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#351 – Starting An FBA Business With $100K?!

Today, Bradley speaks with Crystal Ren. After years of education started an Amazon business, and within two years, she exited her 7-figure per year company.
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45 minutes read

In this episode, we welcome Crystal Ren from Singapore to talk about her Amazon journey after Bradley watched a video that featured her. After years of education in four different countries, she always knew she had a passion for entrepreneurship and consumer products. Listen and learn all her strategies on how she was able to exit her 7-figure per year business in just two years! How to figure out your first E-commerce product, why having an exit plan from day one is important, how to find your brand’s personality, and what her plans are post-exit?

Make sure to listen to the very end. This episode will be a good one!

In episode 351 of the Serious Sellers Podcast, Bradley and Crystal discuss:

  • 02:00 – A Success Story Video Got Bradley Interested
  • 04:40 – Crystal’s Backstory
  • 07:40 – A Passion For Entrepreneurship And Consumer Products
  • 10:00 – How Crystal Got Started On Amazon
  • 14:20 – Figuring Out Her First Product
  • 15:30 – Finding Success In Textile Products And Expanding The Product Line
  • 16:00 – Starting A Business With A $100,000 Investment
  • 18:30 – Having An Exit Plan From Day One
  • 21:10 – Making A Random Product That Doesn’t Exist
  • 23:40 – Having A Generic Brand Name And Finding Your Brand’s Personality
  • 26:10 – Crystal’s Favorite Helium 10 Tools
  • 27:20 – How Long Is Her Brand’s Exit Roadmap?
  • 29:40 – What Does The Future Hold For Crystal After The Exit?
  • 30:40 – Crystal’s Wins And Losses Along The Way
  • 33:30 – How To Find The Right Exit Deal For Your Brand?
  • 37:00 – Crystal’s Thirty-Second Tips
  • 41:40 – How To Reach Out To Crystal

Transcript

Bradley Sutton:

We’re gonna talk to somebody who went to four different universities over six years in four different countries. But as soon as she graduated, what did she do? Started an Amazon business and within two years already exited her seven figure per year company. How cool is that? Pretty cool I think.

Bradley Sutton:

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Bradley Sutton:

That’s what happens when you’ve done like 350 episodes guys. And you’ve said the same thing. Sometimes you can’t even say it anymore, but anyways sometimes what I do on this show is I’ll just completely randomly either meet somebody or see like an article or a video somewhere. I’ll be like, oh man, this person sounds interesting. Their story. Like they seem like they have a good story. I don’t wanna like watch anymore of this video. I just wanna like see if I can find them and bring them on the podcast. I’ve done that a couple times before. You guys remember you know, Shan Shan and Schrone, you know, I heard his story before tons and tons of times I’ve just like found people that way randomly. And so I don’t know what it was, I think it was on LinkedIn and I’m connected to some people from Amazon Singapore, you know, I have a good relationship with Amazon Singapore.

Bradley Sutton:

We’ve been working together for a little bit. And then, so I was looking at one of my friends from Amazon’s feed and he put a YouTube video of like, of an Amazon video, like an Amazon YouTube channel. And it was like, Hey, here’s a success story of an Amazon seller. And I clicked on it. I was watching for 30 seconds. I was like, okay. This seems interesting. I wanna see if this person, first of all uses Helium 10. So then I checked the brand name and then I went to our customer service department. I was like, all right, guys, is there any accounts in Helium 10 that has this domain? Which I’m sure we’re gonna talk about it, but I already forgot what the domain is, but I, it was fresh in mind. And so I took it to the customer service and they’re like, yeah, yeah, there’s somebody who’s been a Helium 10 member for like three years.

Bradley Sutton:

And it’s this exact company name. I was like, Ooh, this must be them. So then I contacted my friend in Amazon. I’m like, Hey, you know, that video that you just put up of this lady who started this company named crystal? She’s like, yeah, yeah, I know that video. I was like, can you connect me with her? Because I wanna get her whole story on the podcast. And then within like two or three days, we got connected and then boom goes to dynamite. Here we are. And as it turns out, you said we actually met in person once before?

Crystal:

So we actually met twice, I would say so.

Bradley Sutton:

Twice. Now that’s pretty embarrassing, my memory is terrible.

Crystal:

It’s actually the Prosper show. I think I met you in a Helium 10 party. And then the next day I was with a friend of mine and then we were in the exhibition hall. So I think my friend talked to you, but I didn’t talk to myself because I, you know, like, so for me, I’m a very talk person, but every time I meet somebody famous, I just get nervous. And I just–

Bradley Sutton:

Well, don’t feel like that with me.

Crystal:

I just couldn’t–

Bradley Sutton:

But I don’t feel so bad. Now if it was that Prosper Show, like, you know, there was like, you know, thousands of people. So, I mean, people know my memory’s bad, but now I don’t feel so bad because like, if we were to talk, who are you with?

Crystal:

I was with Mitul Patel.

Bradley Sutton:

Oh, Mitul. Yes. That’s. I’ve known him for like four years. And he was on the podcast about 20 or 30 episodes and go. Yep. Yep. Yep. Mitul is. It’s a small world guys for sure. It’s crazy how we get connected.

Crystal:

You guys were talking about baseball cards at the time when we met.

Bradley Sutton:

Yep. That’s us. Absolutely. We’re always talking about baseball cards. Yes. All right. Now what piqued my interests like already, like I said, my memory’s bad or, but you know, something that was like, what in the world, the very first thing was it said that you started your Amazon business with a hundred thousand dollars investment. So let’s not jump there yet, but I wanted to say that now, because I know I’m gonna forget it in a little bit, but let me start at the beginning. Where were you born and raised?

Crystal:

So, yeah, I was born and raised in China. So I’m Chinese and I was from a place it’s called Hangzhou. So where, you know, Alibaba is from, it’s an e-commerce hub, coincidentally until I was 20 years old, then I moved to California initially, actually, and then I moved to Canada and now I’m in Singapore.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So you’ve been all over the place now. Did you come to Canada for university or something? Or what brought you to North America?

Crystal:

Yeah, so initially I was at UC Davis. I was there for exchange students. I was, you know, exchange semester.

Bradley Sutton:

Well, UC Davis isn’t that like a lot of farmers or something go to Agriculture.

Crystal:

Yes. Yes. The agriculture department was very good. Okay. But I was so initially I was studying computer science in China. And then I wanted to change, change my major. So I changed to economics and psychology and finance. So after the exchange quarter at UC Davis, I officially transferred to Canada. So I actually went to the University of Alberta you know, which is in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada. I’m not sure if you know.

Bradley Sutton:

Yep. I just went there for the first time.

Crystal:

Oh, interesting.

Bradley Sutton:

For Amazon conference. The AMZ One Step is based out of there. They’re a company who just does a lot of content with us and they hosted a conference and it was, and one of my employees, you know, on my actual team, Lailama Hasan, she lives in Edmonton, Oiler country.

Crystal:

Yeah, exactly. They’re in the playoff right now. So I was there for three and a half years for my university. And after that, I moved to Calgary which is another city in Alberta for two and a half years. I worked there and then I came to–

Bradley Sutton:

What did you do for work over?

Crystal:

Yeah, so I worked for Ernest and Young as a management consultant. And after that, I moved to Singapore for my MBA. And then after that, I–

Bradley Sutton:

That’s a lot of schools, beautiful. I know it sounds like you’ve been in school for years and years and years.

Crystal:

It’s way too much education. You know, I try to be a good Asian girl when I was in my twenties and I wanna please my parents and, you know, whatever they’re really hard to please. But then after yeah, so I moved to Singapore for my MBA and then I graduated work here for a few years, and then I started my Amazon business.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So you, I mean, I don’t know that sounds like, you know, 6, 8, 10 years of schooling, it obviously wasn’t for a degree in Amazon. So you studied all these things now, what made you say, you know what, I’m not sure if I’m gonna get into this field, let me go ahead and start a business on Amazon that’s not like a normal jump after eight, eight years of school to do that. So what was the thought process there? How did you discover the Amazon opportunity and decide that that was the way to go for it?

Crystal:

Right. So I mean, first of all, you know, my MBA study was only one year, so that helped with a little bit of a saving time. But I definitely always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I just kind of knew that I wanna do this for a long time. And it’s really just because of immigration issues when I was in Canada, you know, cuz I need to get my permanent residence and yada yada. So like I was on a visa like I just could never do it. But in the meantime, I was always trying to hash out ideas with my friends. You know, we’re thinking about software ideas. We’re thinking about financial service ideas. We’re thinking about a bunch of ideas, but my true passion was always in consumer products that I knew because I had this habit ever since I was a kid, I would go to supermarkets with my parents and I would go grocery shopping every week.

Crystal:

But somehow I was always able to pick up the most expensive item on the aisle because I had an eye for PR product packaging. So I won’t even look at the price. I just knew this one is what I like and what I like is always the most expensive item, you know because they’re just so well put together. Right? So like, I just love that process of like figure out the products, you know, what they do and the packaging, the color they use, the design, and what makes them attractive to consumers. And I think that I just always was like that. And unfortunately, I actually wanted to do consumer products in my consulting as well, consulting journey, but I was never able to do that. So in the end I just had this yearning, you know, in my head and even in my MBA essay you know, application essay as said that I wanna start my own business.

Crystal:

So I’ve traveled to Singapore, I worked a little bit, you know, in consulting again. And I just knew that was not for me. And at that time I got my Singapore PR as well, you know, which is, you know, permanent resident, which means you can quit a job and you can just work, right. Like a normal person. You don’t need to work in another job anymore other cuz you know if you don’t have a PR and if it’s like an American green card, right. If you don’t have a green card, you’re on a visa, then if you don’t have a job, then you’ll be kicked out of the country within a few months. Right. So at that time I had my PR I had my freedom and I think the second day I got my PR, I registered my company in Singapore. So that’s–

Bradley Sutton:

The company that you’re gonna start for Amazon.

Crystal:

Yes. Yes. And so that’s–

Bradley Sutton:

So you already decided like, you know, in your mind, Hey, this is Amazon, but, but still like how did you even know about Amazon? Like, you know, like, like I said, this is not something you study in school. Did you just find this online or for sure you get a friend doing it or what?

Crystal:

Yeah. So, I have a friend who’s also an entrepreneur and he came to visit me from Vancouver. And I told him, I was like, Hey, you know, like I really wanna start my own thing, but I don’t know what that is. I wanted to do something consumer goose related. And he said that, you know, like, why don’t you look into Amazon? You know, apparently, he said, kids, these days make a lot of money on Amazon. And I was like, okay, that sounds interesting. And so I started to look on YouTube actually. And as a lot of other people, I actually took a class, a course on Amazon. Okay. And and then I was like, wow, this is really makes sense. I still remember, you know, the guy he talk about supply and demand. He was like, you know, this is a product supply and demand. You always wanna find something that is in high demand below supply, yada yada, basically econ 101. And I was like, this makes total sense. I wanna do this and I burn through the course and I literally just registered my account that week. And then I registered for my company as soon as I got my PR.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Now hold on. You registered your company now at that point though, like, did you make a company name that kind of had to do with the product that you ended up making?

Crystal:

No, absolutely not. So initially I was actually wanted to do– So I had a business partnership initially and he was from New York while he lived there and we wanted to start a company that in travel space, you know, so we wanted to make, you know, some like travel kids for people so they can kind of have whatever they need when they’re on a trip, but unfortunately, you know, the pandemic hit, but do think that we actually didn’t pursue that role because otherwise, that would end as a disaster.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. 2020 the travel niche was not exactly a good way to go on Amazon.

Crystal:

No, a hundred percent now, but we didn’t know that. Right. Cause we started brainstorming it of course in 2019.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So you made the company name, but, and then you’re like, okay, this is just maybe a generic company name. Now let’s go ahead and start doing product research and decide what to sell?

Crystal:

Yeah. So what happens is that we actually did a focus, me and him, and then we decided abound so that, you know, that’s a company name and based on a lot of people’s feedback on travel. Right. So, you know, we’re, we’re thinking about, okay, what, what are the names that people resonate with when they are traveling to go somewhere. So basically we come up with a bound, right. And I added lifestyle at the end because, okay. So what happens is that he took a job with McKenzie and he didn’t wanna do this anymore. So I decided to do this myself. And I, at the time was thinking about in home decor instead of travel because, you know, I was thinking, you know, like I’m more passionate about home, so I’m just gonna start something with home now that he’s gone. So then I added lifestyle after Abound. Right. Cause you know, Abound is more kind of like travel name. I added Abound Lifestyle, it’s more kind of a lifestyle brand. So that’s where the name came from. Okay.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Now you’re living in Singapore at this time?

Crystal:

Yes.

Bradley Sutton:

And what was the process like for you being a– Now wait at this time, what was your citizenship?

Crystal:

Well, yeah, so I’ve always been Chinese. I’m still Chinese right now.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So then when you applied to sell in North America, you applied as a Chinese citizen, living in Singapore?

Crystal:

This is actually tied to the company. So the company in Singapore company, it doesn’t really matter what citizenship you have. You can always have you know, companies in different countries. Right. So, when I was in Canada, had my own company as well as a Canadian company.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Okay. So then, you know, I get this question a lot, you know, people who live in other countries are like, oh man, how do I, you know, is it too hard to set up, you know, I’m not a citizen of America, how do I set up an Amazon USA account? And that, that what you just said, it is the easier way as opposed to trying to do it and, you know, show you have to have a call sometimes. Right. I think that actually nowadays you have to do that now. You know, with passport and stuff, but when you have a company it’s a lot better process. Okay. So, so you started now, you decided on the company name. Yeah. Started your Amazon account. What was your process on like actually figuring out what was the exact first product you were gonna do and what was the first product that you ended up launching?

Crystal:

Yeah, so I was looking to a bunch of different products and I would say like, it’s no magical formula. Right. You kind of just need to try and see. I would say it is really just throwing, you know, met on the, well, I see, which was sticks at the time and initially I was doing this thing and, you know, as I remember, it’s a USB light, so it’s like a light where you insert into your car USB port or your laptop and it kind of like lights up the seating. Right. So it has like Rolls Royce kind of like, you know, star lights whatever you call it. And then so I was doing that and it was a very cheap product, it was $10. Literally super saturated, competitive market. Wasn’t making any money, wasn’t sounding anything.

Crystal:

And I was like, well, this is harder than I expected. But then, you know, I kept trying and I basically started to sell, you know, textile products and you know, I started to sell, you know, I think our biggest, you know, best seller product is chunk in a blanket, and it did really well. And I started to just kind of pile along other product ideas as an extension of that brand, you know? So we started to sell, rugs, bath mats, pillows, curtains, et cetera, bathing. So, that’s where this whole brand come from.

Bradley Sutton:

Where does this a hundred thousand dollars startup come? Like was it for your first X number of products or like you, you invested that much all at once or talk about that. Cause that was what blew me. That was what I was say. Alright, I’m gonna pause right here. Cause that’s crazy. I have never met somebody one person who put in this much money.

Crystal:

Yeah. Okay. So, so I would say, first of all, that’s my saving. Right. And I would say like, that was my entire saving at the time after B score, you know, paid off all the tuition fee and everything mm-hmm. So I literally report everything I had to the business because, and it’s not, you know, altogether. Right. Cuz that’s kind of like, that’s not necessary. Right. Like I didn’t want it to not prove something and then put that much money. Right. I only wanted to put that much money when something is proven. So when I started to sell chocolatey blankets, it really kind of blew up. And the first year it was just doing better and better and I was constantly out of stock. And then I would say the first year I put a hundred or like the total of a hundred thousand dollars into the business. So that was after–

Bradley Sutton:

How many products was that.

Crystal:

So I would say most of the money went to that SKU like went to that parent product. And I would say at the time I probably had four SKUs.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Okay. So then in your, like, I don’t know your first six months, what was your gross sales approximately? I know it’s kinda hard.

Crystal:

Thing to remember. It’s a little bit hard to think about it right now, but I think at the time, oh gosh. So first of all, it’s more, more of a seasonal product. So we did sell the most during November and December. So I’ll say the first few months. Okay. The first three months was probably, something about 100k like nothing too spectacular. Right. And it really started to pick up around September.

Bradley Sutton:

Oh yeah. Nothing hundred thousand dollars.

Crystal:

In total.

Bradley Sutton:

That’s good. That’s good.

Crystal:

But, but yeah, I mean, compared to the winter numbers. Right. Cause that was like–

Bradley Sutton:

Sure, sure, sure. Okay. All right. So I’m assuming the LED light failed or you gave up on it or?

Crystal:

I mean, I was like, this is not going anywhere. Like, nah, I just gave up on it.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So that’s good. You know, some people like they get so emotionally attached to their first product and they’re like, no, I gotta just keep doing, I gotta try whatever it takes, keep this going. But I like that attitude like, Hey, you can see it. Wasn’t making money for you. This is not a home run. We gotta go ahead and stop this and move to something else. Now from, from day one, did you already have in mind an exit, you know, because you know, in those days, you know, 2020, you know, 2019, 2020, all of a sudden now people were starting to get to know about like aggregators and exiting your business, whereas like 2018, 2017, almost nobody was talking about those kind of things. So when you were first starting, did you already have that in mind? Like Hmm. You know, it would be nice if I can build this brand up and sell it or were you like, you know what, I just wanna build this brand up and see it can, you know, make me a lot of money by itself.

Crystal:

Yeah. So, I think there’s a limit for me cuz I, I did have a little bit of business education, so like we were taught a lot. Right. even in school, like you know, exit. And then I remember when I first started off in, you know, this business cuz you know, I wasn’t sure if it’s gonna be Amazon business or a Shopify or not. Right. And I remember talking to an angel investor and he said that you should always build your business from the exit and backward. Right. So always have an exiting mind while you build your business. Right. Doesn’t matter whether you excited or not, but it’s always good so that you know what to look for. So that’s what I had in mind, even, you know, like I think I had this, you know, I think the sheet that I wrote down a bunch of goals on and in my study and I think the time I was thinking about exiting five years. It came a little bit earlier than that later on, but I definitely had that as a goal.

Bradley Sutton:

All right. And I’m looking at your, your website you know, and I can see I’m not sure which are newer products or which were the products when you were running things, but are you the one who developed this concha bread pillow, the Mexican padded pillow.

Crystal:

So, I mean, that’s an interesting story cuz we did have an intern who was actually a Mexican Chinese. So–

Bradley Sutton:

A Mexican, Chinese?

Crystal:

And she lived in Hong Kong. Right. And so it’s kind of like a mix of interest.

Bradley Sutton:

Who lives in Hong Kong. Oh my goodness.

Crystal:

It’s the background there. And then she speaks fluent English, but you know, her Spanish is better, I would say. And so she was interning with us as a marketing intern and she was looking to different product ideas and then she found the concha pillow idea and I had no idea what was concha. I don’t think I had a contract in my life and she said, oh my gosh, this is like huge in Mexico. Like I, you know, like it would be like, you know, very good as a pillow idea. So I started to do my research on Amazon. I found out there was only one seller. And so that’s why, you know, I was like, okay, you know, like we need to get onto this like tomorrow, you know, because it fits the bread image very well. And you know, like it’s also so novel and you know, I just love that idea. So we kind of developed products around that, but it’s completely an accident.

Bradley Sutton:

So, so it was just a completely random idea.

Crystal:

It’s a random idea.

Bradley Sutton:

That one of your employees had. Yes. Okay. So now, like you said, this was only like one company doing it, so it’s not like, Hey, there’s so much of it. And you could find like a million companies on Alibaba who already have this design. Right. So I’m assuming you had to design this yourself. And so what was that process like? So did you have your friend kind of like come up with a design for you? And then you just found a generic pillow company and said, Hey, can you guys make this? Or what’s the process on making something that kind of doesn’t exist out there? Yeah.

Crystal:

So I would say, I mean, first of all, like, you know, it’s not like nobody’s selling it. Right. So we did have a little bit of idea for how would the shape will look like. But also I think what really helped was that we look at, you know, the food, right? Like the concha itself and then I basically, just kind of like sent to my supplier and be like, Hey, can you make a few different versions of this and then send it to me? And then I’ll see which one is the best. And I had a few different versions and I actually launched a PickFu survey on them. And then I picked the most like the most well liked one. And on top of that, you know, obviously like there’s some other pillows, other samples that might look even more like a concha, but it wasn’t that classy. So I felt like it didn’t really fit into the bread image as well. So I basically just chose the one that is the most elegant, but also the most well liked. And I could see that as a staple item, you know, like not like too out of there or something that in people’s home.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. All right. Cool. All right. What about, I was looking at the store another and I’m just taking advantage of this because I know that the company is, is public. You know, usually you, you know, how Amazon sellers are. Oh my goodness. You know you, I don’t care if it was a product I sold 10 years ago. I can never tell you what it is, but, you know, on, on that YouTube video, you said what your brand was and you’re ready, said what your brand was. So anyways, another top seller is get naked bath mat. So where did that idea come from?

Crystal:

Yeah. So I would say that is also okay. So after you have a brand, right, and after you have a few different products, you started to get the idea of what your brand’s personality is. So I always wanted to have it to be a little bit more kind of humorous, personable, colorful, not just a point, you know, not just a black and white, whatever, you know, kind of a standard Ikea. Right. So and that’s why I was looking for those products that kind of fit into that mode. So get naked. I mean, like get naked it fits into that, you know, a hundred percent. Right. So and this, you know, also, you know, based on a lot of research on Amazon, we found that there is a market for that. And that’s why we just started to, you know, do the bath mat I was also doing really well. And then, so we launched more vari variations after that.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. So guys here’s another lesson, you know, once you do start a brand on Amazon and you’re trying to build up the brand, you know, don’t, don’t try and just put yourself in a box. You know, this was all under the same brand that she made a brand name. That was, I don’t want any to necessarily use the word generic because sometimes it has a bad connotation, but it was broad enough where a bound lifestyle that that’s the yeah. A bound lifestyle where it could, you know, there’s a number of things that she could do under it. So let, I don’t know which product was first, but let’s just say the first product she made was, or one of the first one was the pillow. Now somebody might think, okay, well, what other pillows can I make?

Bradley Sutton:

Or maybe a blanket or other bedroom things or something that’s for sofas like this pillow was, but she went to another room in the house and what somebody might not think is even related to each other, which is something for the bathroom. And like with a funny, comedic message on it. So guys, when you’re thinking about expanding your brand, you know, now, if you made a brand name that is, you know, dog foods for us, well, you’re kind of stuck to making dog food, you know? But, but if you, if you have a, a more broad name like Crystal did, you know, think outside of the box and, and, you know, I’m looking at the, her, the storefront here and a lot of equal sales here, but it’s all over the place, you know, I see I see a succulent pillow. I see a beach towel. I mean, that’s not even for the house. I mean, there’s just like a big variety of stuff here. And I think that’s maybe part of your success now. Like you had said before you switched early on to Helium 10 what did you, or your team, like, what did you use Helium 10 for? Like, what were your, like go-to tools on that you were using?

Crystal:

Okay. we kind of used everything, right. So I mean, like Helium 10 is such a great tour and I think that one of the good things about you guys, you guys always listen to people’s feedback and then come up with better and better tools. So I just felt like you know, what I know about Helium 10 say a year ago is completely different from now. Right? So, but, you know, there’s always a few trackers that we absolutely always go to, like, for example, the Market Tracker right. And then the competitor tracker or I actually can’t even remember it anymore because I don’t know whether I told you, but I did exit on this brand a month ago. Yes.

Bradley Sutton:

I saw that. Yeah. Somebody mentioned that to me.

Crystal:

So I took a little break and as a result, I can’t remember exactly the name is anymore, but, you know, the, the market tracker for sure. And the competitor and I think profitability and, you know, pretty Black Box, you know, pretty much everything like, you know, everything, but I will say, you know, the one that really is, you know, the one that adds the most value to us is a Market Tracker. Cause the ranking you need to track every day. Right. Otherwise, we’ll drop the ball. Yep.

Bradley Sutton:

Absolutely. Now, like you mentioned, you exited your brand. What, how did that get on the roadmap? Right? Like, did you start looking? Yeah. Or did somebody contact you first and yeah. And do you remember when approximately that was, well,

Crystal:

You know what, like, it is funny cuz actually a year into you know, the establishment of the brand somebody already reached out to me, one of the aggregators and they wanted me to sell to now I didn’t sell to the aggregator. I sell to somebody else, but–

Bradley Sutton:

Why not? What stopped you that first time? Okay.

Crystal:

Okay. So there was something in it where I guess eventually the price that they wanted to give it to us was just not what I was looking for. So I mean, that stopped it, but basically, I wasn’t even thinking about it cause I was like, okay, well, you know, I was thinking, give myself another year, and but then since they contacted me and then I started to kind of getting ready for the sales. Right. So I started to hire advisors, doing my books, clean it up and you know, so yeah, I mean like, so I would say that entire process probably took, I would say you know, like more than six months to a year.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Six months to a year of getting kind of like your making sure everything is in order so that once, you know, a deal did come your way you know, it would’ve been a much faster process since you had everything prepared.

Crystal:

No, actually, so, that preparation process only took a month, but it was the entire zoning process. Right. So from like, you know getting attention to negotiating, to finding exiting. Now, I also had two deals falling through, so, so that’s why like, you know, it took a little bit longer.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. So then was it an aggregator or just a regular person or a broker or like what did you end up deciding to do as far as who you sell to?

Crystal:

Aggregator was more of an investment company. So yeah, but I couldn’t say more just because you know, it’s confidentiality.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. I was just curious, you know there’s no right answer to that. You know, some people use brokers, some people just sell to a friend, you know, some people, you know investment companies like you aggregators there’s no, you know, like right or wrong way as long as you’re happy with the deal. So now, you know, you sold, you know, you got a decent payday, you know, out of it, that’s allowed you to kick back and just kind of relax for a little bit, but what’s the future hold for you? Like, are you gonna go back into Amazon? Are you gonna go into something else? What’s your plan?

Crystal:

Yeah. So I think, you know, to be honest with you, I think I have ADHD. So I can’t really just kind of like, you know, chill on the beach. Like that’s just not my personality. So I’ve been thinking about my next business even before I sold this business. And I definitely wanted to do more in consumer good space and, you know, obviously on Amazon as well as you know, off Amazon. So, you know, I’ve been brainstorming that I’ve been doing a lot of market research not sure when everything will, you know, come together, but you know, like I’ve been doing a lot of thinking around my next brand.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. All right. Now, you know, looking back, I mean your life cycle on Amazon was pretty, pretty quick. You know, actually, it’s, you know, wasn’t that long. It’s not like you, oh, I was building up my business for 10 years and finally exited. It was just a couple of years here. So looking back on these couple of years that you were on Amazon what are some of the mistakes you made that if you had to do it over you, would’ve done it over again other than the LED light, you know, you know about that, but what other mistakes and what are some kind of like unique things other than listening to your very interesting nationality of an employee who had a crazy off the wall idea, but like what were some more kind of like wins and losses you had along the way?

Crystal:

Oh yeah. I think I’ve definitely learned so much from, you know, this you know, I would say first business idea that I have. And I think the biggest lesson learned is that you know, okay, so, and this is not a lot of gurus, don’t tell you. Right. And it is that you, if you wanted to do baking anything, right. Amazon included, whatever other business is that you really need to have that infrastructure. You need to have the system and to have the people in place right to help you grow that. Because what happens is that, you know, I think a lot of those courses out there, they just like, it’s almost like they’re teaching you to make a quick buck. And then so they’re like, okay, you know, you pick this product, you do this thing and then boom, you’re gonna make money.

Crystal:

Yeah, sure, you’ll make money, but it’s gonna be very short term. Right? Like, how are you gonna sustain that? Because like on any company, right. Doesn’t matter whether it’s 10 people company, a hundred people are punk. You need to have the support, right. To help you grow, especially when you’re growing a fast pace, like you as a person is not gonna sustain that pace anymore. So I did have a team, right? But then I was reaching to that point when I felt like I couldn’t train them anymore. Right. So basically it was going, going from zero to one and one to 10. Right. So I was at that one stage where I was like, okay, like can I even scale it further because I don’t have the expertise to train them anymore. Right. And I need to hire experts.

Crystal:

So I felt like if you have that structure set up a little bit earlier in your journey so that you don’t need to kind of scramble when you’re already at the place where you’re still doing your day to day operations, right. Like you’re still like, kind of like need to like micromanaging a lot of things, and you kind of burn yourself out. You already know, like this, person’s here doing this. This is a department, this is a department for this, right? Like, as you grow, you also need to grow your structure. It will be a lot more manageable and it will actually help you grow faster and longer. So I would say that’s you know, one lesson that I take with me for my next business, I think a lot of people, if you wanted to build a big Amazon business, not just kind of like, you know, fly by, make a quick buck, and then I caught it quit. You need to have that mentality of a company in mind.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. What about the exit process? I mean, like you said, you know, you said no to an aggregator. Yeah. And there was two other deals that fell through, you know, there, there are some people out there who maybe might get so excited. That somebody’s interested in their brand, that they might take a deal that maybe they shouldn’t, but you didn’t do that. You know? So, what are some things that you can maybe teach other people about, like what, what made you stop doing those deals and like how people can kind of have self-control and make sure that they’re, they’re getting the right deal that’s really good for their brand?

Crystal:

Right. So I think you know, for that, like, I’m all about like giving people reality checks, cuz I think that this kind of things is people like, you know, normally they don’t tell you, like they just tell you the sunshine and rainbows, but that is not the reality. Right. So like, I think the reality is that, you know, and it’s not just aggregators, it’s a lot of companies when they approach you to do deals, right? Like they were obviously trying to give you the greatest picture and be like, Hey, you know, like we giving you this price. So they try to hook you in until you sign the letter of intent and then you go into the process and you know, what they do is that they will lower the price and you know, they were gonna pick on this because then the owner exclusivity.

Crystal:

Right. So like, I think that as a seller yourself, like you should always kind of like have been realistic, you know, like a lot of companies approach you doesn’t mean that all of them are equally sincere. Right. Doesn’t mean that you know, like they really see the value of your brand like you see it. So like, I think that the biggest lesson learned from me is that you almost need to really like, kind of like push that emotion of yours away from the process because you know, like things happen, like maybe they discover something they don’t like, or maybe, you know like their own company has some financing situation. They need to take care of. Maybe there’s a strategic change in their company’s direction that they end up not being interested in you or, so a lot of things could happen, right?

Crystal:

And you just really need to kind of know that like running your business is like number one priority and not be distracted by the offers, you know, the DD process and whatever, whatnot, other things you need to understand that as long as you run your business and your business is growing, there’s always gonna be offers. And even if you don’t sell, like it’s a steady stream of income and it’s only gonna be a better company if you put more effort into it. Right. So I would say that is the biggest, lesson learned. And now another thing is turning down the offer. So I would say, you know, as long as you have that mentality, right? So don’t think that, okay, my gosh, if I don’t sell my life is over. Like, don’t have that desperation. As long as your focus is on the growth of the business. Like you will be having such a clear mind that if you don’t like an offer, you will reject it. And if you like an offer and if something happens you are okay with not taking it or falling, you know, this falling through as well. So that is my biggest lesson learned, you know, that’s such a painful process.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Yeah. That’s important. You know, like I said, you know, I know a lot of people who might not have this, the self control and maybe they would’ve taken one of those earlier things and they would’ve ended up with a lot less money or even more headaches, you know, with the deal. So that’s important information, you know, something we do on the show is we ask our guests to give what we call the “TST” 30-second tip. So maybe you can give one or two different strategies. You know, you talked about different strategies throughout this episode about how you found the products and your process of exiting, but maybe something that’s a little bit faster, like a 30-second to one minute couple strategies either about how you found products, how you marketed them, how you did your PPC. I mean, how to live in 17,000 countries. Like it could be a tip about anything. So maybe it can give us one or two tips.

Crystal:

Yeah. Okay. Sounds good. So I would say a few things, right. And I wanted to talk about more of like philosophical tips. So the first one is I think very important is you need to know who you are. So in this business, not only Amazon but eCommerce in general, like, are you a mercenary or that you need something else. Right? So some people they’re only, you know, if they make money, they’re fine. Right. But if you are one of those people who you need to wanted to have the pride in your brand, you know, you wanted to serve people and you wanted to make something better, then you need to spend a lot more time in RND. You need to have a longer vision of your brand is. And you also need to kind of, you know, like have more of a focus of building that community.

Crystal:

So that’s the first one. And the second one is, I would say, you know, there’s a saying, genius is the one most like himself. So don’t try to be somebody else, right? Like in this Amazon world where a lot of people they’re like, oh my gosh, like somebody is a eight figure seller, you know, nine figure seller. Like I wanted to do that. Right. But I felt like you can never be some somebody else. So you need to find your strength and you need to use that every single day so that you can reach to their height one day, but in a different way. And the third I would say is find your superpower. So like, you know, some people maybe they have, I think everybody of us have quirks, right. So, you know, some people might have OCD like, you know, ADHD, Autism, whatever, but you can channel that superpower in entrepreneurship so that you can focus on how to leverage your correctness into something instead of, you know, be like, okay, I need to fix this. I need to do finance. I need to do everything, right? So you can all sort those things. And you can just focus on your superpower as you scale.

Bradley Sutton:

I like it. I like it. All right. Well you know, like you said, which I forgot we met at a Prosper Show, so you definitely see the value in, you know, like going to conferences and networking and things like that. So did you hear about our big event that we’re doing in Las Vegas is here in September the Sell and Scale Summit? Yeah,

Crystal:

I heard about it. Yeah. It sounds very interesting.

Bradley Sutton:

Yeah. So guys make sure come I’m gonna try and convince Crystal to come back to the Amazon world and, and come out there. But you know, we’re gonna have Gary Vee there speaking Nelly, performing, it’s gonna be a really great conference. So if you guys haven’t got your tickets yet, make sure to go to h10.me/s3, and I’ll give you a special coupon code to save $100 off. Guys, save $100 off your Sell and Scale summit ticket. The coupon code is S3BS100, “BS” yes. Aren’t those great initials that I have there S3BS100 guys save $100 off and we’ll try and get Crystal there. So you can ask her more, more questions. So Crystal, thank you so much for joining it. It’s really great to see your story, and like 95% of this.

Crystal:

Thank you, Bradley.

Bradley Sutton:

I didn’t know. But I usually go with my gut, like, I’ll know, within like two minutes of hearing about somebody’s story. If I think they, they have an interesting Amazon life story and sure enough, you did. So I’m happy that I saw that video of you and that you came on here and told your story and hopefully, it inspire other people look at this guys, you know, she went from going years in college, but then she’s like, you know what, I know what I wanna do this Amazon thing is the, is the way to go. She, she jumped into it. And then, you know, within two, three years, she’s already exiting. And you know, we don’t know how much money she made here, but it was nice enough where she’s just like been kicking back the last few months and enjoying life. And so that’s, you’ve got made Crystal. I like that. And I hope other people are inspired too, that maybe they can, they can follow in your footsteps.

Crystal:

Yeah. I mean you know, I would say in life, like increasing start to realize that you just need to do whatever makes you happy. You know, like if you’re stuck in a corporate job, you hate it. You know, honestly how many years of life, you know, should you waste? Right. So the single most important thing is that you should not waste your happiness on anything. That’s not worth it.

Bradley Sutton:

Yep, absolutely. Absolutely. All right, Crystal. Well, hopefully we’ll see you in Vegas this year, if not keep in touch and hopefully, we can get you back on Amazon and making your second successful.

Crystal:

Well, so Bradley, I, there is one thing that I wanna mention is the, for my next business. Okay. I do have a direction where I wanted to focus a little bit more on mental health, but also consumer goods, you know, maybe in sense space. I’m not sure yet, but I do wanna let people know that if there’s anybody who’s interesting, similar topics you know, feel free to reach out to me. I’m open to ideas and potential partnerships. So yeah, that’s definitely something that I’m passionate

Bradley Sutton:

About. How can people find you on the interrupts?

Crystal:

Yeah. Okay. Yeah. So they can find me on either Instagram. So it’s Crystal Ren, but it’s X, so @xtalren or LinkedIn Crystal Ran. But you know, maybe typing Singapore cuz there’s many of them you’ll find the same profile picture, so easy to find me.

Bradley Sutton:

Okay. Awesome. All right. Well thank you crystal for joining us and we’ll be seeing you soon.

Crystal:

Yeah. Thank you. Bradley. See you, bye.


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