Nick Shucet (00:26)

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. I'm your host, Nick Shucet. Today we got some heavy hitters from the Carbon6 crew on the call. 

We got Vanessa, Naseem, and Clayton. It's good to have a few of you here on the call guys and really just start to get an idea of what it really is like inside of Carbon6 and working together. You guys have so many great people on your team.

I'm curious to learn more about how you guys feel about working there and give you guys an opportunity to share some of your expertise as well. I'm just going to kick it. I'm gonna go ahead and kick it to Naseem. 

Why don't you just start by telling us a little bit about how you feel about working with people at Carbon6?

Naseem Saloojee (01:54)

I think I mentioned this to you the other day on the podcast. We have the privilege of auditing a fair amount and looking at a fair amount of Amazon GMV across both 1P and 3P. We're seeing a fair amount of trends. 

We're getting to see which sellers are performing better than others, which categories are performing better than others, and what size of seller is the most impacted. 

I think the things that are known are that it's getting harder to sell on Amazon, so your smaller sellers are pretty hard hit. It's also not been the easiest time for the aggregators. 

If I look at the groups that have declined in sales the most over the past 12 months, on average the aggregator category has been the hardest hit. We'll look at things like that. We'll also look at what some of the smartest sellers are doing to see around the curve.

Although there are groups that have been hit hard, there are others, particularly many members of the MDS community who've grown over the past year. Grown amidst some terribly hard market conditions, rising interest rates, et cetera. 

Those sellers are doing a series of things, and we have a list of eight, or nine of those things. We'll walk through a series of case studies around what we're seeing from the smartest people that we work with.

Nick Shucet (03:22)

That's going to be really exciting, man. Do you know the guys at Northbound? Do any of you guys know the Northbound guys, Scott Deetz, Jack, and Bill Sterry? Man, we hired them and we had our kickoff call today and those guys look at Amazon just way differently than I do. 

He was comparing it to having a piece of property and rental income. Do you just want this to be a passive investment or you're just collecting a few thousand dollars and you've got four inventory turns a year at $30,000? 

It was just such a good perspective because that's how I would look at another business opportunity, but I think for some of us, when you're a founder and you've built something from the ground up, it's hard to look at it through that lens. 

That's what hit me today when I was on that call. As I hear you talk about that Naseem, it's like having a different perspective on your business, especially with how things are changing and just how much more difficult it is in Amazon. 

I'm excited to hear about that. I think it's going to be really valuable information and I'm looking forward to it. Clayton, Vanessa, I'll kick it your guys' way a little bit. 

I want to hear about your area of expertise because I know you guys have a lot of value to add, but I'm also really curious about the dynamic of working at Carbon6. I know they've kept on founders that they buy. 

I think that's how some of you guys have gotten involved in Carbon6. I wanna know more about what is it really like behind the scenes at the meetings, how are you guys working together, and what that feels like for you guys.

Vanessa Hung (05:24)

I can start with that. I guess the first thing that I'll say is that Carbon6 has been my first experience in a bigger organization, I don't have anything to compare it to. I've been a founder alone, a solopreneur for my entire life until I came to Carbon6. 

One of the things that I noticed, especially talking to friends who are in bigger companies too, is one thing that differentiates all big time, is the winning culture. That's something that to me as a solopreneur, as the A player in my team. 

As a founder, you guide your company. When you came to Carbon6 or when I came to Carbon6, it was just like, imagine the same thing, having A players across the board in every single department, doing their best to win every single time. 

For me, it's been a very, inspiring journey because you know that also raises all of the standards. You can always do better, you can always win more. I don't feel that I'm in an organization where a bunch of people are way smarter than me. 

That's something sometimes when you're in your own business, you don't have that. You're the founder, you know everything, and people go to you to ask questions. 

Vanessa Hung (06:55)

Here in this organization, it's just like, you don't even need to be the founder or the CEO, you don't need to be on the executive board to be just an amazing contributor to every single team. That is just amazing, it's inspiring, and it's also very intimidating. 

At some point, I'll say that a lot of imposter syndrome comes in of like, oh, wow, how was I able to land here? It's been amazing. A lot of the winning culture and also it’s very supportive.

Vanessa Hung (07:25)

It's a very supportive space. That's one thing that I really like. One of our values is that we get better every single day. You're better than yesterday, that's one of the things that we say. That's allowed us to fail, fail fast, and we're here to support you. 

That is just impressive to me. I don't know if a lot of big companies have that. Here in Carbon6, that's a reality. I'm super proud and I'm super excited every time I get into the work and go to the office it's just because I know that I'm gonna be sharing the space with people like that.

Nick Shucet (08:07)

That is exciting, Vanessa. It's no fun when the company culture isn't good. It can really kill the motivation of someone like yourself or any of you sitting on this call if you don't feel like you're not surrounded by similar people. 

That's awesome that you're able to get in there and have that as your first experience because I think that's where a lot of companies, either don't realize how important it is or they do, but it's really hard to figure out and to get there. 

Clayton, what about you, man? What is it like for you at Carbon6? What are your thoughts on the team there? Let's hear it.

Clayton Atchison (08:57)

I would agree with almost everything Vanessa said. I've been an entrepreneur since 2014, full-time since 2016. In all reality, not a lot changed whenever I came on to Carbon6. I was hustling. a lot before and I hustle a lot now.

I think that the feeling at Carbon6, at least for me, and I think it is rampant throughout the company, is that the people that we're trying to service are working around the clock. We're helping a lot of solo entrepreneurs and small companies. 

If they are willing to grind, 80 to 90 hours a week, and we want their business, then why wouldn't we show them that we have the exact same workout and that can we work just as hard to build the platforms, the software, the team that they should partner with. 

I come from a unique background because I am an Amazon seller. I have been since 2018. I did arbitrage before that. Some people came into Carbon6 and were like, my god, this is so fast. People move so quickly. 

I was like, that's every single person that is one of our clients. They all do this. We're not just inside of Carbon 6 surrounded by this huge desire to win, but also by all of our clients.

Clayton Atchison (10:13)

A lot of times I think even our sales team, they get on a call with a client and they're motivated by the ambition of the people that they're talking to. They're like, Oh, I have this one service that I think we could provide you and help you with. 

Then the customer is like, what if you did this and that? The energy is just like if you're surrounding yourself with the right people and you're in the right places, then everybody has a voice, everybody has an idea. 

We listen to the community. I think the community listens to us and it only works if that works both ways. The energy at Carbon6 is very similar to what Vanessa said. Everybody has this very competitive nature. 

Everybody wants to win. Everybody wants to be the person who helped move the dial for Carbon6, but that really means moving the dial for the customer. You're not winning in this space unless you're helping your client win.

That has either ingrained itself inside of the employees at Carbon6 or the people that it didn't, they're just not the Carbon6 anymore. We got to be the best. 

We have to do what the customer needs or we're not going to be here because the client's going to pick some other software or service that will provide a better service. As simple as that. It's fun. 

It's work. Don't get me wrong, but it is fun if you're in the entrepreneurial spirit mode. I know Vanessa, myself, and Naseem are, you wake up every day and you feel like you have an awesome purpose and you're doing something special. 

That's how it feels.

Nick Shucet (11:46)

Man, that's well said. I think two things really stick out to me, man. You guys are working for a bunch of entrepreneurs that need help with their business and you're supporting them. If I shoot you a message on Saturday, that's not my day off. 

If I'm working and I'm paying you, a managed service or something, and I discover a problem on a Saturday, I don't want to wait until Monday to hear about that. If you can give that answer on the entrepreneur's time, then you immediately stand out. 

You immediately stand out as different and unique.

Clayton Atchison (12:29)

I would say I'm not in sales, I don't work on commission, and I've taken calls during work hours of Australia time, Israel time, China, Hong Kong, you name it. I've taken calls at that time. 

If I were to say that in a room of Carbon6 employees, they'd be like, cool, man, so is everybody else. It's because we want the customer, we want to serve them, we want to win, and we want to make sure they're getting the best service possible. 

It's just a deep desire to be the best in the culture.

Nick Shucet (13:03)

I think everyone can relate to this, but we've all had really good friends that you grew up with. 

At least for me, we were always giving each other crap like friendly competition, but it motivated us not in a way of like, I'm going to put you down because I beat you, but it's like a friendly competition type thing, man.

That's good energy. If you can get that and bring that into the work, man, then you can overcome a lot of other issues in the business. That's good stuff, man.

Naseem Saloojee (13:40.232)

100% right. A lot of it was by design. Each of us who was starting the business had started a business before. Most of the members of our executive leadership team started businesses before. 

When we think about the leaders in the business, people like Clayton and Vanessa and others, these are entrepreneurs who've decided that coming together with other entrepreneurs meant that we could build something bigger than any of us could build alone. 

That's just been our ethos. I think when you're serving entrepreneurs, you have to be hungry. I look at exactly what Clayton said. You have to maintain a level of hunger and show your customer that you're even hungrier than he or she is. 

I think the people that epitomize that are entrepreneurs. I like to think about what Larry Ellison built at Oracle. His entire mindset was around finding entrepreneurs to build his business. 

Literally whatever needed to happen, whether it was acq-hiring in a business, making a big acquisition, finding somebody that was gonna start a business, and figuring out an upside plan that made it such that person was gonna stay in the business. 

Build something, making it super competitive to your point, Nick, and also offering those challenges. A combination of the compensation opportunity, the competition opportunity, and then the opportunity to just build something amazing. 

I think that was what that company was able to foster. When we think about Carbon6, we want to make this the kind of place that every entrepreneur looks at and says, heck, why would I want to do something outside? 

I can be an entrepreneur in this business and have way more fun. As you know, as each of us knows on this call, entrepreneurship is a pretty lonely thing. It's a pretty hard challenge.

Naseem Saloojee (15:37)

If you can be less lonely and be challenged and pushed by other people who are just smart and hungry, it makes for a pretty cool thing.

Nick Shucet (15:46)

It's such a unique culture group, man. Entrepreneurs, I always think as me, I've got kids and a wife and I was always very open with my wife when we first met, but I get obsessed about these things. 

I'm gonna be obsessed with my business. I'm gonna make choices that may seem like I'm choosing work over this. It might be because I am in this moment. I'm a little obsessed with what I'm working on, but hey, just trust me. 

I've got a vision, I've got a plan, I'm working on it and you guys are included in it. Just because I'm isolating myself and doing these things, it's coming from a place of love. There are not a lot of people you can have those conversations with.

Nick Shucet (16:40)

I imagine you guys get a lot of value just from that perspective as well. For an entrepreneur, work-life balance, I feel like I get it now, but man, it took me a while. I didn't really believe in it for a while. 

I was like, this is my life. It's just life for me, but now that I have kids and stuff, of course, I have to have those times when I'm not checking Slack. I don't care that the VAs came on at 7 PM. I need to have dinner with my family-type thing. 

That's just so great, man. I definitely envy what you guys have over there. I always have, ever since I first connected with Justin and found out about what you guys were doing. It's like you said Naseem, it's lonely. 

It's great that you guys have all those people to lean on.

Vanessa Hung (17:32)

We'll always hurry, Nick.

Nick Shucet (17:36)

You've piqued my interest. That's for sure. I like the idea of having all that support man. Just surround yourself with great people. That's why I love MDS. It's why I fell in love with that community. 

You get to meet people who think like you, have a vision like you, get obsessed like you. There are just so many like-minded and driven people in there that make it so special.

Nick Shucet (18:04)

I immediately connected those dots after I figured out what Justin was trying to do with Carbon6 and what you guys were doing. I saw the connection between Carbon6 and MDS and that great culture of people that you guys bring to the table. 

It's really cool to know that you guys are so involved with MDS. I'm gonna see you guys at the Inspire event and we're going to continue to be able to nurture those relationships.

Nick Shucet (18:33)

As you get older, that's really what becomes important, at least to me, because I also start to think about what type of people are my children going to be around. What are their children going to be like? 

As you get older, where I am now, at least with kids, you get into a position where you're sending them off to school and I don't know how school was for you guys, but it wasn't that great for me. 

For me to send my children there on a regular basis, it's like, all right, I've got to do something different here. I want my children to be exposed to different people because I didn't really have that when I was younger. 

It becomes super important, that community of people that you're around and you start enjoying life with.

Nick Shucet (19:31)

Guys, thanks for sharing a little bit about what it's like at Carbon6. I do want you guys to touch on your area of expertise. Maybe drop a couple of hints at what's coming up at your talk at Inspire. 

Vanessa, I know you have something coming. Naseem, you're going to be doing the market insights. Then, Clayton, I know you're going to be at Inspire. 

I don't think you're doing a call, but I know you've got a lot of knowledge of external marketing, and driving external traffic to Amazon. I think you touched on some new automation that's happening over at PixelMe. 

Why don't you let us know about your area of expertise and then get into the new automation at PixelMe?

Clayton Atchison (20:23)

Of course. I’m the general manager of PixelMe now, changed titles a couple of times, but that's just where it naturally flowed. 

I think getting back to the idea of the culture of Carbon6 is that if you step up and you're like, hey, I'm really passionate about this, there's not a lot of friction. Do you think that's where you should be? 

Go there, do that, own that. Vanessa's done similar things and Naseem has done similar things. That's where I've ended up at Carbon6 is spearheading PixelMe and you already teased it out. 

If you'd asked me nine months ago, I would have probably told you PixelMe would be a mature product in three months. If you'd asked me six months ago, I would have said three months. Then three months ago, I would have said three months. 

Despite that, what I am going to say is that PixelMe is less than three months from being a completely mature product. A big part of that has been around automations. 

We are starting to partner with agencies that can bring on their own clients but really have huge control over what the software does for each customer based on each client's individual goals. 

You can now create automations about when Google traffic, we're speaking specifically about Google to Amazon, about when you pause a keyword. At what ACOS? Well, you can choose that.

Clayton Atchison (21:50)

You can choose when campaigns switch from optimizing for clicks to optimizing for conversion, and what rate you walk down the cost per action to try to increase performance. 

Without getting into tons of details, we finally have it to where automations are running instead of large teams that we used to have manually pulling a lot of levers. We have a couple of tricks still up our sleeve, but by a couple, I mean a couple.

We got a couple left. I'm running out of ideas. The software is really in a mature place. I think external traffic has become one of my passions in the past year and a half. 

I'll continue to explore whether that be in Meta ads or TikTok ads, which have become extremely popular as of late, I'm sure you're aware of. I think that part of this learning journey on my behalf has been understanding the maturity of software. 

That's been some learning I've had to go through, thinking that the software was ready when in reality it was not. That's been a judgment call and an error on my side. 

Now going back to some clients that maybe it didn't work far in the beginning, saying these are almost two completely different tools, and having to eat crow a little bit to say I thought this was ready when it wasn't.

Clayton Atchison (23:11)

Now, I very much feel differently. All of our data and our numbers and our retention and clients' feedback and surveys are all saying that now the tool is ready. 

I think part of my goal is to continue to innovate, not just stop with Google Ads, but figure out how that leads into Meta, how that leads into Facebook, Instagram, maybe TikTok, and beyond. 

In the meantime, make sure that we have built, and what I do consider to be 95% mature is given to the right clients and that the information is delivered to them in the right way. Before our reporting was even different. 

We didn't have TACOS. We were just looking at ACOS. We weren't looking at BSR, the combination of keywords, organic rank, and TACOS, and how it all played together. 

Now it's a much more cohesive story where we can tell a client this is working or this is not, whereas before there was some confusion. It might have looked like it wasn't working when in reality it was and we didn't have the data to show it and vice versa. 

I learned a lot. External traffic, that's a long-winded answer to your question, but external traffic is where I spend my days. I'm excited to connect with a lot of the MDS community that may have been sitting on the sidelines and looking to jump into this. 

I'd like to go over their business with them and see if I can help their business. If not, I'll tell them. Or if I can’t, I'll tell them that too.

Nick Shucet (24:32)

Nice, man. That process that you talked about, thinking something's done, but working through it and uncovering more stuff to do. That's just part of doing it. That's just you out there putting in the work. 

It's so great to come to a point where you can see those KPIs that matter at different times. I think one thing I see people do is you mention optimizing for clicks or optimizing for conversions. 

Someone who doesn't really understand marketing will be like, well, wouldn't you just always optimize for conversions? I want to convert. No, there are stages to it. 

Maybe you want to open up your funnel to new traffic and get some new customers, then yeah, open it up for clicks, man. I need more awareness. 

Knowing what KPIs to look at the right time, that you only learn through experience and it sounds like you've gotten a lot of that in the past year or so, looking at all these different businesses, which is just so valuable. 

It speaks to why PixelMe can be such a valuable tool to people because you're also gonna get a little bit of some strategic advice from the people that you're talking to. I think that's critical, man. That's good stuff. 

Thanks for sharing that Clayton. Vanessa, I know I saw Tim's presentation in Miami, blew my mind. At one point in time, I was good with flat files and fighting cases on Amazon. If you're not in that game regularly, you can lose that.

Nick Shucet (26:25)

I did, so that really blew me away just because I could see how much knowledge and experience went into that. Why don't you tell the listeners a little bit about your main role at Carbon6 and maybe touch on what's coming up at Inspire?

Vanessa Hung (26:43)

Sure. I like to think of myself, and my role right now as a community ambassador. A lot of what Clayton was saying, we are a company that listens to the community to actually make products that work and make products that serve the needs of our clients. 

My role internally is to be the in-house Amazon expert to bring the needs, the pain points, the desires that sellers have, and also the view of what's happening on Amazon.

Vanessa Hung (27:13)

From what you were sharing with Clayton before, I think that in our ecosystem, in our industry, our products will never be 100% done because the industry and because of how Amazon works, are always changing. 

If we keep being the same software or the same company for, I don't know, three months, six months, nine months, then we're obsolete. My work at Carbon6 has been a lot of bringing that awareness, bringing those changes.

Vanessa Hung (27:43)

Raising the alarms when something needs to be raised up like, hey guys, we are completely obsolete. You need to stop talking about this. We need to stop talking about that. 

This is how to change, and because I live in the mind of the seller, I work with clients every single day to help them solve their problems. This year, my goal was, or my work, well, two works for the year was operational efficiency.

When I think of 2024, and I think about Carbon6 and the future of my role in the industry, it's focusing on that.  

If you said at the beginning, you were talking about thinking of Amazon as that piece of real estate, that business that you buy, that will make you that passive income, whatever. 

One thing that I realized about operational efficiency is that you buy that land or you buy that business, but you don't care to check if the plumbing in the house is good. 

Now you buy a property that is amazing, it's beautiful and two months down the line everything breaks apart because the plumbing wasn't properly done or the electric part wasn't properly done. 

That's the foundation of your real estate, of your house for example, if you buy one.

To me, that's what I have built in the backend of Amazon saying, I already know all of the plumbing and the electric part and the foundation that you need to build. Sellers and entrepreneurs can run and grow it to a point that is massive.

The talk will be at MDS Inspire and will be a lot about operational efficiency and understanding what are the things that you need to look for because it's not only about knowing how to do it, which is amazing if you know how to do flat files. 

It's also about understanding what needs to be done for the business to be solid and have a solid foundation.

Vanessa Hung (29:43)

A lot of, it's around also teaching some great things that we're working on right now. Carbon6 and the whole, in the whole ecosystem. 

We're launching something huge for the community to help them around those things and level their knowledge, understanding, and solutions or operations to a proper standard. 

That's also something that will keep being a trend in the future how Amazon is changing and how sophisticated and complex the system is getting. 

To the point where the entrepreneurs that started the business back in 2014 probably don't have the same skills that you need to have right now to manage the account in the same way. 

You can always keep growing the business but if you're not on top of the plumbing and the electric and all of those things that I call the unsexy because they're super unsexy, nobody wants to be a plumber. 

Everybody wants to be the real estate agent, the pretty face next to the whore.

Nick Shucet (30:50)

Everybody wants to be the PixelMe guy. External traffic, TikTok.

Vanessa Hung (30:52)

100%. Nobody wants to be the flat file person. Fortunately, I like that role and I love building solutions on a lot of content. That is my focus. The focus with the solution that we're building inside of Carbon6 and also the presentation. 

That presentation, if you like the one in Miami, by the way, I'm doing the mogul call tomorrow for a group.

Vanessa Hung (31:22)

If you like that, I think Inspire will blow your mind away. That'll be really cool.

Nick Shucet (31:27)

Well, guys, I'm super excited to see you at Inspire. I'm going to try to make that mogul call tomorrow, but I'll be ready for the presentation at the event if not. Thank you so much for coming on guys. I really appreciate it.

Vanessa Hung (31:43)

Thank you for the invite.

Naseem Saloojee (31:43)

Thanks so much, Nick.

Clayton Atchison (31:44)

Of course, absolutely Nick.

Nick Shucet (31:45)

All right, guys. Talk to you soon.

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