Brandon Fuhrman | How to Get a Law Degree & Launch An Amazon Business
In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Brandon Fuhrman, the founder of AMZ Innovate, shares how to launch an Amazon business and his personal eCommerce journey.
Building an Amazon or e-commerce business can be a terrifying proposition for anyone. But one trick is that you need to network and build up a support system around you of people who have been in the same position as you, and can understand and help you move forward. Yoni Mazor of PrimeTalk discusses the New York City Amazon Sellers Meetup Community and the reasons why you should get involved.
In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Brandon Fuhrman, the founder of the networking event called AMZ Innovate, which offers incredible hands-on experiences, innovative hacks for your business, unique tactics, and invaluable tips for all kinds of Amazon sellers. This incredible event also allows you the opportunity to meet other sellers from around the country, and possibly the world, so you can expand your own network.
Brandon Fuhrman discusses his unique journey from a young website developer, to a budding e-commerce seller, to a lawyer, to the event coordinator. So if you’re an Amazon seller who’s looking for the missing piece to your puzzle, or you want to scale your existing business, even more, to move into the Million Dollar Sellers Club, then this episode is for you!
Learn more at Amzinnovate.
Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I'm really excited to have an interesting guest and a good friend. I'm having Brandon Fuhrman. Brandon is the founder of AMC Innovate, which is a leading Amazon seller conference based in New York City. Usually, the conferences are in September towards Q4. And he's also the Amazon New York City Meetup Community Group leader. So essentially, he rounds up all the Amazon sellers around the New York area once every two weeks, once a week, something like that? Once a month?
Brandon Fuhrman 0:36
A little more than that, once every six, eight weeks, yeah.
Yoni Mazor 0:39
Once every six, eight weeks, and they have great meetings and, you know, sellers interact and learn a lot. So Brandon, welcome to the show.
Brandon Fuhrman 0:46
Thanks. Great to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:48
We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. So I'm so happy I got the chance. All right, great. So this episode is really going to be the story of you: the story of Brandon Furhman. So you're going to share with us your background, who are you? where'd you grow up? Where'd you go to school? So without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Brandon Fuhrman 1:02
So I grew up in East Hanover, New Jersey. Yeah, I went to school at George Washington University. You know, when I was in high school, I would say I built my first website with a friend of mine, Jeff. And we were like, this is like, in the early days of the internet, you know, there was almost no other websites, I think...
Yoni Mazor 1:19
What year was this just to have some context? Where year was that?
Brandon Fuhrman 1:23
Like 1995 or so.
Yoni Mazor 1:24
25 years ago, you build your first website?
Brandon Fuhrman 1:28
It was so long ago, yeah. I looked it up online, like a three-week period where I had a website that was more popular than Amazon. But I beat them online, I guess. They had a really crazy logo. And so our first website was like, going to be like a really easy place to like, find links to like newspapers and weather and business. And now it seems pretty like, you know, okay, that exists. But like back then there was almost nothing there. So it was kind of a big deal. You know, if you went to Yahoo and clicked on the weather because our name was club.net, there was literally AccuWeather and then like, maybe BBC weather then like us, because it started with C and it was just alphabetical order. We should’ve called ourselves like an aardvark or something, but
Yoni Mazor 2:06
Brandon Fuhrman 2:08
Yeah, but we were near the top. And, you know, and so we got a ton of traffic, and we had like a really kind of popular website, but we were in high school, so we just didn't do anything with it.
Yoni Mazor 2:16
So you were what? 16-17?
Brandon Fuhrman 2:18
Yeah, maybe if that. Maybe 14. Yeah, NCSA Mosaic, cool site of the day, which was like a big honor back then. But we didn't do anything with it. So we, you know, we were in school, we were busy with our, you know, work and whatever. And I went to school, graduated with a degree in international business and marketing, and traveled a bit, lived in London for a few months, and then came back and started working at this place Campus Food, which was a precursor to Seamless.
Yoni Mazor 2:44
So what year did you graduate?
Brandon Fuhrman 2:46
I graduated college in ‘03.
Yoni Mazor 2:48
In ‘03 and then right away, you started working or you took a year off?
Brandon Fuhrman 2:53
I went to...I worked in London for a while. Yeah, it was like a work abroad program. Did that for a little while. And then I started working at Campus Food once I got back in the city, which is like a precursor to Seamless, Grubhub, that kind of thing. But it was way too early for that kind of idea. But it was still successful. Because you know college students were online ordering food. And they were like, basically, the only kinds of people that were. This was 2004, 2005ish, I guess I would say, I left that to do a startup with a friend of mine, that just we never got off the ground. But it was also like in the food space. So it just never really worked out. And then I launched a...my own website, an oil painting website called ownapainting.com. And this was, basically my first foray into e-commerce. After that, where I would, you know...
Yoni Mazor 3:37
Give us a year. Give us a year.
Brandon Fuhrman 3:40
This was ‘06, I would say.
Yoni Mazor 3:42
Okay, 14 years ago, ‘06, you know, what was the name of the website? Choose Painting. com?
Brandon Fuhrman 3:48
ownapainting.com. But basically, it was hand-painted reproductions of Van Gogh, Monet, Picasso, that kind of thing, if you want to get a portrait of yourself like some people got to like the Last Supper with like, their friends in it, you know, pictures of dogs, like you know, in famous paintings, you know, self-portraits, all that kind of stuff.
Yoni Mazor 4:05
Did you do it on demand, or you had stock you had inventory?
Brandon Fuhrman 4:08
We had both and it ran and I did okay with it. And I did it for a while, you know, concurrent to that, I had hired an SEO company. And they did terribly. So I did SEO myself or…
Yoni Mazor 4:19
Define terrible. Give us a little bit of that experience. Let's touch that for a moment. 2006ish again? Or?
Brandon Fuhrman 4:26
Yeah, 2006ish I hired a company and they were doing work looking for things like prints and things that were just not even related misspellings. Like, they basically outsourced it to an Indian company, who didn't know my product, didn't even care about spelling, they're paying like $2 an hour, and they were charging me a lot more. So I nixed that pretty quick, learned SEO, and started consulting with that on the side. I did that for you know concurrently, I guess with my site using the money there to kind of help growth and it did okay for a number of years and I did that for you know, a decent length of time, you know, around but it never really grew to where I wanted it to grow. But it was fine to me, I made a living. I was okay with it. But it never grew to...
Yoni Mazor 5:05
Was that your core income back in the day?
Brandon Fuhrman 5:06
Between the two, between those two businesses, absolutely. Yeah, you know, Google had made some changes to their algorithm. And I was like, not happy with how that happened. So around 2000 what would it have been? 2008? 2009? I went to law school part-time during all this. I was running two businesses and part-time in law school.
Yoni Mazor 5:26
So the two businesses just to get it straight was ownapainting.com and SEO consulting? Put it all on top. You're in law school.
Brandon Fuhrman 5:32
I'm in law school part-time. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 5:34
And what school? Rutgers Newark. Yeah, it's a good extension there. Yeah.
Brandon Fuhrman 5:39
So I did that. Living in Hoboken. It was a great experience. I'm really glad I went, right before I went to law school, I went to some conference in the city where they had a bunch..it was like, people selling art online. And they were like, and, you know, I started networking before and there are all these major galleries there, there was like the Saatchi gallery, and you know, these auction houses and just like these, you know, huge businesses and just like me with my, like, stupid website that I do myself. And, you know, as it started they go, you know, who here has sold, you know, $500 worth of art online? You know, I raise my hand and like, know, some other people raise their hand? No, what about 1000? There are like, noticeably fewer hands, but about 10,000. And it was like me and like two other hands. No, but I was like, all these people. You know, I've been beating my head against the wall trying to sell art online. And all these people have all their resources that they could ever want at their fingertips. And like, I'm not selling them. But this is like the best I can do. Like, this is not the right place to be this.
Yoni Mazor 6:32
Oh, wow. That's a major discovery on your own to realize it. Yeah, basically, the threshold you thought, you...there's so much more to go. Yeah, but then you can go for the industry leaders, you realize, you know, you're probably pretty much at the peak. And maybe you should find another venue for it.
Brandon Fuhrman 6:47
Yeah, yeah, basically, I guess that's it. My e-commerce thing is over, I'll do some SEO consulting. But like, you know, I'm still making money off the website. So like, it'll be a good side income. I'll go into law, that'll be that. So in law school, um...
Yoni Mazor 6:59
So let me just ask you this. You had these two businesses, what compelled you to go to law school? What was the trigger for you?
Brandon Fuhrman 7:04
I wasn't making as much money as I thought I should have been using those two. And really, I wasn't sure what my path should be, to be honest, like I, you know, I still loved e-commerce. But I knew that that site wasn't going to get me where I wanted to go. And I knew that SEO was something that was like getting harder by the minute. So like, I knew that either, you know, I'd have to grow big or get out and like, I really wasn't enjoying that anymore.
Yoni Mazor 7:28
But when you signed up for part-time, what was the expectation? How many years and what would be the cost for you?
Brandon Fuhrman 7:33
It was like, it was four years, it was basically for like six o'clock till like nine o'clock every night. So it really wasn't too too bad. Four days a week, four days a week.
Yoni Mazor 7:46
Four days a week, and what was the budget for you for this, I guess for this. uh…?
Brandon Fuhrman 7:49
This was around like, like 12 grand a year.
Yoni Mazor 7:54
So that's about a $50,000 investment for yourself.
Brandon Fuhrman 7:58
Yeah, for four years. State school part-time. But, but yeah, no, I thought that you know, if nothing else will have that, you know, I can either fall back on that. And I knew I had a lot of internet experience. So I thought that I can be pretty valuable to someone in that, you know, the capacity of law related to the internet and that kind of thing
Yoni Mazor 8:14
Makes sense, yeah.
Brandon Fuhrman 8:15
I kind of thought that, you know, I'll pursue that I still have time to pursue my other sites and anything else, any other projects I want to do. But like, you know, in four years, I'll have my degree, and that'll be that and I can go and work and do whatever I want to do. During law school, I started selling my books on Amazon.
Yoni Mazor 8:31
That’s how I got into Amazon!
Brandon Fuhrman 8:34
They gave me a lot more money than the bookstore did. And it was easy to keep buying and reselling my books, I’d buy them for the next semester, sell those and they kind of cancel each other out more or less. Yeah, um, so it was a pretty great experience that I kind of realized the power of Amazon. But my current business wasn't really conducive to Amazon. So I couldn't really do it. You know, I can't sell like hand-painted paintings that take two months to complete on Amazon. It just doesn't work.
Yoni Mazor 8:59
That's more like the Etsy kind of approach these days, you know, a little, you know, today, that's more customized, artsier, you know?
Brandon Fuhrman 9:07
Yeah, exactly. You know, I couldn't really sell that there. But I started selling some, like, dropship kids furniture on there, dabbled in that a little bit, saw the power, but really, it wasn't. I knew that the dropship model, at least for me wasn't working out.
Yoni Mazor 9:20
So let me get this straight with the time. So you started 2009 in law school, and right away started selling on Amazon 2009?
Brandon Fuhrman 9:27
No, no, no. I would probably say I started selling my books around 2000 you know 10 or so I guess. And then I started you know, transitioning to try other stuff. Maybe 2011 2012 I guess I would say.
Yoni Mazor 9:36
So you dabbled more and more into the Amazon platform? And actually, trying to, you know, do drop shipping and, you know, actually, engage more in e-commerce on the platform?
Brandon Fuhrman 9:46
Yeah basically. Yeah. And I tried selling kids’ furniture, but it was very hard because one: it was hard to manage the inventory and the expectations of Amazon. And Amazon didn't make it clear at that point, like about account health or like you know, you could cancel orders, you know, things like that. So I had no idea what I was doing. Did not work out well. So I kind of you know stopped doing that. But you know, in Law School I finished. I studied for the bar. I passed the bar. Yeah, I graduated and passed the bar.
Yoni Mazor 10:13
What year? 2013 as planned?
Brandon Fuhrman 10:17
Yeah. 2013 I guess yeah. And then, you know, started working on a different e-commerce startup for a few months and a friend that I had been carrying around that also didn't work out and then I was kind of lost for a little bit because I you know, I was like, I guess I'll go into law but I really my heart wasn't into it.
Yoni Mazor 10:34
Were you still running ownapicture.com? And SEO still?
Brandon Fuhrman 10:42
Yeah, I was down for like one client at that point, that I’d lose pretty soon thereafter. So what I did was I kind of was like, you know, in the wilderness a little bit, looking at law stuff, not really that into it. And I started doing online arbitrage on Amazon, which was very successful, at least for arbitrage as far as you can take online arbitrage.
Yoni Mazor 11:02
What was your model? You’d go into like, stores or you work with suppliers to get brand name items and reselling them on Amazon?
Brandon Fuhrman 11:07
Yeah, yeah, I was just reselling from...buying from one online store selling that item on Amazon, basically. And...
Yoni Mazor 11:13
This is still 2013?
Brandon Fuhrman 11:15
Yeah, yeah, around there. Yeah, I guess. And I figured out, you know, a couple of stores where it was like, the minimum amount of work for the maximum return where I would sell like, you know, $200 items, or $250 items that I could get for like 160 with Amazon's fees, I would net-like and with all the cash back rewards in the credit card, I can get like 30 $40 a purchase made them sell 10 to 20 of those a day and you know, kind of in business with very little work really to get that done. So I figured that out and was doing really well with that and I was pretty happy. But I knew that that was not going to last forever either.
Yoni Mazor 11:47
This is where you buy the stock. It's FBM, it's fulfilled by merchant it's not FBA correct?
Brandon Fuhrman 11:52
Yeah, yeah. fulfilled by the merchant. You know, I buy it on the site. They would say it shipped, I would put the tracking number, copied it, and paste it into Amazon, it would go out, no problem. But I knew it wasn't like you know, gonna last I just was kind of in the wilderness a little bit. And then I got an email from when I was in the SEO world I was, you know, part of a group called StomperNet for those who are out there. And it's like really old school.
Yoni Mazor 12:11
How do you spell that? StomperNet? How do you spell that?
Brandon Fuhrman 12:13
S T O M P ER Net. It hasn't been in existence for like 10 years now. But one of the old people who was involved, send an email out being like, hey, there's this course. ASM. And you know, I've been hearing good things. Um, you know...
Yoni Mazor 12:25
ASM is the Amazon Selling Machine course, something like that?
Brandon Fuhrman 12:28
Yeah, or Amazing now as it's called, man, it's like you just and they were like, you just private label your own products. And I was like, Oh, well, that's what I've been missing out on. I just do my own product. What am I doing here? Yeah, yeah, this is crazy. And I already know how to do that from, you know, the oil painting stuff that I was doing. I was buying them all in China. Like this is Yeah, that's the missing piece. Yeah, exactly. So like, even before I bought the course, but like, I just needed that one piece of information to be like, Oh, no, that's what I need to do, that's the missing piece of my life. So like, yeah, I took the course. And I started selling on Amazon pretty shortly thereafter, I sold like
Yoni Mazor 13:01
Hold on, you took the course in the years 2013 or 14?
Brandon Fuhrman 13:04
I don't know, it was Anthem 4, whatever year that was. Years kind of start to blur at this point. But, but I took the course and I was still doing the arbitrage stuff and launched my first product. And it was moderately successful.
Yoni Mazor 13:17
So you launched your product which year? You should remember at least that.
Brandon Fuhrman 13:21
I launched it in 2014. End of 2014. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 13:24
And you had a trademark when you launched it, or it was all set up properly?
Brandon Fuhrman 13:27
No, nothing was set up properly. I mean, at that point, I've been through a few businesses that didn't work out. So I was just like, let's see if this works before I do anything.
Yoni Mazor 13:34
Before you invest more into the foundations of the brand, let's call it, let’s create traction on a listing for my own product. If it works well, I’ll create the infrastructure underneath it.
Brandon Fuhrman 13:45
Correct. Yeah. And it started doing reasonably well. And I launched you know, a couple of other products that were doing okay. And then, I got married at the end of 2014, August 2014. And we decided for 2015 that we were going to...my wife and I were gonna do a honeymoon. And you know, she worked at a school so we're just gonna go for the whole summer, saving up a lot of points. We did the whole thing. And you know, we were looking where to go. And my wife really wanted to go to Asia, like let's go to Asia. And I'm like, wouldn't it be fun if we stopped in like Shenzhen and Dongguan? Like, it's just part of our trip, wouldn't it be great? And she was like, I'm not sure about that. And I was like,
Yoni Mazor 14:21
That’s good if you want to source some electronics or some gadgets, you know?
Brandon Fuhrman 14:24
Yeah, yeah. And I was like, Listen, we’ll stay at the nicest Hotel in Shenzhen. Like the nicest hotel, we can find. It'll be the first step on our trip. It'll be great. We'll go right from Hong Kong and she was like, Alright, fine. So we stayed at the St. Regis Shenzen, a beautiful hotel, it was stunning. If anyone ever goes to Shenzhen, it's like the best hotel may be that I've ever been to. So we stayed there and we sourced for a few days. It's actually my wife's favorite part of the trip because like all of our factory contacts, took us out to eat at all these great restaurants and gave us, you know, the wining and dining that they do when you're in China with locals and stuff and it was a lot of fun. But when we were there, I found, you know, a bunch of products that I wanted to sell immediately. So like while we're on it, so we found them, we got the samples over on the trip, we placed the orders. And when we got back in, you know, like early September, you know, we continued with that, by early October, they all pretty much launched like three or four products. And they were like, all successful, like right then and there for Q4 that year. And from there, I was just off and running.
Yoni Mazor 15:20
And this was 2014 or 2015? 2015 got it. So you got married in August, by September, you're in China. And then in Q4, you launched three, four products, you hit the flywheel, and did it run into 2016? The flow and the traction or you didn't stick out or anything?
Brandon Fuhrman 15:39
Of course, I stocked out. Yeah. But you know, I was, you know, I managed as best I could. And, you know, I knew that they were selling and I was like once they started selling really well. I would just double down on those products, started launching new products. Not really moving fast enough, but I understand that the model was gonna work for me.
Yoni Mazor 15:53
Great. And did you sell it on the same account that you're doing arbitrage or you have two separate accounts one for..?
Brandon Fuhrman 15:58
The same account, the same account. I phased out arbitrage probably like early-mid that year. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 16:06
Got it. Cuz you mentioned that you know, we're doing the arbitrage we're not too, you didn't have a good handle on this account health you know, and stuff like that.
Brandon Fuhrman 16:13
No no, with arbitrage I did. I didn’t have a good handle on account health when I was doing the drop shipping. But the online arbitrage stuff, I was doing really well with that. But it was a risk to the account for sure. Because you know, when you saw FBA, you know, there were no health issues. So you know, every once in a while there is stockout that would be in trouble. And that would be like, you know, we like steering the plane from like, you know, crashing to like back up again. And it just wasn't worth it at that point.
Yoni Mazor 16:35
Yeah. And when you got your own product that was your first time basically entering into the FBA format, right, fulfilled by Amazon.
Brandon Fuhrman 16:41
When I had my first product, yeah. But I, you know, I actually had sent in, before I did my first product, just like I just went to like, Costco and bought like some like salt or something, just random stuff. Like I know, it was like, there's stuff that's on Amazon that just kind of sells good on Amazon, you know, it's gonna sell...
Yoni Mazor 16:55
Just to pave the way so you got a good handle on the format. And then once your products came in, your whole tract was set for you.
Brandon Fuhrman 17:03
Exactly, yeah. Yeah. So I did that. And then once it started running, and I started, you know, getting new products and really running with it.
Yoni Mazor 17:09
Yeah, back in the day, when we did our first FBA, this is what 2013 ish. It was $10,000, you know, most of our money. My co-founder, so whenever the idea of sending just a random item to check what it's like, so we sent $10,000 worth of products, and low behold, there were a few issues that we had to fix along the way. But that's exactly the story.
Brandon Fuhrman 17:30
Well, I knew that from the FBM experience that like I said, it was like, you know, sometimes like trying to steer a plane that was nose-diving. So like, I wanted to make sure that before you know, send in, you know, 1000 units that I would like I understood like what the pieces were, what I had to do, what my responsibilities were.
Yoni Mazor 17:44
Yeah, great advice. So if anybody listening to this, and you want to adopt any model, it can be FBA, FBM, SFP, whatever it is, try it on the shallow water, so to speak, right out of stuff that you will, you know, willing to, it's not too much money or too much of a risk, get the hang of it, and then you can scale it up. That's a good tip or good advice.
Brandon Fuhrman 18:02
Yeah, that's right. I tell everybody, I tell everybody starting up that like that's one of the first things I would do is just try to find something that you know is going to sell, it's not gated, or anything that you can just kind of like roll out there. I mean, it's really just launching more products, and, you know, building up my brand and just keep going like that hiring VAs. I mean, I guess I would say the next year was….
Yoni Mazor 18:19
So your first VS was 2016?
Brandon Fuhrman 18:21
Tell us. Tell us your experience about that. Or what made you think or understand that you need some help, and you need to outsource or what do you call delegate?
Brandon Fuhrman 18:30
I was pretty much solo, my wife would help pick out the products a little bit and help with some writing stuff. But mostly, it was just me. And I, you know, I knew I needed to delegate, I went and I hired someone to do customer service and a few things here or there, help you know, with data entry. Because, you know, Amazon's reporting back then also has, like, all the, you know, there was no like, Hello Profit or anything that was really, you know, robust, you know, at least that I thought so I had, you know, different data means that I needed filling. So I had a VA go and do that. And then around that time I took a course with it, it was like they came to New Jersey, with Kirsty Verity and Paul Sinclair and Isaac Coleman. That was really kind of game-changing for me.
Yoni Mazor 19:10
Northbound? Back in the day, or something Academy?
Brandon Fuhrman 19:14
Yeah well, it’s Northbound now. But it was called, back then it was called PKI. That's what it was called. So I took that course. And that really was like, you know, kind of even more eye-opening in terms of outsourcing and building up systems and, and SOPs and things like that. And that was really, you know, where they really kind of entered the next phase when I started this was.
Yoni Mazor 19:31
And this was 2016 as well. So basically, yeah, proof of concept sort of speak, this is a viable business model for you to actually, you know, invest into and scale-up. And because of that, you delegate to VA, you realize you need to create SOPs there are ways to standardize things and create teams around it so you can scale up and hopefully, you know, take your revenue upwards and hopefully also the bottom line.
Brandon Fuhrman 19:54
Exactly, yeah. So I started building out systems, hiring, you know, VAs, and You know, kind of kept going on building my business, adding skews, adding products. There's nothing else that was really that exciting. I guess I would report just as I kept building the business more and more and more at that point.
Yoni Mazor 20:10
And this is 2016-17 or just 2016? And then 17, something else popped into your…?
Brandon Fuhrman 20:16
No, I mean, that was pretty much I just kept expanding and building from there and then learning from there. I guess it probably through 2018, I guess I would say. And then, you know, at that point, I started networking really well, with a lot of board game sellers, I joined MDS, Million Dollar Sellers.
Yoni Mazor 20:30
Tell us a little bit about that. So this was 2018. You know, networking and networking in 2018? I guess it was a few elements that happened in terms of community building, right? There's the MDS, we’ll touch now. And then a few...I guess DMZ?
Brandon Fuhrman 20:42
Yeah sure. So I'll start with all that. So I've been networking the whole time. And I had gone to all these New York seller meetups that my friend Jared had started in New York, and it started out with like three or four people, you know, sitting around a table talking about Amazon, I lived in the East Village of Manhattan at that point. So it's easy for me to get there. And you know, working on Amazon, your Amazon business by yourself is a pretty, you know, lonely job, I guess I would say.
Yoni Mazor 21:09
You were always working from your house? Or you…?
Brandon Fuhrman 21:12
At that point, absolutely. Yeah. And so like, when he would have networking sessions, I would be like, Oh, this is great. I'm gonna, you know, bike up there and go, and I go to everyone. And...
Yoni Mazor 21:22
So you met Jared in that format, right? Yeah, you guys are pretty close. Right?
Brandon Fuhrman 21:27
But yeah, I met everyone, I met everyone, like the New York direct seller group, at least a lot of them, through that format. And I met Jared, I met some other guys. And it was really, you know, it was great to network and talk to other big sellers. I guess, around 2017, I guess I'd say I went to the Canton Fair for the first time and found a lot more products there. But also networked really well with a bunch of sellers there. They had told me I should join this MDS group. And I was like, Yeah, okay, whatever, kind of, you know, remembered it and then forgot about it.
Yoni Mazor 21:52
And what MDS? Give us some context here.
Brandon Fuhrman 21:54
So it's a group for million-dollar sellers. If you're selling over a million dollars on Amazon, it's just a networking group. And they've done a lot of great, you know, people running it, from discounts. It's amazing what it's become. But it started at that point, it's kind of a just a Facebook group that just didn't tell us doing over a million dollars and, you know, a great place to network and have questions answered, answer other people's questions, learn things. So, you know, they said I should join, I kind of forgot about it for the year. And then, you know, it was free at that point, but I just didn't do it for whatever reason.
Yoni Mazor 22:21
And this is 2017? In April or October, the Canton Fair. Do you remember?
Brandon Fuhrman 22:26
It was April. You know, didn't do anything with it. But I, you know, kept building my business, went back to the Canton Fair that year, and was hanging out with a bunch of the guys that were from the group at that point, because
Yoni Mazor 22:38
This is 2017 you say? Or 2018 a year later?
Brandon Fuhrman 22:42
Yeah. And then I, you know, I networked with a bunch of the guys already in New York, and met a bunch of guys there, and I was like, alright I should join. And at that point, you know, the networking, and the knowledge of the group really especially helped catapult me, you know, even higher than I could have possibly imagined at that point.
Yoni Mazor 22:57
It's amazing. It's great.
Brandon Fuhrman 22:59
Yeah. And so the networking between that and networking between our group, the New York City group, and all that, was just like, you know, knowing as many sellers, as I knew, really was just, you know, the game changer for me and my business. I mean, you know, in terms of operations, nothing really changed. I would say, other than the right maybe I had a different VA, or better VA, a better sourcing agent, you know, I kind of upped the game of the team that I was building, it was really the group that really helped me find those people and really understand the network, and really who I should be hiring. So basically, you know, I had gone to almost every meetup that I could, that Jared ran, and we became friends. And I was, you know, a pretty big seller at that point, he was a big seller. And there are a couple of others, but I was like the one who continues to go and, you know, at one point, he called me and he was like, you know, you know, I'm thinking about putting on events. Do you want to do it with me? I said, Yeah, absolutely. I've never run an event before. He's never run an event before. But it was kind of like, you know, someone asked you a question. You just go, Yeah, sure. Let's see what happens.
Yoni Mazor 23:53
The spirit of the entrepreneur kicked in and said, let's do it. So 2018, this is the, you know, the New York City Amazon Media Group is handled by Jared, but you’re, you know, you're always there. You kind of a spy on the spinal of the monthly meetings, let's say, he said, Let's format this, you know, this community into a yearly, big bash event. September and you name it, you dubbed it?
Brandon Fuhrman 24:17
Yeah. So we started working on that both having no idea what we were doing. We rented the smaller theater in, you know, lower Manhattan. Put a lot into it. And I think, you know, I think it came out pretty well. And we learned a lot in the process of putting it on.
Yoni Mazor 24:31
And you guys are what would you guys name it?
Brandon Fuhrman 24:33
AMZ Innovate. And in the process of doing that, we met a bunch of the people who wanted to sponsor it, including, you know, you guys even Payoneer and Payoneer had said, you know, we have these huge headquarters in midtown Manhattan. You should just have your events here, instead of having a bit like a loud bar that you have been basically. And it's great synergy for them because you know, they get sellers coming through the door every time we run it. And you know, we have a place to have our meetups. And from that point on, you know, that's when the New York Seller Meetup pretty much exploded. Because we are able to bring in speakers now, you know, we had pizza like it was really becoming a great hangout a great event.
Yoni Mazor 25:11
And became what we call an institution, you know? For Amazon, to, you know, to hang on to. So 2019 was the breakout point because this 2018 event you created for the community obviously created immediate synergies to take it to the next step. So throughout 2019, you guys did an event in the cities. So it was growing and growing. Every meetup has more than 100 sellers that come in for this. I came in last in 2019, I think it was in November, we had a great event. It was just, I came, you know, just to listen and to learn and other events. I do remember an event I think before the Payoneer. I think it was in a WeWork. I think We work and you mentioned all their bars. But this gave you a track record. Yeah, home. Really an HQ, you know, and the format of Payoneer, which is really nice. Midtown right next to Penn Station. Yeah, we get it is great. Just amazing.
Brandon Fuhrman 26:02
Yeah. So yes, our numbers grew, we, you know, each meetup has about, you know, 200 people say yes, at least to coming, you know, maybe let's go up. But the group is a couple of 1000 people big now at this point, it's pretty crazy how much it's grown. Yeah, so that really helped grow our group and become like a really great group. And that, you know, since that group started out as a networking group, we always made sure to have networking as a big component of it. And we always aim the content for more advanced sellers, we wanted to make the content, something that, you know, if you were had been selling for a while you can keep coming back if you make it something that's like kind of for newbies, then like nobody's gonna come back, it's just gonna be new sellers every week, you know, we wanted to build a community of existing sellers to really come and hang out and network. And I always felt, especially when I started out in the beginning that like, you know, I didn't want any content like kept back from me, I wanted to, you know, to know what the advanced sellers were doing right away. Even if it was beyond my grade even, it was something that I couldn't even fathom doing yet. Like, at least to know, like, this is where you got to go. And also to, you know, help educate new sellers who, you know, some just see an ad online from like, someone who's just like, I can make millions on Amazon, you know? And then like, you know, show up at the event, realize, Oh, this is a lot of work. This is not an easy thing. There's a lot of advanced analysis of this, there's a lot into it. So that's kind of the way we ended in the content, it seemed to have done pretty well. And then, you know, we had the AMZ Innovate the next year, and it was I thought, as a huge success. We rented out a huge hall. We had amazing speakers, amazing presentations, like everything, just, you know, really clicked. And you know, we were really, really excited to do it this year. But of course, COVID hit and you know, we couldn't have it. So it's gonna be..we had to postpone until 2021. So we were really excited for that because we thought that momentum last year was amazing. And this year was just going to be even better for sure for what we had planned.
Yoni Mazor 27:42
Yeah, I can vouch for the momentum. 2018 was a great start really was. 2019 felt like you guys exploded. It was great. Yeah. Awesome. A lot of good vibes, a lot of good learning. So where are you right now? So to 2020 comes in, you know, COVID kicked in in March, unfortunately. And yeah, where did it take you? What was your year like?
Brandon Fuhrman 28:01
It went really well. So in 2019, you know, my business was, I would say, relatively stagnant. Um, I felt like, you know, in terms of Amazon that they just kept eating more and more profits in terms of PPC costs and in terms of raising fulfillment fees. And like I had done you know, okay with it, but like, you know, it just wasn't doing what I needed to do. And like, you know, I kind of lost track of things a little bit, like, you know, sat down with myself at the beginning of the year and was like, Alright, I got to make some changes. I got to bring in some new skews, I got to you know, really buckle down, I got to raise prices, I gotta do all this stuff. So I did all that stuff in January. And then once COVID hit I'm in the kitchen and dining, it just exploded beyond all recognition. And you know, in my business is like, you know, basically in terms of sales like 3x where it was, you know? So it was pretty crazy like this you know, the best month I've ever had was May which is insane even though May was the best month that I've ever had. So I got Amazon...
Yoni Mazor 28:55
More than any Christmas right?
Brandon Fuhrman 28:56
More than any Christmas. Yeah, more than any Christmas, more than any Prime Day. I’ve had prime days where I, you know, sold 6000 units of one product on one Prime Day. This just beat it all that. So yeah, crazy, crazy year. So it's been a really great year, a really profitable year and it's been you know, truly amazing. I'm happy to be in the kitchen and not in like,
Yoni Mazor 29:15
We’re all happy to be in the e-commerce space to be on the right side of the coin, fortunately, because unfortunately, the whole other side of the coin took a major beating with travel, hotel.
Brandon Fuhrman 29:23
Yeah, already, but even like, not until in like, you know, travel products or wedding products or things that you know, we're categories. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. So I felt really, really lucky to be involved in that for sure.
Yoni Mazor 29:33
Now, this is divine, you know, this is a work of the Divine one. Okay, so you had a great year and where are you now? What do you think is gonna happen? You know, I guess we're not just, we're recording this early, almost mid-October. So Prime Day is coming soon. What do you think is gonna be like and what's gonna be like with this Q4 of 2020?
Brandon Fuhrman 29:57
So Prime Day is tomorrow, I'm kind of freaking out about it. It's gonna be hard, I think that Amazon is ready for a lot of stockouts, a lot of problems, I think they're not ready to handle necessarily what's going to happen. But I think that they've got a good, you know, attitude towards it, and they're kind of just ready for that there's just gonna be problems, and we're just gonna have to get through it, they're going to try to do try to have continued, there's going to come out like after this all happened. So we'll see how good my predictions are. But
Yoni Mazor 30:22
Yeah. So we’re saying this before, but let’s see after this gets published. After that, let's see if you're an Oracle or not.
Brandon Fuhrman 30:29
Yeah, no, but uh, you know, I think that they're going to try to meet, that they don't have enough capacity to fill holiday demands. And I think they're gonna try to have Prime Day tomorrow and you know, Wednesday and try to really push sales from Friday forward through Christmas, and try to beat into people's heads that like, if you wait until the traditional Christmas time, you might not get your product, like you just might not get it because we don't know if we can handle it.
Yoni Mazor 30:51
You’re saying to the consumer to the seller?
Brandon Fuhrman 30:52
To the consumer. And to the seller, I think they're just, they're just like, hey, look, if you can get your products in great, if not, we got another guy who has a similar thing, it's fine, basically. Because, you know, there are so many inventory restrictions, so many problems getting inventory in that, you know, like, I'm sitting here, you know, and I've got Prime Day deals tomorrow, and I can't create labels to send in more units where I'm like, Listen, I know, there's a good chance we're gonna sell, you know, 2000 units tomorrow, I want to, I want to get these next rounds of units heading in at least, but not gonna even get to you for another month, but I want to get them heading in, but I can't even do that, you know, new agents have limits, you know, 200 units, like, you know, they've really made it difficult to, you know, to facilitate, to understand what demand is going to be due to, you know, Q4. So like, for me, you know, for the first time, you know, when I do Prime Day deals, you know, they're usually in the middle of July, and I don't really do much forecasting past them. But now, you know, I'm sitting here saying like, Okay, what is the maximum amount that I can sell tomorrow of this product and still make it okay until the next shipment comes in? You know, what?
Yoni Mazor 31:49
Are you okay, stocking out?
Brandon Fuhrman 31:51
I mean, I don't want to stock out.
Yoni Mazor 31:52
No, I mean, I'm saying I'm asking on our bestsellers rank level, right? Because if you stock out, that's the major risk where you lose rank, right?
Brandon Fuhrman 32:00
Yeah. And I don't want that to happen. And also, it doesn't make sense to sell products at a discount tomorrow, and then not sell them at full price in you know, December.
Yoni Mazor 32:09
Premium with the season. Right.
Brandon Fuhrman 32:12
Right. So none of that makes sense. So it's really trying to see what demand is and try to forecast it and see like, what's gonna work.
Yoni Mazor 32:18
Tell me you have an option or alike, for FBM, fulfilled by a merchant as a backup?
Brandon Fuhrman 32:23
Yeah, I do. I do.
Yoni Mazor 32:24
Is this new to you or you always had this?
Brandon Fuhrman 32:26
I've always had some semblance of it for the last couple of years. But you know, I don't have all my products that way. I don't have all my products in the US. It's, you know, it's expensive, and it's not really worth it most of the time. Yeah, for some products, I'm ready to go for some products, I'm not. There are all kinds of restrictions in place. So it's really navigating the restrictions of you know, what's for the base of the account, you know, I've got a, I didn't make my API store didn't really make the limits that they wanted. So I've got like, you know, a master account restriction and like every shipment my sourcing agent is like, you know, it's this much this many cubic feet, can we make it? And I'm like, you know, can we wait three days? Like you know, trying to not get those overages but like, you know, there's a lot of overages. So if I don't sell a lot tomorrow then I'm gonna have a lot of overages. I got a lot of goods being delivered on the 14th and on the 20th. But like it's really trying to manage all that which is going to be just it's just crazy. And try to manage it and try to manage every part of...
Yoni Mazor 33:12
So you’re saying part of the downside of this upside year is all these new restrictions and all these, I guess hoops and hurdles that you are now kind of turned into and realize what's going on with Amazon's metrics and KPIs and restrictions and funnels. So it makes it even more challenging than ever. So what are things going to be in Q4 you think? You know, I guess the launch will be a Prime Day, which is unusual that October. I think it's yeah, pretty brilliant that Amazon is saying, you know, November, December, they both have their components, that makes it a good month, because in November, you have Cyber Monday, Black Friday, and then you have the Christmas run, and then saying, you know, let's, you know, throw into Q4 another juice. So let's put that in Q4 and October. Prime Day. And, you know, turn the engines on and make it a spectacular Q4. Do you think it’s going to create some sort of a wave that’s gonna take sellers all into the Christmas season and create a phenomenal historical, where we're going to look at it five years from now, we're going to look back and say this Q4 was just monstrous by any dimension?
Brandon Fuhrman 34:08
Yeah, that's what I think. Absolutely. For sure, whatever they can get out, you know, I think there's gonna be a lot of returns after the holidays because a lot of products aren't going to make it where they need to go. But yeah, for sure. I think it's going to be you know, insane what's going to happen. I think they also have, you know, they keep their plans very close to the vest, but I feel like they have a lot of marketing budget that they didn't spend this year because they wanted to be respectful of COVID, and respectful of what's happening. And I think that they're going to just, you know, funnel that all until like, you know, from like, now onward basically.
Yoni Mazor 34:34
They're gonna unleash the beast. Q4 is gonna be one for the books, hopefully. Exactly. Wow. Okay, good. I'm looking forward to it to see how this all plays out. Awesome. So let's do a little quick recap. So around ‘95, you started your first dabbling on the internet, you were what, 14 years old and then you head off to college, you get your degree in, remind me again?
Brandon Fuhrman 34:54
In International Business Marketing, which I actually ended up going into. Wow. I didn’t think that was going to be a thing, but yeah, I did it right? Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 35:01
That's great. So yeah. And then you dabble into London a little bit and, you know, doing your own website with, with the paintings and SEO. And then it led you, you know, he said, I'm a little bit insecure, and it's something to fall back on. So you went to law school, four years, you got your degree. So you have that safety net? Did you ever practice law, effectively? Or no?
Brandon Fuhrman 35:19
I did a couple of speeding tickets for friends and parking tickets in the city. But my dad is a lawyer, so I helped him with a few things. But I never actually like practicing outside of that.
Yoni Mazor 35:27
Ok so you have some practice with speeding tickets and stuff like that, you have a business for life. Don't worry, that's always something. Good. So you take the ASM course, right, and then you realize that, sorry, let's go a bit before that, you've dabbled a little bit with dropshipping and then arbitrage then you took the ASM course. And then that was a eureka moment saying I could take all these elements who I have already experienced because I did the with the painting is kind of my products, and then selling on Amazon with other brands, I can make the perfect storm launch my own private label that went well for you realize is actually established business, then you basically opened yourself up, you open yourself to the selling community, right? The Amazon sales community, it's robust. It's made out of a lot of, you know, entrepreneurs and spirit and successful entrepreneurs. So that opens up your eyes is even more, you found MDS the million-dollar seller’s home, right? So you guys also take fun trips, I know, and stuff like that everyone's out. Today, it's a little restricted. And then you also met Jared at what's called a New York City Amazon Meetup, that bundled into its own, I guess, venture for you. Because you know, creative yearly events or monthly events, it's a whole venture for you a lot of ways you do pro bono from the heart from the soul. But I think you get a lot of, from my perspective, a lot of Amazon street credit, which is great to have. Because if you're admired and respected by the community, usually it pays back over time with just a lot of good tips and support and solutions or whatever it is, because it's hyperdynamic, this whole industry, you know, what I always say, one day of e-commerce, like 10 days of traditional conventional business, so a lot of friends and then the domain, you have a better chance of survival. And when we do it all together. This is part of the reason for this show as well. So you know, whoever's listening has the opportunity to kind of learn from other people's experiences. So thank you, again, for sharing all that. It was, it's been awesome. It's been great. If somebody wants to learn more about you, and you know, reach out and connect, you know, I want you to give them a handout. That's one thing. And the second thing would be at the end of the session, is what is your message of hope and inspiration to entrepreneurs out there listening?
Brandon Fuhrman 37:29
Yeah, I think there's, there's more opportunity now than, like, ever before in human history, if you want to learn how to do something, there's a free video online telling you how to do it. If you want to start a business, it's so easy, especially on the internet, you know? I said, I've been doing it since the early days, you know, my first e-commerce site was on the site called CREloaded, and you had to know HTML, and it was like a problem to make every change to your site. And every click was difficult. And, you know, it was such a difficult place to start a business where now it's just like, you can throw up a Shopify store, get a product and you know, be good to go, you can throw it up on Amazon. Like, there's no time, it's never been a better time to start a business. You know, a lot of people say, you know, Amazon saturated, saturated, saturated, there's still room, it could be saturated compared to four years ago, and still be a million times better than it was, you know, trying to sell online 15 years ago. Uh, you know, there's so much opportunity out there that I think you can just reach forward and just run with it.
Yoni Mazor 38:24
Right. So if you live, I would help you out with this. If you live, obviously, in the New York area, come to the meetups, and now they're digitally online so they’re a lot easier and easier to attend. So even if you were in the West Coast, you know, tune in, go to meetups.com. Right?
Yeah, we will post them there. You know, we're not having probably too many digital ones. But we really want to have the face-to-face experience again. You know, this, to me, the magic of those is really about networking. Like I said before, during the meetups if you live in Shenzhen, they have amazon seller events, like every day. Yet in New York City, there's like two a year. So like, you know, for us, it's like, you know, it's an opportunity to build that New York Community, build the networking, to make friends, for people who don't have access to that and to really, you know, become better sellers just from the content that we're able to bring. So we were having the online meetups and they're great and I think people should come to them. The content, the lesson was actually fantastic. One of the best ones you've ever had in terms of content, but you know, the really in-person ones with the networking is really where it really shines in my opinion.
Yoni Mazor 39:19
Yeah, there's a lot of magic in Madden's you know, Media Group. I can vouch for that. So I know to give everybody a hand up. So wherever the words I guess the funnels or venues they can find you at and how they can benefit from them.
Sure. So the meetup group if you look for the intermediate-advanced amazon seller group in New York, that's ours. It's got you know, 2000 plus members, so if you see a big group in New York that's going to be ours. The conference is AMZ Innovate dot com. You know, tickets for you know, a year from now, but you can still go and yeah, and I guess if anyone wants to email me, I'll give you my personal email. It's firstname.lastname@example.org - C A L L M E B R A N D O N at gmail.com. I'm always happy to, you know, help people out. You know, I don't really, you know, take money. I just know when I help people out more or less. So yeah, I'm happy to help anybody who I can help for sure.
Yoni Mazor 40:10
Yeah. What about a Facebook group? Do you have a Facebook group where people can get you?.
Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. There's also the New York Amazon Sellers Facebook group that also is kind of an extension of the meetup group as well. So,
Yoni Mazor 40:19
So yeah, go ahead on Facebook, hit up the New York meetup Facebook group, just look for, I guess, just put in Brandon Fuhrman, and you’ll find the group. Tune in. It's networking, it's today more beneficial than ever before. Really, it doesn't really cost anything. It's all about value, people just sharing value, which is tremendous. Great. Thanks, Brandan. Thank you so much. This has been very helpful and a little bit nostalgic for me because we shared a few of these events with you also. So as well, so we wish you the best of luck and everything. Thank you. Anybody listening stay safe and healthy. Good luck, make it a great Q4.
Yeah, sounds good.