From Playing Professional Tennis to Selling on Amazon | Dustin Kane
Dustin Kane of Sellozo talks about going from Playing Professional Tennis to Selling on Amazon.
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Find the Ful Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I have a special guest today I'm having Dustin Kane. Dustin is an account executive at Sellozo. And Sellozo is an advertising management software for Amazon sellers. So Dustin, welcome to the show.
Dustin Kane 0:19
Thanks, Yoni. Thanks for having me. I'm so excited to be here. I love talking to you because we've had you on our podcast before as well and you're so much energy, so much inspiration. I love feeding off of your energy. So glad to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:35
Thank you so much. That's likewise vice versa. So today I'm really honored and excited to have you and I'm looking forward to feeding off your story, your insights, and your energy. So yeah, so today Today's episode is going to be this review right the story of Dustin Kane so you're gonna share with us now, who are you? Where are you from? Where'd you grow up? How did you begin your professional career all the way to where you are right now. So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Yoni Mazor 1:01
So you may start from the beginning. We're at the hospital. Birth certificate, the whole nine yards.
Dustin Kane 1:07
I love it. So I was born and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. So I grew up, loved sports, growing up I played baseball and tennis. My father was a tennis professional. Growing up it was so nice. I had a lot of love and just did a lot with sports.
Yoni Mazor 1:26
So when you're growing up and he was playing tennis professionally, Did he used to travel around the country or what was it?
Dustin Kane 1:33
By the time I was born, he was actually coaching and teaching at a club. So it was nice. We didn't have to travel anywhere. He was teaching at a club here in Kansas City. And so I just kind of grew up, just played baseball, played tennis, loved it. ended up moving around a lot. My parents did get divorced. So I ended up traveling around. I lived in Chicago, Pittsburgh, and ended up in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Yoni Mazor 2:03
When you moved around, if you don't mind me asking so you moved around with your mother or your father, my father. Yeah, got it. What was it? Again? Chicago.
Dustin Kane 2:12
I went from Kansas City to Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh to Chicago, Chicago to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Wow. And then we'll get back to when I come back to Kansas City. Gotcha. But that was an I think, in general, that was a good experience. Man. It wasn't what I wasn't ideal. It wasn't what I wanted to do. But...
Yoni Mazor 2:34
Seems like you always had to reinvent yourself. Because every time it's a new community, it's a new classroom. What was the age of years that you traveled around like that?
Dustin Kane 2:43
Basically, from second grade on we traveled around a lot.
Yoni Mazor 2:48
Actually all the way to school, like when you graduated?
Dustin Kane 2:52
I stayed in my high school for all four years in the same school. So that was good. That was in Tennessee. But yeah, I went to 13 different schools in my 12 years of elementary.
Yoni Mazor 3:05
For the most part of these 30 schools you fill us you're able to some point just fit in quickly, or you never even bothered fitting in or what was your...
Dustin Kane 3:12
I think that was actually a good development for a skill for just, you know, being outward, you know, outgoing, meeting people.
Yoni Mazor 3:23
Just to network and connecting and making friends. You know?
Dustin Kane 3:27
Yeah, I think when you're forced to do that in your formative years, like middle school and stuff like that, especially, you're constantly thrown outside of your comfort zone. So I think that that was, you know, obviously not ideal. I would love to have been in one place the whole time. But in hindsight, I'm glad for that experience.
Yoni Mazor 3:47
Yeah, I think if you were able to take the upset of things that are phenomenal. Had the ability to adapt quickly is when you do business, it's really good.
Dustin Kane 3:57
Yeah. And I think it just made me feel like I was all over the country. So as you know, different cultures are different. I mean, I just, I kind of just became able to fit in with a lot of different groups. And I think that allowed that opened my mind and opened my perspective too, you know, other personalities.
Yoni Mazor 4:17
Other personalities, characters, qualities, communities, different communities. Some might be more upscale this upscale, she learned to appreciate everything, for sure. I like that. I think that's very unique, very different. Okay, so high school you finished in Chattanooga you’re graduating?
Dustin Kane 4:31
Yep. And so I was at that point. I was big into tennis. I mean, I was playing tennis all through high school, ended up playing tennis in college, so I played it. Middle Tennessee State University, which is just south of Nashville, played tennis there. Ended up transferring for my grad for graduate school, went to the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. played one more year of tennis there. I had one year of eligibility left and got my MBA from UTC.
Yoni Mazor 5:00
So what do you study? What was your major?
Dustin Kane 5:06
My major was finance and undergrad and then I got my MBA for grad school so...
Yoni Mazor 5:12
Let's put this love that years on there so what year did you enter college In which year did you graduate?
Dustin Kane 5:16
Great so now we're going to date myself we're going to tell you how old I am. I love it.
Yoni Mazor 5:20
Oh you started when you're 10 years old Oh.
Dustin Kane 5:22
No, that's right. I started college in 99 so and then ended grad school in 2003 Yeah, those are the years that I was playing tennis in college. I loved it. That was a lot of fun. college sports are a lot of fun being a part of a team is a lot of fun and I got to travel.
Yoni Mazor 5:43
Let me, take me for just a second you said tennis team. How does that work? What is it like in this individual sport out how do you play in a team?
Dustin Kane 5:52
It is it is an individual sport but in high school and college there's team tennis so you're playing a team and there's every time you play another school you play six singles matches and three doubles matches and then whatever team wins most points out of that.
Yoni Mazor 6:10
So because you’re a team how many athletes, how many tennis players are here?
Dustin Kane 6:15
There's usually about between nine to 11 players on the daily that much wow yeah so not everyone starts not everyone plays you know.
Yoni Mazor 6:25
You play a basketball team you need to kind of five and you have a roster of five more.
Dustin Kane 6:30
You play six six players obviously play the singles and then six more play the three doubles but that could be the same six people.
Yoni Mazor 6:41
The second realize it can be that robust on a team level tennis so that's anything I picked up I appreciate in full disclosure. I like watching tennis never played tennis not even once in my life. I'm really sad about it. But my daughters aren't tennis school, so they're not really sure. Yeah, if I have a tennis court, two minutes from my house, I just walk them there. And the teacher is she's to be the Olympics. So she's very curious. She's very like army-style training. So at least I can pass the torch to you know, from you to my children.
Yoni Mazor 7:09
How old are your daughters?
Yoni Mazor 7:10
Oh, they're eight and five earlier? Are they
Dustin Kane 7:12
Okay? Well, I'll just tell you I'm biased. Okay, I'm a tennis fan. I'm biased. Learning tennis as a kid is such a great skill for the rest of your life in so many ways. It's obviously hand coordination the movements, it combines every aspect of it like it translates to other sports really well. So it's great and also there's nothing in my band...I love so I played baseball and I love basketball, football, and all sports. But individual sports are so I think integral for development as a human as a person as you cannot blame anybody.
Yoni Mazor 7:54
That's true nobody land full ownership yeah.
Dustin Kane 7:56
You can try to blame the sun. Or yeah he cheated or whatever you can try to make up all the excuses that you want but at the end of the day you lose you lose. So that's where college tennis actually in high school tennis but it really hit my pride more in college but that was the combination of you got nothing no excuses when you're playing for yourself but you're also a part of a team so you can really you know you might lose that day but the rest of the guys win and they all pick you up that's life.
Yoni Mazor 8:31
And I think that's a combination and never realize that you know that dynamic is available or those dynamics are available in tennis pretty cool.
Dustin Kane 8:38
Yeah. And it can be a double-edged sword. I mean you have to learn a lot of things. Meaning you have an individual sport you have a lot of ego involved. You have a lot of you know, I would say psychological games that people try to play outside of the actual match.
Yoni Mazor 8:51
As you're talking when you play tennis people in the crowd.
Dustin Kane 8:55
Yeah in college, it's wild. So people don't know me. You think tennis is like this quiet sport where you know you're a less elegant high class right? Yeah, but in college it gets, it's that there's a lot...
Yoni Mazor 9:06
Going on so we can get dirty it gets dirty on the field.
Dustin Kane 9:10
It gets dirty. I was also in a fraternity and was in college and I mean that fraternities have come out for the get matches, of course, they would go wild and trash talk but it was a fun experience. I really really enjoyed it. And you know, it really prepared me for my first career.
Yoni Mazor 9:29
There we go. Let's get there. Let's hit 2003 after college, what's your next station?
Dustin Kane 9:34
So I just I think this is going to speak to a little bit more about how my mindset works and my journey but I didn’t graduate with my master's. During college. In the summers, I would go back to Chattanooga, Tennessee, which is only about an hour and a half away from school and teach tennis at a club. So it's a great summer job for a college guy who was able to make for college first A really good my man could make like 4050 $60 an hour teaching tennis lessons and you're in it's like, okay, that'll work so you do that all summer and then when I graduated I had a really good relationship with a guy who ran the club who was gonna end up being one of my early mentors and we can talk about that as well. But he was the head pro at the club and he offered me a full-time job when I came out of course all of my colleagues all of my counterparts and friends coming out of grad school they're going into entry-level jobs as accountants whatever is world right finance world yeah so whatever jobs are opening entry-level jobs are going out there and I just my mind could I couldn't go there like I actually it just the thought of being in an office and working like working nine to five I don't know what it was why that was really difficult for me to process logically I'm thinking okay, well you know, don't you know three four or five years from now this could be $100,000 job with benefits and you know just pay my dues but I couldn't do it. I couldn't. My mind would refuse to go so I actually decided let's look at tennis. I could teach tennis on my own terms. I could do what I want. I'm going to make way more money right now than all my colleagues are going to get entry-level jobs so I went into the tennis world and really found that I had a good knack for it.
Yoni Mazor 11:36
I think that knack comes from your passion. I can see the passion in your eyes for tennis I don't think ever had the privilege of meeting somebody who was so passionate that's pretty cool. Well yeah so it made sense right the passion plus earnings was okay it was a good morning so when it was a good earning.
Dustin Kane 11:49
Yeah, you learn something, later on, we could talk about that there's a ceiling when you work manual hours there are only so many hours I can possibly do. So at some point, there's a ceiling but for that time of my life I found out that I was good at it for whatever reason I was good at seeing somebody play and then relay the information in a way that was easy for them to understand and replicate. I think some people either have that ability to convey information and some people don't have strength somewhere else.
Yoni Mazor 12:25
I got a small question about any of the people you train anybody was worth mentioning or won major titles?
Dusitn Kane 12:32
So there's a lot of good college players who ended up being good college players that I trained a guy that I used to hit with quite a bit when I was early on in my career, ended up doing really well. I went to the junior US Open Junior Wimbledon Junior French Open.
Yoni Mazor 12:53
So there's always a ranking. I know there are the rankings. Oh by ranking and tennis what was the right the top rank that yeah when the juniors.
Dustin Kane 12:59
I don't know, but up there, I'd have to look it was a long time ago, maybe the top 100 or so? But here's the interesting thing about tennis. If you're talking about soccer or football, anything. The amount of professional positions open is massive. Massive. I mean.
Yoni Mazor 13:25
Yeah, so many leagues. You got national leagues, but you got international leagues. And so many teams in each League, it spreads out and it's a team sport. You got 11 players on the field plus another 11 players off the field to train as part of the team. Yeah, I guess it'd be replacing them but so what you're saying is very limited. Golf is the same, right?
Dustin Kane 13:43
Golf is very similar, like in tennis and golf. Maybe the top 100 in the world makes it global, and as well yeah, it's global. So the top 100 of the world are really making a lot of money. They're really professionals. The other ones might, you know, if you're two 300 in the world in tennis, you might make enough money to cover your expenses.
Yoni Mazor 14:06
Hey, you're hungry. Yeah, you already want more?
Dustin Kane 14:11
Yeah if you're a top 300 NFL player, you're a millionaire.
Yoni Mazor 14:17
I never thought about it, but that makes a lot of sense. So yeah, it's kind of in a way a beautiful sport. But in terms of making a professional and making a living it's brutal. It's just brutal. You have to be so good on a global level because it's almost like e-commerce. Oh, you know, we have a listing, right? Do you have the top rank? Everybody's on it from every corner of the world, right? It's not like a local domestic just in us, just kind of everybody's eyes on it. So it becomes very competitive. Alright, so in 2003 you you entered that position. How many years did you stay?
Dustin Kane 14:47
For a long time I thought I was a tennis pro, and still do some on the side. I still do teach a little bit on the side because it's a lot of fun, but professionally from 2003 all the way until 2000 And 17 I was a full-time tennis pro and it took many it took, a bunch of different like titles.
Yoni Mazor 15:08
Like for those 14 years, the professional tennis within the tennis industry was your main like income generator?
Dustin Kane 15:15
Yes, now I did start my e-commerce business before that. I started my e-commerce business in 2014 which we'll talk about. That was kind of a heyday, that's when a lot of people started there especially Amazon FBA but yeah wasn't 13 14 15 was a revolution. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I taught tennis and I did a lot of things . I was a coach of a high school as well as a private high school in Tennessee. My claim to fame there as we won state seven years in a row in the Chattanooga area. All Chattanooga. Yep. Which is a great town by the way if anyone's listening this has never been to Chattanooga, Tennessee. It's beautiful. It's in the mountains.
Yoni Mazor 15:55
Why? Take us there. Yeah, take us why it's so great.
Dustin Kane 15:58
If you’re any sort of outdoorsy type person, if you like climbing or hiking or mountain biking It's unbelievable. It's the southern part of the Appalachian Mountains. Blue Ridge Mountains also the Blue Ridge Mountains are a part of it yeah, that sort of goes into Georgia Yeah, Appalachian Blue Ridge but it's gorgeous rivers run through it the cities built right in like this river like knock so there's the river plays a big part of the city great food a lot of stuff to do.
Yoni Mazor 16:26
Are you guys from Asheville, North Carolina? I used to live there so I'm just wondering.
Dustin Kane 16:31
Oh yeah, you know about mountains..
Yoni Mazor 16:37
Yeah, very far. You just go knock you guys are right there. Is it Kentucky or Tennessee right next to North Carolina? Forget Okay, Tennessee. Oh.
Dustin Kane 16:43
Yoni Mazor 16:45
Touch, no there's a South Carolina border with North Carolina.
Dusitn Kane 16:48
Tennessee touches North Carolina cuz Yeah, you could go over to...
Yoni Mazor 16:52
I just love that region and just haven't heard through mountains the whole flow, the nature just so I relate to what you're saying. So God willing, I hope to get an opportunity as soon as possible to hit Chattanooga. Okay, so you're saying you're doing high schools, private schools, the tennis club, right? Where would you mentor maybe you want to touch about your mentor for a little bit.
Dustin Kane 17:09
Yeah, so his name is Ned Caswell. He was ahead tennis professional he played professionally in his career and then turned it into teaching but instead, he had a really specific way of teaching tennis that was a little outside of the box. Okay, but it worked so well and I was able to adapt that sort of with my just energy and my passion for the sport and just sort of I was able to make a niche especially in the way we teach doubles and different strategies stuff it was it was different it was outside the box but it worked for a lot of people it's an easy way to have people that were like medium to beginner level people to get them to success quickly and so it was fun to have a mentor that was willing to like go kind of anti what the status quo was.
Yoni Mazor 18:06
There he swims against the current. He's not afraid.
Dustin Kane 18:09
Yes, so I was able to learn that early on and then be proud of it and believe if you believe in something really go after it and I that really elevated my career in teaching as well ended up having you know, lots lots of people that take lessons from me lots of groups that I worked with. Tennis is sort of a lifetime so I was working with groups of 90 year old ladies and kids that were five and everything in between, and it was a lot of fun.
Yoni Mazor 18:39
You get a lot of satisfaction when you can really see tangible processes. I mean in their game.
Dustin Kane 18:45
Yeah, the best I think is when you see somebody really believing in themselves that they're improving like they're good. That's really that's really satisfying to watch somebody like get their first win against somebody that they know...
Yoni Mazor 19:02
That was a barrier they felt inferior. It was a challenge for them and they hit it.
Dustin Kane 19:05
And then to see them really enjoy the sport. You know, I absolutely love tennis. I'd love to see people get involved in and passionate about it.
Yoni Mazor 19:12
So real quick. Talk to players that you love and tennis just spit out their top three idols were the top three?
Dusitn Kane 19:20
In order Roger Federer, Pete Sampras on it Andre Agassi.
Yoni Mazor 19:24
Okay, and I know all three of them so I'm feeling pretty good.
Dustin Kane 19:27
We could go into all the reasons why I like all of them.
Yoni Mazor 19:31
Guys, give a shout out to your mentors, shout out to your players, your top three players, I'm okay with your permission, I want to jump I guess into 2014 you mentioned that you hit the world of e-commerce. Now I'm interested in the evolution of things. Why, why, how come this dynamic enter your life and well because if possible.
Dustin Kane 19:50
So just as we touched on before, but I just have I think in an innate entrepreneurial spirit like I was allergic to the office, job I don't know why I couldn't. I couldn't bring myself to do it even when I was teaching and I could see peers surpassing me, people that I was making a lot more than early on. I could see Oh, now that now oh my buddy Oh, good. He's now vice president of finance or whatever, you know, you can see them. I was happy for them. But I was like, I don't want that. I can't bring myself to do it. So I always dabbled in things. Because tennis by itself. My job was entrepreneurial. I had to get my own clients, I had to give them a product that they really liked. I had to market them to get back. You know, what I did on the court was 40% of my job.
Yoni Mazor 20:41
Yeah. And you own it. Yeah. So you, you own all day, it wasn't like given to so yeah.
Dustin Kane 20:46
It's all you, and if you want to get better and bigger, you have to expand on different things. And how can I get more people onto the court at the same time? You know, there's all kinds of things that are entrepreneurial about it. And so I really liked it. So I dabbled in all kinds of stuff. I did affiliate marketing for a little while. I, at one point, briefly started to try to start a tech company where it was online scheduling for tennis pros. I actually got an investor. It's good because I did it. But it's bad because it kind of flopped pretty early on.
Yoni Mazor 21:21
I think Adam, Adam, Adam from Perpetua Adam Epstein. I think, you know, Adam, I heard I know of him. I haven't met him. Now. We had him in one of our episodes, and he's a basketball freak. And he wanted to develop an app where you can schedule basketball games. Yeah, as far as I remember.
Dustin Kane 21:38
So I designed it for myself. And I worked with the software team and it was really good, because I got to learn. I hadn't, you know, I don't know how to code or anything like that. But it got me into the world of, you know, bringing a team together working on, you know, putting out a whole project scope. And doing this and so that was really fun. And I actually built it and ended up using it for myself for a while. I was just at that time I got there and there were big names that came into the space and they could underprice me and it just became tough. So I got it. And I also probably didn't have the determination I needed to then. I know going back I probably could have made that really work. If I said, I have to make this work. I just think at that point, it was an easy excuse.
Yoni Mazor 22:20
A secondary thing. You know, it was a side to side hustle. And you're you're still committed to your course. And that makes sense. Yeah, we spread ourselves like that.
Dustin Kane 22:28
And, and here's the thing. So I'm big in visualization. So it's like if you I feel like it may sound kind of you know, Hocus Pocus, but stuff like the secret and Think Rich Grow Rich, like those books if you get your mind focused on your end goal, and you have a burning desire for it, you can go there. And I think early on in my life, I really was satisfied with what I was doing with tennis. So all my desires and my like, were all about side hustles. So they kind of stayed in that box. They were like that, as long as they produced some extra income. This is great because that's what my goal was.
Yoni Mazor 23:06
Okay, that was the purpose and you want to watch us achieve that. So you were comfortable with it.
Dustin Kane 23:09
Yeah. And so, but in 2014 I started hearing a lot because I was always looking round about different titles as I saw this Amazon FBA. So I listen to a bunch of podcasts, the amazing seller Scott Volker, I don't know if you know who that is. I listen to him every single day. Just really fascinated by this model. So I said, Okay, you know, basically I had 500 bucks. I thought five, I took 500 bucks, and I had found a product. And I was like, well, let's just try it out. I went through the steps, found a supplier, got some samples, they went back in 2014 you could do all kinds of things. Like I would, I put it up and I was just going step by step to the podcast so I was like, Okay, so now I'm going to reach out to the reviewers on Amazon. So you could literally go find the reviewers, send them an email, send them the product, you know, within two weeks I've got like 30 reviews on this product. And it was in the fitness category, exercise equipment. And it just absolutely took off. I mean, I was sitting there talking to my wife and was like, Can you believe I just sold 20 of these today all over the world and I didn't at that point I feel kike I didn't do anything. I did a lot, but I was like oh my god, this is crazy.
Yoni Mazor 24:33
Magic, the magic of e-commerce. This is the magic of and so just fast rollover.
Unknown Speaker 24:38
Essentially I got to the point where I was like okay, this isn't good. So I borrowed some money from a family friend for $10,000. I didn't want to touch it for some reason. I didn't want to touch my own money. I was like I I don't know why but...
Yoni Mazor 24:55
Magic but you know, let me share with somebody a little bit.
Dustin Kane 24:59
Other people's money might be great for this project for right now. I only borrowed $10,000 so I was able to order a much larger supply, got much better images, just went basically for a part-time gig, I went all in. And that really scaled fast.
Yoni Mazor 25:17
But why was that? So what do you have dabbled into 14? How long 10 15?
Dustin Kane 25:21
It was basically that one product. I was doing $25k- $30,000 a month in revenue. So in a few months...
Yoni Mazor 25:34
Within a year, you basically scaled it up to a viable, sustainable, sustainable business for yourself. So he may give you the confidence to take it more seriously.
Dustin Kane 25:42
Yeah exactly so I did. So that's when I started shifting my mindset to like, I think I can quit my job at some point. Like, I think this is not a side hustle. I think this is something that's gonna replace my income. And, you know, at that point, you know, I had been reading books like the four-hour workweek by Tim Ferriss and just that whole laptop, laptop lifestyle, I really love teaching tennis, I love what I was doing, but I could see the writing on the wall. I wasn't gonna be able to stand on a tennis court for eight hours a day.
Yoni Mazor 26:15
Until you're 65 or 70 or whatever.
Dusitn Kane 26:17
Yeah, and I also wasn't going to be able to go over a certain amount I mean, there was a cap I mean, it wasn't like I was gonna be able to make a million dollars.
Yoni Mazor 26:27
Multiply yourself, you just one person you can book time.
Dusitn Kane 26:30
Exactly now there are probably ways you know, I do teach an online course or something like that.
Yoni Mazor 26:35
Or you build a school or a facility but that's taking it, there's a lot of liability debt involved in and not against.
Dustin Kane 26:43
And I really liked the idea of having kids. I have two boys. So at the time, they were growing up and I really liked the idea of flexibility and being able to be around them. Like if they had a school program I wanted to go to the school program. I didn't want to have to cancel stuff to have a job.
Yoni Mazor 26:57
To be there be there. Yeah, for you a father figure was a big thing because you were I guess, you know, over the years where his mother or father connection.
Dustin Kane 27:04
Exactly. And so I really really wanted that and so by 2017, between 2014 2017 I kept ramping it up, I was expanding my product line on this brand. And I just kept reinvesting money we would take vacations and stuff that we'd never taken before. Nice and so there was that benefit and in 2017 my wife and I, we decided you know, if we can do this I can I can quit my job I think and we can but we really liked we kept traveling back to Kansas City. For all of the holidays. My mom lives here and I have a bunch of cousins and extended family so we'd come back for Easter's Christmas and stuff like this is where we really love. I'm a huge Royals fan. I was raising my boys like an expatriate.
Yoni Mazor 27:59
That helped me out a little bit. I see the player and if he's watching this video instead of what is less a podcast Who's that player?
Dustin Kane 28:06
That's Patrick Mahomes that's the best player in NFL right now.
Yoni Mazor 28:09
There we go, and the Chiefs right correct me for a quarterback and the Chiefs.
Dustin Kane 28:12
Yeah, so I'm ultra passionate like where I would drive back all the time just to go to Chiefs games so I was able to quit teaching tennis full time we got a house that we really liked in Kansas City. We got the neighborhood where we wanted to be in for our kids. That's the right school district, so everything was probably for me one of my proudest moments. Like everything else, I was like yeah, I did it myself.
Yoni Mazor 28:43
You went full circle off essentially as a child, as a kid all the way back but as a business owner and dependent, but you keep on saying we; you and your wife. She was also involved as you also leave her job or just yourself?
Dustin Kane 28:57
So my wife's an artist. So she's also an entrepreneur on her own right so you know, for a lot a lot of our lives neither one of us had...
Yoni Mazor 29:07
Like an artist, can you take me there for a moment? if you don't mind. What kind of artist?
Dustin Kane 29:11
She’s done a lot of really cool things. She's a fine artist. So she does a lot of artwork. I used to have a lot of our work behind me. It's all over the other side.
Yoni Mazor 29:19
Oh maybe she should do a portrait of one of the chief quarterbacks right?
Dustin Kane 29:22
This is a drawing that my mom did. My mom's an artist.
Yoni Mazor 29:27
Drawing. Wow, that was a picture.
Dustin Kane 29:29
I know it's really, really good.
Yoni Mazor 29:31
It's amazing actually.
Dustin Kane 29:32
So yeah, so she's an artist. She's also written and illustrated two children's books and they're on Amazon so wee love that synergy.
Dustin Kane 29:45
So there is some synergy there. So it was really good so that you know, it's you know, we are able to spend a lot of time together which is nice now so that is the best.
Yoni Mazor 29:56
Imagine it is 2017. And when you quit your job though, you know full-time My amazon seller, and you have your own brand. You're working from home or you got yourself an office. What was the dynamic there?
Dustin Kane 30:06
No, I was working from home.
Yoni Mazor 30:07
Yeah, I had I had an office right before the pandemic, that was your lifestyle.
Dustin Kane 30:11
Yeah from 2017. And that was a real shift for me. I was like, wow, I've got a lot of time. I've got a lot of time on my hands here.
Yoni Mazor 30:24
Fill it up in a nutshell.
Dustin Kane 30:26
Just Yeah, I was able to play some tennis, which was nice. I actually helped coach a local high school team here just kind of get plugged in. That was the season kind of short, a couple months, a couple hours a day helping out. So that was really good to help us get plugged into the community, etc. But day to day, I was running the Amazon business, trying to launch new products and that same brand name sort of sort of went in the mindset of trying to be really aggressive with product launches, launching, you know, one or two every month or so. When I first got here, that turned out to be an issue. Let's talk about Yeah, okay. But yeah, so that was that was my new lifestyle I had to I think for a lot of people you have to adjust to that something and we'll go back to the vision to like I think at that time I was my my overall vision was was all about replacing my income from my job. That it was like I was like, Okay, I did that.. And so I'm like, now I kind of got to accomplish.
Yoni Mazor 31:34
Yeah, you start plateauing after you accomplish some sort of a thing you kind of dreamed of, you know, getting some financial independence, doing your own thing. Being able to work from home and have an interesting life-work balance, where you're really independent. So it sounds like you're plateauing so that was challenging for you.
Dustin Kane 31:51
It was quite tiring for me in a couple of ways. Number one, it came right around 2017, and then at that time it was really autopilot. I mean I really was under the impression that this business I didn't have to spend that much time on I mean I was making orders for my supplier sending him straight to Amazon FBA. I'm ordering like...
Yoni Mazor 32:15
Yeah, it doesn't happen to you when you have that nine to five for your own business, you want to do that routine. And that is where an entrepreneur doesn't realize. Okay, so what was challenging for that dynamic?
Dustin Kane 32:29
Well, a couple of things happened at that point. So when I moved here for the first year and a half It was great, the app I mean, everything was what we had dreamed of where we're rolling we're comfortable so two things happen one thing is. I fully admit that I started paying less and less attention to the business because it seemed like it was on and I probably started to work less hard than all of the new people coming on and and there's a lot of new people coming on and there's a lot of that in 2018. I feel 2018 is when the Chinese manufacturers really started coming on strong. I had a full line of commoditized products that you know in other words...
Yoni Mazor 33:16
You have horrible, your product line, your portfolio is horrible, you got complacent you got comfortable. You made it. Yeah, but looking behind your back there's a lot of hungry entrepreneurs trying to make it also and if they do, it's probably going to be at your expense. 100 days to build something that's more formidable.
Dustin Kane 33:32
100% and for anybody listening and watching this that's my biggest takeaway. I wouldn't go back and change any of that because I am a million times stronger and better.
Yoni Mazor 33:42
It's a lesson. It was very important for you to learn. Yeah, yeah, very important.
Dustin Kane 33:45
For me to learn and also it taught me how to. I mean I had to eat a little Humble Pie because it was what I was doing. I was trying to grow that one commoditized product line fast, so just like anybody who's in the e-commerce world you're a lot of times, your next order is bigger than what you had before things were on the uptrend. So I was having to finance a lot of my orders and I had taken out some loans. I wish back then there was some of this creative financing for sellers that exists now. I was using traditional loans where I was taking out, you know $50,000 $100,000 and there's like monthly payback terms that are big numbers but everything didn't seem like a bad idea at the time because everything was rolling. I was waiting so I ended up in a situation where I was basically over-leveraged and then the competition was starting to hit my sales and I wasn't responding fast enough to it. I wasn't coming in and adjusting prices or scrapping products and moving on.
Yoni Mazor 34:50
Moving to cutting your dogs and investing in your stars.
Dustin Kane 34:54
Yeah, I was still treading water and also at the same time I believe that this should be on autopilot. Why is this not going perfectly right now? It was probably a sign for myself a little short on this just for now I was working really hard on it but i think that can happen to anybody when you go from zero sales to $100,000 a month in revenue quickly on Amazon. You can go quickly from 100,000 to zero and when you're in that on that upswing you don't realize maybe like all the wolves are at your door.
Yoni Mazor 35:30
It might be volatile, yeah it might be more of when you absolutely have full of bravado and then that Humble Pie can have a very unique taste in it. Okay, so what was the next issue? What was the next move for you?
Dustin Kane 35:42
So the next move was I knew I had to recalibrate once I was like okay this is an issue I've got these loans to pay off. I'm making a draw I mean that's why I'm living off of is this money we've committed to living off of this and I probably need to stop doing that temporarily. I probably need to keep whatever comes into the company. Let's just keep it in the company, pay off what I owe and reset so I actually got back in Kansas City and got back in with tennis. There's a great club here I was like look, I mean I'm only spending a few hours a day on the Amazon business anyway I probably should be spending a lot more but right now let me get back in the tennis world. I did met a whole lot of great people and actually get to reinvent myself again and a whole new community which was kind of fun. At the same time, I was able to liquidate that inventory. It took a long time that took probably a year or so. I mean it took a while to get everything liquidated, to basically get my loans paid off. So I'm back to scratch, doing a lot of other stuff in the meantime, like I have some wholesale products I was selling to kinda just figure out different ways to do it. And I was like, Okay, what I'm going to do is I'm going to totally reinvent this from scratch now with everything that I know so one of the products I had launched I'd actually gotten. Oh, I didn't even touch on one thing. So when it rains it pours right. So I could see what was coming like, hey this may not be sustainable for me to live off of etc. I was actually in the process because I had this main brand that I was selling. I'd never actually gotten a trademarked all from 2014 on. I didn't really I understand all the stuff that Brand Registry allowed you to do like now. It's like why would you ever not get trademarked. You can't do half the things? At least for me. I was like I don't need to yet. I'll do it at some point. So anyway, I decided around 2018 that I'm going to file a trademark for this. Well, as soon as I filed the trademark I got immediately a cease and desist letter from another trademark from a monster company. It's a company that everybody knows in my name and I hit a wall. Yeah, my name is nothing. It's weird. I guess it's kind of similar, but I would never have guessed it's similar. So I worked with a lawyer and he was like, there's no way you're gonna win this like you're going to spend a ton of money so I had to drop it. At that point I was like now that's like a double whammy. It's like now this brand I've invested so much time in I can't even get the full resources from Amazon now. You know, at that point, some aggregators started popping up so I was like, man, I can't sell now, its kind of limited. Maybe I could do it but anyway, it threw me off but I did have one other brand that I had started launching that I got a trademark approved for. So I'm going to now go full throttle on this and I'm gonna try to build a big brand. And my new look is exiting. I was like, if I put all of my energy into what I know, all the lessons I've learned, I know I can grow a brand and in three years, make an exit and if I can put my energy there I think that's been really attractive. So that's now.
Yoni Mazor 39:15
So in a year you come to that realization in 2018 to 19.
Dustin Kane 39:18
That's probably 2020 in all honesty, I'd spent all of 2019 basically coaching, tennis, managing, you know, putting out fires for my ecom business. And then in 2020 is also when I got on board with Sellozo.
Yoni Mazor 39:39
Oh, yeah. I want to touch that moment also. Yeah, so we can talk.
Dustin Kane 39:43
Yeah. I’m teaching tennis, I did it for about eight months or so. In 2019 and then it's really fortuitous because I was a part of Amazon seller media. Meetup group here in Kansas City actually never attended one meeting. I just was on the email list for them and so it popped up a little thing and my email workflows oh we're located in Kansas City and we're looking for anybody with Amazon experience for a sales job. To my wife I was like you're not gonna believe this. I'm like I'm like I'm the perfect candidate for this job. So I was like I've got to apply just to see what this is all about. I always like to be curious. So I left the club I was working at and started working with them, an unbelievable group of people. It's like my dogs.
Yoni Mazor 40:44
Where are they based ? Tell us a little bit more.
Dustin Kane 40:48
So Sellozo is based out of Kansas City which is just perfect.
Yoni Mazor 40:53
Perfect for us. And Sellozo fans are. Oh yeah. Okay most of us Yeah, okay, good.
Dustin Kane 41:01
Yeah, most are Chiefs fans but yeah, so they're based out of Kansas City. I mean, just to like strike a fortune that that was that was here and so I came on in sales, my counter partner in sales you've met Chris Graham which so we've now started around podcasts to Amazon sellers and a microphone we'll go into that but this is the beginning of my workflow. So this was a corporate job really loosely. It has all the aspects of a corporate job and all that stuff.
Yoni Mazo 41:35
But it's an industry that you're passionate about you know, much of it just fits like a glove and you see how you can help others but you started in 2020 which was over...
Dustin Kane 41:44
I started October 2019 and immediately loved it. I mean I'm talking to other Amazon sellers about what I'm doing. So Sellozo is a platform that helps optimize and automate your advertising so anybody who's selling on Amazon knows how confusing and how much work advertising and doing it right is. So Sellozo is an AI based platform that is really unbelievable. I mean I'm biased now obviously because I work for Sellozo but I've used a lot of software in the past for this and Sellozo is amazing. It's the way it's laid out. Wwhat you can do, how you can organize whatever strategy and optimize whatever strategy you have for your ads how easy it is. It's great so I get to do a lot of YouTube videos we're talking about the platform talking about advertising strategies and I also do the demos for anybody who's looking to do so as I talk to sellers and then we onboard them so I'm actually able to talk all the time I see all these different sellers in different positions and where they are and we get to talk ad strategy and everything about the space and it's been a blast. Amazing Yeah. I mean I've really had fun and so here's the really fortuitous part. In October of 2090 I took the job from Sellozo. At that point my Amazon business it's basically at its lowest point in terms of revenue and I mean it's at the bottom.
Yoni Mazo 43:14
At the end of retention, yeah revenue retention.
Dustin Kane 43:17
And that's the point where it's going to start going up again but as I was a long way away from really feeling comfortable again going okay we're going to live off this again. And in fact I kind of told myself I don't want to. I want to have an exit and that's my new goal and then I'll figure out what I'm gonna do after that. But that's a lot better than the ups and downs. That's the day that's a tough life. Sometimes I love it. It doesn't bother me that much. But when you know you've got a hero month and then the next month you're a little tight it's tough when you got a house and a wife and kids.
Yoni Mazor 43:54
Now it's about you, it's about them you got to make sure they're comfortable then that pinches.
Dustin Kane 43:58
Yeah it does but um so with Sellozo in October of 2019 October I took the job left tennis basically four or five months later the pandemic hit. Yeah, and I would have if all my eggs were in the tennis basket. I would have been in a big problem.
Yoni Mazor 44:21
Would be very tricky.
Dustin Kane 44:22
They shut every club down.
Yoni Mazor 44:26
Right, you couldn't do it.I mean you could but people can't even play with each other to people right yeah but social distancing Yeah.
Dustin Kane 44:31
For months, I mean months and months and months so I was just like this is mean. This is not only lucky but it's all good that this worked this way. Not only that, but now I'm becoming a lot more confident in my role and confident in what I know about Amazon. I started to open my eyes to also like, I'm talking to sellers all day long. I'm like, you know, I sold myself short. I know a ton. I mean, I've I launched this huge business.
Yoni Mazor 45:00
You're what they call, I call this you made from the cut. It's not like you, you're a coder and you can make software and now you're selling it you're made from the cut happens to be working for a software company that helps the cutters or the sellers but from the cut gives you an extra edge and juice with your dedicated service and helping others.
Dustin Kane 45:16
Hmm yeah, yeah. And so then what happened then is uh you know, I've always been a coach. I've always been in tennis so I've loved relaying information taking information that I know and relaying it and you know massaging it to whatever their situation is and I think that's like a that's my skill. I was able to have these conversations and I'm like you know I'm starting to feel like I'm a talent letting people know I'm giving out knowledge I'm like a coach again. This is really really fun. I'm loving it and that's what I kept pressing Chris. I'm like Chris we're running all these Google ads and all this stuff for Sellozo to try to drive traffic and it is like why don't we start a podcast and make a ton of YouTube videos and just talk to people about everything and show everybody what's going on with Sellozo. Meet cool people like you, and get involved and honestly, I've never had more fun in any aspect of my career or environment and not just what that's doing for not only my personal brand, and my personal business. It's just all now and I feel like in a place where I am confident in my community. I know I have this network now that you know things may go wrong but I got the right people to turn to and now. My vision is like I said like looking to exit and then do it again and again, and then also looking to just be in this space visibly.
Yoni Mazor 47:04
The space is maturing altogether as a collective you know you were lone soldier you know getting to the game, right do you experience the high once the booms coming in and the lows, you're able to reinvent yourself and you're in a new dimension where it's much more robust, much more safe and secure. Yeah, it's an interesting balance, you're able to strike it's unusual, and not many are so lucky. Seems like you're a good player and a good teacher. So that's a killer combination and being successful in this landscape. Because you also know, to play the game you are still selling you want to make an exit, you teach others you help others, you relate also on your podcast show. So you have a nice triangle we're in software selling. And podcasting was kind of its entertainment but also educational. And that helps a lot with kind of networking and connecting with people from really all sides and college of the industry so it's awesome. Okay, so I want to kind of package the episode. Then see what we have in the body and then we'll head to the final part. So born and raised in Kansas City went around, you know, growing up all the way to Chicago, and Pennsylvania, then kind of settled into Chattanooga, that's where he finished high school. Much about the sports much about the tennis your father as well was in the industry as well. And then you went to school, right college, you graduated, you started 1999, graduated in 2003 did a lot of playing and got your masters, it was in the world of finance. But then once again after, after college 95 was your thing, corporate route was your thing you handed to the tennis world as a player as and also as a as a coach all the way to 2017 but in between, in 2014 after you you know you did have a few hustles and other things, especially with the software with the during the calendar for playing tennis 2014 you started to kind of open up educate yourself through podcasting, like much like this medium, and you discover the world of e-commerce comes knocking on your door. And it proved to you that it's viable, something you can really grow into. So within two, three years 2017 you're able to really spread your wings and leave the tennis job, relocate full circle back into Kansas, Kansas City with your beloved chiefs. And then 2017 until 2019 Yeah, the ups and downs are able to towards 2019 I hit the lows. Oh, right. And then you enter the world of software and helping others. The pandemic hits attendees Tennessee's completely off the table. And then you are also able to reinvent yourself again with Chris, your partner with the podcast to really reach out and that is really the dimension that you're in today. Is that a fair summary of the case?
Dustin Kane 49:44
Did you take notes?
Yoni Mazor 49:45
No. It's no pad, man. Nothing.
Dustin Kane 49:48
Okay. That's really impressive.
Yoni Mazor 49:51
Thank you. That's kind of what I do. That's the way my operating system works. So thank you so much for that. I learned a lot. It was fascinating. Okay, so now I want to Finish the episode with two points right. The first one will be if somebody wants to connect and learn more about you, where can they find you? And the last thing would be what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Dustin Kane 50:11
Sure so you can find me personally all over social media. Facebook, Dustin Kane, you'll find me. Same thing with LinkedIn Dustin Kane. Dustin Kane with Sellozo, you'll find me on LinkedIn. No problem. Really see all of the videos that we produce for Sellozo. It's not just about Sellozo, it's about everything inside Amazon so you can go to Sellozo on the YouTube channel, you can find me there. You can reach out to me if you have any questions. You can go straight to sellozoo.com and contact the sales team or book a demo. You're going to get me or Chris.
Yoni Mazor 50:48
Nice great guys.
Dustin Kane 50:50
Chris is a good guy. So you can definitely reach out to me in all of those places but hit me up on social media. You can message me on LinkedIn however you want and we'd love to chat about anything. I love talking to people in the space.
Yoni Mazor 51:08
Okay, you want to call a message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there you do carry the entrepreneurial spirit or whatever comes to mind at this point.
Dustin Kaen 51:14
Okay, number one, you can always rebound from anything if you're an entrepreneur you jump in. I mean you can if your goal is to succeed you're going to find a way to succeed for sure. There are going to be ups and downs but don't let that get you down at all. And the second thing I want to mention is to make sure that you set your goals. What is your vision? Really shoot for the stars because if you set it you're gonna hit whatever you're shooting for. And so if that's what I did too long in my life. I hit what I shot for. But I shot way too low. So just shoot for the stars and you can get there for sure.
Yoni Mazor 51:55
I love it. So shoot for the stars, shows that you know you can rebound, so a rebound is also a good element in sports, and trust that as well. Beautiful stuff. Dustin, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure. I hope everybody else enjoyed it.
Dustin Kane 52:09
Thanks, Yoni, good chatting with you.