Greg Mercer, Founder, Jungle Scout
King of the Jungle
If Amazon Prime’s membership were a country, it would be the 14th largest in the world. With 100 million Prime members and over 35 orders placed per second, the company has staked its flag at the top of the online shopping heap.
In fact, Amazon has grown to become much more than just a company selling goods—it’s a massive ecosystem of both shoppers and vendors. With 2 million-plus sellers, Amazon is an economy of its own. Providing a low barrier of entry into a rabid marketplace, it’s now a country to which many travel with hopes of making a killing.
That’s exactly what Greg Mercer did.
Like all great products, Jungle Scout was conceived out of a personal need—to successfully sell stuff on Amazon. That, plus an enthusiastic level of communication with his customers, propelled Mercer and his SaaS product into the million-dollar range within just three years.
Did a lack of marketing expertise or software development knowledge stop Mercer from starting and growing his business? Hardly. Instead, Mercer took a $1,000 budget, started talking with his target market, hired some amazing people, and now caters to a customer base of almost 100,000.
The Quest for Validation
If you believe his degree from Auburn University, Greg Mercer is a civil engineer.
But after a year of “working for the man,” Mercer’s heart told him otherwise. In an effort to escape the corporate world and replace his engineering income, he dedicated his nights and weekends to building a side hustle on Amazon.
Taking advantage of the Fulfillment-By-Amazon (FBA) program, which relieves Amazon sellers of the tedious and expensive fulfillment and shipping processes, Mercer grew his physical products business enough to quit his job.
“This is the beauty of the entire model. … You can mail products to them in bulk, they’ll store them in their warehouses, and then when someone … purchases something, they pick, pack, and ship the product,” Mercer says.
Gone are the eBay days of garages and basements overflowing with unsold product. Amazon FBA appeals to entrepreneurs everywhere—from folks starting side hustles to brands avoiding the expense of warehouse space and labor. Vendors only have to take care of marketing and product setup.
Mercer recognized this as a huge opportunity for profit, and a form of ecommerce entrepreneurship with an especially low barrier to entry. Before long, he was selling all kinds of random products, mainly based on some criteria he had hashed out that indicated what would be a good seller. And it was working. With the help of the FBA program, it wasn’t long before Mercer and his wife were able to leave their jobs behind, consolidate their life into a few bags, and travel the world. Happily ever after, right? Everyone’s dream come true.
“Week two of traveling hit, and I was like, ‘I’ve never been so bored in my life.’ So that’s when I wanted more,” Mercer says. “I continued to grow my Amazon business, and as a lot of young entrepreneurs, I had the desire to try lots of different stuff.”
At the time, Mercer sold everything from gardening stools to wrist braces. “Amazon is different than an ecommerce store in that people aren’t going to your website and expecting a brand with a cohesive set of goods,” Mercer says. “People go to Amazon, search what they need, and go off of what has the best pictures, reviews, or price, etc. Because of this, I don’t have to sell all products in one niche.”
Given how fluid and flexible his products were, Mercer spent a lot of time researching which ones worked best. The biggest challenge he faced as an Amazon vendor was finding and assessing the best products to launch. To combat this, he built a detailed spreadsheet that evaluated the criteria of each product. The problem? It was super tedious.
“Into this spreadsheet, I’d put different information … that would help me decide if this product was a good opportunity, if it was a good product to sell or not. This was the very time-consuming process; it was more or less data entry, more or less copy and paste.” Mercer figured there had to be a better way, and better yet, there had to be people who’d also benefit from it.
Could this be the entrepreneurial challenge that Mercer craved?
Problem was, Mercer had no knowledge of software development, and no idea how to breach the digital marketing sphere. “Software was always an area that was really attractive for me, but it had its own set of challenges. I wasn’t a developer, I didn’t know anything about managing developers or anything about coding … I wasn’t even a good digital marketer,” Mercer laughs.
But that hardly stopped him. He set out to see if his product was something others could use, but since he didn’t want to stray too far from his already-successful Amazon business, he set his budget at just $1,000. Finding a developer who worked for cheap, he created the very first version of Jungle Scout—a basic Chrome extension that provided useful Amazon sales data.
“I was like, ‘I’m going to make a very stripped down, very crude version. I’m going to do the best I can for 1,000 bucks, and at that point I’m going to see if anyone else likes it, if anyone else will use it,’” Mercer says.
Mercer was a member of a few FBA Facebook and Reddit communities. To test his product, he recorded a quick screen share demoing the software and showed it to his peers. Offering an easy email opt-in, he simply asked if his software was one others would invest in. “I said, ‘Hey, guys. I’m thinking about releasing this. If you could be interested in this at all, let me know.’ I was really surprised … just from that one video, I captured like 100 emails, and that was my launch list,” Mercer says.
That was enough for Mercer. It not only proved that his product could help others, but it also showed Mercer that his idea was a good one.
And sometimes, that’s all an entrepreneur needs to hear.
Out of the 100 leads on his launch list, he made 10 or 11 sales. And with these initial sales, Mercer collected enough to nearly cover what he’d spent on the software. This was validation enough to proceed with the product, but the following months weren’t easy.
From there, Mercer knew that he needed to improve upon the software and grow his audience, but he wasn’t sure exactly how to do so. “The next few months after [launching] was a time that I felt pretty lost and confused. I was trying to read as much as I could, trying to figure out how to drive traffic to a site … with different sources, saying different things. It’s really tough as a young entrepreneur to know what to focus on,” he says.
Mercer tried and failed more times than he could count. He recognized the power and influence of digital marketing, but had now idea how to go about it. He attempted Facebook advertising, but couldn’t quite nail it down. He tried building out content for his blog, but writing was far from his strong suit.
Thankfully, Mercer kept knocking on doors until one opened—wide. One of his (few) customers at the time was a big fan of Mercer’s product features, specifically one that could predict the monthly Amazon sales of a potential product. It essentially could determine the success of a niche, massively changing the game of Amazon product research and market intelligence.
This customer asked Mercer to create a webinar and demo the product for his Facebook group of about 10,000. This turned out to be the foothold that Mercer needed, and he gained about 15 more sales out of his webinar audience of 100.
“This was my first win in a marketing channel that I was at least halfway decent at and converted well,” Mercer laughs. “Looking back, if I were to give advice to myself two-and-a-half years ago, it would’ve been to really just focus on webinars and try to get in front of other people’s audiences. It’s a really good way to get your product and brand out there when you’re just starting out and don’t have an audience or email list of your own.”
The Power of Listening to Customers
From there, Jungle Scout took off. At the time, Mercer and his team offered a single product—the Jungle Scout Chrome extension. Available for $67, it was a simple software program that pulled in various data for Amazon products and niches.
For the first year, Mercer took every dollar from his Chrome extension and reinvested it back into product development. “The one-time payment from the extension was really good for cash flow,” Mercer says. “Looking back, that was one of the best decisions I ever made, without consciously making it. I didn’t take on outside funding, and instead of doing so, a really good way to generate cash and build an audience is to try to sell some kind of one-time purchase. A lot of bootstrap SaaS companies got their foundation in this space, too.”
Mercer also communicated constantly with his customers. Perhaps still in the habit of seeking validation and testing his software, Mercer kept his finger on the pulse of consumer conversation. This came in handy as Jungle Scout pressed on its ceiling, signaling time for growth. And when he looked to expand his software, Mercer reached out to his customers to understand exactly how to do so.
“Pretty much everything that we’ve developed is from customers’ wants and needs and suggestions. With the Chrome extension, I was asking everyone, ‘What do you want to see? What can I do differently?’ And what I was getting were a lot of features that weren’t really suitable for a Chrome extension,” he says.
Mercer didn’t have to think twice when considering how to build out Jungle Scout’s first web app. “I made a list of what the people wanted, and those were the early features of the web app,” Mercer says. Understanding exactly what his customers wanted, he launched the project with confidence.
When it comes to the super-fast growth of his company, Mercer boils it down to one thing—content marketing. “The marketing channel that works best for us today—and has for the past year or so—is our content marketing, and more specifically our case studies and high-end content,” he says.
Mercer sets an unparalleled example of content marketing via Jungle Scout’s case studies. In an industry in which very few sellers are transparent about what they offer on Amazon, Mercer knew he had to get creative if he wanted offer valuable content. Instead of looking for examples, he decided to create some for himself.
“We launched a case study in early 2016, in which we sold bamboo marshmallow sticks, called Jungle Stix. They did really well, and we did a webinar every week where we documented building this physical products company,” he says. The mini-company sold $200,000 in 2016, and they donated the money to Doctors Without Borders.
“That case study did a ton of publicity, more so because it was so educational, and helped people so much.”
To follow it up, Mercer and his team launched The Million Dollar Case Study. This time, they’re starting, growing, and building an Amazon business to a million dollars—no matter how long it takes—and plan to donate all the profits to Pencils of Promise.
Mercer’s approach with case studies is brilliant for a couple of reasons.
For one, he skyrockets his and Jungle Scout’s credibility by walking alongside his users. The fact that Mercer has a successful background selling on Amazon is a great start, but the fact that he’s recreating that success in front of an audience in real time cements Jungle Scout’s value and demonstrates exactly how to put it to work.
Second, Mercer is still blazing a new trail with his business, and positioning himself as a thought leader through his case studies. Because practically no one has forged that path yet, Mercer stands to build and retain a large and loyal audience. And this audience is the one spreading the word for him.
“The word-of-mouth marketing from these case studies alone is remarkable. [The case studies] are exciting. You get to watch over someone’s shoulder as they build a business to a million bucks, and we get a lot of friends telling friends and family, and that’s led to a lot of our rapid growth this year,” Mercer says.
Proud to Be Remote
You may think that Jungle Scout’s upstart status and rapid growth means that their team is huddled closely, collaborating in a single office in Mercer’s hometown of Vancouver.
Well, the Jungle Scout team is a close, collaborative group, but they’ve actually only met in-person about four or five times. That’s right, the team is 100 percent remote. And loving it.
The Jungle Scout team is made up of 35 people located in 12 countries, and according to Mercer, working remotely has worked out wonderfully. “The productivity and organization of our team is just as high, if not higher, as if we were all in the same place. I’m pretty happy with how it’s been going,” Mercer says. Communications happen on Slack and Google Hangouts, and project management happens on Trello.
Company culture is super important to Mercer. His team may be scattered across the world, but that hardly keeps them from working hard, working close, and meeting up a few times each year. Mercer has brought his team to Bali, Rio de Janeiro, Vietnam, and will rendezvous everyone in Budapest at the end of this October. “These meetups are a great opportunity to align the company and set goals for the next four to six months.”
Working remotely hasn’t hindered Mercer’s hiring process, either. When sourcing talent for his team, he has started with his employee’s networks and has hired based on referrals. This has proven especially effective as he’s expanded his team of developers. “Good developers are very difficult to find. It’s a very high-demand job right now, and they get paid a lot of money. So that’s been the most challenging role to hire for,” Mercer says. “The first four or five developers we hired came from our original developer’s network.”
Mercer has sources talent from Jungle Scout’s own community and customer base. “The other good spot we’ve had for hiring people is actually our email list, our customer support roles and marketing roles especially,” Mercer says.
In terms of what he looks for, Mercer prioritizes previous remote work experience among his candidates. If he can sense that an applicant is very self-motivated, disciplined, and doesn’t require much oversight, he’s likely to offer an interview. And while Jungle Scout doesn’t boast a specific set of values, Mercer typically gets a sense of what people stand for as he talks with them.
Regardless of what skill set or department Mercer is hiring for, he always starts his employees on a trial basis. Internally dubbed an “audition,” this two-month trial period is a way for Mercer and his leadership team to get a feel for a candidate’s work ethic and time management. He’s held these trial periods for the past 10 Jungle Scout hires.
“If a candidate is currently employed, we ask that they don’t quit their job and actually conduct our trial period while still employed,” Mercer says. “If someone is knocking out a bunch of high-quality work while still working a full-time job, they’re probably a pretty hard worker.” Also, soured by a previous experience in which he hired (and fired) someone who had already quit her job, Mercer tries to avoid extending an official offer until he’s absolutely sure each employee is a great fit.
Hiring a great team has also helped Mercer expand his personal knowledge base and grow his confidence in his product offering. “I’ve gotten really lucky with hiring my more senior managerial staff. I recognized early on that I wasn’t very smart with marketing, that I new nothing about development, so I wasn’t shy to hire someone that was way smarter than me,” Mercer says.
Even though it can be costly, stacking the company with people more talented than he is secures a bright future for the company.
Scouting Out the Future
For a SaaS company with multiple software product offerings, one may think that continued expansion is on the horizon. That’s not the case for Mercer.
Once upon a time (approximately one-and-a-half years ago), Mercer did want to expand. Considering the market saturation for Jungle Scout, he looked for other ways to stake flags in the SaaS market. Thus, accounting tool Fetcher and email automation tool Jump Send were born.
“If you would’ve asked me this question a year ago, I would’ve told you that our strategy for growth is to build more products for this audience,” Mercer says. “But as of today, I don’t feel the same way.”
Since then, Mercer has realized that Jungle Scout alone caters to a huge market. Not only does the software appeal to current Amazon vendors, but it also draws customers who are interested in selling on Amazon. For that reason, Mercer doesn’t foresee a ceiling.
“As of today, we’re really focused on making Jungle Scout and our other tools the best that they can be,” Mercer says. “When we expanded into other tools, we lost focus on Jungle Scout. It was easy to get distracted, and we had to grow our team to keep up with the expansion. Since then, I’ve decided it’s best to really double down.”
By no means does Mercer plan to abandon the other products. But, he and his team are taking strides to simplify Jungle Scout, improving its processes and systems. “My goal is to grow it, continue to make it better, and continue to put out free resources and content that people love and share,” he says.
- Mercer’s strategy that anyone can use to make a profit on Amazon
- What every ecommerce entrepreneur should be aware of when selling online
- How to build a SaaS from scratch, with no tech skills
- What to watch out for in ecommerce opportunities
- How to build and manage a remote team that actually works
Full Transcript of Podcast with Greg Mercer
Nathan: Hello, and welcome to another episode of the Foundr podcast. My name is Nathan Chan, and I’m the CEO and host of this podcast and also “Foundr Magazine.” Hope you all are having a wonderful evening, morning, good night, lunchtime, and wherever you are around the world. I know we have quite a global audience. And I just wanna say thank you so much for taking the time to share your earbuds. And, as always, if you’re new to the Foundr podcast, we interview extremely successful startup founders that are either number one or two in their industry and have disrupted an industry with their business, with their startup, in some way, shape, or form. Now, today’s guest, his name is Greg Mercer, and he runs a company called Jungle Scout.
Now, I’d heard of Greg before we got in touch, and he built a very, very big bootstrapped SaaS company. And for those of you not familiar with SaaS, it’s an acronym for software as a service, and that seems to be probably the hottest business model that everyone seems to go after these days, where you build software and you charge a recurring revenue service usually to access that software. And the software tends to replace, you know, a person in your company or, you know, it does a job, and one job really, really well. And what Greg’s software does is allow you to identify niches and markets and hot products on Amazon. So, Greg had a lot of success with selling products himself on Amazon, and there’s a bit of a craze going on where people start business and make, also it’s a crazy money, do insane things with Amazon, selling physical products on Amazon.
Now, I’m not gonna get into this any more than that, but Greg shares a lot of gold on building a bootstrapped SaaS company. It’s growing ridiculously fast. I learned a lot of lessons myself as we look to build a SaaS product in the near future for Foundr, which is something I’ve wanted to do for a very, very long time, which is really exciting for me. Anyways, let’s not digress. So you’re in for a treat with this episode. And I also just wanted to share that we’re actually doing a bit of a giveaway. So Greg wanted to do something really, really cool. So this is what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna be giving away 50 copies of “Foundr V1.0.” So for those of you that are not familiar, we produced a physical coffee table book that was crowdfunded over Kickstarter, almost about a year ago now. It’s a beautifully designed print color coffee table book. It contains our greatest pieces of advice from, you know, interviewing a few hundred plus entrepreneurs, startup founders, and the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation.
Anyways, if you’d love to grab a free copy of that, Greg’s company, Jungle Scout, are doing a giveaway, and you can sign up and get a free copy. He’s only got, you know, he’s only got 50 copies to giveaway and we have, you know, hundreds of thousands of people that listen to this podcast. So make sure you got there fast. Just go to junglescout.com/foundr. So that’s junglescout.com/foundr, and you’ll be out into that giveaway to get a copy, a free copy of the “Foundr V1.0” book. I’m not sure how Greg’s doing it, but that’s where you need to go to be in the chance to get a free copy. All right, guys, so that’s it from me. If you are enjoying these episodes, please do take the time to leave us a five-star review. It helps us more than you can imagine. Now, it’s time for the show.
So, the first question that I ask everyone that comes on is, how did you get your job?
Greg: Great question. If we rewind a little bit, I went to college or university to be a civil engineer. I got a real job after I graduated college, working as a civil engineer, wasn’t fulfilled, wasn’t happy. So I started selling on Amazon as, kind of like, a side hustles, a way for me to try to escape the corporate world, get out on my own, replace my engineering income with some, you know, money from my own businesses. I was doing that for a little while. It was going pretty well. I found, like, an opportunity in the software market, and that is how Jungle Scout was born, was out of a need for myself. So today, I spend about 95% of my efforts on the software business, Jungle Scout. So that’s kinda how I got to where I’m at today.
Nathan: Awesome, yeah. Look, so, Jungle Scout, it is quite a well-known company. Like, I don’t know anything about the Amazon space but I have heard of you guys, I’ve seen your content around. So, just walk me back, before we get into that. So you said that, you know, you got a degree, and you started working, and you had a little bit of a side hustle, selling products on Amazon. How long ago was that?
Greg: Yeah, so I quit my job about two and a half or three years ago now. So this wasn’t too long ago. So I guess I graduated college, I think, in 2011. So that’d be six years ago now, I, you know, I worked for a few years. I worked for, I think, probably like a year after I started my, we’ll call my real job, is when I started selling stuff on Amazon. And then, right about the same time that I quit my job is when I started Jungle Scout.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. And what enticed you to start selling products on Amazon? Because this is a bit of a hot thing. Ecommerce is cranking right now. A lot of people want, starting ecommerce businesses and stuff like that.
Greg: Yeah, no doubt. Yeah, I was, to be completely honest, you know, I was like, I have had this entrepreneurial spirit my whole lot, right. Like, I just wanted to do my own thing. And so, I mean, every day, I was just, like, Googling, you know, “How to make money online? How to start a business?” This, that, or the other thing, whatever. So I think I tried a few different things, and one day, I stumbled upon, kind of like, private label type method for selling products on Amazon, which is like finding a factory in China, putting your private label, your brand on it, and then selling it. So, after I’ve learned how to do that, that, like, kind of vibed with me pretty well. I put up a couple of products, I start to do pretty well. So, that’s how I stumbled upon it, was really just, you know, like, how do I make money? How else can I, you know? There’s got to be a better way besides working for the man.
Nathan: Yeah, no, awesome. So, when it comes to Amazon and FBA, and I’m asking these questions because we haven’t talked about it before with any of our guests, how does it work? Like, you know, you can send products to Amazon. Can you walk people through that? Because then, people can get a bit more of an understanding around how powerful Jungle Scout is as well.
Greg: Yeah, it’s a really good question. So, this is like the beauty of the entire model, is that through Amazon, they have this program called FBA, Fulfillment by Amazon, so you can mail products to them in bulk, they’ll store them at their warehouses, and then, when someone goes on Amazon and purchases something, they pick, pack, and ship the product. So it isn’t like the eBay days where, like, you might have a garage full of stuff, and whenever someone orders something, you actually have to, like, go out there, pack it, and like ship it yourself, you know. So that’s like, that’s why this is like a really attractive business model to, like, lifestyle entrepreneurs or, you know, maybe people trying to start a side hustle, or just, you know, people who don’t wanna have to own their own warehouse and their own staffs, like, do all the, kind of like, we’ll call it the ground work, right. So that’s how the FBA model works. So, since Amazon is a really powerful sales channel and they’ll pick, pack, and ship the product for you, it’s only up to you then to find products to sell on Amazon and, kind of like, set up the listing and do a few other smaller things like that, like maybe the paid ads program through Amazon or some little things like that.
Nathan: I see. So, it’s got a low bar on entry but a rabid market and marketplace and distribution channel.
Greg: Absolutely. I mean, anyone listening to this who lives in the States knows, you know, it’s like, I can’t even remember the last time I, you know, I ordered something online that wasn’t through Amazon, right. Like, I have a prime membership. I literally shopped probably, like, few days a week.
Nathan: Yeah, wow.
Greg: And they, yeah, they have, like, something, like, you know, over a hundred million prime customers, you know, which is like a third of the U.S., right. So, I mean, it’s just, it’s very popular in North America as well as, you know, EU. And I guess it’s coming to Australia like next month or something.
Nathan: Yeah, yeah, it is. Okay, awesome. So, very, very interesting. One thing that, you know, and I’m not saying this in a negative…please understand this, I’m not saying this in a negative connotation at all, I’m saying it from a business standpoint. One thing one of my mentors once taught me is, during the gold rush…this is a mentor I met many years ago, he said, during the gold rush period, when people were mining for gold, the people that made, you know, the most money were the ones that were selling the shovels.
Greg: Sure, I’ve heard that many times.
Nathan: Yeah. And, you know, look at what you’re doing with Jungle Scout. I think it’s genius, because you’ve built this software that helps people find profitable niches, right?
Nathan: So talk to me, yeah, like, let’s talk about the software. So, like, I think it’s genius, and I don’t mean this in a negative connotation at all. I just think it’s a very, very smart business model. So, an apology for it, man, because, you know, obviously the results are showing and we can talk about more of those soon. But, so, you know, you had your side hustle. Presumably, it was doing well, right. Like, what was the brand? Like, can you tell me about the products you were selling?
Greg: Yeah, so it was doing pretty well. It was doing good enough that I had replaced my income as an engineer. So, I mean, that wasn’t a ton but it’s, like, enough to live off, right. And so it was going well enough that my wife and I quit our jobs and sold all of our stuff and began to travel, with just, like, one bag each, and this was, like, our source of income that we’re living off of. So it was good enough for that. So, yeah, my first products were in, kind of like, the lawn and garden and healthcare niches. So I had some stuff like a little stool to, like, kneel on while you garden and just like braces for people’s wrists. So, something about Amazon that’s kind of different than, like, starting your own ecommerce store is people aren’t, like, going to your site and, like, expecting a brand with this, like, kind of cohesive set of goods, right. People go to Amazon, they type in the search bar what they’re looking for, and they purchase it based off of, you know, what has the best pictures and reviews and price, etc. So you don’t have to sell, you know. Like, I don’t have to sell all products in the supplement niche. I don’t have to sell all products that are, like, baby fabrics, or whatever else, right. You can just sell a whole bunch of random stuff, and it doesn’t matter at all because these people are just going to the search bar and type in exactly what they’re looking for. So, that’s exactly what I had, it was a whole hodgepodge of just weird products.
Nathan: Yeah, can you tell us some, out of curiosity?
Greg: Yeah, it’s, like, the kneeling stool thing for the gardeners. I also had, like, these cages that would go around, like, tomato plants. Like I said, a brace for your wrists. So, just like, just different strange things like that.
Nathan: So you were traveling around the world. You’re living the lifestyle dream, you know, the four-hour kinda workweek that we all read about. And, you know, just a great lifestyle. So, what happened next? Why wasn’t it enough, bro? Like, tell me that.
Greg: Good question, because the whole reason, you know, for, like, at the time, I thought like, “All right, I wanna start this business so that…this is what I can do, right.” I was like, “It sucks working for the man.” I just read Tim Ferriss‘ book, it’s like, “Yeah, I’m gonna live the four-hour workweek. Life’s gonna be awesome.” Until like week two of traveling, and then I was like, “I’ve never been so bored in my life,” you know. So, that’s when I wanted more. So it’s like I, you know, I continued to grow my Amazon physical products business. And, you know, I think, like, as a lot of, like, young entrepreneurs are, I had like this desire to just try lots of different stuff, you know. I was listening to lots of podcasts, reading lots of content on blogs, what have you. It seemed like there’s always, like, exciting opportunities. And software, it was just always an area that I thought was, like, pretty, like, cool or hip or sexy or just really, it was really attractive for me to try to get into software, but it had its own set of challenges. I wasn’t a developer. I didn’t know anything about managing developers or anything about coding. I wasn’t even a good digital marketer. So it’s like, “Okay, I’ve zero, you know, skills to help me with the software company, but I wanna try it anyway.”
So, that’s when, like, the biggest difficulty I had at that time with my physical products business with Amazon was finding the right products to launch. Because, as I was kind of talking about earlier, you know, I don’t have to sell baby shirts and baby pants and baby hats and something like that, it can just be a whole bunch of random stuff. So I was like, “How do I go about finding, you know, these opportunities of just random items that are gonna do well on Amazon?” So I had a set, you know, a type of criteria however those very, like, laborious and time-consuming to, kind of like, go through these criteria. And so, that’s when I was like, “There has to be a better way.” I couldn’t find any existing software, and I was like, “All right, this might be my chance to, kind of like, get into the software game. If nothing else, you know, it’d be a good learning experience for me.” So that’s how I, yeah, I got into it.
Nathan: Yeah, so, why this idea in particular? Did you validate it? Can you tell me about that? Can we go a little deeper?
Greg: Yeah, no doubt. So, I did not…okay. So at the time, I didn’t have much extra capital, right. So, and my Amazon business was doing well. It was profitable and it is very capital intensive. So I’m ordering lots of inventory, right. So, you know, it’s like, I don’t have too much money to spend on this business. I don’t wanna get too distracted with…I want to stay focused on what’s working, so I can only…I don’t wanna devote a little bit of time and money to this. So, like, I set my budget to $1,000 and I was like, “I’m gonna make a very stripped-down, very crude version. I’m gonna do, like, the best I can for 1,000 bucks, and, at that point, I’m gonna see if, like, anyone else likes it or anyone else will use it.” So I found a developer that worked for pretty inexpensive. I really stripped it down to the absolute bare minimum. I think he was charging, like, $10 an hour or something. So it’s like, whatever he could do in 100 hours. So he built the first, like, MVP, right, the minimum viable product. I recorded a screen share of it. I, kind of like, passed out this, or shared this link in a different, like, FBA communities I was in, like on Facebook, Reddit, or whatever else. And I got pretty good response from it. So, I just, you know, I set up like a simple opt-in page, I said, “Hey, guys, like, I’m thinking about, you know, releasing this. If this looks like you’re, you know, if you could be interested in this at all, let me know. Enter your email here.” And I was really surprised just from, like, that one video, I captured, like, 100 emails in the first few days. And that was kind of my launch list.
Nathan: Yeah, interesting. So, can you talk us through the concept in how you found out the, like, came to conceive the idea for Jungle Scout and exactly how the first MVP, like, you know, the first beta version MVP worked, what it did?
Greg: Yeah, no doubt. Yeah, exactly. So, what I was doing at the time to try to choose these products to sell on Amazon is I had a spreadsheet and I’d put different pieces of information on this spreadsheet. So I’d put, like, the name of the product. I would estimate how many units we’re selling every month. I would put, like, the retail price, the price after Amazon fees, just like some other metrics like that that are important to try to understand whether there’s a good opportunity or a good product to sell or not.
Greg: So, this was the very time-consuming process because, you know, it was, like, more or less data entry, right. I’m, like, taking pieces of data off Amazon, putting them in spreadsheets. I had, like, some crude algorithms, like, try to figure out how many units we’re selling each month. But more or less, it’s just, like, copy and paste data and stuff. And it’s, like, “Okay, this is something that software can very easily do.” So the first version of Jungle Scout, it was a Chrome extension, we still have a Chrome extension today, but it was a Chrome extension which, in themselves, are relatively simple, you know, tools. And we looked at it, it looked more or less like a spreadsheet, right. There was table, there was rows and columns with this data. So you, like, go to an Amazon page, you’d click the little Jungle Scout extension button, it was more or less like a table that popped up that already had, you know, that would populate all this data, like, in a few seconds instead of taking you like an hour to fill out a spreadsheet. And that’s all it was.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. And can you fast-forward us now to what it is today and how successful the company is in the space of two and a half years?
Greg: Yeah. So we still sell a Chrome extension. It’s still one of our most popular tools. It’s come a long way since then but it’s still, like, built on that same premise as you go to an Amazon page, you click the button, and it gives you a whole bunch of information that you need to know to figure out whether that’d be a good opportunity to selling. We’ve also built a web application that’s priced like a more traditional SaaS product, on a monthly recurring basis. So, yeah, and it’s gone really well. We’re almost at 100,000 paying customers. I think we had, like, 96,000 or 97,000 paying customers. So, we just got that 100k mark. And, yeah, so it’s grown really rapidly. The team’s about, more or less, 35 people. We have a remote team. And, yeah, just growing quickly. It’s fun.
Nathan: Yeah, wow, that’s incredible. And when you say almost 100,000 customers, that’s on recurring.
Greg: So about two-thirds of those customers are on recurring payments. About a third only purchased the extension.
Nathan: Yeah, wow. Still, that’s incredible. Like, in terms of growth, that’s very impressive. So, talk to me around what happened next, once you’ve built that little, you know, you promoted like this little Chrome extension and you thought you were on to something. You only had $1,000. Like, how did you make the big moves to get it to where it is now, in a very short period of time? Because that’s where the art lies.
Greg: Yeah, no doubt. And, you know, like, looking back, I’ve, kind of like, identified some of the things that I think is reason for the success that we’ve had. I wish I could tell you that I was, like, smart enough, that these were, like, all strategic plans. I’d say, like, a lot, I got pretty lucky. So, sure, so, like, you know, I had 100 people on my email, kind of like, launch list, right. So I emailed it out to them. I set up just one page, just like, you can go back in, like, internet archives and look at it. It was, like, the most terrible page ever. It’s super embarrassing, but it worked. And out of this 100 people I emailed, I think I had, like, 10 or 11 sales or something. So that’s, like, pretty good, right. I emailed 100 people and 10 people buy it. It was, like, one-time price, like, 67 bucks. By this point, I, like, almost made back my 1,000 bucks and, you know, nothing, worst case scenario, I had a tool that I wanted to use, I was pretty stoked with.
Thankfully, it turned out better than that, but from there, I was like, “Okay, like, this is pretty good validation.” You know, I post a YouTube video, I get at least 100 people interested enough that they enter their email address. Of those 100 people, 10% conversion rate, which is pretty good. I was, like, so that was, like, enough validation for me to try to continue on, like, take it further. So at that point, I needed, you know, I was, like, “Okay, I need to improve upon this product. It’s pretty crude, buggy, embarrassing at this point, and I also need to figure out how to grow my reach, right.” But as we spoke about earlier, you know, I’m not a programmer. I had no digital marketing experience. So, I think, the next few months after that was a time that I felt, like, pretty lost and confused, you know, because it’s, like, I was just trying to read as much as I can, figure out, you know, how to drive traffic to a site.
So if you’re, kind of like, a newbie in your doing that it’s really overwhelming because you’ll read one thing and it’s like, “Oh no, you need to be doing Instagram ads.” Read the next thing, it’s like, “Oh no, you need to be doing this and that,” and like, you know, 100 different channels. So it’s really tough. Like, I think I was like a young entrepreneur to know, like, what to focus on. So I think, during that time, I just did a whole bunch of things really poorly, you know. Like, I tried to set up Facebook ads, but it was terrible. I tried to build out some content on my blog, like, I’m a pretty poor writer. So…
Nathan: Yeah, me too.
Greg: The one…yeah. I mean, I guess, like, I’m like halfway decent but it’s like pulling teeth to try to get me to write. So that’s, like, you know, that’s not a good channel for me. So, one thing that was working for me is, out of those, like, first 10 people, someone in there, I think, all that they have was just Facebook group with, like, whatever, 5,000, 10,000 people in it, and they’re like, “Whoa, this is really cool.” It had something in there that estimated, I mean, it still does, but it was estimating how many units any product on Amazon was selling on a monthly basis. So it was, kind of like, my secret sauce that everyone loved, is before you’re, kind of like, going in blind, you had no idea how much, like, demand these niches had, but with Jungle Scout now, it was telling you like, “Hey, this product is selling 200 units a month. This product is selling 1,000 units a month.” So that was, like, that’s super valuable information for someone doing, kind of like, you know, product research, market intelligence type stuff.
So, the owner of this Facebook group loved that and he’s like, “Hey, will you do a webinar, like, for my audience?” He didn’t have an email list or anything, but he’s like, “Hey, I’m gonna just, like, promote it in my Facebook group. I’ll hop on there. You know, you can just, kind of like, demo this.” I didn’t even have like an affiliate program or anything. He was just like, “I love it so much. I just wanna, you know, help you get the word out.” So I did that webinar, and it went well. I think I got, like, 10 or 15 more sales out of the, I don’t know, 100 or 200 people or something that saw it. So that was, like, my first, kind of like, win a marketing channel that was, that I was at least halfway decent and converted well.
So then, you know, looking back, I wish, you know, I think I was still pretty, like, unfocused, like trying all kinds of stuff. Looking back, you know, if I were to give some advice to myself two and a half years ago, it would be, like, really just focused on the webinars, trying to get in front of other people’s audiences, because that’s a really good way to get your product and your brand out there when you’re just starting out and you don’t really have any, like, audience or email list of your own. So that’s pretty much how I got from, like, zero to, let’s say, like 1,000 customers, was just through education about fining products to sell on Amazon, and more specifically, using our tool to do so. And I was doing those webinars for other people’s audiences.
Nathan: Yeah, no, I think that’s a smart strategy. A lot of SaaS companies do that, and a lot of actually service base or info product companies do that as well. We’ve had a lot of successful webinars as well. So I’m curious, at what point did you move to recurring and do the product, like, you know, add more features? Because you said, you’ve got a few different tools. When did you add more tools? And how did you do that with your, like, developers? When did you hire your first developer? Talk me through that part.
Greg: Pretty much, like, that first year, I was reinvesting, like, every dollar that we’re generating in revenue back into the tools to improve it. So that original developer that I hired to do the extension, he was still working on the extension. And then, let’s see. So I launched the extension February of 2015 and I launched our web app for Jungle Scout, I think, in October of 2015. So, I mean, that would have meant that I hired a different developer to build the MVP of our web app. I guess I would have hired him summer of 2015, so it would have been, like, I don’t know, four or five months later or something. So, I think, you know, I was doing the extension. Everyone was saying, you know, like, the holy grail of software is like the recurring, you know, charges with SaaS.
So I was like, “Okay, you know, I really need to set something up.” I don’t know if a, you know, at the time, I said to myself, like a Chrome extension wasn’t, like, worthy of a recurring payment, which that’s probably not true. I mean, if you give someone a value, they don’t mind, you know, paying for something over and again. But the one-time payment was good for cash flow from the Chrome extension, collecting all the money upfront, and then, you know, that’s what I was using to build the web app, which is, they’re a lot more difficult to build, I think, probably, higher skill sets required. So, you know, it costs a lot of money to pay developers to build something like that.
Nathan: So, what did you priced the Chrome extension at?
Greg: The very first one was priced at 67 bucks. And if you’re going on our site right now, we have, like, two versions. One’s 100 bucks, one is 200 bucks. They’re still one-time fees.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. And you used that to fuel the cash flow to build the web app, which the web app’s recurring.
Greg: That’s correct. And, you know, for anyone, like, listening to this podcast right now, I think that’s, like, looking back, you know, like I said, I think I’ve identified some steps. That was, like, one of the best decisions I’ve ever made without consciously making it, is to try to, you know, like I said, I haven’t taken on any outside funding. So instead of trying to take on outside funding, a really good way to generate cash and to build an audience is to try to sell, you know, some kind of just, like, one-time purchase, whether that’d be an info product or a simple piece, you know, a simple Chrome extension, or something else. You know, if I look at some other just, you know, bootstrap SaaS companies in the space, a lot of them, kind of like, got their foundation that way. Like, you know, Russell Brunson with ClickFunnels comes to mind, or Laura Roeder with, you know, MeetEdgar, they kind of do the same thing, right, because it helps you build an audience and generate that cash to build a web app, which they’re expensive.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that’s, I think it’s a really smart strategy. Also, mixing info products with SaaS using also physical products into the mix as well can be very, very powerful.
Greg: I agree, no doubt.
Nathan: So, coming back to it, how did you come up with the idea for the web app? Because that sounds like a massive winner. Well, it is a massive winner as well. So, how did you work out that one?
Greg: Yeah, so, early on, I was, and actually, still today, like, through Jungle Scout‘s history, I’ve always communicated with customers a lot. So, you know, I guess, I have been doing a lot, you know, I’ve done a ton of webinars. So through that, you know, you’re communicating through the chat box. I talk to a lot of our customers. So pretty much everything that we’ve built and developed is, you know, from customers, like, wants and needs and suggestions. So, with the Chrome extension, you know, I was asking everyone, like, “What else would you like to see? What can I do differently?” This, that, and the other thing. And what I was getting were a lot of features that weren’t really suitable for a Chrome extension. It just wasn’t technically possible to do that through just a Chrome extension. So, you know, I was making a list of all the stuff that the people want and, you know, like, two-thirds of my list technically wasn’t possible to Chrome extension. So those got, you know, bucketed off in a different section and then those were the early features of the web app.
Nathan: Yeah, got you. And how did you accelerate growth? Because, you know, like, you guys are generating tens of millions of revenue annually now in a very, very short time. Like, this is extremely fast growth company. Like, how did you grow it so fast? What happened next? You launched a web app. Like, how have you just, you know, just poured somewhat gasoline on the fire?
Greg: The marketing channel that, I’d say, like works best for us today and what has over the past year and a half or so is our content marketing, but more specifically, like our case studies and our really, like, high end content. In 2016, we did a big case study, where we…so, I guess, in the Amazon space, especially these private labels, no one likes to, like, share what products they’re selling because, you know, because of copycats. So there’s like, you know, courses, like, teaching people how to do this but, like, no one’s transparent about what products they’re selling. So we launched a case study, like, the beginning of 2016. We sold bamboo marshmallow sticks called Jungle Stix. You can find that on Amazon right now. They did really well, and we did, like, a webinar every week where we documented building this whole physical products company, I mean, there’s just one product, and it did really well. It sold, like, $200,000 in 2016. We donated all the money to charity, so we donated, like, $52,000 to Doctors Without Borders. And that case study got a ton of publicity and, I think, you know, for the philanthropic purposes, but more so just because it was so, like, educational and help people so much. So that worked, like, really well for us in 2016.
The beginning of 2017, we launched a new case study, it’s called the Million Dollar Case Study. So this time, we’re starting, growing, and building a physical products business to a million dollars in revenue. And same thing, we’re doing it…we won’t be able to do it in a year, and that wasn’t our target either. We’re just, the case study is gonna last till we hit a million bucks in revenue. And then same thing, we’re donating all the money, this time to Pencils of Promise. So, like, our goal is to build five schools in developing countries through the profits of selling these products in the case study. So it’s something, you know, that’s like really, like, the word of mouth marketing from that case study alone is, like, remarkable, you know. Because it’s, like, that’s something that’s, like, exciting, right. You get to, like, watch over someone’s shoulder as they build a business to a million bucks. It’s something that, you know, it’s pretty, like, warm and exciting. So we get a lot of, you know, friends telling their friends about it, and brothers and sisters and everything else. And I think, that’s led to a lot of our really rapid growth this year.
Nathan: And you do, like, a monthly revenue report and stuff. People love that stuff.
Greg: Oh yes. So we do, you know, a weekly webinar that say, like, Million Dollar Wednesdays. I do a weekly live webinar where, you know, we’re taking the next step of building this business. So I share the sales. Like, people love following along with that, right, and seeing how many units I sold that week and, like, what’s working. They love sharing, you know, the failures and, like, the hiccups and the road bumps along the way, too.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s genius because the tools that you use to find these business ideas is Jungle Scout.
Nathan: And it all links back. That’s genius. I love it. Awesome. So you’re 100% remote, which I find very, very fascinating, because, dude, we tried that. Like, we had, like, a little bit hybrid and it didn’t work. So now, we’re pretty much all in Melbourne. We do have a few people remote, but very refined roles. Doing all remote, how do you manage that, man? Thirty-five people.
Greg: Yeah, that’s a good question. It actually has worked pretty well for us. You know, I think, like, the productivity in, like, the organization of our team is just as higher than if we’re all in the same place. So I’m pretty happy, kind of like, how it’s been going. As far as managing it, you know, at this size, now we kinda have a level of, you know, like managerial staff below me. So, you know, that was, kind of like, a difficult transition for me to go from me managing everyone to me managing managers, but, yeah, I don’t know. I mean, we communicate on Slack and Google Hangouts. We do all of our work in the clouds, all our project management on Trello. We all use Google Docs. Each department is like a little bit different on how they, kind of like, they set up goals and achieve those, and what have you. We do meetups twice a year, or like two or three times a year, where we fly everyone in to the same destination. So actually, at the end of next month, we’re going to Budapest, and so everyone will be flying and meeting there. It sounds like really cool too because everyone gets to meet and get to know each other in real life. That’s also, like, a great opportunity to, kind of like, align the company and set, you know, goals for the next four or six months. So, yeah, I don’t know exactly, but it seems to be working pretty well for us.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s awesome. And you plan by the year, when you sit down and do you…so probably, like, January, you do, like, you know, an off-site with your whole team, your 35 people, you fly them to one location and you plan out the whole year, yeah?
Greg: Not the whole year, we just kinda plan out the next, you know, the company’s like two and a half years old. So I guess we’ve only met up like five times or so. But we just kind of plan what we’re gonna do for the next, like, four or six months until we meet up again. And of course, there’s lots of communication in between there, too, right. That’s just a time for everyone to get, like, aligned on the bigger goals or, you know, like, kind of the bigger missions.
Nathan: Yeah, okay, awesome. And, man, I’d have to say, like, you know, this is an incredibly fast-growing company, great product, very smart execution, a strong execution on marketing as well, and, you know, incredible success for your first SaaS product. Most people fail when it comes to their first business. Building a SaaS product is, I believe, you know, something we, eventually, you know, we’re not ready for it, but one day, I found that we wanna build a SaaS product. And, you know, even still, that scares me a little bit because people would say always how difficult it is. Everyone wants to build a SaaS product. What I’m really curious around, and you’ve not only done that but you’ve grown in an incredibly fast rate, what I’m really curious around is how did you learn, like, do you have mentors that are teaching you or are you just winging it? Like, tell me about that, man.
Greg: Good question. Listen to, you know, like, I would say I spend probably, I don’t know, like 20 hours a week, kind of like, learning. So, whether that’d be podcast or books or just, like, reading blogs, a few hours every day just devoted to, like, trying to learn, right. So that’s, like, my main source of learning. I have a couple of mentors that are pretty good and helped me out quite a bit. I’d say another, kind of like, key thing that’s happened is, I think, I’ve gotten like really lucky in the hiring, especially like the more, like, senior managerial types positions. I guess, I recognize early on that, you know, like, I wasn’t very smart with, like, marketing. I obviously, like, knew nothing about development and stuff. So I wasn’t shy to hire someone, like that was way smarter than me, you know, like senior. Like, I knew I was gonna have to pay him a lot of money, but, you know, at that point, it’s like, you know, I have, like, a prudent product. You know, I think it’s worth that you knew these guys cost a ton of money just to, you know, make sure I’m getting someone, like, in this role that’s much smarter than I am. So, yeah, I mean, that’s the gist of it.
Nathan: Yeah, man, you make it sound so simple, bro. Awesome. So, when it comes to hiring, let’s talk about that. Like, as a leader, you know, do you hire on, like, values, how you’re finding talents, what’s your process? Talk to me about that.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. So, it kind of varies a little bit by department. So for developers, good developers are very difficult to find, right. That’s a very high-end high demand job right now. They get paid a lot of money. So that’s like the most challenging role to hire. So early on, you know, the first developer I hired to build the Jungle Scout web app, thankfully, he had a very good network. He was in Vancouver. He thankfully had a very good network in Vancouver of like other developers. So the first, let’s see, four or five developers we hired were people in his network that we’re able to convince to quit their jobs and start working for Jungle Scout. So, and that’s actually, as far as developers go, we’ve hired all of our developers based off of referrals from other developers. So, you know, like, we’ll ask, like, who else they know. So yeah, that’s kind of how we’ve, you know, been going. I guess, I think we have 10 or 11 developers now and that we’ve hired all of them through recommendations of our other developers.
As far as our other roles go, marketing roles, we’ve had good success on AngelList. I think, like, half our marketing team, we’ve hired off there. The other good spot we’ve had for hiring people is actually just our email list. So just, you know, like, customer support roles, we’ve hired marketing people this way. Actually, I lied, one developer we hired through email list. Yes, so that’s worked up pretty well for us. So, AngelList for marketing people, referrals for developers, and, yeah, just our community and email list for the other positions.
Nathan: I see. And can you talk us through the hiring process, the kind of person that you’re looking for, and the steps that you have to go through to find the right person?
Greg: Yeah, so we look for people that have had remote work experience before or that we can tell are very, kind of like, self-driven and self-motivated, where they don’t need a lot of oversight. I think that’s really key when you’re a remote company, is hiring someone, like, that kind of, you know, fits that certain set of criteria.
Nathan: Yeah, I would say, like, that’s key for even, like, you know, when you have a HQ in one location, you don’t want to micromanage someone because that’s, you don’t get as much leverage, right?
Greg: Yeah, I guess, those are important traits on, like, any employee, right. The only thing I would say is, like, at least, if you have, like, an HQ, like these people are coming in, you know they’re at least sitting in front of the computer eight hours a day, right. So, like, you’re kinda helping them that way. I mean, we don’t, like, have hours where people are clocking in, clocking out. It’s all very much like performance and amount of work you get done. So, you know, I think it’s very important to have, like, traits that kind of match that criteria, right.
Nathan: Yeah, 100%.
Greg: So, one other thing that we do that I think has worked out really well for us is we hire just about everyone on a trial period. And the past, like, 10 hires or so, we’ve actually done so with, if they are currently employed, we ask them to not quit their job and do the trial period while they’re actually still working their old job. So…
Nathan: Oh wow. And how long does it last for? Sorry to interrupt.
Greg: Yeah, it depends on the person, but usually about, like, two months. So, for instance, like, our latest marketing hire, she worked for a different company and we’re pretty darn confident she’s gonna do well, but we asked her to work 20 hours a week for 8 weeks while she was still working her other job. And the reason I say, while working your other job, a, if someone’s like knocking out a bunch of high-quality work while also working a full-time job, they’re probably pretty hard worker, right, because that’s, like, you know, that’s like quite a bit of load on their plate. That’s kind of, like, one thing we’ve learned from it. And the other reason is we’ve found, before that, there was, you know, there was one experience where this person had, like, a 60-day trial but they did quit their job and they’re working for us for 60 days. At the end of 60 days, we ended up, like, let him go, saying like, “Hey, we don’t wanna turn this trial into, like, a full-time position,” but it was a super difficult decision for us to make because we felt like, you know, it was almost assumed that it goes from, you know, that you’d get the full-time job as long as you don’t majorly screw up during that period.
It’s kind of hard because it’s, like, she already quit her other job, right. She worked with us for 60 days, then it’s, like, more or less getting fired even as a trial period. So we decided, you know, like, if they keep their other job, they work for us 20 hours a week, then it’s like, “Hey, like, you didn’t make it past,” and we also call it an audition. So it’s like, “You didn’t make it past the audition. You never had the job, right.” In that way, like, it’s much easier for us to say like, “Nah, you’re, you know, it’s not working out.” Whereas if they’re working, kind of like, full time for you there, they quit their job, like, you, I don’t, maybe people, they’re hard-on, like businessman more than I am, but I always, like, feel bad, you know. It’s like, “All right, I think we should just keep him on because, like, we’re on the fence or whatever, right.”
Nathan: Yeah, no, I think that’s the right thing to do. I think that’s, yeah, that’s good, man. I like that.
Greg: So, yeah, the trial period, I think, has worked really well for us because there have been, you know, our audition, there have been a few people that didn’t make it through that. And we’re, like, pretty strict on it. Like, you need to wow us during this audition. If you’re like, “Meh, they’ll probably be fine,” then, you know, then you don’t get a full-time job. So, yeah, that’d be my kind of few tips for people.
Nathan: Yeah, no, I like that. And what about values, do you hire on values?
Greg: You know, we don’t have, like, a formal, like, set of values, kind of like, written out that we specifically, like, yeah, live by or specifically gauge questions around. Yeah, I don’t know. I mean, I like to think I get a pretty good idea of people after, you know, a few interviews and, like, working with them for two months to, kind of like, gauge their values. But I can’t say, like, I can’t read off a few values specifically, you know, have written down to specifically look for.
Nathan: Yeah, okay, awesome. All right. So what’s next, what’s the ambitions for the future of Jungle Scout for the next few years?
Greg: Yeah, great question. So we actually, over the past year and a half now, we launched a couple other SaaS products for Amazon sellers. So one is called Fetcher, it’s like an accounting tool, the other one’s called Jump Send, which is like email automation for Amazon sellers. So, if you would have asked me this question a year and a half ago, I would have told you, our strategy for growth is to, like, build more products for this audience and market that we’re already, you know, for the audience we already have in this market that we’re pretty familiar with. But as of today, I don’t quite feel the same way. Instead…or we are going to, we’re really focused on just making Jungle Scout and our other tools the best that they can be. So I was, you know, once we expanded into building, like, a couple different tools, you know, like, we lose focus on Jungle Scout a little bit. It’s easy, you know, maybe, you know, to get distracted on them during that periods when we really had to, like, grow our team, like pretty quickly. They, like, realize, like to keep up with it. So now, we have, like, a good team we can definitely, like, manage and make all those tools great. But I decided that it’s best to really just, like, double down. Jungle Scout, like, does generate like 80% of our revenue, so we devote most of, like, our effort and brain power to that. And, yeah, my goal is really just to continue to grow it, continue to make it better, continue to put out, like, free resources and content that people love and share, and, yeah, just really double down on it and it’s working.
Nathan: Yeah, I like that, man. And do you follow, like, what the Basecamp guys, 37signals? Because I see a lot of similarities between both companies.
Greg: Yeah. So I was actually…man, I was just telling my marketing man, I was just talking to him about this like a few weeks ago, right, because, like, Basecamp had Basecamp and then, of course, they crushed it. That was amazing. And then, right, they split into, like, a few different products, had 37signals as their parent company. And then, what, like a year or two ago, they decided, like, to get rid of those and focus on Basecamp, right.
Nathan: Yeah, and they’re 100% remote, too, yeah.
Greg: Yeah, 100% remote. So a really cool company. So, yeah, I follow along them. Actually, “Rework” is, like, probably my favorite book. That’s, like, Jason Fried wrote that. So, yeah, I follow along with those guys, yeah.
Nathan: Interesting. And one question before we work towards wrapping up. Why more products and not just double down on the extremely fast growth that you have for the couple of products that you have? Why more? Do you think that you have hit market saturation and there’s a ceiling there for this market? Is that why?
Greg: I think that those are my thoughts at the time. I was thinking, like, you know, “I don’t know how this big this market is. What if we have kind of saturated it pretty quickly?” Those were my worries at the time, and, to be completely honest, I think that was probably just, like, a little bit, like, cocky. Like, “Oh, man, like, I must be like the greatest SaaS builder in the world. Like, I’ll just pump out a bunch and I’ll do amazing.” I don’t know. So, you know, so that was, kind of like, my idea at the time. And then, yeah, since then, I’ve realized, you know, like, even just with Jungle Scout alone, that’s a huge market because not only are we appealing and not only is this a super valuable tool for people who are already selling on Amazon but also anyone who wants to get into Amazon. And, you know, like, the more people we educate about how good of an opportunity selling on Amazon is, that just grows, kind of like, the potential market size that much more. So I don’t think we’ll hit, like, that ceiling any time, you know, in the near future.
Nathan: So now, your thought is just simplify a bit more and focus and double down.
Greg: Yeah, absolutely. So, and we’re by no means, like, getting rid of, like, our other two products. We’re still, like, improving on, they’re all great products. We get great feedback, and everyone, you know, like, loves them as well. But we are doing things to, kind of like, simplify, for example, like, you know, we just came up with a new design for our knowledge base, but that same design can be used across all three apps, right. So there is something, kind of like, economies of scale type things with that. So we’re more so, like, doing those things to make sure that, you know, like we can, like simplify maybe, like, our processes. Like, we can do work one time that, kind of like, you know, help out all three different apps.
Nathan: Yeah, no, that makes sense. Awesome, love it. So, do you think, just one last question, do you think that, you know, because you have three to four software tools that solve separate problems, do you think one day that you’ll bundle them all into a recurring, or do you think you’ll keep them fairly separate?
Greg: This is something we’ve kind of been struggling with and we’ve been talking a lot about in the past six months. Also, you know, kind of like, brand strategy around it, right, like, do we have like a parent brand? Do we do, like, “Oh, this is Fetcher by Jungle Scout,” like, do we do that thing? Do we do, like, the Alasian thing, where Alasian is not even a product? They just have a bunch under that. So these are all good questions that we don’t have an answer for. It’s something we kind of often talk about. There’s, like, pros and cons of each. And, yeah, something I don’t know yet. I’m still gonna have to. And we’ve even tried to hire, you know, like, consultants to, like, help us on these things. But that’s, like, a pretty huge decision that’s really hard to, like, reverse once you make. So, for now, I’m just putting off that decision for now.
Nathan: Yeah, that’s fair enough. All good.
Greg: It’s too scary. I’m gonna put that off till next year.
Nathan: What are you leaning towards though?
Greg: I think we’re leaning towards being able to bundle them. So, you know, it’s a fair amount of technical work. It’s also, it’s potentially a confusion for people, like, when they’re buying our product, you know, like, “Do I just need this? Wait, do I need the whole bundle? Now that I’m looking at the whole bundle, maybe I can’t really afford this.” So, yeah, there’s some things like that.
Greg: Yeah, overwhelm. So there are some things like that we need to figure out.
Nathan: Yeah, and it’s one thing that, like you said, if you do, you can’t go back. It’s hard to test, right?
Greg: Yeah, like, how do you test that? I don’t know. I don’t think you can.
Nathan: Yeah, if you could only just survey your best customers really, right, and also prospective ones.
Greg: Right, sure, yes. So that’s, like I said, that’s tough decision.
Nathan: Yeah, awesome. Well, man, this has been an incredible conversation. So we’ll work towards wrapping up. Last question, where’s the place that people can find out more about yourself and Jungle Scout? And we are actually running a giveaway as well. We’ve decided to team up and run a giveaway together, Foundr and Jungle Scout. So we’re giving away 50 copies of “Foundr V1.0,” which collectively is a beautifully designed coffee table book with our best interviews and timeless insights, actionable items that we’ve acquired from, you know, some of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, and the list goes on. So we’ve got 50 books we’re giving away for free. Where do we wanna send, where do people have to go to, you know, be one of the first, is it the first 50 or how are we doing it?
Greg: Yeah, guys, if you wanna be eligible to win one of these books, you can go to junglescout.com/foundr and there’ll be instructions on that page on how you can be eligible to win one of these. And, yeah, if you wanna find out more about me or just Jungle Scout in general, I’d recommend just checking out junglescout.com. On there, we have tons and tons and tons of free resources, even if you never buy anything. It’s probably like the best source of information and educational content that you can come across in the web for selling stuff on Amazon. So I’d recommend you check it out.
Nathan: Awesome. Well, look, thank you so much for you time, Greg. This has been an absolute pleasure. I really enjoyed this conversation, man.
Greg: Nathan, absolutely. Appreciate you having me on. Take care.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Greg Mercer
- Checkout Jungle Sout
- Follow Greg Mercer on Twitter
- Learn more about Greg Mercer
- Connect with Greg Mercer on Linked