Nick Shucet 00:00

Welcome to the Million Dollar Sellers Podcast. I'm your host Nick Shucet. Today we have Justin Cobb from Carbon 6 on the call. Carbon 6, they are crushing it in the e-commerce space. I think they're doing some unique stuff. They've had some big accomplishments so far this year. They're growing seven figures every month. They've doubled their ARR this year.

I know you guys said you were burning a million dollars a month at the beginning of the year and you guys just became profitable recently. Is that right Justin? 

Justin Cobb 00:35 

That is right. Yeah, that's right.

Nick Shucet 00:37 

Awesome man, so it sounds good things are going the way you want them to go now but I imagine you guys went through some turbulent times and that the startup was pretty shaky. Why don't you just take us back to that point and tell us a little bit about why you started Carbon 6 and how you guys have gotten to where you are? 

Justin Cobb 00:55 

Perfect. Great to be on the podcast, Nick. Big fan. Before Carbon 6, I had a previous career. I built a large face-to-face outsourced direct sales business. I have just over 7,000 people in that business today. A bunch of different countries got a chance to move all over. I lived in England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Poland.

We're the outsourced sales marketing arm for the largest telecommunications companies in the world, and the largest energy companies in the world. We do a lot of face-to-face charity fundraising. We've raised over $5 billion for charities over the last decade or so. My partners and I started buying and building software companies somewhere along the way.

We acquired a business called, which we've grown over in the UK. I did that business. It was a full-on sprint for 18, and 19 years, and lucky enough to have a lot of people who help run the day-to-day of that now. Moved my family down to sunny Puerto Rico where I am today. Lots of your members are down here. I would recommend for anybody to come on down here unless you love paying taxes, in which case you should stay in the States.

I came down here to take my foot off the gas, so to speak. I was doing a bunch of investing stuff and that was my plan. I was going to be involved in my business when I needed to be, but it took a bunch of time and get into some investing stuff. I realized quickly that wasn't the way I was built. Everything that I looked at, whether I wanted to build a competitor or find a better way to do it.

At the time, aggregators were all the rage, right in the middle of what turned out to be 15 billion in money that went into that space. The guy who was living across the street from me here in Puerto Rico was the CEO of a small aggregator. It just seemed like anybody with a nice degree or good background was putting together a deck and going and raising 100 million, or 319 million, or 245 million.

I found aspects of that I thought were interesting. I did a bunch of research on roll-up strategies. That seemed like a risky one, but it was getting a lot of traction. I saw some stuff happening in Shopify where people were rolling up apps or people were rolling up agencies. As it turned out, the only people that I met early on in my neighborhood that were younger than me, now there's a bunch of people like the Paul brothers live here and a bunch of other goofballs. At the time, the first people who were younger than me that I met were Amazon sellers.

One of them, I know you know, is Brendan Morris, who's the founder of Seller Tools. It was intriguing to me because I didn't know how much money there was in e-commerce. As I got to know the space, it was all around me. All the investments I was looking at. It seemed to be e-commerce, the people I was meeting were sellers. What we saw was a $600 billion market, a TAM that was going through Amazon every year.

This highly fragmented set of services and software and a true lack of sophistication servicing that TAM. When we looked around at a bunch of different opportunities, we just couldn't find anywhere that had a market size that big that had such fragmentation. Even today, our estimates put it at no company having even 2% of the market.

As markets mature, and it's only been a handful of years since Amazon even started releasing APIs for developers such as ours to build on top of. Consolidation is inevitable. What we also saw was a consolidation of the revenue on the platform going up with groups like yourselves where it's unique where you can build a brand, you can sell it, and then you can do it all over again. In most industries, you can't compete.

You can compete a lot closer here than you can almost anywhere else. Between that, the iOS updates that create a lot of momentum for native DTC, coming over to Amazon as well as just brick and mortar, and what was happening during COVID-19 speeding up the inevitable. What we saw was a market that had been defined in its early years by solopreneurs coming and making their first million dollars in a dream, taking a course, and learning how to sell.

That was going to consolidate to professional sellers like your group and these larger brands. We didn't see anyone that was positioned well to take that market. The couple of businesses that we saw on software that had achieved a little bit of a scale were focused and were known for the new seller. That's the opportunity that we saw.

In terms of how we were going to attack it, in the beginning, some of it was just arbitrage. We were seeing things, if we buy them at X and then if we buy enough of them and we have a critical mass, it'll be worth Y and the delta between X and Y is what will be worth. Our original plan was just to buy several businesses and then maybe go public quickly in Canada.

Early on, what we saw was this huge opportunity to build the ecosystem to serve the professional seller. We just didn't see anybody that was particularly well positioned to do it and the opportunity very quickly became a huge opportunity in our minds. It's been a sprint ever since. You mentioned early on that it's been a great year for us and it's been a fantastic year for us.

That's rare, or that's not a common story for software businesses. It's been a very difficult last 16, and 18 months as the markets have shifted almost on a dime overnight. For so many years with money so cheap, it was growth at all costs. Now it's been dubbed the year of efficiency, where your expectation is you need to be able to grow and you need to be able to do it efficiently.

That created some dicey times for us. As a software company, it's burning money. Money was so easy when we first started the business, we had nothing. We just had a deck and it said like Thrasio, WeCommerce who had done what we were doing in Shopify. Then it was us and we had this picks and shovels story that it was the gold rush for Amazon sellers and the picks and shovel companies were the best companies during the California Gold Rush and it'd be the same thing here.

We had some LOIs and we were raising no problem. Nobody's raising, no problem now. The amount of deals that are getting done is down well over 90% at all stages. We had to make some difficult decisions just under a year ago that we were going to have to severely cut our spending and cut our burn and become profitable right away while still growing the business.

As you know, it's hard to lower what you're spending, for example, on PPC while raising sales. It's difficult to cut costs while burning, but things are for sure on the right track today. 

Nick Shucet 07:53 

Nice man. It's been It's interesting to listen to you tell that story and me being involved in Amazon since like 2015 and I can reflect on software I've used and people have networked with and you're right. There's this wide variety of services out there like ChannelAdvisor that comes to mind. They're a publicly traded company, right? I remember looking at omni-channel software and I was like, why the hell is this one so expensive?

Then you've got some other random one that some guy just created and it's $49 a month. It's like super cheap. I'm like, what is going on here? 

Justin Cobb 08:40 

I'll pay you to use my software. Shopify has an app store. The main driver of leads for Shopify software is the app store. It's like SEO inside the app store. Whereas in Amazon, it's interesting. There are tons of micro-communities and those communities in some ways dictate what software people are exposed to, and what services they use.

That's been one of the coolest parts about building the businesses is we've taken an approach of trying to get out in the community as much as possible. We sponsor just about every event that occurs on planet Earth, I think, at this point. It's a large TAM, but there's a reason why it's so fragmented. It's because the influence and the voices and all the different pockets, all the different communities, all the different masterminds are what create that fragmentation in some ways. 

Nick Shucet 09:39 

Is that something you've come to understand through this experience or is that something you recognized early on? Why it's so fragmented? 

Justin Cobb 09:51 

I think pretty early on, it was very evident. When we started looking at businesses, it was like everyone had a thousand users. Everyone was dealing between like 850,000 and 1.7 million ARR, and it just depended on the size of their community.  It was pretty evident. Long before we even had the right software suite, and I think I'm proud to say today, I think we have the best range of solutions for that professional seller of anybody on the planet by a wide margin.

Early on, we started sponsoring before we even had anything to sell. We saw building this distribution network. We like to call our building this network and this community network being the piece that was going to over time drive distribution and adoption of our software. We started doing that a year before we were even ready to take anything to market. 

Nick Shucet 10:49 

Nice. What were some of the early events that you guys were going out to and getting involved with? 

Justin Cobb 10:57 

I have a funny story. I don't think I've ever told the story. We were doing a partnership deal I think with SellersFunding at the time and Tim Jordan, was in charge of the partnership over there. I think we incorporated Carbon 6 the Thursday before and we'd already decided we got to drive some financial solutions in here. The investors like this, so if investors like it, we got to go find a way to do it.

Tim goes, Hey, are you gonna go to the Prosper show? I'm like, what's the Prosper show? He's like, Oh, it's the biggest Amazon conference. You should go. I'm like, I have no idea. I don't know what that is. He's like, it's three weeks. I'll give you the contact. We huddled and we were like, Hey, we didn't want anybody to know that we're buying these businesses because we're small and we didn't even have any money yet.

We essentially went to businesses and said, we have a bunch of money we wanna buy you. Then we had to go and find investors to give us money to buy the businesses. I kicked in and some of the other friends, we kicked in a bunch of money to start it, but we were buying more than we could fund ourselves. It was a little bit of a tricky situation and we thought that people could just come and overbid us.

Some well-capitalized people were executing a similar strategy. We didn't want anyone to know that we were doing this so we didn't go with Carbon 6. We had bought, I think a ranking service that we didn't even really realize yet was a black hat called Alpha Raven. We had that at the stand. I think we're probably the only people who ever openly promoted that at a Prosper event.

Then a PPC software that we had and then AMZAlert. Then we had our banner named Seller Compass. It was just a made-up name. We pretended that we were an agency and we were just going to check out and understand the lay of the land. It was the first event that we'd ever been to. I can remember we had this big stand and we hired a bunch of promotional people and girls to pass out flyers.

We set up a lot of people for AMZAlert that weekend, but more than anything, it was cool just seeing the community. This is at the height of the aggregator boom. Unybrands, those guys are awesome, close partners of ours. At the time, we didn't know them. We had this big booth that we overpaid for, for really no reason. We have these three software, including this black hat ranking service that we're signing tons of people up for.

I think no one could even believe that we were on the floor with it. This was before the TOS changes, technically changed. Under Seller Compass, that was our name. Still today, if we register for a booth at the Prosper show, it's under Seller Compass, because that was like the original name that we went to. Unybrands had this small stand next to us, and sellers would come by, and they were talking to a couple of them.

Then on the second day, a raise was announced and I don't want to misquote the number. I want to say they raised a $266 million or $175 or some funny money number series and we're like, what the heck is going on? We have to figure out how to do that. We're taking a hundred grand checks from people to buy this ranking service thing. What are we doing wrong? That was the first event we went to. 

Nick Shucet 14:07 

Nice. I love that story just because I love hearing, just how unsure you guys were of things, but you're still navigating things confidently. I assume confidence in yourself, confidence in your team, and belief in the vision that you guys had. I think there are so many people out in the world that they feel that way. I can do this thing. I have this idea, but then the hurdles come in, money, people.

You can overcome those things. If you're listening right now and you have a dream, you have a passion, you can overcome those obstacles. You can overcome money. That was a big one for me to realize. Money can be the easiest thing in the business sometimes. I love that. I love that that's how you guys were operating. 

Justin Cobb 15:04 

When you're a kid, and I remember being a high school kid, I was a little bit of a punk kid. I didn't have a lot of great stuff going on, but I remember driving down the street, growing up in a nice town, and just looking at these houses, and they were four or $500,000 and is like $8 in my pocket, just got fired from working at a fast food restaurant or something, because I didn't show up for 10 days in a row, being like, how would you ever afford?

How would a human being ever get $400,000 to buy a house? How would that ever happen? Also just thinking everybody was super competent and super confident, thinking that adults knew everything. My assumption was there were guys spraying mosquitoes that were here two hours ago. I started talking to him and one of them has been on the job for four days. 

He doesn't know what he's doing. When I was a kid, I would look at someone who was doing yard work in my yard and think like that person, not that we had people come over and do yard work in my yard, but theoretically, that person knows exactly what they're doing. They must be a career professional at this. The same thing happens with money.

Through this business, I've gotten to talk to some of the largest investors in the world. I've talked to more billionaires through this business than I had previously times 10. All super smart people. All just like you said, went for it. They all have similar qualities where they just freaking go for it, but they don't know everything. Smart money gets a lot wrong.

The smartest, most sophisticated investors in the world, like VCs, have a 90% break even or fail rate in their portfolio. I think that what can give everyone listening confidence is the difference between what you think the gap is between where you're at and where the people that you emulate or idolize or look up to or feel are so far out of reach for you, what you perceive that gap to be and what that gap to be are two dramatically different things.

As you say, just by being willing to get in the arena and go for it, we had nothing to lose. Now what I think is interesting is when you do have something to lose, we had nothing to lose. We bought a couple of businesses, we deployed $1,000,000. It was low risk. The game now is much higher risk. I have a lot of people I care about who are investors in the business.

We have huge, big institutional investors. We have hundreds of people on the team that we care about. The stakes are way higher than ever. Although you have to pivot a little bit, and I wake up every single day thinking, how do I de-risk this business more than I think about how do I make it fly in the clouds? How do I de-risk it? You still have to be able to retain that ability and that willingness to just go for it. 

Nick Shucet 17:57 

It can be tough to balance all those things man. I think a lot of it can be summed up by trust. I remember being a young kid and not having that trust or confidence in myself and just going down the path that school had put out there for me. You want to buy a four hundred thousand dollar house one day. You can get a loan, and you can pay it off in 35 years and we'll solve that problem for you.

I’m very fortunate that I hit some very hard times in my life where I had to develop confidence in myself. When I came out of that, that's when I swung the pendulum the other way where it's like, I'll just go for anything. Now I gotta dial it in a little bit and moderate that behavior. 

Justin Cobb 18:46

Do you worry about with kids? It's something my wife and I talk about incessantly. How do you create that struggle? You work so hard so that they're comfortable, and then them being comfortable, it can be a problem. Think about that a lot. 

Nick Shucet 19:07 

Yeah, probably every day, honestly. Again, I think it comes down to a balance. One thing I've come to realize is my time is the most important thing. If I focus on time and take money out of the picture, it's like, okay, I trust myself as a father and how I'm raising these kids and I trust that these kids are going to grow up and they're going to make good decisions and take care of themselves and make their own money.

Of course, I do want to provide for them as well. Trying to balance both of those things with teaching them good skills. It's like being a good leader in the business. Giving them the space to figure things out on their own. I geek out on the kids all the time, man. I've got four, my oldest is 11, and we have a 10-month-old. Just seeing how capable every single human being comes into this planet blows my mind.

Then they go to school and we're taught, this is wrong about you. Don't do this way. You feel this way in your body but don't listen to that. That stuff's wrong. Man the kids dude, they just come into life great. 

Justin Cobb 20:32 

It only gets worse. Elementary school, I remember it was like, what do you want to be when you grow up? Everyone's like, I want to be an astronaut. There's been, I don't know. I feel like there have been 10 astronauts ever that have ever done anything, 30 of us wanted to be astronauts. The teacher's like, you can do anything you want to do.

You can be anything you want to be. Then somewhere around middle school, the whole thing flips. Just like you say. The whole thing flips and it's like, no, you're not good enough. You're not smart enough. Not your family, not this, not that. People want to keep you down. I think some of that comes from people who didn't get what they wanted out of this world, wanting to say the reason why they didn't get what they wanted out of this world is because not just teachers, teachers are amazing, but just adults in general, people that aren't happy with it, they didn't go for it.

They're stuck. They want and they don't want to say I'm stuck because I made bad decisions. They want to say I'm stuck because the world's unfair and I'm stuck because it's really hard and it's rigged against you and it's not fair. Don't you feel like the world is not totally in your favor after you become successful? It's certainly not balanced.

Nick Shucet 21:48 

The world's not a fair place. It's not fair. You look at how you have to navigate the world, the real world, go out into the jungle, and spend a couple of days and see how far things are in the jungle. That's where we are whether I think whether we realize it or not. We are there, there's less blood. There's less gore. There's less fighting but we live in an unfair world.

I had to start becoming more selfish and this isn't something you hear people talk a lot about because it sounds shitty up front. Nick’s selfish. I had to realize that I had to care more about myself than other people because I was just a people pleaser for too long and that came from school and how I was taught there and how I grew up.

Justin Cobb 22:42 

Made a lot of bad decisions trying to please other people. 

Nick Shucet 22:45 

You make a lot of bad decisions. Then when your back gets against the wall, you make decisions you don't wanna make. That's when I would do things I would regret because I didn't know how to take care of myself the right way. I would get into a position where I had to act in a way that I didn't want to, but when I flipped that around and started taking care of myself more, I was happier, I was able to help more people.

You go through this change taking care of yourself more allows you to help other people. 

Justin Cobb 23:20 

Agree. On airplanes, they say when the mask comes down, you have to put yours on before you help someone else put theirs on. 

Nick Shucet 23:27 

100% man and I think this is what I see you guys building I think this is what MDS has built. I think this is what good communities build. It's creating this space where we can get rid of the bullshit and just be open and honest. Here I tried this. I launched this brand. I lost $150,000. No shame. Here are the 12 things I would do differently based on what I went through. That’s the type of stuff we want to be sharing. 

Justin Cobb 23:59 

We've learned a lot from the way you guys do it. As I said, we do 125 events we'll do this year. The MDS events are the best. Not just from an ROI perspective, because you guys have a bunch of great sellers, which can also be true, but no, just the thoughtfulness, how much you all focus on the holistic view of the entrepreneur and the entrepreneur is the person first and foremost.

A lot of the health and mental health stuff that you all do and a lot of the training that you do and how you urge everyone to meet each other. Some of the rapid-fire round table stuff that you all do. It's awesome the way you all have curated that. I enjoy going to the events. I can't wait to go to Barcelona. It's actually where my oldest daughter was born.

Our first child is living over in Spain. I'm building a direct sales business and I'm super excited to go for a bunch of reasons. I haven't been to Barcelona in a while. I'll see a bunch of people in your group that I love chopping it up with. There's a great business angle there. I just like the way you all do it. I think that it's second to none and that people are crazy if they're qualifying and they're not applying and trying to get in the group. 

Nick Shucet 25:26 

It's an amazing community. The events team, Irie, and the whole team, but Irie and Eugene, I think paved the way for saying these are the standards we're gonna set for our events. We're gonna do these, the meet and speed, and we're gonna do these rapid-fire questions. I remember writing questions and pairing people up and coming up with questions based on the people and how they were paired up.

That's the level of detail that goes into an MDS event. 

Justin Cobb 26:01 

It's awesome. 

Nick Shucet 26:02 

It's a lot of work that they put in and it shows and it pays off and it's great from a business perspective. I always come back focused that's what I get out of it. I'll be like, okay these are the three things I'm gonna work on for the next 30 days or something like that and then I just have a great time from a personal perspective as well. 

Justin Cobb 26:21 

That made me think about it I think some people are just incredibly disciplined people with great habits and they can apply that to business. For myself, I was a kid when I started, I was playing in a band, and I was on a fish tour. I was all around. I don't think I owned shoes for a year at one point. I fell into what started as a door-to-door sales job that turned into a huge career.

That's been just a life-changing experience, but I didn't bring incredible habits to business. In business, I had to learn incredible habits to win, and then have gone inside out and taken those things that I learned and applied them to every other area in my life. What you just described is the curation and the attention to detail. That's what it takes to take a brand from zero to a million plus and just take that same focus and apply it to the way you all run events.

You have a bunch of high-level performers that are at the top of the top applying that to everything else that they do. It's fantastic. 

Nick Shucet 27:28 

I'm similar to you man. I never had the best habits. I had to pick those up and it's sometimes it's tough for me to keep them going, but that's how I look at the business now too. How can I do less but do it well, not try to do too much at once, not try to give my team too much stuff to do? Let them really master a few things and then move on to something else.

Me, I'm an idea guy and I thought everyone was an idea guy for a while, but it's not, but they're not. It seems so natural when it's your thing. Everyone's like this but my business partner. He's like, Nick you have a solution for everything. I'm like, yeah dude I don't believe in the impossible. I don't believe in the impossible so when something gets thrown my way, immediately I'm like, oh I'll figure this out 

Justin Cobb 28:21 

Having that balance, having that balance, and having the right partner is so important. When I was doing the investing stuff, my partner and I were the lead investors on a business that was doing a roll-up of mental health clinics, and ketamine clinics in the US, and Kazi, one of my two co-founders, one of my co-founders of Carbon 6, he was one of the founders of that business. When I met him, this was a person who was the exact opposite of me.

He had done everything right his whole life. I think he went to Dartmouth and they went to Harvard Business School, then he licensed technology from his university and created a business that he sold to Whirlpool, which is almost impossible to deal with the bureaucracy of a university and getting technology out. Universities in our country have incredible technology that no one can do anything with.

He managed to do that, and just an incredibly detail-oriented, action-oriented, conscientiousness times a million person. When I had the idea for Carbon 6, he was the first person I called because, like you, I thought I had a lot of great ideas. I built a team and fired up a team and did all that stuff, but knew that I needed someone who was gonna dot every I and cross every T, especially when we had a heavy, M&A focus just to get a push off the line initially. 

Nick Shucet 29:39 

It's nice when you can get people siloed with the same personality types. Dude go be you. Go be you guys together and just do your thing. Then you just have another team coming by cleaning up all the mess behind them. Overall, it’s usually a positive, at the end of the day. It's great when you can foster that culture, too. One great thing I love about Carbon 6 is how you guys approach the buying of another company, and how you approach the owners.

Why don't you talk a little bit about that? I think that's something unique that you guys do as well.

Justin Cobb 30:21 

I think we recognize that we weren't Amazon people and that one of the things that we thought would make some aggregators struggle was that they weren't Amazon people. Our view on that was that a Ph.D. in Amazon is more important than an MBA from Wharton or Harvard. We recognize that we didn't have Amazon expertise amongst the three of us as myself, Kazi, and then, and then Naseem who had gone to Harvard Business School with Kazi and they'd known each other for a decade.

We wanted to solve that problem. We decided to make founder-friendly deals where we would retain all of the founders on our team. I think today we have about 20 people working with Carbon 6 that haven't had a job for two, or five, Lee and Robert from Seller Investigators. I don't know if those guys have ever had a job, and they'd both just turned 50 over the last couple of years.

Originally it was just to solve this problem of wanting to have an intelligent Amazon experience in the room. I think today, we don't have as much Amazon selling experiences as MDS, but we have more than just about anybody else. Making good decisions in our product room and making sure that we're making decisions that benefit our ICP, which is a professional seller and the large and a large brand on Amazon.

That's why we did it initially and it's been awesome. Even a couple of founders that originally were going to sell and leave have come back and they now work with us. What it did, though, I think is far more special than just filling a need because you can make good product decisions. We have a product advisory committee. You and several other members of MDS are part of that.

We have dozens of people in the community that we've brought into Carbon 6 in different ways to make sure that we're making the best decisions on what we build. What we say is if we build properly for the MDS seller, then everyone else, even if they don't know that it's what they need, it's what they need, and we'll be able to take the market to the top, which is, I'm happy to say, is being proven out, I think, this year in many different ways.

What it gave us is this entrepreneurial spirit. You look at businesses, once the founder energy goes, that's a point, like oh, their earn-out must be up because that business has gotten a lot worse in the last six months. I've had a lot of people talk about, you know, even software in our space specifically about this over the last few months.

What it's given us is this incredible founder energy, Nick, where we say we all own Carbon 6. It's one of our major principles. We also say that if what we do is good for the sellers, if we continue to do whatever is good for the sellers, it'll be good for Carbon 6. The energy that it creates is there's entrepreneurial energy throughout everything.

We try to empower the team to go fast. I think Zuckerberg first said, go fast and break things, just go for it, and because we have so many people that are wired that way because they're entrepreneurs, there's entrepreneurial, that side and that spirit in virtually every virtual room for every call in every meeting. It creates an awesome company to work in and an awesome company to lead. 

Nick Shucet 34:12 

That's a super powerful man. I think I've been to two of the Carbon 6 events where it was just stuff that you guys had put on and it reminded me of the MDS the energy, like how excited everyone is to talk about what they're doing. You're also talking about parenting and relationships and you know what you do for fun when you're not working. Everything was on the table.

Growing up I always heard work-life separation, and I'm like, well, it never really made sense to me I was like, how do I have a “work Nick” and off in a “not work Nick”? I don't know how that exists, but 

Justin Cobb 34:56 

When they're gonna bleed into each other the home life is the biggest motivator for the work life. Yeah, totally. 

Nick Shucet 35:06 

That's the vibe I got. It was the one in Miami. Maybe it was the Q4 Kickoff things you guys did, which was a cool idea too. 

Justin Cobb 35:14 

It was the Q4 Kickoff. I think we're gonna do it again.

Nick Shucet 35:19 

That was fun. I enjoyed that. I enjoyed being there and meeting everyone and just like you said the energy is there, and it is magical and you don't hear people talk about energy and the impact it can have on a room. You hear people talk about charisma, but I feel like even then it's at a shallow level what a charismatic leader is. 

Justin Cobb 35:41 

Charisma is helpful for outward brand and is not necessarily helpful and can be the opposite towards having a group that gets along. It's interesting, you could be charismatic and not always lead with your charisma. I was talking to Ian, one of the founders and maybe the founder of your group at Inspire. That event was awesome, by the way. 

Nick Shucet 36:19 

That was a good one. 

Justin Cobb 36:09 

The overshadowing of Prosper, check. I was saying, Ian is a very confident guy. He's a charismatic guy. I see the way he is with your group and what I said to him, and I hope it's okay, I'm saying here, I said, Hey, Ian, what I noticed over the last several days being around you is there's a lot of competent people, there's a lot of successful people in a group.

I think he does a very good job of not always forcing himself on the front to be that charismatic leader. It gives people a lot of space. It was just something that I noticed. It's something that I try to be very conscious of too. In my previous life, I've been on stages all over the world and I did public speaking, professionally in multiple languages at one point as well.

We brought a lot of entrepreneurs in, we brought a lot of people that had platforms, we brought a lot of Amazon people in, and just making sure that there's not a charismatic leader that is running it in a way that doesn't allow space for everyone else to breathe and everyone else to be excited to be here. Early on in my career, when I first started developing and teaching people how to run their own business.

They'd be in my office, that was something I had to learn. I was so alpha and I was so type A and I thought that the way to win was like Kobe Bryant, I'm taking every shot. It worked to some extent, but it didn't create as big and full of flourishing of an organization as I wanted. That was something I had to learn. 

Nick Shucet 38:02 

I think it can push people away too, maybe push people away. You don't want to push away. 

Justin Cobb 38:06 

It pushes away confident people and those are the people who are going to move the needle for your organization because people are going to listen to confident people. When you always have to be the one who's right in the room, when you always have to be the big ego and the alpha in the room, it doesn't leave space for those people who also believe they can be the difference maker and being the difference maker might be what drives them.

It might be what turns them on. It might be what gets them at their very best. 

Nick Shucet 38:39 

Ian's good at that stuff. I've sat in a couple of full-day meetings with him and he's naturally good at that, I noticed early on. I remember even messaging him after a meeting in Slack and just acknowledging that. It was me, Eugene, Frankie, and a couple of other people in the room.

Justin Cobb 39:00 

It's a bunch of winners. Winners like to shoot their shots. It wouldn't work otherwise. 

Nick Shucet 39:12 

I think he's done that from the beginning with MDS. I think that's part of what makes it so special he got out of the way immediately. He created the group, he nurtured the group, but he got out of the way. He never pegged himself as the leader or the guru or anything like that. 

Justin Cobb 39:36 

That's special. 

Nick Shucet 39:36 

We have core values that were created by the members. All these member-driven things that are going on, they have the advisory board as well, the advisory council that everything runs through. There are a lot of checks and balances in there to make sure everything runs how the community wants it to run, which is important for that part.

I wanna talk a little bit about some of the tools you guys have to offer so everyone knows about them. I've got some that I use, and I'll mention those, but why don't you just mention some of the ones you're excited about that you guys have acquired and are seeing success with? 

Justin Cobb 40:17

Perfect. We'll talk about PixelMe first. PixelMe is the only ad tech platform on earth where you can run Google, Meta, and TikTok ads directly to your Amazon listing with deep linking attribution to your storefront, get back the brand, and the brand referral bonus. We have figured out a way to optimize for conversion as opposed to optimizing for clicks.

A lot of people have tried to turn these 3 billion daily searches on Google into opportunities on Amazon. We have found a way through our proprietary algorithm and patent-pending technology to optimize for conversion. We're seeing incredible results, everything from infinite ROAS.  For some high-priced items over $80, we can usually get the acquisition cost of acquiring within 60 days less than what you get back in the brand referral bonus.

Which means that you'll make more money off of a sale driven by Google than you will offer an organic sale on Amazon, called that infinite ROAS. We're gonna try to coin that term like Pat Riley coined "3-Peat". Infinite ROAS, that's been a rocket ship. We launched that seven weeks ago and we've grown the business 10x. When we acquired it, it was a URL shortener and a pixel used by marketers and used by some of the biggest brands in the world.

A bunch of the data that we had from that, as well as our product advisory accounts our committee was able to help us develop that.  We'll be talking about that I'm sure at the end of the month. I think that's a no-brainer for everybody. It's no secret at this point that Amazon disproportionately rewards you with organic ranking juice for sales that are driven off of the foot of their platform, which is common sense.

There's been some confusion on whether or not it's worth it or not based on just optimizing for clicks, optimizing for conversion is worth it. We're already doing this for 50 or 60 MDS members. It's awesome. You submit a couple of ASINs. We should have people do this before the event, and we'll just come up and show you the results. We show you all the opportunities where it makes sense. Where it makes sense, we can even do it for you and run the ads for you at no additional cost. That's PixelMe, 

Nick Shucet 42:58 

I want to chime in on the PixelMe real quick because I see a lot of people asking, does it work, does it do this, I heard this, I heard that. Just go try it. Just go sign up and try the tool. 

Justin Cobb 43:06 

We also heard that it was against TOS. One of our competitors I guess thought that they were speaking on behalf of Amazon, which is interesting. They sent out an email. We work closely with Amazon. They are very comfortable, at last, conversation with the way we're doing things. Of course, it's not against TOS. If it was against TOS, we wouldn't be in the app store. We wouldn't be in the advertising store.

Look, it works substantially better than optimizing for clicks. External is an essential part of the launch. In many cases, we can make it an evergreen revenue generator, where again, in the best of cases, and we have at this point, a hundred or more case studies to show this. You make more money off this sale driven from Google, throw out the fact that you're going to get 3X or 10X ranking juice, depending on what estimate you believe, then you would offer it again, leading up into quarter four.

We could all use a ranking higher organically for a whole bunch of keywords. That's one. D8aDriven, which we had developed, Nick, with your help, we acquired this business, and this has become a core part of our offering. Previously, it had been full-service. We work with some of the largest sellers on Amazon in a full-service capacity, several dozen. What we've developed it into is an executive summary. Through various algorithms and some ML.

Everyone says that there's AI and ML in everything. A lot of it's just if-then. Through some slightly more sophisticated than normal if-then, as well as a ton of experience, the founders of that business are ex-Amazon. We produced an executive summary, which tells you everything that happened in your business and why a set of recommendations and action items.

We have an offering there which I think is $100 a week. It gives you everything that you need for an executive summary and to help guide your team. 

Nick Shucet 45:35 

I want to chime in on this one too because this is such a good service. I think I'm paying $500 a month for it. I hooked up three of our accounts to it. You get the executive summary, you get the tasks broken down by function like marketing operations so you can assign these out very easily to people on your team. I've also felt I delegated auditing off of my plate because that was my job to come in and audit the account.

I'm hoping I don't have to do that anymore, which is huge. 

Justin Cobb 46:12 

That's the idea. Nick, so when we acquired the business, we didn't really wanna be in the full-service game, but they had some big clients and we liked the people. We acquired the business, it made sense to us. We liked the idea. We had been planning on doing the executive, we'd been planning on doing this as part of the core Carbon 6 Hub, which will be released very soon. She's very exciting.

You said, do they have anything other than full service? I don't wanna give someone my baby or else what's the point of all the experience that we gained and the mastermind that we have through at MDS? We validated that several other people had said the same thing and so appreciate that. Again that's why we want to align with MDS. 

Stay as close to the stars as possible. If we make their lives easier, we'll make our lives better as well. SoStocked, many of the first few dozen power users that Chelsea had were MDS. We've taken that to new heights. We now integrate with NetSuite. We’re becoming an enterprise solution, a lot of bulk stuff, just everything that we heard members that liked it and then disconnected.

We've taken all the feedback. It's a dramatically different software than it was. Many of your members love it. Many of your members had some feedback. We've taken that on board. That's a huge runner for us. Then our profit recovery stuff Seller Investigators, we've been able to 5X that business since we acquired it 10 months ago. Chargeguard 1P, which we have the only, and not just only, but the industry-leading solution, we believe, for-profit recovery between our technology, between our team. 

There's a service component, as you know, you can't automate the opening of these cases. We have an incredible team in the Philippines that does that. We just launched the first to market doing true refunds. These are all refunds that weren't recovered or sent back the wrong item or the refund was processed and it's gone past 60 days and the item wasn't returned.

Weights and dimensions were the only one in the market that would go after weights and dimensions. A strength of what we're assembling here, Nick, is that the lifetime value of every customer is worth more to us than any of our competitors on the individual single-point solution competitors. The reality is that we can throw more money into making it a better product. If there's a service component, we can throw more human resources into it. 

We could also generally win on price because everything can be a loss-leader to us because we have so many other things. With Chargeguard, we work with many of the largest sellers in the world, parts of Nestle, etc. With Seller Investigators who would come into the market like I said, the business has grown 5X and we know there's so much green space there, we're expanding internationally.

I would say that those are the five, PixelMe, D8aDriven, SoStocked, Seller Investigators, and Chargeguard. There's a bunch of other stuff in the lab. We have a bunch of new improvements for our PPC tool, PPC Entourage and that'll come out. We have a bunch of stuff going on in the hub, but we try to be careful, not just with your group, especially with your group, because you all are the best critics and the harshest critics.

We took PixelMe to market too early about a year ago when we admitted that we were a company at the next Prosper and it had just been published but put into production I think an hour before the show and it wasn’t ready. I learned that was all my fault. I learned the lesson quickly. We're very careful not to go touting anything until we're confident that what we're offering is the best thing that exists on the planet for sellers. 

Nick Shucet 50:12 

Nice man. Well, I think you guys are doing the right thing. Seller Investigators, I started using you guys. I don't even know who the hell we were using. I could I couldn't even remember the name of the company. Then I saw it come through on the invoice and it was some small reimbursement company. I'd have to pull it up to get the name but they had found $500 during a certain time frame. I sent it over to Lee and they found $30,000. 

Justin Cobb 50:41 

Look, we're gonna do a full deep dive video on taking out the mystery behind this tomorrow because some companies do audits and they'll show this big raw number that's not a real number. When we do an audit, we're saying we know we're gonna be able to recover 90+% of exactly what we're telling you. We'll go case by case and bit by bit and we can do refunds, the normal missing and bound loss of damage, we can do refunds, we can do weights and dimensions.

There's all sorts of crazy stuff that happens in that part of the business. Not only do we recover more money faster, but also with more transparency. I think that's important. Reversals happen. We go in and we file for a case and you get reimbursed. We take our success fee and then Amazon finds the inventory and then they reverse the reimbursement to you.

A lot of people have to ask the reimbursement company, hey, are you charging me for reversals? Then magically they stopped getting charged for it. We've seen a lot of that. We want to earn trust be as open and honest as possible and align ourselves with the biggest best sellers and the biggest brands. We view this as a 20-year, 50-year relationship where we plan on being the company that consolidates the largest customers behind us in the space. 

Nick Shucet 52:07 

Nice man, I think you guys are doing it right. That's been my experience. You guys have already gotten back $12,000 of that original amount that you said you would get and I know they're working through the rest of them. Our supply chain team has it on their weekly scorecard. I know that's moving in the right direction and we haven't had any issues pop up with reversals.

Not saying they might come. It's part of the business. Amazon loses stuff and then they find it. It's going to happen. 

Justin Cobb 52:35 

It’s magical. 

Nick Shucet 52:39 

I do want to mention the one D8aDriven feature I found extremely valuable. Unfortunately, I found it a little too late, but I think I spent $8,000 having a data warehouse built in Google BigQuery, which is cool. It's great to have my data and stuff and visualize it. Wasn't happy with the visualizations. I don’t know how I found out about the self-tasking service in D8aDriven but I was talking to Craig who's one of the main guys over there and he showed me the Excel reports and I was like, Craig, is this our data?

We have a forever look back period as long as we're with you guys and he said yes. That was one of the main reasons for having the data warehouse built so I didn't need it anymore and now I have this data warehouse that I'm not using right now. I'll probably have some visualizations built out of it and do other things but there are so many people in MDS looking for that solution.

They don't know it's there and that they can have it in a week and it's just $500 a month. It's huge.  

Justin Cobb 53:54 

Please keep the suggestions going. That goes for anybody listening to this. We take every piece of feedback ridiculously seriously. We know that you all know better than we know, and that's a guiding principle. 

Nick Shucet 54:10 

I think that's enough for anyone listening who's a relatively successful seller or has some money and wants to start using the right tools for their business. Carbon 6 is taking direction from the best Amazon sellers in the world when they're building their tools and those are the people you want to build your tools with because you'll get caught up with a lot of useless features that people who are good at marketing will get you all hyped up and worked up about. 

Justin Cobb 54:38 

It sounds obvious. Early on, we'd be in a room and we go, oh, I think we think we should do this. Everyone knows I do this. We're not making any decision until there are more Amazon sellers in the room than non-Amazon sellers, so let's just stop and talk about it. 

Nick Shucet 54:55 

Nice. That's probably a good one to go by because it's just so easy to get excited about an idea and not validate it first. I think we all suffer from that, man. I'm excited to see what you guys bring out next. I'm a fan of the Carbon 6 Suite and we're using more and more of it every day. We start getting onboarded with some of your guys' tools and I'll keep the suggestions coming your way it's been good to sit down and chat with you.

I haven't seen you in a while. I'll miss you in Barcelona. I'm going to be at my daughter's first day of school. 

Justin Cobb 55:26 

That's a great reason to miss it. Cool. See you soon. 

Nick Shucet 55:32 

I'll be at plenty of other MDS events man. I'll be there. Gonna be in Vegas for the next Inspire. You got it. Justin. Thanks for coming on man.

Justin Cobb 55:39 

Awesome. Thanks, Nick. Appreciate your time. Have a great one.

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