In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA, Francois Jaffres, the Director of Business Development at Noviland, a supply chain solution for eCommerce sellers, solving challenges of product sourcing & Amazon logistics. Jaffres shares his personal journey into eCommerce.
Have you ever wondered about all of the components that go into fulfilling an online order? How do those products actually get to you? What are the processes involved? Yoni Mazor of PrimeTalk delves into the world of supply chain management and all of the parts necessary to get a product to the purchaser.
In today’s episode, PrimeTalk has teamed up with Francois Jaffres, the Director of Business Development at Noviland, which is a global sourcing and purchasing platform for everyone from Fortune 500 companies to newbie Amazon sellers. Noviland has over 4000 factories that they have carefully groomed to meet your needs and has successfully delivered over 2 million products across dozens of categories.
Francois Jaffres discusses the importance of understanding supply chain management for your business in order not to be caught if another global crisis causes supply chain disruptions. So if you are an Amazon seller wanting to have a more secure supply chain, or if you’re interested in the logistics of it all, then this episode is for you!
Visit Noviland for more information.
Learn about GETIDA's Amazon FBA reimbursement solutions.
Yoni Mazur 0:06
Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of PrimeTalk. Today I have a special guest. I'm having Francois Jaffres. Francois is basically the Director of Business Development at Noviland, which is a supply chain solution for e-commerce sellers. So anything that you need to solve with, you know, with your, you know, chain supply of manufacturing, quality assurance, transportation, everything like that. Yeah, these guys help out and it seems like they're doing, you know, top-of-the-line jobs. So, Francois, welcome to the show.
Francois Jaffres 0:37
Yeah, thank you for having me. Yoni. How are you doing today?
Yoni Mazor 0:39
Pleasure. Here in Teaneck, New Jersey weather is a bit cold and a bit snowy. What about yourself?
Francois Jaffres 0:47
Well, we had a 70-degree day yesterday in Atlanta, and today, rain. So it's it's probably in the 50s today, but
Yoni Mazor 0:55
I’ll buy that. I’ll buy that if I can use my American Express, I’ll buy that weather. Give me a day of 70, next day a 50, I’ll buy that, instead of having a day of 20-25 here.
Francois Jaffres 1:04
You got to get the points on that Amex card.
Yoni Mazor 1:08
Yeah, I'll use my points to travel and go visit you, I’ll be able to double-dip on the weather and being able to travel. But thank you so much for, you know, taking the time. Joining us here for the show. Today is really going to be the episode of Francois Jaffers. You're going to share with us, you know, Who are you? Where'd you grow up? How'd you end up in the professional world? So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Francois Jaffres 1:32
Yeah, yeah, no, it's uh, I was just telling you. Before I wanted to thank you, first of all, for making me think a little bit about the past. I actually talked to my mom a little bit last night just to remind myself like, Did that actually happen? Or was I dreaming that? But, yeah. Where would you want to start?
Yoni Mazor 1:48
Let's start with the basic fundamentals. Where were you born, for example, where you grew up?
Francois Jaffres 1:53
Yeah. Yeah. So I was born in Virginia Hospital, right in Arlington, Virginia, right outside of DC. Beautiful area, can't complain.
Yoni Mazor 2:02
Were your parents involved with the government? That's kind of a government area. You know, like, you know, Arlington, Virginia. I know the CIA's headquarters are over there, for example.
Francois Jaffres 2:08
It's a government area. Definitely. There's a lot of, you know, just government officials in that area. No, my mom is actually an immigrant from Bolivia. She came here about 29 years ago, she immigrated here and my dad the same actually but for France. Some I’m a first-generation American myself. They met...
Yoni Mazor 2:29
So French-Bolivian, it's such a unique combination.
Francois Jaffres 2:32
I get the name for my dad, of course. And that is actually my grandfather's name, and I get the tan from my, from my mom's side of the family. And so a lot of times someone will look at me like, you know, you’re Francisco like, I promise you I spelled my name correctly. It is Francois, I promise. Yeah, but aside from that, you know, born in Arlington, raised in Arlington. My parents split kind of at a young age. But my mom's background, I guess, just to give you a little bit of context of how I was even raised, my mom's background is she was a house cleaner. And she still is, to this day, you know, she actually came into this country, came in through Texas, or flew into Texas, flew into Miami, then migrated over to Texas clean house for living there, figured out there are no opportunities there. She was raising my sister. My sister was about three years old at the time, emigrated up to DC and my dad was a baker at the time actually at an, I believe it was Marvelous Market in southeast DC. I think it was Marvelous Market.
Yoni Mazor 3:31
Marvelous market. How do you spell that? That's like a local thing area. I'm not too familiar. I'm here on the East Coast.
Francois Jaffres 3:38
I think it's a chain, but I don't know how big of a chain it actually is
Yoni Mazor 3:43
French foods? French bakery?
Francois Jaffres 3:46
They did a lot of French food. But the majority of the bakery was actually filled with Central Americans. And so there were a lot of Mexicans, a lot of Salvadorans, a lot of Hondurans.
Yoni Mazor 3:59
What’s that word? Ah from Honduras, right, Hondurans? Yeah, gotcha.
Francois Jaffres 4:06
So my dad actually knew, you know, of course, he knew how to speak French from being in France, but he also knew how to speak Spanish and English. So he actually was a manager there.
Yoni Mazor 4:15
Which part of France is your father? A small note on that. Which part of France is your father?
Francois Jaffres 4:20
La Rochelle, it’s like Western France? I guess it's, he's right on the water where there's like a prison directly across the water is if you just take a boat straight across. You can get to the UK basically.
Francois Jaffres 4:35
Yeah. The canal. Yeah. Yeah. Or something. But um, and your mother's from La Pas in Bolivia or somewhere else?
No, she's from Oruro. Oruro, yeah. It's a small, very small village.
Yoni Mazor 4:49
Yeah. I’ve been to Bolivia. Full disclosure, beautiful country. I've been in for a month and a half. I just was fascinated and fell in love with it. Great place to visit. So hopefully when the pandemic ends, anybody gets a chance to go. I definitely recommend it. So shout out to Bolivia, France. I've been there also, but not as long as I've been to Bolivia. So, more and more and more points for Bolivia. Okay, so they're in the Arlington, Virginia, you know, space there, I guess you know, they meet and then you were born?
Francois Jaffres 5:21
Yeah, she worked. I was born to maybe some conflict of interest nowadays. Back then it was kind of fair game. And so I was born. They split actually at a young age. My dad went to work on a farm. So my dad loves sort of the countryside, he moved to Shenandoah worked on the farm.
Yoni Mazor 5:40
Shenandoah in Virginia?
Francois Jaffres 5:42
Shenandoah, Virginia, yeah. And so lived with him for about a year we milked goats when I was a kid. There are some very funny videos of me milking goats, you know, getting up at 5 am to make sure everything was all tended to. And so I lived with him for a year, moved back with my mom. And I guess to backtrack whenever he was at the bakery, so he would work the night shifts, whenever he was at the bakery, I would sleep at the bakery with him. Whenever he would have me on the weekends. And then my mom, whenever I was with my mom during the week, she was of course cleaning houses. And if I didn't have to go to school, I would go sleep under the tables of the houses, which is kind of a funny story. And I would help her with the small things, you know, dusting and the minor things that kids do.
Yoni Mazor 6:23
So I can fairly say that, you know, since a young age, we were exposed to a lot of labor, you know, intensive labor or hand labor, you know, work environments.
Francois Jaffres 6:33
Yeah, well, it was always working, my dad was always working, you know, 15-16 hour days, and he was perfectly fine with it. My mom, you know, she was getting three, four houses are done in a day. And she was making a great living actually from it. Once you find a house cleaner that, you know, you could fully trust, and they could take care of your kids sometimes. And you know, it's huge houses, you can make decent money actually being a house cleaner. And so that's some of my background from when I was a child. And then, you know, when I was growing up, I grew up mostly with my mom, section eight housing, not the best environments. But I'm definitely, you know, humbled to say she always gave me as much as she could at all times.
Yoni Mazor 7:12
And you’re still in Arlington, Virginia?
Francois Jaffres 7:15
Still in Arlington. Yeah. So there are two different sectors of Arlington. There's North Arlington, and there's South Arlington. And so I grew up in South Arlington, it's a little bit different. I guess looking at North Arlington. Culturally, it's a lot of Ethiopians, Asians, South Americans, Central Americans a lot in South Arlington. And so those communities are all down there. And actually, from a young age, I had my first job I think when I was, aside from the farm milking goats, when I was seven, and I would go door to door around every single apartment in the entire complex and I say, Hey, I'll take out your trash, give me whatever you need. And it was all about convenience. I was like, I know these people you know, I see them every day. I know their kids, I know their kids are lazy, they're not going to take out the trash. And so I'd go home sometimes like 20-30 bucks, sometimes 50 bucks in a day. My mom bought me this little ATM machine that I would put in all my money. It was fun stuff. And then from there, it was you know, I would start going to Goodwill actually and getting some toys and then buying those toys and reselling them into the community and selling them off. So you know my neighbors from downstairs and did the same thing for YuGiOh cards and Pokemon I think the classics from a lot of kids from the 90s that they used to play with. And so from there
Yoni Mazor 8:33
Let's jump into high school and graduation. Still, you graduated in Arlington, Virginia?
Francois Jaffres 8:38
Yeah, I grew up all the way K through 12 in Arlington Middle School. Funny enough, I also had another business, I’d go to Costco buy big things a candy resell them, got suspended a few times for it. And the third time I got suspended, Dr. Word, I hope Dr. Word listens to this, he opened up a school business with a little stand. That sold all the same candy and drinks that I was selling after getting me in trouble for it and I was like this seems ridiculous. Why don't you just let me do it?
Yoni Mazor 9:07
You’re the founder, you should get the business. But yeah, he stole the idea and eliminated the competition right away. That's pretty smart.
Francois Jaffres 9:12
Yeah, I know. Yeah. It's smart on their end. I mean, they own the space. So kudos to them. High School, also grew up, you know, I had a job working at Target as a cashier for a while. And then when I was around 17, worked for this pizza shop called Naked Pizza, which didn't actually have any East Coast stores. I think we were actually their first East Coast store. And that was from just going around with my buddy Ishmael at the time, door to door for every business, and just like hey, look, we need a job. It's you know, I don't care what you pay us. Our moms, our immigrant moms are hounding us that you have to get a job because you're almost 18. I was like, Okay, okay, I'll get a damn job. I ended up loving the job. Actually working at….Yeah, it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. I got to meet, I think he was the COO at the time, Mike Egan and I always admired Mike
Yoni Mazor 10:03
So you worked in the shop or there's a corporate office or both?
Francois Jaffres 10:07
It was a shop. It was just a small shop right in Pentagon City, just right outside of Arlington. And, you know, I met Mike Egan and this guy, Mike Perry. They're both from the corporate offices. And I was just astounded, you know, they were awesome people. And a lot of people are, you know, sort of starstruck by actors or by athletes. I think that was the first experience where I was actually starstruck by a corporate person. I was like, Man, these guys are just Yeah, they flew over here. They're wearing all these nice suits. They got nice rental cars. Why don't I want to be like that? Well, I don't, I'm not gonna be a soccer star. I could be a football player or lacrosse star.
Yoni Mazor 10:45
But you’re gonna be a business guy, make money with business. Right?
Francois Jaffres 10:49
Right. Right. And so when they came over, actually, the first time, I was just a cashier at the time, 17 years old, just a cashier, I ended up helping hire one of my friends, two of my friends, three of my friends worked there. Two in the back making pizzas, one of them, you know, front house cashier. Within six months, they, Mike Perry brought me on board to the marketing team, actually, surprisingly enough, I don't know, for what reason. But he let me run the marketing sort of on the east coast and said, hey, look, how do you really target? You know, the people in these suits? How do you buy your Pizza Hut? Or your Papa John's? You know, what are you doing to do this here, compared to the west coast? And so I told him, you know, hey, people come door to door, they leave these little door hangers. And so he said, Okay, let's do it. He put a few thousand dollars into it. Let me run it. He said, you know, go out, hire a few of your friends. 10 bucks an hour, you guys get to every single part of the building. You know, I don't care if it says no soliciting. Just make sure people see what Naked Pizza is. So of course, me being an idiot at 17, I was like, why are we going to try to, you know, go into all these doors? Why don't we just go to the cars? And why don’t we put it on the, you know, the front windshield of the cars and not thinking proactively? At the time, it seemed like an amazing idea, like, hey, everyone's gonna go to their car, everyone's gonna see it. You know, if they're going out, they might come back and say, let's just order a pizza for the night.
Yoni Mazor 12:10
Francois Jaffres 12:11
What I didn't realize is that this is the middle of summer. It's like 95, close to 100 degrees. And these things are melting onto the windshields of the car. And I kid you not, the entire next week and a half, two weeks, were getting phone call after phone call after phone call after phone call, you know, what the hell just happened? You know? Why is this thing melted onto my front windshield? What are you gonna do about it and you just send someone out? Are you gonna pay for the damages and there weren’t any actual damages, it had to be scraped off, and it was hard to scrape off. Well, I got my friends, again, everyone that was working in the shop, actually, also, and I told everyone that called to Hey, look, come in, we'll you know, treat you good with the, you know, small size pizza, or you know, half a pizza, whatever, you know, we can actually give them to keep them happy. And we'll scrape it off personally. So I was out there, you know, spraying down, scraping them. Meanwhile, they're sitting outside, we just set up some outdoor table.
Yoni Mazor 13:09
Oh, so you told them to come to the pizza shop. I’ll clean your thing and give you a pizza. That was good. All right.
Francois Jaffres 13:13
Inadvertently it worked. And then from there, I kind of worked into this assistant manager role at 17. And I had no idea how to manage other than, you know, managing a few friends that I had there at the time. But then I had to do things like inventory and after, you know shop cleanup and making sure that we have forecasts for the next two weeks. What the hell is all this? They didn't teach us this at Washington Lee High School. Like, this is not what I just learned.
Yoni Mazor 13:42
This is a real-world business for sure.
Francois Jaffres 13:43
Yeah, this is real-world business. But now, I think that was probably my favorite experience. Overall, I guess in my younger childhood of just working. And then from there, of course, you have graduated, didn't do the absolute best but took some AP and IB classes. School is just not necessarily my thing. Even for college, not necessarily my thing but ultimately decided to go to West Virginia University. So right in Morgantown, and I came in thinking like, Okay, what can make me the most money? You know, every, I think it's a stereotype, but it's this true stereotype. Every immigrant parent says, Hey, you have to be a doctor, a lawyer, you know, an engineer or something that just makes a lot of money. You have to
Yoni Mazor 14:32
Yeah, a professional, a highly professional.
Francois Jaffres 14:34
Right. Right. She was like, you can't do business. You can't do marketing. You can't do, you know, social sciences. You can't do any of this. And I was like, okay, you know, to appease her, I was decent at coding. I did you know, two years of IB computer science in high school. I'll go in and I'll do CES, I already took some out classes in high school. You know, I'm coming in with 12 credits, 14 credits. I'm like that’s easy, I'll do it, 4 years left. Go in, found out I'm completely trash at coding, I'm not up to up to par of like the 102 level class where it's all about recursion. And basically teaching algorithms to take in other algorithms and just keep running on them. To me, it was just like a completely foreign language, I couldn't wrap my mind around it, but spent a whole year basically trying to do this. And so I even skipped on my, you know, prereqs just to be able to get into the classes, ultimately saw that I just, I don't want to do this, I hate sitting behind the computer, I hate doing, you know, solo projects for 12 hours a day, or the tests were boring, nothing of it seemed appealing anymore. Sure, the money was awesome. But that's, you know, there's a lot of ways to make money, right? As every seller knows, nowadays, Amazon is one easy way to get money, or not so easy, but it is an opportunity to make money. And so from there, moved on to civil engineering, actually. And so I thought, you know, okay, development, I'll be able to do bridges, trusses, you know, more of properties. Real estate is never going to go out of style or out of business. So there's always going to be a need for civil engineer,
Yoni Mazor 16:15
Got it. Which year is this? Let's talk about the chronology a little bit. So which year you discovered that you know, engineering is something that is probably going to be needed also in the future?
Francois Jaffres 16:23
This is my sophomore year.
Yoni Mazor 16:24
So what year is that? Two thousand and? 2014? About seven years ago. 2014. You’re saying I'm gonna head into the world of engineering?
Francois Jaffres 16:37
Yeah, civil engineering, though I had that locked down also. And then mechanical engineering was a big part of it. Right with understanding civil engineering, and mechanical engineering, something absolutely hated also. It's not so much the numbers, it's just something that's completely boring. To me. Project Management didn't seem very appealing either. And I had a friend actually, at the time, that was a bit younger than me, but he started Industrial Engineering at West Virginia University, with Dr. Bird, and Dr. Bird is like the head advisor for this entire program. Amazing individual, he always went above and beyond for anyone that's ever been in the industrial engineering program. So I will always pay him my respects. But I guess 2015, or the semester after spring 2014, I decided I just can't keep up with civil engineering, I don't like it again. Let me take this other switch. So I went into industrial engineering, and then you know, started hearing more about it after I went into it, but I found out that it's more so as the business aspect with engineering pieces to it. So you have to take electrical, mechanical, you had to take classes like thermo and basically every aspect of engineering, including, you know, quality control, including supply chain, a whole bunch of stuff.
Yoni Mazor 18:01
Got it. Your second pivot into the third option, right? So we started with, you know, coding, right software coding, civil engineering, and now we're into industrial engineering. You find to be more robust, more you know up your alley.
Francois Jaffres 18:14
Yeah, more my style. A lot of the classes had to do with more case studies. It was like, hey, how did you know, one actually very interesting case study that always stuck with me: How did Clorox you know actually become a thing? How do they blow up? And it's because their marketing team from the beginning, they said, Well, no one wants to use this because they already have different types of detergent. Why don't we give this out for free? And then have people start to depend on Clorox and see it as a brand that they want to buy?
Yoni Mazor 18:40
Is that Clorox the wipes or which type of...?
Francois Jaffres 18:43
Uh, Clorox the bleach. It was basically just bleach.
Yoni Mazor 18:47
Bleach for the floor?
Francois Jaffres 18:48
Yeah well, bleach for clothes.
Yoni Mazor 18:50
Ah got it. For washing your clothes.
Francois Jaffres 18:52
Yeah. And like, what another case study: sewing machines. How did sewing machines become, you know, this very popular thing amongst housewives? Well, you know, back then, a Catholic woman said, I don't want to do that because God gave me two hands. So I could sew, and I'm gonna sew with these two hands.
Yoni Mazor 19:09
So that was a friction point back then?
Francois Jaffres 19:11
That was the friction point for sewing machines. So they couldn't sell these at scale. And so what do they do? They actually went to the church and they found the head priest and they gave the head priest's wife a sewing machine. And now this head priest’s wife can get so much more done with this sewing machine. And then she said to everyone in the church Hey, you guys should get a sewing machine. Everyone needs a sewing machine. This is something that just makes everyone's lives easier.
Yoni Mazor 19:30
Which manufacturer or brand did this?
Francois Jaffres 19:32
I had no clue. It was just...it was
Yoni Mazor 19:35
I think Singer is like a big, one of the big sewing machine brands. Maybe it was them.
Francois Jaffres 19:38
It could have been, but it was just like a case study that sort of stuck with me. And I love those sorts of you know, Hey, how are we going to work out all these problems and just active problem-solving. So that really appealed to me, industrial engineering. And, you know, class after class after class. Some are harder than others. Of course, you know, calculus is a different story. That stuff is, you know, once you're getting into purely letters, I started to hate it. And getting it integrals and all that stuff. But the business aspect, it's still, you know, it's something that sticks with me and industrial engineering is all about processes and making something that's more complex as simple as possible. And I think, you know, and this is something that I wanted to thank you for before, because last night, I was liking everything that I did, you know, even selling candy at school. And, you know, actually, when I played Runescape, I actually would have these auto clickers that you know,
Yoni Mazor 20:33
What’d you play? Which game? Sorry?
Francois Jaffres 20:35
It was Runescape. It was like a...R U N E S C A P E. Runescape. And it was like this online game where, you know, you could forage trees, and you can go out to lobbies and fight other people. It's a whole bunch of stuff. But at that time, a big thing was people selling coins within Runescape, for real money. Sounds like, I could do that. So I just went out, I got an auto clicker for I think it was like 10 bucks, I just bought it online. And that auto-clicker literally just did every single action for me. So I just leave it running for hours. And then I'd go sell all the ruins or all the wood. And I tell that to my buddies at school because they want to level up their account. And so all of this sort of associates back to simplicity, and just making it easier for whoever wants something. And that's ultimately something that I'm trying to bring here to Noviland. And it's something that I think Noviland is trying to bring to the rest of the world. Actually, that's why I'm so behind it. I'm so excited about it.
Yoni Mazor 21:35
But we haven't touched Noviland yet. I guess we're trying to get to trail that brought you, landed you in Noviland. So. So I guess what year did you graduate? And what was the first station for you after graduation?
Francois Jaffres 21:45
Yeah, yeah. So it actually took me a while to graduate. I started, you know, college in 2012. Finished in 2018. So I took the long path, six years to graduate. Yeah, I never claimed to anyone to be the smartest, but I am definitely one of the most applied and I will outwork almost anyone. Now that means that I fail a lot of tests, but I'll keep trying all those tests to actually pass them.
Yoni Mazor 22:10
That’s great. At the end of the day you stuck to your guns, your mission was accomplished. So it doesn't matter the time, less of an issue. I got you. So 2018 you graduate, and what was your first position after college?
Francois Jaffres 22:21
Well, before Noviland, throughout college, I was working, you know, contractor jobs as just, for Randstad, and a bunch of different recruitment firms that just place you in different companies, right. And so that's where I did a lot of data entry. And I got to work with a few higher levels at like Merrill Lynch, for example, and just see how they conduct themselves and how they do business, how they lead their teams. Yeah, one thing that stuck with me at Merrill Lynch, I was there for about two months as just a receptionist, but for all their lower sort of skill employees, they would still buy them all dinner, if they stayed any time after 5 pm. Like if they wanted to get any work done, bought them all dinner, made sure that they were happy or taken care of. On Friday, so we take them out, they would also have like, you know, fully stocked fridge of beer, wine, whatever they needed. That's something absolutely loved and somebody that, you know, we brought to here at Noviland, but that's a lot of what I did in college. And in 2016, so two years before I graduated, actually, I was looking for an internship because I thought that I was going to graduate on time. And that didn't happen, of course. But I landed this internship with a company called Eureka. Eureka LLC. And that was Noviland before Noviland was Noviland. And that was just our founder Chuan, his buddy, Tom Cobo. And they put out a listing on Barefoot Students. I think it was barefoot students dot com. I'm not sure if it's still a thing today. But so
Yoni Mazor 23:51
So what is that? That's a platform for students to find jobs?
Francois Jaffres 23:53
Yeah. So it's basically, you know, any company can go on there, post all their internship opportunities. And then students know that this is geared towards students. Yep. And so I went out, I did that. I knew, you know, I was interviewing against a few people with their masters and people that are much smarter than me. So I knew that I had to come in with something completely different. And so I did some research actually into my first emails to Tom and Chuan. And as soon as they told me a little bit about what they were doing because they didn't want to release too much IP to any of the interviewees because, again, this was just an idea in 2016 it was really to, to modernize and change the way that global purchasing and supply chain is handled and bring technology into the mix. And so I came to them and you know, I pitched myself as sort of this outside the box thinker, and I promised them, you know, hey, outwork any single person that you would hire, and I knew that I could do that. That's something simple. I don't, I'm not saying that. Again. I'm not the smartest but I will outwork any person there. If they put 20 hours, I’ll put 40 hours. So something I've no problem with the time is your work, you sleep, eventually, you grow to somewhere where you don't have to work as much you can manage more people that can do those operations. I understand that. But so when I got to that point, I came in with I think it was a list of like five or 10 different ideas. And I just said, Hey, well, what if you try to go into this market? And what if you built this piece of technology or use this tool? And what if you try to bridge these two gaps? And, I think they fell in love with it.
Yoni Mazor 25:31
This is during the interview?
Francois Jaffres 25:33
This is during my interview. Yeah, yeah. So I came in with a list. Before the interview, I asked him to explain a little bit to me, that's where they explained, you know, a tiny bit so that they didn't want to release any IP out there. Completely understood. But I came in with all these ideas. And, you know, personally, I think I blew him out of the water, because he, you know, Tom was, like, no one else has asked us, you know, for this much more information, and no one actually brought ideas to pitch the table. And what..that's where I was like, well, this is what you know, you're gonna get from me, this is all you're gonna get from me, continuous ideas. And it's something that, you know, Chuan still gets from me every day, and I'm sure he's annoyed by it. But in 2016, I joined. And that summer, I spent every single day making at least 75 to 150 phone calls every single day, just after, you know, we establish, hey we want to start to have this sourcing agency for medium to large-sized enterprise businesses. They said, Well, you know, we talked about it, hey, what do we have good factories in, and we have good factories in cabinetry, in plumbing fixtures, and things like that. So I said, Okay, well, let's try out, you know, the construction industry. So I was making hundreds of calls there, and then to countersue distributors, and then to smaller mom and pop shops. So it was just called after call after call after call until we can find this market. And then we ended up getting a...
Yoni Mazor 26:57
And the idea once again, just to kind of package this up. So they were two young entrepreneurs, they had the idea, well, how can we help with this supply chain management, by, you know, making it digital and making software and just, you know, innovate on every corner and direction. But, so that was the idea, but then you guys are trying to channel it into, you know, a certain industry that, you know, is going to be the best candidate to apply all these innovations, and then grow from there.
Francois Jaffres 27:23
Right, right, sort of find that product-market fit, right, which is so important for any SAS particularly. And you guys did a great job at doing that clearly. So we were still trying to look for ours at that time. And so, you know, the hundreds of phone calls that didn't bother me a few times, you know, the Wi-Fi at my mom's house went out. And so I would have to get down to the community center and make the phone calls from there and people are looking at me like what the hell is this guy, you know, what he's talking about cabinets and hinges and brackets, and got told to shut up a few times by some 13-year-olds, but I was like, you know, it's, it's whatever, it's fine. It's okay.
Yoni Mazor 27:57
You have the mission in front of you, you're gonna go, you're on target, you're gonna get hit the targets and you're gonna keep moving on. You’re a professional. Okay, so this is what 2016 until 2018. That was kind of the momentum there?
Francois Jaffres 28:10
Yeah, so a lot of it is, a lot of that was sort of, I was working with Caleb, our COO at the time. And the super-smart guy. His background is I believe he was a lawyer, and now he's a lawyer at Geico. But, so I was working with him very closely. And he was able to help guide me with a lot of, Hey, you know, this is how you might want to position or, you know, you are your rookie at the time and this type of messaging, you might want to have things that I didn't really think about, right, I'm still young, never really had that type of background. And so he helped me out tremendously with more of the guidance aspect. And so 2018, around there. That is when our platform launched, and that was something that completely changed, I think, our perspective on how big we can actually make this.
Yoni Mazor 29:00
Hold on, so 2018 you launch the website or the platform, right, but we also rebranded from Eureka to Noviland? That was the same time?
Francois Jaffres 29:09
Yeah. So around the same time, we rebranded before that after, you know, through this phone call is being Caleb heard enough. We don't want any vacuums. Because I think you're Eureka and Eureka is a vacuum brand. And you know, we call these cabinetry companies, you know, we don't need vacuums. Thank you, thank you, hang up, right, the gatekeeper. So is right. And, yeah, we had a conversation and Chuan came back and said, Well, you know, Noviland, Noviland’s our new name. That's what we're going through...
Yoni Mazor 29:36
Was there any kind of focus on the meaning? Like a “new land”? Novi means kind of “new” if I was kinda right? Or land island, not a new land, a new destination, a new project, a new mission?
Francois Jaffres 29:46
I’ll let Chuan answer that whenever he's ready to answer that. I don't want to jump the gun when he wants to answer. But still, from there, you know, we tried hiring some remote work, some people out in the Midwest and they could, you know, do a lot of the calls. And so I started to learn a little bit more about time management, and about people management, right, I had a little bit of taste in the pizza shop, but not quite at the scale that we wanted to grow at.
Yoni Mazor 30:11
Ok but, let me ask you this. So you say you guys launched the platform. But at that point, who were the main users, what kind of industries?
Francois Jaffres 30:18
Yeah, so it was actually the people that we transitioned, as an agency, you know, with those building materials, construction companies, people like that, and we were having them sign up, or we would sign up for them to use the platform as just a tool. It was just like, Hey, you know, we already got you quotes through the email, but we want to start using this tool. So we're gonna put all the quotes in this, you could check out through here, process your invoices, something very simple, but yet very complex, right? So we didn't necessarily have a current business model at that time, either. At that time the business model was you have one account manager, that account manager works with one person in China. And that person in China handles the logistics, the QC, the factory communications, the fact of the product development, specification gathering, everything lies on this one person’s shoulders.
Yoni Mazor 31:06
But at the core of it is essentially helping out with supply chain slash sourcing, you know, these organizations, these businesses, this industry, they need to source parts, whatever inventory, it is, this is the kind of core mission and streamline everything around on the one platform, where digital and you get visibility, it's all kind of makes sense. In one cohesive place.
Francois Jaffres 31:25
Yeah, yeah, just simplify, right? Just there's a lot of processes, a lot of tasks, let's just make it simple and use this one tool to centralize it and make it simple for any size company. Got it. And, you know, we're proud to say we were the first company with this type of platform with this type of technology to market, that there's a few other companies that are trying to accomplish something similar. They seem to be having, you know, different targets in their markets, perfectly fine. You know, it's a big pool out there. But so, you know, we have this platform, we are bringing users on board. And then randomly we started getting, you know, something that no one, none of us were familiar with, something called an Amazon seller. Right?
Yoni Mazor 32:06
The beast was to come knocking on your door, the beast, yeah, the gorilla.
Francois Jaffres 32:10
And so, you know, we're like, Well, hey, you know, we're getting all these architectural drawings from the construction companies. We're getting specification lists, and RFPs and RFQs, from wholesalers that are looking for specific types of products, very detailed.
Yoni Mazor 32:27
What’s an RFQ, for example, give us a little bit more.
Francois Jaffres 32:31
RFQ is a request for a quote, and then an RFP is a request for a proposal. And there are distinct differences. But the
Yoni Mazor 32:37
Yeah, no worries. Yeah, just for the audience who's not familiar, I always try to keep the jargon open and available for them to absorb. Got it, ok, keep going.
Francois Jaffres 32:45
Yeah. And so and they submitted, you know, we asked every company to submit an RFQ. RFQ is very detailed, has all the specifications, materials, dimensions, CAD files, whatever it is, we might need to have an OEM factory quoted out. And Amazon sellers started signing up to a platform and submitting RFPs. And RFPs, the request for proposals, are very vague. It's, hey, I want this tumbler but I want this slight change. How much do you think that would cost? It's kind of, Hey, can you put together a proposal for what you think I might like? So there's a distinct difference between those two? And we're like, Okay, well, you know, if we're getting a lot more inbound, I don't know if this whole one-to-one to one account manager and the one person in China really works. And it's what, today it's what we know, as a sourcing agent, right? It's a sourcing agent, one person that handles the entire process, and they charge you for that. And so we said, well, what, there are all the different specialties. So let's break up the category. So we have, you know, logistics that handle the order management, handle the customs clearance documentation gathering, a lot of small processes in there. We have quality control. So the quality control inspector actually performs quality control inspection. You know, that could require a whole mandate, just for a very simple item. We have the product specialists, and they double as factory specialists. So there's just one person that sort of interacts with the Noviland users one on one and they say, Hey, you know, okay, well, the factory needs to know this specification, or do you want this material over that material? These are the cost differences. And they can work with the factories effectively, they are from, you know, the same regions, typically, they can either speak Mandarin or Cantonese. And they just know how to negotiate successfully and they know how to build a relationship, right? Something a lot of sellers might not know, or have experience with doing in the first place. So there's a big learning curve there. So we broke apart all these different positions, and we said, You know, on the back end, now everyone has to work together. So we created this robust back end of the system that really just streamlines our internal processes a ton and I'm talking about you know, they're not Excel spreadsheets, it's like a completely separate...every single process, every single task, anything that you can imagine on the back end has to be done can be done in this tool. And that's how our entire team interacts. And that's how we interact with all of our users. And that's how we centralize it. So we ended up having to build that, which again, we're very proud of. And in 2018, very simple. In 2019, we started seeing more Amazon sellers, more just e-commerce sellers, in general, still doing a few cold calls, and here and there, you know, just trying to find new avenues for business. And then 2020, I guess it kind of just streamlined a little bit more. 2020 is a year that no one is ever gonna forget about I think right? COVID is the biggest impact on the supply chain globally, it's not just you know, in the US, it's not just in China, it's global. And so that's where we started to see a very big uptick, actually, in our global users. So we started seeing a ton of signups from Australia, a ton of signups from France, Germany, UK, Israel, we had a few from Canada, as well as in the US because everyone was sort of panicking, like, hey, I need this new supply chain solution. And so we're able to, to double our
Yoni Mazor 36:23
User base, yeah.
Francois Jaffres 36:25
User base. Yeah, man 2020. And so of course, we believe that COVID had a strong impact on that, where the traditional supply chain is all about sort of this just in time manufacturing. And, you know, a lot of sellers or just businesses in general, small businesses don't understand supply chain as robust as they need to, in order to react to it, because it's all about reactions. And it's, you know, if you don't make the right move in that reaction, then your business is either going to fail, or it's going to suffer, either you don't have inventory, your supplier goes under, you struggle with finding the suppliers, logistics costs go up. So now you have to try to consolidate different products in different regions of China. Factories are shut down for two months. So now you're looking into Vietnam, or India, or Bangladesh for new suppliers, and now you have to vet them. So there's a lot that goes on in the supply chain when something simple like a virus happens, right? I'm not saying yeah, I'm not trying to belittle COVID, because COVID has had a huge impact globally. But it's just, you know, realizing that the supply chain is never 100% secure, it's never 100% safe for any business, whether it's fortune 100 companies or brand new Amazon sellers. And so that's where I think we got to play a very heavy role with sourcing things like face masks with hand sanitizer, with working with a lot of our customers to help them streamline supply chains. And we opened, you know or started to open our fulfillment centers because we wanted to be more vertically integrated, everyone's looking for 3PL now. So we made all these moves, not necessarily as a reaction to COVID. But we got to grow with sort of the market and the market realizing that supply chain needs to be simplified. So that's why I'm proud to be part of a team that's actually aiming to achieve that simplification. And I get to
Yoni Mazor 38:16
Yeah, you’re connecting I think a lot of dots that I can see from your trail or story. So like, you know, as you were growing up, you were always able to find opportunities to make it easier on your surroundings to either purchase those credits for, for the video game or the garbage or if it's you know, buying snacks and candies in school, whatever it is that you know, opens up an opportunity for something that's very convenient, even on the back end for you is a lot of grunt, there's a lot of things you got to, you know, work extremely hard for as you were growing up, you're taking all that energy, value, mindset, and passion. And you bundle it into a Noviland, which is a combination of true grit, you know, across the board in all the supply chain management positions, because you got the human aspect layer of it. But then of course above it all, you have to get technology to connect all the dots. So it's free money and it's scalable. This way, you're able to double the user base in one year, which is tremendous. For a business that is so involved in the physicality of things, you produce goods, you deal with factories, you deal with people in the factories, you deal with the carriers, the shippers, the fulfillment centers, a lot of muscle involved, the more you know, creating inventory and moving it around the role until it gets to its final destination, hopefully over the Amazon center or at least with the consumer, right, that's the end goal that's really the end goal. So your bill, you know, taking all these elements around your experience will you know, focus on the mission, focus on the purpose, create convenience and create I guess stability. Because like you mentioned where there was a one, you know, you know, a global pandemic hits, you know, creates a whole disruption. But nevertheless, you guys did not, you know, whoever was already using you guys had tranquility, right? You know, everything was good. Keep on moving in. And beyond that, you know, the ones who recognize this opportunity to get this convenience and the stability that jumped on board. And now they're tasting the taste of success instead of facing, you know, utter ruin or complete failure by not being able to react properly to all the, you know, the changing dynamics of global supply. So, is that kind of a good connection to make there based on your ambition, your story?
Francois Jaffres 40:22
You are insanely good at active listening
Yoni Mazor 40:27
I’m keen to listen, yeah, that's my...
Francois Jaffres 40:29
I'm gonna have to go on LinkedIn after and give you that recommendation of active listening. That was insanely good. Yeah.
Yoni Mazor 40:35
So mental notepads. Definitely took the notes there. Okay, very good. So this is the purpose. This is the mission of Noviland, this is where you are right now, this is where you're passionate about, you know, let's touch I guess. So I want to recap the episode, but then we're going to touch, I know, we're going to close it with two points. Okay. But before that, let's do the recap. Born and raised in Arlington, Virginia, both parents, you know, involved in labor-intense, you know, industries, baking, farming. And also, you know, housecleaning, you grew up in Arlington, hustled around, you got the North, you got the south, you know, you got also experience with the pizza shop, that was really good for you to also think on a corporate level and marketing level. So, you know, connected your grid into also, with high-level strategy for an organization that's trying to grow. School took about six years, right? 2012 until 2018 to graduate, you know, you pivoted two times from our coding into civil engineering into industrial engineering. 2016 you already met the Eureka team, which turned out to be around 2018, rebranded into Noviland. And then, you know, you're ready to start 2016 until today, so you're already four fires into the mix. You guys really found your niche across multiple industries. But you really find that e-commerce is really, really booming and you're in the whole organization, that technology and team is really able to provide great, tremendous value for the users to sustain your growth. But of course, you guys are ready and able to absorb more and more of it, to help more and more seller’s scale, and find a good solution with that. So thank you for sharing all that. You know this is kind of the recap and packaging of your story thus far. And now to close the episode, to close up the episode I want to focus on two things. The first thing is if, of course, if somebody wants to reach out to you and connect, you know, give them a handout where they can find you. And the last thing will be what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Francois Jaffres 42:29
So the first..if you find me on Facebook or LinkedIn, Francois Jaffres that, the name is, you know, right?
Yoni Mazor 42:37
Yes. Yeah, we're gonna spell it out, then it's gonna be spelled over there. Yeah.
Francois Jaffres 42:43
You can find me there. Or you could look up Noviland Inc. I tend to put my eyeballs on most of the messages that come in. If not, you know, Lisa does a great job getting to them too. So you could reach us out there on Facebook or on Instagram or on LinkedIn, any of those three channels or you could shoot me an email. It’s just francois at noviland dot com. Any supply chain question whatsoever, or business in general, I love just talking business. So any question feel free to reach out to me there. And to your second point. I guess the inspiration really, it's just, man, buckle down, just have grit. I mean, I saw my mom do it, I saw my dad do it. Doing very, very, very hard jobs.
Yoni Mazor 43:26
Lemme ask you this. Yeah, he helped you grow up and have a roof over your head. And overall, it sounds like a good healthy childhood. But would you say that they were happy, they were content because that's where it becomes magic. Because it doesn't matter really what you do, and how hard you do it. At the end of the day, if you find, you know, satisfaction and you're happy and you can tell what you have. You're very wealthy, you'd have to be wealthy, you know, a gazillionaire in the bank account, at least you know, at the end of the day, if you find some happiness with it. That's also you know, an upside to begin with. But from your own experience, you find that you were, you know, happy? Your father was in farming. And your mother was cleaning, they were content, they're happy, they're standing tall and proud and, you know, satisfied with what they were doing or what was your understanding from your angle?
Francois Jaffres 44:06
I think so. And so, my dad had passed back in 2016. Also, and so he told me when he was in hospice, actually a quick recap, I guess for anyone that it takes very little actually to achieve happiness. He found the simplest things like looking out and just watching the wind blow in the trees, I mean, things that you almost see in movies, but that sort of gave me a different perspective on what happiness is. Happiness is not you know, hey, I have a million bucks in the bank, I'm gonna be happy. It's Hey, you know, I have a son, he's about to graduate college. And I'm living here, I'm living a good life. We have food on the table. That has happiness. It's you know, sort of this sense of family and knowing that you have other loved ones and you can love them back. I think that is the key piece of happiness to every family and to anybody. So
Yoni Mazor 44:56
I love that. So let's connect between both components right, the hard grit work. No shame about it. Do it, do it as much as possible Don't forget to keep, you know, content and try to focus on the simple things in life that we most people take for granted to stay content because if you have a combination of both, you know, hard work grit right and staying content you're probably gonna achieve everything that you ever desire really to achieve and you'll be happy about it.
Francois Jaffres 45:18
I agree. Completely agree Yoni.
Yoni Mazor 45:21
You got it. Right. So thank you so much again, Francois, for sharing with us the story. I had a, you know, great time with this. Thank you everybody for listening. I hope you enjoyed that as well. Until next time, stay safe and healthy. Take care, everybody.