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Marc Sauer 0:46
You have to really validate the product, you have to really understand how everything works, you have to understand that like there is demand for us. And you have to like what I invested there at that time, the the business I knew pretty much if you actually failed, it would not see. But I believed in a lot. There’s no real equation to this. It’s just kind of like it’s risk management. And I would say because you also have to factor into like how much time is going to take good pictures and then make a video and PPC but you just you want to get a gut feeling as much as efficient as possible. For whatever source you can not just Helium 10
Welcome everyone to the firing the men podcast a show for anyone who wants to be their own boss. If you sit in a cubicle every day and to know you were capable of more than join us. This show will help you build a business and grow your passive income streams in just a few short hours per day. And now your host serial entrepreneurs David Schomer and Ken Wilson.
- Stone Brad (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 464 Pages - 03/26/2014 (Publication Date) - RANDOM HOUSE UK (Publisher)
Welcome everyone to the Firing the Man podcast on today’s episode we are joined by Mark Sauer. Ken and I have known Mark for about three years now as we met at the St. Louis e commerce meetup mark is a recovering CPA and a full time e commerce entrepreneur. Marcus founded multiple successful e commerce brands and has been selling online for almost a decade through eBay, Amazon, Walmart, and multiple international marketplaces. Mark sprains have a large catalog of products that he has developed as well as a recent addition that he designed that has a patent pending, we’re excited to have Marcus on the show today to share his wealth of experience with you. Welcome to the show, Marcus, thank
Marc Sauer 2:24
you. So it’s good to be here. Rather than listen you guys for a while and yeah, we’ve known each other for for quite a while, absolutely longer than 30 years. Feels like
but yeah, absolutely. So let’s start off with tell us a little bit about yourself and your path to being an E commerce entrepreneur.
Marc Sauer 2:41
Sure, currently live in the San Francisco Bay Area right outside of San Francisco. During mountain biking. I worked in the corporate Rob for a while as a as a CPA or to internal audit and financial recording in then made my transition to full time entrepreneur last July. And it’s an arrogance I’ve absolutely loved it.
Awesome. Now I got to ask as a fellow recovering CPA, what drew you to that field
Marc Sauer 3:08
CPA, I probably didn’t get it a little bit like some of the other factors. But really, when you go into a company, if you know the accounting, you can move all over, you can move to a lot of places like to the leadership to an operational financial role. So knowing the numbers would be a great way to enter pretty much any kind of company you’d want to move around there. That’s why I thought but reality isn’t really doesn’t really match. That’s not really how it works in the corporate world.
Very nice. Very nice. Over to you Ken. Let’s get Yes.
Yeah, for sure. So um, so Mark, can you share with the audience like how you started an E commerce? Did you first start selling on eBay? Or like where did it start? And kind of like, can you walk through like the progression of how that how that worked?
Marc Sauer 3:46
Yes, sure. I was thinking about this. And I first got into ecommerce when I was in high school 2000 tubes and eBay accounts 20 years old, and selling things from like drive sales and stuff and then you know, back then like, there’s no, there’s no Ali Baba, there is no safe way to source things. And so one thing I did is I am contacts like niche sporting companies like Rocklin companies, motorbikes and companies hunting companies, and just send them emails and like, Hey, I love your product. She sent me some promotional material. They sent me like, tons of posters, and I just put those on the backs not too cold, but for an 18 year old or however old I was then know how to source items. And that was that worked. They definitely gave me money in college to spending money’s
very nice. Now, did you ever think, you know, three years ago that fast forward three years, you’re going to be on a podcast with two random dudes that you met? Who tuned at a at a meet up in St. Louis, did you ever foresee this happening?
Marc Sauer 4:40
No, no. And then three years ago, three years as a longtime ecommerce space and then with my business and macro things like COVID in the supply chain issues and Yeah, three years is a long time and ecommerce. I mean, a lot of different things happens.
Definitely. I don’t think I envisioned it either. However, I have to say that there was a couple of those meet apps for you can an eye over in a corner, go and put the info on data. It was a special connection. And it’s been cool that we’ve all stuck with it. And I was great. I would not be on this podcast had I not gone to that meetup. So do you still go to meetups anymore?
Marc Sauer 5:14
Yeah, that’s an interesting question. You know, when I lived in Chicago before them in St. Louis, I use that just to meet people and I move there and like, the E commerce meetup in St. Louis is great. But, and I live in the Bay Area, which is full of entrepreneurs. meetup.com, like, no one’s posted, like the Big E commerce groups like yours. And like, these are groups like 600 people are too busy to really start pursuing that, you know, being an entrepreneur, so I’m kind of confused. I guess we worked with some random when they bought it. I really
don’t move. Yeah, absolutely. So uh, Mark, so you shared with our audience earlier that you’re a professional CPA and then you transition to full time entrepreneurial? Kind of so can you like walks guardians through how that went? Like, did you plan for it? Was it a bra and any, you know, advice that you would give yourself three, you know, three years ago,
Marc Sauer 6:00
I Nixon the example of like, my old eBay can, but then, you know, that kind of petered out, I stopped doing that after a while I went to college, I want to do it and to, you know, I financial role or like, work for a big international companies a lot of different things. But I graduated at the Warner Center, he graduated college in 80 years at the very beginning of the Great Recession. So it took a while to really get back into the corporate world. And between graduating getting my first job was it took a while I did some traveling abroad, got a master’s degree, I could write many books that new rep or read about that time period. But having been lagged behind because of the Great Recession, I started in the corporate world with like, a lot of energy, just like to make the time up to get ahead and get what I wanted. And I learn really quickly. It’s just not how the world works. Like every time I trying to get a promotion to get on your project or Trent, your new job. There’s always some it’s always something from the corporate world, like a corporate bureaucrat just told me no, for whatever reason. And after my second job, after a few years, I’m just like, okay, like, I’m not getting any chances here. This is it didn’t work. Did he even get a job? And now that I’m here, it’s not working at all, like, no one’s got what you need here. So I thought from being a lay person working in the corporate world to becoming an entrepreneur, a business owner, what do you start from there? What’s one step, and the first thing I did was listen to podcasts religiously, as many as I can per day in shower, and double speed. And one podcast that helped me quite a bit was actually Entrepreneur on bike. Because every day, every podcast, the hope is a different intrapreneur in different stories. So you hear a lot of stories do and I found that ecommerce is probably best for best fit for me, because I had lots of experience and connections in China from when I traveled there from, you know, my between years, I knew Photoshop pretty well, because I was I was dabbling like wedding photography for a bit, you know, I got my bypass their e commerce, what do you get a product from, and you know, you’re bootstrapping this, you don’t spend a whole lot of money and you want to get a chorus or like, buy all this expensive software was so desperate, really, to get a change in my career, because it wasn’t working out. Nothing was working in corporate world. So I literally, I’m not joking, I called in sick for entire week. And I didn’t tell anyone what I was doing to stay in my apartment and just didn’t research on what to sell. And I just sat there just researching, in that kind of the more time you put into it and get a lot out of it, the product research and you understand a lot of market trends, and you understand like what sells and what doesn’t sell. But I found a product, you know, I consider it a failure. But that one product, even though was a failure named VLANs, a lot of other products and another different brain and it just keeps growing on itself and you make mistakes. But I guess you’re just getting started. And that’s that was the important part. I just started and took from my first sale to getting out of the corporate world took about five years. But sometimes it’s faster. Sometimes it’s longer. But we’ve raised a new financial situation in where you live as well and a lot of other things.
So let’s dive into this time period. So you’re working a corporate job, it’s not all that it was cracked up to be, at least not what you had envisioned. How long from that point in time to taking action into listening to podcasts into like that sick day? Like what what was that timespan?
Marc Sauer 9:17
It was about a year and a half, actually, because I remember like specifically, I got thrown under the bus perfectly by paperwork. And I’m like, Screw this like I’m done. And I just it was this podcast every day non stop. Yeah, then just immersing yourself into it. You just have to you have to want it more than anything else. You can’t just have an asset, you have to really go after it. You hear a lot of people saying that like there are there’s no opportunities the market saturated. Well, yeah, that’s partially true. But at the same time, there are less opportunities out there but they’re not going to be you’re not going to present themselves present themselves to
definitely definitely. Now a follow up question is something that you said you had mentioned market research, and this is something that the more time you put into it, the more you get out of it for someone just getting into this, you know, if you spend an entire are weak on this? What kind of stuff were you doing then kind of as an amateur? And then what would you do now? How do you approach market research? Now? Sure, professional,
Marc Sauer 10:08
what I did is I had two streams, I look at this one would be Ali Baba, who would be Amazon. And I’ll say use Google Trends and just like, kind of see, look at new ideas, anything that you know, like, Oh, I’m sitting in the kitchen, look at the theoretical garlic press. And like, think of that, but even the best ideas aren’t going to be coming from things that you see in your kitchen, doing the kind of market research and best ideas are going to be things you find random in my opinion. But what if I would have to go back and do it? I would shop money for a subscription, something like helium 10. And find like a few free courses. Unlike I think Helium 10 offers one I’d spend some money. You know, when you’re starting off in your paycheck, every two weeks, you see like, oh, 180 $7 subscriptions, a lot of money is X percentage of my paycheck, you know, you think of it that way, which is not really the way to think about it. So you, you do need to spend money on some things, very targeted things up front. We can’t be completely frugal about this, but at the same time, you have to earn money, just not too much money. Yeah.
I liked that advice about not buying a $5,000 Fake. So So Mark, so you’ve worked you’ve successfully went from corporate job corporate America to full time ecommerce entrepreneur successfully by the way, that’s congrats, that’s that’s really difficult. And so yeah, so for someone that’s listened to the show, what kind of advice can you share with them on like, what should they be focusing on during a transition? If they if they want to, you know, go full time? Like, what are some things that they they can focus on to help them out?
Marc Sauer 11:37
That’s a good question. I would say that time management’s a pretty serious one. Because like, when I started this, I was, you know, I was single, and like, I could put their own time, as much time as I can possibly into this, like, say it really late call in sick for a week. It’s hard to do. I mean, if I was to start this now, you just can’t become punctual. Like, I’ve got some friends who say, Oh, yeah, that sounds cool. I’d love to do it. But they know they have to go to do their nightly routine a TV show what was what about at this time? No, don’t do any work past this hour. Like you can’t do that. Like if you want to succeed or gonna happen path to like, make sacrifices you have to really want to. So in blood cast would be a good thing. I mean, like, you know, as I said, just you want to listen to podcasts, other people’s ideas are, what they did and what works and what doesn’t work. Yeah, just trying different things.
So So keeping this conversation going about advice and Firing the Man, let’s go back to your last day, like what? So you started this journey five years ago, you have now arrived? Tell me about that day? What’s going through your mind? What do you do after? Yeah, tell me about that day?
Marc Sauer 12:44
Well, I just just pretty much ready to go to the next step. And it was time, everything what was working was hard to leave the corporate world because I live in the Bay Area, which isn’t exactly the cheapest. It’s probably the most expensive honors. But, you know, there’s so much momentum and just the corporate world was getting into like, it was just getting in the way every step that I did. And then like, you know, here, I’m managing a few employees at night. And then I’m going and doing very low end things. Like with my corporate job, and it’s like this, this can work this can’t last. And up. Yeah, as soon as I left, the corporate world is everything. It fitted perfectly. It just everything fit in terms of responsibilities, it is a struggle to win. I mean, cash flow, because you’re used to getting a steady paycheck, Brandon’s corporate world, but like, when you have the business break, your perspective changes because early entrepreneurial ecommerce startup world because some guy could be getting a paycheck or it could be reinvesting in this or that suddenly, it’s a balance that was one of the bigger challenges find that balance essentially between like going from a steady paycheck to like actually having to pull money out of this. So that was one of the bigger challenges I would say
yeah, some really, really good advice and it definitely affiliate on those challenges. Let’s pivot a little bit into product development. And so you’ve got some really unique products that solve problems. So without sharing, you know the nature of the products you sell can you share with the audience? Or what motivated you to create and develop these products versus just launching an Alibaba me to product like other sellers do right?
Marc Sauer 14:17
That’s a That’s a good question. You see a lot of people that are so desperate to get into this I mentioned before how like you have to really want it but that doesn’t mean go and buy like 1000 like hooded sweatshirts, Baby Baby towels, which is like they talked about they talked about in podcasts is the go to the Go To Meeting products. Don’t do something like that. You got to you your first product, you have to be some you have to so when first product was an apparel product, and I noticed this something that was popular at the time of the trade in Chicago, actually and I’m like, Oh, that’s a good idea. I’ll do that. And so that product was a failure, but it launched going along with that trade Ellis like think 100 other products like that. Like different kinds of products. It’s different kinds of parallel other little accessories. And yeah, it’s just one by one wasn’t, I had no excuse me what you shouldn’t shouldn’t do. So none of these of this first brain was no product was like a runaway six figure months product they were just doing every product was just doing King, which was great than that there wasn’t a lot of competition, so not much in terms of PPC costs. But it was hard to scale because you got all these different products, you’re just making it okay. And then about a year after I launched that brand, I was visiting my parents at home. And my mom was complaining about a problem she hadn’t house. And she’d always complain about this since I was a little kid. It’s not unique to our house. But I was thinking there guys, now that I’m getting my ecommerce product research cat on, like, there’s got to be a solution for this. And I, I looked on Amazon, there was not a solution for this problem like oh, wow, this I didn’t really didn’t wasn’t using helium 10. Or like, you know, they’re like comparing other sales, but none of them nothing like this existed. And I started at that point, really diving into how to get this design. And it was going to take an engineering injection molded with an inferior plastic and some other components as well. And so starting off from square one, a layperson who knows nothing about injection molding, engineering, and designing to releasing this complex product that took like over four years, and now it was a hard product. Because in the meantime, I found out that this problem, there’s easier simple solutions, this hard product was still a solution, but they’re easier solutions to that I tried that out. And these your solutions just took off immediately. They sold so quickly. What was funny about this is these your solution, it wasn’t a new product, it was just a repurpose product. But there’s a million different listings for an Amazon luxury purpose. For one usage, it just it just took off. And I was able to make lots of different variations from that the cheaper one in like different sizes, colors, different components. And it’s going I can I can talk about about that a little more.
I really like that you know that you solved an everyday problem by creating a product and launching it. So yeah, can you dive into that? A little bit more? Like, are you doing that more with your other brand? Like with your other products? Are you are you just finding problems, everyday problems, and then developing solutions and launching products based on that?
- Hardcover Book
- Knight, Phil (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
Marc Sauer 17:28
Well, that’s hard because like, like, for example, you go on Shark Tank, for example. Everyone’s like, Oh, here’s the problem it solves. And like, I consider this to solve a lot more of the problems of Team searching. The problem is because it’s kind of product is to repurpose, you can’t, you can’t patent it. Like there’s no way to patent it. So it’s this it’s pretty much the strategy there is towards I had to learn this tune in later was turned on is to launch as many variations as you possibly can just so it’s impossible to catch up with you because like this one products and have like 30 different variations at the end of the day, sorry, March. And like, for someone for someone to try to catch up or like a Chinese order many Chinese and try to copy me like it’s can’t do that it’s gonna be impossible for them to like copy 30 variations and just like, you’re not gonna know which one is the sales. And then it’s gonna take a lot of capital to get all the variations captured together, it’s so I’m pretty much just giving lives an Amazon like no reason to go to another listing besides mine,
I liked. I really liked that. I think the typical Amazon seller, if they’re being honest, they have failed product launches, I think it’s probably over 50% Personal products I’ve launched are over 50% of them just don’t really pan out the way I hope they do. And so whenever I hear injection molding, or mold, cos I get nervous, I feel like my risk is going up. I like to go play at the $5 blackjack table, meaning low MOQ. And now you need to go to the high stakes table where you have this element of uncertainty. So can you talk about that? What does that look like? What lessons did you learn as you’re going through this? And also comment on your CPA, as some people would say you have no business doing injection molding or figuring out types of plastics. So like talk about that. figuring it out
Marc Sauer 19:25
there. I’m glad you mentioned the deal gambling thing because when I lived in St. Louis, I dabbled in gambling, you know, or poker rather not gambling nothing. I call it a joker but you know I’m losing my first $100 In poker and then I’m scouting with tournaments and from a $10 ticket one time I literally I literally want a ticket to the World Series of Poker a $10,000 ticket from a $10 turn. And so you got from playing with like the locals local casino and to like the best of the world like I had, that at the time the highest earning poker pro in the world ever, sitting directly to my life. Like, yeah, driving for a table, yeah, different risks, but you just had to adjust your mindset to that mindset is the most important thing. That’s this is one example I have there, you have to really validate the product, you have to really understand how everything works, you have to you have to understand that like, there is demand for us. And you have to like what I invested there, at that time, the the business, I knew pretty much, if you actually failed, it would not see. But I believed in a lot. So you hear about all these like modern day business failures. And that’s because they been awkward and making shoe. Whereas the correct step is to take baby steps, but only, like likely with killing only play with what you can afford to lose. You know, I brush up a lot of it, like, for example, the mold in North Maine in the US, for example, I know to be around $60,000. Versus in China, it was less than a third that in your order, like the correct MOQ. There’s too much stuff I ordered a little too much at this time. And honestly, my first run was the mold had a lot of issues, they didn’t really do decent QC at all, I thought because I was sourcing from the word, some of the components had issues to it, which are just as bad as a QC. So there are all sorts of problems. And so literally from the first run of this injection product, I’m probably I’m probably gonna lose some money, it’s not going to be a loss, but it definitely is not going to be a profit, which is fine, because every single problem that was discovered it’s been fixed. So we’re making the thing could run is just about to get shipped out.
Right. That’s awesome. And yeah, like, I think it crucial to like, share the missteps or the obstacles that we all face to with everyone else. So you know, right ahead, like David mentioned, if here’s mold costs, he’s freaking out like, grab, like, in so you know, like, what you’re explaining mark is that, you know, there’s going to be problems, you’re just going to work through them and continue to, you know, make new versions and improve. And so that kind of leads me into my next question is, So Mark, you’re one of the people that I know that like improves products, like consistently and very well. And so which I think is crucial to like the longevity of a product and also to like differentiating yourself. I know some of your brands have had been attacked by Johnny’s competition over the years. And so you’re always like, I’m making mine better. I’m doing this, I’m doing that to differentiate. So can you share with the audience like a couple things that come to mind on like, when you have a product? Like how are you going to make that better? How are you going to differentiate it, we can pick a random one, like a baby towel or something, but like, what are kind of the steps that you that you kind of go through to see how you can improve a product
Marc Sauer 22:34
I didn’t say, just launched a new product, I just started something new with this when we just launched in the USA, and Canada and England, the same time, this project took a while like I had a an employee’s like, kind of looked down on these comments and sourcing, and couldn’t really figure it out. And so looking at competitors, and all the competitors hand, first we looked at the competitor was for a similar product and similar lined best brands. And we use a lot of the reviews were 3.5 to four, and they’re all for all the competitors and the same issues sensually it was crap, it was junk, they really made it sound like it was something more than that, on the listing in about one and it was complete junk. It was I can’t emphasize like how I was so deceived. And so there’s there’s many better ways to do it. So I read through reviews, I didn’t sourcing, I looked at the different pricing and just looked at different alternatives and how much they were going for in their velocity. And then I’m like, This is good. This works. But on top of that, like, you know, Amazon, can we started No, Amazon has been completely like, cemetery with Chinese sellers. And they, when they find money, they go up aggressively. And but they’re, they don’t really take chances they don’t really do new things because they that’s just kind of the way things work in China from education to like entrepreneurship they want to see like that, like verified or you want to see the revenue stream that it’s there for computers. And so you look at all these things about the demand of the product and you also look at the listings like some competitors listing so be like it’ll literally have be sold by Amazon literally and have one product and miss or like the foreign listings will have like awful grammar like Photoshop hell, just like they just look like junk. And then you think is like somebody who’s you know, based in America wants to do better like what can how can you improve that the overseas competition can’t do and so you put your face into you know, you see this young man from company you say a brand’s story you talking about your brand he’s like a bunch of companies I put the mission statement talking about your history in the past. You don’t use Photoshop absolute minimal like like for example, for the theoretical like I don’t know blender in the kitchen like like high level, high quality listing is going to have some in it like a real person the end up and maybe with a kid but like a foreign competitor. You’re listening, we’ll have like, they’ll do Photoshop hell, we’ll just feel like someone just completely bucks versus Photoshop and there’s dirt in there with bad grammar and like, Who do you think the like, typical American customer would cipher like you have to like take those things into account if it’s gonna make big difference?
Now my next question, it’s two parts and still going along with product research, product development, how many will call it like prospects? Ideas? are you evaluating? For every one product launch?
Marc Sauer 25:27
I’d say validly? That’s a good question. I’d say probably five, five ideas, five ideas to one. But a lot of those ideas I can combine together.
Okay. Sorry to interrupt the episode, you may have heard Ken and I talking recently about a new tool that we’re using for Amazon refunds. Now I have used other refund tools like this. However, I can tell you in the first seven days, they scrubbed the back end of my Amazon account going back 18 months, and found $5,000 of refunds. And the nice thing about this is, it’s my money, Amazon made a mistake, and they are just auditing my account. The other thing I really like about this tool is there is no monthly fee, they only charge a commission if they are successful in getting you your money. Go to att.com GE T ID a and enter promo code ft m for Firing the Man FTM 400. This is an awesome tool. I can’t say enough good things about it. Now back to the episode. Now my my next question is, so you kind of you have your idea bucket, right. And I kind of think of it as the top of a funnel, and then you work your way down to identifying the best product. And with you being retired CPA, I would imagine there’s some analytical numbers based rules that you’re applying or metrics that you’re looking at. And so can you talk about that, basically, that the spreadsheet math behind? Do I launch this or not? Is this gonna work or not? Dex?
- Krug, Steve (Author)
- English (Publication Language)
- 216 Pages - 12/24/2013 (Publication Date) - New Riders (Publisher)
Marc Sauer 27:01
That’s a really good question. I mean, for a lot of the products that I launched, there were no competitors before they became very popular. So you can’t really do that and can’t really take a textbook approach, you just have to kind of like fill it out. There are several products that I’ve launched in the past couple of years, year that like you don’t think are already popular, but just ordered enough for you like I’m okay losing. So once you Valley, everything else that like there’s there could be demand that this is popular, but this is close enough. And this sales competitor sells for that much. You can again like the Amazon is but you also tourists manage, you kind of just you buy anywhere from I do this from the approximate from like a couple 100 to 1000, depending on the price. And sometimes they take forever to sell out. They’re not really a failure, success. Other times, it’s just like, I’m ordering two weeks later, like a brand new batch, like huge. So there’s no real for me at least there’s no real equation to this. It’s just kind of like it’s risk management. And I would say because you also have to factor in to like how much time is going to take to get pictures and to make a video and PPC. But you just you want to get a gut feeling as much as efficient as possible for whatever source you can not just
Yeah, I that’s interesting, too. Because like, I don’t know that I’ve ever launched a product, like a product that didn’t exist before fees. And so yeah, I mean, like, you’re right, like there’s, you can’t like go and look at competitor, like, you know, pricing and all that. I mean, you have a rough estimate of like fulfillment, you know, cost of goods, things like that. But sales velocity demand, like there’s no, it’s a unique product that doesn’t exist on a market. There’s no data for it. And so I like that approach where you’re ordering enough to, for a market test, I would say, you know, Hey, throw it out there, you know, is it going to stay Of course, it’s going to fall off the wall and, and then you go from there. So
Marc Sauer 28:52
I like that takes a lot of gymnasts like that. I started that sentence before I can start not for anyone listening. Once you get into this don’t take something that was a million variations. You can watch it and think it’s gonna be the same. It’s it’s it’s new and differentiated enough for people to care. Yeah, absolutely.
Let’s talk about I know you’ve launched a product that’s unique. We’ve talked about all of these and one that you’ve filed a patent on. And so you’ve went down that that route, that journey. And so can you share with the audience? Like, what are some things about patterns? And then like, what does it look like from you know, kind of from start to finish of your journey?
Marc Sauer 29:27
Yeah, that’s that’s a really good question, too. It’s a whole different world. That’s kind of the tricky thing. Like I was fortunate enough to be lucky about this. And this is for anyone listening who’s thinking about that, just remember that you’ll talk to patent lawyers who are from big firms who want to make their numbers, numbers that are so they might tell you to patent something, just patent to spend the money in a patent. But a lot of times, you don’t need patents, I mean, that it might be hard to protect the result might not want something from a patent Exactly. Or might find it valuable enough to get hoppier a lot of times people want patents is wild, because investors in like, investors that if you ever want to sell a company, it just sounds really good. That’s patented. Because like this product, which is really unique with the startup costs, and like launching it, it would be hard for a competitor to really like, launched in there with the exact same design, and catch up in terms of reviews and like, quality, everything. Like I mean, that’s kind of the truth. Like for a lot of products, there’s some there’s some things that like mine was, like I said, my most popular products you can’t patent because it’s already come and tronics. But I started to get like my injection molded piece patented, because it was so much when I used to, to put in their name, it was gonna be a blockbuster product. And so I wanted to get a nice patent too. And there’s two kinds of patents. I’m not an expert on this. And so when I applied for this as in January, so it’s been a while, there’s a design pattern, which is cheaper, faster. So pretty much you can’t I cannot understand you had an issue with this your employer, it’s pretty much you can’t meet this exact this, from what I understand, you can slightly change the design, and it doesn’t violate the original design pattern, or there’s utility patent, which means it’s the utility of this product in our house, the house really made or manufactured, you don’t have a claim on that. You have a claim that being unique, and it’s good for 20 years, pretty much to building a motor and a product. And so a competitor of mine Brexit, like the breg, the patented patented patented, and I looked at their product, it is patented in Europe, but it’s not found in the United States. And so people use that a lot of times just kind of brag about it. I mean, I honestly don’t think if I didn’t patent this, there would be a lot of competition for I don’t think it would have been violent. It’s I think it’d be very hard for some of the violent attacks is it just it’s foreign investors, like foreign investors, I want to get outside investment. Or if I want to sell the company and saying, hey, it takes a while to get to a I looked at them to this yesterday, because like I said, I applied for the patents in January. And I haven’t heard back from them yet. It takes a while for them to review it. But I expect in the next year or two I should I shouldn’t be getting it. It’s not it’s a little longer than a trademark.
Would you do it again? No one wants to know now actually, I
Marc Sauer 32:14
can’t really say that because I I’m relaunching my my blockbuster product in Independence, once you release a product to the market, you have or it’s publicly disclosed my understanding. I’m sure this is not legal advice. You got one year to file it catatonic. before it becomes like, you can’t do that anymore. And so I would watch it. I would, I would find that methodic lodge for public disclosure. So day one, you’re launching a public disclosure, trying to get see how well it’s going to sell. And if it’s selling really well, and you think there could be people making a copycat product, I would, I would definitely patent him as soon as you can. Otherwise, I need its patents aren’t cheap, you know, 12,000 bucks, minimum, two potential 1000 bucks plus extra fees. If there’s an office action or the USPTO. It depends on what profit you think you’re going to make from it from a lifecycle and just kind of how big you’re lucky for this product.
Did you go through an attorney or an agency,
Marc Sauer 33:15
I went through an attorney that my friend recommended. He was it was interesting, because he pretty much sold me a non BS answer. Like you’re not gonna get the same thing from an a patent attorney who’s you can make a lot of money off from you versus an independent person. You want to try to be an independent thinker because they’re their patent company, company law firm that specializes in patents, they’re gonna try to sell you something a lot of times even if you don’t need it. So it might be hard. We want to try and find someone who can give you free advice in this spring that was a lawyer that was recommended to me. Initially, he went back into private practice. He referred me to someone and they specialize in patterns. Check if there’s
a couple of follow up questions on that was now so you had your arrange for your patent was about 12 grand, was it a utility patent or design patent?
Marc Sauer 34:04
Those utility patent? Okay, design patents a lot cheaper, but there’s just not a lot of protection on it. Okay.
Yeah, so so so utility patents definitely like the higher end one where, where it protects you from like functionality where like, whereas the design patent, someone can just sidestep it with just a different small, small little change to it or whatever. So, yeah, and then one last question is, so you said mentioned it’s been almost a year now. Now, did they say what’s the standard time for it to be like completely, you know, I guess active or or completed? Was it like two years, three years?
Marc Sauer 34:37
I don’t remember like I looked at last night. When the podcasts that I I looked at last night on the email to see where I was at and I hadn’t heard from them. For a while about this. I am looking at another patent for another product actually right now. The same design which is similar to that the original product, but before you applied for a patent, is you want to Make sure that your product solid, so I didn’t applied for it until the design was the solid. And if you’re getting a dirty mold made an injection mold, maybe you want to get a 3d print 3d prints, you wanted to make it get as close to the plastic as you possibly can, that you’re going to use if you want to function perfectly. So I’m designing something right now I’m in the third, 3d print. And I mean, I have to make sure that design skips design works, I’m probably good patent patent making another patent. But there’s there’s going to be some more work to make sure that actually the designs, and there’s no more flaws to it.
That seems like a really practical approach to to this whole process. And it kind of makes it a little less intimidating.
Marc Sauer 35:45
Right, totally. But like you talked to a lot of like IP law firms who are syncing their patents in the patent, but I’m like, for voting for the person like no, absolutely not. I’m going to make sure our design is perfect before filing a patent. Because this new prop and making I don’t know if it’s it’s the design is going to work, because I’m trying some different things, this risk management
tool. One question is the products that you have now that you filed a patent on? Has anybody tried to knock you off?
Marc Sauer 36:10
Now? People know, it’d be hard to knock that off. But I think there’s like me two products that are somewhat similar, and they’re just complete junk. And you see that in the reviews and what people say about them, and
very nice. Well, that was that was really helpful in terms of of the patent process, the injection molding process. And really a neat story. I think, a lot of people, the first thing they do is go to, to launch that meat to product. And I think a lot of people probably get burned out early on, because it’s just an uphill battle when you are launching the hooded baby towel that has 1000 other sellers. And so I think that’s, that’s really neat. And it’s cool to see somebody execute on it. So now Marcus, what what do you have in store over the next 1218 months? What are you what’s on the horizon?
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Marc Sauer 37:02
Sure, that’s a good question I am planning on last in the last year I expanded to England and defend my presence in Canada, England, I know what the demand for my products are going to be in Europe. So I’m expanding to the rest of Europe, Germany, France, and I am expanding to Japan. So the goal is to slowly make products are going to be bangers no like product, I’m not going to release the Product Center, I’m just going to make a little bit of profit, this is going to be okay. Focusing on on high income products that I can not just launch in America, but globally all at the same time. Like I said, my last five, you can really make a lot of games that get ahead quite a bit. And not only that, I’m trying to build out the b2b segment where I would sell my products to other companies and government agencies, I actually just had someone from the Marine Corps reach out to fill out a form 899 before they buy some of my products, I don’t know what they’re gonna buy. We just use Amazon McGill b2b Because you’re gonna get bigger orders, bigger margins, not pay all the fees and PPC as well as competition. So that’s my real goal for 2023 expand internationally and go business to business.
Awesome. And what about beyond that 510 years down the road,
Marc Sauer 38:13
I’d like to get into more technology, heavy things. I mean, I live in Silicon Valley people here. And they’re more like they’re used to taking large sums of venture capital and making software as a service thing or some ad or something with discussing profit margins and just running. So I’d like to kind of expand my, I guess, ecommerce, and just like b2b, I’d like to keep that in mind. Things that cannot act like ways to involve more technology, my products, things that can scale up faster and bigger technology footprint. So that’s going to be what an acute my Lian for sure,
very nice, very nice. Well, I’ll tell you why one of us, one of the three of us is going to have a seven or eight figure exit in the next couple of years. And we all need to go to Pat’s Tavern in Dogtown Missouri, where it all started. And celebrate that was that was the starting point. have great relationships that have have lasted this long and will into the future. So it’s over to you can
Yeah, absolutely. So anything else we want to cover guys before we get into the fire round. All right.
Thank you. I’m ready to go.
Are you ready for the fire round?
Marc Sauer 39:20
Yeah. So let’s go for it. All right. What is your favorite book? My favorite book I’ll give you two books and reading right now. I’m recording on my desk. One is the extra printers playbook. The other one is from zero to one by Peter Thiel.
Okay, excellent. What are your hobbies?
Marc Sauer 39:36
My hobbies? Besides working in business? I’ve got a two year old son and I am a mountain bike in Northern California. It’s absolutely amazing to that road to
really cool what is one thing that you do not miss about working for the man
Marc Sauer 39:50
at performance reviews about people having to give you bad feedback just because they have to get you back feel like you’re doing great and everything, buddy forgotten. It’s up. Yeah, support. So sorry. I totally agreed. All right, last time I can I can expand on this this question for hours. Yeah.
Gotcha. Yes. What do you think sets apart successful ecommerce entrepreneurs from those who give up fail or never get started,
Marc Sauer 40:15
you have to want to, you just absolutely have to want to, you have to be willing to get up at whatever time or going to bed whenever time and you’d have to really want it. There’s, there’s lots of options out there. Don’t give up. Try something new. Last few will have done me this path before out of the corporate world. You just have to focus and try new things. keep innovating. But don’t give up everything at once. Use risk management, but you just have to. You have to learn it. You have to try to keep trying new things.
Awesome. Excellent advice, Mark.
Yeah, Marcus want to thank you for being a guest on the podcast. This has been just another awesome Firing the Man story, somebody who who recognize that they weren’t happy in corporate America. And they started investing in themselves and learning and they took action. And there’s a lot of people that don’t take that third step which is which is the action part and it’s really cool to to hear your story and watch you develop over over time. So guys, well,
Marc Sauer 41:13
it’s been an interesting journey, seeing a start from three guys with like corporate jobs and working or meeting at the tavern to to right now. It’s it’s quite a transition.
Absolutely. Well, thank you so much. All right, Mark, thank you for coming on the show. If people want to get in touch with you, what would be the best way?
Marc Sauer 41:30
Sure. I would say either LinkedIn. My name is Mark Sauer. They may RCS a Yu er, or your Twitter, which is beached B, E, ch, D D. That’s my handle. Very nice.
Very nice. Thank you and look forward to staying in touch. Thank you everyone for tuning in to today’s Firing the Man podcast. If you liked this episode, head on over to firingtheman.com And check out our resource library for exclusive Firing the Man discounts on popular e commerce subscription services that is firingtheman.com/resource. You can also find a comprehensive library have over 50 books that Ken and I have read in the last few years that have made a meaningful impact on our business, or that head on over to firingtheman.com/library Lastly, check us out on social media at Firing the Man in on YouTube at Firing the Man for exclusive content. This is David Schomer
and Ken Wilson. We’re out
before you go fun fact for all you Amazon sellers out there when you start selling in international marketplaces, all of your reviews come with you. At the beginning of this year, Ken and I sat down and talked of ways that we could double our businesses in size and landed on international expansion as our number one initiative this year. We partnered up with Kevin Sanderson from maximizing ecommerce and he has made the process an absolute breeze walking us step by step through the process. If you want to grow your revenue and reach new customers head on over to https://maximizingecommerce.com/fire and connect with Kevin Sanderson today. Now back to the show