The Amazon FBA Entrepreneurial Spark of Carlos Alvarez
In this Prime Talk Podcast Video Sponsored by GETIDA – We dive into the Amazon FBA entrepreneurial spark of Carlos Alvarez. Carlos is an Amazon Seller and the founder of Wizards of Amazon, which is the largest meetup group for Amazon sellers in the world. Wizards of Amazon is focused on bringing you content to push your online business to the next level.
Carlos Alvarez has more than 20 years of combined experience as a successful Amazon retailer and as a consultant and marketing expert for online sellers. He entered the Amazon Marketplace when it was in its infancy, and quickly mastered non-traditional marketing and selling strategies while organically achieving first-page rankings. Since the late 90s, he has built, invested, and sold several brands in many Amazon categories including grocery, apparel, kitchen & dining, beauty, electronics, supplements, coffee, and patio & garden. Now, Alvarez teaches others how to achieve success selling online.
Alvarez and his team empower online sellers through his consulting agency Blue Bird Marketing Solutions. He is a frequent keynote speaker at conferences and events and was recently appointed as the first City Organizer by Meetup, where he serves as a liaison between Meetup.com and all other Meetup Organizers in Miami.
Alvarez sums up his mission to help online sellers with a quote he heard early on in his career. “New sellers constantly compare their Chapter 1 to another seller’s Chapter 20. They see what other veteran sellers are doing and they judge their success and failures by this benchmark.” His goal is to show sellers a realistic path to success, and how they can enjoy every chapter of their own, unique journey.
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Find the Full Transcript Below
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Everybody, welcome to another episode of Prime Talk. Today I'm really excited to have an amazing, amazing guest in person. I'm having Carlos Alvarez. Carlos is many things. But right now he's pretty much focused on being an Amazon seller. And he's also the founder of the Wizards of Amazon. Right? So the Wizards of Amazon is the largest Amazon sellers Meetup group in the world and in mondo, the ones that you do Spanish. There's also a Spanish connection there with a community that Carlos also helps to support. But all about that in the episode itself. Carlos, welcome to the show.
Carlos Alvarez 0:40
What's up, man? Thank you for having me on. I'm glad we're finally making this happen.
Yoni Mazor 0:43
Yeah, I was really looking forward to this. So thank you so much for your time. Yeah, let's dive into it. So you're gonna share with us today is gonna be the story and the episode of Carlos Alvarez, you're gonna share with all of us who are you? Where were you born? Where did you grow up? How'd you begin your professional career all the way to where you are today with e-commerce. So I guess without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Carlos Alvarez 1:03
Let's do it, man. I don't. First of all, let me say this, I don't have any professional I guess you'd say or degrees are anything to back up what, what, what I do. I've been a full-time seller at this point on Amazon for 15 years, and I have a lot of other businesses that I've funded. You know, with Amazon profits over the years ever since getting that first like early suspension letter like 15 years ago, I was just like, I don't want to be an email away from this happening. So I started out a lot of unrelated businesses sort of as a diversification. I don't even think I knew the word back then. But it was like diversification in my mind that you know, I'm gonna be able to pay my mortgage if Amazon stops, and plus I had no idea 15 years ago, plus years ago, that Amazon would still be relevant today, right?
Yoni Mazorr 1:58
Yeah. Right. Yeah, that's the mindset back at the beginning of the first millennium, but before that, let's take it back. Let's take it back. Where were you born? Where'd you grow up? But give us some context? You the person, the human the...
Carlos Alvarez 2:25
Yeah, definitely, awesome. Born and raised in Miami, Florida. Southwest Miami I think it was like an unincorporated area at the time. So it didn't even have a name. And as a matter of fact, now as an adult, I live in another part of Miami which is West Tamiami that most people don't know the name of as well. You were recently here. West Tamiami. Something like that.
Yeah. West Tamiami? Kind of a funky flow. But yeah.
Carlos Alvarez 2:50
So no, as a kid, I, you know, I just, I pretty much did everything that you shouldn't do. As a kid. I was a rebel. Started, you know, skipping school in fourth grade. Just nowhere fast.
Yoni Mazor 3:04
What were your parents doing, for example, was a household like?
Carlos Alvarez 3:07
My father was a public servant. My, my mom was a stay-at-home mom.
Yoni Mazor 3:13
They were born in the States or were they, immigrants?
Carlos Alvarez 3:15
My father was born in Cuba and my mother in the United States, but her side of the family is German.
Yoni Mazor 3:23
So did she speak any German at all?
Carlos Alvarez 3L:36
Or? No, no, it wasn't like that. Now, just English, just English. And she attempted Spanish and it didn't happen. But so so in that sense, my childhood was just that, you know, skipping school being a rebel.
Yoni Mazor 3:37
But the one of our let's say, your parents were nothing special in terms of the world of entrepreneurship. They were public servants, your father? Yeah, Mom, you didn't absorb anything, at least from that angle in terms of being an entrepreneur and, and taking our ventures anything like that.
Carlos Alvarez 3:50
Exactly. Yeah, there was no, there was no any of that. If anything, I could say from my father's side, it was just supportive of trying new things, and it's okay to fail and that sort of thing. And I didn't even realize it at the time, but I think that was actually very important. For me growing up,
Yoni Mazor 4:07
but confidence is crucial, especially at a young age, but Okay, so growing up, did you do anything entrepreneurial, or just be focused on being a rebel?
Carlos Alvarez 4:16
I was the rebel and I actually, didn't see it as entrepreneurial at the time, but I was the type that would, you know, get a hold of candy and then sell the candy in school like blow pops for 25 cents. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, I would do the lemonade stand. I would look for like paper routes to deliver papers. I was always trying to wash cars, a lawnmower anything just to go out there and make money.
Yoni Mazor 4:41
What would you know with the money when you got the money when he's finally made it?
Carlos Alvarez 4:45
When I first started I would just go get snacks and sweets and stuff that we couldn't afford in the house or that my parents didn't want me to have and I would just sneak and go get it with my own money later on. I realized that I could make more money if I had more sales. So I would get more blow pops and I could sell and I give them to somebody else on the other side of school and I'd be like, hey, look, sell these, and I'll give you 50% of the profits, which is a lot, but here are 50% of the profits.
Yoni Mazor 5:16
You did. I'm in a franchise on the candy. So when you're young, it's pretty interesting.
Carlos Alvarez 5:20
Yeah. And then the lawnmowers and stuff. I was just like, well, you make a pretty good dollar amount mowing somebody's lawn. And usually, people pay you pretty good. If you're a kid mowing the lawn. So I decided I wanted to get more mowers I think we got up to like four lawnmowers, which is a pretty big deal we're talking about I was like, nine.
Yoni Mazor 5:39
Nine years old? I don't even have one. You have four on the back then. This is what the 80s or something?
Carlos Alvarez 5:43
Yeah, yeah, the 80s 85. So I did a lot of that. Nothing, nothing really materialized into anything. Major or no businesses or anything like that. I stopped going to school in pretty much the sixth grade, sixth or seventh grade.
Yoni Mazor 6:05
Completely. You never went back?
Carlos Alvarez 6:09
No, I never, I never returned, the only time I walked into a classroom again, was as I started succeeding in my business, which we'll get to, I, I felt, you know, all these other people around me have college degrees like I need to go get a degree. So I made a few failed attempts at going to a local college. And, and just feeling very, very out of place, and just left.
Yoni Mazor 6:32
Got it, like a fish that's out of the water? But so when you're in sixth grade, it seems very soft age like you're what 12 or 13 you stop completely? What pushed you to stop? How is that acceptable with your parents? For example, take us a little bit there.
Carlos Alvarez 6:46
Well, it wasn't acceptable. My parents, I don't know how deep you want me to go into that. But I come from an extraordinarily abusive home.
Yoni Mazor 6:53
And where regards, I mean that I mean, you don't have to over...
Carlos Alvarez 6:56
Mentally, spiritually, physically, sexually, and just in every different way imaginable. It was like a very abusive home father, workaholic. But he did try to instill good stuff, Mom, you know, total wrong way. So no, it wasn't acceptable to them. But it also wasn't, I wasn't on their radar.
Yoni Mazor 7:12
You got it wasn't a top 10 list of issues to be concerned about.
Carlos Alvarez 7:15
Right. So I mean, I walked out of the fourth grade and walked into a store and I just walked out with fishing supplies, and I didn't have any money going in. So I obviously didn't pay for it. And I just walked out and tried to go fishing. So no, it wasn't acceptable. And the school would call my parents and nothing came of it. I think I got grounded twice. And then it was kind of like, do what I want to do occasionally get grounded. So, so yeah, so I just did that. Eventually, though, and I think the first biggest turning point for me is I'm now in my, like early 30s. Which, which seems like a big jump. But oh, at 16 I wind up getting my GED. I think a lot was self-discipline. Yeah, self-discipline, and it stems from I tried to get a job. And they told me I thought it was a McDonald's or Burger King. And they told me, we'll hire you, but we're gonna pay you this. If you have a high school diploma, we'll pay you this higher amount. And so I told him, I was like, I don't have a high school diploma, like, but I don't even know how to go get one at that point. So somebody mentioned the GED, I looked into it. And I was like, awesome night, some night school. And let's do it. I got this really thick book that you could, that pretty much gave you a prep test, that you could pass the test in this book, you could pass the test. Any areas that I didn't pass, I just found more books in the library and I studied them and then I passed the test.
Yoni Mazor 8:38
Sharp so it pushed you to get your education independently like that because it was a business decision. It's pretty strong for this one, it makes money. I'm on it. It's done. Executed.
Carlos Alvarez 8:51
Right. And yeah, I got the job. It was Burger King. So I got the job at Burger King. They paid me the lower amount until I got my GED. I got my GED. The time it took maybe, you know, 10 months. By the time I got hired to the GED, I had already been crushing it in Burger King. And I had already gotten like these little mini promotions, a lot more responsibility, and had already given me pay bumps. So when I came in with the GED, I was already getting paid more than what a person normally would just because they have a high school diploma. But they were so happy they gave me a little more. I think they gave me like 25 cents more per hour.
Yoni Mazor 9:27
So your 15 or 16 at the time, correct?
Carlos Alvarez 9:30
Yeah, I'm still 16.
Yoni Mazor 9:32
Take us to the year, what year was that?
Carlos Alvarez 9:39
91 ish. Yeah. Yeah. 1991 ish. And then so the next thing of significance for businesses. In my very early 30s. I find myself in a position where I'm working as a dairy clerk in Publix. Delivering subs. Selling cigars at a local cigar shop. And, and I'm also, I have this expensive ex-girlfriend who I think I'm in love with. And I'm trying to like do all these other odd jobs because no matter how much I make, I feel like I don't have enough to buy her things and impress her. on on on.
Yoni Mazor 10:18
Hold on, hold on, so when you have this now, this ex-girlfriend, how many jobs do you have? Are you holding two or three jobs?
Carlos Alvarez 10:22
I'm holding three jobs. Publix dairy clerk delivering subs and selling cigars. The cigar thing was more of a when you want to come in and sell do it when you don't, don't. So not full-time. But I was in there as much as possible. And one of the things another thing around that time that I think was significant was that...
Yoni Mazor 10:45
This was about ten years ago, it sounds about right? This is about, ugh, fast-forwarding, ah from, sixteen, no sixteen you’re about 1991?
Carlos Alvarez 10:54
I'm very, very early 30s. So we're talking about like 2007 ish, 2008, I think. And I see that the friends I have, or friends of friends and my ex-girlfriend’s friends. They all have these jobs that have you know, 401 K's attached to them and paid leave. And there's none of that where I'm working. So I was very ashamed of that. My ex was very ashamed of it when we would go out.
Yoni Mazor 11:25
What was she doing any anything professional she was doing?
Carlos Alvarez 11:28
Looking back at? No one's ever asked me that. But like looking back, I don't think it was very I don't think it was very glamorous. To be honest. It was like an entry-level. Very, very entry-level no certification or prior experience required finance stuff.
Yoni Mazor 11:42
Got it. Okay, I'm saying there's every coin has another side. So usually, yeah, balance on the context of things. But I know we jumped into 2007 from 1991. But a lot of those 15 years anything worth mentioning, we're just rolling between our jobs are drifting away.
Carlos Alvarez 11:57
Figuring life out, man. Yeah, figuring life out trying to get my life together.
Yoni Mazor 12:03
But all in the Miami area. Didn't go outside, didnt travel anywhere, didnt see anything?
Carlos Alvarez 12:08
All over the state of Florida. Yeah, the. So I remember I'd go to like a networking event. And I would see some of her friends and they'd be talking about what they did for a living. And I would, I would just like make up this thing. Like it was a total lie. But it was like something that sounded business sounded really important for business. Just because back then saying eBay or Amazon and it was almost all eBay, was very juvenile like it wasn't seen as a career path. And my, I was very aware of that, my ex is very aware of that. So I constantly tried to have these like extra hustles to make money. One of those hustles wound up being selling on eBay.
Yoni Mazor 12:57
So once again, three jobs. And then you had another layer of starting to sell stuff on eBay. And this is around where you said 2006 2007 2008 you had that layer of boom, boom, boom e-commerce knocking on your door. At this entry moment.
Carlos Alvarez 13:14
Yeah, so eBay's exploding. I quickly find myself making more than my sub-delivery route, which is not saying a lot. And I could see that every time I was at, at real work, I was actually making less money because I wasn't selling online. So every time I would make more than one of the other jobs consistently, like for two weeks, which was consistent to me, I would quit that other job. And, and I very quickly found myself doing this full time. The friends that I did have at the time, my family, who at that point was really just my dad and then his side of the family. They got together. And they were seeing this, this really this transformation. And they wanted to support this like they wanted to see me head in this direction.
Yoni Mazor 14:09
Go back. So, let’s touch the products or the sourcing What do you do for sourcing when eBay came knocking on your door? What did you sell? What was the first thing you started selling and why?
Carlos Alvarez 14:17
First thing was a random thing around the house that I don't remember what it was. But immediately when it sold I started grabbing like all the books and board games that I wasn't using or pots and pans that were you know, underneath the counter that…
Yoni Mazor 14:32
You, you you liquidated your assets.
Carlos Alvarez 13:35
Absolutely. And then I started going to garage sales and I just would pack the car until I couldn't fit anymore and drop it off and then just keep doing that until the sun went down.
Yoni Mazor 14:43
I call this a validation process. When people humans are validating that e-commerce is a real thing. That you bring the supply, there's built-in demand you got to keep nourishing it feeding it back in there was a bit more simple today. It's much more elevated and sophisticated, but it's still the same equation. Supply and demand, you got to find the right way to nourish and feed the demand and you'll do wonders for yourself economically, also, but Yeah, go ahead. So your family sees that he sees also the validation you already experienced. And what happened?
Carlos Alvarez 15:12
They start using terms like entrepreneur, marketer, online seller, I didn't hear e-commerce really, I don't remember hearing e-commerce until later. But they pulled together. Like they must have just gotten together and they're like, Oh my god, you know, Carlos is gonna, my nickname as a kid was chopper. Which is like I was this, apparently, like, You're not supposed to eat meat at that age. And I took a bite out of like a pork chop. And then I was like, This chubby kid and they were like, chop. And then it was this cartoon character that was a dog named chopper and it was chop, chop, and, and chopper. So though, so I guess they got together and they're kind of like choppers, gonna. choppers doing it, like choppers, like heading in the right direction. So they pulled together $81,000 What, what eventually became $81k, more money than I had ever saw in my life. And at the time, and I at the time, I also about two months before I discovered, like very early days Alibaba.
Yoni Mazor 16:12
And this is once again until 2008. Or where do you go? 2009?
Carlos Alvarez 16:16
We’re 2008 or yeah, 2009 right in there. And I'm like living and breathing this working though. I had really bad insomnia at the time. So I'm not sleeping. I'm just working. And my, what is on Alibaba, I discovered this adult novelty product, which a guy uses there's a ring or a motor and you get it. But I would get them for a couple cents. And I'd sell them for you know, 15 to 20 bucks on eBay. And I just couldn't keep them in stock.
Yoni Mazor 16:50
So you got it from Alibaba. Yeah.
Carlos Alvarez 16:52
Yeah, no the factory exists to this day, it is called pleasure chest. And the rep is named Elvis. So I, I in my ignorance, I'm like anyone $81,000 I'm gonna buy $81,000 of this thing. And I calculated it out and I would have been it would have been millions. So I thought this was my, this was my moment, right? So I contact the factory to buy it. And Elvis tells me that they'd gladly do it. But they need this amount upfront, and then it won't be ready for X amount of days. That things that we know to be normal. But having never done that before. I thought, I thought it smelt fishy. And that this person wasn't treating me seriously like, like the extraordinarily wealthy savvy person that I thought I was. So I told him that I would find somebody else.I searched on Alibaba and I find a supplier who went by the name of (inaudible.)
Yoni Mazor 17:53
Sounds like that, where do you have this immediate suspect, recall that ah….?
Carlos Alvarez 17:59
I don't know. I feel like I must not have seen it. Because if I'd ever heard that name like I would. So yeah, okay, so he has everything in stock. He's got photos of it, factory in Hong Kong. I send them the money because he's got it all in stock and it's ready.
Yoni Mazor 18:16
All the money? So you send all of it? $81,000?
Carlos Alvarez 18:20
About 79 ish.
Yoni Mazor 18:22
Yeah, essentially. All, all your available cash for the most part.
Carlos Alvarez 18:27
Yoni Mazor 18:30
First deal. First, purchase Hong Kong. Okay.
Carlos Alvarez 18:31
Stole everything like you can see where it's going. Like he just stole everything from me. He he didn't like I didn't even know it. Like there was no factories in Hong Kong there are in mainland China. A simple Google Earth search would have solved this but I honestly a couple of days afterwards when I didn't hear from him. I was more concerned in my ignorance. I was concerned that something that happened in his family he got hurt. Is he okay, can I help him like that? That's where I defaulted. Yeah, and then nothing nothing nothing and my searches even then we're not, what to do when you're scammed on Alibaba, it was more like how do you reach a supplier if something happened to their phone? Or their email? And you've already done business with them? And that's when I started unearthing, you know, scams. That happened Alibaba and that's when my heart just sank. And I was just like, No, please, this can't happen to me. You know, give me a break here. And I, he eventually, like every time my phone pinged at night, I would jump over to the phone to see like, is he finally reaching out to me? And then finally one night he actually did. And he said, I need you to send me another and it was like more money. Because I've been sitting on all this inventory to ship it, it's ready to go and it was like demurrage fees or something like that. And at that point, I already know I felt like I knew I had been scammed. And I, I just I reply to him and I'll be like, Look, let's do this. As soon as you put it on a boat and send it out, then I will send you the rest of the money obviously never happened. He stole the money. So during that, say two weeks, two, three week period, sorry, I have big dogs in the back. And I think Amazon just delivered something. But during that period of time, I didn't want anyone to know that I had been ripped off. And, and I had said this before, but I really did not. I was very accustomed to being broke. I understood being broke, that would no lifestyle change is going to happen. But the way people were finally seeing me as a successful person, as someone that's like contributing to society, a positive person...
Yoni Mazor 20:49
An entrepreneur, a businessman, you know, affluent, creating wealth, creating success. That got hammered. And that's a blow for your mentally.
Carlos Alvarez 20:57
Absolutely. I never wanted to lose that. I would say part of me still chases that, to this day.
Yoni Mazor 21:02
We all do all that recognition from any community or family members where the successful This is successful person, whatever field, whatever domain, it's, it's what we feel like we’re woth you know.
Carlos Alvarez 21:13
Sure. So, I didn't want to tell anyone, they loaned me the money. It wasn't a gift. But it was like, the most relaxed terms in the world. You know, they wanted me to succeed. And they probably thought at the back of their head, there was a really high likelihood they wouldn't see this money again, right. Like...
Yoni Mazir 21:32
Who put the biggest front. Was it your father or the Aunt, or?
Carlos Alvarez 21:33
My father. I think my father put like half right.
Yoni Mazor 21:37
Wow, so what, almost his life saving, or was it his life savings in a way?
Carlos Alvarez 21:40
No, no, my father, my father did well for himself. And again, he was a workaholic. Okay, he, he, they all had to like, no, this was considered a high-risk investment at best. Right. So, but still, I didn't want him to know. So I started looking for the few possessions that I had that I thought had a lot of value, meaning a few $100 and I wanted to put this with a couple $100 or $1,000 I had and start flipping stuff like just go back to what I knew, which was garage sales, and I don't care what my lifestyle looks like, just as long as I can make good on paying all this back. Nice. And with a smile the whole time. Yeah, the entire time. My ex too is in my ear. You're going nowhere. This isn't working. You need to stop, you need to go back to Publix, you know they have benefits and all this stuff. And then I saw it. I saw that. Yeah, very hard, very, very hard. I so, two of the things I went to go sell. I went to go sell like a Movado watch was like the nicest thing I had, I thought I was gonna get $1000 they offered me like 80 bucks. And two of the things I went to sell though, were two of my reptiles like for pets. I like snakes. My wife forbids them. So I don't have them anymore. So but I had a Burmese python and a Colombian redtail boa. So I have them in pillowcases…
Yoni Mazor 23:08
Hold on, hold on, say it again, you had what Python?
Carlos Alvarez 23:11
Yoni Mazor 23:15
Burmese. Okay, that's a snake?
Carlos Alvarez 23:17
Yeah. Yeah, Burmese python and a Colombian red tail boa. Like boa constrictor.
Yoni Mazor 23:19
Columbia Red Tail Boa How do you spell that?
Carlos Alvarez 23:25
Like Boa, BOA.
Yoni Mazor 23:24
Got it. Oh, it sounds aggressive.
Carlos Alvarez 23:27
Yeah, Yeah, they're definitely aggressive. Even if I get dogs I'm not really thinking like I was at that time. I'm thinking, you know, like, Rottweiler. I'm not thinking like multise, so these were very aggressive snakes, and I haven't been pillowcases, to take them to a reptile shop to sell. And the person in front of me, this is probably the by far the biggest turning point for me here is the person in front of me is paying $25 or so for 50 this little like plastic It looks like a hair gel canister but 50 live worms.
Yoni Mazor 24:07
Hold on this is the person in front of you, when you’re standing in line.
Carlos Alvarez 24:11
Yeah, I'm waiting to talk to the cashier. Yeah, I'm waiting to talk to the cashier and I'm waiting to like say Can I speak to the manager or something like that? I'm like teary-eyed like I was like trying to make my eyes dry because I'm beyond stressed. And the person paying for that, and I thought a shovel and pic is cheap buckets. I will dig for worms all day long. And at you know at $25 for 50 of them. So I just sort of in a daze I walk out of this pet store and smartphone in hand.
Yoni Mazor 24:45
You sold the snake though or no?
Carlos Alvarez 24:47
No, no, no, no.
Yoni Mazor 24:48
So you stop right there. He's like I'm not even selling this. Plot twist right away on the spot.
Carlos Alvarez 24:52
Yeah, it's it stops me cold and I want to think about this. You know what I think I also thought maybe I can make enough to feed the snakes and make a little bit so there won't be any reason for me to have to sell my snakes. So, I don't know, it was a very confused time like I wasn't thinking clearly, I think you have to at some times there's been a few spots since I've been in business that thinking too clearly, or thinking to buy the book. You don't it like almost prevents progress. So this, this thinking not so clearly for me finds me in a public library, which was in the same parking lot. I'm walking in a public library with two pillowcases that...
Yoni Mazor 25:36
Hold on, the same parking lot where you went to that store to try to sell a snake, in the same lobby at a public library, basically still run into the library and start opening books?
Carlos Alvarez 25:43
Yes, why I start going to a library to figure out how to work the library, and I start asking questions on like, where I can find stuff on, you know, breeding reptiles and insects. So they send me to this one section. That's nothing about what I want. And I eventually get referred to, I think it's called like herpetology. I always say it wrong to this day, but it's like the study of that, plus the study of insects. And I'm reading these ridiculously boring books for about 30 minutes, and I turned the page, and there is a cut out of an article from I'm assuming a local newspaper because it didn't say like what the paper was. And it mentioned that zoos could save a lot of money by breeding insects to feed their reptiles instead of paying top dollar on the private market. And when I heard breed, I was like, so what do they do? They mate and they eat? Like, that's it, like I can manage this. And...
Yoni Mazor 26:41
I can farm this right? Doesn’t create a, it's not space sensitive. It's a reptile is small right?
Carlos Alvarez 26:47
Absolutely. So I think I took the article with me at the time, I don't know what became of it. But I immediately start looking around Miami for like the equivalent of a Container Store. There's a store called The Container Store. Now, I don't know if it existed back then. But I'm looking for containers, I find one. And they wanted, like, containers are expensive. So they were like, yeah, these plastic bins, like do you store your clothes or stuff around the house? They were like, depending on the size, like 20 to 30 bucks apiece. And that was beyond my budget. So I was like garage sales are where I source products. So I go to thank you. I go to garage sales and all the bins that are holding things that people want to sell. Instead of buying those things. I would say I would just like to buy the bins What do you give them to me for so I'd get them for like 25 cents. And I started massing these things and I start thinking about how to create a habitat to breed insects. So I'm researching everything I can reading, I guess we can call that researching like I'm, I'm studying as much as I can about insects and breeding insects, I learned that they're cannibalistic. So that if you breed them in the babies or in the same environment, they'll eat them. So I went up creating this really crude-looking two-tired bin that was separated by this mesh screen that the mesh was so small that the adult worms could not get through. But the microscopic babies that are you know, eggs that are put in the sand when, when they instinctively when they're born when they hatch or whatever, they burrow down because they know their parents are cannibalistic. So I guess over time, that's how they do it. When they would burrow down, they would fall into the bin like you wouldn't see anything falling. It's like microscopic. Sure enough, like 30 to 45 days later, you would begin seeing a whole bunch of movement in that bottom bin.
Yoni Mazor 28:53
How do you fee it? How do you nourish it? What do you give him?
Carlos Alvarez 28:55
Um, I used oatmeal at the time as a substrate. I still like to use oatmeal too. But you quickly have to buy a lot of oatmeal.
Yoni Mazor 29:03
What about water? So do they need to do water or just strictly just the food?
Carlos Alvarez 29:07
Yeah, water two. One of the things I would do is I put like this little cup of water but it's you have to like bury the cup almost so that it's level with the oatmeal. Otherwise, the insects are not going to climb up the cup and drink. Right. But what happens then is...
Yoni Mazor 29:22
So it’s in the soil so to speak. Yeah, the right and the nutrition, all the nutrition is in the soil, so that they have access to it.
Carlos Alvarez 29:29
Right, but what happens then is if the worms fall in the water and they can't get out, then they would die and it would create this very like festering bacteria it would kill everything. I eventually think about well you know I worked at a cigar shop, and they use these polymer crystals to humidify the humidors. Those are technically full of water and what I've researched is insects can use this thing called a Polyvore it's like a tube and they penetrate something and suck water out. To solve my problem, so there was a huge learning curve in this, but I'm going nonstop. My ex at this point she had enough. I mean, you know, one thing is the loser boyfriend going nowhere fast with no, you know, no education no nothing.
Yoni Mazor 30:15
Being scammed, now he's like reading books and dealing with reptiles. I mean, enough is enough, right?
Carlos Alvarez 30:22
Yeah. So she leaves.
Yoni Mazor 30:23
How long are you guys together, a small question? As far as you remember?
Carlos Alvarez 30:27
Well, where are we now? 2009? I don't know, maybe a year?
Yoni Mazor 30:33
Oh, okay it wasn't a big like 10 year kind of a thing. Got it.
Carlos Alvarez 30:38
No, no, no, no.
Carlos Alvarez 30:41
So I immediately start getting to the point where I have stock to sell that I bred and I'm selling these live insects online 1000 2000 4000 5000 at a pop, and I'm selling them for like 30 to $45 per 1000.
Yoni Mazor 30:58
What are you, hold on, hold on, what's Okay, what's the inventory you got now?
Carlos Alvarez 31:02
I'm breeding on breeding what, what, what is now known as super worms, which are really larva they're really not even worms, but at the time. But I also, I've also decided to breed crickets, roaches, feeder worms, and I'm just expanding in my house full of bins. And by the time my ex left me, I probably had three and a half million three to 4 million insects of each type in my house.
Yoni Mazor 31:31
In your house? And you’re selling it online on eBay?
Carlos Alvarez 31:34
I'm selling it on eBay at 1000 live insects apiece. Like To this day, a lot of people don't realize like if you go to eBay, you go to Amazon...
Yoni Mazor 31:40
That’s like a bushel, like a bushel. That’s 1006 apiece as a commercial that's like the standard packaging for...
Carlos Alvarez 31:46
Yeah, some people get 250. And I still I mean, I offered stuff like that, but 1000 was the most benchmark. Yeah, yeah, gotcha. 1000. If somebody had a few lizards that fed for a period of time that they didn't have to constantly be reordering.
Yoni Mazo 32:00
Go it, you sell that you know those 1000 units in a package for what $25 to $30 dollars?
Carlos Alvarez 32:06
$30 to $45 at the time. Sometimes $50/
Yoni Mazor 32:08
What was your cost of goods? As you perceive it back then?
Carlos Alvarez 32:12
At the time, I had no idea. I just knew that I was making a bunch more. I didn't. Again, maybe this was a weakness from not going to college and not having I had no bookkeeping experience.
Yoni Mazor 32:26
You realize you're making money, and not sure how much but it's a plus it's not a minus you keep pushing.
Carlos Alvarez 32:30
Right. And I just keep doing that. Now though, to answer that question. My cost there is probably with labor and everything, per, selling something for $40 for 1000. My cost is probably $7.
Yoni Mazor 32:48
Okay, pretty good. So three, more than three x in the money. That's pretty good.
Carlos Alvarez 32:52
$7, and then a ship. So I had to use Priority Mail shipping to get it there in two days. So that was like another 10 to 15 bucks, something like that. left me with about 20 bucks, I remember the time I was getting about 20 bucks per sale, which is nice.
Yoni Mazor 33:05
So every dollar you put in, you take $1 out and you do it pretty rapidly. So you can do it a few times a year. So that's a good model.
Carlos Alvarez 33:11
And they're breeding nonstop. I quickly run into an issue where I have more stock than I have sales and my sales are increasing to where we're up to almost. I think at one point while I was still in the house, we were up to like 60 to 70 sales a day. So 60 to 70,000 insects per day at around $45 per sale.
Yoni Mazor 33:29
So what's that in revenue? My math is too weak. Take me there.
Carlos Alvarez 33:32
Roughly if you break out the calculator. Let me try to see. So what is that?
Yoni Mazor 33:37
3,000? up to like 3000 a day. That's like a million dollars a year-ish.
Carlos Alvarez 33:42
Yeah, so right around there. Right-back then we didn't talk about 7,8, 9 figure stuff. It was just you sold. You're doing business right, you weren’t homeless, right. Yeah. Which is pretty crazy. Because at the time my goal was to make $100,000 a year that's it. Like nowadays, I feel like a lot of people start selling and a little aside here. And it's like, you can't even give advice unless you're a seven-figure seller. I think that's like such a crock. Like it's such a BS it's inflation's what happened to six figures, man, like what happened to making 100k a year right?
Yoni Mazor 34:09
Inflation. We're flooded with cheap money. It's all around. So everything's much more expensive, you know, look at the housing. But that's a different economical discussion. So 2009 this is so this is 2009 or you’re already glitching into 2010. So pretty quick. turnaround. Since the moment you went to the library until you're making all by let's say $3,000 in sales in orders. How long did that take?
Carlos Alvarez 34:32
And we’re at end of 2009 I'd say it took about six months. And I'm rapidly, rapidly This is all I'm doing. I'm living and breathing this. And at this point, you know, my ex is gone. I can work even more. And I get a knock on my door one night and it's from code enforcement. And they tell me that imagine just the crickets alone 4 million crickets when they start going off and I'm in a residential area, right. So, code enforcement, they've never seen anything like this. I've never dealt with anything like this. And I let them know, I was like, Look, total bluff. If I, they want me to just dump everything out in the front, I don't think they fully grasp the scale that this is. And they’ve just threatened me with everything here. And I was like, Look, if I throw this stuff out, it's gonna be an agricultural disaster. So if you want me to do it, I'll do it. And they gave me until the next day, I happen to have a friend who's been wanting to go half on a warehouse with me forever. And I felt that I couldn't afford it. Again, I didn't really know what I was making. I just know I made a bunch of money. I put it back in, I started reinvesting it in better bins. I wasn't like hiring somebody was ridiculously hard because no one wanted to work in that environment. So you paid them a lot more. I had like...
Yoni Mazor 35:53
You’re in your comfort zone and you didn't want to disturb that. But rather, the police pushed you out essentially. And I think that was opportunity. You found the opportunity. I think it smells like it.
Carlos Alvarez 36:01
Yeah, so a friend, my friend says, Yeah, look, you can get it rent-free for four months, but I need you to start paying rent for your half of the warehouse at that point. So I spend the entire next day getting all these bins out. I start using half the warehouse, my friend gives me the whole warehouse like he left because he's just like, who no one wants to share half a warehouse full of insects. Right?
Yoni Mazor 36:23
And it's crickets. They keep on making noise or? They're already dead? Or they're still alive?
Carlos Alvarez 36:29
No, they're alive. Oh, yeah. Yeah, you're selling I'm alive. So he leaves I have this whole warehouse. I lived literally lived in this warehouse. Because I wasn't being efficient in processing stuff. I quickly realize I don't have time to count 1000 per package, you know, things die, and this and that. So I counted out what I would do as I enter this, we'll get to that. But to this day, I wind up getting back into this business. We get 1400 we put per 1000 to account for some dying. And we put them in a big measuring bin. So we know that like a scooper. So we know that at a certain age when they are of the insects are of an age to sell. We know of a scooper up to this line equates to what we ship.
Yoni Mazor 37:17
You probably learned that in Burger King back in the day. That's a portion.
Carlos Alvarez 37:20
Yeah. So I, I keep I keep going, we keep scaling, I figure I can ship out X amount more. Prepping is hard per package. So like I can ship out X amount more per day if I don't spend an hour back and forth driving. So I'd bring you know something to lie on, on a pillow and I'm sleeping at the warehouse. I get an email from a lawyer that's trying to on behalf of another company, which I can't say the company name, but they are interested in it was this really long thing. But in short, it was a bunch of fancy verbiage that they wanted to buy my company. Right. So we skipped some like we fast forward like 9-10 months.
Yoni Mazor 38:09
Hold on, so this is already 2010?
Carlos Alvarez 38:11
Yeah, we're in 2010. This is this is flying. I'm up to, I'd say close to 200 units per day. And the math here that I know you're not going to miss this point at the end. But the math here is I'm doing, I'm doing well. Like I'm doing really well. But I have no idea. So when this person approaches me, and they want to buy my business, I have never had something so validating in my life that I build something and someone wants to buy it. And I think they could have gotten away with selling like offering less. And I would have, because I also had a serious job.
Yoni Mazor 38:50
So it came with the number? When you got that offer, it came with that number, that price tag?
Carlos Alvarez 38:53
No, it didn't it was a conversation like let's start the conversation.
Yoni Mazor 38:59
The first number they gave you, you took it? Or was there a back and forth on the price?
Carlos Alvarez 39:02
I took the first number they gave and it was $2.6 million. Which now knowing about multiples and all this other stuff. It was a horrible deal. But it was the best thing in the world for me at the time. I also keep in mind I was working. every waking moment I had in this business.
Yoni Mazor 39:21
No you knocked it out of the park, from the background and the whole turn of events. You, You knocked it out of the park-like nobody else probably ever did, especially with this kind of domain will drive towards you standing in line and then realize that you're about to sell your snakes the whole thing is just unbelievable, at least from what I understand so far. But what stop you right there? I assume you pay that 81 grand back. But what, what was the moment was when you got the liquidity event of the 2.6 million or was it already before that when he started ramping up the sales online?
Carlos Alvarez 39:49
I from the very beginning immediately every, every single profit that I was able to pull out. I immediately paid ahead of what I needed. Just saying I...
Yoni Mazor 40:00
So you got the debt the way right away. So when you got a 2.6 you have no strings attached. Choppers is on his own.
Carlos Alvarez 40:05
Yeah, to this day, a weakness of mine is understanding how to operate with debt-like debt. I don't like debt.
Yoni Mazor 40:14
So that's a weakness or strength?
Carlos Alvarez 40:17
It depends who you talk to like I have some people that tried to give me advice now or like me at the stage that I'm in now, like, going to get coaches and consultants that are you know, where I want to be. And, you know, I hear a lot of them talk about how that's good. Having a lot of debt is good. And it allows you to do all this scaling and all this wonderful stuff. And I just, I don't know, to this day, I max my credit cards out and I pay him at the end of the month. I love points. I'm like that. I don't like owing people.
Yoni Mazor 40:47
Yeah, you like the control, you like to feel comfortable with where you are. And that's it. You're just in your zone.
Carlos Alvarez 40:51
Yes. So, um, I, I sell the business, the process wind up taking, they wanted books, they wanted things that I didn't have, I was so transparent with them. I was like books? Like I got credit card statements across all these personal and business...
Yoni Mazor 41:07
What about the article you read from the library, you get an article or whatever the article we read from that book in the library?
Carlos Alvarez 41:13
I guess. I guess the good story would be like, I framed it, and I still have it to this day. Like, I don't know where that article is. Yeah, I'm sure I could like Google it and come up with some, but there's actually a lot of information on the subject. So I, I sell the business. There was like so many, 2010 I sell the business, and I decide that I'm just gonna party. Like I'm gonna, I'm gonna buy I had never been able to party, I had never been able to buy really nice things I had. And so unlike me now, I'm like the Toyota Highlander, same fishing shirts all the time, like, but I guess I had that in my system. And I needed to get it out. I needed to. I wanted to have that going out with like three beautiful women and I wanted to do all this different stuff. And I'm in Miami. I got some, I'm financially stable. I can dance salsa, I was like I this is good. This is really good. single life is good.
Yoni Mazor 42:13
There's any place in the world Miami is a party place like no other. So you had to get in or take a taste of that Apple. So that's great.
Carlos Alvarez 42:20
So I'm doing that felt like forever, but it was really, I'd say six months. And I'm not doing I'm like neglecting all the other work stuff going on because it had been neglected this whole time as I'm putting it all into the insect business. But I still have stuff floating around like that's listed for sale on eBay.
Yoni Mazor 42:41
So you did not sell your storefront you sold only, what the brand?
Carlos Alvarez 42:44
It was, it was a different business.
Yoni Mazor 42:49
So what do you sell effectively?
Carlos Alvarez 42:50
I sold the business. They didn't care at all about the Amazon account. I sold the business...
Yoni Mazor 42:57
Hold on, hold on, so you said Amazon. I want to get this straight. So when you selling the reptiles in 2010 before you sold anything, or made an exit you sold on eBay and Amazon already?
Carlos Alvarez 43:06
eBay and Amazon, yes.
Yoni Mazor 43:08
Got it. I was under the impression just eBay. I didn't realize Amazon came into the mix. Amazon came into the mix 2010 or 2009? So early on, almost hand in hand with eBay was kind of both of them together. You jumped on board?
Carlos Alvarez 43:20
Yeah. Yeah, I was. I was working in Publix one day and I start seeing I started looking at this list of things that I have that I purchased that I couldn't sell on eBay. And at the time Amazon would message everyone that was running auctions on eBay and say, Hey, try this FBA thing. You got to try us out, right you know, and I was like FBA, it makes no sense like I'm gonna pay you to ship something to you. I'm going to be left with nothing. So I saw one of these messages I had a longer than normal like break at the time it was a smoke break like I was smoking at the time and I'm taking a smoke break and they made this center FBA sound so easy it was but it was a lot harder than and harder to figure out. Alright, keep in mind there's like no Facebook groups, there's no any other so it's like, you figure it out by getting right in. Right? So I'm like, I'm just gonna send you know what if they're gonna warehouse this stuff, I'll just send them everything that I can't sell. So I send them everything that I can't sell. And then I remember on another smoke break, I start getting these alerts on my phone of your sold so everything sold so, at that point, I'm like, wow, this is the stuff that I couldn’t sell. And I was selling it for more money. So then I'm like, Okay, well maybe I need to look at this closer, and then then I just kept it in the mix.
Yoni Mazor 44:32
Got it. So once again, so you kept your Amazon account and eBay account after the exit and they just basically bought your, your facility, or your reptiles or inventory. What was the asset that they were purchasing?
Carlos Alvarez 44:43
They bought the stock.
Yoni Mazor 44:46
The stock. Got it. Okay. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And the stock is a unique style because it reproduces it's like buying cattle or something, right?
Carlos Alvarez 44;51
Yeah, absolutely. And they were. Yeah, they were already in the business.
Yoni Mazor 44:55
Yep. makes sense for them. So strategic, they can scale they can grow.
Carlos Alvarez 44:58
Yeah, but they didn't use my Amazon account. They kept it though, remember, I kept selling stuff on eBay. So when I sell I no longer have the Amazon account.
Yoni Mazor 45:05
So you gave them the Amazon account that was part of the...
Carlos Alvarez 45:08
Right. But they never really did anything with it. Like, they wind up opening up their own Amazon business, which exists to this day. And they didn't use that account. So I don't know if they wanted, like everything that was involved with that account or whatnot. So, six months of partying, and somebody that one of my cousins tells me at the time, he's like, hey, he goes, you gotta slow it down. This money will run out and I'm like, it'll never run out. You don't know how much I made. And I think after taxes, and everybody took their bite out of it, I think what I was left with, like 1.3, or like, 1.2.
Yoni Mazor 45:48
Yeah almost 50 percent got chopped out. Taxes and lawyers and brokers and god knows what else.
Carlos Alvarez 45:53
Yeah, there was a lot of stuff. Like I didn't have the credit to qualify, and they needed to hold money somewhere until 90 days and six, like some weird stuff. So a lot of people took their bite, it was still a lot of money for me. And I eventually talked to my dad, and you know, he's like, what's going on? Like, what were you know, what are you doing? What's next and on my on nothings next. I'm retired, like, that's all I'm gonna do. Like, I'm just gonna live the rest of my life like this. And he said, If you keep going the way you're going, you're gonna be broke this time next year. And he was right. So I immediately go online, and I look for like, networking, professional business, Miami, and they happened to have some networking event. I don't remember the name, but I never heard of it again. So it was probably some one off. And I went there and was hearing things like building a team. I was hearing things like about finance and multiple businesses and hiring coaches. So I was like, Well, I'm wealthy, what do wealthy people do with their business? They hire coaches. So I hired two coaches. One of them was someone that focused on organization, which is something I struggle with this day, like if you see all my office, pretty disorganized. And I knew that was a weakness of mine and the other one had to do. The other one was a guy named Chris Ducker. And it was having to do with virtual assistants and to this day, like my foundation of virtual assistants is built on that. So I think at the time, he was like, $40,000, you can get every single thing he taught me and the people in his program now for $10 on Amazon called Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker. It's a book called Virtual freedom but...
Yoni Mazor 47:38
And this was the year you basically got the courses, which he was at around 2010 or 2011?
Carlos Alvarez 47:47
We’re in 2010. And I just I said, Okay, that's it. Let's do this. I open two other businesses. One of them was a wholesale business like, well, we call a wholesale business on Amazon. And they opened another one, which is a private label business. And we were one of the first people to get in on whiskey stones and like these beverage Schilling devices. Since then, I've not looked back.
Yoni Mazor 48:08
So you went back into the game of e-commerce reselling, which is also known as wholesale retail arbitrage, but also your private label. So two tracks, mainly on Amazon 2010. And this is after taking two courses. That was kind of the dynamic?
Carlos Alvarez 48:22
It was almost all happening at the same time I took the coaches on and I started these businesses. I also had people around me at the time like that were like on their way to college and stuff and saw that I had just sold a business and they wanted to like be part of something. And I was like for sure. 50/50 50/50 business partners, let's do it. And I just started getting opening up a lot of different businesses and everything was like 50/50 50/50 like no idea on how to structure businesses or anything like that. And I didn't call it wholesale at the time. I don't think we were calling it private label at the time. It was, just sell online. And, and I just since then I've never looked back. I mean, I don't know how much you want to hear about the mistakes I made...
Yoni Mazor 49:07
Yeah, I guess yeah, at this point, you know, we can touch a whole decade and a few points or we can package it up nicely. So give us a taste of besides e-commerce Other ventures you touch with other 50/50 approaches or completely by yourself? Just because you mentioned early on that you chose to diversify the moment you got your first suspension notice which one was that? What was that suspension notice you got? What year was that and why that happened?
Carlos Alvarez 49:28
I don't remember the year. But I do know it was because I figured out that I knew Alibaba and I thought nobody else did. And I saw stuff like these. These like workout at home DVD sets that you could get for like nothing. And I'd look at them. And then I'd see that on Amazon. I could sell them for like $100 and on Alibaba, I can get them for like six bucks. So I was like this is it.
Yoni Mazor 50:00
So infringement trademark, infringement.
Carlos Alvarez 50:01
Yes. counterfeits and stuff like that out of ignorance. And then and then I wasn't treating it like a business. So this was happening even before the insects and I would just open another account, another account. And I would say, Well, you know what, like, they're being petty here, I only have eight left. Let me just list those on eBay. So even though I knew at that point that there might be an issue, I was just like, again, I was just stupid. And not sure how to run a business.
Yoni Mazor 50:21
He says, Yeah, you're agreeing in his early first days for everybody. So, so that haunted Judas in sort of speak and major will basically start diversifying. So give us a little taste of things you invested or you were involved with outside of e-commerce?
Carlos Alvarez 50:34
So I started as the time when I started Pet Grooming stores, car washes, little you know, little auto pa places what's (inaudible) It’s a Venezuelan piece of artery-clogging, greasy fried bliss.
Yoni Mazor 50:50
Like food? Food? Gotcha.
Carlos Alvarez 50:56
And, and I would, I would start these, these, these local, these physical brick and mortar style local businesses with an eye of, you know what, I'm going to launch a private label that this business can support on the foot traffic and use it for launches and be able to sell to them and, I you know want to do barber stuff at some point. So I opened a barbershop at one point, just all different kinds of random businesses that had nothing to do with...
Yoni Mazor 51:21
Most of them were for the most part successful, was it lucrative for you, or some of them failed, most of them failed. What was it?
Carlos Alvarez 51:27
I mean, I feel like if you understand e-commerce, and especially Amazon to this day, this is like a little secret sauce of mine. It's sort of impossible not to succeed in a local brick and mortar business. I mean, one of, as a wholesale, as someone who sells wholesale or resells on Amazon, you understand that when you're calling people to open accounts, you run across a high percentage of, you know, brands that say, we're not going to sell to you because you're an Amazon seller, like you don't have a storefront. But since the majority of people tell you that, in a storefront is not cost prohibitive. If you just open up a storefront you can reach out to these brands. And they say yes, so I they all succeeded. When you just look at the fact that I could open up right now you just name an industry, I can open up a local brick and mortar business. And I'm immediately going to go start hunting for the people that don't sell to people that don't have a store. And yeah, it's going to be businesses, I'm not going to be a slave to a three to five mile radius of customers coming in my store.
Yoni Mazor 52:25
So what I’m hearing is that essentially all these brick-and-mortar businesses you invested in supplemented your e-commerce business? It was synergetic?
Carlos Alvarez 52:35
Absolutely. And then as time as time kept going on, and people were just like, you know, brick and mortars are dying, it's only going to be e-commerce, I was just like, that's actually wrong. Like one or the other. Yeah, they serve the other. It's just if you have a brick and mortar business, and you have no concept of e-commerce and how to really sell, then, yeah, you're gonna die. Like that's an old model. But if you know how to do e-commerce, and you understand like basic business, brick and mortar businesses are thriving, in that sense.
Yoni Mazor 53:04
I gotcha. It's two points I want to talk about. One of them is serving the Latino community, obviously, you know, you come from Latino descent, you speak Spanish. Touch, touch a little bit about what you're doing with that, what's your involvement there? And that will, which will segue into the Wizards of e-commerce, or the Wizards of Amazon, which is the largest Meetup group, you know, in the world. So how did that transpire? And that will pretty much package our story today.
Carlos Alvarez 53:26
Sure. So the Wizards of Amazon, let's start with that one. So the Wizards of Amazon is, I started that Meetup group a little over four and a half years ago. And I just used to meet with friends, like once a week that I had met over time, again, at the time that was on Facebook groups and stuff. And it was like, let's talk Amazon, let's talk shop and what's working, what's not working. And I eventually, it's like, you've heard of fish stories, like stories? Not sure. Like if you and a group of friends like we're all together, you know, we talked about, we all went fishing last weekend, you know, you caught a fish that was this big. And then the next person's fish is like this big and it's like bigger, and everybody's story, just their fish just gets bigger and at the end of things, it’s like a whale. But I felt like a lot of stuff like that was happening and that we were in, I don't know if it's called an echo chamber. But we had reached a point where we had learned so much from each other, what worked and what didn't work, that we were actually not the best people to take us where we wanted to go. So it didn't necessarily mean it needed to be somebody more experienced than us, but it needed to be new blood.
Yoni Mazor 54:32
Yeah, yeah. You need to expand as a group as a united group, to expand your horizons and open yourself up to more types of people with more types of experiences that you can learn from.
Carlos Alvarez 54:42
Right and at this point four and a half years ago, I was already at that time, an eight-figure seller. I had launched several brands leveraging something called meetup.com, and I was really big into it. I learned about building community. And I was like, Well, I guess I'm not launching a physical product, but we could build a community around Amazon sellers. Let's see what's up. So I started, I started a meetup group. And I think in the first five, like a total of four people showed up. And I just kept doing it. I know consistency is key. And it went from a once-a-month meetup to a weekly meetup to three times a week meet up to 16 meetup events per month. And we've been at that, you know, divorce worthy amount of events now for three years, the solid, solid community 100%, free. And I've grown more in that Meetup group in organizing it than I have the trailing, you know, 10 or 11 years prior, just selling on my own. We're blessed to have some amazing sponsors like shameless plug here. We have, we're blessed to have some pretty amazing sponsors. We also, we also have four of our events per month, which are in Spanish. So getting zero first question. We realize we being my leadership team and I in the meetup group, we realize that there was a there was really like a disparity, like the quality and the quantity of information that was being put out there for Amazon sellers in English. didn't exist in Spanish in the Latino community. So Alexis, and I, Alexis is one of the team leaders whom you met. Alexis and I got together and plotted this out and Alexis is spearheading it now to where we have four of our events per month, which are 100% in Spanish.
Yoni Mazor 56:46
Amazing. Ah I just don't want to touch on between you got married at some point? So congratulations on that, right. So when that was that moment, that was probably a big one for you?
Carlos Alvarez 56:55
Absolutely, man. That's definitely was rocket fuel for my business, just that I think there's a ceiling that a person can't break through, personal opinion. I've done this from a toxic relationship side of things. And I've done it from an amazing relationship. I've done it single, I've done a dating. I'm not saying that you can't succeed single, you definitely can. And you can succeed in a toxic relationship. But I do believe that there is a ceiling that you can't break through without having an amazing, supportive, healthy relationship. That just eliminates the ceilings. So my wife has done that for me. You know, my wife is my number one mastermind, and that's in the home. And yeah, we got married. I think our anniversary just passed I think I think I think we've been married now for seven or eight years. Mazel Tov, Ernests. Thank you, man. How many children? Two, three, my son's three and like three years old and four months and my daughter's going on 18 months.
Yoni Mazor 57:59
Nice. So this is I assume more rocket fuel for you as a motivation to keep you know everything going moving 1,000%.
Carlos Alvarez 58:05
Yoni Mazor 58:07
Alright, very good, I love that. Alright, so let me do a quick recap and see what we got everything you know with the story correctly says so far. Born raised in Miami dropped out of school you know about sixth grade and when you were 12-13 years old, got your GED when you got pushed into getting a job with Burger King. That's when you're about 16 years old is about 90 or 91. Now fast forward 16 years you just you know like a Rolling Stone around Florida. Until you hit about 2007 2008 you have you know a girlfriend kind of you know, distress relationship there. It's on and off. You're feeling kind of, you have three jobs that you're holding. And then e-commerce comes knocking on your door. Right so it kind of sweeps you and swallows you in and then you try to make a bed or gamble you know your family came together because he saw you starting to basically gain gruesome gravity. They give you $81,000 that went to you know that collapsed on you because you're the sourcing you know issue that we are with overseas and then basically put you into a crazy mission where you have to get out of it get out of this hole. So you keep on utilizing e-commerce you didn't go back to conventional you know work Republic's or a supermarket anything like that. You kept out your fire your flame you were desperate to about to sell you know a few other possessions you had the snakes were karma you standing in line you over here something triggers the right places in your brain, your entrepreneur spirit just gets slammed, you run to the library learn this unbelievable pattern I never heard about before, of raising reptiles and selling that and marketing that and you just get into the heat of it and then you max out your physical position with the apartment. You go into a bigger warehouse and then all of a sudden you get a letter, exit comes over $2 million. And then it's around 2009 2010 we did the exit and then you start bawling for a few months realize this is not life, there's no purpose in it. Then you purchase about two together, you get two coaches. You can improve your organization both. So I created the ability to create an organization using virtual assistants. And then from that point on, you don't really look back you back into the e-commerce game. You have your private label brand, you have the ability to resell, you also diversify yourself, you create some synergy with brick and mortar businesses. And then around 2017 or 16, you start contributing to the community because you already had a community of friends joining every week, but you decide to open that up into other the meetup platform where now you know, you adopted wizards of ecom, or Wizards of Amazon. Today, one of the largest groups in the world. And you got married with two kids. You know, just ah, did we get it correctly so far.
Carlos Alvarez 1:00
Absolutely, man. You nailed it.
Yoni Mazor 1:00:44
Yeah, beautiful stuff, man. So I think you know, this is there's a lot of indicators here and your spirit that your entrepreneurial spirit, your family spirit, your values, your purpose, your mission, and your honesty. So I appreciate you sharing all that with all the audience. So now I want to finish up with two points. One point is if somebody wants to reach out and connect working to find you. And the last thing would be is what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Carlos Alvarez 1:01
As far as how to connect with me, I'll give you, I guess I'll give you three, anywhere on Amazon at Wizards of Amazon. We have a Facebook group, where I am mostly at is we have a telegram chat. Everything's free. It's like a sales-free zone but which you can find at Amazongroupchat.com which I have that always open like it's open on a screen beside me right now. And if you just ping me or ask me something, I'm very active there. And finally, most people don't utilize this. You can text me, man 305.902.1283. Just text me and say where you heard me from, I can just randomly call I'm not going to pick up like text, just text me. Like you'd be surprised how many people don't do that like, but just text me.
Yoni Mazor 1:01:46
Now third, guys, if I can say anything about that was one of the most down-to-earth people that I've met. But it's very strikingly amazing. Because he's just so involved. He has hundreds of people working, I know an organization is really making it on really impressive numbers. But down to earth, he doesn't get blinded by the scale and size of anything. And he focuses on helping others. So I really admire that message of hope and inspiration and go for it.
Carlos Alvarez 1:02:11
Wow, a message of hope and inspiration. I'm not sure if this qualifies as that. But I could say it's something that I feel. It happens a lot. And I think it hinders a lot of people. And that is don't compare your chapter one to somebody else's chapter twenty. I had, I feel an advantage when I started. And that was that there was a lack of information out there for me to start. But nowadays, I tried to with my group to look online and look at YouTube and look at everything and say, if I was a new seller, and I wanted to do arbitrage, like what would this look like? And it's hard. It's like drinking out of a firehose and you look at somebody and they're just like you're doing those numbers. Well, those numbers, those numbers are weak, like you need to pump up those numbers, you need to be doing seven figures, eight figures or bust or too many people talking about gross numbers and not enough about profits. So I would say don't compare your chapter one to somebody else's chapter twenty. Ut's like your own unique journey. Um, and, and, you know, failing is part of it. It's like that's the only way you succeed.
Yoni Mazor 1:03:17
Gotta love it. Take you know, who you are chapters, one chapter at a time. You'll get to chapter 20. But you can't compare to chapter 20 when you're in chapter one, so make sense of it all. Stay consistent. Failure is part of the game. Beautiful message, so probably can't thank you enough for your time. It's been really inspiring to me. I hope everybody else enjoyed it. Stay safe and help everybody the next time