right. Um, so I just saw the writing on the wall like that was going to be me. And during this whole time, like, while I was still working the last couple years of carpentry, I was listening to podcasts about online business. And I just read the four hour workweek by Tim Ferriss and my mind was kind of blown. I was like, in my brain business was not something that potentially I could do. But then all of a sudden, it was accessible to someone like me, someone who didn't have any university or had no idea what they're doing, could all of a sudden listen to these podcasts and buy really cheap online courses, and get access to people who actually knew what they're doing. And so I was diving into that. And I really, it was really one single moment that made me decide to go and start my first business and ended up being Amazon. It was a near death experience I had in the Philippines. And you know, through my whole career as a carpenter, I spent most of my spare money and spare time going and traveling for longboard races. So we'd go, four of us at a time would go ride these long skateboards, these longboards down the road in a race against each other. And it was super fun, exciting when you go up to like 60 or 70 miles an hour on these longboards. And I was on a remote island in the Philippines and I almost had a head on collision with a motorcycle that somehow got on one of the close racetracks and I literally hit Mr head on collision by like two inches. And that just really shook me up like I was used to the danger. I had lots of close calls before. But just really the reality this one sank in I was on a remote island in the middle of the Philippines 12 hours away from an actual hospital like there wasn't a real hospital on this island. And it just would have been a really terrible situation. So I kind of realized in that moment, I almost never got the chance to go start that online business that I was developing my brain that I really wanted to start and there the excuses really just melted away after that. I got home from that trip. And I literally just just want to start. I think I even purchased my first online course with Amazon before I even returned from the trip and just started watching the premiere.

 

Yoni Mazor  5:43  

So what's happening is you're still living in Canada. You went on a trip in the Philippines, you had a near-death experience. You went back to Canada and then you started taking action. 

 

Danny Carlson  5:53  

Exactly, yeah. So I got back to Canada back to Vancouver and just started taking action and at the time I was still working as a carpenter full time so I would be...

 

Yoni Mazor  6:02  

Talk about that for one moment. Carpenter I mean, tell me your usual workday as a carpenter. Are you just nailing with the hammer carpet to the floor? A carpenter the floor, you're pulling carpets out what was even a little tough to test it out. So you know, for the audience to kind of experience your, your mindset back then, as a carpenter. 

 

Danny Carlson  6:20  

So I was what you'd call a framer. So we would be creating the frame of the house out of wood, mostly wood and concrete, and steel. So usually, it'd be like using nail guns and, you know, saws, different kinds of saws and stuff like that. Lots of manual labor, and it was mostly all outside. So it was like before the actual frame of the house was built, or to be up on the roof, like creating the sheets on the roof and stuff like that. 

 

Yoni Mazor  6:44  

So real physical work. That's like the real deal. You're like, you know, a real construction guy. Joe Builder

 

Danny Carlson  6:49  

Yeah, 

 

Danny Carlson  6:52  

And it was just like, you're always out in the rain. Like some parts, construction is like after that kind of most of the house is built and inside and is nice. This is not what I was doing. You know, I was outside of the Vancouver rain all the time. And it rains like sometimes two weeks in a row in Vancouver. And that just like really gets you down after a little.

 

Yoni Mazor  7:11  

Do you ever see the movie, Forrest Gump? Oh, yeah. classes and Vietnam. When is the Vietnam War as it keeps ranting and ranting right now? So it's like that, right? It's something like that, right?

 

Danny Carlson  7:22  

Yeah, yeah. 

 

Danny Carlson  7:24  

Absolutely. So I mean, I really had the motivation to do something else. I really didn't like doing that. And I just saw it as kind of a dead-end that I didn't want to pursue down and take it to the next level. So yeah, it was good motivation through me as I was starting my business, I think it was, I think it was for about the first six months that we're still working carpentry, I slowly worked it down from full time. And then I negotiated with my boss to just let me work three days a week instead. So I had more time to focus on the business. And then eventually, after, after only about six months, I had my first three products live on Amazon, and I just decided to at that point, um, you know, it wasn't really that big of an income, like it was enough for me to pay all my bills and I had savings in the bank, but I was confident enough in my skills, and at other income coming in that I quit my corporate job, and just decided to focus on 100% on Amazon. And I

 

Yoni Mazor  8:20  

said, you mentioned there was a book you read that helps you kind of pivot into the, to game basically.

 

Danny Carlson  8:28  

Yeah, so that one was classic. That was Tim Ferriss, the Four Hour Workweek, I think it was released in 2004. I wish I had it back in 2004. I didn't I didn't get it until years after that. But before that, I literally just thought business in my brain. It was just this thing where you had to have no life. It was for people who are miserable and wanted to dedicate their whole life to just only chasing money. And it was incredibly hard. It took a lot of money to make money. That was the big misconception I had and Tim Ferriss just really flipped that on its head for me and millions of other people who have read that now. Very famous book.

 

Yoni Mazor  9:04  

Got it. I'm gonna have to, I heard the name but the book itself. I guess it kind of flew by my radar. But Tim Ferriss and the name of the book is the four-hour work day four-hour workweek, yeah, we'll start with the four-hour. The Four Hour Workweek is like the first one is the classic guy. So anybody listening out there, you know, then I highly recommend it to change his life for the better, right? We're gonna touch that in a moment. So I know this is your chance. So that's a good tip. We appreciate that. Okay, so you read the book, you went to the Philippines had an accident, you know, came back home and started taking action to create three SKUs or three Asians, right, three products to sell on Amazon. And take us from that journey on what was the next step?

 

Danny Carlson  9:48  

Yeah, so I mean, out of those three products, one of them started selling immediately, quite well. And then out of the first three, I was pretty aggressive like pretty much I think it was the first month of the second month that I was selling as well. I made the call that I was going to go on the sourcing trip to China and source a bunch more products. Yeah, it was, it was a really big step. I saw enough success there. It's like, Okay, that looks like it's going well. I'm just gonna go like, double down on

 

Yoni Mazor  10:16  

What year? What year was this? Roughly?

 

Danny Carlson  10:19  

This was 2016.

 

Yoni Mazor  10:21  

All right, 2016. You fly to China, you go to the source?

 

Danny Carlson  10:25  

Yeah, straight to the source. There were, like 70,000 different suppliers being represented in this one single market. To give you a scale of the size of this market. It's 2000 square kilometers. I'm pretty bad with miles. But you know, that is somewhere in the order of...

 

Yoni Mazor  10:42  

I’ve been there. Yeah, miles. Yeah, I've been to you. That complex is colossal. I just give a little bit of illustration to the audience, I essentially imagine going to the biggest mall you've ever been to. Okay, it just looks like while you go in, and all these stores are there, but they're not really stores. They're actually the factories, presenting their products as if they were in a store. And the biggest mall you can imagine, but multiple, like five or six times, it's just endless and endless, an endless amount of stores, but which essentially just a showroom for all these factories. And it's really out of this world. So you go into that ocean of like you said, 73,000 suppliers, or a factory.

 

Danny Carlson  11:20  

Yeah, it was literally an ocean. So if I was going to one of the fire districts, I would take a taxi cab because it's roughly 45 minutes and walking distance, and then 20 minutes with walking distance. And then there's, I think, five stories of that. 

 

Yoni Mazor  11:34  

Yeah just like, out of those were really that complex is, you know, whenever this wall that comes to, to some sort of balance with the Coronavirus, and you got to sort some stuff, you know, going to do that complex is it's a whole world out there that you can definitely be able to develop your product catalog. If you're out there, you know, doing the private label game. Now, the priority or three SKUs or ACS or products, you want it to develop some more, but they're all in the same category, or you kind of already immediately started launching to other categories or what was kind of the strategy there.

 

Danny Carlson  12:08  

So there were two categories, those first three aces. And then by the time I returned from China, I think I had something like 10 SKUs, across three categories. So I had one new category. And I learned a big lesson in quality there. So luckily, for me, there was one out of those like seven new products that I source that did really, really well. But pretty much the rest of them pretty much flopped, flops or breakevens. And that's one thing about the Ico market is that it's like it's a commodities market. Basically, there are lots and lots and lots of products, but they're generally like lower-end products. And if you're selling on Amazon, you're trying to sell the lower end stuff, you're probably going to be at the lower end of the market selling for not very much right, I very much prefer to be on the premium end of the market selling a much higher quality product, then you don't run into problems with customers thinking that is higher quality than it is right. Because part of my agency is we have you know, a professional product photography team and listing cooperating team and everything and they make the products look really great.

 

Yoni Mazor  13:10  

Now we're gonna get there, yeah, don't spill the beans, we're gonna get there, I want to experience the journey from you know, you know, organically from carpentry too, you know, just a few SKUs and diving into China, you know, opening your eyes to the world of sourcing, and then realizing to change your strategy from fighting, you know, all the rest of the bottom actually fighting your way to the top right to the premium pricing. I guess essentially, right, so you can make healthy margins, and start to build some sort of brand brand awareness. So you can charge a premium for that. But how does a, continue the story.

 

Danny Carlson  13:41  

Yeah, I know that was the lesson that I learned is that, we were really good at making the listing look really great, but we made some of the listings look better than we should have made them. We'll say like they were not the greatest quality products, but like they looked amazing.

 

Yoni Mazor  13:58  

Right, so you effectively excelled your way your marketing skills, meaning or your marketing was more actually more powerful. Right, then the actual quality of the goods, which is a US Census. It's an important lesson, but it's a good problem to have. Because, you know, a lot of entrepreneurs out there they have you know, good products, you invested a lot into that. But their marketing just can't, they can't break, you know, the glass ceiling and generate the sales and the revenue and the profit that the dream though.

 

Danny Carlson  14:25  

Yeah, well, and I think I think it's a better problem to have the opposite, to be honest. Like, if you have a really good quality product, you can get away with your marketing skills being mediocre. And then if you get someone who really has amazing marketing skills and adds that on top of the layer of having a great product, then it's a real win. Like it's where you get into trouble where you have, you know, the amazing marketing skills and not quite the product.

 

Yoni Mazor  14:46  

Oh, yeah, that's definitely a bad mix if you don't take care of it. But I guess in your case, what do you do after you realize that you know, your marketing is in this, you know, higher than the actual quality of the product? What was the trigger there? And then what would you do? What do you do after you pivot? Did you? What was the next step?

 

Danny Carlson  15:04  

Yeah. So I mean, I just kind of learned that lesson and learned that the sourcing process is probably not a good idea to go to China and source seven new products all at the same time. So you got much more methodical with our approach. Just like really doing a lot more intentional research about each product and doing a much more intentional, quality control process with each product thing is really important and not just like jumping into it, because that means you can't go make seven good decisions within like, I wasn't trying to pretend days, and we want to get seven new products like it's very hard to make seven really good product decisions in 10 days.

 

Yoni Mazor  15:42  

Yeah, makes sense. What I take from that is that basically the realization that, you know, it's better to focus on the quality instead of the quantity, effectively, because it's hard to spiritually spread yourself out so quickly and maintain a good amount of quality.

 

Danny Carlson  15:59  

Yeah, and so at that point, luckily, there was one out of those seven products that just really took off, and was selling quite well. So that one product made up for all the other ones either taking, taking a loss or taking like this, some of them just eventually came out to break even we just let them sell-through.

 

Yoni Mazor  16:16  

Right. Mark Cuban has a phrase for that, as he says, sells heals. Right? So once you have that one that sells that heals all depend on the rest.

 

Danny Carlson  16:26  

Totally, yeah, if you don't have sales, and you kind of screwed, so it's definitely a good, good thing to have. So yeah, so we, so we grew out our skus. And we just continued with four for a while. And we got that to. In total, somewhere around the count was doing around 50k per month. And then we got an Amazon account suspension. That was my first real big major barrier. And it was for a really dumb reason to it was for a friend of mine, he was selling strapped for an Apple Watch. And he wanted me to sell it on my account just to get a lot of sellers onto it. And it was a trademark infringement issue in the title, it wasn't clear enough that it was a strap for an Apple Watch. Like that wording has to be very specific. Yeah, I think you said Apple Watch strap. 

 

Yoni Mazor  17:13  

It wasn't clear. That was just a generic. Yeah, it was a generic product, you know, aftermarket product. And there wasn't clear enough, I guess in the listing level, I got striked out.

 

Danny Carlson  17:22  

Yeah, so apples got this, just got this company Mark monitor that they pay for all of their trademark and you know, IP infringement and stuff like that. And they're just constantly monitoring amazon for this stuff. So if you sell any kind of Apple accessories, you got to be very careful with the wording, and...

 

Yoni Mazor  17:38  

So hold on, which is it so it's 2016 he broke into our you know, the game and to e-commerce, and which years is still to 16 where you got to spend it.

 

Danny Carlson  17:47  

This would be like the start of 2017

 

Yoni Mazor  17:49  

Got it, and then when did you get back on track. And what happened after.

 

Danny Carlson  17:54  

Yeah, so that was probably my biggest roadblock actually never got that account back, I hired a reinstatement specialist, a hardened lawyer to go and look at it. And it just like literally never got the account back. But I was really lucky at that point that I had a really good network of Amazon sellers. And there was actually a friend of mine who I had been helping at that point that I made a deal with him. I basically just handed over all my products to him, and it was selling on his account. And he would actually take over a bunch of the management accounts and I would just give him a relatively small percentage for what he was doing there. So I basically technically handed over everything to him. And then that allowed me to still be selling through my own products and not lose all the BSR and everything like that while still also it was kind of a blessing in disguise because it freed up a lot of my time he was taken over management of a lot of stuff on the account for a relatively small amount of money and the company.

 

Yoni Mazor  18:50  

Wow, that's an amazing turn of events. So you were trying to help a friend you guys checked out and then another friend came for rescue if I'm connecting the dots a little bit and I was blessed eventually was a blessing in the sky for you because you're able to sort of speak delegate or outsource and focus on the next step right?

 

Danny Carlson  19:11  

Essentially yeah and I mean like yeah sure is still definitely lost a good chunk of money through that whole thing.

 

Yoni Mazor  19:17  

I'm sure you had a lot of pain, yeah I expected you to tell me yeah we got the account back on track you know it took some hits and that's painful but if you never got back on track that's kind of trauma in a way. I know it's very very painful because your Amazon accounts for the most part. You know, if you work somewhere and you become an entrepreneur and this is like your vehicle making money, and it gets hurt and you can't bring it back. That's kind of painful. 

 

Danny Carlson  19:45  

I have a friend of mine who just recently got his account back. I think he was out for five days. And just for some scale, he does nine figures on Amazon and he's paying for, you know, more than $100,000 a year to get someone to make sure that his accounts are up and everything is compliant and everything like that. And a company at that scale, going down for five days is scary because it's like so many employees and other costs and everything involved with that. And so it even happens to the guys at that level. 

 

Yoni Mazor  20:18  

So as an entry-level, that's, that's 100%, scale, and size. The world of Amazon is nothing and unfortunately, a lot of the big guns encounter that, they come to a shocking realization that they don't have that special relationship with Amazon that they thought that because if you know, you get trapped in the Amazon algorithm machine that balances you out for one reason or another, you're gonna have to wait in line with all the rest of them to basically make your point, you know, plan of action, whatever it is to get back on track. And that experience alone is horrifying. It's unpleasant. You know, eventually, if you're an honest, good seller,, you should always get back on track. And Amazon overall is fair, but the experience itself can be very, very tough, very tough, and very traumatic. And any skill any size, actually, the larger you get, and even more traumatic because like you said, there's a lot of employees' infrastructure, might cave, you know, fall from within. So it's definitely an unpleasant situation to be in. And, yeah, I mean, it sellers have to be aware that there's, you know, it doesn't matter their size, they might experience it out of nowhere. So, if that happens, make sure you have all your records in line, your story ready to be told. And of course, if you can't figure it out, reach out to a specialist that is out there to help you out. Okay, but let's dive back to your story. You know, your friend's wife was helping you out and you know, keep selling your products. But let me ask you what about trademarks, at that point that you have a trademark ready for your brand?

 

Danny Carlson  21:46  

I did have a trademark for my brand. And just to be clear, the reason I never got that account back is that it was 100% in the hands of that company Mark Monitor. So as the company handles the IP infringer for Apple and the way Amazon trademark infringement works, is that you need basically, traction, I retractation. Yeah, right. And so we literally got zero response from this company, Mark Monitor, even like I paid for a lawyer, the lawyer was getting no response to just putting it I mean, it was careless on my part to put my friend's product on my account without double-checking that but it was like a very small error in the wording and the title was the entire reason.

 

Yoni Mazor  22:25  

More than anything, that's one of the major lessons here is that if you guys sell on Amazon, and your business is successful, and then you have a friend that comes from the sideline, say, help me out and sell me this product that you have nothing really to do with, you should think twice, think twice, because it can get risky, real quick, you know, especially if the product has any criss-cross with any top-level brands or Apple, Nike, whatever it is, you know, try to stay away from that, because you're walking to the unknown anybody flying above a no-fly zone, so to speak. Yeah,

 

Danny Carlson  23:00  

absolutely. So yeah, so at that point, like you said, I was a little bit traumatized from that. So that's when I started to move more of my attention into the agency. So at that point, I'd already been doing a little bit of just work on the side just for friends and people in my network, building their Amazon listings, developing that skill set just to create my own listings. And I developed a copywriting skill set so I was just told by some mentors of mine that sales copywriting was one of the most valuable skills you could learn for anything in business. And I still believe that I think, any good business owner can benefit from being a skilled copywriter. And so mixing the two skill sets together with AMS on copywriting, I slowly started to build this agency up out of nothing. And like first, it was just me and I had a couple of virtual assistants, leftover from the e-commerce business that they kind of do keyword research and do some other things. And so I used them to help fulfill some of these contracts. I was basically just utilizing my own network that I built up with Amazon sellers through Facebook groups and stuff like that. And I switched a lot of my tack to just creating helpful content in Facebook groups, right, I'm sure you guys see a lot of people making these kinds of posts, just putting out helpful posts within other people's Facebook groups or building your own Facebook group and things like that. So that's where the vast majority of the first clients of my agency came over the first year is pretty much all through Facebook groups, and different relationships I had with the admins of those Facebook groups to create some kind of content or promotions. And for me, that just gave me a lot more peace of mind that, hey, if this happens again, if my account gets suspended again and everything goes to shit, then like, I'm absolutely not going to lose all of my income overnight, you know, like Amazon held on to payment right at the end of a payment cycle. They held onto that payment for 90 days during that account suspension.

 

Yoni Mazor  24:53  

 That's not after 90 days, correct. Did you still got cashed out, right?

 

Danny Carlson  24:56  

Yeah, they did cash it out after 90 days, but like, you know..

 

Yoni Mazor  25:00  

Sometimes I hear from some sellers that even after the 90 days where it's like the money was gone, you know, away from the, whatever excuse that happened, they put a permanent hold on it or just vanished. That's also some of the horror stories that are heard out there. So this, you got that that's a, I guess the worst. Under the circumstances not it could have been worse. Okay, so I guess in the same year 2017, you started pivoting into from the ruins of your account suspension, you start pivoting into copywriting and content marketing.

 

Danny Carlson  25:32  

Yeah, so it was just all listing copywriting for Amazon, we just focused 100% on Amazon listings in the beginning, and we built that up to a decent level. And then we had a few copywriters on our team at that point. And then I realized that there was a good opportunity to add product photography to the agency. And that's when it really picked up momentum. Our product photography is still like our biggest driver the agency asserts is most of our revenue. And at that point, you know, I am not a potter photographer. So I just found one in Vancouver That was good. went through that guy. And eventually, we settled on, I think the third product photographer that we ended up working with is now our current creative director. And it's, it's been a really good addition to the agency because it allows us to add more services. And then really after that, it was just a matter of adding on the other pieces of the listing, we added on a plus content, which is you know, enhanced brand content, same thing, and then videos. So eventually, we just built it out to suit the entire Amazon listing so that we could give our customers what they're asking for.

 

Yoni Mazor  26:35  

Nice, interesting. So basically, from the ruins of e-commerce business, you are able to pivot into, as we said, content marketing, but from this patchwork of elements, you were able to put more pieces and team members together to create basically a whole package. It's holistic now, you know, you guys can pretty much do a 360-degree coverage for Amazon sellers, you know, in terms of writing their content, building the listing, post content, photography, you guys also do videography at this point. Yeah. There we go. So holistic, amazing. And it snowballed, you know, for the for, I guess, two, almost three years, and to where we are today, right? And it's a full-blown agency, this is pretty much your pride and joy. Do you still sell on? I mean, you sell the private label, you're still selling that's like, that became ready the second leg from being the middle, then I guess the major leg, right, the primary leg and snowballing, you know, Mark, an agency from the side. And it shifted momentum at some point. And now, you know, your agency is the creme de la creme and so you know, the e-commerces game or retailing is supplemental.

 

Danny Carlson  27:42  

Yeah, so I still have the products on Amazon. And I have one other business that I am a partner in on Amazon, but I keep my focus on the agency, just because I honestly like being a little bit traumatized with, like, what can happen. And I've seen even worse as you said, worse situations happen with people that I know are friends in the industry. So I keep that going. I don't and I just build that for you know, a future exit on the side or some decent income or whatever that's coming in. And it keeps us in the agency knowing what we're doing, actually being practitioners and like seeing what's happening with the products and everything like that. But I am very hesitant to go put all my eggs back into that one basket. And so we're a little bit more risk-averse. Like before I would be, I would be aggressively launching new products as fast as I possibly could like any capital is coming in. It's like okay, that's capital is getting smashed right back into there. Now and just like a lot, like I'm okay with growing slower, and being safer. 

 

Yoni Mazor  28:43  

What's interesting is so growing. So you're I think it's a smart move, you realize, you know, I can grow slower, but I'm still growing and the retail again with the e-commerce retail industry, which is organically grown, because it's not going to stop, you know, your commerce is only about 10% from overall retail probably the past few weeks because of the Coronavirus it accelerated in tremendous numbers, it's just gonna keep going is gonna go to 20% 30% 40% sky's the limit and you have a stake right in that game and that industry. But nevertheless, you are able to reinvent yourself in such a way where it's creative, much more full of soul, you're helping a lot of, you know, other businesses out there. It's something that nobody can really take away from you, which is your creativity. it's it's and it's working and it's working and it's becoming your main hub. So I think it's a really good balance that you have and it's a really a real prime example of how from the trauma from the challenge from you know, the pain that you experienced right along with the process, it just repositioned you in a far superior place to be in a far superior place. That's what I take from the sideline looking at it from my perspective. I think it's good, it's healthy. I have a healthy mix of service right. I just And retail, both of them are growing and growing healthy, you also partner another, you know, we're in a partnership in the retail game. So I guess the format of partner or you know, being partners is you probably provide your input your talent, your skill, and the other side provided provides, you know, they cover up for any weaknesses you might have I advise, the diversity you cover for each other, that's what makes a good partnership of any kind, you know, you back up to the other way, and the strength, strength and weakness, weaknesses, you know, you cover up for each other, and one plus one equals three. That's, that's pretty awesome. I do see a positive thing with the, you know, coming from the negative of your experience. Okay, so this is where you are today, right? I mean, what are your today? What are your current main challenges, you know, from the challenge that you sell yourself in a better position? Now, what are your main challenges? Or, you know, maybe COVID-19 has any impact there?

 

Danny Carlson  30:53  

Yeah, so it's very interesting COVID-19. It went either way, with our current clients, like some of our current clients, their revenue massively dropped for a while a lot of those ones are recovering now as we're getting into, like May as they're, as they're talking on this podcast. But there were some clients that just massively increased. And what it also did was it opened up a brand new market for us that was always there. But it wasn't, it wasn't nearly as big as it is now. And that is brands that are not in e-commerce at all, we've got a massive amount of interest in brands that are well-established offline brands that are just all of a sudden, like, basically desperate to get onto e-commerce platforms. So we've been doing webinars with like, you know, Canadian government organizations, and all these things like that people have been, like a lot of people in the offline world have been reaching out trying to, you know, get some kind of content or something together to you.

 

Yoni Mazor  31:47  

I call these businesses, I call these businesses, organizations, the institution, institutions are the ones that are entrenched in the old industry, the old economy, is forced to step into the new economy. And that breeds tremendous opportunity for you, for your organization, for your company. I think that's awesome. Yeah. I'm glad to hear that.

 

Danny Carlson  32:09  

Yeah, no, it's, a very interesting time to be into e-commerce right now. And so we're having a shift like a lot of our messaging to really fit that because up until this point, the messaging of the agency has been more towards business owners who are kind of in the Amazon ecosystem, already understand the Amazon lingo and all that kind of stuff. But, you know, your different landing pages, and your sales calls, and all that kind of stuff had to be pretty different, to be talking to this other kind of clients, they just really don't understand the same lingo and what's interesting to them is, is very different than was interesting to someone who already knows all about Amazon and these things. So, it's been a good challenge for us. But that's, that's where most of the growth has been. Since COVIDhas started here.

 

Yoni Mazor  32:54  

Now, that's a positive challenge, meaning you had to, I guess, on the marketing end, to translate your message into a palatable way for these newcomers, so to speak. And that, you know, that can be challenging, but that's it's good news. Because they need you and they need your ability and your skills and track record of launching products and e-commerce in Amazon, it's a great connection to be made that in a way you provide spiritual guidance or material guidance for them to come into the Amazon jungle. So that alone is something to really think about how do you do best, you know, I need to navigate this and because it's, I guess, there's so much volume coming in, right? And you got a scale that up, you got to find the ability to all these institutions coming in, you know, doing in such a way where skills up and you can maximize all the opportunity that's laying in front of you, but in an effective way. So yeah, there are elements of the pivot and especially in the marketing message and the way you educate them, which is interesting. It's an interesting angle. I never really thought about that because there's so much of their service providers and agencies out there, you know, they're talking to Amazon lingo, because we all under the assumption that everybody lives in our world, right? We're saying now the challenge now is how do you communicate with the ones not coming from the world? They're there you know, it's like almost aliens are coming from outside you got to find that that language common language so you know, they align properly into this planet called e-commerce slash Amazon. That's it.

 

Danny Carlson  34:30  

Yeah. Well, that's been the best market for us because like at the agency, we're kind of at the point where like, we we've pretty much tapped out our like content marketing inbound, like most of our inbound have come from, like the Amazon ecosystem that we're putting out there like our podcasts and our blog and all this kind of stuff. We've done collaborations at this point with like most of the bigger players in the Amazon space and like there's, there's more to squeeze there, but there's not like that, that ocean for us. It's kind of been kind of untapped. For the most part and to scale past where we are right now, we need to get people who are not interested in Amazon,, to be interested in Amazon and then use us as the people to get them onto Amazon. And like, that's how you see, like all of the companies that are really big. That's how they scaled to be so big, they don't scale so big, by just like, you know, convincing all the people who already know they want that they should go with them to convince them like convincing people have no idea what their stuff is, and no idea what anything is that they should be going with them. 

 

Yoni Mazor  35:34  

So essentially, because the perspective has changed because saying, you know, I'm right now kind of competing in this pool. But why should I just have resolution on this pool where there's an ocean out there, I'm gonna zoom out a little bit to the ocean as you watch so many other fish in the ocean. Now, this little pond, let me set myself up to go fish over there. And that's what we're doing effectively, right now, to scale it up, you know, not to meet that glass ceiling that you kind of feeling lately. Which is an interesting perspective. And it's very good that you're able to realize that, and you're gearing your whole organization towards that. That direction. That's pretty awesome. Okay, so I mean, I mean, you touch most of your story, you know, you're in a very interesting position. You know, maybe, you know, after a little while, we can follow up on that, and you can share with us, in the later episodes, how I went, you know, how I was a growth? And how was your journey into expanding the agency, outside the Amazon ecosystem to, I guess, what we call the institutions, all their old industries? And it'll be interesting to hear how that story develops. But in the meantime, you know, I want to start concluding the episode. What's your message of resilience, you know, for e-commerce players or businesses out there during COVID-19, you know, maybe small takeaways, the message of resilience, this is a big opportunity to share.

 

Danny Carlson  36:53  

Yeah, so I'm a strong believer that the biggest, the biggest hardships in the economy are always the biggest opportunities for everything. And you don't have to trust in me, you can just go look at history to see that this is true in 2008, crash, the 2000 dot com bubble, all these things that so many of the biggest companies sprouted up in the ruins after those big major crashes. That's where the big opportunities lie. And so what you know, what happens is that the markets get super, super optimized, and things are going really well and the market is super optimized, and then it all crashes, right? And then after that, the way that it's going to work is going to be a little bit different, right? So we're in that period right now. And if you can keep your head straight, and just like be really attentive and be talking to fewer people, then you're probably going to be one of the people who is one of the people figuring out the new best way that things work. Right, a lot of the old systems broke, they got to optimize and the profit margins got squeezed out. But there are new ways of doing things that are popping up and the people who are pivoting are going to be the people who have those massive companies by the time the next Bull Run comes. And so like right now is the biggest opportunity so just my message to everyone is just staying focused, and just really be open to pivoting on a few things and changing the way that you're doing things. And, and you might just be one of those big companies the next time this bull run comes around.

 

Yoni Mazor  38:18  

Yeah, awesome. I mean, even if you're not a big company, but you're successful to such a degree where you're making good income and you're not, you're not drowning, that's an accomplishment. It's, you know, on its own merit. So yeah, that's a good pointer there. We appreciate that. Now, if the audience wants to find your work, you know, where can they find you? Where can they reach out to you and you know, get help or you know, if they have any questions or want further assistance, shoot, we're working to find you.

 

Danny Carlson  38:46  

Yeah, so Kenji ROI calm is the agency you can reach out to us their team can give you a free listing analysis video they're doing all day. For brands totally for free. Or if you want to reach out to me personally on any of the social media, like Facebook's the best one, Facebook or LinkedIn, Danny Carlson. And that's what to see. And you'll just see this big blue face I got like half my face is like, blue avatar face. 

 

Yoni Mazor  39:11  

That’s pretty cool to see. Yeah, like that. But tell me let's talk a little bit about the name of Kenji ROI. So Kenji is with the K. Right? And then we have ENJ II. Right? That's a spoke Kenji ROI, if you can find down to over there and Kenji ROI calm, but share with us a little bit because I read I saw it somewhere. But what's the story about Kenji? Well, what is that word? 

 

Danny Carlson  39:34  

Yeah so, Kenji is my middle name, and then ROI stands for a return on investment. And, you know, it's kind of funny, it's because I never actually planned to turn Kenji ROI into an agency. It just naturally happened that way. So like the name Kenji ROI, I was just like, sitting there and my computer's like, I gotta come up with some name for like this frickin thing that I'm doing. So I just literally in two seconds, came up with that name and just like got someone on Fiverr to make a list. And so like, I'm such that now,

 

Yoni Mazor  40:02  

But I think as a Japanese origin that word or that name Kanji Or am I wrong?

 

Danny Carlson  40:07  

Oh, yeah, yeah. So kanji means in Japanese it means firstborn male child. So you know, I am the firstborn male child in my family. So that's why my parents gave me that middle name. My mom is Japanese. So I'm half Japanese of heritage.

 

Yoni Mazor  40:22  

Awesome, amazing. So I have a little connection to make here. If you want to launch the first product on Amazon, your first child, your firstborn child on Amazon, go to Kenji ROI, you can't get better than that as it's already in the DNA of the name itself. So that Danny, I want to thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your time and your story. I find it fascinating with you, I wish you much, you know, success going forward. Hopefully, you know, a couple of months maybe even next year, we'll have you on another episode to follow. Follow up on your progress and hopefully your success. And that's it. Thanks again. Goodbye, everybody. Stay safe, stay healthy. Take care.

 

Danny Carlson  41:02  

Thanks for having me.

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