Phil Haswell of ZonOps talks about Scaling Your Amazon Business Operations Using Software.
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Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk today I'm excited to have a special guest. Today I'm having Phil Haswell. Phil is the founder and CTO of ZonOps. ZonOps is a solution that helps e-commerce sellers systemize and scale their business by functioning as a back office in a box approach. So Phil, welcome to the show. My pleasure to have you over today. Alright, so today's story is gonna be all about you the story of Phil. So you're gonna share with us? Where are you? Where are you from? Where were you born? Where did you grow up? Where did you begin your professional career all the way to where you are today. So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Phil Haswell 0:51
Okay, thanks, Yoni. Well, it's that's interesting because that's not something that I often like talking about is me. Usually finding out about other people. But I'm obviously from my accent Australian and I live in Brisbane, which is the capital of Queensland here. I grew up probably...Yeah. Well, close to it about probably about 30-40 kilometers from Brisbane and other city called Ipswich are born there. And I spent the first 20 years of my life there. Ipswich Town. Ipswich. Yes. So I think there's another one in New York. Okay, if I'm not mistaken, there is another one in England and Ipswich was at one stage many years ago, long before my time was considered as one of the options for the capital of Queensland, but didn't quite make it. So. But yeah, it was a small town of probably a few 100,000 people, it was quite prosperous for quite a long time in the mining and woolen industries. But again, that was just before my time, before I came along. And...
Yoni Mazor 1:57
You say what this is the previous century what and the during the 40s 50s 60s after World War?
Phil Haswell 2:01
Yeah, that yeah, that's pretty much it. Yeah, yeah. And then my, my parents, my dad was a cabinet maker. And my mom was a broadcast journalist. So I saw her a lot on TV and on the radio and that sort of stuff when I was a kid growing up, and
Yoni Mazor 2:19
That’s very cool. Was this national or just regional when she was reporting that
Phil Haswell 2:24
it was mostly regional, but she did do national work as well, especially towards, you know, middle to later part of her career and then ended up lecturing in broadcast journalism at the University of Queensland. Before she finished up there, my dad was a cabinet maker did amazing cabinetry work and did a lot of work on the long-distance trains in the first-class carriages and things like that. Making them all first class I guess, And he was a top footballer or football as in soccer. And, and at one stage I think he was, I remember, I was told I was drunk for the first time when I was only a baby in my mother's arms because he was being veted by an Italian club over in Italy to go and play over there. They put on a party for him and they kept topping up my mum's champagne and obviously I was still like a baby. And I kept drinking out of it. In those days, I had the glasses that the champagne glasses were the you know, the wide ones not the tall flutes. So it was quite easy, apparently for me to get drunk without noticing.
Yoni Mazor 3:36
Wow, yeah, probably sweet and tasty. So I was initially consumed probably. Yeah that's probably so yeah, so grew up there went to school, I played all sorts of different sports. Football, ran track played cricket. And did was quite competitive. And trained probably six days a week I reckon. 50 weeks a year for cricket. For track for running. So did that was quite, quite serious back in those days. And then from there, I went to uni and I didn't know what I wanted to do. When I grew up. I wanted to do at uni was physiotherapy.
Yoni Mazor 4:23
What year did you start university? Why did you enter?
Phil Haswell 4:27
1986, I think.
Yoni Mazor 4:32
1983 you hit the university not sure what you want to study? If so what did you eventually land on?
Phil Haswell 4:37
Well, I ended up doing psychology to start with so I did four years of psych and I still didn't know what I wanted to do when I grew up and but I didn't want to do psychology as a career. So I looked around and I noticed my aunt and my uncle were teachers and they seem to have a pretty good lifestyle. So I thought I'll do teaching and I went and did education after I did psychology and became a teacher. I ended up finishing when it was 1990. I graduate in 90 I graduated with my postgraduate studies in education. Are you at university for five years? Yep, four years of that. And four years of sorry, five must have been five years, four years of psych. And any postgraduate course in education was another year. And you graduate say 1990? Or 91? 90, yeah, I started work for the first time on my 22nd birthday. I think it was full-time as a teacher.
Yoni Mazor 5:39
So full-time out of college teaching. It wasn't like any, any second-guessing was like, you know, you're gonna be teaching you got a full-time job. And…
Phil Haswell 5:47
Yeah, that's pretty much what I'd done and was looking to get into the workforce and, started teaching. I went, I got posted to a school out in the country, probably about six hours from Western Brisbane.
Yoni Mazor 6:03
So when you say posted, you're working for the public school system, so they can kind of...
Phil Haswell 6:06
I was in the public school system. Yeah. It wasn't private or anything. No, not at that stage. So I started out in this in the public school system, teaching and I started in primary schools teaching in a primary school. The town had 600 people in it. And that wasn't just the town actually, the was the area. So all of including all the farms in the region, it was 600 people. So it was...
Yoni Mazor 6:29
And how far was it from Brisbane or Ipswich? Or where you're where you were kind of working?
Phil Haswell 6:35
Yeah, probably about six hours. Yeah. Six hours southwest.
Yoni Mazor 6:38
So you relocated your life? You start living there?
Phil Haswell 6:40
Yeah, yep. Pretty much. So I started that. Yeah. And then, and then I took some time off after a couple of years. And, and I was looking are still looking for what it was that I wanted to want to do.
Yoni Mazor 6:57
Let’s, so how many years were you basically teaching and you know, until you basically just...
Phil Haswell 7:01
Just a couple. Yeah, just a couple of years to start with. And then. And then I took a couple of years off, and I traveled, I went, I went to Europe, and traveled around Europe for a while and came up.
Yoni Mazor 7:15
So what year did you leave teaching and start traveling, let's put some chronology into this.
Phil Haswell 7:20
Okay, so that would have been it. I can't even remember what happened last time on Yeah. Oh, that would have been probably around about 1993.
Yoni Mazor 7:37
So close to three years where you are, you're kind of tasting the life and world of teaching and especially in a remote little town..
Phil Haswell 7:46
Yeah, remote area, it was, it was a great experience. And, but it was still I was still unsure. So I headed off to Europe for a little while. And to places like England and Scotland and France and Austria and Italy. I spent a few months traveling around there. And then came back home.
Yoni Mazor 8:07
But what compelled you to be in your 20s, mid-20s to uproot yourself and go travel the world? And like what was the dynamics? you started your career you're teaching, you know, in a primary school? What a start up? I want to get to that mindset. You know what, at the time if I may?
Phil Hasell 8:22
Yeah, so I knew that I could. As such a young person, I knew that I like I was getting the hang of the whole teaching thing. And there were aspects of it that I enjoyed, but I wasn't really it wasn't really me. I did it because I wasn't sure what to do and but seem to have a good lifestyle with you know, the hours and the holidays and once was tough, it was a holiday.
Yoni Mazor 8:49
So what compelled you as a lifestyle, but when you actually tasted the reality for a bunch of good years, you put you know, I guess you start to feel like some sort of a void where maybe there's more to your talent, skill, and motivation and your energy to be placed somewhere. So you take yourself out of where you know, which is Australia, and travel the world especially focus on Europe. Is that kind of the dynamic?
Phil Haswell 9:08
Yeah, pretty much that that was it and I traveled because I thought I need to do something different. I need to find out a bit more. I hadn't really been too far from where I've grown up in though in those first 20 years I'd traveled a bit been overseas a couple of times and we've been on holidays around the place but I was still looking so you know what is it that I wanted to do and to be.
Yoni Mazor 9:31
Let's touch here for today for a second so if you could mouse over there what you discover anything that kind of was dramatically or kind of give you an epiphany of something or what was the taste of your
Unknown Speaker 9:38
No, No. It took a few years longer to start for the light bulb to start to go on but it was just fantastic to experience other cultures and see the beauty that's in the world. There is so much magic and beauty and learning about other people and where they are from And it was just yeah, it was just my experience. Yeah, you’ve got to experience it.
Yoni Mazor 10:11
Yep, so when go back to Australia, what was the next station?
Unknown Speaker 10:14
Yep, came back here and I was going home wondering what I'm going to do now. And I ended up working in the ski industry for a couple of two or three years. So I worked as a tour guide. But our ski resorts here in the southern part of Australia, and I'd live places apart much further north. And I worked for a ski tour operator and I took I was a tour guide, and I took coach loads of people from Brisbane, down to the various ski resorts for a week-long, travel overnight, spend five days in the snowed, make sure they'd have a good time and sort out all their problems and no issues about tickets or boots or ski hire or whatever it was and...
Yoni Mazor 10:56
So you organize the whole environment, make sure everything is streamlined, your experiences superb, it's flawless, it's good.
Phil Haswell 11:02
Yeah, I coordinated everything and just made sure everyone was having a great time. And that was a fantastic opportunity for me because I was a pretty quiet, very shy kind of person before that. But it allowed me to start to step out of that I had to wear a hat, some other hat, that wasn't me to be a whole lot more engaging with people and finding out about them. And helping them have a good time and making sure that their experience was the best possible one that they could have while I was there. So that was great. And as a bonus, I got to ski five days a week, every time I was down in the snow. And I did that for a couple of years. And then one of the years I spent the entire season in one of the resorts here at Thredbo Resort, working for that ski tour operator. And then I spent another season in Whistler in Canada. And then another season after that in, in France in Aptos, which is a very famous stage of the Tour de France. It's one of those old-fashioned ski resorts there.
Yoni Mazor 12:04
I gotta stop you right here. Let’s create this little small triangle just to summarize on the skill level between I want you to kind of, in a nutshell, give me the comparison between the skiing Australia, Canada, and France go. In a nutshell.
Phil Haswell 12:21
[Laughs] Comparison, Australia's got nothing on the quality or the amount of snow when either of the other two in either of those two places. And the atmosphere is very different spending Christmas in Canada. Was, It was great. Yeah, that was the first experience of cold, White Christmas compared to the hot sweaty summers here in Australia.
Yoni Mazor 12:47
Right, because you're under the equator. So it's a flip. Yeah, right. That's true. Yeah,
Phil Haswell 12:51
Yeah. So it was a wonderful experience because it was so different. Yeah, having a Christmas, white friends between
Yoni Mazr 12:56
France and Australia or France and Canada and nutshell?
Phil Haswell 13:05
Um, probably just the people that again, the cut, you know, the type of people who live there, the culture that they come from, and the way they live their life.
Yoni Mazor 13:14
The environment that they build, usually, it's not it's turistico, but also there's actually a community around it that kind of is attached to the resort. That's kind of the unique thing with Europe. Really.
Phil Haswell 13:23
Yeah, that's that. That's, that's right. Yeah, it was, it was great. It was great to meet the locals and be with them. When I was in France, that was that was a big, big thing.
Yoni Mazor 13:33
Gotcha. So you get a taste of basically the ski resort but also the cultural life. That's kind of the added value there are beautiful so you spent a few years in the ski industry. You get all this experience once again, Expand your horizon and master organization and also wearing a hat and being more outspoken and really putting yourself out there. And what was the next station after that?
Phil Haswell 13:52
I went back to teaching for a while, I thought I'm better what year was that.
Yoni Mazor 13:56
What year was that? So because remember you swept away from teaching 93 and then when did you go back what year?
Phil Haswell 14:03
So that would have been 90 roundabout 96 or 97? Probably 97 I think it was.
Yoni Mazor 14:08
So three-four years and travel the world you focus on this industry and then you go back into teaching?
Phil Haswell 14:14
Yeah, so in that three or four years too, I spent a lot of time focusing on sport as well. So as well as the skiing I did triathlon pretty much almost on a full-time kind of basis just not as a professional or anything but just because I really enjoyed doing that. Yeah, so we went back to teaching, and again I went out west, probably about five hours west southwest of Brisbane again, I spent the year out there I think. And then I got a job as head of a department at a private Boys School in Brisbane. As for special needs, looking after special needs, just for this for the school. That was a couple of years and probably three years in total in there. But it was while I was at that school where the light bulb went off for me. I was still looking, I still need teaching wasn't for me, I was still going on, what am I going to do? And that's one day when I was standing at the school sports, Carnival is the athletics Carnival within the school. And I was standing behind a couple of dads, most of these parents at this particular school, they're either in business or they're very skilled and highly paid professionals. And a couple of dads are talking and standing behind them talking to one of the other teachers, but I overheard them and one of them said to the other something that kind of made me go hang on a minute, what's going on here? Which was something along the lines of why should I work more than two days a week if I don't have to. And that's sort of taken out of context of the whole conversation. But that kind of went that be it made me go, what's going on there. That was combined with my observation of the kids, the students in that school had very different attitudes to the ones in the public schools that I taught at so. And I'd been aware of this for some time over the last few months, I was trying to put the finger on what it was. And it finally dawned on me after sometime after this, overhearing this conversation between the two dads it was the boys that that that private school where they grew up in a different environment at home and their parents were those highly skilled, highly trained, highly operational Rafa. Yeah. And, and business people and they were learning something completely different. Because most of the teachers, including me, like I'd come from, I guess, almost like a blue-collar class into the, into the middle-class sort of stuff. As I was growing up, our family moved into that sort of space. And most of the teachers are in that middle-class kind of space as well. And, and we've all been taught, you got to study hard, go to school, study hard, get good grades sake, and get a job and all those sorts of things. And, and these kids were different at school, it was kind of like they didn't, they knew that they were okay without having to go and get a job because at home that was sitting around the kitchen table and listen to their family. We're talking about business and entrepreneurialism, and all those things that I had no idea about. And I think that was the difference in the attitude or the types of kids that were at that particular school compared to the other schools that I've been to, and that started me on my quest, I guess to find out what is this other way of being.
Yoni Mazor 17:53
It's fair to say that this little competition between these parents in the private school you were teaching at, basically, you know, put the light bulb on but also kind of put the entrepreneurial, entrepreneurial bug in you. Is that fair to say?
Phil Haswell 18:07
Yeah, I would say so. I think that entrepreneurial bug had been there a bit. But because of my, my experience, my history of my upbringing, and my experiences, I didn't know what that was. And it wasn't something that my parents or their parents knew much about at all, or at least didn't impart my perspective. And I started to look, so I started reading books, I started going to seminars and courses and, and I started, and I heard about, there are opportunities everywhere. And I thought I can't see any opportunity. Where do I start? Yeah, where are these opportunities? Where do I start. But these days, it's, you know, I see opportunities everywhere too, because I'm much more open to them. Now I have a different, hopefully, a different mindset.
Yoni Mazor 18:58
Yeah. Calibrated differently, to recognize these vast opportunities as an entrepreneur that has confidence in your abilities. Okay, so what we're already heading into the 2000. What was the next stationt for you, after the private school?
Phil Haswell 19:12
Um, well, while I was there, I was doing my master’s of education. And that was in was finishing that off, but I also decided to retrain and get into the IT world. And so in 2000, I finished my masters of education, I've finished retraining in it, and I found another job which was pretty hard to do back into that tooth out towards the end of 2000 in the IT world because everything just sort of crashed at that point in the IT world industry. Yeah, not just a burst. So so that was pretty hard to do. I'd applied for all sorts of different jobs in the IT world looking to start a new career. Still trying to get a handle on this entrepreneurial thing and I ended up finding a job in Sydney, I had to go to Sydney to get a job. And it was with a very small software development company. And I think it was the fourth developer on board at the time. And they had a contract with the Royal Australian Navy to develop the mind Warfare Command support systems for the Navy and which. Naval or naval mine warfare, so mine warfare systems so that we're developing technology, you know like the ship hits the mind and blows up. Yeah. That's very aggressive. All right, good. It is, but it's it was all the software that was for the mind hunters and the mind sweepers and the clearance divers to actually find those mines and to dispose of them was not the aggressive side, the defensive side. So I had a fantastic opportunity to learn from a fantastic company that was small, and I learned how to develop software really well. And I got to do something that was pretty exciting at the time around these tactical displays, and, and all sorts of really cool things like that. I mean, Google Maps didn't exist back then. But it was, you know, we were doing things with, with satellite images, and all sorts of other things. And it was, it was a great place to start. So I did that. And for a couple of years, and then I had my first child was born, then. And we decided we decided to move back to Brisbane closer to the family because we had no support down no family around us anyway. So we've moved back to Brisbane, and I set up a more established reverse business set up as a software development company in Brisbane and, and started developing bespoke systems for, for businesses, developing database systems and those sorts of things.
Yoni Mazor 22:01
And so what year was that when you move back to Brisbane and set up the business?
Phil Haswell 22:04
Yeah, it would have been around 2002, probably around 2003, I think that would have been...
Unknown Speaker 22:10
Go it, so about two, three years, you're already getting your experiences, you know, with the software development, as your firstborn, you know, it gets born, you need a family environment, you go back home to Brisbane, but you have enough confidence and experience under your belt to open up your shop.
Phil Haswell 22:24
Yeah, pretty much I think I don't know about the experience. But I was, I was confident enough that I and had enough of that entrepreneurial, bent that I just wanted to jump in and do my own thing and start my own business. So did that. And we had a small business going and was getting work with different projects to do. And one of those projects was for a school. As it turned out, the principal approached us and said, I need this system to help me support my staff and my kids. And it was around behavior management and student welfare. And they would try and it was in a low socio-economic area. And they had lots of problems within the school. But he knew that most of the problems were only minor. And if you could get everything on track, most of the kids would pull their socks up and get on with it and start behaving themselves better. And that way, they could then focus more on the kids who didn't need a lot of help. So we developed this system for him based on the framework that they used. And because of my educational background, I started to get excited about this. And I ended up commercializing the product...
Yoni Mazor 23:41
That’s great it’s a nice closure where you take your school experience as a teacher or along your software development skills and created almost like the perfect storm for you to be excited about.
Phil Haswell 23:52
It did yeah, and I was seeing the results too. Because once we implemented the first release of this product into his school, after one term, after 10 weeks, the number of kids misbehaving drops 66%, or two-thirds of the kids stopped misbehaving. And it stayed like down at that level. And it made such a big difference for them. The amount of time the teachers were spending or the deputy principals were spending trying to figure out you know, where things were at with the kids. It just saved them so much time just the time has cut down from over an hour after lunchtime just dealing with lunchtime incidents down to like five minutes and number of kids but you know the kids improve their behavior.
Yoni Mazor 24:34
That’s great. So so that’s the element So the ability to create structure through technology, basically eliminated, practically eliminated all the time that it was consuming beforehand. And it brought tremendous efficiency.
Phil Haswell 24:48
Yeah, the difference that made for that for the kids and the teachers in that school was was was very noticeable. So I got even more excited about it and decided to commercialize it. And Jeez, that was a learning experience commercializing the software. Yeah, it was a ride, it took, it took a while it's the education system is a very tough market, I've got to say it's a very, very tough market. They're used to getting been given software by the big, massive providers like Microsoft, they get all this, they pretty much get given that sort of stuff for free. And then you come along, and you've got a little, little, you know, cottage industry type of business going along, and you've got staff and you got to pay wages, and you've got to charge for your software. And I didn't quite understand that at the time. And also two, they were they weren't up with the technology as well. So there would be, or we don't really use computers much here sort of thing back in those days anyway, within that environment. So it um, it took a while, but we were in schools throughout Australia. And it was being used for probably about 14 or 15 years in schools. For about 14 or 15 years?
Yoni Mazro 26:02
14 - 15 years? Wow, that's pretty good. Yeah, that's for a whole generation. It's pretty good.
Phil Haswell 26:07
Yeah. And other ones came along, you know, other competitors and things came along the way. And then also the government's the public schools, in pretty much all the states centralized their systems. And so uniform, uniform approach. Yeah, so those schools moved away from using other platforms. So that kind of all, you know, it had its lifecycle. And but it was looking back on it was a great experience. Yeah, it was very helpful for where we were remastered.
Yoni Mazor 26:39
So the trajectory for you, you start around 2003, you know, being your shop. And then as you found a way of creating the solution for the school system, you ran with it for 1415 years straight. That was the main business model?
Phil Haswell 26:52
Yeah, that business ran for about probably about four or five years. And then my personal life went out the window, my marriage broke up, broke down, and after my second child was born,
and the business kind of went out the window along with my life
Yoni Mazor 27:14
This is around 2007 2008 Yeah. And also, did the financial meltdown in 2008 affected you as well?
Phil Haswell 27:24
Yeah, so that, yes, it did. So I, I then went, I then was working as a contractor and a consultant. After my business sort of went belly up. And then my life went belly up. And, and it took me a while to recover from those things on a personal level. But I'd so I had to put food on the table. And I was consulting and contracting to all sorts of businesses and large organizations and government departments around business analysis and project management and consulting sort of work. So I've been inside hundreds and hundreds of businesses and non-government, sorry, not for profit organizations and government organizations, since then, doing that sort of thing. And, and I've had mostly done that sort of work. Since that time, with a short period where I, again, still looking for that break back into the business side of things. I bought a telecommunications company. And I built that up over a couple of years.
Yoni Mazor 28:28
What year was that?
Phil Haswell 28:31
Well, that was, that would have been probably about 10 years ago.
Yoni Mazor 28:38
So around 2010 to 2011. Yeah, so about three or four years, focusing more consulting, you get a vast experience with organization levels. And then 2010 2011 you buy, what do you buy, again?
Phil Haswell 28:52
A telecommunications company provided telecommunication services. So find internet data, you know, big fat data pipes since ASD and...
Yoni Mazor 29:06
That sounds pretty big. That's, that's pretty heavy. How large was his investment?
Phil Mazor 29:12
Oh, I wasn't big about it wasn't a big one at all. It was it was quick. in the scheme of things. It wasn't big. But I built that up over a couple of years. And I sold that business for a 250% return on the investment. So that was pretty good. And then I went back to doing the consulting sort of work. And while I was doing that, we came across the whole Amazon business model and thought what an amazing business model and opportunity.
Yoni Mazor 29:46
What year was that because this is the year when e-commerce comes knocking on your door? That's what I got to capture.
Phil Haswell 29:58
Hmm, Let's see.
We’re the auditor's, this is what we do and that's my business. You're being audited. No lie, no lie, in the studio record. So it's part of the experience, but I want you to air it out. It's probably about six years ago. Right so 2015. Yeah. So yeah, e-commerce comes knocking at your door. And what was the context again, you're doing consulting and how did it present itself?
Phil Haswell 30:25
Angie, my wife sent me they sent me a link to an ad basically, and probably a Facebook ad about an education provider that, that taught people how to source products and sell on Amazon. Because she's very entrepreneurial, as well, extremely entrepreneurial, as well. And, yeah, so she sent me this thing, hey, have a look at this. What do you think about this, and we've been talking about the start of starting a business together, we weren't quite sure what that was going to be. And we were waiting for our son to, to get a little bit older towards school. But Dave is only about two at the time. But we really liked the business model. So we jumped in and, and then took up the course and we did the course work. And we started our Amazon business and e-commerce business. Back about six years ago.
Yoni Mazor 31:24
Okay, so you actually became a seller. So that was your game. Oh, yeah, you got into the game. Nice and got into the game, for context reasons. So you're still you know, you entered into the selling on Amazon and selling online. At the same time, you're basically still doing consulting. But what was Angie doing? What was her background?
Phil Haswell 31:42
Well, she was she her background was business as well. She, she had when I met her she had a business that was in the health and wellness space. And she and it was this particular business that she had at the time was she'd been running for about eight years and had a probably a staff of about 10 to 12 staff. And they provided in the Sunshine Coast here in south southeast Queensland, in the hinterland, but in the hill in the mountains are not mountains, the hills, the hills, the coast, there is a lot of it's, you know, beautiful area, rain forests, all those sorts of things. And there's a lot of BnB Bed and Breakfast type places and little hotels dotted throughout the hills. And a lot of the time people go there for romantic weekends. And so she provided a service there where couples could get massages to side by side in their hotel room or in their b&b room that Well, there's a lot with hospitality. Yeah. We call it industry. Yep. And when I met her, she was spending ages doing the back end, back-office type work, taking bookings, allocating staff to those bookings, and all sorts of things. And I was, so this mobile services going on and I was wanting to go on dates, but she spent ages on the phone texting her therapists going have kids hear the details. So I ended up building her a back-office system. And I saw that I could go out on dates with to go on dates with her instead of having to wait to finish doing all that work. So it was much quicker and easier for her to get everything done.
Yoni Mazor 33:30
That's great. I love that. So in order for you to be able to date her, you actually take your skills to create a flow for her. So there's more time for leisure and for social life. Yeah, and I went so well if you ended up getting married. So I love that. That's really good. Okay, so let's jump into 2015 you bought on our partners? Are you diving into the e-commerce world? So let's touch on that. And then I guess all the way into Amazon obstacles there.
Phil Haswell 33:55
So yeah, after saying we've watched these videos of this from this particular education organization, and decided to commit and we jumped into the course and just started putting it just started applying what we were learning and we sourced our first product and so Angela's doing all the work around the product, where the product was going to be and then the whole marketing side of it once we got that side done, my job was to look after all the operations so I had to find the suppliers I had to negotiate with suppliers I had to organize the you know, dollar ordering and the freight forwarders and the shipping plans and listings and then Andrew take over again with the whole marketing side of it once it was there.
Yoni Mazor 34:45
So the marker is on the market research and marketing and packaging and branding. Well, you pretty much-taking care of all the rest of the operation, which involved finance, logistics, and the following.
Phil Haswell 34:55
Yeah, that's pretty much how it worked. And it worked really well. But During that time, when I was doing that, as it was, I was, I've been working with organizations for years and, you know, consulting and that sort of thing about helping them improve the way they did their brand their businesses, to get better outcomes. And I was, I had stuff all over the place. And I knew that if we were going to scale with intention was to do something big with this, and, you know, probably sell the business in four or five years time and, and just wash, rinse and repeat. So do it again, with a different brand. But we had one product to start with, and I said stuff all over the place. And, and I was wasting so much time trying to find everything, you know, like finding information that is needed or, or taking so much time to, to put together a purchase order, because the information was all over the place. And then double-triple checking, and all those sorts of things. So I went looking for a system to help support me in the job that I had to do because that's what I've been doing for other people for years, putting systems in place for them, whether they be technology systems or otherwise, and, and improve the business operations of things because I knew that if we were going to scale this way, there's no way we're going to be able to profitably scale a business. If I had stuff all over the place, and I went looking for systems, and I couldn't find anything to do the job. So that's when I jumped back in for myself this time. And I built on Ops, to help us run our business, our back-end operations, and to centralize aware information, and to automate the processes. And that had a big impact again, on our business. And in that it saved time, we could focus on what we needed to focus on with our e-commerce business.
Yoni Mazor 36:45
So one day, when was the first I guess, released, the first version released for you guys to use it on yourself? And then along from that point on, you realize, okay, we have something here that we can maybe commercialize in the same way that you did with the educational remember when you had the setup or the system you said for the occassional oh I can probably commercialize and had a 15-years with that. So take us there.
Phil Haswell 37:14
Yeah, so three, it's over three years ago that I started to build the software. So it's a couple of years, probably 18 months, two years into our e-commerce business. And I had sat down to write, I'm going to do something for myself. Before that probably another 12 months before that, and I sat down, and I had writer's block as nothing came to mind, I knew I had to do something for us. But I didn't quite figure it now at that point how I was going to do that. In the meantime, over those couple of three years that we were doing the whole e-commerce thing, we were engaged and involved with different groups, different communities within that that e-commerce space. And I could see from the chatter in the groups that people were struggling with a lot with e-commerce and e-commerce has got a lot of moving parts, there are lots of moving parts in e-commerce. It's not that the model is simple. But there's the business isn't necessarily simple, because there are so many different moving parts to it. And all sorts of things happen. And I can see that so many people were struggling because they'd been sold hope, by you know, the salespeople who have these training organizations and that had their dreams and they want people to want to achieve their dreams and their motive. But most of these people coming to e-commerce, from what I could tell, had not come from a business background, some head but a lot hadn't. And they were struggling with things that had nothing to do with what they were being taught in these courses, those courses were quite good. And they taught the mechanics of sourcing products and selling on Amazon, creating listings, and selling on Amazon. But that they didn't have the business experience. And it was there that they were struggling. So I could see that this was that I wanted to be able to help these people as well in that space. So while I was struggling with my own systems and processes, I could see other people struggling with the same sort of thing. And I think a lot of the time most people don't even realize that. E-commerce sellers who had who are evolving from maybe nine to five topics are doing as a side hustle that doesn’t even know that. The core of their problems was kind of relates to systems and processes.
Yoni Mazor 39:26
Structure, I call it structure where there's all over the place. Then there's an opportunity for ZonOps or a smart system technologically to streamline everything into one centralized place. It is always visibility it’s turnkey. There are SRP standard procedures for everything. So once you have a structure in place, then you can probably throw in more people to work with your organization in one unit for a matter, like a mini-army if you like. And that is one of the businesses really able to scale and become skilled.
Phil Haswell 39:56
That's it. Yeah, it takes away a lot of the pain Other people are feeling. And I know that that's what I was feeling. So eventually I sat down just over three years ago, and I just started to develop the system for us. But I had in mind all these other people as well. So when I started it for us, so I started with the end in mind, which is pretty important.
Yoni Mazor 40:19
So you realize you're on a mission because you're a part of a community and your message to sell something for yourself. But knowing that being a part of a community, listening, and having in mind that depends on the others are created in a way where it's open for them to also utilize if it's all turned out to be a successful experiment.
Phil Haswell 40:34
Yeah, and help those guys, help as many people out as I could in that regard, too. But anyways, developed it for so probably, we started using it within, you know, the core of it that because of the way we developed it, we were able to actually start using it pretty much straight away, even though there's still a lot more to do at the time. So within probably eight weeks of starting, we started to use it in our business, and then built it up over, over around about 12 months, other people started using it within our mastermind and our community plus people that we knew. And they were saying, so you know, you should get this out there to other people as well. And I was wanting to do that. But I was also very wary because of my previous experience of commercializing. Commercializing software, it's a big job. It's a massive job to commercialize the software. A you would know.
Yoni Mazor 41:27
Yeah you gotta, you got to know that, I mean, every industry has its evolution and dynamics. But e-commerce, like you mentioned, has a lot of more moving parts, which creates extra, more elements and layers of things being dynamic, always needs, and I'm gonna interchange. So as long as you have that in mind, and I'm sure you do, you'll be ahead of the game because you know, that's when we really become a winner helpful for the seller, because, you know, they, they need a good system that keeps them up to date on things, and you know, others, or surprises them, you see what's coming, you already updated your software, add those features. And as users come in, you actually push them up to play a bit better. But oh, you realized the feature that has, it's so it's integrated, the progress is integrated into the product and the solution that you offer. As long as you have that in mind, you always be on the safe track. And as long as you're attending your years, are attentive to the community, the needs of the community, the needs of the sellers, and you can take from, you know, all the success you're creating right now, and then trickle down to, you know, the future clients. I believe, you know, this from my own personal experience, I believe it will be a design office will be, you know, destined for growth. And so, no worries about that as long. But once again, it's a big task. It's a big commitment. It is, yeah, you have a beautiful, nice team, you and Angie, a very nice, very warm, very honest. And I think that's exciting and exhilarating. Oh, yeah, you're about to finish off on Sunday.
Phil Haswell 42:50
No, thank you. Thanks, Yoni. Appreciate that. Yeah, it was just terrible. Yeah, built it up. And on 27th of March. Last year, so just over 12 months ago, is when we launched it commercially. In the making for… So it's just been over 12 months on the, on the in the commercial space. And it's been a journey, and there's a long way to go with it. But it's been just been knowing that it can make a difference and help people do better with it, where they want to go with their brains is pretty important to me, and, and, you know, it's what I love about your business too, with, with your business, you're helping other people, it's a win-win for everybody. And the way that you operate from what I know of you it's about helping other people. And if you help them, then it's helping you as well. But you're not helping yourself before you're helping those other people. Your the way your model works is just wonderful.
Yoni Mazor 43:57
Embrace user and the client comes first comes first, whatever is helpful for that, that it's almost like a needle in business, you need a compass, you knew I might go on the right track. I think also I learned this from Amazon because I know that Amazon is always in their big import meetings, they always have an empty chair for the customer. Right? The end-user, so they're really questioning if you know there's maybe multiple options for a certain direction. You always need to have in mind what would your customer say? What would the consumer or the end-user appreciate the most out of these options? And then you let that guide you so we try to you know, focus on that and past six years in your experience in your first year. But once again, if you use that as a compass, you know, I'm pretty confident that you guys will keep on growing and, you know, reach more success. But as it stands right now, so you also focus still on the retail side. So you have two platforms you're focused on to five years from now, where would you What would you wish you and yourself and your team to be a partner?
Phil Haswell 44:51
Yeah, it will. The two businesses are going and she's more focused on the on the retail business the e-commerce business. So for the last couple of years, I've just been pretty much 100%. On, on up so it's just been my baby for quite a while and it just focused on that in five years’ time. We're hoping that we've been able to, to help as many people as we can to build their e-commerce businesses and chief what it is that they're whatever that is that they want to achieve, and see what else we can do you know, where else we can go, who knows where we're going to end up. We've got that part though, as we want to be able to help these people run their businesses, and e-commerce is just growing so much.
Yoni Mazor 45:40
Yeah, so I do believe you guys are in the right place at the right time. So to keep that mission going, you guys should do just great. Okay, so I want to package up see everything that we have so far, and then we'll take it to the last part of the episode. So once again, born raised in Australia, Ipswich slash Brisbane, you, you graduate out of university around 19 9091. And for the first two, three years, you're in education, in our Motown, then you want to expand your horizons a little bit, taste the world. So you go visit Europe, and then you also dove into the ski industry. And we also were able to take the word a little bit also in the shape of Canada and France. And then around 1997, he started working as a teacher, again, up until the year 2000, when he started going into it, he wanted to basically work in, you know, the information technology industry, which was kind of experiencing issues because of the.com bubble exploded. But nevertheless, you're able to find yourself a position for about two, three years, working for a company that was setting up systems for the mind, for the Royal Navy, right, the Navy of Australia, and you know, help them protect against mines, I guess you got your real-life experience and business experience in developing high-level technology. And then in one year, the first job worn was, it came to the world, around 2003, you relocated to back to Brisbane, your home base when you had the family around you and you delve into the world of business, once again, this is after you also worked as a private tutor. I saw him as a teacher in a private school when you overheard a conversation where there you know, the entrepreneurial bug was signaling to you that you know, there's different paths in life than just working nine to five and committing to a certain role. Take a few years to develop a software solution for the education system, helping with the discipline of children that had its own life of about 14 - 15 years. And then around 2007 eight, you know, life goes into a kind of a roller coaster, you kind of you, you wrap up the businesses and you go back into being you know, a consultant, you get them once again, more experienced with large bodies, governmental bodies, nonprofit bodies, and corporations, all the way up until well, it's the next destination I believe was around 2010. bet that 9015 all the way to basically realizing that e-commerce is a is available viable option for you to basically make a pivot, and then focus on the e-commerce world, right. So we got maybe up to 2008 all the way to 2015 you're basically consulting and doing things around that sphere, once again, is all the same time in the technology world. 2015 e-commerce presents itself, and you already got remarried your wife, Angie, you guys partner up to launch your private label. And from the pain of scaling, you realize, you can take your experience of building systems that create structure, right like you did in the past to your own business. Also staying attentive to the needs of the community and having a mind that that can serve them well as well. So you launched that around March of 2020, finishing your first year, celebrating your first anniversary on the platform. So we got everything correctly so far.
Phil Haswell 48:58
Yeah, that's pretty much right. Just don't hold me to the exact dates.
Yoni Mazor 49:04
You are not given a grade later on. So thank you so much for sharing that it's been a very, very interesting experience for me to learn and understand and get familiarized with your story. So I want to finish up with two things. The first thing will be is if somebody wants to reach out to you connect to learn more about jobs, give him a handoff. But the last thing will be what is your guess your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there.
Phil Haswell 49:29
I think you've got to start with the end in mind. You've got to really think about where it is you want to go with it. Why do you want to get there what's your why so begin with the end in mind, what's your WHY? And then if you get systems and processes in place, it's going to make life a whole lot easier getting there as well.
Yoni Mazor 49:49
Yeah, if people want to hear more about you and connect with your work and to find you?
Phil Haswell 49:56
Well, they can find us at zonops.com.
Yoni Mazor 50:02
That's where to find you. Alright, that's great. What about social media? Are you active on social media?
Phil Haswell 50:07
Yeah, we're on social media we have Facebook and on Instagram again it's the hashtag is official in those spaces.
Yoni Mazor 50:17
Got it so look for signups on social media or just visit zonops.com Alright, thank you so much, Phil, I wish you many more user success and you know progress with, you know all your projects. Thank you everybody so far for listening. We hope you enjoyed it. Stay safe and healthy the next time thanks, bye