Hasan Hasmani’s Interview with Nick Shucet

Nick: (00:00)

Hello everyone. This is your host, Nick Shucet. Million Dollar Sellers podcast. Today we have Hasan on the show. I'm really excited just to chat with him and catch up with him. We always have a good time hanging out in person, man. What is up, Hasan?

Hasan: (00:15)

Hey man. Glad to be here. Yeah, it's always a blast when we get together. Talk shop, of course. And I'm excited to share.

Nick: (00:24)

Last time it was Jackson. It was Wyoming, right?

Hasan: (00:27)

Yes! Jackson, Wyoming. And we'll be back there in a few weeks. So I'll get to see you again in a few weeks in Jackson.

Hasan’s Amazon Journey 

Nick: (00:33)

I'm excited! Well, yeah. Like I said, man, thanks for coming on to the podcast. We're excited just to hear about your journey, man. And how you got into Amazon. The things that you've accomplished. The goals that you have set for yourself have led to you living a life where you can make a lot of decisions on how you do things every day.

And I've seen you out traveling, doing great things, talking about amazing stuff. So, with that, man, let's kick it off and just let you tell us how you got started. Like how did you start entrepreneurship? How did you get into Amazon and into where you are now?

Initial Failures on Amazon

Hasan: (01:15)

Yeah, yeah. So it's a fun story. I always say that the way I got started in e-commerce was the summer after my junior year of college. I was going to school for accounting. I Googled how to make money selling stuff online. That is exactly how it started. I found a couple of courses, took them, and started off in the world of online and retail arbitrage.

You're familiar with that world. Yeah, of course. That's how you started off, right? And from there, it just progressed. I mean, the whole story involves failures.  You know, successes, in the beginning… your first step, whatever you take with eCommerce is going to be wrong. It's just almost guaranteed to be wrong. It's very hard to be right the first time.

Well, the cool thing about Amazon and arbitrage is you get to learn the ropes with a relatively small amount of money real quick. Understand the whole progress and then figure out your own path there.

Amazon and Arbitrage Allows You to Learn the Ropes With Relatively Little Money

Nick: (02:12)

It definitely allows you to see different niches and categories and products, you know, a lot easier, a lot more quickly.

Hasan: (02:21)

Yeah, absolutely. So, from there I lost a little bit of money and then got back on my feet on that business. I stumbled into doing wholesale where I used to buy from distributors and sell to Amazon distributors. And the niche I was doing a lot of work in was board games. I was buying from wholesale distributors of board games, and, selling them on Amazon.

Nick: (02:42)

What year was this Hasan?

Hasan: (02:44)

This was all through my senior year of college. I got my degree in accounting—my undergrad degree in accounting. And, I had an internship in the city. I had a job offer after I finished grad school and did my CPA. Went back to grad school for my CPA, and as I'm starting grad school and doing grad school, my business started taking off that Q4.

Q4 is a big time in board games. So in November of grad school.

Nick: (03:12)

How quick was that? So you started… like, what was that gap between you starting in that first Q4 that really took off?

Leaving Grad School for the Business

Hasan: (03:20)

In the first Q4, I didn't do well. It was the second Q4. So, a year and like three months. So at first, I started off with a $5,000 investment that my dad gave me.  It's always a funny story. My dad essentially hinted at the fact that he was pretty confident I was gonna lose the money, but he wanted me to learn. So that's, you know, how you let someone… that's how you help someone learn something.

And for the most part, I did… the last thousand, I turned it back around. So the first four months were just me getting my feet in the water, testing grounds, and learning a ton. And then the second Q4, like a year. Literally like 14 months later, that was when the business had really started taking off. And, I dropped out of grad school, never got my CPA, and turned down the job offer that I had received in Manhattan.

And, then continued my journey. And that's kind of like the quick story.

Trekking The National Parks

Hasan: (04:15)

But from wholesale, what happened was I also took on some brand management. That's the thing I did for a little bit. And I was talking to, someone that I used to help in Amazon E-commerce—one of the board game companies. And I was in their office and they mentioned this game called Trekking The National Parks. And the background to that is that three weeks before that, I had slept outdoors for the first time in my life.

I was 22 years old, never slept outdoors… Before I'd hiked like once or twice the year before, but I'd never slept outdoors. And that was at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. So my first night ever outdoors was probably at the Grand Canyon on a backpacking guided trip. I fell in love with the national parks Three weeks later; this associate brings up this game called “Trekking The National Parks.”

That game was created by their friend, Charlie, who with his parents had hiked all the national parks. They had created a game together.

The Underdog Game

Hasan: (05:10)

And the onus of the company that I now run, which is underdog games is that… The origins sorry, not the onus. The origin of The Underdog Game is that I realized that for the first time, I'd sold board games for two years. For the most part, I didn't play them because I wanted to be only... I only wanted to use data to figure out whether I should buy a lot of games or not, and make the decision on investing in the wholesale.

The trigger was, that if I feel this push to play this game, that means a lot of other people that love national parks will feel the same way. 

So, I would only use data, I wouldn't play them. But for the first time, I wanted to play a game because it was about something I cared about, which is national parks. So when I realized that, I was like, oh, I have to meet this guy, Charlie, I have to. There's something… there's some magic there because if I feel this trigger to play it if I feel this push to play this game, that means a lot of other people who love national parks will feel the same way.

And, I spent a lot of time talking to Charlie and his family. I convinced Charlie to come join me. And, we started underdog games.

Nick: (06:13)

Nice, man. And what year was that?

Hasan: (06:16)

2018. Yeah. It was about four years ago. Our first, annual retreat was in Sedona and I can't be done.

Nick: (06:27)

Nice. Heck yeah, man. So you guys just threw it up on Amazon and, or it was already on Amazon and you just…

Building on a Foundation

Hasan: (06:36)

Oh, no. So there was a little more to it. There was an edition of the game that already existed—the first edition. Over the three years that they had run the company together, it had sold about 5,000 copies, total in three years.

I don't know if that's always a sensible thing to do. But, one of my core beliefs as a person is that you're only really able to do one thing extremely well.

So, I licensed the game from the family. Charlie was working for me as well, and we decided to make a second edition. So with some improvements, we made a second edition of the game. That's why it's Trekking The National Park's second edition. And, we actually did a Shopify pre-order page.

Focusing On One Thing at a Time

Hasan: (07:11)

Because I didn't know if I had enough money to make it to the end of the year. One, caveat is I abandoned the entire wholesale business, which at that point had become a $2 million business essentially overnight to put all my eggs into underdog games. I don't know if that's always a sensible thing to do. But, one of my core beliefs as a person is that you're only really able to do one thing extremely well.

And I believe that if I had… if I kept spending time on this other thing, which is in no disrespect to people that have a wholesale business and some people have found ways to really succeed in it. I just didn't believe at that time that it was defensible. I didn't believe that there was anything those other people couldn't do. And I thought the competition would keep increasing and the margins keep decreasing.

So on one side, I was like, this business is profitable for me right now and at that point, I was pretty young, so it was a really nice business. Yeah. Uh, but this other business that I'm potentially starting with this guy has a huge ability to grow into something bigger. So I abandoned one completely put all my focus into the other, put all the cash into this business, but, I wasn't sure if I could afford the whole.

I wanted to do a container, to afford the prerun and afford to be able to run the company.

Profitable Ads in a Different Lifetime

Hasan: (08:22)

So I did a pre-order on my Shopify page before the units even left China. And what we did was, at the time, you know, we spent a lot of time researching how Facebook ads work now. 2018 was a different lifetime. When it comes to Facebook ads, it was very… it was much more profitable back then. but we did a lot of research into what we believed could be, an ad that convinced people to buy a game about national parks.

And it's not just like an image shown up there or whatever. We tried to get really into the mindset, right?

Get More Shares Than Clicks

Hasan: (08:55)

And, at that time, the notion of the company, like the foundation, was that if you get people to share something, it's much more powerful than getting them to click something. If you get people to share something on Facebook, every view after the share is free. Every click after the share is free, right? So if someone looks at the ad, they press share anyone that they share to, you're not paying for those clicks. You're not paying for those views. So it scales extremely well.

Transitioning to Organic Leads

Hasan: (09:20)

So what we found was, that you wanna create something organic. You wanna create something that doesn't seem… it's not commercial leads.

Keep It Simple

Hasan: (09:28)

It's you being honest, it's you being genuine about what this thing is. So we created... We recorded a video on my cell phone on my kitchen table at home. And it was… The video that started this company was the kitchen table, here's the game, cell phone. It showed the box and it was Charlie, just kind of talking about his family and what the game is.

Focus on the Product

Hasan: (09:52)

And the thing is it only... it didn't focus on us at all. It was not about us, right? It was about the game. And it was about the national parks. So, it was very focused on the map of the game. It was very focused on the cards. I mean, that's all, that's where the beauty is. That's what people care about. We were never in the video. That video got 7,000 shares, and reached almost 4 million people with the, ad spend behind it.

Don’t Overthink It

Hasan: (10:15)

And, I always remember the first sale. I mean, you know, you put it up on the Shopify website. I and Charlie worked about a week… like, you know, really worked about a week to try and get just one page. I mean, if you only have one product, you only need one page. You don't need anything more than that, right? You don't need to build a whole website. Don't overthink it.

It's just, building the right... Build this page and build it nicely.

Nick: (10:33)

You need the About Us page, though. And the the FAQ.

Hasan: (10:37)

what'd you say?

Nick: (10:39)

I said you need the FAQ and the About Us.

Hasan: (10:41)

Well, the FAQ. If you make the page, like we put the FAQ on the bottom of the page.

Nick: (10:44)

Of the page, there's always someone trying to sell you that you need some other page.

Hasan: (10:48)

Yeah. Yeah. You don't. No, make it a nice page.

Nick: (10:52)

So you guys threw up one page, right? You said it took about a week to put it up.

Hasan: (10:56)

Yeah. We experimented with a lot of different things. Even if you do have a... I don't even remember if it actually was just pure one page or if we had a shop... You're only driving people to one page. So like, even if your home page is nothing, it doesn't actually matter. Cause, when they click the link, you're driving them to that one page.

We Exceeded Our Expectations

Hasan: (11:13)

So we experimented a lot and did a lot of thinking on how to make it look nice. Popped it up. It said pre-order… the game was $50, but we put it on for $40 and we put a little huge headline that says ships in September. And this was in July—July 21st. When we put them on the page, it went live. And then we took, I think we created 10 cell phones... We created 10 ads.

So, one of them the cell phone, took a bunch of images, whatever. And then, you know, it was like 8:00 PM at night. We launched the ad. And I was just like, all right if you spend like a hundred bucks and get like two sales, I'll be happy. Just cuz it's like progress. It was my first time launching my own products. I was like, even if we spent a hundred bucks to get like two sales, I'm good.

I'm like, that feels good to me. And we spent… our first $50 resulted in like nine sales. So that first order came in like three minutes later. It was probably one of the most magical moments in my life. I'll never forget it.

Nick: (12:10)

That's awesome, man. That's crazy.

Hasan: (12:11)

People were, pre-ordering a game that never hadn't even launched yet.

What Made the Customers Trust You?

Nick: (12:16)

And so do you think like... Where do you think the trust factor came from? I mean, was it just cuz it was Shopify and Facebook, and at that moment? Like the timing as well?

Hasan: (12:25)

Yeah. I don't know. I wish I knew. I'm not sure I would've ordered from us, right?

Nick: (12:31)

That's awesome.

Professional Sellers of an Amazing Product

Hasan: (12:32)

I think we did a good job of making ourselves look professional. I think that helped.

I think the game looked… I mean we… the game had a lot of amazing production to it. Like Charlie himself was an artist.

Nick: (12:45)

So the game was very sellable.

Hasan: (12:47)

The game, the game itself was completely sellable.

User Generated Content

Nick: (12:52)

Who masterminded the idea of, you know, that UGC style… just with the iPhone?

Hasan: (12:59)

Yeah. I mean that was… that was mostly me. It was just mostly reading through a ton of Facebook, you know… just going through everything when it comes to Facebook and what was working, what was not working. And the core was like, Hey, a cell phone video will get shares. Yeah. That's what we think.

Nick: (13:14)

So, how are things going with Amazon?

Knowing When to Run Ads

Hasan: (13:22)

Yeah. So after we did that Shopify pre-order we had to actually kill it. we had to stop taking pre-orders cause I was like, I don't even know how we're gonna ship these things. At some point we got to 5,000 pre-orders, we did 250,000 just in pre-orders before. I mean, I paid for the whole first container and then some, I was like, I, I know I'm not even entirely sure how we're gonna ship them. So, let's hold off on these preorders.

I ended up actually ordering three containers, which was 27,000 units in total for that first year. cause I felt like, oh my God... this kind of preorder before the game's even launched. And we believe we can run… we can scale these ads going into Q4. And like once November and December come around, we should be able to really push these games. We should really be able to crush it.

So the game arrives, we put them on Amazon, and then just push heavy Facebook ads to the games. And the idea was, “Hey if we can get a couple of hundred sales right away, boom, boom, boom. Then we can push Amazon to rank them. We can send a strong signal to Amazon to rank them for the keywords that we were going for. And for the most part, it worked. Yeah. We sold out the 27,000th before we even hit Christmas. 

Nick: (14:47)

Nice man. that's amazing! That's such a great journey, man, just coming in. It seems like you had a lot of data to, kind of, support your decision-making process into diving into that game. Was it the wholesale experience?

Experience and an Early Start

Hasan: (15:04)

The wholesale experience is what, kind of, gave me the background because I spent years selling other people's board games.

I understood the market. I knew what was happening. I knew what the indicators were.

Knowing You Can Start All Over Even if You Hit Zero

Hasan: (15:13)

But still, I mean, along the way, most people thought I was pretty crazy. you know, it's a big risk. I mean, the cool thing about being 24 at that time was that if you go to zero at 24, you can just start again. I mean, I know that's hard to say because going to zero would suck.

Taking Risks Before Your Responsibilities Increase

Hasan: (15:32)

It's not… it wouldn't be easy, you know, not having any money. But at 24, I didn't have the kids, and I didn't have a family. I could take a risk that someone maybe with the family could not. And I was willing to take that risk. because I also felt it was a safe risk, and I felt the reward for that risk was extremely high. So, to me, the ratio of risk to reward was really good in that scenario.

Selling Products That Don’t Expire

Hasan: (15:54)

And board games don't expire. So my thought was “All right, worst-case scenario. If I sell 5,000 through a pre-order before the game even launches I can sell… I should be able to sell 13, 14,000 during Christmas time, right?

In hindsight, I should have ordered 50,000 ads in 2020 when Facebook ads were so cheap. I should have tripled my Facebook ads. But that's always the thing, right?

This shouldn't even be an issue. And if I have to hold onto these other units still next year, it's not the worst case. It's not the worst thing in the world. It's just not ideal. So that's why I took the risk. Honestly, in hindsight, in 2020, Facebook ads were so cheap back then that I should have ordered 50,000 ads. I should have tripled my Facebook ads, but that's always the thing, right?

Recreating Magic

Nick: (16:27)

Have you tried to recreate that magic recently? Or have you done anything with a recent product launch with that strategy in mind?

Hasan: (16:39)

Yeah. So that strategy is hard. We transitioned then. I mean, sales increased every year for Trekking The National Parks up until the end of 2021 cuz the 2020 national parks went crazy. Everyone was playing board games. Everyone was going to the national parks. So we hit a peak in 2020, so sales grew up radically fast. We invested a lot of money into Facebook ads during that time.

But, then from checking national parks, it became all right.

Trekking the World

Hasan: (17:09)

Now we're a creative company. You know, we are in creative products akin to like a book publisher or a movie producer, a musician, stuff like that. And uh, you know, what's the next step? So we decided at that point that… we felt the natural next game after Trekking the National Parks was Trekking the World.

Targeting a Different Audience

Hasan: (17:31)

We decided to go on Kickstarter for Trekking the World because there was a huge audience of gamers that were on Kickstarter. Now we could have done a pre-order again, but we wanted to reach a slightly different audience than the one we had already reached. So we decided to go on Kickstarter. We didn't put an enormous amount of resources into it, but we put a decent amount of resources into it.

And we hit… we got 6,500 backers for about 250 K. And that launched Trekking the World. Since then, we have close to 10X that number of units. Most of our sales happen outside of Kickstarter, rather than on Kickstarter. Similar thing, we spent a lot on PPC. We spent a lot on Facebook ads. And that's where our expertise kind of is. 

And that's where we push a majority of units because a lot of the audiences that we have are off of Kickstarter, but yeah. So Trekking the World.

Trekking Through History

Hasan: (18:24)

We did that, and then our newest game, which we just launched on Kickstarter again this year, Trekking Through History will probably be the last time we use Kickstarter. We would like to transition off of it. But yeah, we just did “Trekking Through History.” And one of the coolest stories behind it is we actually asked our “Trekking the World” audience what our next game should be.

Co-creating With Your Customers

Hasan: (18:45)

So in Kickstarter, in order to receive their game, they have to fill out what's called a pledge manager. And with the pledge manager, we were able to ask a question before they put in their address and received the game. So we asked them to give us ideas during the Kickstarter for our next game. We took those ideas and put them up for a poll. And we picked the winner, which was “Trekking Through History.”

And then over the next two years, we updated our audience about that game and then launched it. So they picked the game for us.

Nick: (19:14)

That's amazing. So how much did the poll cost you?

Hasan: (19:18)

I mean, the poll cost is nothing.

Nick: (19:20)

But I'm just thinking like the poll cost and then the data that you get

Hasan: (19:24)

Is incredible.

Nick: (19:25)

Right? It's the best that you can get, basically.

Hasan: (19:28)

Yeah. It's a funny thing because they're essentially forced to answer it. It's not often you can force all of your customers to answer a question. And it was a quick, multiple choice. It just clicks. So it wasn't that hard.

Nick: (19:38)

Well, I imagine it sounds like you really presented it in a way where they probably wanted to fill it out, right? It seems like you really know these people—you know, your audience. And you know what they want and, you know, why wouldn't they want someone to create a new product that they want for them?

Hasan: (19:56)

Yeah. We hope we hope they were excited about it. We got a lot of positive feedback when we launched Trekking Through History, that it felt like they were part of the journey. And we greatly appreciate it. We could not do it without them helping us out, helping us pick, and helping us play-test the games and all that stuff. So it's cool.

Nick: (20:13)

How long ago was “Trekking Through History” that you guys launched?

Hasan: (20:17)

Oh, so we just… our kickstart campaign just finished like February 28th. All right. So the kickstart campaign just finished. We're gonna launch that game into retail this year—at the end of this year.

The Role of Retail in Hasan’s Sales Channel

Nick: (20:30)

That's exciting! So how much does retail play a role in your sales channel?

Hasan: (20:38)

So retail… we have two avenues for retail. Essentially. We have small mom and pops. We built out that distribution network as well. There's a story behind that as well. We actually hired a full-time sales rep to drive around the country in a minivan and go to these small mom-and-pop stores across the country—to set up the foundation of our mom-and-pop stores instead of working with sales reps.

I don't know if that was the most prudent choice, but it gave us a super strong foundation. And internally we built… we've spent a lot of time building really, really strong systems so that, you know, we could handle 500 to 800 clients with minimal work, now.

Make It Easy for Your Customers to Order

Hasan: (21:21)

One of the keys… this is just like, our hack for mom-and-pop retail… Anyone that wants to get into mom-and-pop retail, a lot of people will make it easy for themselves, um, in how to handle the orders. So an example of that is, they'll be like, “Hey…” We'll create a Shopify website for our brick-and-mortar retailer—small mom and pops.

And then they can just come onto the website login and then just put in the information and then boom! It arrives to them. It's super clean, super-automatic, et cetera, except it's not easy for them. It's easy for you.

They Don’t Want to Go to Your Website

Hasan: (21:58)

They don't want to go to your website. They have a million things to do. The last thing they want to do is go to your website.

They don't care. They don't have the time to do that now. And if you think… and if you go further deeper, right?…

A lot of e-commerce companies fail with mom-and-pop distribution when they think about e-commerce customers.

Like you're always making things easy for your customers on your website, right? You're always thinking about, “Hey, what can I do to the customer to make this a perfect experience? Cuz I want to increase my conversion rate.”

Spend Time to Understand Their Systems

Hasan: (22:27)

People don't do that for mom-and-pop retailers because they don't spend the time to talk to those retailers and ask them, Hey, what are your systems? What's the easiest way for you to order? And if they did, maybe they would know a lot of these retailers have software that automates their ordering. They create invoices as soon as stock runs low and send them to to the publishers whose email is already input.

So what we did was we worked extremely hard. We still focused internally on how to make the systems easy for us, but we worked extremely hard on how to make the systems easy for the mom-and-pop retailer.

Make the Relationship Organic

Hasan: (23:03)

So we, you know, we would tell them, “Hey, you could text us, you could email us, or you could call us, or you could go to our website, It doesn't matter.” Like if they texted us, if they're already in our system and they hit us with a text. And they were like, “Hey, six copies of Trekking the National Parks, please.” We can put that order through with no problem, right?

We wanted to make it as seamless for them as possible. There is no confusion. And then internally we had to work really hard to make sure all of our systems are connected so that essentially one person can handle all of it. Now, we have 800 mom-and-pop stores. The second is… go on. Go ahead.

Scaling From Two People to a Big Business

Nick: (23:37)

I was gonna say, I'm curious to know a little more about how you went from, you know, you and the other guy from the board game to building this team. These systems, you know. What are some strategies that you really found and tactics that you've found to work for yourself that you would tell other people to try if they're trying to do the same thing?

Make Wise Comparisons

Hasan: (23:59)

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure. Well, I was gonna say with the retail, the other one is like a mass market. And we're approaching that now. We're getting into that, cuz it's a really small mom-and-pop. And Target and Walmart are like the big dogs and that's it. And Barnes and Noble.

“Never judge your chapter one against someone else's chapter five or chapter ten”

So we're working on that too, but we haven't really stepped too deep in those toes. With the team itself, building out everything. I mean, it's, it's a hard journey.

The first thing I would tell people… my friend Edward told me this one time and he said “Never judge your chapter one against someone else's chapter five or chapter ten.” And I, was like, that's so powerful. When you're starting out, it's gonna be hard, right?

This guy started a company in 2018, not 2022. I spent three years making mistakes and screwing up to get to the point where the team is doing really well. And it's automated. You're gonna have to potentially take a while to get there. Like you're gonna have to learn if you've never built out a company of this size or you've never run your own business.

Build Up, Learn, and Figure It Out

Hasan: (25:03)

Like don't judge your own current progress by my chapter five you're on chapter one, you know. I've done this for a few years. Like, don't do that. Like you will build up, you will learn, you will figure it out. You have to be ready to not be perfect from day two. It's not gonna happen. It's just not. So building up the team, building up the systems, building up the processes, people first is always the critical part.

Hire the Right People to Build Out the Processes

Hasan: (25:32)

There are some business owners, I think, that prefer to work in a way where they build all those systems and then they just have people come in and follow them. And for some businesses, that might work. We're in a very creative business, right? So, you can't really do that in creative businesses in creative business The best thing I think I've done… the best piece of advice I can give in building out the teams and processes is if you hire the right people, they'll build out the processes. And let them build it to their strengths.

Let them build their processes how they want. You want unification throughout the company. So there's some level of synergy. But I think when you're small, at least… when you haven't hit a bigger number and your team's not up to 50 people… I think it's actually more important to let the people that you hire in the management role, build out the processes however, they're most comfortable.

And let them have absolute… empower them to essentially build those systems out. And people on the teamwork differently.

Make It Flexible

Hasan: (26:33)

I have three heads of departments at the moment. One of them is in charge of my studio. And, you know, the way he wants to run the creative side of creating board games is completely different than how the marketing team wants to run. and how the operations team wants to run. I mean, I have three very strong personalities in charge of each of those departments; Operations, marketing, and the studio.

And they all have their own processes by which they wanna run the company. And the company is so much more flexible if I let them choose. And if I let them figure out how to build those processes out, rather than me telling them. So that's huge. That to me was the real biggest change I made, rather than trying to give them the systems. In terms of actually building out systems, like what, or how to build out strong systems.

I mean, you gotta figure it out, I guess is really the only way. I mean, you try things, they don't work, you cut those, you build better ones. At some point, either you or someone else in your company is playing a game to figure out the best, most efficient way to do things.

Someone in Your Team Must Love Solving Problems

Hasan: (27:36)

I don't know if I have like very specific… like this is how he builds systems. I'm actually not very great at it. So that's one of the reasons I'm very good at using software helping people and showing people do things. But in terms of building processes and stuff, not really one of my strong suits,

Nick: (27:49)

Well, it sounds like you're good at getting the right people, you know, to do, the things that you need to be done. It seems like you've been able to accomplish that with the people you put around you and the tools that you use, right? Like that's the other piece of it, right? There is finding those tools, but yeah… Other than that, man, you definitely just gotta put in the work.

There are so many great things you can identify like trends. You start to see yourself once you just get in there and get your hands dirty and, take a step back and kind of see what's going on, right? And then you see somewhere else to keep going down and it can be fun, man. 

Hasan: (28:25)

I think if you want to run a small business, either you or one of your top people has to just love solving problems. Like that has to like to excite them. I remember when we were doing the big road trip with my sales rep. I was looking up software that, made it so that you could put in 10 locations in your store and it would give you the faster track to them.

It's called roadmaps.

Saving Time With Software

Hasan: (28:51)

So I was like, you know, I'm trying to solve all these... I was out there in the morning at 8:00 AM being like, what is the best roadmapping software? That's what you do. I mean, if you have a problem, it's like, I need, you know… It saved almost an hour a day. It's huge, that's massive, makes life so much easier.

Nick: (29:07)

Yeah. I remember doing stuff like that back in the retail arbitrage days, man. If you knew you had some… if there's some product in stores and you wanted to hit it, mapping it out like that was crucial. I think if you're gonna start out and get to a million in just that business and revenue, you're gonna start looking at some stuff like that, it seems.

Solving Invoicing Problems With Software

Hasan: (29:31)

Yeah. And there's like so many… we looked up B2B software in that world. We looked up how to integrate that software into ShipStation invoicing. You try to just keep automating as many different parts of the business as you can. And unlike the marketing side, on the creative side, it's always endless, like, this is a problem.

Using the Eos Structure

Hasan: (29:52)

This is how we fix it. And then that was wrong. Keep ideating, and keep trying to come up with better solutions. We also run our company on EOS structures so every week we have to talk about issues, and resolve issues. That's massive as well.

Nick: (30:06)

Yeah, definitely gotta have some good project management stuff. I know a lot of people like EOS and it's just refreshing to hear it works for somebody. You know, I think it just helps them either give it a shot if they were thinking about it or take it more seriously if they've been toying around with it.

Using EOS to Make Your Problem-Solving Actionable

Hasan: (30:23)

Yeah. I would highly recommend it. I mean, just the weekly issues list is… that's the most powerful thing you can have in the EOS.

Just get your executive team together once a week and rank the highest priority issues. Then really put strong systems in place, so that the way you're solving the issues is actionable.

That's really the key.

Don't waffle; try and really solve the issues.

Delegate and Go on a Trip

Nick: (30:45)

So I know we were talking earlier, and you mentioned how you planned that trip, you know, and you were gonna go away for a few months, and you had to prepare yourself and your team to do that. What was that like? And, how did it play out when you left?

Hasan: (31:01)

Yeah. So I have no idea where I read this. I mean, everyone says it was a Four-hour workweek. But, I don't think it was a four-hour workweek. I think it was a blog. But wherever I read it, some guy made a very strong point where he says you wanna travel without your computer, without working you wanna get to that next level as a CEO where you can delegate all your responsibilities.

Just pick a date, just literally pick a date. Book the hotel, book the flight, and book it for however many weeks. You wanna do it and that's the date and that's it. And the minute you do that, your entire mindset changes. Like you start solving things that you could have solved years ago. But until you have the date, you don't bother solving those things.

You don't bother trying to figure out financial controls in place. You don't try to figure out who gets what delegate... Like who gets delegated what. You just don't even bother because there's no date in place.

The Test Run

Hasan: (31:54)

So I did a quick... I actually did a test run first. I didn't really tell you this, but in 2020 during during the pandemic, I decided to do a two-week trip in October when it was like fall fully—It's my favorite season when the leave changed. And that was gonna be my test run. So I told my team, “Hey, first two weeks of October, I'm just not gonna be here. I'm gonna switch my cellphone. I'm not gonna really respond to messages.”

We created an emergency way to respond in case something really big did come up and I needed to get in there.

Make Arrangements for Emergency

Hasan: (32:26)

So I did a test run where you know, I told my team in July, I was like, "Hey, I booked the Airbnb. Like it's set. I booked the Airbnb for two weeks and bought these tickets. Like I'm gonna be gone for two weeks let's figure out what needs to be done.” And we sat there and, you know, created a list. I created a potential, "in case of fire, break emergency glass situations that they could do before they contact me.

So I set up things that they... People they can contact. I actually had this other fellow MDS member to whom I asked their permission. I was like, "Hey, can my team contact you If something goes wrong and they need help with something with Amazon? And he said, yes. And like, that's like a fun way to do it. If you have another MDS or if you have a friend who's also in the same space as you.

Be like, Hey, I wanna take off for two weeks. If you ever have it with your team, I'll be your point of contact.

Some Things Will Go Wrong, but It’s Okay

Hasan: (33:24)

So like, yeah, I created these things for them. And then, you know, we figured out what needed to be delegated and not needed to be delegated. And I was fully ready for the fact that things weren't gonna go well, that's okay. It's two weeks. Like your business will be fine. it's not like the business... I mean, unless you go in the middle of the peak time of the year, your business will not collapse without you not being there for two weeks.

Nothing will fundamentally break just cuz you're not there for two weeks. So I was fully ready. I was fully, okay, this is my first time doing it. I mean, I'm still young. And this is the only business I've ever really run. I've never worked in corporate America really. So I don't know these things. I had to figure them out for myself. So I was fully ready for the fact that things weren't gonna go super well. There were gonna be issues.

You’ll See Your Blind Spots

Hasan: (34:09)

But the point of it is that you find blind spots. You figure out where the blind spots for the company are or people don't know. And we identified those issues. It wasn't perfect. It was… for the most part, the company was great. They did a great job handling it. There were no issues. Revenue didn't drop to zero. It was the same way as before I left.

And after I came back, nothing had changed fundamentally in those two weeks. But we identified blind spots where I was like, “Oh, you guys need more visibility into this. Oh, you guys… I should train you a little better on this. Oh, I haven't given you access to these things and you need those. And I should delegate this to you cuz you can do that. I don't need to be here for that.

Those kind of things. And then I was... that was in preparation for the next year when I took four months off. And I think I worked probably like five to six solid days in those four months and…

Six Days in Four Full Months

Nick: (34:57)

Six days in four full months. What does that really mean? Like you get your computer out or like you look on Slack?

Hasan: (35:05)

No, the five solid days, what we would do... What I would do was I would pick… I was spending a week or two in cities. And in a two-week time span, I would tell my team, "Hey, I'm gonna be online for this day. And I would go to a co-working space and I enjoy, I love working. So like I love my team. I love working. So it wouldn't bother me.

I would go to a co-working space, make some friends in the co-working space and I would sit online and work for the entire day.

Help the Executives Solve Problems

Hasan: (35:28)

And essentially in those days, it was like each executive team member. I did a one-on-one call. Any issues I bought up, I solved them then. And that way it was just like every three weeks we just sat down. I went through everything and I'd knocked everything out in a century in one day, right?

Check Important Messages

Hasan: (35:48)

And then maybe... usually like once a week I would check my email for like an hour. So, you know, if I woke up before my... I did the whole trip with a buddy of mine. If I'm awake one night, or if I'm just up early, or just middle of the day we get back and we're about to take a nap or something. I'll hop on my computer, check my email for like 30 minutes to an hour check Slack messages, et cetera.

But yeah, the team did really well. We still identified more blind spots. We still identified more things where it could improve. But I mean…

Shout Out to an Amazing Team

Nick: (36:17)

Man, that's amazing. Well, shout out to your team for making it happen.

Hasan: (36:21)

I mean, they're incredible. I owe them a lot. They all wanted to step up to the challenge. They all were ready for it because they wanted increased responsibility. They wanted to know that the company would run fine without me. So, man, I appreciate everything that they've done. And they stepped up huge at that time.

Nick: (36:37)

Yeah, man. That's great.

Don’t Be a Prisoner in Your Business

Hasan: (36:39)

But I highly recommend it. You don't wanna build a business where you become a prisoner to your own business.

Nick: (36:43)

Yeah. Yeah. You build yourself into your own job, right? Like, get yourself out of it, right? At least like that you can wake up and be like, oh man, I gotta make a change here. And it gets a little easier than an actual job

Hasan: (36:58)

Yeah. Yeah. And not everyone needs three months off. And this was for me, this was like a once in a lifetime trip. My buddy quit his job cuz he got another job offer and he had three months. So I was like, this was a huge opportunity. I wanted to take it and really travel the world. But like, you know, even if you don't leave your house, you need to know that.

You need that level of security knowing that "Hey, if the need comes... If the time comes and I can't work for a week, the business will be good. And the real only way to stress-test that is to not work for a week. I don't care who you are. I don't care what stage… I mean, unless you literally run the company by yourself, it's a different story.

Take Time to Rest

Hasan: (37:34)

But if you're at a certain stage where you have a team then you should really, really push yourself to take one week off. Absolutely. It doesn't matter if you sit at home, sit in a bath, and you know, hot spa… It doesn't really matter what you do. Take the time off, and enjoy it. Don't work for the week. Stress-test your business because when the time comes and it becomes necessary for whatever reason…

Maybe you have a baby and you... The first couple weeks, you're like, I don't wanna work. I just had a baby. Then you know that, okay, I don't have to cuz I've already put these systems in place and it's important.

A Path That Gives You Full Control

Nick: (38:14)

Yeah, man, I think it's just a great pathway that you've taken. From, you know, reselling, starting out in that way where you can start out with a small amount of money. Working, your ass off, while you have to because you're limited on other resources. Getting those resources readjusting and just, you know, going down this path that allows you to have mostly complete control over your business?

No one's gonna shut down your contract, you know, or tell you, you can't sell here anymore, right? It's just great to see you've taken that journey, man.

Hasan: (38:55)

Cool man. Yeah. I appreciate it.

Nick: (38:58)

And I think I saw you in Jackson, right? You were still on that trip, right? That four months?

Hasan: (39:04)

Yes. Yes. Yeah. I was in Jackson in the middle of my trip. What's up?

Nick: (39:08)

It was like the tail end of that. So maybe halfway through...

Hasan: (39:12)

It was halfway through, I went back to… I had to come back to the US for a wedding and then we ended up in Jackson. I actually spent a week in Yellowstone and and Tetons before the retreat.

Nick: (39:25)

So what was your, you know, top? Where, where did you go? I mean, how many different...

Hasan: (39:29)

I mean a lot of countries in Europe. Cause it was the only...

Nick: (39:31)

What was your favorite top three, maybe?

Hasan: (39:34)

I mean it's of course incredible, but probably Italy, Portugal, and Croatia. All amazing places.

What’s New?

Nick: (39:42)

Oh, man. Yeah, that sounds nice. I haven't been out there. Well, yeah man, what are you guys up to now? What are you working on? And, and what's the vision for the company?

Becoming Independent From Facebook Ads

Hasan: (39:56)

Yeah. So now we are essentially focused on establishing independence from Facebook ads. That's a big thing because Facebook ads got so much more expensive. So we're really focused on bringing... You know, retaining the customers that we have and bringing new customers in through, emails and content.

Focusing on Content

Hasan: (40:18)

Content is a big piece of the puzzle. We've hired an incredible content creator. She used to be a former editor for Birds and Blooms. So that's been really cool seeing that shift from paid media to content-driven media and content-driven advertising, you know? The question that is still out there is whether that's gonna work sustainably or not.

But we're hopeful... We're confident. We feel pretty good about it.

Product Development

Hasan: (40:44)

And then product development is always, always a hard thing in a creative world, right? And if you're creating movies or if you're creating music or TV shows or whatever it is when you're in the creative industry, product development is always the hardest thing. So we're always trying... We just put another pool out there today, actually, about the next game we should make. So we're looking... We're parsing through that data, seeing what our customers want, and trying to improve how we make games, cuz that's always very tricky too.

And that's it. I mean, that's really the core of the company going forward, looking for new avenues, looking for new places to explore. It seems like our infrastructure is set up pretty well to grow. So at this point, it's just, what's the new opportunities out there?

Hasan’s Focus on the Business

Nick: (41:26)

What area of the business are you focused on yourself the most right now?

Hasan: (41:31)

Yeah. So like my job as a visionary is mostly to develop relationships. So like I'm exploring, partnering with brands, partnering with... You know, working on the... potentially working with Target. That kind of thing. And new ideas for products. That's really where I'm focused. I'm also the CFO of the company. I have a background in accounting, so let's put some of my time in there as well.

But yeah, now we've gotten to the point in the company where I'm able to spend most of my time ideating on new ideas for our products. Where our growth opportunities are and what partnerships we can build. And that's really where I think my time is best spent at the moment.

Hasan’s Three Best Sources of Inspiration

Nick: (42:07)

Nice man. Where do you have some of your best ideas? Like what do you feel gets you...? 10 minute walks outside?

Hasan: (42:14)

Yeah. Yeah. So like there are three times in my life where I feel like my best ideas come.

Daily Walks

Nick: (42:20)

Usually, I go on a daily walk. So almost always on my daily walk, I have a decent idea. Sometimes the walk's for 10 minutes, sometimes it's for an hour. I usually have some good ideas there.

Coffee Shop

Hasan: (42:31)

My second-best ideas usually come first thing in the morning. Sometimes I go to a coffee shop. I have some great ideas at the coffee shop.

That's really nice.

Sleep-deprived State

Hasan: (42:38)

And then, to be honest, my other best ideas usually come when I'm extremely sleep-deprived. I don't know why. I couldn't tell you why. Either I wake up at 3:00 AM and I'm just like, I can't go back to sleep. I just have amazing ideas. Or if I only sleep like four hours, I wake up and like my body's on the verge of shutting down. My brain, like unlocks.

Couldn't tell you why.

Nick: (43:00)

Yeah. I've had… I remember I had like twice in my life. It was like for a couple of months... Or like two months I couldn't sleep. And at one point I was like, man, I'm just gonna get up and start doing stuff. And I remember having some pretty good ideas and like writing down a lot of stuff I was like, I couldn't control it, man. It was crazy. But it only happened once or twice.

Hasan: (43:19)

yeah. Yeah. Couldn't tell you. I just know for a fact. And sometimes right before bed.

It's not great when you have good ideas right before bed, but I have learned to put a notebook on my side table.

Nick: (43:33)

Go and get them out. It's definitely therapeutic for me.

Hasan: (43:35)

Yeah. No, it helps so much. It helps so much.

Nick: (43:39)

So I mean, what's next on the horizon for you yourself, man? Like what's going on in your life?

Building a Business That Survives for 20 Years

Hasan: (43:46)

No man, not much. It's just I love the business. I love growing it. I think we're gonna grow it. I think we're gonna try and establish it as a you know, potentially a business that survives for 20 years.

when you're an entrepreneur, the most fun you'll ever have in is the start of a business.

And some people have the goal of creating a business that they can sell. And I think we believe that this is one of those businesses that maybe we can keep going for a long, long time. So that's kind of what I spend most of my time working on. I still, like, I'm still traveling a lot. I still kind of focus on that. I always, always, always want to start something else.

You know? Like it's a never-ending issue I have. Which is that when you're an entrepreneur, the most fun you'll have in entrepreneurship is the start of a business. It's just true.

Hasan’s Other Passions

Hasan: (44:26)

Some people enjoy building and scaling, but I'm not one of those people. I don't actually really enjoy scaling the business that much. It's not where I get my joy. It's when I start something. It's like, you know when we were in that campsite in Sedona, our first annual retreat, just me and Charlie, I told Charlie, I was like, this is the most fun we're ever gonna have.

He disagreed. He's having more fun now. But for me, that was the most fun I've ever had. It was at that moment when all the opportunities were available and we haven't done anything yet. So I'm always fighting that urge. I wanna open a Dosa restaurant. Like that's a passion of mine. I love Dosa. It's like an Indian... south Indian specialty dish.

And I really wanna open a chocolate cafe. Like my other passion chocolate. So I have all these things I want to do, but I've held myself back. I've held myself back from doing them for now.

Nick: (45:16)

Well, I think you're in a position to potentially do those things. It seems like the way that you operate. I mean, how old are you now?

Hasan: (45:25)

I'm 27.

Nick: (45:27)

20... 27. Yeah. You're good, man.

Hasan: (45:30)

I've got the time.

Nick: (45:31)

I'll talk to you in a couple of years. You'll be baking some chocolate or something.

The Chef of the Future

Hasan: (45:34)

There's like a point I want to get to in the business. I don't think it's quite there where I feel comfortable, completely putting my energy into something else. Oh, so just like the other issue you open a physical occasion for anything and it becomes hard to travel. And I still wanna travel. So I'm like, I don't wanna be stuck inside. I wanna open a restaurant, but I don't wanna be stuck inside the restaurant yet.

You know, when I feel more settled down, when I feel like it's time where I'm gonna spend like a year in the spot without really traveling a lot, I'm gonna open a restaurant, I think. Probably silly, but you know, sometimes you gotta pursue it.

Nick: (46:10)

I mean, if you're just the chef, right? Like you got everything else figured out. If you can just be the chef.

Hasan: (46:16)


Nick: (46:17)

Yeah. That's who you wanna be. Right, man, just in there cooking up, exploring, trying stuff out. Testing recipes…

Hasan: (46:24)

Seems like fun. It just seems like so much fun.

Nick: (46:26)

I used to love cooking myself, man. But you know, it takes up a lot of time. And the cleanup and stuff like that. But playing around with stuff in the kitchen, creating something good, taking it out to the family. That's such a good feeling too.

Hasan: (46:40)

Yeah, I totally agree. Totally agree.

Nick: (46:43)

Well, Hasan, thanks for coming on, man. It's been great, just hearing about your journey and what you've been through. And what you've accomplished and where you're most likely heading, man. I'm looking forward to seeing what you're able to accomplish and thanks for coming on and, sharing it with us.

Hasan: (46:58)

Thanks for having me, man. I'll see you soon. And thank you everyone for listening.

Nick: (47:03)

Yeah, man. See you in a couple of weeks.

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