The SaaS Podcast
Think Big, Start Small: Lessons on Starting a SaaS Business – with Greg Mercer 
Think Big, Start Small: Lessons on Starting a SaaS Business
Greg Mercer is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout, a product that helps sellers on Amazon to research and find profitable product ideas and market niches.
My guest launched Jungle Scout in 2015 as a tool to help him find product ideas to sell on Amazon. With just $1000 and no coding skills, he's grown it into a business doing multiple 7-figures in annual revenue and a fully remote team of over 30 people.
He and his wife, quit their corporate jobs once the business took off and sold their home. Today, they live in different Airbnb's around the world and manage the business from anywhere and everywhere in the world.
This week's episode is a story about a guy who was working as a civil engineer but wanted to become an entrepreneur.
But he didn't have a business idea and no business experience.
One day he heard about people who were selling products on Amazon. And he decided that he was going to do the same.
Over the next year, he built a decent business as an Amazon seller. But he realized that he was wasting a lot of time doing research on what types of products to sell on Amazon.
So he hired a developer to build a Chrome extension for him. He figured that this would save him time and if he was lucky, he might be able to sell it to another Amazon sellers too.
A few weeks later, he built a one-page WordPress website with a PayPal button. And he had his first sale within a month.
He had a modest goal of making 1 or 2 sales a day.
Today, he's running a multi-million dollar SaaS business. And it's taken him 3 years from the day he had the Chrome extension idea.
He wasn't technical and he didn't have business experience. But he knew the value of starting small and making daily progress.
It's a great story which I hope will inspire you. And there are some great lessons that you may be able to apply yourself.
[00:12] Welcome to another episode of the SaaSPpodcast. I'm your host Omer Khan and this is the show where I interview proven founders and industry experts who share their strategies and insights to help you build launch and grow your sassed business.
[00:30] This week's episode is a story about a guy who is working as a civil engineer but wanted to become an entrepreneur. But he didn't have a business idea and no business experience. One day he heard about people who were selling products on Amazon and he decided that he was going to do the same. Over the next year or so he built a decent business as an Amazon seller but he realized that he was wasting a lot of time doing research on what type of new products to sell on Amazon. So he hired a developer to build a Chrome extension for him. He figured that this would save him some time and if he was lucky he might be able to sell it to a few other Amazon sellers. A few weeks later he built a one page WordPress website where the PayPal button and he had his sale within the first month.
[01:22] He had a modest goal of making one or two sales a day. Today he's running a multimillion-dollar SaaS business and it's taken him about three years from the day he first had the idea for the Chrome extension. He wasn't technical and he didn't have business experience but he knew the value of starting small and making daily progress. It's a great story which I hope will inspire you. And there are some great lessons that you may be able to apply yourself so I hope you enjoy it. Really quick before we start the show. If you need help building launching or growing your software business then check out SaaS Club. It's a premium membership that I launched to help you get the insights motivation and support that you need to succeed. Registration for new members is closed right now but you can join the waitlist and I'll let you know when I start accepting new members again.
[02:26] Just go to SaaSClub.co you can learn more there and there's a button you can click to join the waitlist. Also if you haven't already grabbed a copy of my free productivity toolkit you can do so by going to thesaaspodcast.com. It will teach you the habits hacks and tools used by successful founders and entrepreneurs. Okay let's get over the interview.
[02:49] Today's guest is the founder and CEO of Jungle Scout a product that helps sellers on Amazon to research and find profitable product ideas and market niches. My guest launch Jungle Scout in 2015 as a tool to help him find product ideas to sell on Amazon. With just a thousand dollars and no coding skills he's grown into a business doing multiple seven figures in annual revenue and a fully remote team of over 35 people. He and his wife Elizabeth quit their corporate jobs once the business took off so they are home. And today they live in different areas around the world and manage the business from anywhere and everywhere in the world.
[03:37] So today I'd like to welcome Greg Mercer. Greg welcome to the show.
[03:42] Omer thank you very much for having me. I'm excited to be here. I know we're going to talk about a lot of good stuff for the next hour or so.
[03:47] So I was kind of like you know thinking you are going to be in some remote exotic location but sorry to let you down if it makes you feel better on Saturday. I'm
[03:56] headed to Mexico for a little warmer weather. All
[03:58] right sweet. But yeah I'm in Seattle and you're in Vancouver so we're probably about like two and a half hour drive from each other. Exactly. Cool. OK. So let's start by kind of just talking about you a little bit and kind of you know what gets you out of bed. So you have a favorite quote that you can maybe share with us.
[04:18] Yeah a had written on my wall for a long time was you don't have to be great at something to start but you do have to start to be great at something. And I feel like I can relate to this a pretty big fan of this quote because I'm like a huge fan of just like getting stardom as well as kind of like always stepping outside your comfort zone.
[04:41] Like try new things and you know I was always I would always be worried. Like for example the first time I got on a podcast right I was like worried about how I would sound and if I had to answer these questions on the fly and blah blah blah blah blah. But after you do a certain amount of times you know you get much better at it. So and that's kind of just true with everything in life.
[05:00] Yeah. Yeah totally. Yeah I feel the same way about podcasts as well. It's like when I did my first one it's like I remember I first ten. God knows how many like I was spending more time. I kind of you know thinking about what questions I was going to ask next then really thinking about what people were telling me. And you know it's just it's just part of the process and then you know hope now it's sort of got to a point where it feels just much more just like having a conversation and you can kind of let things flow.
[05:33] But yeah it's like the cloud you know you know who where that quote came from it was from his name Zig Ziglar he was like the author I think mostly he liked sales books and stuff. Not necessarily like I guess a huge fan of his books. I don't think I've read any but I had that quote for a while.
[05:50] Ok cool. All right. So I gave the audience a little overview of Jungle Scout but it be great if in your own words you can tell us a little bit more about it like who you're talking to customers and you know what. What does the product do what problem it's solving.
[06:09] Yeah absolutely. So Jungle Scout is a product research and market intelligence tool specifically for Amazon sellers. So if you're an Amazon seller or maybe you're an aspiring Amazon seller you probably would like to know what types of products you sell on Amazon because you know which ones are in high demand. Which ones have low competition which ones have good margins what niches are would be easy for me to enter to make money off these. That's exactly what Jungle Scout tells you. So we've collected a whole bunch of data. We have some like in-house algorithms as well as just like a number of other things to kind of figure out these different metrics. So you have the tool makes it very easy for Amazon sellers to locate profitable opportunities for them.
[06:53] And you said you started this as a tool to help you find a product to sell on Amazon. So how did you get into that. Firstly like why did you decide that you wanted to start selling products on Amazon.
[07:12] Yes we've we rewind to just a few years ago not that long ago. Well we can rewind to like I went to college to be a civil engineer. I graduated you know like the typical American path at all the kids are all the parents want for their kids went to college got my real job working as a civil engineer and I didn't like it at all. You know this is my whole life had like a strong entrepreneurial spirit and I wanted to do my own thing. So I think one day I started just by googling like how to make money online. And I you know after a few ads advertised price spent way too much money like scammy courses or whatever else. I don't know but I found out about selling products on Amazon and within a relatively short time like a year or so I was able to sell enough stuff on Amazon to create this Amazon business that replace my income as a civil engineer.
[08:02] And that's at what point my wife and I both quit her corporate job. This was just three years ago and decided to start traveling full time we really want to travel I could run this Amazon business remotely. So yeah that's how I kind of got started and got out of the corporate world. So what I was selling these products through Amazon FBA is not familiar with that Amazon stores the products for you they pick pack and ship it. They handle all the customer support. So it's really like hands off it's not like the old like eBay days where you're like packing boxes yourself right. So what I realize is like OK to scale these businesses off these FBA businesses since Amazon handles the warehouse and the pick pack and ship and the customer support and they you know they already have all the traffic to your site.
[08:47] All you really have to do is just find you know a product that sells well on Amazon you can make good money on an Amazon. Create a listing which is very easy to do with even without much technical experience and then sell it. So then it's like OK well now my biggest bottleneck is scaling up my business was just finding those opport those good opportunities for me to sell.
[09:07] And yeah we fast forward that's how Jungle Scout was born. So like I had all these ideas I was doing all this stuff manually I had all these spreadsheets and like VAs is helping me and all that kind of jazz and I was like there has to be an easier way. So then that's when I was like OK well maybe I could hire a developer to kind of automate a lot of this for me. And at the time it was just very much like a side project for me as well. I don't think anybody would even want to buy this thing but you know even if they don't like I'm only going invest like a thousand bucks in it and even have no one else wants it it's still going to be a valuable tool for me to use my business. You know I'll learn something when I you know when I do this.
[09:45] So it's like what's the worst that would happen. And then fast forward. Right now it's like two and a half years after we launch that product. Yeah. Successful company. Thirty five ish people working there. Now we have over 100000 customers which is a pretty incredible milestone to hit. Yeah.
[10:01] And you haven't taken any external funding right.
[10:04] That's correct. No external funding it's totally self-funded. I literally started with that thousand dollars and never had to invest a more money out of my bank account after that. That was enough to get to build the Chrome extension and then after that it was all reinvesting sales from our products back into the company.
[10:20] All right. So let's talk about that chrome extension because that was the first version of the product of jungle scout was you hired a developer to build this extension for you.
[10:31] Yeah that's exactly right. And looking back like I wish I could tell you like at the time this was like part of my master plan. I was like super genius. But that wasn't true at all really. I just totally lucked out on this.
[10:40] And looking back though it was like it was a major reason of what you know of where we're at today. So looking back I just wanted to build this Chrome extension that essentially would automatically fill in the spreadsheets for me. So I had these spreadsheets with all these columns and this was like all the information that I needed to know whether to know whether or not this was going to be a good niche for me to enter. And I have VAs you know like filling out the spreadsheet so we take him like I would give him like a potential like niche I'd say like oh check to see if like stainless steel tumblers are good. So then they will look at it and they would fill out this spreadsheet with all this information I needed. So it's taking like an hour to fill out one of these spreadsheets for like one potential niche.
[11:21] So I was like OK like if I can just build like a Chrome extension that like automatically you know like parses through the Amazon data and fills out the spreadsheet that would like instead of taking you know instead of taking an hour for a visa to do that I could just do it with like a click of a button. So what it turns out was that was like a very simple tool to start out with. That's why I was able to get it built for a very inexpensively and some other things like looking back. You know if I were to take lessons from that. So I started with a extremely simple tool that you know was provided valuable information for Amazon sellers but it wasn't complex. Right. I sold it just like a one time fee. So it was a low barrier of entry and I was also able to collect all that cash upfront as a you know like yes I do things like recurring revenue is the Holy Grail.
[12:16] But when you're first getting started I think a lot of people should be thinking about like how can I collect as much cash from the customer upfront right now because I need that right now to reinvest in my business like I would rather if I was you know if it was my first six months in business I would rather collect let's say 100 bucks or 200 bucks from a customer today they'd be charging twenty dollars a month because I need cash today to you know invest in this product.
[12:39] This Chrome extension. Tell me a little bit about what it was doing. I mean this wasn't a you weren't trying to hook up to Amazon's API or anything like that. Right. It was this just basically going to Amazon like scraping data off the site.
[12:59] Yeah more or less so if I'm going to try to describe this only the we can make sense of it just through audio. So if you can imagine you'll be on an Amazon search page will say I've searched marshmellow sticks there's like 20 products on that search page. Then you click the button for the Chrome extension you then see a pop up on that page. And on that pop up those 20 marshmallow stick listings will be listed. It will tell me like the number of reviews the best sellers rank. A really important piece of data that we determined in-house and this was like a large part of success was the number of monthly sales for that product. So we could estimate how many units. You know all those listings we're selling every month and then just some other pieces of information like how good are the listings.
[13:49] A number of reviews whatever else so these are like a few pieces of information in it's still today it looks kind of like a spreadsheet right like there's rows and columns and all this pieces of all these pieces of data in there.
[14:01] OK. So my point was it was like it was a fairly a very simple tool you in trying to do anything overly complicated and trying to access a whole bunch of data through Amazon's back end or something like that.
[14:17] It was it was as simple as being able to search for a specific product to a product type and get back a search results page and then scrape the data from there and put it in some kind of spreadsheet. Yeah that's it. And so how much did you charge for that.
[14:34] I think starting out I'd charge like 70 bucks. And then you know over the years as we continue to improve it now there's like two tiers one's 100 bucks and wants 200 bucks so we still sell the Chrome extension. Now our customers still love the Chrome extension it's it doesn't today resemble anything and what it slightly resembles it's much different you know a lot more features all that kind of stuff but it's the same. It's still a Chrome extension.
[14:57] And how are you selling it in the early days like what did you did you put it up in a store somewhere or just add a PayPal button.
[15:07] What was the mechanism for selling it.
[15:13] Yeah. So I said like I think I'd built like one wordpress site in my life because I was like at one point wanted to have like a niche site about whatever and put up some content and I don't know. So I had pretty much like no technical experience here. So all I did was I built like a wordpress site. It was literally one page and it had like a little screen share. That was terrible. I can pull this up on internet archives if you want but it's pretty embarrassing. It just made me have like a screen of video. It had like some of the features and there was just like one PayPal link at the button at the bottom. And just like when you paid that 60 or 70 bucks or whatever it was I think it was sixty seven dollars.
[15:49] Then know you went through the page. I'll check out like on the confirmation page. There isn't a link to download and like that's all there was a day one. Oh wow. So we're talking like very simple. Keep in mind like this wasn't like at the time like a real business to me. This was like kind of like a side project. I was pretty sure no one was going to buy this thing. So like what's the point of trying to build some complex membership system or whatever else. Right.
[16:10] Yeah yeah.
[16:11] And so you talked earlier about this concept of like you know starting small and you know doing getting started and that whole idea how long how long did it take from the point way you decided you wanted to have a chrome extension built to the point when that page was up and running and somebody could click that PayPal link button and buy this product.
[16:39] Yeah it was very quick. This was probably within like 3 or 4 weeks for me like coming up with like the spec sheet of what all this should do. Like hiring a developer why he was building it. I was building this wordpress site and saying get my Paypal account. All that stuff in like 3 or 4 weeks was from like the conception of the idea. It's like the first sale.
[17:00] And how did you get your first customer. All
[17:04] right. So I was already an Amazon seller. And I was like pretty active in a number of Facebook groups for Amazon sellers. So I was like always there like providing content like a lot of people kind of like probably like recognize my name or face or whatever else like being like just the helpful guy. And once I had like the first like beta version from my developer I record it like a two minute just like screengrab of me using this thing and I'm showing everyone that it can estimate monthly sales for any product on Amazon. That was like that was really the key feature of it. I put it up in this facebook group and I was just like hey like what do you guys think about this. Would anyone be interested in this. If I was to sell it.
[17:46] And I would see at that point like it just like read the comments. You know I was getting like pretty good feedback in the comments. So it was like crap like start collecting e-mails for this so at first I think I was just like like I like pinging everyone who left a comment who said something nice like hey what's your e-mail. You know when it's being released and then like later that day I think builds like a one really simple landing page. I
[18:10] was just like your e-mail here if you want to be notified when I release this. And just from like those I think I was like one Facebook post in either two or three different groups. I collected like a hundred e-mails from it.
[18:23] And then the day that I was ready to launch this thing I emailed those 100 people and I got like 10 or 12 sales out of that. So I was like on that day I was like floating on cloud now like holy crap people want to buy this thing. I've almost made my money back from what I spent to build it.
[18:37] That's awesome. OK. You've got your first 10 to 12 sales. And there's this obviously kind of has proven that there's some market demand.
[18:48] People want something like this. What, what did you decide to do next. Did you still keep thinking of it as sort of a side project or at what point did it become a real business opportunity for you.
[19:06] A good question I can't remember like a certain day that I was like holy crap like this is now a real business. It was just kind of like more of like a slower evolution. So at this point I still had my Amazon FBA and I still have it today but that was making good money for me. Right. So at the same time trying to think like OK like I need not to get too distracted about this because it's yes it shone a little bit of potential but I also have another business that it's a proven business plan. I've gotten pretty good at selling stuff on Amazon. All this kind of stuff like you know I was like I think it was a little bit torn about kind of what to spend my time on. But my, so my goal for the Chrome extension was just to sell like one or two a day.
[19:48] So I think probably like after like a month I, well first of all like the Chrome extension was very buggy like the first 10 or 12 people like you know a few of them couldn't even downloaded it or something they were having a problem. So I pretty much ended up spending all the money from those first 10 or 12 sales like paying the developer hourly to fix all this stuff that we figured out was wrong. At that point I am trying to think how like I got from there to kind of like 100 customers I think maybe I post like a little bit more of the Facebook groups. I like email that list of the 100 people or more. There was a few a couple sales coming in that I didn't know where from I guess like word of mouth. And then my first kind of like a bigger break was a kind of like an influence from the space.
[20:36] He got it and downloaded and he was pretty impressed so he asked me to do like a little videos for him to share with his audience. At that point I got quite a few sales from like we're probably talking like maybe five thousand dollars worth of sales which for me at the time was tremendous and that's when I was like OK like now I guess this is like a legit enough of an idea that maybe I should be spending like half my time on this or you know more time than you know more than an hour a day that I had been.
[21:03] I know at some point you are doing a lot of marketing or kind of focusing on trying to cover a lot of marketing channels whether it was you know having a blog or Facebook or whatever. Can you tell me about that because it comes from what I recall from the conversation that we had that that didn't turn out to be a particularly successful strategy for you.
[21:31] Yes. Remember some still like at this point I'm still a one man show. You know I've decided that this is like a good enough idea that maybe I spend half my time on Jungle Scout and half my time on the Amazon business. So I had a developer help me. As far as like them the marketing and the customer support everything else that was like it was just me a one man show. And at this point I was like OK like you know will I spend more time in this business? Like how do I get more customers like I you like blasted this facebook group like five times with this video like you know this channel is dried up. So at that point again like I didn't have any experience with I didn't know what I was doing. So like what do you do you turn to Google.
[22:11] Like how to get more customers for my product. And you know if you were to do that there's tons and tons and tons of like you know information and resources about it right. So one person saying oh you need to be doing Twitter as the other person saying No Google Ad Words and no you need to be creating blog posts and driving back links to them or no you have to have a YouTube channel.
[22:34] So I was like I think this is where I think I was just like extremely overwhelmed of all these different channels and I put up one blog post building like I and getting sales from that blog post oh crap maybe like no I should make a few videos from my YouTube channel so that I may like two junky YouTube videos I didn't get any views and during that time I was real you know.
[22:55] So then like I tried some Facebook ads like I wasn't. I didn't like devote the time to them like they would really need or deserve in order to be successful. So that was like looking back. A big mistake I made. And you know one of the areas that went wrong what was working for me at that time is like that web and are you know that I did it in front of the guys audience.
[23:19] So you know instead of trying all this other stuff looking back I should have just been contacting more influencers in the space more people with a you know an e-commerce or an Amazon audience and you know I've been saying like hey like let me provide some value to your group or let's work out an affiliate deal or something else because that's what was working with me. So I guess like anyone listening to this especially in the early days it's like double triple done what's working. Don't try to you know just do a poor job with all this other stuff.
[23:49] It can be an easy trap to fall into when you see all of these different marketing channels and you're like OK well you know Twitter sounds like a good place. Let me do something here and YouTube sounds like it's working for a lot of people. So let me put a video up there. What I'm kind of interested in is for somebody who has that kind of mindset which I think is great in terms of just get started.
[24:13] How have you learned to become more disciplined about when not to get started or when to stop quickly.
[24:19] Yeah this is a difficult thing. So some we probably struggle with like a Jungle Scout today even like with a bigger team and more resources and stuff.
[24:30] So I get a great example is you know like we just shot a number of videos to try to like snap chat ads right. It's like we never tried this before. It's like why did we decide to. Why are we going to test out snapchat ads when we have a bunch of channels that work really well and it's like I guess the reason we try is like with the hope that like it works really well for really cheap. But I guess there's nothing wrong with trying these. I don't know. This is a really difficult question actually and that this is probably something that I'm still not very good at so I don't have all the answers to.
[25:02] Yeah yeah I totally get you. Because I think you know the example you gave in terms of you know how to get more customers and it's like it's literally like facing like a here are hundred different rabbit holes and welcome to each one and you know get ready to consume your entire life trying to follow all of these different paths. And it's a really kind of tough place to be in.
[25:21] But I think this is kind of a certain level of testing you need to go through to figure out which channels are working and and even those some of that you know having you having tried some of those things may have slowed you down from being able to spend more time with what was working which is the webinars I think you probably had to go through that process to at least test those areas and see if there was some some opportunity to get results and potentially A.B. some of them may have worked if you had sort of you know spent more more time on them. But I think the the kind of the key takeaway for me was that you know you can tell these different channels but as soon as you find one where there's some signs of life then that's the one that you probably need to kind of focus all your efforts on and sort of realize the full opportunities that existed before you start looking at other areas.
[26:31] You know it's ultimately where you got to anyway.
[26:35] Right exactly. So I guess for anyone listening to this you know like if you have discovered a channel or two that is working for you if you are getting customers on that. You know I think the advice to be like double down on that for a while before you start trying to branch out to other channels.
[26:50] Now the other question I had was for somebody who didn't have any coding skills.
[26:56] Did you have any challenges or problems with with hiring a developer. Finding the right developer you know kind of communicating exactly what you needed. Did you have any of these issues sort of come up.
[27:13] Yeah absolutely. So before this project before Jungle Scout I did try one other like little software tool that I was just going to use myself and I'd say I learned a lot of good lessons from that that I was able to kind of like parlay that education into the creation of Jungle Scout. But so let me tell you about the first one I did. I made every mistake in the book. So. All right. So as a developer just trying to think like you're trying to turn someone's idea into lines of code that then can you know do what they're trying to get through with this idea. So the more specifics and guidelines and specs and everything else that you can give them you'll be better off. So like in my first one I literally just sent an email. I thought it was like a thorough email because it was like I don't know pretty long of what I wanted this product to do and that was all the guidelines that I gave.
[28:15] And that was like a terrible first way to start. So least with this second you know with building the Jungle Scout chrome extension I least created this PDF I kind of drew out wire frames or what I wanted it to look like I with the notes of like where to get this information from and kind of how I want it to work overall. And tool like you try to do your first software project you don't realize like how many like specs and all the different things that you can really do. Like with software like you know now that I'm in and I realize like OK like what error messages do we give when they try to do that and you can't.
[28:56] What is this tooltip say what's this behavior like on hover like all these types of things that you know the developers are thinking about. So just like the more specifics and guidance you can give them the better. I'd say I think like thorough wireframe is like the bare minimum. And just like every last little spec that you can think of is you know best.
[29:20] Where did you find the developer that you hired for the Chrome extension.
[29:26] Yes I found actually found them on Elance which is you know Upwork now. So and again my failed attempts before that I was trying to hire these people who were charging me like three dollars an hour five dollars an hour seven dollars an hour or something like very inexpensive. And from my experience I'm sure there's you know outliers here but in general all good developers charge a significant amount of money even if they're living in like one of the low cost regions of the world because that's a very high demand job right now it's very easy for them to get jobs. So yeah that's kind of a little piece of advice I would give.
[30:05] The Chrome extension is taking off. You go back to the webinars and finding influencers as a way to reach new customers and that's helping to drive sales. At what point did Jungle Scout evolve for all just a chrome extension to also a a where both SaaS application.
[30:29] Yes I think after I've been sewn the extension for about six months at this point is making a lot of money. So you know Jungle Scout have a little money in the bank account. And I was trying to think about the future like how am I going to continue to scale this. And one you know I would like recurring revenue. Everyone always talks about how great that is and it sounded pretty nice to me as well. So I really went something with the recurring revenue. And there were things that could really benefit Amazon sellers. That's from a technical standpoint weren't we weren't able to do inside the extension. So at this point like I had a few choices I could either maybe not build those features that due to technical limitations are going to be done the extension or I could scrap the extension just move everything to a SaaS app or a combination that's what I ultimately chose like I'm going to keep the Chrome extension people really like it they really like the UX that you know you can be on any Amazon page and click this little button and see a whole bunch of good information about those Amazon products.
[31:34] So yeah I guess it was you know I wanted the recurring revenue I was to be honest probably partially just interested in like a new challenge a new you know to do something different. And at that point like I felt like I had the money and the resources to build a higher a little bit more like experience developers who had experience building you know production level SaaS apps.
[32:00] And how much did you have to spend to build that SaaS application just like to get it off the ground. I think I was probably in like maybe 30 or 40 thousand dollars and then so that was like for the bare minimum product. And yeah I mean and we've been working on it ever since. A lot more money since then obviously.
[32:24] How did you get that explosive growth. Because to go from two and a half years to let me let me have a Chrome extension that I can use as a tool for myself. And you know if I'm lucky somebody else might want to buy two too.
[32:42] Suddenly here's a business with 35 plus people multiple seven figures in annual revenue. How did that growth happen.
[32:57] Good question. It's always like you know these podcasts and talking to people like you Omer and others. It's always like a good time to kind of reflect on these things right because like when your interest in the day to day grinds like no we need more customers, we need more customers. But looking back it's like I guess what we have achieved is pretty pretty special and pretty crazy.
[33:16] So it is just the kind of answer that question me I'll touch on some like the growth channels and marketing channels that we use that were successful is our content marketing is what really works well for us today. So people hear that and what the heck is content marketing, how do I do that? We put out or yes like the Jungle Scout website is of course unbiased but everyone tells us this too is like the best read you know like place for educational resources for Amazon sellers even if you never purchase any of our products. So like we have like really in-depth case studies we have like free tools that you can just kind of like use you know like on the website to help you with things. Our YouTube channel you know like where you're posting one or two or three videos a week of like explaining people how to do all these different things with their Amazon account so it's like it's the go to place for everyone to you know if you have any questions about Amazon either how to start selling or more complex problems or really how to optimize your listings so like we've we've built this resource in all of the content we build is totally for free.
[34:25] And then of course that's the the marketing channel we use to funnel them into our software. But if I just say like 1 I'm trying to think like what what takeaways can the listeners have right now that they can use in their business.
[34:41] My advice for you if you know you want to get more info like the content marketing is don't do the whole like 1000 word, 500 word blog post that like three things entrepreneurs wish they knew blah blah blah blah blah. Instead I would recommend building like one either like one case study or one piece of content that's like super high quality. So something that we're working on right now and like our customers using the lab is called the million dollar case study. So we're totally publicly and transparently starting in scaling and Amazon physical products business to a million dollars in revenue. So like our first product was these bamboo marshmallow sticks. Then we launched on a hooded baby towels and you know like we do weekly webinars and it's like what we've been working on this week for that Amazon business. And like our journey to a million dollars in sales we're at like I think we're almost like 400000 dollars in sales now so it's pretty substantial. And it's just like very educational people really like to follow along with it. We're also donating all the money from this Amazon business to pencils of promise to build schools in developing countries around the world.
[35:47] So it's like it's just like a final thing for everyone to be a part of. And it's very high-end content like the best that you'll find on the Internet.
[35:54] One question that I had about the SaaS business and recurring revenue is that the the kind of problem that you're solving primarily for people is kind of like a a one off kind of problem that needs to get solved in order for them to go out and start building a business so let's say you know I decide I want to build an Amazon business and I use jungle scout and I use it to do research to figure out what product it is that I should be selling on Amazon and then I can go out and start focusing on building that Amazon business.
[36:35] But is there still a need for me to keep paying for Jungle Scout on a recurring basis. Really
[36:42] good question. And I think you hit the nail on the head there. Like our churn is definitely higher than like industry standard. By all accounts and I think that's the major reason for it right. It doesn't really have like that sticky factor. And what we find with a lot of people is like they'll use it for a month or two. You know they find some really good products they launch those on Amazon and they wait a few months to make some sales and then the rate launch more than they kind of sign up again. And it doesn't really have like that sticky factor that you need to be using it like every day more so like you'd go in little spurts and then you kind of way and then you go into more spurts and use it. So that's definitely a challenge that we're currently experiencing. I don't have a great answer for it. You know I guess like some things we can be thinking about are features to add to make it a stickier product something that you do kind of want to use every day.
[37:40] Maybe we put it like educational content behind kind of the paywall that might help people stick around I guess. You know what some companies do that I've seen is just adjust the pricing.
[37:53] So you have like prepaid for a year and that's the only option there's no monthly option. So yeah definitely a challenge for us right now that I don't have a great answer for.
[38:03] So that's that's something you guys are still testing and trying to figure out and I'm not knocking it in terms of you I mean you might have a a churn issue which is which is higher than other SaaS businesses but you're still doing you know multi million dollars in revenue each year and it's still you're still on a growth trajectory right.
[38:30] Yeah absolutely. So it hasn't affected our will. Of course it's affected our growth. It hasn't stunted our growth yet but I guess when I project into the future you know I'm thinking like wow we really have to be pumping a lot of customers new customers in every single day. If we maintain the same churn rate so yeah you know like that. So far the business is still healthy and so growing and everything but it's something that we're thinking more and more about. Yeah. Do you have any tips for me Omer?
[38:59] I'm not an expert on this. You do.
[39:03] But the one thing that sort of struck me as being kind of the most sticky thing for Amazon sellers is kind of getting a grasp on their inventory.
[39:13] Okay I've kind of got the business up and running but what am I selling? How am I selling? And then also all the kind of crap that comes with that. In terms of reporting tax information and all of that stuff I do know that that seems to me from from what I've seen you know if that was something that was kind of part of Jungle Scout I don't know. I can't see anybody wanting to cancel even for a month because it would just it would just cause to have a problem in terms of managing the day to day and kind of you know monthly quarterly annual kind of reporting of their business.
[39:51] Yeah exactly. Some things we've thought about. You know it's like do we want to make this like a kind of like a Swiss Army knife type tool for Amazon sellers like it does a little bit of everything like that. The tax stuff and inventory management and profit analytics or whatever else. So that's when we thought about it like I guess some of the other considerations that came to mind when we were thinking about that is like well if we're like the Swiss Army knife then are we perceived at like as like decent at everything but not great at anything anymore we're not like a bomb at Protic research anymore. So I mean I don't I don't have the answer to that. So yeah that's kind of you know because like I think of like HubSpot comes to mind like we did like a HubSpot demo.
[40:33] And to me they're very much like a Swiss Army knife. They do like tons and tons and tons of different stuff. But like they didn't seem to really do anything like that. Well like right now we're piecing together like five pieces of software to like make HubSpot. But it's like all the tools we're using are like much more powerful and robust than a you know kind of like what theirs is but. So yeah definitely something to think about.
[40:56] Yeah yeah but it's that's a quality problem to have though right. Yeah. OK.
[41:04] So how do you spend your time these they say you've got a team in place and I presume you know you're still doing wire frames unless you've not learned to enjoy doing that sort of stuff.
[41:15] Yeah so like you said it seems like 35 ish people and how I spend my days I still do a one of the thing that I do enjoy. I do enjoy creating video content like content like we're doing right now like over the podcast so I still probably record maybe four or five hours of content maybe even more maybe in ten some weeks of video and audio. I don't really enjoy writing that much. I don't write much but I do the video and the audio stuff. I also like as we grow and you know like I look at our growth trajectory and like in two or three years like this is like probably two years is probably 100 person company.
[41:58] So like now I'm thinking a lot more about Okay like what are we like what do I need to be doing and putting in place and stuff to make this company still function well as a 100 person company doing more of that. I still do a lot of recruiting and hiring because I think that's like a really high value task and really important. And then there's still I think like any time that you turn in from like a one man show to a 35 person company in a relatively short amount of time there are still like I still find myself doing a number of things I need to give away to other people just like I don't know I've been doing them since day one. I haven't really anyone else to do it yet. So just kind of like other you know things like that it just kind of suck up on my time. Yeah.
[42:43] And how do you how do you manage a team that's completely remote.
[42:51] And at the same time while you'll also remote and kind of traveling around the world and you're still having to hire people manage people and grow the company.
[43:06] You know what have you put specific kinds of systems in place to do that have you know what are you doing to kind of just manage manage the team.
[43:21] Yeah. So it's not as hard I think is what I thought to be or what most people think it is. And I think part of it is because since day one we've been a remote company like you like you talked about earlier my wife and I were homeless and we travel around 12 months a year we don't have any home anywhere. So I was like well like we don't want to stop doing the nomad thing. So like you know we're not going to start an office somewhere because we enjoy traveling around living in different areas. So. So since day one has been built as a fully remote company. And I think that plays an important role because like since day one you know we're communicating on slack. We're posting projects and doing our project management and Trello we're using the whole Google suite for the docs and spreadsheets and everything else so it's easy to collaborate in the cloud.
[44:07] And this is also even gone on to like the people that were hiring and the types of people that were hiring. So we don't you know no one works like certain hours of the day they don't have the punch and they have to punch out like everyone's graded strictly on the work that you do and like your performance as far as like what you can show for it.
[44:30] So and I think this is an important thing because you know it's like people realize like OK like I can work with hours of the day or whatever they like I'm most effective. But like I need to be producing constantly like work that I can you know that I can show to people. Right. So that's important. One thing now that we are getting bigger. One thing that I think is difficult now is the time zones so we so we will all around the world. I'd say like more than half of the team lives in the Americas. But you know there's also a handful of people in Europe and a couple of guys in Australia and like three people living in Southeast Asia right now and it does slow down communication having people in those different time zones. It's like you know I might like overlap for like one hour with someone.
[45:23] And you know they sent me something and I was really busy this morning. I didn't get a chance to look at it until after that and then I just needed like two quick changes. But they were already asleep. And I was like crap now I have to wait till the next day for that. So there are downsides without a doubt. I think that's the biggest one especially if you are different time zones. It can slow down some projects. But I think just overall like the benefits do outweigh the negatives.
[45:49] Yeah I think it opens you up to the whole pool of talent out there rather them being constrained to you know people in a 20 mile radius who can commute to where you know whichever physical building you've created a business that's without a doubt the single biggest benefit of doing the remote team thing. I
[46:09] think that just outweighs all the other kind of downsides to it.
[46:15] All right. Let's get to sort of lightning round. Can I ask you seven questions. Just trust us them as quickly as you can.
[46:15] All right.
[46:15] All right let's do it.
[46:25] What's the best piece of business advice that you've ever received?
[46:29] It's to stop thinking about contemplating over and just do it and get started.
[46:34] What book would you recommend to our audience and why?
[46:38] My favorite book is Rework by Jason Fried. He's the founder of base camp a 37 Signals I love it's like a fresh look on how to run like modern day businesses and talks about the remote teams kind of like how we should be working in this new digital age. And yeah it's good read it.
[46:56] Yeah I like that back to what's one attribute or characteristic in your mind of a successful entrepreneur?
[47:04] Like resilience or like mental resilience especially in the early days you feel like every little thing is going to like crush you or that you know the new competitor this or that or the other thing or whatever. And just to have like the resilience just like keep pushing forward not get bogged down by that I think is the most important characteristic.
[47:24] What's your favorite personal productivity tool or habit?
[47:29] I just downloaded a new tool to manage my inboxes with the addition of a personal assistant but it's called Front app syncs up like all my different e-mail inboxes and then my assistant can go through them and tag me an important ones and she can like draft up e-mails and already have put attachments I can just like look at it real quick, make a few edits and send. And that has been a life changer for me.
[47:53] What new a crazy business idea would you love to pursue if you had the time?
[47:58] Right now I'm fascinated by the block chain and like Krypto and token scene the fat more time I'd definitely be looking into that stuff more.
[48:09] What's an interesting or fun fact about you that most people don't know?
[48:13] You know I was going to say like the nomad one because we already talked about that a couple of times over the show. Well I guess fun fact let's see in the past couple of years I've been to like 35 or so countries in all seven continents.
[48:29] And finally what is one of your most important passions outside of your work.
[48:34] I really you know I spend most of my time working that is like my favorite thing without a doubt. That's a lame response like experiencing new cultures is really fun to me like living in an area for a month or two and kind of like feel like you're like part of the culture as opposed to just a tourist. That's one of my passions and going this afternoon to play beach volleyball is one of my other passions.
[48:55] Awesome. Great conversation Greg. You know thanks for making the time to do this. I really enjoyed chatting with you and kind of learning more about Jungle Scout and the the amazing progress.
[49:10] Progress is such a underwhelming word. You know just just you know how you've kicked ass for the last two and a half years to just go from a small idea for a chrome plug in for yourself to to where you are today. It's incredible. And I truly wish you all the best in continuing to grow this business and get it to where you want it to be. Now if folks want to go and check out Jungle Scout you can go to junglescout.com and even if you're not thinking about selling on Amazon I'd say go and check out the jungle scout blog and you know take a look at what Greg and his team are doing there in terms of content marketing and maybe what ideas that you can get for your own business too. And if folks want to get in touch with you what's the best way for them to do that.
[50:10] Fairly active on Twitter at least some really get into responding to people and said that at @mercer_greg that's a good place to get in contact with me. Also I've just started. It's not live you a good time this this podcast goes live will be GregMercer.com. I'm starting to post some more of my personal thoughts and just things about general entrepreneurship. I think our SaaS apps I think a lot of this audience would vibe with well. So you can just find that stuff that GregMercer.com.
[50:39] Awesome. Thanks man and enjoy Vancouver and then you know whatever lies ahead below.
[50:48] All right thank you very much for having me on. I've enjoyed it.
[50:51] I appreciate it. Just take care. All right. You can get to the show notes for this episode by going to thesaaspodcast.com. If you enjoyed this episode then please subscribe to the show in iTunes. And if you've already subscribed then please do me a favor and leave a iTunes review. It will really help to spread the word about this podcast. Thanks for listening. Also next time take care.
- “Rework” by Jason Fried