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IAM1795 – Founder Makes Online Sales Through Amazon

Podcast Interview with Adam Feinberg

Why it was selected for “CBNation Architects”:

In this episode, host Gresham Harkless Jr. interviews Adam Epstein, the CEO of Web Deals Direct, an Amazon store that specializes in selling a variety of products, including top brands like Spacesaver, Flexi Hose, Zap It!, and Grillman.

Adam shares his journey in entrepreneurship, including his experience as the CEO of a digital marketing agency and a senior manager at IT consulting firm Accenture. He also discusses the strategies he used to build and grow Web Deals Direct, including the importance of finding the right products to sell, optimizing product listings, and leveraging Amazon's advertising platform.

Additionally, Adam shares practical tips and advice for entrepreneurs looking to sell on Amazon, including the importance of understanding the customer and the value of building a strong brand.

Overall, the episode provides valuable insights and inspiration for anyone looking to start or grow a successful e-commerce business on Amazon.

Check out one of our favorite CEO Hack’s CEO Web Shop. Get your free audiobook and check out more of our favorite CEO Hacks HERE.


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Transcription:

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Adam Feinberg Teaser 00:00

I think the first really key to being successful in business is being able to take risk. So it was a combination of I was willing and able to take a bunch of risks and I didn't really have any pressure on me that I had to deliver.

Intro 00:15

Do you want to learn effective ways to build relationships, generate sales, and grow your business from successful entrepreneurs, startups, and CEOs without listening to a long, long, long interview?

If so, you've come to the right place. Gresham Harkless values your time and is ready to share with you precisely the information you're in search of.

This is the I AM CEO podcast.

Gresham Harkless 00:42

Hello, hello, hello. This is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast and I appreciate you listening to this episode. If you've been listening this year, you know that we hit over 1600 episodes at the beginning of this year. We're doing something a little bit different where we are repurposing our favorite episodes around certain categories, topics, or as I like to call them, the business pillars that we think are gonna be extremely impactful for CEOs, entrepreneurs, business owners, and what I like to call CB Nation architects who are looking to level up their organizations.

This month we are focused on the visibility game, a.k.a. Marketing, Advertising, PR, and Sales. I often say the name of the game is being found, and these tools will help you to do that. We have heard the philosophical question, if the tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a sound? If there's a really, really great product or service and no one knows about it, how great is it really? What impact does it ultimately make? This is where we will go into this month looking at visibility, branding, marketing, public relations, sales being the lifeblood of businesses. Building many companies and so much more.

This is probably one of the most exciting and probably the most excruciating topics, but we hope this month to demystify or maybe even vanquish the fear and help and arm you with the tools to be able to increase your visibility. So buckle up and sit back and enjoy this special episode of the I AM CEO podcast.

Hello, hello, hello, this is Gresh from the I AM CEO podcast. I have a very special guest on the show today. I have Adam Feinberg of Web Deals Direct. Adam, it's great to have you on the show.

Adam Feinberg 02:12

Thanks for inviting me. I'm excited to be here.

Gresham Harkless 02:14

Yes, super excited to have you on the show as well. You're doing so many phenomenal things, and what I wanted to do is just read a little bit more about Adam and some of those phenomenal things before we hopped in.

Adam is the CEO of Web Deals Direct Amazon Store. Web Deals Direct was founded in 2015. The company's top brands include Space Saver, Flexi Hose, Zap it! and Grillman as well as two dozen smaller brands. In 2020 Web Deals Direct had online sales of approximately 80 million dollars. Web Deals Direct was sold to Perch in May, 2021, and prior to selling on Amazon, he was the CEO of a digital marketing company and a senior manager at IT consulting firm Accenture. Adam graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Maryland with a degree in Economics.

Adam, super excited to have you on the show. Are you ready to speak to the I AM CEO community?

Adam Feinberg 03:03

Sure. I'm excited to be here. Anything I can do to help out is great.

[restrict paid=”true”]

Gresham Harkless 03:07

Yeah, absolutely. I guess where I wanted to start is to hear a little bit more on how you got started, rewind the clock and hear a little bit more about what I call your CEO story.

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Adam Feinberg 03:15

Sure. Actually, the way I became an entrepreneur was probably a little different than other people, but I had what I thought was a big corporate time job doing it, consulting for Accenture. I was running an account at Verizon with about 200 staff, most of them offshore. My wife was a physician, it was about 11 years ago. My kids who are now pretty big, were about five and seven and we were basically between. My wife was a physician, we had a nanny raising our kids like 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day, and I just didn't think it was sustainable for our family life. So we sat down and discussed whose career was more important.

The conversation lasted about 15 seconds. Of course, your wife who's a physician's career is more important. So I basically decided to quit my job and kind of become a stay-at-home dad. Instead of just being a stay-at-home dad, and I would drive carpools and make lunches, I decided to use some of the skills I'd developed doing software development work and start making websites for people. I started by making websites, but I learned pretty quickly that the real money was in marketing and getting them traffic and getting people sales more than just making a website.

So I got into Search Engine Optimization and about 2010, I put up a website and I knew a bunch of different tricks to get it ranked in Google that I'd figured out from some forums and some friends that were into doing search engine optimization. All of a sudden I had a little at-home business where people would just go to my website every day and want help with their website. Before long we were doing a million, $2 million a year in sales with me, like a small offshore team. I hired some younger sales guy to help me along, was a pretty small, low-key business.

Then my partner in Web Deals Direct was a British guy named Richard Bell and he saw how well I was doing and he asked if not only could he be my client, but if he could start an office in London selling SEO services in about 2012. So we decided to expand over there, and the business grew to about 3 million in revenue a year.

Gresham Harkless 05:31

Nice.

Adam Feinberg 05:32

Fast forward to about 2014, we started figuring out that Google wasn't really too happy, giving out free traffic to small business customers and really wanted people to pay for ads. Some of the techniques we were using, I learned the more we were doing it we're like against Google's terms of service and weren't sustainable. So, we thought the business wasn't gonna last and I asked Rich to look into some new things to do, and I started looking into some other areas so we wouldn't have to go get real jobs.

One of his good friends was a chiropractor who told me he was closing his chiropractor business because he was making more money in 2014, selling swim goggles and swim caps imported from China on Amazon in the US and UK than he was in his chiropractic practice. So that sounded pretty good for us. So I decided to take over the whole digital marketing business and I gave Rich a grand sum of maybe 25,000 bucks. And I said if Aaron can do it with about 25,000 bucks, see what you can do. So he started the Amazon business, a really small time in the UK, and back in 2015 when we went into the US to start selling.

Gresham Harkless 06:47

What do you feel I like to call it your secret sauce. What do you feel has been the thing that you feel sets you apart and makes you unique throughout this business and everything you've been able to build?

Adam Feinberg 06:54

I think the first really key to being successful in business is being able to take risk. I say out of almost everyone I talk to, they sabotage themselves. You don't beat them. They already beat themselves because you already know, if you want to be a big Amazon store, you have to go sell big products. So it was a combination of I was willing and able to take a bunch of risks and I didn't really have any pressure on me that I had to deliver. That was really a really big thing because most people I talk to, they could have done 10 times more than they did, but they're just not willing. They're just not willing to do it or they have to have enough money set aside to support their family, so they can't take that type of risk.

Then the other real thing that I think that we did well that set us apart is my partner Richard Bell, who is really good at branding. I think the branding that we did as far as the name of the brand and the quality of the images we used and that for our listings really set our products apart and made them successful on Amazon. So I just think like the branding and the imagery, and this gave off the perception that this was like an American big national product instead of some little cheapo Chinese thing you go into Amazon to save five bucks.

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Gresham Harkless 08:09

Yeah. That makes so much sense.

Adam Feinberg 08:12

Those are probably the two biggest things.

Gresham Harkless 08:14

No, I appreciate you sharing that. I wanted to switch gears a little bit and ask you for what I call a CEO hack. So this could be like an app, a book, or a habit that you have, but what's something you think makes you more effective and efficient?

Adam Feinberg 08:26

The most important thing about being a good CEO is to pick a good team, honestly. You have to be able to let your team drive the business on their own. Really, the success of Web Deals Direct was, my partner was really, really good at a bunch of different areas. He is better than me at marketing. He is better than me at picking products. He is better than me at doing design work. I was better at operations and finance and stuff like that. Then his sister-in-law came in and she was really good at logistics and warehouse operations, and we just let Rich do what he needed to do. Lisa knew what she needed to do. Then we hired some others, like mid-level managers that were good.

If they weren't really the way we wanted, we replaced them. And I just was confident that, if I was on vacation and I went to Egypt while the business was running, I went to Africa to Safari while the business was running, I was just confident that everything would run right because we had the right people. Really being able to pick the right people and then confidently delegate out to them and make sure that they're trained to operate the business without like you being involved in every single thing is definitely successful. It allows you to also do all the great things about being an entrepreneur, which is like not spending every hour at your desk.

I've been boating and taking tennis lessons and traveling and attending all my kids' soccer games and field trips and all that kind of stuff the whole time I've been an entrepreneur for 10 or 11 years. If the choice was to attend a meeting for work or to go to my kid's soccer game, I picked the soccer game 9 out of 10 times. You can't really do that unless you have somebody else that you're confident could go on the call or handle the accountant or whatever, and you're not gonna be missed. So the number one definite thing is to spend a lot of time finding the right people and empowering them and then overpaying them and compensating them in such a way, rewarding them that they wanna stay working there.

So people would tell me, the biggest issue I had when I saw these perch, one of them was our COO her salary was pretty high. It was like more than double the market. Trying to like convince perch that you had to keep her at a salary that was like, twice as much as what other people were getting made sense. But, once they realized how good she was, they're like super duper happy and not only gave her all the operations for the web deals direct store. She's now running logistics for 20 other brands for perch. It's only been three months. Yes. So, that's because she's fantastic at it.

She's absolutely brilliant and hardworking. She's the type of person that if you have to come in on Sunday, she does it on her own. You don't have to ask her. Those are like really the type of people that you want. I always try to set up situations where like you bring on people and tell them it's a trial, and if they do well, like immediately give them a big bump in pay. If not, just say, sorry it didn't work out, the trial. Thanks. So like you could bring someone on and pay them $70,000 and then if you think they're fantastic, immediately give them a hundred K. Like after three months, you can tell right away.

Gresham Harkless 11:51

Yeah, that makes sense. Like you said, you know so well, you have to take care of those people that are on the team and make sure that you're compensating them even above sometimes what they think. And a lot of times those investments, for lack of a better term, end up paying dividends.

Adam Feinberg 12:06

Yeah, and then they wanna succeed because they know they're gonna get rewarded based on it, whether it's high salary or high bonuses, or some equity in the business. You think you're giving up something by giving someone a little equity in the business. If they're willing all of a sudden to prioritize this first in their life and they're smart, they're skilled then a lot of times you're gonna end up getting more rewarded yourself by giving some up.

That's like the way that I've seen it and the way it's worked out for me.

Gresham Harkless 12:32

Makes sense.

Adam Feinberg 12:33

I'm really fortunate and I would say I would owe at least two-thirds of the success I had to like to Rich and Lisa, who are like the top two senior execs at Web Deals Direct. I wouldn't have been close to success without them.

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Gresham Harkless 12:47

Nice. So would you consider that to be what I like to call a CEO Nugget? It's a little bit more of a word of wisdom or piece of advice I like to say it's something if you were to hop into a time machine, you might tell your younger business self or even tell a client as well too.

Adam Feinberg 12:59

The biggest thing that made the business difficult, like when we were trying to sell it was we didn't bring in like the right financial support from the beginning and understand all the laws related to VAT and all best practices for accounting and all that. When you start a business, you should bring in the right experts and the right lawyers and hire the accountants that are experts in your area and make sure, like even the structure, if it's an LLC or an S-CORP or whatever, understand all those things and set it up correctly from the beginning.

Instead of you're sitting here and you wanna go sell it to private equity and then perch or another aggregator and you realize you did 20 things wrong for the last five years, that's gonna make it so difficult. So now that I'm walking away from Web Deals Direct, I started two new Amazon stores, one that's already selling and one that will be selling at the beginning of the year. I just spent a lot of time. I picked two really good people to help me with the businesses, so a lot of success on Amazon and we have the best like accounting team, attorneys, lawyers, bankers, everyone's aligned with exactly like what we're gonna do, what are the objectives of the business, and we have the right setup.

We're not gonna run into issues like halfway like when we're in an audit. And they're gonna go, you should have done your cost to get sold like this and you didn't, or you didn't handle like all the import rules correctly and stuff like that.

Gresham Harkless 14:27

Nice. I appreciate you so much for sharing that and getting that information. Now I wanted to ask you my absolute favorite question, which is the definition of what it means to be a CEO, We're hoping to have different quote and quote, CEOs on this show.

So, Adam, what does being a CEO mean to you?

Adam Feinberg 14:39

You get to make the final decision. It comes with a lot of responsibility, but it also comes with a lot of rewards. If you succeed, you get the benefits of your decision, and if you fail, you get the benefits of the downside of your failure.

But, Basically just being the CEO just means the buck stops with you, in my opinion.

Gresham Harkless 14:57

Definitely appreciate that perspective and I appreciate your time even more. What I wanted to do is just pass you the mic, so to speak, just to see if there's anything additional that you can let our readers and listeners know, and of course, how best they can get ahold of you and find out about all the awesome things that you and your team are working on.

Adam Feinberg 15:11

So if you wanna reach out to me on LinkedIn just look for Adam Feinberg Web Deals Direct and see me. Look forward to meeting you and hope you're successful in your business endeavors.

Gresham Harkless 15:22

Absolutely. Thank you so much, Adam. We will definitely have the links and information in the show notes as well too, so that everybody can follow up with you, but truly appreciate you for being such a wealth of knowledge.

There's so much information and knowledge that you have, so I appreciate you sharing that and of course, being open to connecting with other people. I think that the saying is, you can see me so much further by standing on the shoulders of giants. So I appreciate you providing some of that expertise so that we can stand on your shoulders as well too. So thank you so much my friend, and I hope you have a phenomenal rest of the day.

Adam Feinberg 15:47

You too. That's how I found some of the best people that I'm working with in my new business. Just by meeting other people and saying that this person's really good and really smart and someone I'd wanna work with.

So I'm happy to meet with people all the time. That's the best way to see what talent is out there and what other people are doing. Alright, thank you.

Gresham Harkless 16:05

Absolutely. There's so much that comes from our conversation. You too. Take care.

Outro 16:09

Thank you for listening to the I AM CEO podcast powered by CB Nation and Blue 16 Media. Tune in next time and visit us at iamceo.co. I AM CEO is not just a phrase, it's a community. Check out the latest and greatest apps, books, and habits to level up your business at ceohacks.co.

This has been the I AM CEO podcast with Gresham Harkless, Jr. Thank you for listening.

[/restrict] – End

Dave Bonachita - CBNation Writer

This is a post from a CBNation team member. CBNation is a Business to Business (B2B) Brand. We are focused on increasing the success rate. We create content and information focusing on increasing the visibility of and providing resources for CEOs, entrepreneurs and business owners. CBNation consists of blogs(CEOBlogNation.com), podcasts, (CEOPodcasts.com) and videos (CBNation.tv). CBNation is proudly powered by Blue16 Media.

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