Ryan Mulvany 8:51
Well, I knew that the model that I had been operating on where like, for instance, go back a year or two before we started Quiverr. I was for a hot minute. Isagenix number one seller and Isagenix, for those who don’t know, it’s a big MLM company. And I was their number one seller, because I was the only one selling their systems on Amazon. And I didn’t know that I wasn’t allowed to do that until I got a call one day and they said, we can’t believe it. You’re making whoever I signed up underneath, I don’t even know what the state code was. They’re like, that person is so happy with you. How are you doing this? And I was like, I’m just selling it on Amazon. And they’re like, oh, and like, within two days later, my account was turned off. And I was like, oh, I guess they don’t want it on Amazon because I don’t fall under the same rules and standards that their normal sales team would follow under. And so at that point, I was like, I could either keep being annoying to brands, or I could work with brands that I at least have a dialogue with. And so I at least had a dialogue with the brands. I didn’t ask for exclusivity at that point. And then two years later, we said hey, you know what, with exclusivity comes a lot of good things it you have a consistent consumer experience. If you can drive as a result, better reviews probably for the product, you can control the content, you can control the pricing, there’s a lot of benefits to having less sellers on Amazon.
Jeremy Weisz 10:12
So over time were you doing once you had a few successful brands on your belt, what was it like as far as acquiring more customers, or clients?
Ryan Mulvany 10:25
It was largely referral based. And, you know, we did beauty health, personal care was sort of where we lean in, we did stuff outside of those categories. And, but quickly learned that that was sort of our sweet spot. At one point, I think our website contact us form was broken for like six months. And we figured it out and her like 300 leads in there that were like, good. We had to like, tail between our legs, reach out to them and be like, sorry, our Contact Us form was broken. But we there was just enough, there was enough inbound that, you know, I guess that they found us elsewhere or call us or something that we didn’t seem to notice.
Jeremy Weisz 11:03
Let’s talk about, your advice to some of these brands and what you do with them and just take Drunk Elephant as an example. What did they do?
Ryan Mulvany 11:15
Yeah, Drunk Elephant came in sort of a unique situation. Later in 2017, we went to the market, we had decent enough growth that we thought we could potentially sell. And so during that process, we talked to a number of strategics, a number of private equity companies. And at the time, I didn’t even know what private equity was until they were sitting across from you know, what is it you do, and one of them in particular was called VMG. Velocity Make Good. And I think they gave me sort of a warped, positive perspective of what PE should be, because I’ve talked to many PE since then. And they’ve sort of remained the golden standard to me. And they work with a lot of health, beauty, personal care brands. VMG works a lot of health, beauty personal care brands. And we didn’t end up selling to them, it was sort of amicable that we were, you know, they tended invest in brands, we were an agency, but we did then become a solutions partner with them. And their brands slotted really well into our model, because they were sort of out there trailblazing. And Amazon wasn’t a core focus of what they were doing. They were focusing more on the traditional retail channels. And then we could come in with an Amazon Strategy to normalize pricing, normalized consumer experience, give the consumer every advantage to purchase that product in store if they wanted to do it that way, or buy it online if they didn’t want to go buy it in store. And so yeah, Drunk Elephant in particular was awesome, because VMG at the time, they were like, hey, there is this little brand, like can you help them out, and I remember meeting with them. And it was right before they popped, they had been working with somebody else on Amazon, and that relationship had ended. And we came in and took it over. And it was just a rocket ship from what they everything they were doing, seemed to be working. And the beautiful thing about Amazon is when the things are working outside of the channel, you then pick up momentum inside of the channel and they went up and exited for was it 10 figures if it gets past a billion dollars. So just start and it was fun to be a part of that chapter their story, and then get on the other side of it. And now they’re owned by a really big CPG or beauty company she Sado and now it’s like, how do we navigate this new part of this venture? Right? We took them from this, like I don’t even know critiques the right word, but a PE now it’s exit to a strategic energy industry. And it’s just new waters to sort of wait in.
Jeremy Weisz 14:00
So what kind of products to Drunk Elephant have?
Ryan Mulvany 14:05
We were beloved by everyone in the office that focused on skincare so really nice skin and facial oils. They launched some haircare products as well, but they were known for their sort of skin serums. Perfect e-commerce products. They’re really high quality, very small and very expensive. So I love that.
Jeremy Weisz 14:27
And then another company was Dr. Bronner’s.
Ryan Mulvany 14:31
Yes. Dr. Bronner’s always has a deer’s bike space in my heart. Are you familiar with the brand?
Jeremy Weisz 14:41
I’ve heard the brand but I don’t know exactly. I don’t know exactly what products there but I’ve definitely heard of the brand before.
Ryan Mulvany 14:48
If you Google it, you will recognize that it’s got one of the most iconic Castile soaps. And it’s a company that’s been around, I don’t want to get it wrong, but like 100 and 150 yeas. Yeah, relations came multiple generations up, the kids still work in the, in the, the business and the kids are grownups now. And so, natural products before it was cool, I guess it’s sort of what they do and what they also take about a third of their profits and donate them to causes that they believe in. It’s a very progressive, cool company, similar to sort of like a, like a Patagonia type mission-based company. And so when we got to work with them, it was just so cool, because it was they were in so much alignment with who I was as a person. And we were just helping more of their product get out into the world. And again, normalizing their experience. This is a brand that’s been okay, so they say 75 years of soaps and stories. I think it’s longer than that. Maybe they weren’t an official company for longer than that. Clearly. That’s their website, what do I know? But it was fun
Jeremy Weisz 14:48
Maybe they need to update it, like, 7 8 years.
Ryan Mulvany 15:00
Yeah, I don’t think the site was built 25 years ago, so they’re probably right. Um, but it was just cool to like, really get beneath the depths of a family, sort of owned company that was a dynasty in their category, and watch all the things they do. And what was really cool about them again, what we learned was, because they were this traditional company, they tended to over-index in retail experience. And in did have a decent digital experience. But Amazon was this sort of nascent thing for them. And so we could come in and really be strategic to one piece of their business, which is, I think as an agency, it’s easy to go sort of wide and say yes to many things. We always saw Amazon as a big enough opportunity that we did not have to stretch ourselves too thin. With Dr. Bronner’s in particular, we did help them out with their web business as well, a little bit we do. We did order fulfillment, order packing for them for a period of time. But yeah, it was fun, because those were like my people, and then we could like sell them on Amazon. I used to go into their office once a week and hang out with them. I traveled with them hung out there. Where are they located? San Diego, San Diego. Yeah, in a cool, they provide lunch to their employees every day. Very cool company.
Jeremy Weisz 17:15
How did they find you?
Ryan Mulvany 17:17
I believe we. So this is where having good partners is amazing. One of my partners, is just an amazing business development person. And I think reach I put them I said, hey, you should talk to them at some point. And so put it on his radar, I was sort of the Amazon geek. And then I had two business partners that were sort of bizdev. And so again, most of the business was referral based this one wasn’t. And so I put it on his radars. It’s a really cool company, it’s been in my shower for years, see if you can establish contact. And so he did. And the timing just didn’t quite work out. And then I think he reached out to them again, and there was like an auto responder. And on that auto responder, there was someone else to get in touch with. So you know, being the good business. He reached out to that person and we got a meeting, and then it turned into becoming our biggest client. So God, I love those like little scrappy stories where you know, sometimes if you got to get through the gatekeepers, and you don’t always know where they are,
Jeremy Weisz 18:20
love it. What worked? I don’t know, from a reach out, because it sounds like there was a lot of incoming referral business. But what worked as far as when you’re reaching out cold, from a sales pitch prospective. And when you’re pitching a company that doesn’t know you, what did you find that worked well?
Ryan Mulvany 18:44
If we wanted to go after a company that didn’t know us, and this sort of happened after the sale is like, you see, you said, you saw more about me a few years back, it’s because I’ve been very active on LinkedIn. And what I would do is I would just start talking about the brands that I really liked. We were fortunate enough that we could choose which brands like you know, there were enough cool brands out there that we could sort of pick the ones not necessarily that everyone wanted to work with us. But we could have enough patients to work with the ones that we really materially thought that we could move the needle with. And I would talk about him, I talked about him on LinkedIn, I get people talking about their brand engaging with them. And it didn’t mean up. Only the brands I was talking about I wanted to work with because there are more brands that are cooled and that we could work with. But it was it was trying to find something of value, that was an opportunity for them to then start a conversation and ultimately come to those conversations with the perspective of I’m here to one get to know you as a human and hopefully provide some level of value to your life. And then maybe we can provide some level of value to your business, whether or not you end up working with us, honestly, was secondary because there’s so many things that have to go right to have a business, do work with another business, that if we’re leading with that every time, we’re just going to have a bunch of fragmented relationships. And so, sometimes we talked to them, and it wouldn’t work. And that’s fine. And then a month later, they would refer a friend that it might work for. It was more so leading with goodwill and sort of entrepreneurial karma. Knowing that, if this isn’t the one, maybe another one would come our way. And if not, that was fine. Because I don’t know, the world will keep spinning and we’ll be just fine.
Jeremy Weisz 20:45
Yeah, no, I love it. And it’s really a fossil, just adding value. And it’s adding value from the audience perspective, and also from the brand perspective, because if you’re sharing something you genuinely love, if they get some more audience out of it, and the brand loves, they’re being promoted, and you’re adding value probably, and whatever expertise, you’re overlaying with that, so no, I love that.
Ryan Mulvany 21:07
Yeah, we even get into meetings, and they would bring up like, hey, we’re talking to these people, you know, with the same value prop? And what do you think about them? And there were a lot of good businesses doing the same model as us. And as long as they sort of landed in one of like, five fibers 10 of them that we thought were like, aboveboard, because there were, I don’t think bad actors, there just were different models that I don’t think would have fit what they were looking to do as well. So if they’re talking to competition, I would tell them, like, look, we’re both probably going to sell the same thing to you. I think at the end of the day, it’s just who do you rather work with, and that comes down to your personal opinion, sometimes or your geographic location, sometimes a lot of our business was in Southern California, because we could go up and see them. And I know now the world is a lot flatter and more digital. But I still think there’s a lot of that can be done with the human connection. Let me just show up. Let’s talk this through. I think it’s super important.
Jeremy Weisz 22:07
Yeah, that personal relationship. Um, you mentioned your first kind of experience and conversations with PE, private equity, what is your relationship and thoughts on it now.
Ryan Mulvany 22:26
I still really like, I get there’s the sort of the VC world and there’s the PE world, the PE world tended to work better for our model, just because it was more vetted by the time they would come in. VC is a lot like launching a product on Amazon, or just launching a product in general, there’s a lot of things that have to go right, in those early stages to get to the level of sort of PE. And so within the context of PE, these days, what I like that I’m seeing are, there’s more sort of following the suit of what VMG did and they’re becoming more strategic. And again, I am no expert on how PE portfolio should be managed. But I know the ones that I could add the most value to tend to have an over index and consumer products, or maybe established brands that are in market that haven’t fully realize their digital potential. And so it is cool to see these PE’s that are getting more focused from a categorical perspective. And then bringing in thought leadership, whether it’s sort of on their bench or inside their organization, to the assets that they’re investing in and becoming more of an active participant in the investments rather than a sort of sitting on the sidelines. And look, I think, depending on what the company is and what the company needs, sometimes it’s nice when you can just get a check-in, they can kind of backup and leave it to yourself to fail to fly or fail. But oftentimes now, I think strategic capital that comes with some guidance, and some firepower to run towards the goal together, I think it’s really impactful. And I saw it firsthand with VMG as like, wow, they can invest in and make it go faster. It’s so cool.
Jeremy Weisz 24:10
At what point Ryan, did you consider selling the agency?
Ryan Mulvany 24:16
We had a few years of really good growth. And at that point, we didn’t really know if we had anything that we could sell, it was sort of a novel thing. So even to the point where we talked to an investment banker, and they’re like, maybe, maybe not like, you don’t really know until you go to the market. We looked at the exit process and working with a banker as just a part of our business to grow up because at some point, we will exit and we probably should be tracking the things that the next a suitor would care about. We should be getting our books in line with how our Souter we want to think about, you know, auditing our books and all that fun stuff.
Jeremy Weisz 24:56
It would make your business better, and it was an education process at first.
Ryan Mulvany 25:01
Yeah, Exit Planning is just good business planning, I think. And I’ve later taken an exit planning course and all that, because I helped my dad sort of helped my dad sell his business. But anyway, at that time, I’m like, this is just us growing up. And you know, until like, the deal was finally closed, we didn’t know if we had anything we could sell, because you just never know, like, most deals die a few times going through the process, and some never come back to life. So yeah, it was sort of a novel thing. At the time, there’s, there’s since been many exits, just like James and others that have played in this space. And there’s a lot of more sort of demand. I mean, at the time, it was 2017, Trump was talking about taking Amazon Tap, the world was just wild. And we were on this current economic climate like this for so many years, and I tend to like, we’re going to sell, we’re going to probably have an urn out, and I’m going to need it to keep climbing for like three years, because that’s probably going to be two or three years. So I don’t want to like, take it for granted, just to try to get a better bow, because I might not realize it if something turns out.
Jeremy Weisz 26:10
So talk about the process itself. So you decide, okay, we’re going to move forward with this. What happened next, what the process look like?
Ryan Mulvany 26:19
So for about three months or so we worked with a banker to get all of our books in line, she built a list of who we could talk to, and she would do the outreach. And then we hit the market, I think she had, I think it was Jan, one is when she thought it would be a good time to go to the market. And so she hit the market on our behalf at that point. And I mean, we had, we had conversations pretty quickly thereafter, she was building like the hype and all that stuff. And there was, you know, we were pretty novel, in what we were doing. And there was one other sort of competitor that it sold during our process of getting everything together. So we at least had a line in the sand of opportunity. And then I think maybe by like mid-February, like February, we had an LOI in place, which meant we were sort of going to go exclusive with one of the people that were interested in buying us. And then we ended up closing July 1. So it took a while, the company we sold to had this policy where they could only close on the first of the month. And so if we got to like the 25th, and realize that we weren’t going to be able to close all the items out, we’re going to have to essentially hold our breath for another like 35 days. So that happened a few times we were supposed to I think closed like March one, I don’t know April, one, like quick and you know, it’s all those things. It’s the whole Yeah, of course, we’re gonna close by then and then diligence and it keeps going.
Jeremy Weisz 27:53
And then what was it like? Were they wanting you to stay on what were the terms of how they want you to move forward with the company or not?
Ryan Mulvany 28:01
They really liked to invest in the entrepreneurs. And so during the process, they say, hey, we like to invest in people. We like to over index and people versus businesses. And so they liked our team, they liked what we had to offer, they had 3000 clients that we could potentially offer our service to, we want to make sure that you guys are here. So they put an urn out in place for that reason. But on top of it, we had such fast growth, we wanted an urn out because it had an opportunity for us to sort of put our money where our mouth is where like, we can stay on this trajectory, like sure it might level off a little bit. But we believe the next three years, we can hit these numbers that we’re telling you we’re going to hit. So let us have a chance otherwise, you’re going to just leave money on the table and sort of strike a price of a value of what you’re worth right now. And so we weren’t tied to staying with them. If the business continued to perform, they would have paid us, you know, based on their performance. But the way that the deal was structured is we were very motivated to stay with them and continue to keep growing the business. Because there was money still left on the table.
Jeremy Weisz 29:11
Talk about the decision of choosing a buyer it sounds like because you would have a bunch of people interested. It sounds like this was a really great strategic buyer for you if they had 3000 brands.
Ryan Mulvany 29:23
Yeah, when they first hit us up, I like looked at their website and I like I didn’t know if it was real. I was like what is this like advantage solutions? It doesn’t seem like it’s just a very vague name. And then I started talking to some of the people inside the organization and it humanized the corporation for me. And the guy that first spoke with us and even their bankers were just so they were like very friendly to us. That’s a close it’s like so different and maybe it’s because we had a broker and she was doing a good job and she was the bad cop and I was the good cop and they were very friendly and so I liked them on the people level. And then you know, we’d like them on there’s the people, there’s the vowel and then it’s like, how are they going to be on the other side of it? Are they going to meddle with us a lot? Are they going to let us sort of run, and we realized that we, we were a pretty special thing inside of their organization, we did something that nobody else did, so that we thought that they’d kind of leave us alone, if anything, just helped us with getting new clients and, and that sort of thing. And so, when you’re signing up for a three year, now, you have to be very comfortable, like continuing to work there. And I felt pretty good about it. None of it’s perfect. But it was the best option that we saw from who was interested,
Jeremy Weisz 30:46
You mentioned there’s always going to be sticking points throughout the process, what are some of the sticking points of someone’s looking at selling now that you wish you would have known at that point to look out for?
Ryan Mulvany 30:59
I mean, the sooner that you go through the process of like a mock exit plan, the better, because what it’ll do is it’ll align you around, what you will be valued off of, and finances is only one component of it, or one, it’s not just one, but if finances is just part of it, they’re gonna look at your people, they’re gonna look at your, if you’re an agency based business, the strength of your contracts, so like, we’re like, oh, man, like, there, we’re gonna have to go back and resign our clients and get them to sign on for longer terms, right, because that’s going to increase the value of our business. And better than doing that during diligence, when you sort of have a clock ticking, and if that clock expires, all sorts of things trigger like they can back out, or the price change, like, there’s all sorts of reasons why you don’t want to be doing that, or shoring up a key employee, or having the conversation with them that like, hey, we might sell this one day, and I really want you on board on the other side of the transaction, because you’re gonna have an impact on it. I think those things are really important to sort of think through because again, you will be out of your business someday. It’s just whether or not you’re going to plan for it, or it’s going to happen to you.
Jeremy Weisz 32:13
That’s great. Ryan, what else would you say would strengthen a business that you learned? So you said, strengthen the contracts, right? For an agency going back, strengthening whatever agreements you have with key employees, what else was Did you see, like, we need to strengthen this in our business to make it to increase the value?
Ryan Mulvany 32:39
In my exit planning course, I got to go back to but they hadn’t had other ones that they’ve talked about. But there was one specific for us, it’s just the processes that you’re doing. So how transferable is your business, if you want to bring in a new person, if you want to teach somebody inside the organization that you’re selling to, because they can potentially augment what you’re doing. It’s great when you’re building a business to have this secret thing that nobody else knows how to do, because it’s a hack, and you can make a ton of money doing it. But if you want to sell your business, you’re gonna have to be able to teach other people to do it for you, or on your behalf. Because the second they buy you, they think your intentions are going to change, they think you’re there to hear you’re going to break up with them someday it’s going to, you know, you’re just won’t, you’ll just stop showing up. And those are the things they’re going to beat you up with. I think the other thing too, is with my dad, he had a veterinary practice real estate type opportunity. And he did just fine with his exit. But I did see something where, you get to the end of that marathon of a career. Like he started that career when I was like born he started that hospital slowly took it over, and then it was his own. But he got to like the finish line. I’m like, you cannot trip over the finish line because you lose your power of negotiation with a suitor. Like if I went in and said, no, earn-out I’m, I’m walking away on this, it’s like, fine, but you’ll probably leave money on the table if you’re not willing to sort of negotiate. Luckily, for my dad, he found a second wind and helped him with a transitionary period. But you know, I can I can see people being so burnt out with it, that they just get in there to get it off my hands. I don’t want anything to do with this anymore.
Jeremy Weisz 34:20
I’m wondering, advice from colleagues or mentors, or your banker, as far as earnouts goes, what were they telling you in that regards?
Ryan Mulvany 34:34
Just be happy with the fruit. We had a three-tiered earn out a one-year, two-year and a three-year payout or sorry, initial and then at the one-year mark, and then three mark, they said you need to be happy with the first bite of your apple and that’s it. And so we were going to be really happy with the second bite. It was the goal, and the third was gravy because you just don’t know What’s going to happen with the business, your clients, the suitor hack, six months left of earn out COVID hit. So Amazon got really disrupted at that point. And so again, like I said, I needed three good years of an economy to achieve what I wanted to achieve. And for about a month, in January, I had no idea what was going to happen. In fact, January 1, we were overstocked on Amazon and soap and hand sanitizer, believe it or not, and some food. And I was like, we’re gonna have to write off this inventory guys, this final number is not looking too hot for us. And then you know, COVID hits. And we sold all through it, I think, probably by the end of like, March. And so I was like, okay, but that was like, you just never know. There’s just so many things that unplanned. So if you’re going to do a deal, you need to be happy with what’s more guaranteed. And don’t say your happiness on what’s at risk.
Jeremy Weisz 36:01
Yep. You do investing, you also do consulting, one of the strategic advisors is, you could tell me how to pronounce it. But it’s DimeTyd. Yeah. So talk about DimeTyd, and some of the advice and discussions around that.
Ryan Mulvany 36:24
Yeah, um, I had the fortune to meet a guy named Rohan, who built out this, not only a company, but then a piece of software, which goes out and audits a brand’s profitability within Amazon. And we without getting too granular with the tactics, there’s a few different ways to sell on Amazon, you can sell third party, which is like us where we have an inventory position on behalf of the brand and sell it through our store called Quiverr. The other side of it is if you look at like Apple, those items are sold and shipped by Amazon. So Amazon actually takes an inventory position gives the brand POs and so they’ve built out a pretty slick piece of software here that goes out and sort of audits, all the various moments of that relationship, where fees can include, and gives you sort of an opportunity to go back and collect on those fees if they weren’t rightly charged. And then, look at them and determine how you are getting charged the fees, and hopefully mitigate them in the future. And I think that after a year and a half, we’ve actually recently just sold the business. And so I think he’s in a new space, probably where I was a few years back. But it’s cool, because I think what people have sort of woken up to is, that’s Rohan and his wife, Melanie, they’re too on a picture. They’re sweet people. There’s so many opportunities on Amazon. And I feel pretty dumb in my way, where I was like man to, you know, to do $100 million of sales or a billion dollars of sales, like I had to, like, take inventory positions to do it. And he can achieve quite large sales numbers without taking any inventory at all. And be way more profitable than my model was, like, man, smarter people than me.
Jeremy Weisz 38:15
What type of advice did you give the company? Because again, you bring in a lot of knowledge, because you’ve seen this across many different brands and through, firsthand through Quiverr.
Ryan Mulvany 38:27
With DimeTyd in particular, you know, because I’ve gone so heavy on LinkedIn for a number of years. I’ve developed, you know, like, just like James, a number of contacts that we can talk to and just have a conversation about a brand’s profitability. And when I first heard about it, I was like, interesting. I mean, we had been doing it on the third-party side of selling, we’ve been collecting fees for some time I hadn’t heard about on this side. And so I just was like, let me just go talk to brands about this and see if this is a pain point. And sure enough, it was a pain point. So really, it came in to like, Well, how do you craft that message, because it sounds too good to be true. Like you can go out buying sums of money that Amazon potentially owes a brand and collect on their behalf and sort of an automated fashion. But it is real. It’s real, as they I’ve seen it. And it’s a matter of like messaging that in the right sort of way, I know that there’s service providers that do this and sort of the credit card processing space or the shipping auditing, space, freight auditing, all those sorts of things I hadn’t seen it applied to this category, just yet, when you over index, maybe on the software side, it’s like, well, how do we position it right? How do we market it right? How do we communicate it effectively?
Jeremy Weisz 39:44
Ryan, when you’re talking about James, I’d love to hear who are some colleagues and mentors in the space that you respect to me, we start with James Thomson and what’s some advice or conversation you’ve had with him that was helpful.
Ryan Mulvany 40:00
Man, he told me back in the days like Ryan, the best thing I ever did was write a book about Amazon. Because now I’m an author. And I was like, hey, man, at the time AI didn’t exist, I can’t just sit down and write a book. Maybe I can now, although it’ll be subject to all knowledge back to 2021. But, yeah, I mean, there was so many like, sort of shadows, like, this model was so shadowy, it was sort of in the background, you didn’t always know the brand you were selling products for, and just coming out in the spotlight and being like, here’s what we did, here’s who we are. And there’s a number of us that can do decent work on behalf of brands. I think that was really like important, like just to facilitate a community, like a conversation, and then not only do that, but like, have a relationship with people that are, what brands would look like as your competition, there’s so much abundance of opportunity out there that I never really like felt the competition, I’d rather just have like good relationships with people and swap best practices. And we weren’t out there like stealing each other’s clients or anything like that. And even if it did, it was like, look, if, if my business isn’t good enough to hold on to a brand, and they go over to somebody else, and they’re gonna have a better, that’s what’s better for the brand. That’s what should happen anyway. And we should learn from that and figure out like, what did we do to lose them? And so yeah, there’s a number of, sort of good people out in the space, if you go to LinkedIn and search for Amazon, a lot of them are posting quite frequently that LinkedIn became this really cool sort of epicenter of good content, just to learn about the Amazon marketplace.
Jeremy Weisz 41:45
Who are some other mentors in the e-commerce space that you’d lean on throughout the years?
Ryan Mulvany 41:52
Definitely my partner’s, like, Danny de Michelle was the guy who had the agency that I spun out of my other partner, Brad Sipe, he was telecom guy, but also just really knew, like, sort of business development and communicating with people. I don’t know, I just felt like I always got like, a good sense of they like almost like older brother style dynamics with them. Which was cool, because sometimes we’d argue, like older black brothers would, and then other times, we would, everything was great. Throughout the years, I talked to a number of people, I’m trying to think of the ones that I’m a Joe from Marketplace Pulse, he puts out really, really good content, really went down the thought leadership path really early. I don’t talk to him per job talk to personally, the next guy I haven’t talked to personally, but always respected his opinion, Scott Galloway. He has a think he’s a professor at NYU. And he’s always had this like, no holds bar, like, I’ll say anything about anything approach to do you know, Scott?
Jeremy Weisz 43:04
No, I’ve read his book, though. Yeah, it’s great.
Ryan Mulvany 43:08
He’d be on my list. He’d be like, in the top, like, probably like five of my 100 list, because he’s just such a. I mean, back in the day, I quoted him in my depths of in like, 2012, because he had such a progressive way of looking at Amazon and wasn’t afraid to sort of go out on a limb and talk about something that nobody was talking about.
Jeremy Weisz 43:28
Yeah, he is kind of seems like I don’t know him personally. But a no holds barred approach, like, the book I read was The Four, which is the hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google. And it’s a fantastic book.
Ryan Mulvany 43:43
Nice, nice. Yeah. And then I’ve got some other friends. Another guy named Aaron, who runs a company called zulay. And they’re a big private label seller on Amazon, they’ve sold I don’t know how many 10s of millions or hundreds of millions or billions of dollars of their own products, which is a wholly different model. Matt Newman and Brian Bear, they started a an aggregator called Growth. And it’s just cool. It’s cool to see people doing the model at scale. And you’re hearing about the opportunities that sort of come their way and the nuances that come in, operate in such a big scale. And again, I think that’s where it’s like, look, there’s enough to eat out here for everybody. Let’s just be open about what we’re doing, and help each other grow because you never know where the past will overlap.
Jeremy Weisz 44:32
What’s your thoughts on the aggregators? I feel like, over the past few years, that category seems to have grown.
Ryan Mulvany 44:40
Yeah, I mean, in the beginning, it seemed like it was sort of a multiple arbitrage game. So it was like we could buy these sort of underpriced Amazon brands, they don’t really know what they’re worth. And they don’t come with a lot of infrastructure, which is great. We can buy a lot of those very quickly. And then we can buy it two times and we can go raise money up here, I don’t know, 20 times, um, and then people caught on to that. So now I was like, well buy it four times, five times, six times, and we’re gonna raise it 15 16 or 14 30. You know what I mean. And then those things sort of crossed. And I think some of these aggregators were raising on the prospect that they were going to go public. And they get in. And I don’t know, they were always thinking that they were going to be holding on to these assets, as long as they are in the fashion that they’re holding them. And so I think some of them are sort of, there’s definitely some really good brands, inside these portfolios. My buddies a grove, I don’t really think of them as an aggregator, because they did buy some Amazon brands, but they bought a lot that aren’t on Amazon. And then they vertically integrated, so they bought like a packaging company, they bought a supplements company, because they have supplements, so they can sort of reduce the cost to make these products. I think the ones that invested in good brands, I think, will weather this, okay. And then we’ll see who has an appetite to essentially buy the real estate that a lot of them command on Amazon, assuming that that real estate still there and a few years, and Amazon hasn’t changed. I mean, they’re changing search experience all the time. But I think it’s for some of them, it’s just, they just got a little heavy, a little heavy handed, maybe on the acquisition side, and we’re chasing maybe a aggregate number of brands to be acquired, rather than the value of what they were looking to acquire.
Jeremy Weisz 46:37
Ryan, I have one last question. Before I ask it, I just want to point people to your website, if they want to learn more, it’s ryanmulvany.com. And that’s mulvany.com. And they can also check you out you’re prolific poster on LinkedIn, so they can check you out on LinkedIn as well. I’ve always admired your posts, because they’re very clever. And you can gauge that you have a sense of humor about you. So some of your posts is making me laugh. But they’re educational too, so it’s value tainment, I guess you could say, what do you look for when you’re investing in companies?
Ryan Mulvany 47:16
The team is where I start, you know, who are they? Why are they doing it? What’s going to move the needle with what they’re doing, there’s just so much noise. And there’s so many beautifully designed, again, I lean over index and consumer products. And so there’s just so many beautiful consumer products, what’s going to give them a lever that they’re going to pull that nobody else’s. So it can be on social, it could be, you know, in the team, there’s an influencer that’s involved, that’s actually going to inform them that actually wants to influence the sales of this product. Because if you don’t have a lever that anyone else, if you have the same levers that everybody else can pull, it’s going to be very expensive to bring that product to market. I think also like who else is interested in investing in this, I think is interesting, because if I know my little piece of it, and then someone wants to invest that knows email marketing, and really thinks that there’s an under-tapped opportunity here, I want to know about that. On the flip side, if I don’t know anything about the industry, let’s say it’s a real estate deal. And my real estate buddies like this is an absolute no-brainer, you have to invest in this, then I’m like, okay, here’s the money but I’m really going off of what you’re saying. Because I don’t know I can add a lot of value here other than I bought a few houses. So yeah, it’s generally going to be the team and then the people that are sort of interested in the deals.
Jeremy Weisz 48:47
Love it. Ryan, I’m going to be the first one a thank you and just so you know, here’s an example of a Ryan Mulvany post, which I love. This is your brain on AI. And there’s some other great ones so check him out on LinkedIn, and ryanmulvany.com. Ryan, thanks so much. Appreciate you.
Ryan Mulvany 49:07