In this Prime Talk Podcast Sponsored by GETIDA – Nathan Hirsch - CEO of Ecom Balance - talks about how he went from an Amazon Seller Who Turned Into A Serial E-commerce Entrepreneur, also more information about his life's journey. #EcomBalance #NathanHirsch
About Nathan Hirsch of Ecom Balance -
EcomBalance was founded by Nathan Hirsch and Connor Gillivan in 2021 after discovering a huge need for a simple bookkeeping service specifically for eCommerce businesses. Nathan and Connor are longtime entrepreneurs who have sold over $25 million on Amazon so they understand the eCommerce space. They also built the eCommerce freelance marketplace, FreeUp, to 8 figures (acquired in 2019 by The HOTH). With EcomBalance, they’re on a mission to change the way bookkeeping is offered to eCommerce companies.
Yoni Mazor 0:06
Hi, everybody. Welcome to another episode of prime talk today I have a really special guest. Today I'm having Nathan Hurst. Nathan is a serial eCommerce entrepreneur. He's currently the CEO of E comma balance, which a bookkeeping solution is for E-commerce sellers, but also for E-commerce solution providers, which I think is very unique. We're going to touch on that later on in the episode. But he's also formerly the CEO of free up, which was a cool solution. We were going to talk about it more in the episode but eventually been an expert on it. So Nathan, welcome to the show,
Nathan Hirsch 0:34
Yoni. Thanks so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Yoni Mazor 0:37
Awesome. My pleasure. So today's episode is going to be all about you the story of Nathan Hurst, you're going to share with us everything you know, who are you? Where were you born, where you grew up, or did you begin your professional career, station to station until you reach you know where you are today, especially with the world of E-commerce? So without further ado, let's jump right into it.
Nathan Hirsch 0:57
Yeah, so I grew up in Longmeadow. Massachusetts, not too far from you in Jersey. My parents were both teachers growing up. So I think I always just kind of rebelled against the school, I knew that I didn't want to go out and get a real job. Their whole mentality was to get good grades in high school, get into college, get into a good college, get good grades in college, get a real job work for 30 years and retire. And that's what they did. They're retired here in Colorado and living life. Oh, what
Yoni Mazor 1:22
What kind of teacher were they there at the high school? Elementary? What kind of teachers if you touch more than your father? Give us a little insight there?
Nathan Hirsch 1:27
Yeah, my dad was a physics teacher. I had to class right next to him in high school if people can imagine that. And then my mom was a kindergarten teacher.
Yoni Mazor 1:36
Nice. Okay, nice spectrum. Alright, so that was the mindset education. But you said you were building how does that manifest? How did that manifest growing up?
Nathan Hirsch 1:43
Yeah, so I didn't get great grades in high school. I got into the college Quinnipiac University, which again, is near you in Hamden, Connecticut. And when I got the school since I was paying for school, I bust. I did everything possible. I got straight A's every semester, but my goal was not to get a job after college. So I started hustling.
Nathan Hirsch 2:03
As soon as I got to college, my parents always made me get summer jobs. I was working 40 hours a week, I worked for a meatpacking company for a Renta center type place for Firestone as a sales intern. So I hated working for someone and I had this Firestone internship. But on the side, I started buying books and eventually textbooks and selling them on Amazon. And that was kind of my, intro to Amazon, I buy people's textbooks, at the end of the semester, pay a little bit more than the bookstore would, and then hold on to them and sell them out at the beginning of the next semester.
Yoni Mazor 2:39
Yeah, jumped ahead of you. Yeah, you're going to jump the head right into the E-commerce space. We're going to get to that very soon. Okay, so growing up, you said you were you know, you were doing all these jobs. So you're doing it because you want to hustle. And you want money. So you have something to buy? What was the intention that we're just we're education purposes, your parents wanted you to have like work ethics?
Nathan Hirsch 2:57
My parents made me pay for everything. So we grew up middle class, if I wanted a PlayStation, if I wanted a car, if I wanted anything, I had to pay for it. So they set me up with a checking account, and a savings account and they may be put in a little money to get me started. But after that, it was on me if I wanted anything. So I was out there negotiating rates while everyone else was making minimum wage jobs at like a Walgreens or McDonald's or whatever. I got paid 12 bucks an hour to work at Firestone when I was 16 or get paid 50 bucks a game, the umpire in my little league. So I was trying to always find unique ways to make more than everyone else so I could save and buy the things that I wanted.
Yoni Mazor 3:36
So that was going to be my next question. So you were you said you buy the stuff you want it and you left it with nothing or you said it towards, you know, the long future? What was your mindset then?
Nathan Hirsch 3:45
No, my parents always taught me to save like, that was a big part of everything. I mean, everything I know about finances, I learned from my dad, he's a little bit more, less risky, more conservative, finance-wise than maybe I am right now.
Nathan Hirsch 3:58
But everything about savings he taught me and a unique thing about me growing up was my dad was a teacher in Longmeadow High School, which is a lot of wealthy kids, everyone's parents were dentists, doctors, lawyers, and I grew up in East Longmeadow very middle-class everyone needs my middles middle class, but because Lauren Meadow was a better school system and my dad was a teacher there I got to go there so growing up all my friends had everything every new toy every new video game, and as a kid, you're jealous of that and you want that and I think that's that combined with my parents taught me drove my work ethic at a young age.
Yoni Mazor 4:34
Well I interesting alright, that's an interesting analysis on your answer to figuring that out at such a young age so you got everything that you want to just to keep up with, you know, the bells and whistles of you know, the social framework and your school and you're in an in your environment, but also save for long future that's very smart. The right way to go so Okay, finished high school, you go to college, and what are you taking college? What do you study?
Nathan Hirsch 4:56
So I went into business undecided and we had to do started that first semester. And entrepreneurship was a brand new program at Quinnipiac University. And I remember all the teachers like the dean of economics, the Dean of accounting, and the Dean of entrepreneurship, they all went on stage to all the business students.
Nathan Hirsch 5:14
And they gave a little speech a while, about why you should be in their major. And the entrepreneur Professor got up there. And she just said, if you ever want financial freedom, if you ever want life freedom, the only way to do it is to become an entrepreneur. And then she just walked off stage. That was her entire presentation. And that stuck with me. So I majored in entrepreneurship while I was building a business in college, which was unique.
Yoni Mazor 5:39
Got it, got it to a very good college that gave you the right in a portion in the right direction, and you kind of know what you want it to be. So you took the DAT in school and you got a degree in entrepreneurship, I assume? Yeah. Yeah, exactly. You got to end. Okay. So the side business in college was already eCommerce.
Nathan Hirsch 5:55
Yeah. So I started off buying textbooks, I would go to yard sales, and I would go to the dump. There's like this.
Yoni Mazor 6:01
For every student, you know, in college, I guess that's the Amazon way, right? They get, you know, you got to buy your books at Amazon, and you can resell them on Amazon. So you get your money back, maybe it'll make a little buck or two. And that is how Amazon is getting the sellers trained. Maybe the potential seasoned sellers. Was that the history also, that's why you started, or do you have a different ambition in mind. You know, selling books on Amazon.
Nathan Hirsch 6:22
Yeah, I mean, at first, it just sided money. And I wanted to get out of this internship, I hated having a boss. My parents put pressure on me to keep the internship and lead me to a job after college. But keep in mind, this was 2007 2008 2009. So this was before all the big Amazon sellers, all of the software, all the communities that coaches, like none of that existed, like, I would go to I would tell people, I was an Amazon seller, and they would have no idea what
Yoni Mazor 6:48
That was. They thought it was actually for Amazon. No wonder why weren't others? Yeah,
Nathan Hirsch 6:52
Exactly. I had someone asked me if I worked for the internet, like all that stuff. So yeah, it was a crazy time. And I started to realize that I could list other things on Amazon that weren't booked and they would sell like rapid-fire Amazon was growing rapidly as everyone knows. And I kind of came up with the idea of drop shipping years before I even knew was called Drop Shipping. I didn't know what's called Drop Shipping till four years later. But I thought, hey, what I have all these products on Amazon,
Nathan Hirsch 7:20
I kind of discovered Amazon, no one else I knew had discovered it. What if I listed products on Amazon that I didn't have because I had a dorm room, I didn't have anywhere to put anything. And I would build relationships with other people who made products and get them to ship them to my customers. So as a 21-year-old, I'm kind of sick of carrying all these textbooks is taking up a lot of space. They're heavy, it's not scalable either. I'm kind of just creating another job for myself. If I'm not at the internship, I'm hauling textbooks. And I start hitting up different manufacturers, different retailers even not like the Walmart's targets, but a lot like this place called major which was a little bit smaller, I'm not even sure if they're still in business. And I started building relationships
Yoni Mazor 8:02
With these retailers working on products where there were those
Nathan Hirsch 8:05
Baby products. So I was 20 years old selling baby products on Amazon. That's really how everything took off. So had these vendors and started listing products on Amazon. And there was no rhyme and reason there was no Helium 10 software or anything to figure out what was a good selling product, I would look at it and list and I eventually started hiring college kids and scaling up that drop shipping business.
Yoni Mazor 8:31
Got it. So it was a multi-category, wherever you can, you know, establish a relationship, maybe a manufacturer or a retailer, they have these brands already. I guess they've established brands, so your reseller with the dropship kind of format in the early days, you know, you kind of started college moving back into 2007 they were graduate 2009 2010
Nathan Hirsch 8:50
Yeah, and so the main categories were baby toys and home goods for whatever reason, those little products that sold that we could make that that 20% profit margin on it. And that's really what we scaled and it was pretty cool. Like there's a company step two, that is one of the largest plastic manufacturers in the US and they create baby toys. And as a 20 young 20 year old we became their exclusive Amazon distributor selling their products on Amazon this is a brand that built itself and they just didn't have an Amazon President at that point because no one knew what Amazon was.
Yoni Mazor 9:24
Got it and this will you score that contract with their wellbeing in college, it's already after you graduated where you know straight up straight out of college, you are an entrepreneur with your own business. What was the trajectory? You know detaching from colleges, those when I hit that spot?
Nathan Hirsch 9:37
Yeah, so in college, I mean, we were selling millions every year. We were doing a lot from retailers. So for example, step two might sell to my daughter who we would drop ship from, and then as we got closer to graduating and I had dropped my internship and I was focusing full time on Amazon, we got smart and said hey, maybe we can go around some of these retailers and go directly to the manufacturers and build the relationship. Have with them. But if you could imagine me living in a frat house hiring my fraternity buddies running this Amazon drop shipping business making more money than any college students should, and just in the wild west of Amazon where anything goes or there were rules, but it's not as crazy as it is now. It was wild times.
Yoni Mazor 10:20
Got it. Okay, so you graduated college? I mean, whoa, what's your momentum at that point?
Nathan Hirsch 10:25
Yeah, so graduating college was always a given to me by my parents, they made me do that. They were teachers. So they always wanted me to happen in my back pocket. And I think it was a good idea. I mean, first of all, I met my business partner in college, Connor, who you know, so I could, I wouldn't trade that for anything, had a great time in college learned a good amount, even if it wasn't all about entrepreneurship, and business just learned life skills, which I think helped me a lot. But when I went to graduate, I had job offers. And I have this Amazon business that was doing pretty well.
Nathan Hirsch 10:57
And I had a tough decision to make. I mean, looking back, it all worked out great. And it was like, how I How did was I even debating getting a real job or selling on Amazon. But Amazon was so new at the time, I knew that Amazon could shut me down at the time, my parents wanted me to get a real job.
Nathan Hirsch 11:12
They had health insurance and benefits and, and all that. And I remember talking to my aunt, on the last day of college, she's an entrepreneur. And she essentially told me that, hey, I can always go out and get a real job, you might as well like, try the entrepreneur thing and see where it takes you. And that was some of the best advice I ever got. Turned down those jobs focused on Amazon, and moved to Stamford, Connecticut for a year, which I didn't love. And then took this Amazon business to Florida, where we opened up an office, Connor and I moved down there. As you know, we lived in Florida for a bit. And we started hiring people, we built a team to scale this Amazon business to take down Amazon, we're very naive, being very young, 20-year-olds, but that's kind of how it played out.
Yoni Mazor 11:57
Was it taken down Amazon? What does that mean? Just blow it up and be the biggest Amazon seller.
Nathan Hirsch 12:02
Yeah, we experimented with building our websites. Again, this was a little bit before Shopify, too. So building a website was a little bit more progress. And I mean, it kind of depends on how you measured success. So we sold about $25 million on Amazon. But at the end of the day, we never ended up building a legit brand, or anything that was scalable, or sellable. Amazon became more competitive. All the courses and gurus and all that stuff came out there.
Nathan Hirsch 12:28
And we started kind of going up and down. We do like 3,000,001 years and then 1.5. And then like two and it was kind of it became less fulfilling. When we weren't scaling. We weren't growing a brand. We're 100% dependent on Amazon. And every year the rules got tighter and more competitors were flooding into the market. So at that time, we had hired virtual assistants, we had hired freelancers, and we had a team, but we weren't using them all full time. And I kind of got the idea of what if we offered the Amazon trained people to other Amazon sellers.
Yoni Mazor 13:02
Because this is the boy the branch where you open another business as an entrepreneur, what's the timeframe? So 2010 you graduate, you move to Florida, you know, the economics of selling on Amazon is as you know, as volatile, so to speak. And what year was that when you I guess started to branch out and realize that there's potential for you to offer solutions for sellers while he was at?
Nathan Hirsch 13:24
Yeah, so in 2011 I graduated 2012 at 13. I lived in Stamford, Connecticut, moved to Florida, and from 2013-2014 ran just Amazon 2014 to the end of 2015. And that's about when we started to offer services to Amazon sellers.
Yoni Mazor 13:41
Okay, because there you realize, okay, it's volatile to sell on Amazon, but you have a lot of you know, high capabilities and abilities, to hire and utilize great talent and the VA format of virtual assistants.
Nathan Hirsch 13:52
Yeah, so we started offering these virtual assistants and freelancers to Amazon sellers. And again, it was a different time, there weren't that many people doing it now there are 10,000, Amazon marketing agencies, like none of that, that existed back then. And all these Amazon sellers were starting to grow. People were new to Amazon, they were taking courses sold at Amazon, they had these Amazon businesses, and they needed help. So again, pretty phenomenal timing, we started offering these virtual assistants. And when we started, we took a developer that had built some tools for our Amazon business.
Nathan Hirsch 14:27
And we built the most minimum viable product for free opt-for software. Freelancers could clock in and clock out. Clients could see the Freelancer's time on their side. And that was it. The platform didn't do anything else. Clients had to email us or call us or text us or Skype us if they wanted a freelancer. All the billing was manual every single week. But we put in this affiliate program which helped us take off.
Nathan Hirsch 14:54
We pay out 50 cents per hour reoccurring for anyone that you refer to our plot. Foreman, the new owners have changed that slightly. But this was a game-changer because all of a sudden, people wanted us in their communities to talk about freeing up. People were talking about us all over the world. I remember the first time I got a phone call from someone in China saying someone was at a conference talking about three up and that kind of blew my mind because I had never been to China. And that's really how we hit the ground running and, and from there, we needed more virtual assistants, we needed more freelancers, we ran out of our stash that was kind of
Yoni Mazor 15:30
Inventory. Storing but let's touch on the name three. What was the idea about the name?
Nathan Hirsch 15:36
Yeah, so the concept was to free up your time, and we couldn't love the name, we couldn't get the domain with two E's dot com, and the new owners bought the free up with two E's dot net. So we added the extra e in there to Stanford eCommerce. And our target was eCommerce sellers, and eCommerce service providers, similar to who we're targeting now with our newest business. And we would get other random like marketing agencies, real estate agents, stuff like that. But from a marketing standpoint, we were going after e-commerce, hence the name.
Yoni Mazor 16:06
Got it. So the official launch was about 2015. When he rolled
Nathan Hirsch 16:09
Around 2015. I think 2016 was our first official year
Yoni Mazor 16:14
2016, you official, you blow up any more inventory and investment to use the platform. So what do you do? What's your next move?
Nathan Hirsch 16:20
Yeah, we hire a recruitment team and get it. So they're posting jobs all the time interviewing people all the time, we built this funnel where we would only accept one out of every 100 applicants to get on our platform and use that as a marketing tactic as well, which was the truth. We invested in our software, we built everything from the affiliate portal in the software to billing in the software to the UI to a ticketing system where instead of having a Call me when you want a VA, people could log in and type in what they wanted and select a few things. And we would match them through the software.
Nathan Hirsch 16:53
So really, all these processes we built from scratch. I started going on podcast tours and getting interviews and getting more comfortable speaking in person, which is nothing I'd ever done before in any of my internships or even like selling on Amazon. It's not like I was going on podcasts or speaking at conferences or anything like that. As we grew I started to network and reach out to people. I think in the Amazon space when I grew up. I was it was always like scarcity mindset, the right young entrepreneur doesn't know what he's doing things that he has all the secrets, he doesn't want to share them networking with other Amazon sellers, they're going to steal your ideas. And you kind of as you mature, you realize that's pretty silly.
Nathan Hirsch 17:35
And I realized that even though I had sold 25 million on Amazon, no one knew who I was, I was a nobody in the space. And I just started reaching out and connecting and getting to know people and seeing how I could help them whether it was introducing them to podcasts, I'd been on giving them some free VA credit, or connecting them to someone else in the E-commerce space, whatever I could do to help other people and hopefully kind of grow my brand along with free up and then we started to take off we did a million dollars in the first year, 5 million the second 10 or nine in the third and then the fourth year 12 Before we were acquired right before COVID.
Yoni Mazor 18:12
Got it. So you know as you the trajectory is, you know hyper-growth for free up what did put your eCommerce business? Do you keep selling the whole time or do you cash out? What do you do on that track?
Nathan Hirsch 18:22
Yeah, so the eCommerce business we ran for another like year and a half, two years. And then honestly, we just shut it down. We like I said, didn't have a brand, we didn't have anything to sell. Amazon was kind of coming down with different things and free up was taking off so quickly that anytime that we were spending on our Amazon business was time that we weren't going to be able to spend on free up. So we made a pretty tough decision at the time to shut down our Amazon store and focus 100% on freeing up. But in hindsight, that's one of the best things we did because when both of us didn't have to check on our Amazon sales or fix Amazon issues every single day, we focus and started to grow.
Yoni Mazor 18:57
Yeah, wow. Very, very similar resemblance to what experts would get theta we were selling. And as we were solving problems for other sellers, we just cashed out of our retail position so we can focus on helping the others. And that made a deep impact on us. Being able to be the best we can be not you know as you said check in every day and then manage all these items as far as which is very demanding, especially when you do high volume. Okay, so from 2016 to 2019 you guys blow up you know, you already become you know, an eight-figure business, and then what was the next step? What happened then?
Nathan Hirsch 19:32
Yeah, so we didn't go into 2019 thinking that we wanted to sell free up. I mean, we love free. We built a fantastic internal team. We liked our clients. We had great processes. We were growing. One of our clients reached out to us, Mark Hargrove and David Martin, two great entrepreneurs. They own a company called the Hoth but they own like 15 Different companies that they bought and scaled throughout the years. And they essentially said Hey, we love to free up we use to free up we want to get in the freelance virtual assistant space.
Nathan Hirsch 20:02
We don't want to start from scratch, would you guys be interested in being acquired at the time, we said, hey, we're open to listening and hearing anything out, we went through a little mini due diligence, and they ended up making us an offer that we thought was more than fair. And then we kind of had a tough decision to make that had a variety of factors. I mean, everything from and remember, this is pre-COVID, the economy was at an all-time high. So in our mind, we're like, hey, maybe this is a great time to sell a company, we knew that getting to 12 million a year is way different than getting to 25 or 50.
Nathan Hirsch 20:39
So we knew big revamps, were going to have to happen if we wanted to scale that much. And we knew some of the marketing channels that got us that far, the podcast, but it's not like I was going to go on four times as many podcasts as the other channels had to come about. So a variety of factors, those are just two. And we talked it over. And we ended up deciding to agree to that offer. And we, we did a lot of vetting of Mark and David on how they treat people, they want employees of Tampa, like five years in a row, that businesses they bought their success, but more importantly, their values. And what they actually believe in is very similar to what we believe in, in terms of treating people well, honoring your word, being frugal, even money-wise, and stuff like that. So we decided to sell it, but even then it was a good six-month process. I mean, once the lawyers get involved every little dotting the I's and crossing the t's to get that done.
Nathan Hirsch 21:36
And it was super stressful. I mean, we took the mentality that we're making the best decision possible based on the information we have. And there's no looking back, if we, if we do end up selling this thing, we can't just regret it for the rest of our life, we made the best decision possible. And then to that, the business can fall through at any given time, and we're going to take the deal is going to fall through at any given time. So we're taking the mentality that this deals not going through, and we're going to continue to grow this business. And that was tough. It's tough to stay focused when you're also trying to sell a company.
Nathan Hirsch 22:11
But to our credit, October the last full month before we sold, was our best month ever in the business. And we stayed focused, we kept each other focused, even though it wasn't easy. And we tried to make sure our team was taken care of part of the deal was that if it was acquired, or people would keep their jobs, and we took $500,000 from the sale and gave it to our team in the Philippines to make sure they were taken care of because we could not have grown that business. Without them. We were running an eight-figure business with no US employees, just an internal team of 30 people in the Philippines that's not the Freelancer on the platform, just the internal team. So yeah, six months later, we flew to Tampa counter flew to Tampa, I drove to Tampa, and we signed the deal and that was life-changing.
Yoni Mazor 22:59
So what is an acronym for something? What was the acronym for the hood? It's H O 80. I believe right? You mean haha yeah,
Nathan Hirsch 23:07
Sorry. Yeah. I don't think ra stands for any like acronym. It's like a monster that's their mascot that has this big mallet that it like Wash Wax things with
Yoni Mazor 23:16
Got it? What are your what was their strategy why was it beneficial for them or a smart decision for them to buy you guys and you know, have you guys sell it and they'll take the next move on it?
Nathan Hirsch 23:27
Yeah, so yeah, I mean, the Hoth has everything from SEO to PPC to various like blog articles and stuff like that. They own a bunch of different companies, they own a company called iWriter. That's also freelancers and a few other companies that dabble in freelancers, I mean, first of all, it kind of allows them to get great people in the Philippines to support all their other companies and get access to the best talent without paying like a premium on top like you would on Up work or free upper fiber or whatever. And then secondly, it maps it just in line with what their client's needs are the same people I need PPC and SEO and all the stuff I need graphic designers and bookkeepers and all these other things that free up has
Yoni Mazor 24:13
Got it got it. Okay, so you sold the company and what was the dynamic is just because bungee jumped into your freedom or there was some sort of earn-outs and you have to stay stick around for a little bit. Make sure the ship sails smoothly into a new domain.
Nathan Hirsch 24:26
Yeah, so we didn't have to stick around. There wasn't a little earn-out and mark and David's credit, they honored every single thing in their agreement from the earn-out to keeping the VAs on to whatever and so we had that but we didn't have to stay on I mean, there was a 60-day transition and I think we're out of there in 40 days it's the goal is to get us out of there as fast as possible and train their team and make sure it's good but there was no point I was kind of hanging around for a year and we had built great systems and everything that we said in the finances and the due diligence was spot on so that'll allow for a smooth transition.
Nathan Hirsch 25:02
And yeah, and then we were out. It's a little weird having like, I guess no income but money in the bank at that point. And keep in mind again, this is pre-COVID. So this was November 2019. So we kind of had the mentality, hey, well, we'll take a year off, we'll travel, I didn't think that I'd see Connor for a year, I thought he'd go off and do his thing. And then COVID kind of hit. And since we're stuck inside, and this was a lot during the lockdown, and all that, we launched a passive income stream called outsource school, which I know you know about, which teaches people our hiring process. And it's great. We've got 300 members in there, and it's going strong.
Nathan Hirsch 25:39
But that kind of bought us time to figure out hey, what is that next industry that next market that we wanted to take over on that we wanted to kind of, I guess, make a difference in or make a dent in kind of like we did with free up in the hiring market. And it took two years. And it was frustrating. As you know, thinking of a business idea is not the easiest thing in the world. And there were a lot of bad ideas thrown out there. But I think both of us just love finances, from personal finances to finances that we've done in our business and making sure that stuff is a business is sellable, even if you don't want to sell it. And yeah, that kind of took us to our next step.
Yoni Mazor 26:16
I know you know, Connor from school roughing the roof on the days of college, but what did he study in college? I know you studied entrepreneurship. But what did you study? What's his background?
Nathan Hirsch 26:25
So Connor studied economics. So Connor was in my business, and law class, and a funny story about him. So I had put us a year younger than me, I posted on Facebook saying, Hey, I run an online business, I need some part-time help. And he said, hey, man, I don't know what you do, I need a job. And I said you’re hired. I didn't even interview him. And from there, he calls me on his first day of work, you're supposed to go to my frat house.
Nathan Hirsch 26:49
And he said, oh, by the way, I don't have the car, you need to pick me up. And for some reason, I don't know why I did go and pick them up. But what ended up happening is on those car rides back and forth, we just talked business, we talked about life, we talked goals, we talked values, and we got to know each other well. And he was a fantastic employee at the time, he helped us scale that Amazon business. And I eventually made him a partner of the Amazon business. And we've been working together for 10 plus years. That's
Yoni Mazor 27:17
Pretty yeah, pretty amazing. Have you both realized each other's benefits, and then how do you guys compliment each other. And from an employee who's you know, you step them up to you know, a real partner, and they Rito free up, which is a good solution is and then operators always call out after school. And now, the new venture right, so let's talk about that. So you mentioned, you know, we're trying to tackle pain points and challenges for E-commerce sellers. So take us through those moments to the thought process of launching this taking care of this, what's the mission? What's the purpose, the vision?
Nathan Hirsch 27:51
As I mentioned, we love finances, and we throw around a lot of bad ideas like finance courses and stuff like that. But we started doing a little bit of consulting with different eCommerce sellers and E-commerce service providers. And we learned pretty quickly we didn't like consulting, we like growing businesses way more. But the common theme for all those people was we couldn't make decisions based on numbers. Because the numbers either weren't accurate, were organized for the right numbers weren't being displayed.
Nathan Hirsch 28:18
So we would spend the first month or so just revamping their whole finance team, their bookkeeping team would make it so the right reports were automatic on time every single month. And they liked that they got a lot out of it, we can help them make better decisions based on numbers. And that kind of gave us the idea for econ balance of bookkeeping service for people in the E-commerce space. And so our next step from there was we interviewed 100 Plus eCommerce sellers.
Nathan Hirsch 28:44
And if you guys if anyone listening goes to the Econ balance blog, you can see our interviews from there and what we learned and what people's pain points were. But we want to know every little thing about what people like and hate about venture about the other people in the space, what eCommerce what decisions eCommerce sellers are making, what cash flow or inventory or other issues people are having. And we use that to kind of create a framework for econ balance. And from there, we hired a head bookkeeper here in Denver, who was the seller herself, hired some people underneath their build processes, and set up a beta. And that's really how we got it off the ground going from consulting to interviewing and e-commerce sellers to hiring that initial team.
Yoni Mazor 29:29
Well, what a regressive variety you have, you have complete freedom, right? You bungee jump into freedom, but your entrepreneurial body doesn't let you rest you know, you do. You know, I'm 2020 You know, after school, and now you know, something even more of a challenging problem for more sellers. And they said more than 100 interviews, the users would tell us to pinpoint the issues on the spot that hurt the most. And you also were able to create content on it and that's available on the website. That's an I think that's pretty cool and can innovate
Yoni Mazor 30:00
Olmert to make sure you're doing the right thing and creating the right solution for eCommerce sellers. I guess the E-commerce balance. Let's make it you know, in a nutshell, just to make sure that everybody stands here, whether you're a reseller or private label seller, meaning a brand. You are getting all this, you know, financial data from Amazon, eBay, Walmart, Shopify, whatever it is. What is the issue? Talk to us? And let's dive into that a little bit. Yeah, so that's about the kid is the flow.
Nathan Hirsch 30:27
Yeah, so at our core, we are a bookkeeping service, we have internal software that we built the same guy who built three up, but that's on the back end to help us automate stuff. What a lot of sellers do is either don't do their books or be throwing everything at their CPA during tax time to put everything together. What I've learned being an entrepreneur is you need to look at the hard numbers of every single month, within 10 days, 15 days of the month being over, and people who make decisions based on the numbers, the entrepreneurs that know their numbers and make decisions on real numbers. Those are the ones that are successful and scale faster. And most e-commerce sellers are not doing it, as I said, or they're doing things wrong, they're taking like the net for that deposit in their bank account, for example, which doesn't include Amazon fees and stuff on top of that. So eCommerce is one of the more complex types of bookkeeping, which is why we're able to help other non-eCommerce people as well once you can handle eCommerce, but the rest is pretty easy. But there are certain things that eCommerce sellers struggle with we have a seller right now, that is massive, and they struggle with cash flow because their products are very seasonal. So on top of doing their bookkeeping, we'll also help them project cash flow 12 weeks out at all times. There's another inventory or sales tax and stuff we can do on top. But at our core, we are bookkeeping, a monthly bookkeeping solution, down the line will probably add tax US tax stuff like that. For now, we refer people to my CPA or they can use their one. But Joe Valley, who you probably know, I was reading his book this week, exit Printers. And he pretty much said what I've been saying for years is you want your CPA to be different than your bookkeeper. Your CPA is usually not good at bookkeeping and is not going to do it in the detail that you need to to make real day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month decisions in your business. So we allow sellers to do that with a hands-off solution that automates as much as possible.
Yoni Mazor 32:22
Got it. So the sellers, they log into a dashboard of some kind or there are a’s the data transfer or the visibility or transparency that they get in real-time?
Nathan Hirsch 32:32
Yeah, so we use QuickBooks, we use Xero. We're not trying to build the next QuickBooks or anything like that. If the sellers want to log into QuickBooks, which some do, they have full access to do that. But what we like and the way that we're we like to display things. And keep in mind one of the cool things about econ balances, I'm not a bookkeeper Connors, not a bookkeeper. We're good at hiring great bookkeepers and building processes. But we're entrepreneurs, we know how entrepreneurs want to see numbers and make decisions on numbers. So eventually, it'll be in a dashboard that's being built for now imagine Google Doc, there's the income statement, balance sheet cash flow, and first three tabs, it shows all your months going back at the end of each month, we add a new tab, a new column in there. So you can always compare and see trends all in one place, the same document all the time. And then there's the fourth tab with our findings and recommendations for you to review every single month, which you should review. So that's the core of our service. And then any additional services like cash flow or whatever would go in that dock in a new tab.
Yoni Mazor 33:29
Got to know what's the spectrum level or size of sellers that you think is appropriate for this is good for the newbies to the hundreds of millions of dollars, is there a sweet spot for sellers or any kind of skill that do you think it's more appropriate.
Nathan Hirsch 33:40
So our minimum is $150 a month. So if $150 a month for bookkeeping is outrageous for you, where you're probably a little too small. Although bookkeeping is one the people that are bookkeeping is one of the things I recommend getting off your plate early on if you are serious about scaling a business. And I mean, we go up to $2,000 a month, we have a client that we just signed for that much. So I mean, you could be doing 5 million 10 million, you could be doing $100,000 a month, you still need accurate books, sometimes the need change is more important, like cash flow and stuff like that becomes even more important. But for we can handle all types of that and Amazon service providers as well.
Yoni Mazor 34:17
Affordable. I know firsthand, you know, we had a whole team for doing the counting. And while we're paying onto the 1000s a year, just have that team, you know, give us all this real-time bookkeeping, and you know, all the data that's needed to make the right decisions based on data. We're saying you know, 150 to 2000. It's almost a joke in terms of the cost involved. But if it's even more effective than what you can get, you know, investing with the whole team is very powerful, very impactful. So I think that's a very good interesting value for sellers out there and a solution that's available out there for them to consider and then be able to get the positive impact as early as possible. Especially if you are one of those entrepreneurs that you have an exit in mind. If you start from day one, calibrate your whole machinery in your whole you know Financial or bookkeeping into shelf-ready, as they say, is going to be worth millions, right? And that's paying a few $100 here and there a month is a good ROI. And smart wise decision. Okay, so um, you know, we're recording this as an episode towards the end of 2021, we're probably going to release this episode towards 2022. You know, you've been in you know, eCommerce game since early on 2007 ish. Look into the future, what do you think is coming? What is the landscape looking, you know, I guess a few years from now, if you have your, your crystal ball if any.
Nathan Hirsch 35:38
So I'm not sure I'm the best person to predict the future. I mean, I will say that a lot of change, even from when we sold free up to now. I mean, Shopify wasn't as big of a player as it is now building your brand becomes even more important. I think Amazon just continues to crack down more and more in lots of different ways, whether it's reviews, Chinese sellers, or whatever it is. So all stuff to be aware of. And I think the big question for me, is the players like radio, that are buying up the aggregators that are buying up all these companies, how much success are they going to have? Because I have nothing against them? And maybe they crush it. But I think a lot of people think it's a sure thing that they're just going to figure out these operations and economies of scale. And I'm just curious how it plays out. Because how does that play out affect how being an Amazon seller plays out? Where are you growing a brand of flip it to one of them? Or do are they do they stop paying premium prices? Or do they even pay higher than premium prices, all that is, is up to desire, so that's something I kind of have my eye out for? And then obviously what just Amazon does, and what changes in the supply chain, I don't think we're going to be having supply chain issues forever, I think eventually, that's going to get solved, whether it's in 2020 234, whatever it is, but those are the things I have my eye on, I don't know if I can predict the future,
Yoni Mazor 36:53
guys are saying these inflation things, and all the challenges there and the hotspots and things are going to get soften over the years, we're seeing on the institutional money that's coming in and gobbling up all these brands and becoming professional Amazon sellers. That is something that you're curious about. And wondering if this is the peak or if this is going to keep picking up and up. That's kind of the statement there. Okay, so I want to wrap up the episode and see what we got so far, see if we got everything correctly, so we can hit the font around. So one reason Massachusetts around 2007 all the way to do that in 2011. You know, you go to a university college and you get your education and entrepreneurship along the way you already started selling on Amazon as an entrepreneur, start with the books and then you know, matured into every product, you know, you work with retailers, and then you're able to reach out to the source and manufacturers, again, contract contracts with them. 2012, you moved from Massachusetts to Connecticut, and then in 2013, you move from Connecticut, from Connecticut to Florida, to you know, to 14 to 15, you kind of focus on you know, the retailing an Amazon full-time job, you already have Connor with the new mix, you met him in school, but he already became a full-time partner, you guys speak to 25 million. But you know, the volatility of being an Amazon seller was, you know, very challenging. Nevertheless, you found out that you have core strengths and are good at hiring good, affordable talent to run your E-commerce business. So that gave birth officially in 2016 to free up. And that's it, you know, once it was out, out there, you can you know, you can start or wind down the retail, business free guys, you focus just on the free up and within you know, short three, four-year run, it blew up to you know, about 1 million a year, then it got purchased by the whole human and exit. And this is around 2018 or 2020. You got some money in the bank. A lot. Yeah, a lot of time in your hand you and Connor instead of just, you know, isolating yourselves in Bangkok, somewhere on an island or Thailand and island. So no dive into the industry that we are familiar with. And we're involved with, see what else we can, you know, solve and you create Ultra school. And then in 2021, you continue with the mission of solving problems and you identify another core problem that most sellers, you know, have an issue with, which is financials and bookkeeping. So hence, you know, your current venture of econ balance. So there we go everything correctly so far. You got it. All right. Beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing has been fascinating and learned a few new things. So thank you so much. Okay, now I want to you know, finish up the episode with two points. The first will be if somebody wants to reach out, connect and connect, where can they find you? So give them a handoff. And the last thing would be is what is your message of hope and inspiration for entrepreneurs listening out there?
Nathan Hirsch 39:30
Yeah, so first Nathan Hirsch on any social media channel, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. And then if you want to kind of connect with either my business's go-to outdoor school.com or econ balanced.com. As for the hope, I mean, I kind of divided it into two things. If you're a newer person trying to find success, consistency is everything doing the same small things, five days a week over and over is going to get you there, whether it's getting on podcasts, whether it's focusing on sales, whatever it is, it kind of A unique message that I'll tell people that are listening who have already found some success is figuring out how you give back. So my wife and I are becoming foster parents and we're super excited about that. I mean, I think one thing that entrepreneurs do taking take for granted whatever phrasing you want to use, there is, is kind of the luck that that plays into it. And I'm not saying people don't work hard, I worked my butt off growing to free up growing the Amazon business, but there are things that you just got lucky, I got lucky that I had two amazing parents that showed me the right way growing up, and not all kids have that. So whether it's fostering and I do want to open people's eyes to that because I didn't know what the thought would foster entails until I dug into it or some other way to give back to other people that weren't as lucky or as fortunate you in some way. Find that way. Once you reach success, focus on your success first get there but to me, it's important to help other people and pay it forward.
Yoni Mazor 40:54
Got it. I love it. So you're saying Persistence is key. Work hard. And once you're ready to achieve success, you know, stay down to earth, you know, give me give something back and that will create a magical cycle of professional and financial success, but also, you know, successful or you know, wellbeing and a good life. So, Nathan, thank you so much for joining us today. No pleasure having you. I hope everybody else enjoyed it. Stay safe and healthy next time.
Nathan Hirsch 41:17
Thanks for having me.