In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Yoni Kozminski discusses how setting proper structure for Amazon sellers can help them scale their businesses. Yoni is the founder of Escala and MultiplyMii, a consultancy and staffing solution focused on the eCommerce and Amazon space, shares his personal journey into eCommerce.
Many Amazon sellers have fairly successful businesses and can earn a significant amount of money. But what do you do if you want to expand? Understanding how to effectively scale your business is not easy. It’s not just about money, it’s about proper planning and proper staffing. Yoni Mazor from PrimeTalk discusses strategies that can help you scale your e-commerce business the right way.
In today’s interview, PrimeTalk sits down with Yoni Kozminski, the founder of Escala (a boutique process improvement and digital transformation consulting firm) and MultiplyMii (a consultancy that helps identify business operation and staffing needs and aids in finding the right employees for the job). Both consultancy firms help global e-commerce businesses reduce operating costs and increase profitability.
Yoni Kozminski shares with PrimeTalk his work experiences and how they drove him to create these two businesses on his own. So if you’re interested in scaling your e-commerce business but you don’t know where or how to start, or if you’re a budding entrepreneur looking for inspiration, then this episode is for you!
Visit MultiplyMii for more information.
Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Yoni Mazor 0:00
Hey everybody! Welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today, I have a really cool guest, I have Yoni Kozminski. Yoni is the founder of Escala and MultiplyMii, so two businesses, but for the most part, they're a consultancy and a staffing solution, focused on e-commerce, and Amazon space and industry and so Yoni welcome to the show.
Yoni Kozminski 0:33
Thanks for having me, my friend and fellow owner of the name Yoni. Good to be here!
Thank you for your time and for joining us today. So yeah, this is, I can proudly say, this is the, you’re the first Yoni besides me on the show. So, this is the Yoni and Yoni episode, we’re kind of behind the scenes, we're talking about getting like an M&M’s brand, maybe Y&Y brand candies, or whatever we can to make life sweeter for other people. But today's episode is really going to focus on you. It’s going to be the story of Yoni Kozminski. So you're going to share with us, you know, who are you, where are you from, where were you born, where were you raised? How did you enter the professional world, and what led you all the way to the e-commerce space? So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Let’s do it mate! I guess you started off with, where am I from. So. I mean we've had chats before., but for those of you who don’t know and might be listening in, I'm Australian. The accent, I hope is still there because I've done a bit of global travel. So I grew up in the mean streets of Caulfield in Melbourne, Australia.
DId you say the ‘mean’ streets? You guys are like the nicest decent people in the world. I find that hard to believe there are mean streets, but if you say so, I believe it.
Nah, definitely not mean streets, mate, but I’ve had a lot of the privileges that you could hope for in life. Yes, I grew up in Melbourne, Australia, and spent my life... I went to, I mean, caught up before but I actually grew up at the Jewish school in Melbourne, and had kind of that formal private school education so like I said, not, not exactly mean streets so I've been really gifted and very fortunate in life to not have to worry about some of the things that, you know, people less fortunate. Yeah, definitely.
Do you know your origins? How your family ended up in Australia? Is there a backstory?
Yeah it's you know what, well so I've got an Israeli father and an Australian mother. And so my grandparents are a real mix. I've got a German, Polish, Australian and Israeli grandmother. So, Eastern European Jews. Some of them got out of Germany, migrated to Israel, Poland, I mean, you know, kind of the classic, some classic Holocaust survivor stories...
So they migrated after the war? After the Holocaust? Or before? Or during?
So my parents posted that kind of era, but my grandparents. Yeah, one of them kind of went through the war in Poland, one of them got out of Germany just before the shit hit the fan, and one of them was actually born in Israel, which is quite rare. So, yeah, kind of...
The land of Israel before the State of Israel was established in 1948 you mean?
So, yes, so actually, my grandmother was born here, parents migrated here when they were like, in about 1925. And my grandpa and my, my, my grandfather was Polish. He actually got here a month before the State of Israel became the State of Israel, and left and went to Australia so if that timeline had shifted my accent might have sounded very different.
Very different. So one reason, the mean streets of Melbourne, privileged life in a private school, I guess a good environment, right? A good community. Where’d you go to school, I guess. I mean, after you graduated high school?
Yeah yeah, so I actually, when I was growing up, I always thought that I wanted to be an architect and so I went down that path and I actually, I studied at RMIT.
What's that acronym? What’s that acronym for?
You know, less interesting acronym, but I think that the thing that's interesting is on the first day that you go and start your architecture course they say, Look to the left of you. Look to the right of you. Only one of you are going to make it through. So it is brutal. So you're sitting there on the first day, well at least I was, and I looked to my left, I looked to my right and I'm thinking “suckers I'm going to be the one that makes it through”. And within less than two years I was just another statistic. So I actually dropped out of architecture and realized that um...
So the school was in Melbourne?
Yeah, sorry it was in Melbourne.
And you called it R M I T?
RMIT. But the university that I did study Marketing at, that I after dropping out, I actually moved, and did marketing, and that was at the Swinburne University of Technology.
Swinburg University of Technology you said?
Close enough - Swinburne. It’s the accent.
Swinburne. Ok, so let’s touch your years a little bit. Now let’s go on to the chronology. So what year did you basically pivot into studying marketing?
So that would have been 2007 if I'm not mistaken. 2006. 2007 I got into, into kind of a marketing game, and I actually, my first job ever, I was...So, after graduating, I actually wanted to come, it’s funny, I was actually a very kind of like a big believer in the State of Israel when I was younger growing up and now the least kind of Zionistic if you will or anything like that at the least point that I am right now, actually have lived here for 4 years, so I’m probably skipping a few years ahead
Yeah by here he means..yeah you didn’t share with us yet but born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, but currently residing and living in Israel as an Israeli and, really, even though the thick Australian accent, which is lovely by the way, is still in your DNA, which is all good, it's fine. So you're saying in those times 2007, you know graduating. You’re getting your marketing degree, you were very passionate about Israel and the land of Israel and the State of Israel, also known as Zionism.
Correct, yeah so that was kind of a part of it, I wanted to kind of explore the world, and Israel just felt like a very natural progression for me. Having roots here, my father's from here and, you know, I grew up very, very fond memories, and, you know, tell you a little bit later on, not to give some spoilers about what it's like today, but I really wanted to get over here, and my parents were, just said, you know, first it just finished your degree and so I did that. Once I finished my degree, it was alright, I'm ready to go, and they said we'll just make a bit of money so you can afford to go. And, and I actually went into my first job that wasn't anything related to marketing. It was in, in recruitment, but more so in kind of the hardcore headhunting space. So, this would’ve been 2008 if I'm not mistaken. And in that time, in 2008, I actually was, this is kind of pre-LinkedIn when LinkedIn is what it is today, you know, it was sort of just coming up and to kind of headhunting, it was all about your database. It was all about who you knew. And so we actually did some pretty questionable stuff to get our hands on great candidates. Like I'll never forget one of the tricks that we used to pull. We used to call up companies, and say listen, you know, I was kind of in the digital, or the IT space back then, I'd be looking for, you know, project managers and software developers, and things of that nature. So what I would do is I would call up these big companies and I’d say, Listen, I was speaking to someone in the team, you know, I’m a client, I was speaking to someone in the team yesterday who was a software engineer, can't remember his name but he told me his name, maybe I'd remember. And so what you’d end up doing is getting people to kind of rattle off all the names. Exactly, yeah it was Ben and so I'd speak to Ben and I give him the opportunity and then you know, the next few days, call back and say oh yeah I’d like to speak to Dave, I’d like to speak to Andrew and that was really
So what was the purpose? What was the end game for you?
I was trying to place people. I was trying to find the best talent, place them with our clients.
So lemme get this straight, if i got the strategy straight. You call a company, let’s say Microsoft, not that you ever did, but you know that top-of-the-line, top-tier software developers. So you want to recruit top-line software developers, maybe for another organization. So you call it in and say I had technical difficulties, the other day and I spoke to this, you know, the top senior developer, can you remind me the name? And they give you a whole list of contact information, then you would just, you know, it's okay, it’s this one. So they refer you to him, or her, and when you speak and then you get friendly and then you kind of pitch an option, maybe you come work for a competitor called XYZ, to get a better salary, better scope, whatever it is, and play the game of talent, and hijack or headhunt from top organizations. That was kinda the element there?
Yeah, that was the element. Totally. And I've gotta say, I lasted, I'm surprised, I lasted a year in that job. It wasn't for me. It really wasn't. It was, it felt... It just felt pretty inauthentic. The kind of hardcore recruitment when you talk about, when you're placing people from Australia, in Australia, all of a sudden, everyone kind of looked like, you know, like dollar signs. Like can I place this person somewhere? Is there a company I can place people at and it didn't really sit well with me? To the point where I had, like, the way it works is you get paid, you know, some of these bigger salaries, 20-30% of first-year annual salary, once someone is placed. You get paid as a commission so I didn't make all the commission back then but maybe you made a pretty significant amount of that. So the company would make that much and I'd take a big clip but it kind of got to me where I just thought that it wasn't, it really wasn't for me to the point where I was waiting on like 20 or $30,000 worth of commissions, it's got to wait three months if someone to be on the roll we get paid. And, I actually left and took up an unpaid internship at a digital agency, because I just, I didn't believe in it, it wasn't, it just wasn't my...
So you’re saying the money was good, but there was no soul. So you went, you know, to a new place to kind of reset or pivot, maybe try a new domain, and even give up a hefty amount of money just to do that because it didn’t fit right in your soul, or your temperament, whatever it is. So you pivoted into?
I actually got into the digital marketing game in about 2009.
What was the landscape then? What were you doing? What were you doing it for?
Yeah, so I worked at an agency they’re called, and they are still called Online Circle Digital. And at that time...
Online Circle Digital
Yeah, Online Circle Digital, so Lucio if you’re watching this, a little shout out, still got a lot of love for you! And yeah, so, so I came in and I didn't really know the first thing about everything that was going on but I knew that I was passionate about actually value creation about how we could actually help brands, I'd studied marketing, and so I had kind of, you know, the high-level insights of the marketing mix and what was going on and obviously the landscape has changed that time, sort of over the last 10, 15 years.
What was, I guess, the purpose or your mission inside the landscape there for their organization?
So when I joined, I didn't know where I would fit. So we were doing solutions, delivering solutions like SEO and PPC, Facebook media buying when it was just starting off really, content production and strategy and kind of a whole gamut of all things digital.
How big was the organization? Was it super large? Or was it kinda midsized?
It was small. I was about, I was about the 12th employee if I’m not mistaken and I came...
Tight-knit. Kind of like a close game.
Totally. It was very very small. It grew a fair bit while I was there. But when I actually started, the first account that I ever worked on was Mercedes Benz Australia/New Zealand. So, we just won the account, as I joined, and there was no social media. They didn't have a presence there, so I was actually part of the team that launched Mercedes Benz's, Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, the works. This was the stepping stone.
The whole digital marketing infrastructure for this global brand called Mercedes Benz. It’s pretty impressive.
Yeah, it was a pretty, pretty crazy experience you know. I used to spend a couple of days a week there as the account manager, trying to work with legal explaining why you can post on social and it's not gonna totally backfire. So that was super interesting, an amazing client to work with, and learned an absolute ton there. And it's funny, like, there's a huge company, the other brands that I worked with, that no one in the US knows, so I don’t even know if it’s worth mentioning Mondelez Kraft Foods who have some of the best chocolate...
Yeah, Kraft is an American brand at least, they’re not called Mondelez here. But yeah it’s a global brand, I think it's based out of the US if I’m not mistaken. Maybe in Chicago.
Well, I mean, no one seems to know about Cadbury Dairy Milk or Cream Egg or…
Cadbury? Yeah, Cadbury is British. They also play in this market, the US market, but the chocolate, right? It’s like a chocolate candy brand.
Totally. So, I guess my experience in, at that agency, I spent about four years there, was always working with enterprise clients and we grew from about 12 to 35. So, kind of grew up in that agency, and really loved everything I was doing from a kind of helping communicate the brand story and engaging the community and really looking to see how we could add value.
That’s great. Four years. That’s a great run. Global brands, you know, all kinds of leaders in their industries, and you did it all the way to 2013 ish, right? And what was the next station for you afterward?
Yeah, so I ended up there in 2014. And my next stretch was I moved to the US. So, I lived in LA for about three years and worked at a creative ad agency in Hollywood called Something Massive.
Something Massive. Yeah, yeah so that was the whole point, at the start. It was a couple, it was three of them and, you know, the ironic thing was something massive but we’re just three. But it grew, I was about the 15th employees and again, kinda grew to about 40. And the same sort of thing, I was the senior manager for strategy and engagement, which really is kind of a long-winded way of saying that I helped build the strategy pitch decks, and digital strategy and actually delivered on a lot of the execution work there. So that was working...
Kinda similar to the prior position, just, I guess, kind of a different marketplace, the US marketplace, maybe a little bit different on the lingo and culture that you got to cater to. But any notable brands?
Yeah, so the clients I was working with, they’re...you might have heard of them...Sony, MasterCard, worked with Snapchat a little bit, Medtronic. Again, big enterprise clients and the work that we're doing now was, I would say even higher production values and doing everything from, you know, photo and video content, all the way through to TV commercials.
You in California, you said LA. right? Definitely the ability to tap into studios and create top-of-the-line, you know, content and video. Was it cool? Did you taste a little bit of Hollywood over there?
Yeah, it was pretty cool. I mean we had like, 10,000, square feet of production studio downstairs. We had an area that we're actually building our own sets at times and yeah that was, that was pretty cool. I got to do some pretty cool live even all the way through to live activation where. Yeah, you know, working with, with MasterCard, flying over to New York. You know, it was all pretty crazy. I was about 27 ish when I got over there so that was a pretty, pretty crazy experience to me, you know, a guy from Melbourne, you know, I've never actually been to the US before and ended up moving there, you know?
Were there any elements of culture shock? I know the same kind of language but, you know, from your own experience was there culture shock at all? Or was it like a glove, fit you like the glove and, you know, you’re off and running as soon as you hit the ground?
D’you what, I would say, it takes, it really takes, it took me some time. I would say the first six months, firstly, I mean, now you're saying, you know, a great accent to me when I first walked in, and no one could understand what I was saying, really. Yeah, I mean, like, one of them, one of the stories that I always find so funny is that when I sat like the closest when we were at the first location just on Wilshire, I was the closest person to the door, and so I was kind of the first face that everyone would see. So, you know, nice polite guy, people would walk in and I don't know man, I was the doorman, I loved that. And so people would walk in and I would, you know, my natural inclination was to try to be helpful and I would always say like, Can I get you a glass of water? And, and they would look at me, I mean it's softened now. And so what ended up happening was, I'm like, water, water and then, you know, you say you say it enough times and I feel like it's kind of softened my accent now, I mean at least you're laughing and people understand me so that's a good thing, right?
Yeah, I understand you completely. So what? The people thought you were threatening them? Or what was their reaction?
They just said, “That’s not a word”. Like what are you, what are you trying to do? I'm trying to meet with the owners.
Yeah, very very curious. Culture shock for an Australian. I never thought about that. Especially not with, you know, a basic word like water, water.
Yes. So definitely, there's definitely some, you know, early learnings, but I think, you know, after probably a year, like for me, we've done a few cities now and it takes you a good year to find your feet and then I would say like once you hit that two, two and a half year mark, that's when you really have the kind of appreciation and understanding for kind of the true culture and what's going on. I've got big love for LA, and for the US and
In a quick nutshell if you can, on the society, from the anthropological level, the main differences you find between the Australian culture and American culture. I never really thought to kind of hit that angle but I'll take you as an experiment. So, what’s your take?
There’s a lot of things that I can say. On a quick touch, I think that, and it also depends when you talk about America, it's a huge country like East Coast versus West Coast very very different kind of vibe but...
Full disclosure, I’ve never been to LA, so I'm very curious because, you know, for me, it's like being in Australia. It's all the way over there, you know, it’s across the land. What’d you find?
So I'd say that Australian’s are probably a little bit more laid back, and easygoing, and maybe a little bit more direct. Where, in my experience in the US, it was kind of like, skimming around the edges and being a little bit more cautious as to kind of what you're saying and what's going on. There was, I mean, again, I was working in Hollywood, you know, it's all about the image so...I think that had a pretty profound kind of experience or impact on how I saw people but if there's one thing that I will say, and I have become a victim to it, is consumerism. Do you know? Once you have, once you have Amazon and you have same-day delivery, you know, you can't see the world the same, it's, it's changed forever.
I hear you! That’s why we're all together here today folks, you know, the world of e-commerce slash Amazon, it’s just a world that is magnificent, it's very powerful, very impactful, and creates, for the consumer, a lot of you know options to get delighted, but also for the entrepreneurs who offer their products, goods and solutions and knowledge, indulge and interact. Alright, so very cool, so you did it from around 2014 all the way up to about 2017. You tasted, you know, the professional world in the United States, obviously the culture and consumerism, but in 2017, what’s your next station? What was the next progression for you?
I was sponsored professionally in the US, didn't have a green card or anything like that so I was tied to the job and I had to kind of make a decision, so I keep pushing forward, or do I kind of consider my options. And for me, again I kind of got itchy feet and I wanted to see what else was out there, what else, what other value I could create. What else I could do. And I actually came to Israel, I wouldn't say on a whim, but I came just for a visit, you know? Hadn't been in many years, wanted to see my grandmother lives here, and an uncle and my family have, had been here for many years. I haven't really had a, had broken... You want to talk about US culture? I mean, you get 10 days off a year, and in that 10 days, I used to go back to Australia. And for anyone who lives away from home. Going home is not a fun holiday, let’s put it that way. So, you know, so everyone wants to see you. It's intense. So, I was probably feeling a little burnt out, came to Israel, and probably two days into being here, I just said, “This is no way I'm leaving”.
Really? So that’s in 2017?
Yeah. This was May 2017.
Now, what was the effect? What happened to you in those 2 days?
So, my cousin, who actually grew up in Jersey, had just finished...
Jersey? New Jersey, United States?
Yeah, New Jersey, United States.
Cause there’s also Jersey Island In England somewhere, I know. But yeah, go ahead.
Yeah, so, United States. He’d actually finished, he was in an elite combat unit in the Army here, and he just finished with...
Which one? Do you know the name?
He was in…
I’ll give them some perspective if I can.
I can't know, you know what, he’s gonna be, he’s gonna be upset with me that I'm not remembering. It was in Egoz.
Egoz? Yeah got it. So this is infantry that's the commander unit. Established for actually originally established to fight in the northern border, you know with Hezbollah, so they're very good at camouflaging and guerrilla warfare. That's why he served time in his army. Okay, so what was the deal there? What happened?
So you can help me because I didn't know how you say this exactly in English. I went, so on my first day in Israel, I went to his (speaks Hebrew).
Got it. So yeah. So essentially when you...it’s harsh training, they go through on a crazy amount of very long harsh training. Towards the end of the training, they do some sort of ceremony where they finish the training, and then in, you know, families are able to come in and participate in the ceremony and that's when you kind of became engaged and saw the culture a little bit, the values.
So that was a pretty powerful experience, I’m not gonna say that’s what kept me here. I mean you've, you've been there Tel Aviv before, you know clearly, the city just really took me. It's incredible.
It's open, it’s fresh, it's colorful, it's everything, right? It is kind of like the New Yorker visualizes, just the weather is extremely better, it’s mostly sunny all year, plus you got the beach, fabulous beach, you know, just a great vibe, great culture great drinking, and great eating great everything so the best of the world at the palm of your hands. That’s what compelled you in?
Definitely. I mean, you know, just to kind of reiterate what you're saying like, you know, you've got a city that’s tiny, you've got a million people in very close proximity, four square miles, I would guess where you know you can walk everywhere. You're on the Mediterranean. The culinary scene here is just next level. The produce is unbelievable. And there’s this kinda crazy juxtaposition of having like this old world like down the street, in Jaffa, you've got literally like 1000s of buildings that 1000s of years old, mixed with, you know, I think, Tel Aviv, was one of the most funded cities in the world last year. I think they brought in like eight or $9 billion in seed funding. So you've got this just crazy mix of like high technology, platforms, and solution meets the old world kind of mentality, and nothing made sense but everything makes sense all at the same time.
Yeah, I never really thought about all that bundling, the old world and all under great food and great drinking, and just great weather. The mix is very compelling and enticing. Very cool. So 2017. You find yourself, I guess, you're captured by the land so you decided to stay and professionally what was your next step?
Yeah so, took a little bit of time off, initially, just to kind of collect my thoughts and decide what I wanted to do and kind of scoped out the landscape. But before I do anything, there's always a long planning stage that goes into it. And so I met with a ton of agencies, created businesses, I got a feel for where the pulse was in terms of the evolution of the space and I wasn't particularly impressed. I just felt like there wasn't anything that was so captivating. I think that was kind of my, my next move was that I wasn't prepared to, I wasn't prepared to work for any of these companies where I knew that the work that I'd done was at a higher level, you know?
So you’re saying on the marketing end, with your marketing experience working with top brands all these years, you come there, you're kind of peek into the scene. Okay, there's something going on but I'm already too mature for this. Alright, or too experienced for this, so you're not too compelled, immediately compelled to jump, jump into that swamp. So, what did you do?
So I ended up starting my own agency. I had my own agency for a minute there, and it was going great. Picked up clients pretty quickly. Obviously, given the experience and stuff that I had done, and it just really wasn't fulfilling for me. I felt that I'd kind of been there and done that that was the third or fourth time I've gone down that agency route and I was also doing it solo like I also realized like the solopreneur route is not me. I love to have people bounce ideas off. And, you know, you deal with a lot going through building a business and trying to go down all these paths and you know, to do it solo is just, it added a kind of harsh, harsh reality that you have to kind of take everything on yourself.
You're in the terrain and you got to fight for your life, every single moment and every single day. And I guess you find out if you do have partnerships, or a good partner in place, you probably can reach out to further destinations. So it sounds like, okay, you had a stint with marketing and you pivot into where? I have a feeling that Amazon's going to come into the mix at some point.
You took the words right out of my mouth. Yeah. I feel like you know my story better than I do now. So, so I, I actually met a couple of guys...I was at a point where I said, you know what, I know I can do this marketing thing. That I've got down, you know? I was doing everything from buying Facebook media for clients and I'm spending 100k generating 1.4, 1.5 in, you know, in returns and I just said like, it doesn't make sense. If I simply have the product at my disposal and I could deliver on what I'm delivering on, then why am I, you know, why am I kind of, you know, for lack of a better term, but why am I making idiots richer? If they simply would give me all the insights and not just let me do one aspect of the marketing mix, I could really turn things on its head. So I actually started to look for partners who had kinda supply chain logistics done so that I could take on the marketing...
So there are all these brand owners, right? Why am I basically helping these brands grow themselves and become wealthy and rich? Why don't I actually do some sort of vertical integration, I own part of a brand, have a stake in it, and I'll be able to position it in the digital sphere at least and market it to generate sales and volume, and wealth.
Exactly. That was the mindset is that I could bring X to the table if someone can bring Y and we can do some real things together. If I can have real, if I can give real direction as to the whole mix here and not just give you like, you know, you come to an agency and at the end of the day like an agency's a high value and you know I have a lot of respect for agency owners and what they do. But the reality is that you know you're still at their discretion of how much they bring you in or don’t bring you in. And if they change their position on what the marketing mix looks like, you know you're in and you're out and for me, that wasn't. I wanted to have more impact. I wanted to really kind of build the plan and be able to execute it too. So I actually met a couple of guys, and I didn't realize kind of the magnitude of their business because they were literally like, two, three guys that were running around, running an Amazon business. We spoke for a long time, and it's probably a conversation for another time, but I ended up joining this company.
This is 2017 or we’re already crossing to 18?
This is 2018. Okay, so this is 2018. So I joined that company and you know, obviously, I had a lot of skills that these guys are missing, and they had a $2 million Amazon operation. And in the span of about 12 months, I was able to build the infrastructure and scale that from two to 5 million in about a 12 month period.
But the infrastructure, when you say the infrastructure do you mean the marketing infrastructure? Or everything? All operations from top to bottom?
Yeah, it was the entire operation, because what they lacked was any form of process or clarity on responsibility and role. It was literally, kind of like a lot of, you know, owner-operators and Amazon sites probably doing around that much. Like you can get to a point where you'll jump into Seller Central and figure out what's going on. Has the flag go up? Okay, I've got to deal with some shit. All of a sudden you move on and I'm checking my PPC report and trying to understand what's shifted and, you know before you know it, you know, get through it but, you know, it’s a very different beast, you know, at a million, 2 million to 5, 6, 7, 10 million-plus. You can't, you can't have that level of control from an owner-operator, and if you do, you're probably making a lot of money but I don't know if it's worth it for the lack of sleep or kind of attention you could give it.
Yeah, the grind that you have to put into it. So you help with SLP, standardize things, create a structure, create a flow, so things can really scale properly and smoothly and with room for more.
Yeah absolutely. So, you know, built the team out in the Philippines, had some real kind of aha moments and as well. I hired a recruiter and it, you know, it really kind of set things in place where, you know, I knew who I needed to hire. I knew what a great developer, designer, content writer, keyword research, logistics supply. I knew all the key players and I would spend 20-30 hours a week trying to search for them myself. And when I hired a recruiter, I really changed. I would spend two, you know, two or three hours in the final round interview and I’d hire two out of three people and so that was a real kind of lightbulb moment, not only of how to really impact scale but bringing in true professionals into every aspect of the business. And I also kind of, you know, I'd already worked with the Philippines for several years, but that was the, I would say like, the start of my love affair for kind of the culture and the people and kind of the capacity and ability that exists inside the Philippines. And so, not a story for now, but I walked away. Even though I was the owner of that business, I walked away from it in 2019.
About a year, almost two years into the mix.
Yeah it was late….so 12 to 18 months. I'm not exactly sure but yeah it was about 12 to 18 months, that I kind of left. And that business is actually just recently sold too. To one of the big boys in the space who are acquiring everything. And I realized that what, what, myself and the team that I took with me were able to achieve there was game-changing for these guys because they got their lives back; they were actually able to kind of breathe and create scale and, you know, ultimately they sold the business. So you know, really kind of was the proving ground and proof of concept that I needed, that if this was kind of game-changing for these guys, it'd be life-changing for other people and that's kind of the day I walked away from that business was the day that I started building MultiplyMii and Escala. And yeah that was back in September, October of 2019 that I went to work on the idea.
Essentially you created two tracks, one of them's Escala, and one of them is MultiplyMii. So that's kind of one of the tracks that you're still in and involved now. So take us through it, I guess, tell us a little bit about Escala, the purpose, and the mission. And then, the same thing for MultiplyMii, so you know, our audience, listeners can understand what’s going on, what’s the value.
Yeah, well just because I've spoken to you a little bit, offline, you know, in the chats that we've had, you know, I know that you're a real person and you have a deep kind of caring connection for people and it's not, honestly, it's not the angle that I always share with people but, in all honestly when I was working at the last company, we're paying our top people like six, $7 an hour, and as an in the Philippines. And, you know, for me, call it ignorance, cause it was, I thought that was a good salary. And so I actually asked my COO, now, today, you know, what were you making and tell me unapologetically, what were you making at your highest when you're working in a corporate job - she used to wrap companies that were effectively for sale
Hold on, your COO in Escala? Or the previous company?
No in this company. So she was, she came in.
And this company is Escala?
Yeah, so she’s across both. Escala and MultiplyMii. She...
And she’s the COO and she’s based out of where? In Israel? The US? The Philippines?
The Philippines. So yeah, so like I said she was getting paid $7 an hour with us, and I asked her unapologetically, she said you know at my peak in the corporate world I was making 3 or 3.5 thousand dollars a month, I think translates to about 20, 21, $22 an hour. And what I realized at that moment was that, you know, you have all these businesses, externally who, and call it, you know, there’s like onlinejobs.ph, which, you know, I don't know how familiar you are with it, but you can set your salaries to like one and $2. So just like sometimes with Amazon products, it feels like a bit of a race to the bottom, and people are willing to kind of go lower, so there's a social mission attached to MultiplyMii, and kind of what we do as a business is that we really care about the salaries of the employees, and so we pay health care, Social Security, HMO, Philhealth. We operate more like a Filipino company in terms of how we deliver value to the team members, then we do kind of the traditional western world because that's all things like if you want to really understand a country and culture, you have to really get down on that level and have a deep understanding. So when we started it, that was really kind of a driving factor as well so when I look at like success and, you know, I know we've been kind of seeing each other around Clubhouse a little bit and seeing all these rooms popping up and everyone's talking about, you know 6, 7, 8 figures and 10 million figures and all these kind of chat rooms. And for me, success has really been driven by the number of jobs that we can create or be involved in creating. That, for me, is...
Prosperity. The prosperity of the entire industry of course, the end goal is for us to make a profit and as much as possible, and that can usually get generated with higher levels of earnings, which is 7, 8, 9 figures, but your, your mission is more about okay that's great, but what's inside of it, what kind of positive impact can society have, the global economy have, you know, other regions might have, so that really trickles down into the purpose of MultiplyMii but also Escala. But what's the difference, you know, for anybody who’s listening. Okay. What’s this for? What’s that for? This is a hammer, this is a nail. It’s pretty clear, both help you to do something, but what's the purpose of each one.
Right. Love how you phrased that. So, with MultiplyMii, we'd be classified as like a white glove and recruitment and HR function into the Philippines, finding serious professionals in the e-commerce and Amazon space where we're placing roles like inventory and logistics managers, office managers, PPC, AdWords specialists, everything keyword research at every level, but not your classic, and the term gets thrown around a lot, VA. I really don't love that term and...
VA for Virtual assistant. That’s the acronym.
The acronym virtual assistant and I don’t love it because what ends up happening is that you find kind of lower grade people who you effectively ruin their careers because if someone's good at a bit of WordPress, a bit of InDesign, a bit of Photoshop, can code a little bit like you're, you're a jack of all trades but a master of none. And so what we want to do, and obviously at the end of the day, you’re saving a lot of money, working with highly skilled Filipinos in comparison to working with onshore talent. So, obviously, the value is there for the clients but the reason I'm kind of going the point of our employees and team members is that like that was that, that you know, I think that purpose-built businesses are always going to have. They got to be a lot more prosperous because they actually care and stand behind, it's very easy for me to get up in the morning, and know that we're actually having an impact, and I know in the last business that I worked with, we were selling products that I really didn’t care about. It wasn't like a passion project for me.
It was cold, it was much colder. You found far more purpose and more soul in the position you're in now. For me it’s a little bit interesting, how you’re able to kind of have closure with how you begin to get began your professional career with headhunting talent, and 2008 2009 you’re headhunting for talent for industry, for certain industries, and now you're kind of doing the same thing, and that was for the industry of Amazon sellers, but now you have a personal view, a normal attempt to connect with the talent and you pampering it and developing it so now the whole kind of illusion there where you connect it to the talent but you're creating in a much better environment, which is much more sustainable and much more impactful, which is I think a unique evolution that happened in the story. And this is really like you mentioned the purpose of MultiplyMii, where there's a pool of talent that you guys created for the sake of e-commerce sellers, Amazon sellers, which is reliable, it's consistent. It's healthy, it's good and it's, it's a high level, high grade. And what's the purpose of Escala?
Yeah, and so just to close off on MultiplyMii, I'm telling you the story this way because this is kind of a chronology of how I understood the value creation in the business that we sold was that we build a team and a team of the engine room that really drove the growth and the prosperity of that business, but that was only possible to scale when we actually built the infrastructure to allow that to exist. So what we did was, and you know, I'll go on a limb here and say I think we're well versed here in what we're doing inside of Escala, because what we're doing in MultiplyMii, I'm always gonna argue that we're doing things smarter, better than some of the other companies that play in this space. And we are focused on this kind of niche of the Amazon and e-commerce sellers, but with Escala it's a management consulting practice focused on process improvement. Again, centered around Amazon and e-commerce. So, just to kind of give you an idea, or give you some context, and you know, your listeners will be at all different levels. A lot of people when they’re kind of running through their business and they’re running through them, some businesses at all different levels, you know, I think that a lot of the times things feel like they're on fire all the time, you know, you come into Q4, you’re a big Q4 product and, you know, things are all going crazy. You don't know where to look, you’re just kind of hoping that you get, you stay up, get through the season and move on. You know, you ask a lot of business owners in the space as you know, how do you say that and they'll be able to recite verbatim, every single process they do, but none of it is actually committed outside of their brain and so, you know, I guess the logic behind Escala as a business is that you know, if you for whatever reason didn't come back to work the next day, what happens to the business, you know, and you can even ladder that up it's the same if you’re trying to sell your company too. The operational infrastructure is absolutely key in getting effective deals going. So what we do inside of that is we have a team of about 12 to 15 EY, Accenture, and BCG consultants, and what we're doing inside
What was that? What were those acronyms? I kinda missed that, I think I missed that.
Sorry yeah essential. Accenture. EY is Ernst and Young. And it’s the Big Four Consulting companies. A lot of them leverage talent overseas, so we built the team in the Philippines, leveraging X, Big Four consultants were what we did was we built our own process and maturity framework and methodology around the e-commerce and Amazon space. So what we effectively do in that business is we come in and we'll assess what's actually happened, we build out the current state process maps, and we look at maturity framework and we look at companies holistically against people, process, system technology, and we have our grading system, and at the back of that grading system, we can make a whole slew of recommendations on how you can improve your process, reduce drag, get rid of bottlenecks and build for actual operational growth, you know? What is your staffing requirements look like what are your gearing ratios as you're trying to scale? And what we'll do is we'll build out all the process maps and we’ll then go out the future state what the company should look like to be efficient and build out things like, you know, for every 1000 products used, you're going to need a new inventory and logistics manager and you're going to need two more keyword researchers and you'll need a graphic designer. So we work on making waves because it's very easy especially when you look at the growth of Amazon and quickly things come up in the space, you can always throw money at the problem, and money's is quickly translated into people or technology, but it's not the most effective way to scale. The word scale is thrown around a lot, but a lot of people actually just experienced growth so what we're trying to achieve here is true scale, it's not about investing a heap more money, it's about doing it intelligently the times that you need.
Let me try to get this straight, so before I dive into what I understand from this, you know, if I was to be a surrogate of an Amazon seller, the name Escala is a tribute to the word “scale” by the way? So just a little touch on that. Okay, so I'm an Amazon seller. I do roughly 5 million dollars a year in revenue. But my ambition is to grow into a 10, 15, 20, and beyond right? So I come to Escala. They come in, do a deep dive, and tell you this is where you are now. That is the good, the bad, and the ugly, right? But now if you want to grow into the 15 or 20 million mark, for example, this is what you should be doing, and, you know, create structures. These are the employees you have now, but this is maybe the employees or what you might have to need in the future. So the whole roadmap and a game plan on a very strategic high level of, you know, from top to bottom are very detailed. So you can really follow it, and have, you know, an ability to do your operation in a way that’s tailored towards growth. It's calibrated and it's smoother so you don't have to take a lot of, you know, take a lot out of the guessing as you said. Also, if you are, if you ever get removed from the business for whatever reason, it can be happy, it can be tragic, there's a system, there's always somebody else that comes in, you can be replaced. It’s a good thing from what I understand. Let’s say you got hurt, you’re in bed for a few months or even a year, God forbid, the business still runs, supervised income. So your whole business, which is your ultimate money-making machine, it's a machine, right? It's a system that only depends on one person. It's good and bad, but mostly it’s not so good because if something happens to that person, everybody around gets affected including that person. So if you come in and you're able to really build an infrastructure that is organized and structured and can be in a position where it's automated, on autopilot. It also leaves the room, and vision to grow in combination towards, you know, moving in this terrain which can be really tough, really super hyperdynamic, and not so stable in fact. So this is kind of the approach of Escala?
I mean you’ve really done great work there, Yoni. I'm impressed. Yeah, that's it. So, you know, everything all the way down to building out the standard operating procedures, training videos all the documentation that exists so, you know, when you were mentioning before like about kind of having that, that passive income essentially where you know you get to decide what you want to do and what you don't want to do and you know there are massive upsides when you talk about the ability to exit a business. We won’t get into that talk, you know, it's too much detail here, but the reality is, like, that's going to be one key component of what people are looking for is how important are the key personnel because they're not going to stick around, you know, depends on the deal structure that you have going. But typically speaking, you know people are looking for that big payday so this is a way that you can kind of help shore up the valuation, potentially increase your multiple, and also kind of reduce that transition period. So it's definitely, you definitely hit the nail on the head.
Very good. So I think we have a good idea of the purpose and value of Escala and this is where you are now. So, before we kind of close, the episode let's talk a little bit of recap of your story. Born and raised in Melbourne, attended a private school, went to school for architecture and dropped out, pivoted to marketing, got your first job out of college, instead of marketing, headhunting. Then did it for about a year. Dived into marketing, the real world of marketing for, you know, five to six years. You got some big clients, Mercedes was one of them. Then you shifted, you packed your stuff to the US, to LA, for about three years there also worked with top-level clients, like Sony. Then 2017, on a visit to Israel, a few days you got captured into the mix. So, instead, and instead of going or joining it to the fray of marketing, you tried something on your own for a little stint, but then you stumbled upon the world of Amazon and Amazon sellers because you realize, you know, having a stake in the game also pushing it towards success is something you’re more interested in, not just having a stake in the digital and marketing side of it. So you did that for 12 to 18 months, which led you to great success on the organization scale from 2 million, you raised it to about 5 million-plus which is pretty dramatic in such a short run. Which created the two tracks for you: MultiplyMii and Escala which focus and hone in on the growth, sustainability, creating prosperity, you know. Two organizations, the ones that you are running but also the ones you're helping. That's kind of the purpose of the mission, so this is the body of the story. We appreciate it so much that you share with us. It has been fascinating. I learned a few things so thank you for that. Alright so now that we got to close up the episode on one or two things the first thing would be is, if somebody wants to reach out to you and connect where can they find you. And the last thing would be what is your message of hope, inspiration for entrepreneurs listening.
Yeah, so before I touch on how you can get in touch and my message. You have to have the best memory I have ever seen in my life! How on earth did you do that?
I listen. I listen, that’s it, it’s just stored in the database and I pull it out real quick just to make sure everybody's on the same page before we sign off.
That is an impressive talent, my friend, again. You hit the nail on the head here. But if anyone wants to get in touch if they're watching this, feel free to email me directly: yoni at Multiplymii. M double I dot com. You can check out our website, you'll be able to find me there too. Also, Escala or yoni at we are Escala dot com. So, a million ways to get me. Or find me on Clubhouse at YonKoz. And my message to aspiring entrepreneurs I would say, I'm gonna go against some of the things that I've been listening to this week and I'll say two things. One is that I think that some of the most valuable years, some of the best advice that I got while I was growing up in business, is that learn on someone else's dime, You know, it took me a long time to kind of get to where I am and, you know, I always kind of believed that I had the potential but I waited. I waited a long time, I waited probably 10 years before I kind of really started to go it not alone, but to go off on myself and you know and I lived a great life until now and, You know, the journey, the entrepreneurial journey is not as sexy as people think that it is, you know like, your salary isn’t what it should be and it’s tough to take some steps back. So I'm saying, make sure you're ready to kind of take that path, and, and then conversely to that I'd say that, you know, the hardest part is just starting, you know, just get moving and go forward. Once you're confident in what you can deliver once you know you've got to build the plan. Take a second but, but keep pushing forward. Don't kind of, you know, ideas are a dime a dozen, but it's all about execution. It's all about taking action, follow through and that's really what kind of sets, you know, the aspiring entrepreneurs apart is how much do you want it, and how much you're going to kind of put that time in to make things happen.
Got it. If I can wrap it up I would say, you know, take your time to learn even if it's somebody else's dime, learn and learn well, but once you get set up, start, and once you start keep coming at it, to be persistent and keep pushing your targets, your goals. Beautiful. Thank you, Yoni so much for participating today. We hope everybody has enjoyed it and I got here so far. I wish everybody the best of health happiness. Until next time, my friend.