Going From Finance and Insurance to Growing Brands on Amazon | Liran Hirshkorn | Incrementum Digital
In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Liran Hirschkorn - Founder & CEO - Incrementum Digital talks about Going From Finance and Insurance to Growing Brands on Amazon, also more information about his life's journey. #liranhirschkorn #IncrementumDigital
About Liran Hirschkorn of Incrementum Digital - Success on Amazon requires the right advertising strategy. Work with an Amazon advertising partner who manages millions in ad spend. The team at Incrementum Digital will apply expert methods to increase your sales while saving you time. Liran has been selling on Amazon since 2014. Since then, he has successfully launched multiple million-dollar private label brands. As the CEO of Incrementum Digital, he applies his expertise to empower other Amazon sellers. He also enjoys giving back to the Amazon community through his podcast and E-commerce mindset.
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Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today, I have a special guest. Today I'm having Liran Hirshkorn. Liran is the founder and CEO of Incrementum Digital. He's also a host of an e-commerce podcast called Ecommerce Mindset podcast which also has its own unique, robust Facebook group with the same name. Incrementum Digital. The company was founded as a marketing agency for brands that want to sell on Amazon. So, a really special guy, really great talent. I'm happy to have him here. Liran, welcome to the show.
Thank you. Thanks so much for having me on. I'm excited to be here.
Same here. Thank you so much for your time. All right. So today's episode is going to be all about you. You're going to share with us who is Liran, where are you from, where were you born, where did you grow up, how did you begin your professional career station by station, until you get to where you are today with e-commerce. So, I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Sure. So you want to go back, going far back?
Yeah, the very beginning. Where were you born?
Yeah. So I was born in Haifa in Israel. When I was six years old, my dad was sent from his company to come work in the US. It was supposed to be a two-year contract, and at the end of that two years, he bought a business here in the US and my family ended up staying here as a result. My mom ...
Let me stop for just a second. So, the company, what was it called? Maybe I know it. Is it still around or...?
The company was originally was called Elscint. I think they were later bought by GE, but my dad was an expert at working on the MRI, CAT scan machines and fixing them. He studied electrical engineering and they would send him all over the world. I think at one point he kind of came to them frustrated about growth opportunities in the company, and so they offered him... He was going to leave the company if they didn't kind of offer him a growth opportunity and they offered him this opportunity to come to the US and work here for two years, and so that's how we ended up.
Where was that when we call it relocation back in Israel?
So, you got relocated. What year was that and where did you guys move?
That was 1987 and we moved to Fairlawn, New Jersey. I think he was given a few different options in the US. One of them was New Jersey and I think the company was based in Hackensack. If you're familiar with New Jersey, Fairlawn's not too far. It was also a Jewish community there and so ended up there and for me, I was just starting first grade in the US. I didn't know much English or anything, but I started first grade in the US.
Nice. So, this was what you said in 1987?
That's what you started first grade. And then growing up, you probably went to the public school there and Fairlawn High School?
No. I went to a Jewish school growing up, so I went to Yavneh Academy in Paramus, and then I went to MTA, Yeshiva University High School.
Where is that? Is that in the city?
That's in the city, Washington Heights and my senior year there, I convinced my parents to let my dorm in the school. So, I lived there my senior year, which is a really good experience living in the city as a 17-year-old.
So as a 17-year-old, you go live in New York City pretty much?
17-year-old, yeah. Living in New York City. It was a fun experience. Not sure I would let my kid do that. I was carpooling to school with a few other guys and they were a year older than me, so by the time I was a senior, they had graduated, so I convinced my parents based on that to let my dorm in the school considering I might not have transportation or whatever. So I went to MTA. From there I went to Queens College.
Before we jump into college and actually, we're going to attach along to the year. So your father kept working for Elscint the whole time, throughout the whole ...?
No, So after two years...
Which is 1989, right?
Yeah. 1989, my dad bought a business.
What was the business?
He bought an appliance repair company, and basically from there on was self-employed, running this company and through my mom is actually how we got the opportunity to stay in the US because my mom was a Hebrew teacher actually at Kushner Academy in New Jersey, and she was Jared Kushner's teacher - fun fact - and she worked with a lot of the Kushners and the family and through her, we were able to get a green card and get sponsored because she had kind of a special skillset where you need somebody out the US, and that's what led us to get citizenship.
So, when your father bought the business, is it after you guys were on track to get citizenship, or this is before? Because that's maybe risky if you buy a business and you're not sure if you going to be able to legally stick around. Do you remember?
We may have already been on track to get the green card or already had it, I'm not sure, but I'm assuming we already could stay here beyond his original visa.
Okay, that makes sense. All right. So, father's an entrepreneur at some point. Runs his own business and your mother, she's teaching. And then once you head into the college/ university years, growing up anything entrepreneurial you did or unique, or you were mostly like a geek at school? What was your dynamic growing up?
One of the things I remember doing in elementary school as an entrepreneur is selling candy in the school. My brother would buy it. My brother also went to MTA Yeshiva University High School in Washington Heights. My brother would buy Red Hots and those Alexander the Grape and stuff for 10 cents each in packs, and I would sell them in school for 25 cents each and that...
And your brother is older? Younger?
Older. Six years older, so he was in high school. I was still in elementary school, and that was one of the first entrepreneurial things I can kind of remember doing until I think I took away enough business from the school gift store or whatever, where the school had it shut down and other people started to do it too. And eventually, they announced you can't sell in the school anymore.
Yeah, like Amazon. You're now a trusted seller and they crackdown and they take the market for themselves.
Yeah, exactly. I got shut down, but I remember that as far as one of the first things entrepreneurial, I guess, that I did.
Nice. Got it. Right. So, let's touch on university years. What year did you start?
I think maybe I graduated around '99 from high school. That makes sense. Yeah, around '99 and then went to Queens College. At Queens College, I studied media and I was in their honors business program. They had something called BALA, which was like Business and Liberal Arts. You had to get in separately outside of just being in the school, and I was going through. My goal was to finish school very fast, so like in three years or less so I took a lot of courses. I had an internship, I think, at the President's office at the college which gave me additional credits. I had a professor that liked me in business and through him, I got an internship at Citicorp Investment Services, and that's what kind of led to...
Citicorp, I think they had their headquarters actually in Queens, Megatower. Is that the place you had to go to?
Correct. No, but I did go and have some meetings at that mega tower, Long Island City. Growing up, I always wanted to be a stockbroker. My dad had a friend who would day trade, and like a kid in the nineties, the market was kind of like on this crazy bull run.
Yeah. I just want to give a little bit of context to that. You started university in 1999 and that was the heyday of the beautiful days of the dot-com bubble. There were IPOs everywhere. Crazy money being flushed in, so I guess that was the spirit of the times for you, but beyond that, anything on the history side? On the things that you read about, you learned about, about the stock market? What was the passion that was driving you into that space?
Yeah, I think the passion was... You know, as a kid younger than that, probably when I was like 10 or 11, my dad had a friend who was a day trader, and my days off, my dad would spend time at his house. They were friends and on my days off from school or some days that I had off, I would go and sit next to him and watch what he did, and at the time you were not even doing the trades online. He would call up the broker and he had CNBC and he had the ticker and he would buy a stock. He would buy a thousand shares of stock. It would go up to $1 and he would sell it. And if he bought a stock at $50, $50,000, he would sell it. He made a thousand dollars. That was his goal.
Gordon Gekko is in the flesh for you.
Yeah, exactly. The market was doing well, and I think as a kid, being 10, 11, this kind of gave me like, wow, I want to do this. I want to make money. I want to be a stockbroker. I want to be trading or doing something in that kind of realm, and this opportunity that I had in college was kind of leading into that because it was an opportunity to be an intern for two financial advisors at Citicorp Investment Services.
This is what? After the second, third year in college, or what was the actual year?
This is probably my second year, maybe. My second year in college.
So, 2001-ish after the crash, after the bust?
Yeah, I believe so. Yes. After.
Interesting times. Very interesting times.
And actually, I remember working there also during 9/11, so yeah, it was during I think, and after maybe that I was working there. I remember a lot of events from there, but yeah, I had the chance to work with two financial advisors, and ultimately it led to me getting into a career and getting a full-time job at Citicorp Investment Services at the beginning of my working career.
So, when you graduated...let's stamp the year you graduated and I guess entered into the professional world with Citi. Take us there.
Oh, well, almost. I ended up dropping out of college. I was doing so well at Citicorp. I became their sales assistant. They sponsored me for my Series 7, Series 63, 65. I eventually got my Series 24, which allowed me to supervise people that have the Series 7, life and health insurance licenses. I became a sales assistant to them. Then Citibank bought another bank called EAB. There's EAB Plaza if you know in Uniondale. That was originally called EAB Plaza that Citibank took over, but they bought another bank and they had another branch location in Great Neck and I became the financial advisor there. I think I was probably the youngest financial advisor in the company; I may have been like 21, and I was working in Great Neck New York, which for those who don't know, it's kind of like an affluent area. And so, I was also ...
All this time, you stayed in Washington Heights or you already either shifted to Queens? What was your ...?
So now I was living in Queens and going to Queens College, I had rented a basement apartment when I was going to school and I was working at Citicorp. Eventually, I started taking courses at night. Eventually. I just couldn't keep up with both the full-time job and going to school at night, and I dropped out of school just to pursue the opportunity to be a financial advisor with Citicorp.
That makes sense, yeah. You're in it for I guess the career path, and if that was already established, school sometimes becomes secondary. So, what was the year, I guess you dropped out and said, that's it. I'm at Citi full time?
Yeah. I don't know. That was maybe around - could be 2003 or so. It was not that far away. I already had probably three years' worth of college credits because I was doing 18,21 credits a semester, including summer. But yeah, I just had this opportunity and I took it.
Got it. So, you grew into Citicorp, got all these licenses. You moved into the Great Neck area. Very, very affluent. I believe they have nice also a bay area with all these yachts and boats. Very a unique kind of gem in the New York area. Take us to Citi. What was the progression for you? Where did you peak and what was the next station?
I was there for I think a few years at Citicorp. Eventually, I went to CHASE, and then CHASE got bought out by Bank One. A lot of people left and I ended up at HSBC where I was there for the next five years, and I also moved over to the banking side. I was working in a bank branch as a financial advisor. I eventually moved over to the banking side and kind of worked my way up to be a bank manager. I was at HSBC for about five years.
Hold on. Let's summarize Citi. You started dabbling with it around 2001, 2002. 2003, ready go full time, but one was a switch from, I guess, Citi to you said it was CHASE afterward.
Yeah, I think I was at CHASE maybe a year, like around 2004. And then in 2005, I went to work for HSBC. I was there five years
Until 2010-ish. Along the way, at one point with HSBC, I left and came back. so entrepreneurial kind of continuing to talk about entrepreneurial all during this time. I was also interested in making money online and learning different ways in how to market and do things online. So, I was on Warrior Forum and just learning. I had taken Frank Kern's Mass Conversion 2.0. I went to his live seminar in San Diego. I was just learning, learning. Learning internet marketing and trying different things, some that had some short-term success, but nothing with long-term success from flipping domain names...
So even though you're in massive corporations and the financial side of things in the financial mecca of the world in New York City, your entrepreneurial bug was simmering inside and leading you to all these tracks that you were experimenting and trying out.
Yeah. I was still working on side hustles that I wouldn't say anything greatly materialized into anything successful enough to leave my job. In 2008, I met a guy and got involved in a network marketing company. and
You're talking about MLM? Multi-level marketing?
Yes. Multi-level marketing company. I was one early people to get in, which I think can help, and basically, the company didn't have all the marketing tools available for you fully built out. It was a very small company. I found a guy on at the time maybe it was not called Upwork, Elance, or whatever it was, and I had a website built and I started to market it, and I had success with that. I became the number one enroller of people in the company. I think I had one of the biggest downlines I think it's what it's called in the company, and I left my job. When I left my job, my boss told me to look, you have an open door here. if things don't work out, you can come back.
Well, when you left, the dynamics were this is financially so rewarding I feel confident leaving, or I believe it will be so rewarding, I see a little bit of money coming in? What was the shift?
I was making enough money where I could leave my job basically, and try to grow it and pursue it further. So, then I started to travel the country with .... actually, some people you might know of were involved in the company. Jim Kwik, you might know of. He's wasn't as well known then, but he was involved in the company. Wrote the book Limitless, and he's a more famous today public speaker. At the time, he wasn't well known. David Wolfe, who also was known in the health world of raw food. Written books, et cetera, were also involved, and so I would travel with them a lot across the country to where my downline teams were, and I built a lot of it online. We would do these meetings and get people that they knew in, and built up this thing until the company basically couldn't sustain it. They didn't have enough capital to keep it going. The founders developed the products, but they didn't have, I would say a lot of business savvy. They brought in a CEO and it was kind of too late at that point.
And you said this was around what? 2008, 2009.
I also want to bring some more context into the mix. Another meltdown financially. The financial world had a big enough meltdown. The financial crisis was started by mortgages that collapsed. So, in the spirit of the times, you have this other hustle that's kind of growing, shifting. The financial world seems a little shaky. I guess that also was part of the dynamic involved in what's going on. You said that you guys peaked and then the beyond really didn't fulfill, and there was, I guess, maybe discords or the need for you to shift back into finance.
The company, that network marketing company wasn't able to sustain. I mean, they wanted to do things very eco-friendly. For example, they had glass bottles, but then they shipped liquid in glass bottles across the country in the winter, and the bottles would burst and they just had issues, logistics, and finance issues. And so I went back to banking and I did that until 2010. In 2010, I decided to take my entrepreneurial kind of pursuit further and decided to investigate online into how I could kind of marry my internet marketing skills that I now had, and I built this whole sort of network marketing business online, and how could I marry my skills of online with my background in financial services? And I discovered an insurance forum where there were insurance agents that had independent online businesses doing that. So, I somebody who became kind of a mentor to me in that field and started a website, building an online insurance agency, and that's where I went sort of all in on entrepreneurship, 2010 working for myself full time.
Explain to me again or for the audience, what were you bridging? What was the, as we said here, what was the [foreign language expression; 20:14]? What was the innovation here?
Well, the innovation is that as far as the service I provided, so I was focused on high-risk life insurance. So the idea is that today you are a healthy guy and you want to get life insurance, it's pretty easy. You can go online, you can get a quote, you get a medical setup. But if you have, you know, multiple sclerosis, it's very important on which company you go with because there are 20 different companies that you can go with, and each one is going to rate you differently based on how they view multiple sclerosis and the risks associated with it. And so, there's a benefit to you in consulting with somebody who understands how each of these companies’ rate somebody, basically an agent, where you might not need an agent in a lot of other cases. You can kind of just go online, get quotes and not have to talk to anybody.
But in some sense, it was kind of bridging the gap between companies like Select Quote™ that every time you called, you got somebody else versus like a relationship with one person, and the ability to direct you to the right company. And for me, the way I had contracts with 30 insurance companies, so I made pretty much the same money whether I sent you to MetLife or another company. But I learned basically through the main broker that I worked with that was based in California, they had a guy there who knew he had a book of how all the companies rate. And so I would initially call him a lot and kind of ask him when I had client situations. And then I learned and kind of developed expertise into which company to go to for what situation, and so I built a business where I wrote a lot of content. First, I wrote myself and I hired writers and I did YouTube videos. You can still find them on YouTube targeting SEO traffic around these specific issues that people might be searching for online where they kind of need the help of an agent who knows the field a little bit. So that was kind of the value proposition specializing in this high risk.
One of the other benefits to high-risk insurance from a business standpoint is that you might be paying $1000 a year for insurance, and when you have somebody who has issues, they might be paying $5,000 a year for the insurance.
But the premium might get jacked.
The premium is higher, and because the risk is higher at the same time because the premium is higher, the commission to the broker is higher. Commissions were somewhere around 80% to 100% of the first year's premium, so commissions are really good. If you sell somebody an insurance policy and they're paying $3,000 a year, you're going to make $3,000. So that's what I did basically from 2010 until I got into Amazon at the end of 2014.
So almost four years into this business model. Once again, the business model involves the insurance industry. You're able to bridge it and create on a digital space. Get new clients and new business through content. Deliver content, and also have a specialty track where it's for high risk. So you carved a niche.
Yes. And you had to. Basically, in the business, I had to drive lead-through content because insurance costs per click on Google are extremely expensive. At the time, it was maybe 20 bucks a click. I imagine today it's significantly higher for sure, and so the cost for generating leads was much more cost-effective by writing content and driving free traffic, as opposed to paid traffic. In this particular niche, you could not compete with the big insurance companies who are taking up all the space in the ad space. So, it's all content-driven, and being in a niche kind of helps you stand out, and it's easier to rank in terms of SEO for content when you're...
You have to be known for that niche and it is very clear and apparent, so you get the traffic right in and it converts and you go from there. So, 2014, I guess, is a breakout year for you where it's the moment I usually say e-commerce. You were in e-commerce in a way already, but e-commerce as we know with Amazon at least comes knocking on your door. So take us to these moments. What happened?
Yeah. So I saw a course on Facebook in 2014, an e-commerce course. It was called Drop Ship Lifestyle. It still exists. I took the course, started a Shopify site drop shipping. I did kid's bikes. Started dropshipping it from manufacturers in the US that would drop ship to the client. Got a kind of taste. Did pretty well that fourth quarter and then really started to learn about e-commerce. I didn't know anything about Amazon or FBA or ...
You still kept your business, or this was a side hustle that started moving?
Yes. Still had the business. The nice thing about the business too is even today, I still get commissions from the insurance policies that I sold seven years ago.
Yeah, residual. So, I had money coming in. I started Amazon as a side hustle. In the first quarter of 2015, I learned about arbitrage. The dropshipping was good, but the margins were very small. I learned about Amazon FBA and learned about the arbitrage model. I didn't know anything about private labels and started to go out to stores. On the weekend, I would take the stickers off the pricing with my wife in the living room, send stuff into Amazon. I got an amazing education, and I was kind of hooked to this opportunity to make money while you sleep, versus my insurance business, which I generated leads and it was how many people can I talk to in a day, as far as driving the business? I was doing it from home. I wasn't planning on kind of building out an agency or hiring people to work for me. It wasn't on my mind at the time, and so I saw this opportunity. By the summer of 2015, I saw Amazon becoming a great opportunity and what I did was I outsourced all my insurance leads to this mentor that I originally met and he basically sold the leads and whatever he sold, we just split the commissions 50/50. I was still able to generate, and basically, the business was to some extent on autopilot at that point. I already had traffic; already had leads coming in, and so it was just a matter of somebody to talk to at least. So I could have hired someone instead of just outsourcing it and split the commissions 50/50. I was able to not have to take money out of the Amazon business and keep rolling money that I was making back into it because I still had my lifestyle, which is I think a lesson here in terms of starting on Amazon is ...
You bootstrapped and compounded your income or your profits straight into the business because you had the other vessel, the financials to support you.
Yes, exactly. And I think I ended up selling him the insurance websites, I think in 2016. So I still basically had all that. And then I had some money coming in also from the sale of it and that helped me fund getting into private label, as well as selling the insurance websites. I guess in the summer of 2015 is when I started to kind of go all-in on Amazon. and I think sometime in 2016 was actually when I launched my first private label products. I ended up launching two brands. One I sold, but I still get royalties from patents that I developed, so I ended up developing some patents. At the same time, I got connected to Andy Simons. I was in his private label course. and met him at a conference in 2016 in Orlando. Chris Green did a conference. Met Andy in person and kind of developed a relationship. And eventually, Andy asked me to join him ... invited me to a private label retreat that he did. It was $5,000. He told me just to come free because I developed a relationship with him. I helped them develop some of the content for it, and after that, he asked me hey, let's partner up and help me improve some of the training that we're doing. He had his course, et cetera, and that's kind of how I got into the world of going from just being a seller to also putting out content and doing more.
I actually looked back recently at some of the posts that I made when I first got into Amazon in 2015 in the ScanPower group actually, and even then, I was posting, sharing, just something I kind of have a passion for. When I look back, even on the insurance side of things I was on a podcast, my friend who mentored me and got me, he got a small sort of override on the business that I did so he sort of helped mentor agents as well, and I was also starting to put out content with him. So I think it was just something I enjoyed because I look back and see myself doing it in the insurance space, and then eventually I ended up doing it in the Amazon space. The parallels of running an insurance agency to now running an Amazon agency, I see a lot of parallels in terms of what I did before and what I do now.
Yeah. The first I guess chapter doing it was your Bootcamp or prep course doing it in this arena in which you're exploring and succeeding in. But I guess there are two components here. I guess you were able to identify that you have a comfort zone. One of them, the first one is creating content. You did that in the digital, insurance, and digital insurance business, but also you gradually started doing it with e-commerce and selling on Amazon, so creating content. But the second thing I would say, or component that's important to distinguish is the community approach and being involved in a comfortable community. You're part of it and then you contribute to it, and that is a huge dynamic that goes around selling on Amazon, which is vital for many, many, many entrepreneurs and sellers out there. You also have a component with insurance so that is something that will become more prevalent with e-commerce.
Yeah. I mean, I had some of that. So, my friend, Jeff Root is his name. He developed a forum for agents, and I remember even being very active in that forum, posting videos. He had a podcast called Sell Term Life podcast. There's an episode you can go back and listen to, and he interviewed me about how I got thousands of leads a month in the insurance business. I was starting to kind of move more into some of that role within the agent space, so I see that's something that I subconsciously must enjoy doing or have a tendency to get into doing, but definitely, the way I drove my business in the insurance space was around content. Different than the content I put out today in the Amazon space because it wasn't social media content. It was mostly article writing.
Professional world in a niche. It's very organized and it has its traditional channels, as opposed to where we are today, where social media, so you are getting to the professionals, but so many want to become professional. So, it's almost between two worlds - the ones who are in it, the ones who are about to go in it, and then they get sucked into it and they join the ride. Okay. So, in 2015, 16, you began getting into the content side and the community side. Take us, what was the next session for you?
Yeah. And so I would say in 2017, Andy and I started to develop some services. Until then, we pretty much had courses and started to develop services.
Let me touch on the courses. The courses when you were developing them, the mission was? What was the priority, that we're making money, or is it more of an educating or kind of both, a mix of both?
Andy already had a course, and his mission has always been to help sellers. Developing a course, yes, it's also a business and you also make money on it. But I think you have the marketers would just put together free information that's out there, versus people that are doing it and sharing what they're doing. Both Andy and I were selling seven figures and sharing the things that we were doing on the private label.
So, you both felt very comfortable with it because you're in the cut, you're in the mud, you're in the arena and just sharing your experiences, which you think are valuable. Of course, that takes a lot of time and resources. So you try to monetize it as you put it out there.
Correct. We did a lot of things that other courses didn't offer. So, one of the things we did was if you were in our course and then we had a monthly paid group that was $77. If you're in a monthly paid group, which you got free with the course for a few months, and then if you wanted to stay in, you paid. One of the things we offered was you can submit this sheet with a potential product that you're considering. Give us all the data - your costs, main keyword, et cetera. We asked you for some data because we wanted you to learn and do the homework. and Andy, myself, and Andy's nephew Nathan who ran a lot of our operations and partners with Andy today on his selling business, we would meet every week for two or three hours and we would go through those submissions from anyone in the group that wanted to submit. We would look at the product, look at the keyword and we would give them our …
High-level analysis, and then you package that report, so they can take it for their consideration.
We would kind of give them either green light or red light or concerns about launching this particular product.
Almost like investment banking, so to speak in that little niche world. Do you invest in this or not invest in this as an entrepreneur?
During that time, one, we gave confidence to a lot of sellers to launch products, and two, I think we saved sellers significant money and new sellers that like, no, you don't want to get into cell phone cases. You don't want to get into this. You don't want to get into that. Give them the red flags and why. Or like hey, this product is good, but there are not enough search volumes. It doesn't have much potential, and we would give them those kinds of facts. And then they ...
Extremely valuable though, the pitfalls and not getting burned. That's major. You can't even calculate that because that never happened, but it's valuable. 2017, you head into I guess, the next station with Andy.
Yeah. So 2017, I was I guess during this time learning more and more about Amazon ads. Since 2015 when I started developing the private label, I started to learn more and more about Amazon ads. In 2017, I saw things getting more complex with ads. I saw Amazon adding a lot of new things that you couldn't do before, and I saw sellers having more challenges with it. And I said to Andy, Andy, we should start helping sellers with this. We should start. I was talking to him about it for a year because we didn't know exactly how would we go about doing it. I mean, we're both running our brands. How are we going to go about helping? And it was about in 2018, we started offering ads management to sellers. The story behind it is that I originally hired two guys that had experience in doing it. We had about five clients. I saw early on, I didn't feel they were on top of new changes enough, and after two or three months of having them run the accounts, I said to Andy, I'm going to take over running these accounts myself. I don't feel good about promoting this service because I'm not fully confident in the guys that are managing this. I don't want to push it forward unless I take it over. So I took it over. I ended up managing maybe 20 accounts myself, which was way too much, and then I ended up hiring, then looking and finding and hiring more of the right people. One of them is currently my COO and also a partner in the company, and I originally put out a Facebook post and said hey, I need some help. I need some help on some PPC. Who's interested? And a few people raised their hand. This was by 2019. I was running most of the PPC business and I had a majority stake in that PPC business. At the end of 2019, I had one of our clients asked me to partner in the business. I said, yes and kind of separated ...
Was he a partner on the retail side, on the brand, or retailing activity?
On the services side of the PPC business, I had a partnership with Andy but I had a majority stake in it because I was also running it. At the end of 2019, one of my clients asked me to partner with them
With your client? You're confusing me a little bit. Are they your clients?
One of the ad clients approached me,
They hired you for what? They're your clients and they hired you for what? What do they do?
For PPC management. They are a seller.
They are a seller? The retailers that hired you to do PPC management? They said, let's a partner. Okay. What kind of partnership?
They were in the business because they had a history of scaling other businesses and they felt they could help me on the business side of things in terms of scaling and systems and processes. So I separated the PPC business from Andy. We are kind of just agreed to separate it. I'm amazing friends with Andy today. We talk almost every day, very amicable. I had a majority stake in it anyway, most of it and so we separated it. And to some extent also separating, I just put more of a focus on developing my podcast, my own Facebook groups, so there was more of a focus on my content versus joint content for whatever
You're spreading your wings. You started in a certain community, a certain environment. You're going to get momentum, more experience. You're maturing, you're developing, you see things going in the direction that you're more passionate about, and you mature out of it.
Yeah, and I would say to some extent, some of it happened maybe planned, maybe by accident, in terms of how it happened, but
E-commerce evolution. One day in e-commerce is like 10 years in conventional stuff, so things are always moving.
Definitely. So we started to kind of focus more on the agency at beginning of 2020. After a few months with this partner...
When did you say we once again, so your client or retailer became a partner into your advertising agency?
Correct. After a few months working with him, I saw it was not the right fit. I learned a lot of lessons along the way, and I ended up taking him the business back fully, and Brian, who was originally the first employee that I hired in the business...
Brian. You met him in the community, correct?
Brian. Met him in the community.
Yoni 39: 59
You asked who's the talent here and he raised his hand, so to speak and you guys started working?
Yes. Brian had a very successful wholesale business on Amazon, a seven-figure business. He was in my private label course and he had hired me a year before to personally coach him on building up his private label business. So we had a relationship and basically, he raised his hand because he wanted to learn more. It wasn't about the money I was paying him at the time to help. It was the opportunity to learn more PPC and work with me essentially, which was amazing. So I kind of bought out this partner last year around April and Brian put some money into the business and bonded a stake into the agency.
What's Brian's full name? Brian what?
Mandel. Shout out!
Shout out!! He’s awesome, and I've been working with him for several years now. And since then, we just put a lot of focus on the agency, and business has done very well.
When did you guys do about the name into the business?
At which point did you dump a name into the business, and what was the name? We already announced the name, but I want to put it in context.
So, yeah, so when the partner that I had partnered with me in January of 2020...
He called the business on Zonmarketer. Amazon marketer, Zonmarketer. He came up with the name and then because I had to buy him out, I had to change entity and I had to change the name. So in April last year, I changed the name to Incrementum. I came up with Incrementum because it means growth.
Yes, yes, exactly. incremental growth. Incrementum, and it's kind of what we're trying to do
Incremental momentum, right? It seems like a fusion of incremental and momentum. Incrementum.
Yeah. I mean, it's a Latin word and it means it means growth in Latin, but I mean it's the core of what we're trying to do for clients, and Amazon has continued to drive that growth. And so ...
I just wanted to touch on this. So you did in it April of 2020. That is pretty much when the pandemic hit.
It's not a so obvious time. So what's going to happen and transpire with e-commerce?
Yes. I would say it was an extremely stressful time for me because even with this partnership, it wasn't easy to undo and figure out how would I do it, or even have that conversation. and it was very, very challenging. I had some people that supported me, including Paul Raffleton who represented me with legal documents and how to do things the right way. I kind of look back and we have moments you have nobody on social media. People only see your highlights. They don't see the...I'm sure you're used to …
Turbulence. The turbulence. Turbulence is going around a lot of moving parts and security. Am I making that move? Am I going to succeed big? Am I going to fail big? You don't know. It's not having a McDonald's franchise where there is kind of a guidebook. Just do this and this and you'll be on your way to printing money. Your trends are much, much different.
Yeah, absolutely. So that was a very difficult time for me, but looking back on the whole thing, being approached by the partner, I connect all the dots, looking backward and everything was meant to happen and everything turned out to be ultimately I think positive, but I had to go through some tough moments. And then in the last year, we've had a lot of growth and success with the agency. Our team has grown. We now have over 60 people on our team, and it's been growing and along with that come challenges too.
So let me get this straight. Now you've got 60 plus members worldwide where when you started it was only you and Brian, right?
Last year in April, it was maybe five of us in the business,
So it has grown within a year or so. That's phenomenal.
Yeah. We've grown a lot. Yes, there are growing pains along the way, too and the skillset of just running a company is just surrounding yourself with great people and knowing what you're good at, knowing what you're not good at. Today we had a meeting on company values. We have them, but we need to refine them and make them better. You kind of start to need more of this stuff. You don't need it when you have four or five people on the team.
You have the structure and how that structure builds the ability to have a clear identity for all the stakeholders involved, and that's art. It's part of the organization and refine it to your belief systems and passions and drive. So that's the stage where you are today. It's more mature, it's more sophisticated, more strategic. Time horizon, you have got to consider that. It can't be overnight other than expansion.
Yeah. Yeah, no. Today I don't necessarily, I don't hire every person, let's say a VA position or certain things. I'm not meeting with every person in the company every week at this point, so you have to think about having people that you trust, and that the message that you want to put out gets distributed throughout the company and what you're trying to do. It's different from again, when you have a team of five, you have everybody in a meeting and you say what you want to do, and it's easy. It's just done versus I guess a bigger organization. I wouldn't necessarily say big because there's plenty other ...
They're growing - the growth mode and the destruction mode where it's more an enterprise-level, at least for your niche and industry. All right. So it seems you feel more maturing and feel more balanced and more comfortable in your position now after having all these experiences. So I've done a lot. I appreciate it. It's great stuff. I want to kind of package all together what we have so far. See if we've got it straight.
So, born in Israel. At a young age, relocated to the United States, I think it was 1987. And then, in 1999 you go to a university in Queens, and then around 2001/2, you already got an internship with Citibank. 2003 until 2005, you are already with Citibank full time, and then you transfer within five years. Essentially, you're still in banking, but you had a little stint with CHASE, but for the most part with HSBC. Got a few stuff on the line along the way. In 2010, you really kind of discover a niche for yourself in the insurance industry, where it's a combination of digital and life insurance, especially with the high-risk models, and you also find the ability to create content to grow the business and lead the business and be a part of a certain community of professionals. And that was early insights into what you're going to experience later on when you head into e-commerce. In 2014, you started as a side hustle, mainly starting drop shipping. Moved along the progression into arbitrage, and then along to private label. That started formalizing around 2015 in the summer, then you felt comfortable enough to detach out of your other business, even though it was kind of helping you financially to be stable, and you invested and compounded your growth into the Amazon space.
You get involved with the community as you meet Andy Simons and you follow the lead. You become part of the community and then you will mature within it, because you guys have essentially become partners on a few tracks on the content creating side, and then a support side, the services side, the solution side, all the way to about 2018, 2019. That's when you mature along the lines and you realize that you were very passionate and adamant about the marketing and advertising opportunities, because I want to capture something important that maybe slipped through the cracks. In advertising in 2015/6, Amazon and what is today, it's heaven on earth. It's unbelievable how robust and complicated and advanced it is, but you seized that momentum. You saw the evolution that's going on, and you became very passionate and focused on that need to help scale that for sellers and brands out there.
Yeah. I would say I saw two things. I saw a problem and I saw a solution. I saw a problem and the opportunity basically to help sellers with advertising, where I just saw it getting more and more complex and Amazon rolling more things out and sellers that we were working within our course and our group were looking for solutions for help with this. So I saw kind of what's coming and I saw the opportunity to offer this as a service.
Do something about it, yeah. To take action. What I find interesting is that you start taking action, you create a team, and then it feels it's not to your liking. So you roll up your sleeves and say, everybody out of the way I'm jumping on this. To really be involved in the fundamentals and really start their nucleus again, you being the nucleus and then spread it out. So of course you had the dynamic of partnering with a client that was called Zontracker. After a while it wasn't the right dynamic for you, so you reshuffled the whole mix, and then April of 2020, in the heart of the pandemic, Incrementum Digital.
Not to be confused with Zontracker. I think that's another company, Zonmarketer.
Zontracker, sorry. Apologies. Zonmarketer. So it's a good thing that Incrementum sounds much fresher and I think that probably on the name side, it's a good decision. So April 2020, the height of the pandemic and Incrementum Digital comes to life, and you have Brian with you and a team of 5. Within a year, you guys are over 60, very robust, experiencing tremendous success in the right industry that economically speaking was on the right side of the coin during the pandemic. So we're all very, very privileged and lucky to be in this position. Did I capture everything so far together?
Yes. April last year, I would say we had about maybe 20 to 30 clients. We had five people on the team, so some of those same clients that started with me in 2018 were still clients, but they moved through a couple of entity names, so for them, all they saw was a different charge on the bill, on the card, but behind the scenes, some of this stuff was kind of happening.
Yeah. So relationship and the bonding, maturing over time. It's an individual level and those bonds are still maintained. All right. Beautiful stuff. Great stuff. Thank you so much. I appreciate it. Now I want to get to the ending of the episode and I want to focus on two little things. The first thing will be, if somebody wants to connect, know more about you, where can they find you, so give them a handoff. And the last thing would be is what did your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listen out there?
Sure. So the first thing is my email is Liran@incrementumdigital.com. I'm very active on LinkedIn and Facebook and have a Facebook group as well so you can reach out. As far as my message and inspiration is I think it's knowing that the more challenges you face, the more opportunities you have and I feel to reach new levels, you have to sometimes beat the dragon at the end of the level, like playing Mario. And sometimes the more desire we have in life, we're asking for more challenges. So I think it's us entrepreneurs who dream more and want more and want to do more, want to solve a problem, just understand that you're signing up, for asking for more challenges. I think sometimes persistence and overcoming challenges are more important than anything else because somebody else can be smarter and more talented. But if they have a challenge and they quit, they're not going to achieve the same as somebody who's persistent and willing to push through. I certainly learned that over the last year. And so I think the inspiration is that if you have the attitude that you don't give up and keep following your dreams and have a vision, then you can find your path to success.
Liran, beautiful. I love what you said about dreams equaling challenges. Acknowledge that, a face that, beat that, you're going to win the game. So that's great stuff. Liran, thank you so much. Much continued success to you and the whole team. I hope everybody enjoyed it. Stay safe and healthy. Till next time.
Thank you so much.