Nathan: Hey all, welcome to another amazing episode of e-Commerce On Tap, I am Nathan Resnick this is brought you by Sourcify; today we have an amazing e-Commerce entrepreneur that I originally met at a mastermind group in Arizona over a year ago.
Fabian …. joins us from his home country in Costa Rica ,this guy is really at the cutting edge of e-Commerce innovation; not only running and scaling up his own stores, but also running an agency on the side helping other entrepreneurs do the same. Fabian thank you so much for joining us; super excited to have you on and really I would love to just start by understanding, when did you first hear of e-Commerce?
Fabian: Thank you very much, first of all Nathan thank you very much for having me here and allowing me to have you know this platform to talk a little bit about myself, what I’ve been doing the past few years and of course inspire people. You’re such a great guy, I was blessed to meet you last year and a lot has changed since I met you.
So I’m really, really excited to be here; so let me take a step back to talk a little bit about my journey from the get go; so it’s really funny because you know there’s a lot of people that they think that they need to have like a technical or marketing background to start at e-Commerce and basically I don’t have neither of those.
I went to college to get a degree in Business and I got a Master’s degree in Project Management; so basically I don’t have any related background regarding e-Commerce but I just decided to try something new.
Back in the day, I was working as a Salesman for a National Telecommunications Company and I was managing over 300 projects a year so you can imagine how stressful it was, you know just generating money for a lot of people. I speak three languages; I speak Portuguese, English and Spanish. I was practically managing several accounts throughout the whole of the American continent and basically I started there you know getting my kind of my sales of course it was like phone sales and managing that.
But at the same time, I realized something really important that you know a lot of entrepreneurs face and it’s your self-worth, how much you’re worth for yourself? And basically I started there, I noticed that I was really good at you know developing projects, making money for others. So, I decided to you know stop doing it for others and you know doing it for myself.
My journey started, it’s really funny, I’m a really kind of active guy, love adventures and at that time, I was making like BMXing all these stuff. So, I have a cousin that he has like a BMX phone bit like a kind of phone and it was you know kind of crazy, I was trying back flipping with the bicycle and I ended up falling away the phone bit and I dislocated in my elbow. And I got injured because of that and you know I was incapacitated for a full month so and then I was kind of in that state of semi depression, what are you going to be doing with your life? What happened? So dumb sometimes you know just make irrational decisions that got you to this place.
So, I had those 30 days and I just decided to you know be more receptive to what life was giving me and accept the fact that you know I was in that specific moment in my life just because I decided to. So, I grew a lot and I don’t that are you know just one day typing with my left hand because it was my right hand that was dislocated and I just typed “How to make money online” like a lot of people you know and I was using Google and then I you know like– 3000 different searches a clear night started just like opening tabs and you know investigating it and I was like a couple years ago, I was basically learning about some development about creating passive income, how to be able to regenerate other assets so you know I’ve been reading Robert Kiyosaki in full you know most of the people and I decided to investigate a little bit about e-Commerce and how to do internet marketing.
Like I said, I had no technical background, back in the day I used to consider myself a Caveman, I barely knew how to use Word, Powerpoint and Excel and I didn’t have a smartphone at that time, it was really funny because even my friends were making fun of me like, “What are you doing? You don’t have a smartphone; I cannot even send you like a WhatsApp”
Even though the ladies that I was dating back in the day, they were complaining, but I had to switch something in my life and I just decided to you know turn my weakness into my strength and that basically got me to where I am today. I just keep working, keep working, keep working of course frustration was something that I had to deal in a daily business but still, that didn’t stop me and I just basically decided to learn for a full year.
Nathan, just so you know man 4 years ago, I didn’t even know what a domain was, so I was basically like back in the barracks and I’d learn everything from scratch. I started watching videos, I used to watch from 7am-5pm and then I took my college classes for the Masters and then I got home around 10-11pm and then my education process started.
So, I basically started from 4-6 hours/day so I was basically sleeping like 4hours a day but still my determination was what was bigger than my fear of failure because you know I started thinking about something that I don’t remember exactly where I read it but if I can ask you this question. Have you ever met an entrepreneur that hasn’t failed?
Nathan: I mean they learn, they learn from failure, that’s the key right there.
Fabian: So, I just decided to take that fear of failure and just switch it into the spark that will ignite the fire within me that will allow me to switch from the regular education system that punishes mistakes to learning from my own mistakes.
That was a huge difference for me you know I really come from an entrepreneurial family but I’ve never did see 100% experience it all myself besides being able to sell guns in high school and do like pre-sales and all that stuff but you know I was all focus this time you know in generating my own business, creating, building my own assets and just– I mean for and against anything that life threw at me.
Nathan: I mean you’ve grown and learned so much in the past 4 years, I mean that’s incredible; I want to hear you know I want to hear one side, I want to hear what an early success was for you; can you walk us through a product or a funnel that you had early on you know 4years ago that you got really excited by and then also walk us through a failure; what something in the past 4years that you thought was going to be fantastic that didn’t work out and what did you learn from it?
Fabian: Okay, let me start with kind of I’d like to call it success/failure because we often times think that successes is making money. I switched that type of mindset because for me, being successful is about helping others and giving value to others and me as a marketer, you know like put a smile and somebody else’s face.
I rather do that you know making myself and pocketing money because I know doing something better for the world; so my story was when I started out my e-Commerce journey, I started following gurus and stuff and I opened my first store and it’s really funny because I used to have a partnership here with all the Costa Rican partners and my mom was one of my partners.
That was like my first Shopify store and we started doing kind of the free plus shipping model and that kind of opened the gate for me and I started this store around December and I really focused in you know just like free plus shipping offers and selling like trinkets and I ended up finding a winner which was like a ring and I started scaling it and you know like where everybody was like afraid of this, we cannot lose money and there was a time where when our first $100 sale and then we got a $200 sale in days and then we have kind of the first $1000 days.
I never knew and expected that you know you’re basically making money in an automatic fashion but still it’s really interesting because you know I was asleep and making money, I was working and making money and I was spending quality time with my family making money.
So, I basically noticed that this is a great business model so I was completely convinced that this was something that I needed to learn for a fact and keep doing it for the rest of my life because I’ve never experienced or seen a business model that would allow me to you know to change my life basically. So, the main issue was that I was just focusing in front and sales and I was just basically selling stuff online and really making sure whatever I needed to do to start selling.
So, the problem that I had and this is kind of where my– say my success went into failure is you know that I was basically selling cheap stuff and my customers were complaining so I started you know having this issue that my customers were not happy with basically what I was doing and the problem is that once we were having this amount of angry customers, there was no repeat sales so we decided to re-group stuff we were doing and of course I was like a really strong punch to the ego and I was like, “Oh my God, I thought I was doing so well” but now things are not working like they used to.
I had to really take a breather, re-group, learned what we were doing and basically learning from my mistakes. I know that if we’re going to be just selling something really, it needs to have quality; it needs to be really giving value. And basically, my customer service has to be on point.
So, it all comes to rise quality and lead time and I was basically taking care of those 3pillars that I like to call ‘Coles’ I was not that experienced so I really just wanted to share that with you; that was kind of one of my failures but that doesn’t mean that anybody who is doing free plus shifting cannot do it the right way, it was just that at the time I was not experienced, it was kind of my first bike ride through the park and I just you know expected that it was going to run smoothly but I learned that e-Commerce is more about different moving parts and we have to keep refining and in at the end the most important result you have to have it’s basically a happy customer that will like to keep purchasing and buying from you. It was a huge eye-opening experience that led me to opening other brands and stores that allow me to scale and learn a lot.
So, another success story that I have is basically, it was year and a half ago, I started a new brand with other partners and we started in the fashion niche, we were basically really, really excited because you know we brought niche, you know that you ladies love to buy and we’d really just wanted to focus on giving high quality products, of course selling high margin products and being able to have enough money to keep reinvesting in the company and growing it right?
I was basically at that point, I never reached like a $10,000 daily in sales and so what I was basically doing is keep testing products and I was at the time, I was in San Diego, I was in the Traffic and Convention Summit from the digital marketer and I was with my buddy Sebastian Gomez, we were Sharing an AB&B and I was just helping him with his course and we’re just recording a webinar and I was just like reading my stats I see something promising because the day that I left, I was in the red, I was negative you know and I took it really personal. I was like; let me check my metrics and figure out a way.
How can I turn this around? And with within 2 days man, I am really blessed saying this Nathan; I was able to scale up a campaign from 4K a day to 40k a day in 4 days.
Nathan: Wow! That’s incredible, I want to dive into that specifically because I know the audience is going to be blown away by that scalability; what were the key metrics that you look at to get to that moment where you getting 40k a day? I mean was it still laying out the ads going specifically? Like what kind of specific metrics were you looking at? It gets to a point where you know you could scale up to that point in a single day?
Fabian: Awesome, so basically you know for me the most important metric that you have to look when you’re scaling is your profit margin; it’s kind of the same that you cannot scale a crap out of crap, you’ve got to focus is okay, if I’m going to be able to scale a product I at least need to have a $30 profit margin because—and I always do this, it’s like a rule of thumb that I always do it having a roof or a maximum CPA that I’m willing to spend so the maximum that I was willing to spend to acquire a customer was 25bucks with and that said I was spending more than $25 to acquire a customer, I just post that, relaunch it, indeed if we were profitable at the beginning so it was really interesting because the let’s say the most important thing that I can tell people is to– whenever you feel that you have a gut feeling that you’re doing things right trust your gut, I am a really energetic type of guy and when I see something that’s promising and I see that we have let’s say for example, the profit margins, we have the CPA, we have the engagement which is really important nowadays with Facebook, if you guys are having an engagement with your ad, and you’re able to scale because Facebook will reward you Facebook loves engagement so if you have that in your ad, you’re basically they will reward you with lower CPAs and also the key metric that I do I never stick to only one ad; I love to split different images, different videos and keep at least 4 ads running at the same time because you never know which one Facebook will select.
Okay so, what determines my success, I guess it was mostly how aggressively I scaled and I saw increasing budgets daily and I was really going for broader audiences, I started out here in the US but at the time like, world-wide targeting was not that famous but I would say when I went broad, men like I almost died from all the good feelings that I was having because I woke up one day at 8am and I was $16,000 and I was like, “What!!!”
I had to run to the other room and wake up Sebastian I was like, “Man, I have never seen this stuff” and then checked the matrix and the cost were on point, all the ads were spending in the row us and them were more than 4x. So we talked about spending what I thought– the best day that I did 40K, I remember that I spent like 6K in ads.
So, it was a ridiculous return of investment that you know I had a really good profit margin on this specific product that was a dress; and you know I really hit it off and I just kept using the same strategies to look for other products and keep scaling it and I was able to scale from 3-4 products almost the same way by really looking at those key metrics profit margin having a maximum CPA and all the engagements.
Nathan: When you’re testing a new product, walk us through that test, what does that look like? You go on let’s say, you find a product online you know whatever resources you may use, you then create a few landing pages, you run it through Shopify, you know what’s that process like to actually test a product and at what point do you realize this product is not going to work or it’s a successful product to sell online?
Fabian: Well, that’s a great question, thank you for asking. So, I’m the type of person that I just want to know really fast if I have a winning product or a losing product why because I don’t want to be spending a whole week knowing if I have a winner or not.
So, I used two different strategies, the first one and most common it’s basically testing a product; I generally start on the Shopify store and once I see you know that any of those products is promising, I can then create a specific landing page or a specific OCU really hit it off but most importantly I just work with a Shopify page and what I generally do, I created two ads per product and what I realized is the videos for testing are way better than images.
I created at least two different video variations testing two different angles for that specific product and what I did, I then went to Facebook and I created. One website conversions campaign and I tested ten a different audiences for that specific product and I just created a system with my team where I must be able to keep testing products every day using the same strategy and the during 2-3 days, I read really checked if I had sales at checkout; if I saw that after two days I don’t have an ad to cut, I’ll just kill that ad and will keep up that way.
How do I know that I’m able to scale a product if in a timeframe of let’s say, 4-5 days or even less, I have more than 10 sales on a $5 ad sale, that’s a really good indicator or you basically have a product that if you start digging within that specific audience testing new creatives, you can hit it off. I am the type of guy that I’m more data driven than more strategy driven. I’m more principles driven because principles never change, strategies do.
I try to stick to that because I have seen that throughout the years and I’ve seen this throughout all the time that I’ve been doing e-Commerce, it’s going to be there. Products and they’re going to be specific times of the year where you’re going to be able to see specific products that are going to be selling and reselling and reselling.
For example, there’s a lot of people that and I’ve seen this throughout the years; there’s lot of people that in summer they’re really focused in selling like dresses, sandals, swimsuits. People in autumn, they start selling kind of you know like high heel shoes, they start selling booties, you know like cardigans, jackets and in the winter, everybody’s selling you know like sweaters, jackets, coats, scarfs and all the stuff.
What I’ve been able to see and make throughout the year and it’s like a markers calendar that I have here in my companies and basically based on the specific niche that I’m working on, I’ve designed the specific calendar that has allowed me to map out specific days, time frames, quarterly, weekly, monthly of specific offers and products that I can be running.
So, I now created a system that’s a yearly system that allows me to scale and identify products and moments throughout the year that I can really take advantage of just by using you know great data driven strategies and principles.
Nathan: Got it, that’s incredible; I want to move the chat more to you in the future of e-Commerce because you know I know a lot drop shipping entrepreneurs have transitioned to private label, they have transitioned to actually buying you know an inventory and fulfilling it domestically and also you know last month there was the news that the Trump administration is actually in charge to get out that both go green and between the United States Postal Service and the China Postal Service that could make e-Packets becomes a lot more expensive or not a shipping option anymore. Number one, did you hear that news? Number two, what do you think that will have as an effect on the e-Commerce industry?
If e-Packets go away, companies will have to figure out a different shipping method and that’s going to really fuel the transition for a lot more drop shipping rates and entrepreneurs to actually create their own brand and you know create that in-house process with a 3PL or set up their on warehouse?
Fabian: Awesome, so I’m the type of guy that you know I live my life through one single rule which is the law of impermanence; nothing will be the same forever. This is a changing world and we have to flow in the wise words of Bruce Lee, “You have to be like water, you however take the shape or form that life throws to you because that will allow you to be more flexible, we’ll be able to find better winners and better ways that you can be ahead of the curve”
Of course now that Donald Trump is the President of the United States a lot of things have changed, the China … and the China trade war has basically open my eyes to start thinking ahead and of course like most of my life, I’ve been you know working with Chinese vendors and all this stuff but you know there are other strategies you can also start implementing, it’s like you are looking for at least if you only import from China, import from other countries but many not in the type of business that you’re in, other countries like Japan, Bangladesh India also in even Europe.
So, the pending in the type of niche that you are, it’s really important that you start diversifying and looking for other options for you to be covered. So basically, all this type of situations are going to be occurring because this is not only a one-time deal, hopefully we can change this in the long term but in the short term, we have to make decisions that will allow us to keep businesses running.
I will hate to see that everybody basically on e-Commerce will get affected just because you know they think that China is kind of the only country that can help. It’s a huge market, it has helped me a lot throughout the years but like I said, diversifying your company products you’re creating a manufacturing and selling It’s our most important that just depends on one, it’s like the saying that, “You shouldn’t have all your eggs in one basket”
This happening with the e-Packets, it’s really important to also not only start being or keep being so marketing driven, most of the now more logistical it’s really important that you’re always trying to lower your costs while keeping your quality.
I do recommend others to really start investigating where can you start producing some of your items and stuff because you really start thinking of, say whenever you go and buy a shirt for example in the US, you can see that there are other countries that manufacture. For example, Mexico, Salvador, Bangladesh even Peru.
The most important part is for you to have options and so it’s like this you don’t want to stick to only one business or only one business model because you never know how long that’s going to last.
e-Commerce in the future, I see a lot of improvements in quality and even on Facebook like not a lot of you know the burning and training business is basically disappearing from the platform basically Facebook is not allowing people to be scamming other people that are you know delaying packages or items but take more than 30 days to arrive, also the customers that are pissed off because you know they were advertising one thing and what they got is another thing.
So, I do really think that what’s going to happen is that a lot of drop shipping businesses will have to switch to private labelling than branded e-Commerce which is basically you know one of the best ways that Nathan can help you through Sourcified.
I really think your platform will basically be helping in the short and long run; a lot of businesses and I just really, really see that this will be for good not for bad because that this will basically you know separate all the mediocre marketers from really the people that are really want to build the brand, people that want to deliver value, quality and really make sure that their customers are happy.
I really think that everything happens for a reason, his has happened you know late it was kind of what merchant processors were like back in the day, they basically didn’t care. What they only care about was their commission but like I said, the law of impermanence will basically let you know that nothing will be remaining the same, everything will be changing so it’s like survival of the fittest you just have to keep learning, keep surrounding yourself with smarter people.
And that has been something that has allowed me to go from point A to Point B-C-D-E-F-G. because I’ve learned something from years is that I hate to be the smartest only room because I like to learn and I like to surround myself with smarter people so I can ask them questions and you know one comment —- it will really help people understand a lot of impermanence is basically just you know learning from other people and one thing that will change your life; it’s just one conversation, one comment can basically change your life.
Nathan: I mean I love that mindset and I think it’s so important as an e-Commerce entrepreneur and entrepreneurs in general is to always be learning. And speaking of the current American administration and especially this trade wars, it’s really been affecting our business at Sourcified but we’re diversifying supply chains outside of China extremely fast and we were running more and more production in Vietnam, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Italian and I would thought it be at this time and really incredible to be able to transition this fast you know like you said, you got to be like water, you’ve got to adaptable, you’ve got to be able to adjust with the current times.
Really Fabian, I appreciate you spending time to come on and share this knowledge and you know really, I think the last question that I want to ask is if you were to do it all over again, what are those learning that you had that you could share with the listeners right now? Or is there a certain point in your experience as an e-Commerce entrepreneur that you learned the most? There’s a certain route that you’ve taken that’s given you more insight and I mean how would you put it all together for someone that’s listening and looking to learn as much as they can?
Fabian: Well, like I said at the beginning for me the most important part it’s like learning from your mistakes; we’re entrepreneurs and we’re going to keep making mistakes. I actually keep making mistakes and you know I’m not perfect; I’m human but the most important thing at least that has impacted me the most is humbleness.
You cannot expect to be the best at everything, you cannot expect to be the smartest guy in the room, you can’t expect to have every single campaign to be a winning campaign. I think what really has helped me to understand this is basically my failures; learning from a failures and really making those little tweaks that at the end, those little tweaks are what are going to become or make you a better human.
Like there’s a saying that the devil is in the little details and it does so you better focus on what you can control and not drive the energy like most people do with things that they can’t control. For example, the people that can just complain about taxes, “Oh taxes are getting higher and higher and higher”
What’s the best way so you can let’s say not feel bad and focus on doing other stuff like generating more revenue, finding ways of income that you can basically get so that’s specific increasing in taxes in this specific example doesn’t affect you in a way that basically now you’re dragged into a negativity vortex that will basically impact your health, your wealth and your life.
Nathan: I love that!
Fabian: So that was kind of one thing and also, something that I’m the type of guy that you know I don’t like to rewrite my story because you know it’s been a journey and I love adventure from you know I believe since I was in my mom’s womb you know, I just try to appreciate and you know be really grateful for the life I live, for me quitting my job and becoming entrepreneur has been the biggest gift I ever got for myself because every single day that I woke up, I know that every single ounce of energy that I put into my day is for my brighter and better future.
So, the best thing that I you know– the most important let’s see thing you can make out of you know there’s probably a conversation is just be grateful, be humble and always hungry and never stop dreaming.
Nathan: I love that, I love that; Fabian, thank you so much for joining us on e-Commerce On Top. For everyone listening, you know we release new episodes every 2weeks and we are always excited to share knowledge on e-Commerce, the current trends in the supply chain and as always if you have any e-Commerce or manufacturing questions feel free to ask Sourcified.
Fabian, if someone wanted to reach out and talk to you personally what’s the best way to get in touch?
Fabian: First of all, thank you very much for having me guys, it’s been a pleasure, I love being able to talk so much with big that asses like Nathan. And I really get inspired every single time that I get to talk to you, you’re a really a successful entrepreneur and Sourcified is a great company. I just wanted to take some time to thank you and appreciate you for the opportunity and if anybody’s out there and really want to touch base with me, you can reach me at Fabian —- on Facebook or on Instagram Fabiancourt.co or you can look at me at my agency website www.eprofitsagency.com
Nathan: Everyone there you have it, check out firstname.lastname@example.org and Fabian, thank you again for joining us on e-Commerce On Top.