Investment Banking and Selling on Amazon | Chris Shipferling | Global Wired Advisors

Episode Summary

In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Chris Shipferling - Managing Partner of Global Wired Advisors talks about Investment Banking and Selling on Amazon, also more information about his life's journey.

 

About Chris Shipferling of Global Wired Advisors - Global Wired Advisors is a leading Digital Investment Bank focused on optimizing the business sale process. Our approach combines decades of merger and acquisition experience with online and e-commerce expertise to increase the transactional value of your greatest asset.

 

Find the Full Episode Below

Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi everybody, welcome to another episode and today I have a special guest, I'm having Chris Shipferling. Chris is a Managing Partner at Global Wired Advisors, which is an investment banking firm focused on eCommerce and Amazon. So essentially, if you want to buy or sell businesses related to eCommerce, this is the guy you want to see. So Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Shipferling 0:28
Thanks. Nice to be here. Thanks for having me on. I appreciate it. It's an honor man, you're like a LinkedIn celebrity.

Yoni Mazor 0:37
It's our pleasure to have you. I'm excited because today's episode is going to be the episode of Chris Shipferling, it is going to be focused all on you and your story. So you're gonna share with us who are you? Where are you from? Where were you born, where did you grow up? How'd you begin your professional career, station by station until we hit where you are today, especially with a world of eCommerce, so I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.

Chris Shipferling 1:00
So you want to know all about me, right?

Yoni Mazor 1:02
Yes, sir.

Chris Shipferling 1:03
Gosh, I hate talking about myself, but I'll go ahead and give it a nice little stab. So I was born in Chicago, Illinois. I was raised for six months there and moved to Ridgefield, Connecticut for eight years of my life. My dad was involved in hospital products. He actually worked for Abbott Laboratories, which was one of the larger kinds of hospital products and the healthcare companies that's out there. He worked there because my grandfather also worked there, too. My grandfather was a warehouse manager for Abbott in Baltimore for a very long time.

Yoni Mazor 1:41
Where is Abbott based on...

Chris Shipferling 1:45
At Park, Illinois, it's just north of Chicago so that's why I was born there. And so yeah, my dad came, I had an opportunity to move the family to Charlotte, North Carolina, that was one of the options. So we moved here in 1988 and when I moved here, everything including the house that I'm sitting at right now was all on farmland. Charlotte at the time was a pretty big NASCAR town. We didn't really have a whole lot of industry here like, kind of headquartered industry but nonetheless, it was just a small southern town. It was kind of known as the town between Washington DC and Atlanta, Georgia. So came here in 1988, I was eight years old, it was a big move, coming into a new school. I had to start fresh with new friends.

Yoni Mazor 2:48
You were what second or third grade.

Chris Shipferling 2:50
I was a little bit more advanced. In Connecticut, I was in third grade, I started. I just started a little earlier and when I came down here to Charlotte, I actually took a test at the school that I was supposed to go to and they wanted to put me just because of my age back into second grade, but it was like the end of second grade. What was cool, and I kind of got me a little bit of clout was, I was able to write cursive and none of the other kids were able to do that.

Yoni Mazor 3:19
And you really do that today...

Chris Shipferling 3:22
So I came in as the new kid on the block and my claim to fame was I can write the cursive so that's kind of how things started.

Yoni Mazor 3:32
You keep on saying on Charlotte's, I assume you're still over there in that area.

Chris Shipferling 3:39
Yes.

Yoni Mazor 3:39
So you finished, you know, Junior High School in Charlotte.

Chris Shipferling 3:44
I did. So we went to one school, the whole time I was here, all the way from second grade till 12th grade. Our claim to fame at the school was Steph Curry, who also went to my school, so his whole family did. In fact, I remember Fun little fact, I remember being in PE (physical education class) and we were playing basketball at the time and Dell Curry and his two sons, Steph and Seth were probably like, first and second grade at the time, maybe. But it was Dell Curry like he was the best three-point shooter in the history of the NBA. And he's walking through and it's a bunch of, I think at the time were in fifth grade or sixth grade. I mean, you would have thought we all just joined the NBA when we saw him walk through because our game just got so much better we thought. We wanted to really impress him but.... The claim to fame in our High School basketball coach was actually a former seventy-sixer so we're very basketball at our school.

Yoni Mazor 4:47
Nice. So quick run on basketball. Who's your team? The Charlotte Hornets or ....?

Chris Shipferling 4:51
Yeah, it's the Hornets. I mean, they've disappointed. The Hornets were pulled out of Charlotte, went down to New Orleans. George Shin was the owner at the time, he got into a little bit of trouble, and Chad, his son went to school with me, so I actually grew up with them really good guy, good family, but they pulled the team out, they moved it down to New Orleans. So then Charlotte got a new team, and it was Bob Johnson. He owned [BET?]. He came in and he called it the Bob Katz. It was quite a narcissistic way to name the team, and no one really followed it. Michael Jordan was a minority owner at the time and then when Jordan became majority owner, they changed it back to the Charlotte Hornets and that's actually starting to bring a little bit more, no pun intended but buzz because it's the Hornets. It's bringing a little bit more buzz to the city. You know, people are getting back into the Hornets.

Yoni Mazor 5:02
In the NBA that actually got Jordan as a sponsor on Jersey, right. So if you look at their jersey, they have the Jordan flying man logo.

Chris Shipferling 5:59
Interesting, I didn't know that.

Yoni Mazor 6:01
More teams have that now, but I think they were first to break it in obviously, if Jordan is the owner, he had some ability to break that in. So interesting environment. Sounds like you were in a very interesting environment. You have got Steph Curry; you got the son of the owners of the Charlotte Hornets. It seems pretty successful people around you. So before we touch into the university days, growing up besides also kind of playing sports and playing better when you got an NBA superstar coming into the field, or to the court, you joined anything that either involved entrepreneurship and deal-making business, anything like that?

Chris Shipferling 6:40
Like while I was in high school?

Yoni Mazor 6:42
Growing up to where you hit college or anything.

Chris Shipferling 6:49
No, but I bought some candy and sold it in the school, but I did that with a buddy of mine. But I mean, from an entrepreneurial perspective, I was exposed to a lot of entrepreneurs just because anybody who wants to build real wealth, they're an entrepreneur. You know, if you want to become rich, and you want to have money, then you find a really good job and you become an executive, you put in your reps and your hours, and you might become CFO, Vice President and CEO and you might get some public equity if it's a publicly-traded company, etc.

The other thing about Charlotte is this is now the second-largest financial town outside of New York. So here in town, we've got Bank of America headquarters, Wells Fargo, East, we've got Truist, we've got tons of investment banks, tons of financial services here in town. So I did grow up around a lot of folks whose parents worked for the banks, and obviously, investment bankers, in particular, can clearly make a lot of money, especially those who work in the institutional banks. But I wasn't really exposed to a ton of entrepreneurs. That's really what I'm driving towards. But I did start working on it. I mean, as soon as I turned 16, I became a busboy, and a dishwasher at Outback Steakhouse. And so I stuck to it, and I worked late hours as a 16-year-old and washing dishes every night was freaking terrible, but it taught me a pretty strong work ethic. My parents taught me a strong work ethic. They were like, "Hey, you're not going to get away with not working" like you're going to go to work when you're 16 and you're always going to have a job, so I had a job all through high school from there, I worked at a local grocery store called Harris Teeter, I was a bag boy and then I also became a cashier and then eventually, I got promoted as the Junior Assistant Manager of a Seafood Department.

Yoni Mazor 8:40
I miss [Harry Stewart]. I used to live in Raleigh, North Carolina, and also Nashville.

Chris Shipferling 8:45
Did you really?

Yoni Mazor 8:45
Yeah, North Carolina is close to my heart.

Chris Shipferling 8:48
Interesting, man. So well, that leads to the university days I went to NC State.

Yoni Mazor 8:54
Were you doing engineering there or...?

Chris Shipferling 9:01
No, I'll get into kind of my full university picture here. So I went there for a year, and I basically flunked out. Like I just went and partied my flipping rear end off. I went for business because it does have a good business school at NC State. But yeah, it's mainly agriculture and engineering. That's kind of the two main I'd say kind of focus areas for those guys but look, you have Chapel Hill, on Thursdays.

Yoni Mazor 9:30
So you know, North Carolina State, that's where Georgia went to that, legendary over there, the Tar Heels.

Chris Shipferling 9:37
Yes, that's right. So I partied a little too hard. I was about to join a frat, a fraternity there came about that close, and then I had an epiphany that Spring realizing that I was flunking out of college and what the hell am I doing with my life? So I actually disenrolled myself from NC State and I enrolled myself into a small private college up in Lynchburg, Virginia. So I went there for four years, did something completely different than business, I focus more on psychology, and it was just an overall good experience. It was a more strict school. So I had to be in my dorms at a specific. I had to really run the straight and narrow, but I needed it like that, so it was a kind of an interesting time being 18 or 19 years old, and realizing that I needed massive self-discipline in my life, or else I was just going to be, I don't know where I was going effectively. I just didn't know where the path is going.

Yoni Mazor 10:37
Just think the fact that you, okay, we're partying, that was your kind of nature of the party and all of us, but you were able to really identify the way you, I guess, crossed a few limits or lines, and you got to restructure yourself, put yourself in a different environment, which is more airtight, rigid, so you can really focus on what matters for you to be successful.

Chris Shipferling 10:54
That's right.

Yoni Mazor 10:55
So what year did you graduate?

Chris Shipferling 10:59
I was supposed to graduate in 2002 but graduated in 2003. And then from there, I came back to Charlotte, so I met my wife in college. We met our freshman year and then we started dating senior year. Back in 2003, got engaged that January, and in 2004, got married that August of 2004. Around that fall, kind of springtime. I started working for a local company. So her father, he was an extremely successful businessman within juvenile products, which is you know, car seats and strollers, etc. And had just an incredible career up to that point. He was the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Graco. He was CEO of a few other different smaller businesses. At the time, he was hired by a Japanese company called Combi to run their US and North American operations.

Yoni Mazor 11:58
And Combi toys, all these toys for kids, right?

Chris Shipferling 12:02
They have some, a little bit. You know, in Japan, they've got about 40% or 45% market share. I mean, they're huge over in Japan. So when he took over the company, he moved it from, it was actually based in Chicago, and he moved it to Charlotte. So my wife started working there. And I approached him and asked him for a job, and he said, No.

Yoni Mazor 12:24
Ah, it was like keeping businesses family separate. It's interesting.

Chris Shipferling 12:33
I wasn't taking no for an answer. So I said, okay, went back to him and I said, give me a project, let me prove myself. let me show you that.

Yoni Mazor 12:41
I like that, that's the right thing to do.

Chris Shipferling 12:43
So he gave me a project, I had to go do some research into a new vertical. I actually flew out to Vegas, we were looking to get into, you've seen those Koala baby changing stations?

Yoni Mazor 12:54
Yeah, sure.

Chris Shipferling 12:54
You know, those are typically not sold.

Yoni Mazor 12:59
When you go like usually like the airport and stuff like that you see in the bathrooms like on the wall, it's a plastic kind of thing you can pull it down and as a Koala logo on it and then you can actually change your baby just for context reasons, especially if you're from the United States.

Chris Shipferling 13:13
Yeah, that's right. So I went into it. So Combi had a bunch of industrial kind of commercial-grade products that they were looking to bring to the United States market. So I actually went to a large trade show that was focused on selling to, you know, general contract commercial grade customers, and did the research on. The thesis was, it really wasn't a thesis, it was a question, but still was should Combi get into this market and if so, why?

Yoni Mazor 13:44
So your father-in-law was in charge of Combi. Basically, he's running the company, or do they have a stake in it?

Chris Shipferling 13:51
He was running the company here in North America. So it's a publicly-traded company in Japan on the Nikkei. And so at the time, he couldn't just make a lot of decisions. There was actually somebody in the company that was from Japan, who I also had a talk to about this project. Well, they greenlit the project. It was a small project. For me, it was huge, because I'm coming out of college, and I had pretty good business sense. I had a good business sense.

Yoni Mazor 14:22
Let's package this a little bit towards your degree, the degree you got in college was what?

Chris Shipferling 14:26
Psychology.

Yoni Mazor 14:28
All right.

Chris Shipferling 14:27
So I know humans which by the way, I'd say that's probably if you really want to wax poetic, a Psychology degree in Business probably is one of the best degrees you can get unless you're going and becoming a lawyer or a more specific trade, but really being able to read people and understand people. It's so important anyway, that's the side.

So I got the green light to do this project and that was the question, and I was able to discover that it's something we shouldn't get into. I won't bore you with the details, but I put together a nice call-it, 60 page kind of presentation. And I said, this is why you shouldn't do it and so they did it and they believed it. They looked at it and said, wow, this is really good work. They gave me another project to do. I proved myself yet again. Then I asked again for a job. And my father-in-law said, let me think about it. So he actually went to get permission from Combi in Japan. He said, I want to bring my son-in-law into the business, but I'm going to give him the worst position in the company, which he did, and he even called me worm's belly for the first two years. I've asked him at first why do you why are you calling me that? He said because your position is lower than a worm's belly so that's why you are a worm's belly.

Yoni Mazor 15:44
It sounds interesting, dynamics between you and him but the fact that it's also kind of a Japanese-based company, which I guess hierarchy and structure is vital. And also transparency to the bone, like everything sounds really transparent.

Chris Shipferling 15:57
Well, you're publicly traded, and you're audited every year. I mean, there's everything's out in the open.

Yoni Mazor 16:06
So you were there in Combi for how long?

Chris Shipferling 16:09
So I started off as just a kind of a typical run-of-the-mill sales rep, I got a territory, I grew it like crazy. I just put a bunch of products in my car at the time and I just went and visited every specialty store, I built relationships with a lot of different clients. I really built a good reputation for myself. But at the same time, the reputation was more than just "Hi, I'm here as a salesman, hi, I'm here to help you" like I'm here to actually grow your business with you. I'm not here to grow my business. I'm here to grow our business together. So they understood that, and I really helped them. I helped these specialty stores instead of me just throwing products on them, making a commission. It was like let's build this thing together. So eventually, I got more territory, I moved into a sales manager role where I was now managing sales reps. And then eventually I moved into Director of Sales and Marketing but in that type of title, I was effectively number two in the company at that point.

Yoni Mazor 17:07
Well, how many years did you stay in that lane?

Chris Shipferling 17:09
Seven years. So from 2003 all the way until 2010. I could have kept going, I had a little bit of a run-in with the person who was running the business at the time who just in my opinion....

Yoni Mazor 17:21
At some point in time, he moved on, or detach.

Chris Shipferling 17:24
He was gone about 2006 or 2007, he left. He actually went and he worked for a very large Chinese factory in Dongguan, and it was CEO there for a few years. So at this point, I'm on my own, we grew the business. As a team, we grow the business when I first came in, it was 4 million and we lead it to 22. By the time we left, and that was blood, sweat, and tears, man. Because at the time, we were growing it through channels like babies or us in-store and target and, I've been working with Vendor Central since I don't think we sold the Vendor Central in 2004. We were one of the first baby product brands to give Center a chance. Amazon has been a curse word in the boardroom for many years. It's not until about the past two or three years that that kind of pressure on Amazon being bad has started to subside because when you're having these large top to top meetings, and when I say top to top, you know the executive team from consumer product brand to executive team at Walmart and Target. They're in Bed Bath and Beyond. They're going to do everything they can to force your hand on not selling into Amazon, this was kind of prior to the last call it three or four years.

Yoni Mazor 18:39
In 2006 and 2007.

Chris Shipferling 18:42
No, I'd say, all the way up until like, just recent history, like 2017, 2018, Amazon has exploded over the past five, six years, just absolute explosion and you can't avoid it. When you're a consumer product company. It's part of your channel strategy period and if it isn't, then I don't know how to help.

Yoni Mazor 19:06
So when did you put Combi into the Amazon mix?

Chris Shipferling 19:09
Well, it was about 2000. I'd have to really go back in time, and I need to get my dates right. We really started ramping with them 2004, 2005 in Vendor Central, you know, cuz they were kind of known as like the book company. So, you know, we were like okay, I guess because eCommerce was rampant at the time. We were starting to sell with people like babyuniverse.com. We were selling to Albeebaby.com, which is still thriving and doing well, and I know those owners very well, good people. We were selling to some of the largest, baby products focused on eCommerce companies and that was just starting to come on the scene. In 2006 or 2007, I got a phone call from this little place called CSN stores, which turned into Wayfair, people know him as Wayfair now, saying we want to get into baby products.

Peru, I used to travel there all the time. It was again, it was CSN, and they changed her name to Wayfair. I remember selling to a lot of different kinds of eCommerce folks. And at the time, man, it was arduous because you had a lot of brick-and-mortar revenue concentration, and you had a lot of pressure from the brick-and-mortar saying hey if you sell on if you sell online to anybody, we don't want to buy your product. I mean, that was a real statement.

Yoni Mazor 20:33
So early phases over the disruption of eCommerce into the brick and mortar, Bastian puts the brands as you know, Combi or other consumer product brands into a tough spot, where do you pledge your allegiance, but you got to have foot holding in both, I guess structures, but any case I want to touch base into 2010 into your next station, what you did after Combi?

Chris Shipferling 20:39
I went to a company called Evenflo, which you may be familiar with if you have kids. It's juvenile. They had a couple of different divisions. They had the gear which is the strollers.

Yoni Mazor 21:09
And a little bit about Evenflo, where they based out of a little bit of history.

Chris Shipferling 21:12
They're based out of Miamisburg, Ohio, at least at the time. So just north of Cincinnati. It's just south of Dayton, Ohio, a terrible place to visit.

Yoni Mazor 21:21
And you said Miamisburg, Ohio?

Chris Shipferling 21:33
So I came in there as a director of sales and we had so many channels, so you had the CEO, and you had the VP of sales, we had a lot. They were completely moot. The CEO basically worked with us as directors. And so as a director, I had specific channels that I manage, one of them was actually Amazon at the time. I remember it was one of my first meetings, I had got even flew out to Seattle, I met at Amazon's headquarters and the buyer because you actually had a buying team at this point. They're all gone. And they said to me, we're only making 1% of your product. How do we fix that? And I told him, it was kind of tongue in cheek, but I was joking. Not joking, I was like, you need to raise your price and they didn't like hearing that.

So I manage them. I managed Sears and Kmart. I managed Burlington, I managed Bed Bath and Beyond. I worked with the teams that also managed Walmart and Target kind of had a lot of influence there and the conversation worked directly. It was very strong from a cross-functional perspective. It wasn't just like, an outsourced team of product development. This was a full team of product marketing, product development, engineering, quality assurance, quality control. I mean, you had hundreds of people working in this business, just in the headquarters. They had their own manufacturing plant out of Piccolo, Ohio, it was a half a billion-dollar entity.

Yoni Mazor 23:06
So did you find this empowering with your ability to sell a product, but also create new ones that are, you know, by being attentive to the needs of consumers out there. It was that kind of dynamic there or how do you launch more? How do you create the next big thing to keep you flourishing?

Chris Shipferling 23:23
Yeah, it's a great question. It's a lot of different ways that you do that, and you know, first off, we had a ton of P&G guys that worked for Evenflo.

Yoni Mazor 23:32
P&G is Procter and Gamble, which is right, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Chris Shipferling 23:35
That's right. So we had a lot of Procter and Gamble influence on the way that we kind of ran product and brand management. I mean, you understand the consumer profile of who's walking into a Walmart. You assess what's currently on the shelf, and then you try and build innovation around that. But then you're also having your brand team make sure that the brand shines, because I mean, look, you go one of two ways. You either low price, which you'll eventually die, or you actually grow a brand, which is sustainable, that's long term. So we had a lot of conversations. I mean, you know, I talk about this a lot on other podcasts, it's really where I was able to immerse myself and live in this idea of a three-year business plan. You know, that's something that we did every single year. It not only does we spend, oh my god, countless number of nights doing projections and going through sales forecasting for the next year, and a half, but then we also would sit there and actually business plan each one of our different specific channels. So Amazon got a plan, Lowe's got a plan, Walmart got a plan, Bed Bath and Beyond got a plan.

Yoni Mazor 24:46
The plan is probably based on KPIs key performance indicators with mathematically where you are now and where you would like to be.

Chris Shipferling 24:52
All the above. It was product roadmap, it was projections on those new products on current products, KPIs on kind of here's where we are on the shelf. Today, we've got four products, we want to get to seven, but we want to be strategic. Here's the competitive landscape, here's how we can win. Here's the trade marketing budget, here's what we're going to do for trade marketing activities. I mean, it is a serious exercise and opportunity and it's part of it's part of why we're really good at what we do it at Global wired it is because when we're bringing someone to market, we're not brokers, man, we're true kind of rich experience, myself and consumer products, and my partners all came from institutional investment banks. There's a lot of people out there calling themselves bankers now, which is kind of funny to us because they weren't bankers two years ago. My guys are all bankers. They were bankers because they've been bankers since day one of their careers. And I'm a consumer product guy because I've been a consumer product guy since day one of my careers, I didn't wake up and just decide, I think I'll become a consumer product expert today.

Yoni Mazor 25:58
We kind of go through where you are today, which is an investment banking into the eCommerce and Amazon space, where it sounds like you're bringing the consumer product specialty, right and then the rest of the team is in the banking experience, which together creates an enhanced experience where more value is generated for all parties involved. We're gonna touch that soon. But I want to keep this thing on track, and Evenflo, so you started 2010, and what until what year?

Chris Shipferling 26:23
So I worked there until 2013. We were owned by a pretty large private equity firm called Weston Presidio. They owned very small companies like Fender guitar and JetBlue and Party City, just things you've never really heard of before. Evenflo was one of their more, I'd say, it wasn't their largest investment, but they had a lot wrapped up in this investment, so we saw them a lot and they were very involved in

Yoni Mazor 26:59
So it sounds like the activist like Elliott Management and the finance role where you have more of an activist involved in equity firm that manages their portfolio.

Chris Shipferling 27:10
They did and they brought in, you know, Evenflo was a great experience. Like, my first CEO, he turned around Ben and Jerry's, he turned around Atari, he turned around Dove. He's got stories upon stories, he owns half of a mountain with Pete Cores out in Colorado, so being able just to sit in a boardroom and listen to how he thinks about business. It was unbelievable mentorship by Osmosis.

Yoni Mazor 27:35
It was Evenflo or...?

Chris Shipferling 27:38
It wasn't Evenflo. He was hired by the equity firm, but he worked as CEO of Evenflo, but then he went on to work for Devin Shire partners, which is effectively the investment banking arm of fidelity. So I think it was more like the hedge fund arm of fidelity. So very smart people that I worked around like it was a huge honor to work around some of these guys and learn from them.

Yoni Mazor 28:04
So 2013 What's your next station?

Chris Shipferling 28:08
So I got recruited by a company based out of Barcelona. It was also in the child product, you know, still kind of in juvenile products. They touched a little bit of a toy as well. But I moved to a completely new job and became the Executive General Manager of North America, and I was starting from scratch. Welcome to basically becoming an entrepreneur, right. So I had to start, you know, I didn't have a huge team that I could go and rely on when it came to all these different cross functions like I just came out of, I had to go and do things myself Yoni, for the first time, really in my career, where it was truly kind of starting something from a seed into something big. Now, I did have good resources in Barcelona. So it was a company called JANÉ. The Catalan way is [Jaanne]. That's how you say Catalan . I worked there until about 2016, it was a really good opportunity. We were able to build the company to a point, it really took a while to get the gears moving so that's where I got involved in amazon seller central so up to this point I've always been involved in Vendor Central I actually sold products to retails in some of the earlier days of those guys.

Yoni Mazor 29:37
I think now they're known as Kaspian.

Chris Shipferling 29:40
That's correct. I actually went out. I went out to Spokane once and Matt and was able to kind of see their offices and etc. But no, I realized very quickly that the paradigm shift was starting to occur from vendor to seller, and so kind of being in tune with that around 14, 15 I had about a half a million dollars of inventory that was sitting in my warehouse were between collections, I had to get rid of it. So I was really struggling to get rid of it through the kind of the typical channels. So look man, you can't go to Princeton at that time, you can't go to NYU or Columbia and find some executive course on Seller Central. You had to just learn from the school of hard knocks. So what did I do? I started downloading the Manny Coats podcast and just started listening to him and Kevin King wax poetic about Amazon Seller Central and how to optimize it. So then I started downloading a bunch of white papers, I started watching a lot of videos at Jungle Scout, I started just immersing myself in YouTube and learning how to actually do really good keyword research and how that really affects the A9 search engine and, you know, what are the real drivers of the A9 and, at the time what are the best practices when it comes to advertising. And then I just did it, I had a playground to be blunt...

Yoni Mazor 30:58
You started hard, and you implemented, and you put that inventory into the market and sell essential.

Chris Shipferling 31:04
My claim to fame is I got one of our booster seats to like number 12 on the BSR. I could have gone higher, I sold out of the booster seat. And again, I only had a specific amount in my warehouse I was trying to get rid of and I wasn't discounting it that much. I just got a taste of how you optimize Amazon Seller Central, and how you optimize the advertising at the time, and the output and it was awesome. So I got the injection of heroin man, I was high on Seller Central. And so from there, I actually dug in, and I really learned digital marketing, we had a outsource digital marketing firm at the time, they were really good at what they did but at the same time, I kind of took my own initiative to learn Facebook Ad Management to learn Google AdWords to understand SEO, my brother in law had always been really good at all of that stuff. And so kind of again, I use the term osmosis because it's true just by being around him. I learned a lot about SEO, I learned a lot about SEM, I learned a lot about just kind of traditional digital marketing. So JANÉ stopped around 2000 and I would want to say like 16, end of 16. If I'm getting my dates, right, they had to pull all of their investments in, so they went back...

Yoni Mazor 32:24
Back to Spain, Barcelona basically cashes out of North America.

Chris Shipferling 32:28
That's right. So they wanted to only focus on the organic markets is what they call them so that's Italy, Spain, Germany, and France and that's it.

Yoni Mazor 32:36
They tried to enter into more lanes and narrowed it down to get their focus, so to speak.

Chris Shipferling 32:41
Yeah, I think they realized, it's ironic, because we were just on the cusp of really setting up a really good product line and we had a lot of momentum going into 2017 with the product line, but it just so that stopped and I was really faced at the time with what do I do next? Where am I going to go? And I thought okay, well, I can ask around, I've clearly I know a ton of people in the industry, I could go work for somebody, I can run their company, I could be a CEO of a 15, 20, $25 million company, I could, whatever. But then I was like, you know what, I'm going to take the plunge man, like I felt that itch, just to take the plunge and start my own thing. And I said, look, I've got some knowledge here that I think is pretty fairly in demand. I know Seller Central, and this is 2016. This is like the FBA Gold Rush. So I was like, I know Seller Central, and I also know digital marketing, I'm not going to execute on it, I didn't want to really execute. I wanted to help formulate a good strategy for a lot of antiquated enterprise companies.

So I had a lot of contacts where I could go to them and say, "Hey, look, you're doing it this way, the world is moving this way, let me help you move, steer the ship into this direction, and then let me set up the right things that need to be done to keep the ship going that way". So I actually worked with several different clients. I started my own consulting agency. It worked. So I worked with enterprise clients. I developed an incredible relationship with a huge fulfillment center here in town with lots of different startups and larger clients that really needed digital help.

Yoni Mazor 34:25
What was the name of your consulting startup?

Chris Shipferling 34:30
Robert and Pearl, it is actually the middle names of my kids. It sounds like a really professional law firm, I guess. But it's a nonetheless so it was Robert a Perl and then through that process, I actually through interesting happenstance I met my partners. I met Jason who's one of the partners. We had breakfast at 6 am at a Panera Bread and we met because he at the time with my other partner, Joe, they have a private equity effort. They actually owned a company out in Oregon. It's a supply company out in Oregon and they were really looking to kind of get on Amazon. So we were meeting to talk about how we could kind of work through that.

So we were kind of talking through that and then one thing led to another, and he was asking me about my background, he realized I came from, you know, a large consumer products background. I haven't been a consultant my entire career. And then I asked him kind of what he did outside of his private equity and said, "Well, we've actually got an advisory firm". It's a middle-market investment bank called Providian advisors. And we work with traditional businesses and our thesis is, we think that lower middle markets, even middle-market businesses, deserve a better process. Then he started telling me about how he came from the institutional investment banking world...

Yoni Mazor 35:52
As he said a middle market and low market s what's the price range on that or what's the ticket on those types of activities?

Chris Shipferling 35:59
Yeah, so it was more of like touching the middle market and really working in the lower middle market. So it's revenues between 6 to 7 million, [inaudible 36:09] up to 50, 75, going up to 100 million. So at the time, they had some deal flow that was in the traditional space. You know, working for a large one was a very large manufacturing company in South Carolina. One was another you know, kind of industrial business. So they were kind of working in that traditional space and I came along...

Yoni Mazor 36:29
What's your focus? They come in and what's their function and especially [Jason?], it comes into these companies, they do up to 100 million, what does he do for them? What's his value? What's his mission?

Chris Shipferling 36:37
Well, let me get to that on global because the Providium side kind of didn't stop, but it faded down once global got going... [crosstalk]

Yoni Mazor 36:46
Yeah, that's the genesis of global because that's gonna basically embody what we're trying to do here, in terms of what of where you are now.

Chris Shipferling 36:46
Yeah, that's right. So when we started chatting, and kind of talking about just life, in general, it became abundantly clear that we should probably start something. So they had a little bit of experience. They got some memorandums from some brokers that I won't name in the space, and they analyze them and said, "Oh, my gosh, there is absolutely one, a much better way to do all of this and to be sellers are underserved" like they're not getting the right process, especially if you have a really good brand, you have a really good product or good company. And so that was the genesis, you know, the idea was presented, and we started the company.

Yoni Mazor 37:33
And this is what, 2016, 17?

Chris Shipferling 37:33
No, it was early 2018 is really when we started, and then...

Yoni Mazor 37:35
To package this, early 2018, you guys recognize that Amazon sellers, the ones that have a good business, a good product, a good brand, something that's really valuable, they're being underserved, and their ability to cash out of the game or make an exit, that was kind of the....?

Chris Shipferling 37:59
The entire process, they're being underserved. I mean, at the time, getting a two and a half multiple was like the thing right in 2018. We believe that we could come in with a better process and package the company better and we can index higher when it came to full deal structure. We also knew that we could take of a business that had a specific size, you know, the other way it was being underserved, is we could actually take this to private equity, get them to understand why we're bringing it to them, and get them to actually get excited about the company and the business. And so yeah, kind of through 2018, as we started going into 19, as we were really ramping. We were proving out that concept. I mean, it was truly being proven, we brought in, a decent amount I would say of deal flow, you know, from mid-2018, all the way into 2019. We just continued to grow and then COVID hit. And COVID has been phenomenal for this industry. It's been wonderful.

Yoni Mazor 38:59
A blessing in disguise.

Chris Shipferling 38:59
It is so you know, it's been a terrible thing from a pandemic perspective but it's been a great thing for eCommerce and kind of that shift and so, the mission for us is, we believe that small business owners, lower middle market companies that have good revenues between that, you know, 5, 6 million all the way up to that, 70, 80 million dollar level, they deserve a better process from a firm as I said earlier, we just didn't wake up two years ago and decided to be investment bankers. This is a career path, and so we bring a lot of really strong experience and value to the entire deal process. It's the analysis. It's the breakdown of the company. It's the breakdown of every function. It's the packaging of the business. It's the respect that we get through our process when we bring a deal to a corporate strategy, when we bring a deal to private equity to a family office, they listen, they respect us. So the mission is we believe that they deserve, we believe small business, we believe they deserve better, and we want to help them achieve that. We have a real passion for small business for small to medium-sized businesses. I would say every single one of our clients that you speak to one 110% would say, "Absolutely, they have a passion". We go above and beyond for our client, and it's so stinking cliche, but it's so true. You know, you and I had an offline conversation even before this, but I think you would agree with me like we're trying to do so many different things for our clients to make this process just completely optimized.

Yoni Mazor 40:43
Yeah, I want to connect that to what you mentioned, where you were basically delivering products, your first job, when your father in law put you into a Combi, instead of just dropping products at your you know, all these stores, you were actually trying to create a partnership and across value and cross-pollination ability, it's firm, and creates a growth mentality and that led you to go all the way to become a number two in the company, a Japanese company, which is a hierarchy to get up its serious stuff, it's a pure meritocracy.

Chris Shipferling 41:14
Well, man. I know it very well. It's not easy. But yeah, I mean, I think that's kind of, you know, kind of up to this point. That's, really you're right. It's like early on in the career, realizing that, look, I got really good advice. The best salespeople in the world have two major qualities. The ability to build relationships, and a work ethic. If you've got those two things, then learn the product, because the product is king, by the way. Don't let anybody fool you. Product is absolutely King and consumer products, but learning the product, understanding the product, understanding how it is in the market, all of that stuff is secondary, and can be learned by anyone. The ability to build a relationship and a work ethic, not everybody has that. But that really makes it, you boil it down that psychology piece, that's what makes a really good salesperson.

Yoni Mazor 42:07
Okay, so looking, I guess, three or five years into the future, where do you see this landscape going to, you know, and now we know it's a boomtown, COVID exasperated the growth of eCommerce that created institutional money coming into the game, you know, really willing to invest big money, big bucks into CPG companies (consumer product goods companies) so in a nutshell, what do you see there's going to?

Chris Shipferling 42:29
Yeah, great question. I'll do this as distinct as I possibly can. So right now, we're living in the canary in the coal mine portion of kind of this market maturing, right so what I mean by that is, a lot of this money that's raised is really good from a PR perspective. But when you really dive in, it's the majority debt that's being raised. It's not equity. That's a huge difference when you're looking at, do I really believe in this in this concept yet? So there's a lot of what I call the canary in the coal mine. That means we're setting the Canarian, you know, the phrase, let's see what happens to the Canary if it dies or not. Well, what's happening is, even though it's a lot of debt, these businesses that they're purchasing and these businesses that are now having a chance to get sold, are cashflow positive since day one, that's a big difference between how venture typically approaches a market versus how private equity approaches of the market. So because they're cash flowing from day one, you've got this massive fast forward. What's happening now is a private equity, corporate strategics, they're actually getting more comfortable with platform risk on Amazon. And so because of that, what you're going to see is everybody wants to talk [signal cutoff].

Corporate strategic private equity, these guys are getting comfortable. They want to come to invest in this space and I think in the next year, what you're going to see is you're going to see aggregator failure. That's not something that anybody should be scared of, or consolidation because you have 100 of them. It's just natural, you're gonna see it, but no one should be scared of that. You're gonna see, I think a lot of the top aggregators get really good at operations, they're gonna slow down their m&a, so they're gonna get pickier and pickier and pickier. I had a conversation with a couple of different people not too long ago, that said, Oh, well, they're just buying cash flow, and I'm like, sorry, 2020 called and they want their aggregator back. That's not happening anymore. Like they're not just buying cash flow.

The aggregator that we speak to is a different aggregator that a seller is speaking to. We know that they're getting more segmented, they're getting pickier, and they're starting to look at specific verticals much differently than they did say a year ago. So the game is changing, and everyone needs to realize that. So where do I see this in five to 10 years? I see eCommerce not slowing down at all, at least till 2025, 26 I think and when I say slowing down at all, I mean going the same pace that it's going right now, which is bad.

I start to see things mature a little bit. But I really do, we're already seeing it, private equity, corporate strategics, these guys are starting to come into space. And that's good news for fellas. and that's why you need good representation. You need someone who can take you through a professional process, and not just put you in front of a bunch of aggregators, that's a lazy way of doing, you've got a good business, you go through a sophisticated process, and on the other end, maybe it is an aggregator that buys your business, but you went through a sophisticated process to get to that point.

Yoni Mazor 45:39
Got it. Beautiful. So let me package to see what we have so far, and then we'll finish off. Okay, so born Chicago, raised a little bit in Connecticut, and then, for the most part, stayed in North Carolina, and Charlotte, graduated college in 2003, and then start working with Combi all the way up to 2010. Then 2010 until 2013, you worked for Evenflo based in Ohio, but you were still in North Carolina from 2013 until 2016. And working for JANÉ, you know, a company based out of Spain. And then 2016, the next session for you is a basically creative consultancy where you really focused on plugging, you know, companies into the Amazon marketplace, and all these, different categories of consumer products but then around 2018, you will meet with Jason and the team to create a Global Wired Advisors, where you guys really focus on breaking down the components of eCommerce businesses and also Amazon businesses, what's the essence of it and what's the best part of it and then take it to a sophisticated process of an exit strategy and by that getting hopefully better multiples of the better value of all parties involved. And that's pretty much where you are today, focused on it hard because it's the golden age of eCommerce. So do we get it correct so far?

Chris Shipferling 47:02
You nailed it, man. You did a great job.

Yoni Mazor 47:05
All right, sweet. So now I want to ask about two last things. The first thing will be is if somebody wants to reach out and connect, where can they find you and the last thing which will be very quickly, what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?

Chris Shipferling 47:16
Yeah, so globalwiredadvisors.com just go to our website, pretty easy. Go to go to Google and type in global wired advisors, you'll find it for number one that comes up. On the website, plenty of places to get in touch with us, plenty of ways to kind of interact with us. My second open inspiration. If you're thinking about it, just jump off the cliff. If anybody's kind of thinking about starting, if anybody is on listening to this and thinking about starting their business, just go and do it. Open inspiration, anybody who's already in it, get an Iron Stomach because there are lots of ups and downs. There's gonna be a lot of oh my gosh, this is so great and oh my gosh, I hate this so much. So just get an Iron Stomach because it's not an easy road going the entrepreneurial path.

Yoni Mazor 48:02
Got it. So jump into the game, get an Iron Stomach, you'll probably find success in really rather than later. Beautiful style. Chris, thank you so much, much success and continue the growth of you and the firm. I hope everybody enjoyed it, learn something new. I certainly did. Stay safe and healthy.