How to Create Real Growth Selling on Amazon | Jamie Davidson
Jamie Davidson of AMZ Insiders talks about How to Create Growth When Selling on Amazon. In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – Jamie Davidson - Co-Founder of AMZ Insiders - The New Model of selling on Amazon that doesn't require you to waste your time or your money.
About Jamie Davidson of AMZ Insiders
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Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk today I have a special guest today I'm having Jamie Davidson. Jamie is the co-founder of AMC Insiders, which is a leading coaching program for Amazon sellers that are looking to scale. But also he is a nine-figure seller on Amazon as well. So Jamie, welcome to the show. Hey, thank you, Yoni. appreciate you having me. A pleasure, really. So today's episode is gonna be all about you the story of Jamie Davidson. So you're gonna share with us? You know, who are you? Where are you from? Where'd you grow up? How'd you begin your professional career until where you are today. So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Jamie Davidson 0:43
Yeah, sure. So, yeah, just starting off with a little background. Is that correct? Yoni? Yeah, I mean, so I won't go in perfect chronological order. Right now I'm in Atlanta, Georgia, we've got a large warehouse here, about 30,000 plus square feet. And although most of our inventory is all at Amazon, we have got a good-sized warehouse here for some of the other platforms we sell on, I'm originally from New York, and actually Syracuse, New York, I went to a kind of a traditional corporate background initially. And I'll get I'll jump around a little bit. But I was an army officer. for college. I went to the United States Military Academy at West Point. So I was an army officer earlier in my career, my 20s, and went to grad school MBA and was, you know, in a bunch of different corporate, you got your degree at West Point? I did, yes.
Yoni Mazor 1:39
Wow. pretty serious stuff. Okay, let's backtrack a little bit. Once again, the Syracuse area you were growing up? And like growing up, do you do anything that involved entrepreneurship? Or? No, what would your parents do for a living? A little bit?
Jamie Davidson 1:52
Sure. Yeah. So it was kind of like, I'd say, we were kind of middle class, maybe upper-middle-class family up there. My father was an attorney, he was actually a racecar driver, professionally, when I was a kid, for a lot of years, and he had kind of entrepreneurial background, too. I remember he had all these dry cleaners he owned, and he lost a few things that fail to like you know, some, like a cookie store in the mall, and a, what else, we have a couple of restaurant investments that, you know, so I was always around that a little bit, you know, and it wasn't I didn't consider myself an expert, in course, this time period to obviously, it's different than today, when you have like, you know, the internet and all these abilities or the barrier to entry was so much higher than for anything, right. So it was like, you know, entrepreneurship, then kind of looked a little bit more like, you know, some cases like, of course, like franchises, or get into things like that all this stuff didn't exist
Yoni Mazor 2:48
So was it a franchise or did he start to open try to open something on his own, like a great big franchise based in Atlanta? Yeah, that was that. I think there's a big franchise based in Milan, I think it's great American cookies. It's based out of Atlanta.
Jamie Davidson 3:00
The cookie, when they opened it was, was kind of based off a franchise, but it was their own. It was like there was David's cookies, I think kind of as a franchise is kind of a well-known place in New York. And they, and they opened, you know, similar version, but the dry cleaners was a franchise brand as well, too. So, so yeah, no, and again, as a kid, I'm not really focused so much on his stuff. I'm more like playing sports, and, you know, my friends in school and everything, but I, in the back of your mind, you probably, you know, it's kind of there. And even as you know, he's still a practicing attorney, even even though he's older. You know, so I always saw I was kind of around that of kind of, you know, being your own boss. And, you know, kind of just competing building your own business.
Yoni Mazor 3:43
Yeah, building clientele, you know, building your brand new niche that you're playing in. That's, I guess, something you had to absorb early on with the family. Your mother, she worked also or?
Jamie Davidson 3:51
My mother worked a little bit earlier on, but a lot of times she was Yeah, we had, there was four of us, myself and my three siblings and a couple, my older-younger sister and an older brother, and so we she mostly took care of us.
Yoni Mazor 4:06
Nice, nice. Okay, so you grew up and you finished high school? Was that your hometown?
Jamie Davidson 4:09
Yes, up in Syracuse, my hometown outside that little area called Fayetteville, a little town outside of Syracuse, New York, which is up in the cold of a lot colder than I am now. But then, yet, I decided to go to West Point. And I had some family history of military, my family, to my father grandfather had done similar so uh, but yeah, I decided to go there. Like, I like the kind of competitive nature of their way where you're the gentler West Point.
Yoni Mazor 4:38
What year did you start at West Point? What was the year?
Jamie Davidson 4:43
Well, yeah,, I was 1990. I graduated 94 at West Point. 99.
Yoni Mazor 4:46
Yeah, so that was a storm that's around that timeframe, right.
Jamie Davidson 4:49
Yeah, exactly. My freshman year was what's called your plebe year was the first in January that you’ve kicked off all the kind of the Air Force, sorties, and everything.
Jamie Davidson 5:00
I stayed at West Point at the time. And we're at the time, the last major war had been Vietnam. So at the time at West Point, when I was there as a freshman, they were telling us, hey, you're all going to be there, because their mindset was like, Hey, this is going to be a very long thing. But of course, was different now after I when I was in the service, like 97-98 now there was like,
it was actually my soldiers in my unit, you know, a lot of smaller things like over in Somalia, over and some things in Haiti, there's, there's a lot of different things.
Yoni Mazor 5:30
So what was your role? And you're all you guys were infantry. What was your role?
Jamie Davidson 5:36
Yeah, so we were logistics officer, I was based, like, refueled aircraft and set up fuel lines, I had, you know, kind of in the field before we supported a ranger battalion. That was with us just and then there was a special ops Task Force One as the Nightstalker is the guys that went into get been locked in with the aircraft. So we would always go in a little before them to set up, you know, kind of in the different areas to make sure things could function on their own.
Yoni Mazor 6:00
So how does this work? You do four years of college in West Point, right? 90 to 94. And then you have to commit a few years to the service?
Jamie Davidson 6:09
Yeah, exactly. So you have a once the West Point, once you start your junior year at West Point, you can no longer quit, you know, you can't transfer leave. you're committed. Most people that make it that long, or you know, that's not a problem. But you have a five when I was there, it was a five-year active duty commitment after graduation. And then a total of eight years, including reserve time, as you know, the minimum. So that's how it worked.
Yoni Mazor 6:35
Yeah, so so let's get the chronology straight. So 94 until 90 or what 2001. You stayed in the service?
Jamie Davidson 6:41
I actually got out around 98. So it was a little bit they let us out a little bit early because they were actually drawing down the service a little bit, because when I was at West Point, Bill Clinton came into president at like 96, and they were shrinking down the actual active army, so we had a little bit of an excess officer. So they offered us some of us out which, which was good for me because that, you know, my buddies had gotten out some of them. They said the economy was going well, and people are getting jobs and everything else.
Yoni Mazor 7:09
Peace times, peace times in a sort of speak.
Jamie Davidson 7:11
Yep, yep. Exactly. God, right.
Yoni Mazor 7:12
So 98, after, you know, graduating or being, you know, finishing successfully, or your military service, what's your next station?
Jamie Davidson 7:19
Yeah, so as a military officer, there's these recruiters, your military job recruiters, and they run that specific focus on with called Junior military officers, you go there, they have like 50 companies there. And they'll set you up with like eight of them to interview. And so I did that and met this really good company. It's called MBNA. America bank, which was a credit card company is now owned by Bank of America, but they had actually several Westpoint guys and Air Force Academy Naval Academy guys that were kind of like the think tank to help with all their strategies and figure out how to optimize revenue and minimize risk at the bank. So it was good for us. I went there for about six years. It was interesting after I was leading big teams in the military in my 20s. Like, and I had like a 50 person platoon. And but when you go to the corporate world, like they're like, yeah, you're, you know, you don't know how to do this. So you start really small again, you start like, you know, individual contributor, nobody can boot camp. Oh, yeah. But they're like, you know how to use Excel. I'm like, Yeah, I know how to use Excel. They're like, No, no, we're talking like, you know, you'd have to like break Excel. I'm like, I’m smart, ill figure it out. It was like some heavy analytical experience and getting after it, but then
and then over time, slowly, like, after like a year or two, they give me a little team, I do really well, like that three-person team, and we did some cool stuff back then they give me a bigger team. So like a lot of things in life is if you do a good job with it, though, you know, more opportunity will come. So I did it...
Yoni Mazor 8:49
So where were you based on when were you living out? You're living still in New York State or somewhere?
Jamie Davidson 8:54
You know, good question. So in the military, I was stationed down in Savannah, Georgia, the Fort Stewart area. And so from there, I moved to Delaware, which was a big, big credit card, financial area at the time. So So yeah, I was up there for about 10-12 years, got a couple of different jobs. That's where I did my Masters in Business there at university, Delaware, and then...
Yoni Mazor 9:16
So you did your masters during the 298 until 2004?
Jamie Davidson 9:19
Yeah, I did it like in two, I forget the days like 99 I thought I was gonna leave and go full time to like, you know, the, bigger business school like Duke or something. But the bank agreed to pay for it, you know, to kind of stay on so they paid 100% of it, which was cool. But I jumped around it, you know, a couple eventually. I was there I think for six or seven years. Eventually, I then went to Home Depot recruited me because I recruited military officers and into this program
Yoni Mazor 9:46
Hold on so in 2004 or 2005 you dabbled with Home Depot?
Jamie Davidson 9:49
Yeah, I think I was I think it was the early 2000s. I'm trying to gain, I'm getting older now.
Yoni Mazor 9:53
It's interesting. It's also Atlanta-based as far as I know.
Jamie Davidson 9:56
Yes, exactly. Is Atlanta-based. They call me up, you know, these different recruiters would call you up like usual, it'll be other banks, right? Like, hey, Capital One, you know, we want you to I was like, yeah. And Home Depot called me. I was like Home Depot. I'm like, I don't think so. Not wearing like an apron going around stuff. And then at the time, I was making probably like $80,000 a year or something or $70,000 I forget $75,000 Which to me was pretty good money in my, my 20s and, and then the Home Depot. Like we're paying like six figures plus to get generals like, that was at the back. I got my attention. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Let me go to the conference room and call you back. Yeah exactly.
Yoni Mazor 10:31
So, you know, what was the proposition? What was the role?
Jamie Davidson 10:35
The role was at the time the guy from Bob Nardelli was the number three guy at General Electric. He had been there and he left around 2000 Something like that. Yeah, yeah, those times you know, your stuff. You're like, Yeah, I got to interview you. Next. I learned more about all your stuff. But yeah, so Bob Nardelli was like, there was like, I remember there was like three top guys that GE that were supposed to become the next guy right? Like him and Nardelli, like lost out to Yeah, right. So and then our deli got, you know, so he got some crazy, you know, $25 million package to come to Home Depot after the founders were stepping aside. And who Arthur Blank who owns the Atlanta Falcons and they brought Nardellii and in our daily is like a super hard-charging intense. And aggressive like his dad, I know, his dad got a military background, but he was a very, like, you know, GE had everything process-driven. So he was trying to bring that into Home Depot, which was like a total culture shock for Home Depot, because, like Home Depot was, you know, very kind of good old boy, you know, like, sir, customer service focus, but he was, so he came in, so there was a culture clash, but part of bringing that in, he wanted to bring in, you know, kind of guys with more education and more background. And so, you know, I'll kind of fit that mold along with some other people. And they're willing to kind of maybe technically overpay for that position we were in. But to try to build those guys in the idea was bring us in for store experience, run a store for like, a year or two. Kinda like the military, you know, you do it for a couple years. And then and then to put us into different roles within the Home Depot. And then we will have that experience. So yeah, I did that. Which was
An interesting, really good experience. It was like drinking from a firehose, I mean, Home Depot, I think it was like a $70 million store. It was like a little craziness, all the stuff going on. You're working all the time when everyone else is off and on holidays and for mornings on Monda.
Yoni Mazor 12:39
I mean, in the past 20-30 years Home Depot has boomed into digital means they're doing amazing things. So I gotta you know, you came into the boom era where it's really getting it's um, it's put for hold on Yeah, it was good I was in that environment store you know, I was up in a tub come down to Atlanta for part of the rotation but then they run the store was back in, in Delaware area. And you know, that was like, it was like, this is a good experience. I know I definitely don't want to do this for a long time. This is like you know, this will kill me. So and we'll walk through it a couple more things we can jump back here without you.
Yoni Mazor 13:14
So I want to go station by station. So okay, so you got the bag you got home depot is the next station.
Okay? You definitely thorough Okay, if you're not gonna let me skip over anything. All right, I need to unpack it. So this is where I spent about a long period of my career. I'm also not the company but the industry until I got into Amazon. Which is there. There was a company called Kaplan it's called Kaplan Test Prep. It's known for like LSAT and the see okay, with a K it's it's owned by the Washington Post. So most a lot of college kids know that or you know, for the LSAT prep all about. So for-profit education business, just preparing people, you know, to go-to for the standardized tests, you know, whether it's the G mat for business school, or MCAT for med school, or SAT, all that stuff. So, and it was brought home depot, they saw that experienced military, they're like, dude, make you a regional director run a region of the company.
Yoni Mazor 14:13
What year was that they reached out?
Gosh, 2000, 2006 maybe adding 2006 somewhere? Yeah.I was like, Oh, this is cool. It's like all the stuff I know. But I don't have to deal with any inventory. At the time. I was like, this is like Yeah, exactly. There's a lot of like smart kind of quirky people a Kaplan like, they're all like, a lot of them are like a genius test takers are all like 99% not all of them, but a lot of them you'll be ninth percentile test-takers and, and I always said Okay, you guys maybe like, really good at these tasks. But, you know, but I'm better at business. You know, like I can help you on the business side, and there are some other people so it was a nice balance, but it was a pretty It was a cool environment, a lot of really good quality people and so there they're kind of similar back to my MBA days, like you do. And I ran the region for a while. And after a couple of years, they promoted me to like report directly to the CEO. So they called us territories around like, the northeast of the US. And then they gave me some international markets over in Europe, Middle East, and Africa.
Yoni Mazor 15:19
So what was your involvement in actually, we hit a spot here with it. And I'm curious about so holiday is on SAT side, which is domestic here in the US, but what can they do on the global level Caplin, for example?
Jamie Davidson 15:28
Yeah, so we had an office in London and Paris, and there were two other and then you do some deals in other countries from there. But there are a couple of other businesses that were part of this too. Besides the test prep, there was the English language business. So like in the EU, in the UK, like in London, first of all, the G mat is big. So the actually SAT too, there's International, there's a lot of American schools overseas, too. But the English language was massive in London as my British director would tell me, she's like, Jamie, if people want to come here to learn how to speak proper English. I mean, not like your American English. British English. Yeah. Yeah. So they were proud now there was that mostly, it was mostly that some sap which wasn't huge, but like a lot of the business school stuff was pretty big to the G mat. But you know, not as big as the US but decent.
Yoni Mazor 16:16
Got it? This is part of the exercise over there overseas is to do the AC T's and come to the United States and go for college. Was that part of the route?
Jamie Davidson 16:29
Yeah, yeah. Cuz like a lot of these, like, let's say, x paths, and people that are over in these countries, you know, a lot of them are their kids are there and they're at, they're going to most likely come to the US for college. So, so Yeah, exactly. There was thinking back that was the primary aspect. But again, it was definitely more niche than just business.
Yoni Mazor 16:4t
Yeah. God, okay, so So you were doing this from 2006? Until which year?
Jamie Davidson 16:52
They're expanding it. And it's only that 2000. Yeah, around that time period of 2010. That's it? Yep. Yeah, that was it. And then I stayed in this industry up until I said up until we get into the Amazon e-commerce stuff. But I was, but also what happened there was so, I started having some investors reach out to me something. And basically, at that point, it was a an investment banker connected with me, and I didn't really know what really what an investment banker was, or private equity, didn't know, I knew what those terms. I'd heard of those terms. I didn't really know what it was. But so I had this investment banker reached out and said, Hey, we should grab lunch sometime. I was like, Yeah, sure. So I met with them. And he was still in the Delaware area, or Yeah, I was still in Delaware, staying in Pennsylvania, Delaware. And I was traveling all the time, up to Manhattan. It was based up in Manhattan. And you know, I travel obviously, Boston, New York, London, all that stuff. But so he was like, Hey, you know, What, are you doing there? He's like, What do you mean? He's like, well, he's like, well, you're probably not, you know, he's like, actually, this is, you know, full disclosure. He's like, he's like Kaplan's run by a lot of Jewish guys. And you're not Jewish. So you're probably not going to be the CEO there. I kind of laughed, I never never thought of that. But he goes, up. He goes, and there's, you know, I know those guys, I sell a lot of companies to them by you know, but they're kind of a bunch of weenies. He's like, you should be running your own company, you know, or this at the other. And, of course, I'm like, you know, kind of flattered, but he was like, he's like,
Yoni Mazor 18:21
Well, I think you have a Jewish last name. Davidson is a common Jewish name. As far as I know. Bill Davidson. He owns he passed away. But he owned the Detroit Pistons. And he has a big okay. He's a billionaire.
Jamie Davidson 18:31
Yeah, I should have tried to put that over on them. it’s all good to be careful, a lot of really good people there. And it's a really good quality company, it still is. But again, I was putting the pieces together kind of what why was this investment banker interested in necessarily, but it was interesting. So he said to me goes, Hey, would you mind if I introduced you to these private equity companies? And for him I was almost a lead magnet, he would message these private equity companies and go, hey, I've got this talented young entrepreneur, or young, talented young operator, not newer, I think it’s gonna be a future CEO. would you be interested in meeting with them? And they would always go like, Yeah, sure. Anytime, anytime swing by some time, and these guys will be in, you know, Chicago, Boston, New York. So I would say
whenever you're in our city, let us know we'll set up a time. And some of these were like some of the biggest private equity companies in the country. I mean, up in New York City and Chicago and by like I said, and so the more I'd go meet with these guys, the more I kind of be like, okay, I kind of joke like oh, this is where all those Harvard MBAs are in the Wharton guys have been hanging out like I wonder where you guys all disappeared really ago. So but they would all be up there. They'd be like, they always be late pretty cool guys, and very smart. But they'd be like, you know, we bought these five little companies and we're always looking for someone to you know, help us run them and, and
Yoni Mazor 19:57
Hold on. Let me understand the play the plays that you're you know, you're the really good operator. Experience in the military had experience in banking experience, in retail experience in education, they can package that into one of their investments. That was kind of the play?
Jamie Davidson 20:09
Yeah, exactly. I call it's like being a hired gun. So a lot of times it by these companies, and sometimes it's still true today, right? It's an entrepreneur that can get the business from zero to 10 million or 20 million or 30 million. So not like massive companies, but you know, nice, and they in the private equity buys a majority of it, and now they're trying to get that company, let's say from 30 million to 100 million.
Yoni Mazor 20:30
And that's the shoulders, you got the shoulders to lead?
Jamie Davidson 20:33
Yes. So yeah, there's private equity typically will bring in a couple of guys that can do that. So that's what, you know, just kind of you framed it well, they looked at my background, and Okay, you know, probably not the background, we're going to give you a $200 million company to try to get to a billion because you haven't proven that yet. But we think we can give you like a $30 million company get us to 60 or 70, or 100 million. So yeah, that's what took me two. So anyway, the point of that story is that I then got an offer from a tutoring company to be technically the number two, although it felt like number one, I was the chief operating officer to run that company. And with that I had a founder was, it wasn't, technically it was the CEO and title, but really, his dad had been running it. So they brought me in as a CEO, CEO, they brought in a CFO, and we were, you know, and then I brought in a bunch of guides, you know, men and women who had worked for me to kind of, you know, scale this thing, exactly what I described the other from 30 million to about 100 million, which this was the same industry, I knew as a tutoring company education, but it was, you know, not as big as Kaplan. But I had all these models, and it was like, we knew the strategy, we just need to scale it. And so yeah, that's, that moved me to Atlanta. That company is based here in Atlanta. And so I moved my 2010.
And so in 2010 My wife and then my wife and three kids. three boys myself, so we all moved down to Atlanta. And because my wife two months in was like, why don't we move here sooner? I like the one. I like the weather here.
But where are you based out of?
Yoni Mazor 22:13
Teaneck, New Jersey.
Jamie Davidson 22:17
Oh, you're in New Jersey all the way?
Yoni Mazor 22:19
Yeah. 10 minutes from Manhattan.
Jamie Davidson 22:22
But, yeah, so that brought me as far as the private equity deal, you know, even though I always say, you know, from a job perspective, you know, like, you can be the CEO of a company and, and I still was an employee, I was still like, a high paid employee because I reported to like, the Board of Directors, you know, Yeah, I'm not an entrepreneur, truly, I can be entrepreneurial. It's like an intrapreneur, or whatever, you know, it's like, you can do a lot of cool stuff. And again, there's, I have a lot of my buddies to this day that has done really well doing that, like in the healthcare space. And, you know, because there's a lot of money at stake. But it's it's a trade off still, right. It's like you don't have full control. And when there are personality disagreements and everything else, you know, tat the end of day…
Jamie Davidson 23:16
Similar thing, another private equity coming in, we actually want to have known for years back they had, you know, I was the CEO at the current company, this other one, one of the CEO, so it was like, oh, mentally, that's kinda like my, my little corporate ladders, like, Oh, that's the dream, or I don't want to be that I want to have that CEO title, like, and not like, you know, I launched my own company, and I call myself a CEO, but like, a real SEO. And so I, so yeah, I get this offer. And to to run this. It's a foreign, language learning business or business for children. They teach kids how to speak, you know, Mandarin, Spanish, French, Italian. I was struggling a little bit financially, a little bit of a turnaround. And, but it was, you know, good opportunity, all that, you know, but everything else. So I accept that, that opportunity. And was that 2010 Yeah, 2010- 2012 around that time period. So the challenge that was that they wanted me to move to Chicago was the whole idea of that company was based out of Chicago, they had units in DC. I was trying to expand the business to Atlanta. The company was struggling a lot. I thought the company was like losing like, I told me I was losing like a million dollars a year when I got in, but they're investing in and they want to turn around. And you know, they're paying me really well. But I got in the business was losing about $2 million. It was like over $2 million a year, a lot of, I took from that one. It's not a lot of fun to do a turnaround because I like grown businesses and that one was like, like how do you restructure How do you lay people off? How do you do this? How do you know and then at the same time, grow without a lot of money? So we actually got that business back to about breakeven, and about a year good.
Jamie Davidson 25:00
Yeah, a year and a half time period, and still is still like a little bit of a disagreement to myself and the investment, And you know, again, they put all they'd lost a lot of money into it that I'd learned kind of in the thing. So getting back to even I was like, hey, that's pretty darn I think it's pretty good. Absolutely, exactly. And so yeah, for anyone out there private equity are a lot of good people out there smart people, but they are pure economic animals, at their, at their best is what you just described, like, so don't be surprised, like when you meet, because they're always like, super friendly. And they're always like, we're super patient, where we're the patient investors that are going to give you time to water your little business and see it grow. If you check out their website, if any private equity always has like, usually has like little plants on it, you know, because they want to if they're gonna buy your company, right, like buy GETIDA. They want to soften you up and let you know that you know, they're very nice to worry about. It's a hub.Yeah, but once there's some storms around, you know, it can be very punishing. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. Exactly. So that one was, it was gonna have to move on one way or the other, because they knew they got a little upset that I wasn't going to move to Chicago. And my wife was like, I'm not going to Chicago. Why the weather sucks and, and I was there for a year and a half running the business. And it was like, there's no way I'm moving my family here. Like I like going there for the food. And, you know, it's a pizza. Yeah, yeah, it was, it was cool, the visit and go, but I just and I know people that are from there that live there love it, right. It's like the greatest thing in the world. They're like, Oh, my God, it's amazing. But I'm like, you know, a lot of those. It just depends where you're from, and everything else. So for me, Atlanta was pretty simple. I kind of for me, it's comfortable. So it's like, we're not moving to Chicago and, and financially didn't make sense to because, you know, the cost of living these areas. Sometimes the math just doesn't work anyway. So, but when I lived, but I moved to Atlanta, this is the Amazon connection here because people are like we talking to Amazon today. Are we talking? Whatever, right? Yeah, but the connection was, so I moved to Atlanta, you know, Chief Operating Officer, that of that, that company, that tutoring company, and we live in this little Atlanta has a lot of these, like really nice gated neighborhoods, they're like, you know, it's again, where you live in New York, New Jersey, and it would cost like, a bazillion dollars. But in Atlanta, it's like Atlanta, Dallas, some of these areas. It's getting a little pricier now, but it's not nearly as expensive, right? So you kind of live like a king a little bit. People all feel like they're a big deal. And these neighborhoods, but it's a little gated golf course neighborhood, you know, real nice, but so we have our own home and next to our home, like the homes are pretty big land is probably like, you know, 40 feet apart is my next-door neighbor is a Chinese native who guy Jason, his wife. He's got a young daughter who's the same age one of my sons. And he's like an IT consultant when I first meet him. But when I first meet him, he's also like selling stuff out of his garage. Like he's got stuff out of his garage, like what's next going on here. And so he was selling cell phone cases out of his garage, and I didn't really know like eBay. And then I heard a little bit it was like, Oh, he's selling on Amazon. And then about like, a year later...
Yoni Mazor 28:21
What year was that?
Jamie Davidson 28:23
2011 I think he was Yes, like 2011. Yeah, so and so 20 by 2012. Like it was really starting to take off and it was like, so I would hear him. I like to stay up later at night. I'd be on my back deck or porch. And out here. I'm him on his back deck and porch and he would be he's not that big, but he's he can be loud. He's like, he's talking to Mandarin really loudly, you know?
I’m like what the hell you doing. So I'm like, Jason, what's going on? We became buddies. So I go over for a drink and teach them how to make a proper drink. And the Hey, what are you doing? What do you got going on? Oh, I'm doing this on selling this on Amazon or I'm doing this and I was like, I whatever one of my buddies like someone's saying, My buddy sound on eBay. It's like, that's not hustle. Yeah, yeah, no big deal. But then it started like going and so I'm like, you know, what's going on with this? So that business starts taking off pretty quick. So it was like, you know, he got to multiple seven figures really quick.
Yoni Mazor 29:24
Is he selling his own brand or reselling?
Jamie Davidson 29:27
Own brand, own brand got into basically private label before that, like, he was like definitely a hustler. Like he was doing retail arbitrage like, you know, not even necessary with Amazon. So it could be with originally was with eBay. It was like, on Black Friday, he would go buy up like his computer monitors that you know, whatever the deal was, and then he would resell it on eBay. So he had that even though he was making six figures Plus, you know, in his IT consulting,
but he always says to me like, oh, Jamie, you're such a big deal. You're such a big deal. You know, Chief Operating Officer blah blah blah and I'm always like, shut up, dude. What are you doing over here with your money? So he was anyways, he got big quick. So if no one really knew what was going on with Amazon back then like, again, to this day some people don't quite understand. So people thought they're ordered from Amazon, right? They thought like you're buying something from Amazon themselves and Amazon, right? You didn't know you're buying it from, you know, next year. So the time itself actually, I say cell phone cases actually correct that originally it was the iPad cases, whereas his iPad was the original one. So. So yeah, and the thing about these, the reason why things like iPad cases, especially cell phone cases, and I think you're to this day is like the most competitive category, that and supplements, but the reason why it was because it's like super light. And the margins are really high. Right? very lucrative. So yeah, so basically, he got Yoast taken off and I could see was a real business. And I was like, interesting, interesting. Okay. So from that period on, like, he asked me to get me basically offer me one point to get involved, really on at first I said, No, because I was like, I got three kids. And I got like, I can't, I don't know how much risk I could take personally, like, hey, let's take less, they'll make less money. Because even if you're even those scenarios, where you're making money, you're not pulling money out of the business. Right? So whereas the private equity deals, they were given me a lot of, you know, I made like, half-million dollars on one of the deals, including bonuses and stuff, but that was for the family that was like I need you know, we make between, you know, a couple 100 to a half-million dollars. That's pretty good. But that was kind of my max, I couldn't do any more than that. Probably glass ceiling. So to speak a little bit. Yeah, you could technically sometimes those project deals they give you like, these crazy, like, you know, yes, if you at the time you sign it, you don't realize it, but the once you run in the business like it's impossible to hit, you know, if you hit this target, you get, you'll make 3 million. And once a while, those things come to fruition, but a lot of times more times, you know, they don't but so we talked about it a few times. And then he you know, it just got me convinced like this guy knows what he's doing. And there are things like, you know, as far as the business experience, like he was an IT consultant, really smart guy, figure out how to automate the business, but you know, didn't necessarily know how to like hire people and do some of the things.
Yoni Mazor 32:22
And there's no infrastructure upgrade the organization.
Jamie Davidson 32:24
Yeah, there's another person, another partner, Jason or not Jason, guy, Brad, another Chinese, worked for Coca Cola here in Atlanta. So basically, those guys got involved in basically, they invited me into invest into the business and get in. So now the Chinese, they told me, hey, there's two ways we can run this business the American way, or the Chinese way goes, we're doing it the Chinese way. I was like, Okay, well, what does that mean? It was a Chinese movie. Yeah, it means like, it means like, we're not messing around like we're not, we're not going to go. The put it bluntly, it's like, doesn't mean we're not going to ever do anything, the right politically the right way. We're going to do what it takes to be successful. And we're going to take the shortcut of time. So that means, you know, whatever is most efficient and quick. So, you know, so that was I was like, first he said that I'm like, I don't really know what he means. But sure, quick, but you're like, quick and dirty on the marketplace level. Yeah. Like if you go to like an if you have a business idea. I'm like, hey, Jason, we got we have a five-page, you know, we have a 10-page business plan. So let me walk you through. Like, I don't care about let's have a drink a back of a napkin. You know, let's try it. You know, that's kind of the the Chinese way I got it for it. Yeah. So it was now the thing there, which was the health on the Chinese side, as we knew, so I got involved in the business.
Yoni Mazor 33:41
So what was that year you came in? This is the moment I call that e-commerce comes knocking into your life and just whoops
Jamie Davidson 33:45
Yeah, it's really like 20 that was like 2013 I think it's like 2013.
Yoni Mazor 33:49
So that was on the verge of your last year being you know, you know, employed.
Jamie Davidson 33:56
Yeah, yeah, yeah. So around that period. Initially, I've been helping out more like on the peripheral like hanging out and doing some stuff but then really make the jump over there. 2013 and you know, the thing about a couple of things with Amazon again, early on, like very few people knew what was going on the company Amazon themselves. I'm trying to think the other things like now to whenever a platform and marketplace evolves, the entrepreneurs figure stuff out faster than the platform understands it. Right so it's sometimes like the loopholes can be massive and then you just and when there's money at stake people will figure stuff out very quickly in a global market. And so we figure stuff out you know, especially through China connections and so we knew how to your Austin the other top some of the biggest players in the space now knew how to you know our brands one of the biggest one we have two brands now but you know, our largest in the Amazon, the cell phone accessory space, but so are the other competitors too, but are all using like similar tactics then which were like are definitely completely banned now by Amazon, but you know, Amazon wasn't an always takes Amazon a couple of years to catch up.
Yoni Mazor 35:05
It was like a wild wild west. It's a land grab, you grab your land, you know things a little bit, you know, wildish anomaly. Amazon comes in, as a sheriff says, Okay, now there's the rules. Generally, you know.
Jamie Davidson 35:14
Yeah, exactly, exactly. We met with Amazon, a company, we'd always meet with them, you know, every year, once or twice a year, usually up in Seattle, but we'd meet him in Las Vegas to at the CES conference, the big tech conference out there, usually in January, and they would come I remember having dinner with them two, maybe three years ago now. And we're at this Michelin restaurant. And Jason and I are there. And Jason tells the the VP at Amazon says, you know, if we followed all of your rules, we would have no business. And the Amazon guy goes, Yeah, we know. We know. So but yeah, we teach and coach people with this stuff. Now. We, describe it differently than what to do you know, and how to make sure nowadays, you stay within compliance and all that stuff. But there's just a different level, there's kind of this balance like you need to be aggressive in his business to lean forward. If you're I'd like so how we run our Amazon business now today is very different than the past. But you can still you know, you can be successful and do well. But you want to make sure you're obviously you're within you know, the old Terms of Service.
Yoni Mazor 36:21
So okay, so 2013 you hit in the business was doing what, six, seven figures already? And then you come in and it's breaking into the eight, nine, or what was the dynamic there?
Jamie Davidson 36:29
Yeah, so the business got to the business broke eight figures like very quickly. We got to about 2013 14. We were like in the $25 million range, something like that. We got to 40 million pretty quick. Basically, there was another partner we brought him we were at, like 20 million. There's a guy that about a $5 million cell phone business and we bought his brand. We brought him in. He brought it in M&A. Yeah. We grew both those brands to eventually, you know, $50 million brands each. But at the time. Yeah. So what it kind of went, it was a little bit of a plateau at certain levels, like 40 million for a bit. Maybe for your two, We're at 60. We're at 60 million. We hit like a real plateau. And my buddy Jason was always bored with the business. It was like, Yeah, yeah, yeah. So funny. He was, you know, he was a little bit bored with it. Like, literally, he'd be out. Like, I'm like, What are you doing, man? He's like, I'm gonna go play golf. I don't know. I don't feel like. And then he's like, you know what? This is kind of a little side story with he goes, let's I want to start a biotech company. I'm like, Really? Why? Why, He's like, Oh, just because I think he's like, listen in China, right? Now we can build this company. And China, you can start it, build it and take it public. Like in less than two years. I was like, Okay, interesting. And so this is like this lesson learned along the journey. So he goes and does this somehow. I'm trying to help him with some parts of it. He, he puts I didn't invest money into it. Now he puts in a million like really quick. He raised like $10 million at $100 million valuations or something real quick. He got but he, he got caught up with a couple of people that were the wrong people in China. And
it was a bust, the thing went bust like immediately, like, you know, so he lost like a million bucks, like pretty quick. And after that, the lesson learned was two things. One, he became more passionate about our e-commerce business, because like, that was a lot of money. But the second thing, which was kind of became one of our mottos, one of our catchphrases would instill this day I use it, which is he said, for now on Jamie, we're only gonna do business with people we like and with people we trust. And he's like, if we do those two things, the money will come we'll be fine. So like, so he kind of learned that lesson, you know? Yeah. And the hard way. Yeah, he paid you pay the tuition to learn the lesson. Yeah. Yeah, I think people can relate to that, whether it's, you know, whether you're an employee or an employee, or whatever else. So, you know, even now, there are all these opportunities out there, we try to spend some time and see like, is this somebody that is a good fit? And, you know, a lot of times they're not people aren't a good fit with each other. So, so yeah, from that, from that point on, we got to get refocused the big thing with the Amazon business for us, which is different, you know, when we teach people and help people build their Amazon business, usually, it's like, you know, husband, wife, or, you know, a single entrepreneur or a couple, you know, a couple guys get together. Ours a little bit different cuz we were at scale at that point. And to we were kind of stuck, though, at that level at that kind of $60 million. Mark. Yeah, yeah, that's obviously big revenue, everything else, but we have a whole lot. We've got you to know, so we make 15% margins one year, but if we don't…(inaudible.)
Yoni Mazor 39:50
I gotcha. I gotcha. Okay, so I want to touch a little bit about AMZ Insiders, right. So it seems like you know, you have your retail game all established. You’ve got good partnerships up to serious levels, and AMZ Insiders sounds, you know, like a coaching or educational platform or you created? What was the story that How did that happen?
Jamie Davidson 40:09
Yes, what happened was in 2017, it kind of ties right to the end of this part, which is Jason to get from, we realize a scale the business really big was to go, Jason, him and his wife, Sarah and their daughter moved to China, because we had a small team over there. And for anyone listening, if you have your own Amazon business, I would equate what we did with what you'll probably what you might want to do, or other people do in the Philippines typically or could be some other people do it elsewhere. But because of you know, Jason grew up there and connections there. He moved over there to build our team out in China. So a lot of the stuff we did in Atlanta, like our marketing, we went from like a 15 person team in China. Now we have over 200 employees there that run all of our stuff. And then we have about 40 members here in Atlanta. During that same time period, we saw this machine-like, you know, while we're doing this stuff, and like we're learning and we're experiencing, and we're, you know, we're doing well, obviously, running the business, we saw the emergence of all these, like coaching programs and stuff, we're like looking at these guys, like, Who are these guys, we don't even know who these guys are, we know who our competition is, as the real guys in the space, none of these guys are them. And so we said…
Yoni Mazor 41:17
So in other words, the levels you're playing, which was pretty much top upper echelon, you're saying, you know, we can probably create educational content that will really help propel the ones, you know, the ones trying to really scale on to those dimensions. Was that gonna the mindset?
Jamie Davidson 41:31
Yeah, exactly, exactly was like, we do two things. One was, and again, we get, we don't get into a business because we're, you know, unless we think it has a good opportunity, we can add real value. So we were thinking of the space, you know, in terms of, can you grow the service side of a business, you know, to 20-30, whatever million-plus dollars if you, and then whether it's service or software, you know, we have our physical product side, now on the server-side. And then the other one was, because, you know, we went through a pretty detail my background, which was like, Oh, I have this background, you know, in this education side of it. So it's kind of like applying that. But let's bring it to the expertise we now have in the e-commerce side, which is what we did. So we did that in 2017. And AMZ Insiders has just pretty much kept it, we've kept it pretty simple. It's really coaching and consulting for people that you know, to get to six and seven figures occasionally have someone that does like maybe 5 million a year, or someone's doing 30 million and are looking to sell, and they'll come in more as a one-off, and we'll help them out. But the majority of people just like I'm sure you guys are helping out, are kind of those smaller entrepreneurs that are looking and they want to make sure they get the steps, right.
Yoni Mazoe 42:35
Got it. Very cool. So that's against us, that was 217. And today, it's still running and going and growing strong. Beautiful. So a lot here, too, that we unpack is now we're going to repackage it, see if we got everything right. And then we're going to get to the last part of the episode. So let's see if we got straight. Born and raised in upstate New York, or the Syracuse area. Hit 18 you go to West Point. And from 90 until 94 or 98, you're you know, you're servicing the country. So thank you for your service 98. And about 2004 you hit into the banking world, right, the company that eventually was bought by Bank of America. And then you have a little bit of a stint with what was the next step Home Depot? Right there. You have the guy from GE creating this beautiful ecosystem inside Home Depot to take it to the next level? You're part of that trip, and then you convert, are you you will move into Kaplan and right education. You do that until about 2010, I believe. And then you shift a little bit into there was one or two more private equity back deals. Yeah, the one that brought me to Atlanta. Yeah. So do you see overall you do a CEO role? And then basically, e-commerce comes knocking on your door by having your next-door neighbor, playing it to the mix. So officially come in 2013 that's when you until you know the first year or two before that you kind of dabbling around from the sidelines. But in 2013 you step in, you guys scale the business, you know, to 10s of millions of dollars. You also do M & A’s, mergers, and acquisitions. You're already reconnecting to your educational experience, and helping other sellers, and contributing to you know, the Amazon seller community. So far so good?
Jamie Davidson 44:20
That was kind of an absolutely impressive and impressive Yoni.
Yoni Mazor 44:21
Yes, exactly. Yep. Man. My pleasure. Yeah, this is what I do for, so it really aired out everybody's experiences. So okay, so now I want to touch on two last things. Before we close the episode. The first thing is, somebody wants to connect learn more about you, where can they find you? And the last thing will be is what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Jamie Davidson 44:39
Yeah, so great. Yeah. So you want to reach out, you can go toamzisiders.org s to reach out that's our training. You can check us out if you're looking to reach out. I'm on Instagram to like Jamie Davidson. I think it's official, it's on there. And just you can direct message me is a great way to so you can hit me up there, I'm on Facebook as well too. But Instagram is actually probably a better way. If you want any help. I do some partnership with AMZ Scout I think in the show notes, we'll probably have something if people we have a partner with them, they put together like a special offer for you guys, you guys want to check that as well, too. So, but yeah, I'd love for people to reach out and always, always excited to help people out in their journey. So yeah, so the final tip, the final question and I’ll…
Yoni Mazor 45:26
Yeah, so what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there? Yeah, my, my, my message for people would be a couple of things. One is I would say, try to do it as a team sport, like, Don't try to be the genius solo entrepreneur, by yourself doing all by yourself, get yourself around people, to energize yourself, it can be difficult like I'm here in my office here, I need to get out get with people. And whether that's in person, or whether it's virtually you know, the more you can do things, you know, with partnerships and find people and, you know, I like to say entrepreneurship is a team sport, as I mentioned. I think you can be a lot more successful and it's just gonna help you complement what you do well, and don't do well. I mean, there's always ups and downs, you know, stay with it. I know, there's plenty of times with our businesses. It's you know, I love there's a chart of entrepreneurship is all over the place, but it you know, over time, it tends to lead up if you stick with it, so, so yeah, surround yourself with great people to help with that mindset. And there's a lot of great people that are doing it. But if you don't do that, you know, people can kind of bring you down that aren't in the entrepreneurship space. So if you surround yourself and some of the best friends I have now, or some of the most successful people in the Amazon space, and you know that I'm always learning from them and getting new ideas and energy. So So yeah, that's, that's my, that's my joint, get out there with some other people.
Yoni Mazor 46:39
Nice, nice. So once again, think of entrepreneurship as a team sport. Great, a great, great, great team around you, people with positive energy, it's gonna be a lot of sun noise. It could be things are cyclical, or fluctuating, but as long as you get to your mission, right from the army days, you will prevail and more experienced growth. Alright, Jamie, thank you so much for that. I hope everybody enjoyed it, stay safe and healthy. So next time.
Jamie Davidson 47:01